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The Mandalorian Recap: Did Any of Those Fan Theories Pan Out? — Grade the Finale and All of Season 3

As it turned out, The Mandalorian — more than either prior season — ended Season 3 with a true two-part finale, given that this Thursday’s “The Return” was extremely continuous with “The Spies.”

Literally, the action picked up with Bo & Co. giving chase after the hogtied, kidnapped Din.

Er, the kidnapped Djarin, I mean.

Heading into the finale, fan theories were of course abound. Would The Armorer and/or Axe be revealed as a spy for the Imperial remnants? (Nope, though the latter was looking sus for a hot second as he claimed sole control of the light cruiser. Also, The Imperial Remnants is a great band name.)

Would Grand Admiral Thrawn make his live-action debut at the end, even in a post-credits scene, to declare, “Frak Moff Gideon, I’M the true Big Bad of this TV universe”? Hardly.

Would there be a loss that “hurt too much”? Fool us once, Brendan Wayne….

Mandalorian Moff GideonI honestly don’t know how to feel about this finale, soon after viewing it. The fan theories were provocative (as fan theories always are), but instead we got a series of events that, if I asked you last week to sketch out the scenes of the finale, you’d have been 90% correct in foreseeing them. Djarin got free and faced off against Moff Gideon, only to get owned again… so Bo stepped in, Darksaber and all, only to see her mighty, coveted and iconic weapon get crushed like a cosplay prop during a Hall H stampede. The merged Mandalorian tribes engaged in mid-air battle with scores of troopers, but save for the Armorer braining one bogey good, it wasn’t a very decipherable set piece.

Mandalorian finaleMy heart did skip a beat when the door closed behind IG-Grogu being surrounded by three Praetorian guards — I thought we’d be left to fret at least a beat longer how that turned out. It was a nice callback to see R5 deliver a clutch, R2-like data retrieval moment. And to be sure, the image of Grogu protecting Djarin and Bo from the fiery cruiser explosion with a Force bubble was instantly-iconic.

Mandalorian finaleLastly, no one could not “Awwww” when Djarin told the Armorer that he would formally adopt Grogu so that the Child could be his official Mandalorian apprentice. And the closing scene of Dad and son (Sir Din Grogu?) kicking back at their Nevarro cabin, with Djarin now unofficially on the New Republic’s payroll, was a cozy end to a pretty mid season.

But all in all the finale felt rushed, to the detriment of built-up/hyped-up plot points. Gideon’s grand and absolutely harrowing experiment — Force-wielding, beskar-clad clones of himself! — was snuffed in a matter of seconds by Djarin randomly slapping at levers and knobs on a control panel? (As sister site Rolling Stone‘s Alan Sepinwall noted in our Wednesday-morning DM exchange, we spent a whole episode with Dr. Pershing… for what?) The Darksaber of lore is simply no more? Grogu’s rondel and mail never once came into play? (How much more dramatic a moment if the shot Gideon fired-off at the kid had bounced off/christened the armor?) Gideon is probably (but not assuredly) dead..?

And while this was by no means mandatory, surely some of us suspected that each season would give us at least one moment of Helmetless Mando.

Season 3 had its bright spots. We got more Bo-Katan/Katee Sackhoff than I imagined, and her arc nicely fleshed out what the animated series had started. Grogu became more verbal. Mandalore is habitable. But all told, I now look forward to Season 4 and its assumed return to the show’s early template.

What did you think of finale and Season 3 as a whole? And are you looking forward to Season 4 (presumably) returning to the Mission of the Week format, with Djarin working as an “independent contractor” for the New Republic?

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