When The Mandalorian made its debut as the show that kickstarted the Disney Plus era of Star Wars, it was like an aching weight was lifted off the shoulders of the fanbase. Years of back-and-forth with the sequel trilogy Star Wars movies had been exhausting, and everything was starting to feel stale.
Then, the TV series about a Star Wars bounty hunter and his adopted son Baby Yoda came along. It immediately positioned itself among the very best of Star Wars. The Mandalorian season 1 sits alongside The Empire Strikes Back, Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars, Andor season 1, and – some would argue – The Last Jedi as one of the franchise’s greatest hits.
The reason it came as such a relief was because it was bold enough to be something new. The Mandalorian positioned itself as a Star Wars series about entirely new characters, in a part of the Star Wars timeline that we hadn’t seen, with mostly episodic adventures. Meanwhile, The Rise of Skywalker was about to bring back the Sith Lord Palpatine and another grand plan to take over the galaxy with a huge fleet of the ultimate star destroyers or something.
In sharp contrast, in its first season, The Mandalorian followed Din Djarin and Baby Yoda as they travelled the galaxy dodging bad guys, making friends, and generally having wholesome and exciting space adventures. It was packed with personality, and while it was a simple idea, its execution was perfect. It wasn’t a sequel or a prequel. It was just its own adventure in a familiar and fun setting.
Since then, The Mandalorian has been making – and repeating – mistakes. Now, with The Mandalorian season 3, it’s doubling down on them, too.
As it’s progressed, little missteps and grievances have begun to work their way into The Mandalorian like unaddressed black mould. I don’t care for any of the new The Mandalorian characters in the same way I cared for Kuill (RIP, sweet prince) and Star Wars droid IG-11, because the show doesn’t care about them as much either. Baby Yoda’s presence is no longer for the plot, but for the audience, and the dialogue is becoming increasingly prequel-esque with every passing episode.
None of these factors alone are enough to kill The Mandalorian. In fact, even when they all coalesce, the sci-fi series is still watchable and often fun.
Instead, it’s the interconnectedness that’s stifling it, and which could be a death knell. To understand The Mandalorian season 3, you’ll have to watch The Book of Boba Fett. To understand The Book of Boba Fett, you’ll have to watch The Mandalorian. When the Ahsoka release date rolls around, if you want the whole backstory of the Jedi’s live-action return, you’ll have to watch both shows to truly understand Ahsoka Tano.
Within The Mandalorian specifically, it’s now acting almost as a direct sequel to the animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels. The Mandalorian season 2 was about the fall of Mandalore and Bo-Katan’s plan to reclaim the Darksaber, as Din Djarin became ensnared within these intergalactic events. It also progressed Ahsoka’s story as she looks set to begin her hunt for Grand Admiral Thrawn in earnest and was a launching pad for The Book of Boba Fett at the same time.
This all seems to be building up to some kind of event where every surviving Star Wars character from The Clone Wars and Rebels (both good – and often great – series in their own right) will return to the screen in Star Wars TV series crossover with The Mandalorian at the centre of it all.
Will we see Din Djarin, Baby Yoda, Ahsoka, Bo-Katan, Sabine Wren, and Boba Fett team up to face down some major Star Wars villain? We probably will, yes. Will the horrific AI Luke Skywalker abomination show up to help out? Also: probably yes.
Somewhere along the way, The Mandalorian lost what made it great. It became too focussed on Star Wars itself, as the audience saw it, and forgot what had made it special.
Instead of being able to sit and enjoy some standalone Star Wars adventures, when you watch The Mandalorian, you’re now participating in some sprawling, interconnected grant tale. Why? Who asked for that? Who told Jon Favreau, “Drop the stuff about his fun adventures, and make it more tedious.” I’d like to speak to them, please. It’s all concerningly reminiscent of the MCU drudgery, and it’s tiring.
The Mandalorian season 3 isn’t making things any better. It’s simply not about a bounty hunter going on adventures and making new friends, and new enemies, any longer.
While The Mandalorian used to be something fresh and new, now it’s become just more of the same. What we loved about it is evaporating before our eyes.
For more on Star Wars, check out our guide to our favourite Star Wars aliens and Star Wars ships. Or keep up to date with The Mandalorian with our The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1 recap and learn what Baby Yoda saw in hyperspace. Alternatively, find out what we know about the other Disney Plus shows with our explainers on the Andor season 2 release date, and the Skeleton Crew release date.