How The Mandalorian can get back on track for Season 4

A poster for The MandalorianDisney+

Did you see that Mandalorian finale? Episode 8 was essentially the second of a climactic two-part denouement to the series. We finally saw villain Moff Gideon come back as a major menace. We also saw the Mandalorians reunite in the fight to extinguish his threat and reclaim their home world. Many fans felt it was a thrilling end to the season, but it was perhaps too little too late. Although, now you come to mention it, there were even issues with the finale – so, what does this mean for The Mandalorian Season 4?

For anything to stay fresh, relevant, interesting, and really good, it needs to evolve. It can’t stay the same, or it will stagnate. In fairness, The Mandalorian did evolve in Season 3 – only a lot of Star Wars fans were quick to point out its faults regardless. If the show’s creators are smart, they’ll take note of any (justified) criticism and craft a series that can win back the naysayers.

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We’ve got a few ideas for how the show can get back on track for Season 4. So strap yourself into your N-1 Starfighter and let’s go. But be warned, there are spoilers ahead.

Smaller scale

Season 3 of The Mandalorian felt quite ambitious, and large in scope. The series literally reunited the different factions of disparate Mandalorians and re-established their planet – thought to be a toxic no-go zone – and culture. All while battling the re-emergence of an arm of the evil Empire, headed up by a megalomaniacal bad guy intent on creating really, really bad, powerful Force-sensitive clones of himself. Oh, and we got some really obnoxious pirates thrown in. Plus, a little sub-plot about an interspecies May-December love affair, too, in one episode.

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To return to a smaller scale in which the intimate-feeling world of the first season is recreated could reignite fans’ affection for the series in The Mandalorian Season 4. Season 3 introduced so many new characters; in particular, a bunch of helmet-wearing Mandalorians. It also introduced or further explored other characters ripe for spin-offs or who are being set up for the next thing.

It all felt too unwieldy, and (pardon the pun) forced. One of the things we loved about The Mandalorian in the beginning was its focus on a very small corner of the Star Wars universe. The first season played out like an adventure-of-the-week type show in which stakes were relatively low and we met idiosyncratic characters that were in keeping with the feel of Star Wars. Remember Frog Lady? She was quirky and also low-key – and made a great foil for Baby Yoda as we came to understand and grow fond of his adorable, sometimes mischievous ways.

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Mando’s chat with Captain Teva at the end of Season 3 tells us that what’s next for Mando is exactly this. He expresses he wants to take jobs on a case-by-case basis. He’ll do this while bringing up his newly adopted child and teaching him the ways of a Mandalorian as his apprentice. It wouldn’t be boring if we followed this phase of his and Grogu’s life together. There could still be a bigger storyline threaded through it. Or better still…

A time jump

Baby Yoda aka Grogu in The Mandalorian looking ahead to The Mandalorian Season 4Disney
Grow up, Grogu.

Yes, a time jump taking us some way into the future in which Grogu is older, and speaking, and is a little more autonomous could be the answer for The Mandalorian Season 4. Perhaps a bit like the MCU’s Baby Groot as a teen. Okay, so Din Djarin would either be elderly or dead, but aren’t you curious about what will ultimately become of Grogu? And don’t you have questions about his parentage and origins? Grogu is certainly tormented by his past – we’ve seen him experience flashbacks to the execution of Order 66. But what came before that? And what happened to him between Order 66 and the start of The Mandalorian?

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As Armorer actor Emily Swallow said at Star Wars Celebration recently, the show should be called ‘Grogu’. The ending of Season 3 brings Grogu front and center. It’s as if to say this series has always been primarily about telling his story. And it leaves us hungry for the next chapter.

A time jump could allow Grogu to start exploring his origins. This could lead to the discovery of his biological parents. It might sound on one level a bit like Luke Skywalker’s story, and you’re not wrong. But hear us out. Firstly, that approach has proven successful, and secondly, if Star Wars is about anything it’s about the cyclical nature of events. (Yes, and space.)

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Ahmed Best’s Jedi Kelleran Beq, who we saw in flashback save Grogu on that fateful night, could feature as a father figure, and provide Jedi tutelage to help Grogu develop and wield his Force skills. We’d see Grogu marry his Mandalorian side with his Jedi nature. We’re certainly curious about Kelleran Beq and want to see more of his story, especially since it’s so closely linked to our favorite foundling.

No no no! Stop manipulating us with the cute button

A time jump would also put a stop to the series going overboard in its manipulation of us with cuteness. We all love Grogu. He’s super cute. But he can be cute without it feeling like we’re being played. Season 3 has been overt with its manipulation of us through Grogu’s goo-goos, gah-gahs, bad baby squeezes, and spinning around on office chairs. Yes, it’s cute. Yes, he’s cute. But, gah, we know what you’re doing and we hate ourselves for falling for it. Plus, it’s distracting and sometimes jarring.

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It pulls us out of the screen universe – a world in which we should and want to be immersed – as the series reaches for easy wins. It even brazenly reintroduced Anzellans after the success of another cute critter, Babu Frik, in the sequel trilogy. You can almost hear the discussion among Mando creatives around making audiences’ heads explode with a double dose of cuteness, bringing Frik’s tiny species together with Grogu.

Avoid the Scooby Doo villain trap

Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon -- will he appear in The Mandalorian Season 4?Disney
Giancarlo Esposito as The Mandalorian’s Moff Gideon.

Moff Gideon was set up to be quite a major bad guy in Season 1, with his shocking plans utilizing genetic experimentation. There was a feeling that his story was a slow burn that could be significant in the wider Star Wars universe. And it is, to a degree.

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In the end, though, Gideon actually became something of a Scooby Doo villain before being engulfed in flames. Before his apparent demise, Gideon laid out his plan and all but said to Mando, “I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids”.

It’s possible that the Gideon that was overcome by fire was one of the clones, just as it’s possible that not all of his clones were destroyed – which could mean there’s more to come from Giancarlo Esposito’s antagonist. 

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However, The Mandalorian Season 4 might not be the best place to explore Gideon’s story further – but he could resurface elsewhere to join the dots of Snoke’s and the Emperor’s stories from the sequel movies. Whoever the big bad winds up being in Season 4, the creators really need to make sure they fulfil their promise.

Fewer cameos

Since Season 1, The Mandalorian has incorporated cameos. But back then, they were done in a less obvious – and less jarring – way. For example, Taika Waititi voiced the droid IG-11. A nice, unobtrusive way to bring a big name into the franchise.

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In Episode 6 of Season 3, ‘Chapter 22: Guns for Hire’, however, three overt cameos attracted criticism for jerking viewers abruptly out of the world on screen. Famous faces Jack Black and Lizzo played Plazir-15 rulers Captain Bombardier and the Duchess while Christopher Lloyd played the planet’s head of security, Commissioner Helgait.

Perhaps just one of these names in the episode could have passed muster. But all three? That’s just showboating. And very distracting.

Less self-conscious 

Cameos patting themselves on the back, and over-manipulation of audiences by ramping up Grogu’s cuteness and blatantly engineering sequences in which he can really display his winsome charms are part of what makes Season 3 self-conscious. It’s a no-no for a screen universe like Star Wars in which suspension of disbelief and immersion is required, and desired.

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A concerted effort to minimize self-aware moments can get The Mandalorian back on track for Season 4 – and this includes the shoehorning in of Star Wars-esque sayings and phrases wherever there’s the slightest glimmer of an opportunity. People loved when Princess Leia called Han Solo a scruffy-looking nerf herder? Let’s shove more of those kinds of idioms in. It seems like that’s how the conversation went.

Used sparingly, fine – ‘dank farrik’ used as an exclamation is one the show just about gets away with. Even if it’s so far so show-specific and no one else in the Star Wars universe seems to use it (is it a localised curse stemming from the Outer Rim?). 

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But ‘mudscuffers’ calls to mind the dubbed alternatives to real-life swear words on movies they used to broadcast on TV pre-watershed, and if Christopher Lloyd’s character’s utterance “If that isn’t the Quacta calling the Stifling slimy” didn’t make your eyes roll, you’re made of more resilient stuff than the rest of us. Pull back on the mirroring of real-life sayings that just substitute in made-up words. And yes, we know that Cad Bane and Boba Fett have both said the phrase previously. Even more reason to JUST STOP NOW.

Look to Andor

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor.Disney/Lucasfilm
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor.

There’s been some criticism of The Mandalorian Season 3 for leaning into the type of storytelling and style of the animated series, from which Mandalorian executive producer Dave Filoni comes. What works in animation doesn’t always translate to live-action, as countless live-action remakes of animated hits have shown.

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With Andor raising the bar in the Star Wars universe, the creative heads behind The Mandalorian would do well to look to Tony Gilroy’s immense series for inspiration over the animated shows as a way to freshen the series and maintain the quality. Taking pointers from the way Andor shaped characters and told its story could help elevate Season 4 of The Mandalorian and reinvigorate proceedings. 

One more thing

Don’t do things like make the Darksaber so easy to destroy. That was wack.

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You can find out more about The Mandalorian Season 4 here and check out our other coverage below:

The Mandalorian Season 3 cast | Season 3 episodes & release schedule | Season 3 runtimes | What time do new episodes of The Mandalorian drop? | When does The Mandalorian take place? | Who plays The Armorer? | The Praetorian Guard explained | What is a Mythosaur? | What are purrgil? | Where is Cara Dune? | Will there be a Mandalorian movie?