The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1 review: This is the way

A still from The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1Disney+

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1 is a cosy reminder of why we fell in love with the show: sleek production values, nippy storytelling, and – of course – Grogu at his cutest.

The clanging, chiming sound of a blacksmith battering metal opens the episode. As The Armorer (Emily Swallow) pieces together a new helmet, in a sequence reminiscent of Tony Stark assembling his Iron Man Mark 1 suit, drums thunder along the beach outside.

There, a young boy awaits his official induction into the Children of the Watch, the Mandalorian “cult” that steadfastly follows the ways of… the Way. Just as he’s about to swear to never remove his helmet, a ginormous crocodile emerges from the Concordian depths; it makes Lake Placid’s monster look like a baby.

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A slickly envisioned battle ensues – it may not be as smooth as Avatar 2’s watery action, but it’d look just as impressive on the big screen. From the skies, a starfighter descends and kills the monster with ease. It’s Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu, sporting a goofy little smile. Cue the cheers, because they’re back. “This is the way.” Spoilers for The Mandalorian to follow…

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1

We’ve seen Din remove his helmet on a few occasions, and his transgressions have caught up with him. The Armorer tells him he’s an apostate and can no longer be considered a Mandalorian, so he vows to return to Mandalore and “bathe in its living waters” so he can be forgiven.

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“The creed teaches us of redemption,” he says, but you may be too busy being distracted by the gorgeous shine of his armor. Andor’s gritty, grimy, no-frills heroism was terrific, but seeing Mando suited and booted is enough to make anyone dream of pew-pewing their way through the galaxy far, far away.

The show does lack consistent visual appeal, though. While some scenes are workmanlike and uninspired, feeling televisual in the worst sense, others are awe-inspiring. For example, we see Grogu gazing at purrgil swimming through the whirl of hyperspace, and a late dogfight with pirates shows how far we’ve come with small-screen VFX.

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Din heads to Nevarro to catch up with Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), now a High Magistrate dedicated to keeping his planet “respectable.” This is a low-effort role for Weathers, but that’s why he’s so likable – he radiates charming, no-hassle NPC energy, especially when he refers to Grogu as a “little guy” or “critter.”

Not only does he want Mando to stay and “live off the fat of the land”, but he’s in the market for a marshal to maintain law and order, especially when pesky pirates show up looking for trouble. Aside from that, Nevarro is worlds apart from the outer rim’s earlier reputation, now a hub of culture; storefronts and stalls are bustling and buskers play music on the streets.

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We get quick explanations for two characters: Cara Dune (Gina Carano) was “recruited by special forces” after delivering Moff Gideon to the New Republic, while the former Darksaber-wielding villain is being held at a war tribunal.

Babu Frik returns – hey hey!

Din can’t accept Greef’s offer, but asks if he can take re-assemble IG-11 (the droid voiced by Taika Waititi who sacrificed itself to save Grogu from being captured) to take with him to Mandalore. It’s a big job made for small hands, so they pay a visit to Babu Frik (hey hey!). Between him and Grogu, especially with his Gremlin-like muttering, practical puppeteering will always be better (and funnier) than CGI creatures.

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Their initial efforts to reboot IG-11 accidentally turn him into a murderous machine, as it defaults back to wanting to kill Grogu rather than saving him. The scene is lifted straight out of 1984’s The Terminator, with IG-11 dragging itself across the floor and grabbing Din’s food just as the T-800 crawled towards Sarah Connor through the hydraulic press.


Din leaves the droid with Frik, and he sets off to Kalevala. After fighting off some pirates without breaking a sweat, he lands to find an empty castle, with just one person sitting on its throne: Bo-Katan Kryze. He says he wants to join her, but after she failed to return with the Darksaber, there’s “nothing left to join.”

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Brief reminder: In Season 2, Bo-Katan wanted to reclaim Mandalore by besting Moff Gideon in battle, as that’s the only way to officially be worthy of the Darksaber. When Din fought him, he accidentally became the rightful ruler of Mandalore, and she clearly holds a lot of resentment for him. Expect this to be a major source of tension throughout Season 3.

She tells him to go home, and he says he’s going to Mandalore. She calls him a fool and accuses his “cult” of giving up on Mandalore long before the purge. She also tells him there’s “nothing magic about the mines” and it’s all superstition, but he pledges to prove her wrong.

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The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1 review score: 3/5

Perhaps a victim of its pre-premiere in The Book of Boba Fett, the first episode of The Mandalorian Season 3 is entertaining, but it lacks a bit of oomph. We’ll never tire of seeing Star Wars‘ best space daddy and son exploring the galaxy, but this feels like half an episode. Still, this is the way.

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 1 is streaming now on Disney+. You can sign up here. You can also check out our other coverage of the show here.

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