The Mandalorian Season 3 Finale Feels Like The End Of An Era

Mandalorian - Navarro

by Ben Travis |
Updated on

Right from the very beginning, there’s always been a little fairytale DNA in Star Wars. Not only because George Lucas’ first film followed the archetypal hero’s journey narrative — just, with its farm-boy cultivating moisture rather than livestock, and its wise old man boasting Force powers and a laser sword — but in those simple blue words that begin every Skywalker Saga film: ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…’ And while The Mandalorian is a show that’s dabbled in various genres over time, channelling Westerns, samurai stories, heist tales, spy-thrillers and more, Season 3 delivered a properly fairytale ending — so much so, it might as well have closed on a blue text card of its own: ‘And they all lived happily ever after.’

Probably the biggest surprise of ‘Chapter 24: The Return’ (is it a coincidence that the concluding act of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey structure is ‘Return’?) was how, well, final the finale felt. Not just as the ending of this latest arc of Din Djarin and Grogu’s (sorry, Sir Din Grogu’s) tale, but of everything Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau’s show has established so far. If this wasn’t Star Wars – with its ‘no-one’s ever really gone’ continuous narrative drive — you’d be forgiven for thinking that the story was over. Moff Gideon seems to have been vanquished (albeit with much wiggle room should they wish to bring him back). Din has officially been named as Grogu’s father, adopting him and gifting him a pre-surname (cue much confusion over how Mandalorian family names work). They even have an adorable little house together, choosing to live on the outskirts of Nevarro rather than on Bo-Katan Kryze’s freshly reclaimed Mandalore. The story that began all those years ago, with Din Djarin accepting a simple job to track down a mysterious 50-year-old being, actually concluded here.

As endings go, it was a neat one — tying together the admittedly disparate threads of Season 3 while also paying off the bigger picture. For all that this latest run has sometimes felt in need of a clearer direction — largely centreing Bo-Katan over Din Djarin and Grogu, spending an episode (fascinatingly) exploring the state of the New Republic, and moving away from the streamlined mission-of-the-week simplicity of the early seasons for a deeper dive into Mando-lore – everything ultimately connected. The quest to reclaim Mandalore was directly tied to Moff Gideon’s return; Gideon’s masterplan to create a Beskar-clad, Force-wielding army of his own clones instigated the entire story, revealed as the reason he put out a bounty to acquire Grogu in the first place; the acceptance of Grogu into the Mandalorian culture required the kid to be officially named as Din Djarin’s adopted son, cementing their familial bond; the newfound peace of Din Djarin and Din Grogu’s domestic set-up dovetailed with the Mandalorians’ re-taking of their own homeland, both attained by the ultimate destruction (or is it?) of Moff Gideon. Everything came full circle.

If anything, it was a circle that hammered home that feeling of finality — or, more specifically, an iris edit in the final shot. There was already something homely about Din Djarin sitting nonchalantly on his porch – feet quite literally up — while Din Grogu toyed with a wriggling frog a few metres away, the pair exuding a sense of calm and stability that has eluded them ever since they first came together. But the frame circling in on our father-son duo elevated this image of harmony, delivering a moment of closeness — and, yes, finality. It was the editing equivalent of ‘The End’, of a storybook closing. ‘All was well.’ Maybe, in true George Lucas style, we could have got an American Graffiti-style text wrap-up. ‘Din Djarin enjoyed his regular freelance gig with Carson Teva for many happy years, and soon adopted a handful of Anzellans. Din Grogu ate many one-eyed frogs, and was very happy for several centuries before retiring to Dagobah.’

Surely, though, this isn’t the end. For one thing, Jon Favreau has spoken about having written The Mandalorian Season 4 already — which, unless a sneaky misdirect, means there are more Mando-Grogu adventures to come. There are still threads left dangling — not just Din’s new arrangement with Carson Teva to pick up off-the-books jobs for the New Republic, but the regular teases that Grogu isn’t able to speak… yet. And with the recent announcement at Star Wars Celebration 2023 that Dave Filoni will be directing an upcoming Star Wars movie, tying in characters across The Mandalorian, Ahsoka, and more, that the duo will be back seems unavoidable — why would you make a film set during this era and not include the two most wildly-popular, instantly-recognisable characters?

If it’s not the end, then, it does at least feel like the end of an era. Assuming that Moff Gideon really is dead — with the caveat that his Beskar armour might have shielded him from the fireball that engulfed him on Mandalore, and that his clone project means a ‘Somehow, Gideon returned’ moment isn’t out of the question – then the stage is set for the start of something new, handing the villainous baton over to Lars Mikkelsen’s Grand Admiral Thrawn, waiting in the wings to make his live-action debut in Ahsoka this August. Filoni has talked up Thrawn as the big bad of this New Republic era — his impending arrival could mark the start of a whole new chapter. Or, perhaps Season 4 will be a back-to-basics shrugging off of this season’s lore-heavy story, cleaning the slate for a simpler set of adventures next time around. Maybe, the next time we see Din Grogu he won’t be Baby Yoda any more — the kid has to grow(-gu) at some point, and while it would come at the expense of some of that joyful cuteness, a slightly older Child would deliver real character development.

For now, though, The Mandalorian Season 3 ending feels like an exhalation point – a chance to stop and smell the freshly mown space-grass in Grogu and Mando’s front yard. (And goodness, what a beautiful final shot that is — so open and airy and restful, gorgeously scored too.) Before jumping ahead to whatever’s next, let’s appreciate this moment of narrative closure and revel in a happy ending for our beloved characters, who have finally earned a bit of hard-won peace. It might not be ‘Happily ever after’, but this finale still felt like a definitive statement. For now, their song is written.

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