In season 3 episode 5 of The Mandalorian, the show sets the stage for an action-packed second half, although its choice of direction still feels misguided.
Perhaps it’s time for me to move on. Maybe I’m simply living in the past, and just need to learn to accept that the show I once loved simply doesn’t exist anymore. I keep clamouring at every tiny glimpse of the past that we get given, but as soon as I blink it’s gone, and all I’m left with are remnants of what used to be a great show. This might sound a bit extreme and prove to be untrue as the rest of the season releases, but right now, it feels like, with the release of episode 5 of season 3, today is the day The Mandalorian died.
I felt my first wave of fear in the episode’s early moments, when the focus was on the planet Nevarro’s leader Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), as he struggles to deal with an incoming pirate attack. As what I assumed at first to simply just be a cold open dragged on for almost ten minutes, I started to get flashbacks to the season’s miserable third episode. All I wanted at that moment was to get just one comforting peek at the titular Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and be reminded that the show is genuinely aware of its strengths. After all, I’m not watching an adventure show to watch side characters sit in boring offices and talk about empires, the New Republic and other sci-fi politics that I don’t understand.
Luckily, the episode seemed to get back on course, as Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) visits the Mandalorians personally to get them to help with the invasion. At that moment, Teva felt like a stand-in for the viewer, begging the Mandalorian to get involved with the episode, pleading with the show to remember that it isn’t meant to be this incredibly complex Star Wars lore fest. This was meant to be Star Wars doing the accessible serial western show, so why am I now finishing every episode more confused than ever? An even bigger question, actually, is why am I finishing every episode caring slightly less about what’s going on?
The supporting cast, outside of Amy Sedaris’ Peli Motto, has always been one of the show’s weakest aspects, which is why this season’s focus on them just feels so odd. This episode in particular seems to push Djarin into the background, making him part of the bigger Mandalorian group, rather than putting any spotlight on him and Grogu. Instead, we spend time with Karga, Teva, and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff). I’m yet to be convinced that any of this is better than if they just made another season that was identical in structure to the first two. It’s definitely a bold choice, but the show’s story has become so rooted in Star Wars’ complex lore that it’s just becoming harder and harder for the average viewer to follow.
As the rest of the episode played out and Djarin joined in with the fight against the pirates, I struggled to get emotionally invested. This wasn’t a big chase to save Grogu, or a fight to stop enemy soldiers from taking him, it wasn’t even a fight that felt particularly personal to Djarin, it just felt inconsequential. Djarin takes part in this big aerial event and drags the rest of his clan into it as a favour to Karga, and it never once feels like a genuine struggle. So in that case, why should I care? The fight itself is a cool one, I’m always a sucker for anything taking place in the sky, but without proper emotional investment, I always find that sequences like this quickly become a slog, and it absolutely did.
It was the ending of the episode that summed it up best, as it attempted to set the stage for the season’s final few episodes. From what we can tell, the last three chapters will focus on Bo-Katan Kryze, which is a choice that I can still not wrap my head around. Sackhoff is good in the role, and her performance in this episode continued to be good, but it just feels like another way in which the show is throwing away its identity, with it not even wanting to have the Mandalorian be the main character of his own show.
Perhaps this is just the show trying to evolve. Perhaps Disney felt like the serial western format had run its course, and that they needed something fresh. In that case then, maybe I do just need to get over it and move on. I mean, there were definitely things I liked about this episode. The performances are still good across the board, the action is still always well-done and I like parts of the final twist reveal, but as I look ahead to the show’s next episode, I no longer feel the same excitement I once did. Perhaps I just need to move on with the times and embrace the new show that The Mandalorian is becoming, rather than wish it would get back to what it once was. No matter what though, I’ll miss Djarin and Grogu’s simple little space adventures.
The Mandalorian ‘s Season 3 Episode 5 is now streaming on Disney Plus.