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The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1 recap (2023) – Mando’s apology tour

The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1 is a strong and focussed opening which launches us straight back into the thick of the action, as if we never left.

The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1 recap - The Armorer

Our Verdict

Din Djarin's reunion tour makes for a solid opening.

“I thought you completed your mission, but you’re still running around here with the same little critter.” Here, Greef Karga summarised the opening episode of The Mandalorian season 3 better than I ever could, but there’s a strong sense of direction and purpose underpinning the episode which makes for a compelling opening.

We start season 3 by catching up with the Children of the Watch on Concordia. They’re preparing for a new kid to join their Mando-cult with his own ‘lil helmet — but we’re soon plunged into the midst of an action sequence as what I can only assume is a space-crocodile emerges from the water and beats the shit out of them before Mando and Grogu swoop in with their new ship and save all of their lives.

The crocodile CGI leaves a little to be desired in my opinion — it’s giving animatronic dino at the Natural History Museum — but then Baby Yoda pops up and I’m willing to forgive them for the transgression. Look at that widdle face!

Unfortunately, The Armorer and the rest of the Watch are less forgiving than I am — they’re still pissed that Mando took off his helmet, and insist to him that redemption isn’t possible. However, Din Djarin remains desperate to atone, and he argues that, despite the purge destroying the planet, if it’s still possible for him to bathe in the Living Waters in the mines of Mandalore, he should be forgiven.

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He provides her with a crystallized inscription from the mines of Mandalore to prove that this is possible, and it’s at this point that the Armorer is like, “fair enough,” and sends him on his way. In the process, this provides us with our main plot and direction for The Mandalorian season 3.

After Grogu and Djarin reunited in The Book of Boba Fett (canonically, he trained with Luke Skywalker for two years before the Jedi gave him the choice to return to his surrogate daddy), there was a lot of concern that there wouldn’t be much tension or direction for season 3. Yet, Djarin’s self-imposed redemption arc and journey to the mines of Mandalore seem like a solid enough place to start.

But first, a pit-stop to Nevarro, which is in considerably better shape than it was when we last left it. One of my favourite parts of any Star Wars series is when they take the time to let us explore a new (or in this case, refurbished) setting for a little bit — so these scenes of Nevarro 2.0 should be pleasing enough for any fan.

The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1 recap - Nevarro

After reuniting with Greef Karga, who is now a High Magistrate, he tries to convince Mando and Grogu to go all Of Mice and Men and “live off the fat ‘o the land” — but Din Djarin is steadfast in his determination to become a Mando once again (so pious!).

After a quick run-in with pirates, who, despite their decent makeup job, don’t exactly make for compelling enemies (they speak with British accents and go down like dominos when Mando so much as looks at them), we find out the reason for Din Djarin’s return. He wants to revive IG-11 so that the Star Wars droid can help him navigate the mines of Mandalore, but even after some tinkering by the Anzellans (they make the episode, especially when they yell at Grogu for being a “bad baby” for squeezing them), it becomes apparent that something’s not quite right and he defaults back to his old, violent programming.

This then provides us with a compelling B-plot — Mando and Grogu need to acquire a new memory circuit to repair IG-11 properly. In what seems like a welcome tour around the Galaxy, Mando then heads to Ka’velana, and in the process, we get to see him practise a little gentle parenting with Grogu — that is, until, the damn pirates led by British Vane and their leader, Gorian Shard, show up again. We met Vane earlier, but Gorian Shard is a bit of a jumpscare, and quite honestly looks like a clump of spinach.

The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1 recap - Anzellans

I know these are only episode 1 villains, but they’re the weakest part of the episode. How are we meant to take Spinach Man seriously? Still, it leads to a thrilling and well-executed fight scene in space, so I suppose they serve their purpose. But they make me miss Moff Gideon more.

Still, they get to Ka’velana in the end, and Mando reunites with a considerably-more-jaded Bo-Katan. It turns out she’s still licking her wounds over Djarin getting the Darksaber rather than her, and in the two years since we last saw her, the Death Watch abandoned her. She tells Djarin his quest to atone is fruitless, but he still seems determined — and it looks like the purpose of the scene really was to set her up as being a potential problem later on, and remind the audience that they haven’t forgotten about the Darksaber.

The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1 recap - Mandalorians

Opening episodes are often exposition-heavy, but The Mandalorian mostly managed to pack a good balance of word-building, action, comedy, and exploration. Although the time-jump isn’t always clear, and the new enemies aren’t particularly exciting, when it comes to a series premiere, you couldn’t really ask for more, and it sets the tone for a lot of fun adventures ahead.

For more on the Galaxy Far Far Away, check out our guides on the Star Wars timeline, the Star Wars cast, the best Star Wars characters, and the worst Star Wars villains.