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'The Mandalorian' Finale Pulls Off a Weak Landing for a Weak Season

By Mike Redmond | TV | April 20, 2023 |

By Mike Redmond | TV | April 20, 2023 |


Previously on The Mandalorian: After Bo-Katan’s fleet joins forces with Mando’s covert, setting aside years of factional infighting, the growing throng of Mandalorians set their sights on reclaiming Mandalore. However, their homecoming is disrupted by the surprise revelation that Moff Gideon has been operating out of a secret base near the Great Forge. His Beskar-armored stormtroopers ambush the Mandalorians and capture Mando in the attack. Using the Darksaber, Bo-Katan manages to escape with the rest of the Mandalorians, save for Paz Vizla, who sacrifices himself in a final confrontation with a deadly trio of Praetorian Guards …

Welp, here we go defeating Moff Gideon again.

I’m going to lay my cards on the table here. I went into the Season 3 finale more than slightly sold on the online theory that Mando was going to bite the big one. Not because of stupid made-up bullsh*t about Pedro Pascal hating Kathleen Kennedy, but because of this quote from Brendan Wayne and Mando generally being an afterthought all season:

“This next episode is gonna make you wish you hadn’t asked for [another episode]. It might just hurt too much.”

As for why Wayne said that? No freaking clue! Not only was the finale predictably safe, but it had a downright adorable ending. If anything did hurt, it’s how much this entire season gave zero shits about making any sort of sense whatsoever. Case in point:

Who was the second spy from last week’s episode? Nobody!

But someone definitely rode the mythosaur, right? Sure didn’t!

Thrawn? Hahaha, oh you.


Picking up from the penultimate episode, Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides) is rocketing towards Bo-Katan’s capital ship to warn the waiting Mandalorians that Moff Gideon’s squadron of TIE fighters is coming. For a brief moment, it seems like he might be the spy, but as I already revealed, nobody’s betraying anyone today. Not even The Armorer. Instead, Axe gets everybody off board so he can follow Bo-Katan’s instructions and draw the TIE fighters to him as he mans the ship alone.

Meanwhile, down on the surface, Bo-Katan and the surviving Mandalorians find a way to escape the Beskar stormtroopers on their tail and meet up with the rest of the fleet to prepare for an assault on Moff Gideon’s base where Mando has been captured. Or is he?

Turns out Mando’s captivity is going to be very short-lived. In a welcome breath of fresh air after watching him be a stupid goon all season, Mando finally acts like a title character and proceeds to wreck his captor with their own flamethrowers. However, his escape starts to go sideways, so it’s a damn good thing that Grogu shows up to rescue his… father? (Hold very tightly onto that thought.)

Normally, this is the part where Mando would say something like, “We gotta get you out of here,” but not this time. He knows they have to stop Moff Gideon now, or he’ll never stop hunting their people. For the first time in the whole series, Mando looks at Grogu as a Mandalorian who’s ready to whip some ass. With some assistance from R5 doing his best R2-D2 impression, Mando and Grogu work their way to the entrance to Moff Gideon’s chamber and its Phantom Menace-like blast shields because the fan service is strong with this one.

Since he’s completely unarmed, Mando instructs R5 to open the shields one at a time at his command. He’ll have to fight off two Beskar guards behind each shield, but our boy is up for the task. After John Wick-ing his way through the guards — and, again, it’s great to see this show finally use its main character — Mando and Grogu enter the cloning facility where we learn what Moff Gideon has really been up to. But first…

Mike’s Theory Time: Before getting a look at what’s actually in the cloning tanks, my coffee-deprived brain went on a little tangent. While Snoke seemed like the most likely candidate, I briefly hoped for a live-action version of the Clone Emperor from Dark Empire. And that’s when a wild thought hit me: Holy shit, what if that’s Jude Law’s character in Skeleton Crew?! While that’s still an intriguing possibility, that’s not what was happening here.

Turns out, Moff Gideon has been cloning himself? Literally, every single tank is filled with a Gideon clone, but not for long because Mando’s got murder on the brain, presumably from all the John Wick-ing. He dumps the tank, killing all the clones dead, which thoroughly pisses off the real Moff Gideon who’s ready for his Boss Fight now. (P.S. This dumb shit is why the show burnt an entire freakishly long episode on Dr. Pershing. I nearly lit my TV on fire.)

After screaming about how he was close to injecting his clones with the Force he harvested from Baby Yoda’s blood — Did anyone else know the Force works like AIDS now? Because I sure didn’t. — Moff Gideon slaps on his dork helmet for a fight with Mando. Despite Moff Gideon being decked out in Dark Trooper armor, Mando is still holding his own, so here come the Praetorian Guards to finish the job. As that situation starts to go south for our boy, Grogu enters the fray and all three guards advance at him in a genuinely terrifying moment. These guys are efficient as hell, and the little guy is piloting a clunky droid whose arms are already getting sliced off. Oh god. Was this the hurt that John Wayne’s grandson said was going to happen?


After living every parent’s worst nightmare of watching space ninjas force your kid behind a locked door, Mando is stuck trying to fight off Moff Gideon again so he can get to Grogu. Fortunately, Bo-Katan arrives to tag in with the Darksaber as she tells Mando to go after his sweet boy.

You see, while Mando was doing his thing, Bo-Katan and the rest of the Mandalorians mounted an admittedly badass aerial assault on Moff Gideon’s base. It looks cool as hell, but thanks to this season’s baffling decisions, all I could think about was the dragon episode that made a big deal about how Mandalorian jetpacks only have a limited range. That thought would have never once crossed my mind had this show not made it a crucial plot point. I fully expect a healthy amount of hand-waving from Star Wars, but goddamn, people.

Anyway, Mando dips into the room where Grogu is Force-jumping around the light fixtures after the Praetorian Guards made short work of his IG-12 mech suit. (RIP, solid “yes no” bit.) Using a combination of Grogu’s Jedi skills and Mando’s fighting prowess, this fully formed fighting team pull off what Paz Vizla could not and wreck some Praetorian ass.

Meanwhile, Bo-Katan is locked in combat with Moff Gideon where the Darksaber really isn’t helping her do much. Despite a total of three Star Wars series making a huge deal about the blade, The Mandalorian continued its anticlimactic handling of the mythical weapon by having Moff Gideon crumple it in his hand like a piece of tin foil. It’s done. Adios, Darksaber. Nevertheless, she keeps fighting like the badass she’s been all season and tells Moff Gideon that she won’t surrender this time because the Mandalorians are now stronger together.

To prove that point, Axe Woves warns everyone that he’s crashing the capital ship into Gideon’s base to end this thing once and for all. After he ducks out the window at the last second, the ship hits its target engulfing the hangar where the Gideon fight has been going down in flames. While the Imperial warlord is presumably burnt alive by the wreckage, Grogu uses the Force to protect Mando and Bo-Katan from the blast, which makes for a cute family photo. That said, I am feeling the Bo-Katan/Armorer shipping that’s going on out there. I see it. I like it.

With Mandalore now freed from Gideon’s grasp, the helmeted weirdos in Mando’s covert can get back to baptizing kids into their cult, but now, in the fabled Living Waters. Now that he’s back to being a full zealot, Mando tries to get Grogu bumped up from foundling to apprentice. However, he’s shot down by The Armorer who notes, again, that Grogu is unable to speak the creed. That’s when Mando cites a totally new rule that never came up until now: What if Grogu had his parent’s permission? Seeing as his parents are nowhere to be found, The Armorer notes that’s also not an option, but she sees where this is going.

In a moment that melted even my cold heart, Mando announces that he will adopt Grogu. They are legit father and son now, and the little guy’s facial recognition to this development is freaking everything. In a weird, extremely last minute re-centering on what made this show a phenomenon, The Armorer instructs Mando to travel the galaxy with Grogu and teach him The Way on their adventures. This soon involves striking a deal with Carson Teva to hunt down remaining Imperials for the New Republic as an independent contractor. Bounty hunting, but with a purpose.

As for a place to rest their feet, Greef Karga gifts them a cabin on Nevarro where Space Dad can prop his feet up on the space porch while his Space Boy plays with space frogs. It’s a surprisingly heartwarming ending that suddenly acts like this show should’ve been focusing on these two the whole time, and it’s like, whose fault is that? You people wrote it. I’m just some guy on the internet.


Mike Drops

— Anyone else wildly uncomfortable with Mando learning to move past his cult and take off his helmet in Season 2 because of his love for Grogu only to turn around and literally drag the poor kid into said cult through parental coercion? I can’t be the only one. I understand Pedro had to film The Last of Us, but you couldn’t get the dude into your green screen shoe box for one scene? One quick, helmet-less scene? Jesus Christ, you people de-aged Mark Hamill 40 years. You have the technology.

— Shortly after the finale hit, I saw a comment calling The Mandalorian Season 3 the Iron Man 2 of Star Wars, and I’m sorry, but there will never be a more accurate description of this train wreck. Season 3 tried to do way too much, and in the process, forgot to do anything with its biggest draw until the last episode. As for who’s to blame, I’ve seen a lot of finger-pointing at Jon Favreau who, according to rumors, Dave Filoni didn’t have time to chaperone because he was too busy making Ahsoka. Is that the case? Maybe, but I also think that Filoni is wildly overrated, so who the heck knows?

— That said, the Marvelization of Star Wars is in full effect. How do I know? Because instead of enjoying the current thing thanks to it being packed to the gills with franchise seeding, I’m more excited for the next thing, which in this case is Ahsoka. Despite Mando Season 3 being a complete shit show, I cannot stop myself from getting hyped after this trailer. Why is this so good? It should not be this good! God, I’m the problem.