The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 4 review: Is that it?

Grogu in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 4Disney+

The Mandalorian returns to its monster-of-the-week format with Season 3 Episode 4, but even with more revealed about Grogu’s past, it’s hard to not feel like the show’s running out of steam.

Last week was a low-point for The Mandalorian. After Din and Bo-Katan emerged from the living waters of Mandalore, we spent most of the episode with Dr Pershing, Moff Gideon’s scientist who was accepted into Coruscant’s amnesty initiative after working for the Empire.

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It was Andor-lite storytelling, a weak imitator that served as a blunt reminder of what The Mandalorian does best: classic Star Wars fun, with Din and Grogu flying from place to place and meeting weird and wacky people and creatures – this is the way.

Episode 4 would appear to be a response to the criticism of the previous chapter: it’s short and sweet, there’s a big monster the Mandalorians need to beat, and we meet an old Jedi – and I felt next-to-nothing.

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Spoilers for The Mandalorian to follow…

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 4 pits Grogu against a foundling

We open on a Concordian shore, with the Children of the Watch training; fighting, flying, blasting, and flamethrowing. Meanwhile, Grogu sits next to the water using the force to play with hermit crabs.

Din (Pedro Pascal) tells him that “playtime’s over” because it’s time for him to train with the other kids in order for him to become an apprentice. Pretty much everyone else is concerned Grogu could get hurt, but Din isn’t bothered. In a darts duel with Paz Viszla’s (Tait Fletcher) son Ragnar (Wesley Kimmel), he flips around him and defeats him with ease.

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This is where The Mandalorian is strongest: the adorable father-son moments we share with Din and Grogu, especially with Pedro Pascal’s reassuring cadence and Grogu’s nervous babbling. The practical puppeteering effects have yet to lose their novelty, too – every little waddle and ear-twitch fills you with joy.

Din and Grogu in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 4Disney+

Flying over the cliffs, a huge animal – somewhere between a dragon and a pterodactyl – dives down and grabs Ragnar with its claws, before taking to the skies. Paz and a few others go after them in their jetpacks, but they can’t keep up, leaving Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) to pursue the beast alone.

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The CGI in this scene is really ropey; the background looks fuzzy, the monster itself isn’t particularly well-rendered, and the flying feels a bit weightless, especially compared to the show’s earlier action.

“We should muster up a hunting party,” Bo-Katan says, in one example of the episode’s stilted dialogue. So, she sets off with Din, Paz, and co. while Grogu stays behind with The Armorer. She explains how the forge is the “heart of the Mandalorian culture… just as we shape the Mandalorian steel, we shape ourselves.”

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“We all begin as raw ore, we refine ourselves through trials and adversity. The forge can reveal weaknesses,” she tells him, but the sound of pounding beskar clearly bothers Grogu, sparking a flashback to his last moments in the Jedi Temple as the Empire carried out Order 66.

Jedi rescues Grogu in Order 66 flashback

We see a small group of Jedi helping Grogu escape as they’re mowed down by stormtroopers, before Kelleran Beq (Ahmed Best) appears and takes him aboard his speeder. It’s probably the episode’s most thrilling sequence, given the harrowing context we already know, and the Fallen Order/Force Unleashed-style force pushes and saber-twirling is great – but the early-2010s VFX is off-putting and weakens the spectacle.

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Following the flashback, The Armorer gives Grogu his first piece of armor: a rondelle specifically designed for his chest. “Mandalorian steel shall keep you safe as you grow stronger. You will grow into this rondelle as you grow into your station, Foundling Grogu,” she tells him, as Joseph Shirley’s score swells affectionately.

Below a far-away peak, Din and the other Mandalorians set up camp and prepare for their climb to rescue Ragnar from the monster’s nest. They pass around food, but they can’t eat together – with the exception of Bo-Katan, who gets the honor of remaining by the fire, the others need to find a spot where they can sit alone and remove their helmet. The Way really is daft.

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The next morning, they carefully ascend the peak and reach the nest, and Paz loses his cool. “He’s my son,” he tells Bo-Katan before haphazardly trying to reach him, at which point the monster and its babies emerge screeching from the branches. It grabs both Paz and Ragnar and flies off, but Din and Bo-Katan catch up and free them from the animal’s grasp, killing it in the process.

Shadow of the Colossus has completely ruined monster hunting for me, but thankfully, the babies in the nest aren’t left behind. They’re taken aboard a ship and brought to their new home with the Mandalorians, where they’ll be kept safe and trained.

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The Armorer forges a new piece for Bo-Katan after her heroic efforts. She asks if she can wear one pauldron of the Nite Owl and another of the mythosaur, and tells The Armorer about what she saw in the living waters. She seems to write it off as a harmless, “noble vision”, but Bo-Katan insists it was a real mythosaur. “When you choose to walk the way of the Mandalore, you will see many things,” she’s told. “But it was real,” Bo-Katan urges, and the episode ends.

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 4 review score: 3/5

A passable, pacy episode of The Mandalorian that finds its best scenes in Grogu’s past, rather than anything in the present. Season 3 needs to find a compelling through line in its story, or it’s at risk of feeling more and more tedious each week.

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The Mandalorian Season 3 Episodes 1-4 are 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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