The Mandalorian ’s identity crisis continues in season 3 episode 7, which struggles to give us a reason to care about its new main character.
Episode 7 of season 3 of The Mandalorian opens with a truly perplexing scene. It’s the penultimate episode of the season, when surely every second of screen time should be building towards the most exciting finale possible. Instead though, the show decides to take a pause and devote some screen time to tying in other more obscure shows, before then trying to set up one of its upcoming spin-offs.
It’s a choice that not only feels misjudged but also represents everything wrong with this season. For season 4, I propose that they should rename the show from The Mandalorian, a name that actually means something, to Star Wars Hub, because that’s all this is now. This is just the show that sets up other shows. Every ounce of individuality and identity is long gone, replaced by algorithms that determine which characters need spin-offs. It’s truly depressing.
With that all being said though, I actually think that “Chapter 23: The Spies” is a masterpiece of television. Why? Simply because they give Grogu, the real star of the show, a robot that he can control and make talk. Look, after this season of The Mandalorian has slowly sucked away my soul, shedding every aspect that I’d come to love about the show, all I want anymore from it is just Grogu screen time. This is one of the more Grogu-centric episodes of the season, because he actually gets something to do that isn’t just sitting back and observing, and every second he’s on-screen playing with his new robot the show immediately feels so much more alive.
Bo Katan-Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) is yet again the star of the show, and there are only so many times I can repeat just how bad of a choice I think this is. There’s just nothing there for a viewer to connect to with her character. In the first season of the show, the emotional side of things is arguably what they nail the best. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) is trying to protect an adorable creature and, as an enjoyer of adorable creatures, I care about this adorable creature and don’t want to see it be eaten or shot.
It’s an incredibly simple emotional hook but it’s a very effective one. Add to that the burgeoning father-son relationship between Djarin and Grogu and that’s another thing to get invested in, to want to see progress. Here, I just don’t care about her journey. Her getting the Darksaber doesn’t mean anything because it’s just given to her.
This episode, which sees the Mandalorians explore Mandalore, attempts to delve deeper into Katan-Kryze’s backstory, but it’s arguably too little too late. The Mandalorian arguably worked so well in its early seasons because its emotional hook was so simple that even someone who’s never seen Star Wars before could get invested in it, but here her backstory is so complex and filled with so much jargon that it just flew completely over my head. Perhaps that’s more of an indictment of myself than of the show, but I’m reviewing these as someone with a casual knowledge of Star Wars, so whilst a more hardcore fan might find some of these war-related revelations fascinating, for a more casual viewer, it just means very little.
Din Djarin is again relegated to a supporting role in his own show and at this point, it feels like Pascal just wants to move on from the show. Earlier this week, The Mandalorian director Rick Famuyiwa, who directs this episode, spoke about how the show’s title doesn’t really refer to Djarin anymore, and I wonder if this season is their way of moving on from Pascal completely. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he almost completely disappeared from the show next season and only appeared in brief cameos, as his performance here feels wooden and phoned in, with his line deliveries lacking any sort of passion or emotion.
Arguably the biggest talking point though is the inevitable return of Giancarlo Esposito as the villainous Moff Gideon. His survival was revealed earlier in the season in one of the world’s most predictable twists, and I am excited to see what they decide to do with him in the season finale. His screen time here is unfortunately mostly sacrificed to the altar of set-up, but Esposito is such a strong actor that I’m sure he’ll absolutely smash whatever he’s given to do in the next episode. His villain work especially is normally sublime, and whilst Moff Gideon himself is barely a character, lacking any notable traits that aren’t just being played by Esposito, I’m sure he’ll still manage to be a stand-out in the grand climax of the season.
Despite the negative tone of this review, I am looking forward to next week’s finale. Partly because I’m excited to see one of my favourite actors get to do more villain work, partly because I adore Grogu, and partly because I’m intrigued to see how they decide to conclude a season that’s lacked any real interesting focus. As for this particular episode, it’s got its fair share of good Star Wars action and it’s one of the season’s better-paced episodes, but the show at this point is suffering from such a bad identity crisis that even its better-made episodes are struggling to leave much of an impact. Hopefully next week they’ll get back on track, but at this point, I’m doubtful.
The Mandalorian ‘s Season 3 Episode 7 is now streaming on Disney Plus.