Well, it’s been over two years since season 2 ended, and The Mandalorian is finally back! It’s hard to imagine this show living up to years of hype and an emotional season 2 finale, but it’s also hard not to be excited about the one show keeping Disney+ afloat, and not just because of Baby Yoda.
“The Apostate” opens on an initiation ritual for a new Mandalorian covert member. However, the celebration is interrupted by a giant monster attack. The Mandalorian swoops in and dispatches the beast. The Armorer tells Din he’s still an apostate, and he sets off to bathe in the Mandalorian waters to be forgiven for removing his helmet. On Navarro, Greef asks Mando to be the marshal, but he declines, citing his mission. Mando does ask for IG-11 back, or at least the parts of him that remain. Waking him up proves dangerous, so they take IG-11 to local droid smiths to be fixed. IG needs a memory circuit, so Din leaves to find one, attracting the attention of pirates who have been terrorizing Navarro. Din and Grogu escape by hitting the hyperdrive. They visit Kalamala, a planet in the Mandalorian system, to visit Bo-Katan. She informs them there’s nothing on Mandalore to save, the mines aren’t special, and the people can’t be reunited. Nonetheless, she directs Din to the capital city of Sundari to find the mines.
Wow, what a return! I know Mando technically returned to Shanghai Boba Fett’s show, but we’ve been waiting a while now for The Mandalorian. When the episode began, I initially thought this was a flashback to Din’s initiation. The kid looks like the little boy who played young Mando in season 1, and more importantly, there are a lot of people present at this ritual! I thought the covert was hunted down and reduced to single digits – essentially just Mando, the Armorer, and Paz Vizsla. I also thought the boy’s helmet looked like Mando’s with a different paint job, but now that I think about that, it’s not a great observation; most of the helmets are very similar. Obviously, the new recruit is a foundling, but where did all these adults come from? I’m not complaining, mind you; just confused. Between this and the business with IG-11, it feels like they’re trying to reset the board back to how it was in season 1. I don’t like that notion; I enjoy it when a show meaningfully shakes up the status quo and really challenges the characters to adapt. I’m open to seeing where this leads, but for now, I’m not super pumped to see IG-11 come back to life. Just let Mando make some new friends, and they can help.
“The Apostate” looks downright incredible. The Mandalorian has had consistently great production values; the character even brought that energy along with him to The Book of Boba Fett, a show that otherwise lacked it. But I think they must have increased the budget going into season 3. We see a lot of creatures and people in suits in this episode, and it’s delightfully classic Star Wars eye candy. I appreciated the shot of Grogu watching Purgill through his window. These space whales were introduced early in Rebels and later became very important. Could they be teasing the return of the creatures in Ahsoka? It would make perfect sense, as Ahsoka is searching for Ezra, who was last seen with the Purgill. The action is electrifying in the episode as well, especially the fight between the Mandalorians and the huge alligator monster. The show’s score by Ludwig Goransson is always delightful, and it keeps up the pace in “The Apostate.” The costumes are fantastic as well, especially on the pirate lord. This guy looks like he’s made of plants! I love it.
Speaking of pirates, I have a feeling they spell trouble for Navarro. They’re not going to stay away just because Mando killed some of them; if anything, that’ll provoke them to attack the planet even more. Without a marshal to protect them, they’re sitting ducks… or banthas, or something. I like the designs of the pirates, and I’m intrigued by their history with Greef. The main conflict this season looks to concern Bo-Katan and Mandalore, but I wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if these guys show up again.
They found a sloppy, obvious way to write Cara Dune out. I guess I don’t blame the writers because what can you do? When one of your main characters gets fired, it’s going to be distracting. Greef tells Mando that Cara Dune was recruited by Special Forces after arresting Moff Gideon, explaining her absence on Navarro, where she would have been the marshal. This could have been worse, and I didn’t love her as much as some, though I did like her. It probably would have been better for everyone if they could have worked this out behind closed doors rather than firing Gina Carano.
Another thing I found to be not-so-subtle was the presence of the Babu Frik aliens. I know they’re set on propping up the sequels, but come on. What are the chances that these guys live on or come from Navarro, the planet we’ve been seeing since season 1? The scene where Grogu cuddled one of them like a baby doll was funny and cute, but I don’t love seeing sequel stuff regardless. It’s was also sweet when Mando teaches Grogu what the buttons on the ship mean. He’s like a dad teaching his kid how to drive.
The stuff with Bo-Katan is probably my favorite, despite not taking much screen time this week. I love to feel conflicted about this woman! She’s such a hypocrite, saying the different factions “shattered (her) people.” Girl, you joined Death Watch and rebelled against your own sister! Who are you talking to? I don’t hate Bo-Katan, but she’s always been morally grey and self-interested. I’m excited to see where this thread goes this season.
Overall, I enjoyed “The Apostate.” I have a couple of gripes and several questions, but I’m so happy this show is finally back. I can’t wait to see how this season plays out, and I sense some Clone Wars tie-ins with Sundari.