Bad news for all forms of scum and villainy, and great news for literally everyone else: The Mandalorian returns to Disney+ on March 1, after a two-year absence.
The live-action Lucasfilm series has followed bounty hunter Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) on a hyperdrive-fueled journey of discovery alongside his ostensibly adopted Yoda baby, Grogu. His has been such a wild adventure, in fact, that Din’s mercenary derring-do wound up spilling over into a whole other Star Wars show: 2021’s The Book Of Boba Fett revealed itself to be a covert quarter-season of The Mandalorian, squeezing in crucial character development for Mando and Grogu (instead of lending some of that dramatic oomph to Boba Fett or something).
The Mandalorian has also faced some changes in the real world; those winter Mando drops on Disney+ have shifted to spring, presumably to accommodate the ever-expanding Star Wars streaming offerings. (The Ahsoka spinoff series and the Jude Law-led Skeleton Crew are both tentatively slated for a late 2023 release.) And while the cast roster for the show has only grown over time (Bo-Katan! Bill Burr!), for real-world reasons, The Mandalorian is minus at least one former Imperial shock trooper. (We’ll get into some of that in a bit.)
Before Din ignites his Darksaber and creates a Mandalorian power struggle, here’s a primer on where the show's main characters stand, as well as some insights on their roles in Season 3.
He’s finished digging fellow bucket-head Boba Fett out of a Mos Espa quagmire in The Book of Boba Fett; now Din Djarin is finally setting course for Mandalore. But why would a bounty hunter want to take time away from work to visit a far-off and politically fractured planet? Responsibilities. (See, he’s setting a good example for his son.)
According to the Season 3 trailer, our helmeted mercenary is Mandalore-bound to beg forgiveness for past “transgressions.” To clarify: he’s likely talking about those times when he took his famed beskar helmet off in front of other people. (It’s happened at least twice, and three if we count when IG-11 required the helmet’s removal to apply some quick field dressing.) While Din’s sins might have given us undeserving audience types an opportunity to gaze lovingly upon the rugged visage of Pedro Pascal, that’s considered a big no-no for The Children of the Watch, the dogmatic sect of Mandalorians who raised Din when he was but a youngling.
There’s another problematic wrinkle to Din’s penitent sojourn to Mandalore; he is currently in possession of the Darksaber, a legendary weapon forged by the first Mandalorian Jedi Knight. And because he obtained it in combat with its previous owner, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), according to some rather strictly held doctrines, he is technically now the ruler of this war-ravaged planet. So expect Din to attract some heat from other Mandalorians (like, say Bo-Katan Kryze) who feel that they might be better suited to rule Mandalore since Din is, according to the Watch leader known as The Armorer (Emily Swallow), a “Mandalorian no more.”
If there had been only the second season of The Mandalorian to tide us over until 2023, Season 3 would have quite a bit riding on it. Its emotional finale saw Grogu bid a tender farewell to Din so that he could join Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill-ish) and his newfangled Jedi Order. What could possibly happen after that?
Well, thanks to The Book of Boba Fett, we know. Grogu’s journey with Luke turned out to be a comically short-lived one, and the wee Yoda baby was reunited with his Mando by the end of that show. Where does this leave Grogu at the beginning of The Mandalorian Season 3? What else is there to learn about “The Child?”
Grogu’s true past remains a mystery, but we can grok a few important things from these last two seasons of The Mandalorian. One, he loves frogs and pushing buttons he definitely shouldn’t. More crucially, this kid’s very Force-sensitive; we’ve seen him hoist a giant mudhorn creature into the air to protect his dad, amongst other rambunctiously epic things. (Like when he tamed an angry rancor using spiritual space energy in The Book of Boba Fett.) Is Grogu destined to become a Jedi, as so many Force-sensitive children were in the Old Republic? Master Skywalker seemed to think so.
There’s at least one more thing about Din’s young boy that the new season just might tackle: the conditions of Grogu’s escape during The Great Jedi Purge as seen during Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith. As Jedi Knights were being massacred left and right by Emperor Palpatine’s Clone Army, surely this green youngling had a bit of help on his way off Coruscant? And if there was a good samaritan Jedi there to lend a helping hand (and lightsaber), could they still be alive for Grogu to thank in person?
The much-ballyhooed live-action debut of Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), after a storied career that blasted through The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, was one of the more narratively enticing parts of The Mandalorian Season 2.
Bo-Katan carries serious baggage when it comes to the world of Mandalore. The fascinating history of her people involves potentially important story flourishes such as the legend of Tarre Vizsla, one of the first warriors to become ruler of the Mandalorian people and their first Jedi Knight (he made that Darksaber Mando’s currently keeping safe); Tarre’s death leading to a fracturing of the many Mandalore sects, as well as a devastating conflict with the Jedi Order; the eventual rise and disastrous fall of the pacifist New Mandalorians, led by Bo-Katan’s sister, the late Duchess Satine Kryze. There’s nothing but heartache and raw feelings in Mandalore, and its former supreme leader has her work cut out in terms of getting her house in order.
For one, Mando got in between her and Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and won the Darksaber. Possessing that fabled blade would reassert her right to rule and solidify her ability to heal a broken Mandalore. But, in order to claim it properly, she’d need to fight he who currently wields it. From the looks of the Season 3 trailer, Bo is already keeping the throne warm, and she’s probably not doing it for Mando’s sake.
Moff Gideon had a rough go of it in Season 2. The last time we saw the Imperial zealot, he had his entire fleet of Dark Troopers smashed to bits by a Jedi Master, his coveted Darksaber was taken away from him by an upstart bounty hunter and, according to a line in Book of Boba Fett, he has since been detained by some New Republic muckamucks and could be on his way to execution. The Imperial Remnants might be minus one Moff, but Mando has gained a mortal enemy.
Giancarlo Esposito is one of The Mandalorian’s more diabolical MVPs, so it’s not beyond the realm of probability that Gideon may return to insert himself in all the impending Darksaber hullabaloo yet to take place on Mandalore. There, he may be able to get his revenge, and possibly reobtain a certain laser sword in the bargain.
Greef (Carl Weathers) came up in the world during the first two seasons of The Mandalorian. Once a quasi-humble and slightly trustworthy agent who ran the Bounty Hunters Guild, Greef’s last appearance on the show (during “The Siege,” which Weathers directed) revealed a new position for Karga: he assumed the role of High Magistrate over his homeworld of Nevarro.
Judging from a few fleeting glimpses in the Season 3 trailer, it’s clear that Nevarro’s better days lie ahead thanks to Greef's hard work. He’s found a new peaceful means for making credits in this post-Empire galaxy, and if that also ends up helping his beleaguered bandit planet, so much the better. (Check out Greef’s new resplendent duds as he greets Mando in the trailer: that’s a gold cape draped about his crimson tunic.) It’s clear that Greef has been turning his fortunes around as well as Nevarro’s, and honestly? Good for him.
The untamed Outer Rim territories need a swift but fair hand to dole out justice, and on the desert planet Tatooine, there exists such a man. Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), once the proud, let’s say “borrower” of Boba Fett’s iconic Mandalorian armor, was also a blaster-slinging sheriff-’round-these-parts type who never could turn a friend away when they came begging for a favor. Honor-bound to his duty as a decent sort of feller, Cobb was all set to join Din in a team-up for the ages against the Pyke syndicate during the frisky final half of The Book of Boba Fett. He never made it.
When last we saw good ol’ Cobb, he was incubating in a bacta tank after taking blaster fire from dirtbag mercenary Cad Bane. As far as predictions go, it’s a safe bet that the next time we see Cobb, he might be more machine than man, but he’ll still be all-heart.
The perennially permed Mos Eisley port manager (Amy Sedaris) has been a proven ally of Mando’s from the beginning. Most recently, Peli (and her small armada of pit droids) retrofitted an N-1 Naboo starfighter into Mando’s latest ride after his Razor Crest went and blew to smithereens. It seems The Mandalorian is moving its central locale to war-scorched Mandalore and giving the dunes of Tatooine a break (and thank the maker for that), but Peli’s too canny a technician not to keep on hyper-speed dial.
Bill Burr, possibly the most unlikely fan favorite of The Mandalorian, last popped up in the Season 2 episode “The Believer.” That surprisingly dramatic team-up with Mando saw Miggs exorcise some demons at an Imperial rhydonium refinery, where he had a killer reckoning against Remnant general Valin Hess (Richard Brake). Now that Miggs’ Empire days are well behind him, and since Cara Dune (Gina Carano, who isn’t likely to appear in Season 3) has freed him from a lifetime spent in a New Republic jail, the next time we see the wisecracking mercenary his allegiances will be on the side of good. He’ll be an ally of Mando’s, at any rate.
Fett’s war against the Pyke crime syndicate is over, all the rampaging rancors are at rest, and Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) has finally secured a tenuous peace for the Mos Espa spaceport. While Fett’s criminal aspirations seem more respectable than his notorious reputation might have once suggested, he’s still a handy brawler to have in your corner when the going gets tough. Boba’s savvy right-hand Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) will keep Mos Espa humming along should Mando need some backup on Mandalore — and he just might. Also, it may be interesting to see how Boba is received by the people whose culture the former bounty hunter has long appropriated.
When last we saw Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson), she was hanging out with Luke Skywalker at his new Jedi Academy as the Master figured out what to do about his recruit, Grogu. (You’ll remember that Ahsoka once turned down the opportunity to train the baby Yoda herself.) Her appearance in The Book of Boba Fett was but a hype-mounting pit-stop for the rogue Jedi knight; she’s currently on a path that will one day lead straight to Grand Admiral Thrawn. (For viewers of Rebels and lovers of Star Wars Legends generally, things are about to get real.) That conflict will presumably bear bitter fruit in her upcoming solo series. In the meantime, we can scarcely enjoy a beskar-besotten season of The Mandalorian without at least one appearance from some lightsaber-swinging character; maybe a new Mando-Snips team-up is in the offing for Season 3?
Luke’s training of Grogu went pear-shaped the moment our diminutive green friend was faced with the possibility of being forever parted with his surrogate dad. But that shouldn’t suggest that The Book of Boba Fett will be the last time we see the AI-CG Frankenstein Skywalker. Lucasfilm has invested a lot of dough into the realization of post-Jedi Luke, so expect a new trip down an even more uncanny valley alongside Mark Hamill’s digital twin sooner than later.
Jarrod Jones is a freelance writer currently settled in Chicago. He reads lots (and lots) of comics and, as a result, is kind of a dunderhead.
TOPICS: Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Disney+, Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett, Amy Sedaris, Bill Burr, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, Katee Sackhoff, Mark Hamill, Pedro Pascal, Temuera Morrison