The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 5 review: The plot finally thickens

Cameron Frew
Bo-Katan Kryze in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 5

The Mandalorian Season 3 has floundered from chapter to chapter, without a reason to care about any of it – until now, with Episode 5 bringing a much-needed, substantial shake-up.

There’s an argument to be made that The Mandalorian should have closed its book with Season 2. It was the perfect ending: Din completed his mission, parting ways with the “kid” in a way that felt honest to Star Wars and heart-wrenching to viewers, with poignant fan service into the bargain.

Season 3 has easily been the weakest in the show so far, on account of the whole thing feeling a bit pointless. We reunited with Mando and Grogu in another series altogether, and there’s been no sense of cohesion between each chapter; it feels like a child playing with their toys each week, rather than having any sort of overarching story.

Fortunately, Episode 5 – titled ‘The Pirate’ – strives to tie its strands together in an action-packed chapter, albeit one that still fails to have any impact on an emotional level.

Gorian Shard and Captain Teva return

After Din (Pedro Pascal) embarrassed him by blasting his ships to bits and hopping into hyperspace, Gorian Shard (Nonso Anozie) strikes back with a vengeance in Episode 5. While Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) is shifting things around, Gorian’s shard casts a huge shadow over the city and starts raining hellfire.

Greef refuses to pay him off, as it’ll set a “bad precedent”, but Gorian laughs at the idea he’ll get any help from the New Republic. Greef flees with a small group of people while pirates flatten and pillage his city. He sends a message to Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) pleading for his help, but Zeb (Steve Blum) warns that the New Republic hasn’t responded to any transmissions for weeks – so, Carson decides to take a trip to Coruscant. “Good luck, you’re gonna need it,” Zeb tells him, in another example of the show’s dialogue sounding like it was written by an AI bot.

Greef Karga in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 5

When he arrives, he meets with Colonel Tuttle (Tim Meadows) and asks him to approve a backup Adelphi squadron to help with the pirate siege. Tuttle is indifferent about the planet’s woes; not only hasn’t he heard of it, but he doesn’t even listen to Greef’s whole message. “I get the gist, it does sound concerning,” he says.

Elia Kane (Katy M. O’Brian) eavesdrops and subtly inserts herself into the conversation. Tuttle asks if she’s spent much time on Nevarro, and she tells him the planet has yet to sign the New Galactic charter. However, Teva’s hackles go up when he clocks her amnesty badge, and she seems particularly sheepish when he explains his theory: Shard’s attack isn’t an isolated episode and it may be connected to Moff Gideon, especially amid rumors of him escaping en route to the war tribunal.

“Perhaps the leaders of Nevarro need to understand why becoming a Republic signatory is valuable,” Kane says. “By letting them suffer? Sounds like a rather Imperial way of thinking,” Teva sneers.

With the exception of the endless joy of seeing Grogu waddle and babble, O’Brian may be the highlight of Season 3 so far. She’s a compelling source of tension; an Imperial specter maneuvering the shadow of a rebellion. Also, this season is going to end with Moff Gideon returning in the finale, isn’t it?

Mandalorians vs Pirates

Teva then flies to Concordia and asks the Mandalorians to defend Nevarro from the pirates. Everyone is hesitant, but Paz Viszla (Jon Favreau) rallies the troops in a long, leading speech. “We are Mandalorians. I have had my disagreements with this man, but he risked his life to save my son. And Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) didn’t give up on my child’s life, even when the rest of us did,” he says.

“These two are asking us to take up arms in the name of a brighter future, and I for one will take up arms to fight by their side. This is the way.”

Paz Vizsla in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 5

They set off to Nevarro and launch straight into a retaliation, taking down the ground-level pirates while Din and Bo-Katan pick apart Gorian’s ship engine by engine. “They’ve got you outnumbered 10/1,” Greef warns Din. “I like those odds,” he quips as he blasts his way through another enemy aircraft.

As set-pieces go, this one is… fine, if a little generic. The dogfighting continues to be impressively rendered and staged, while the run-and-gun action is distinctly Rogue One-y. There are three standouts: Paz Viszla dropping in with a huge laser Gatling gun, the Armorer (Emily Swallow) clearing a room with her blacksmith hammer, and seeing Babu Frik and his Anzellan cronies cheering every time a pirate is killed.

In no time at all, they overcome Gorian’s forces, while he plummets to the ground in a blaze of arrogance. Greef thanks the Mandalorians for their assistance and cedes a large area of land to them. “You may no longer have a home planet, but you do now have a home,” he says, which is met with cheers and respectful nods.

Bo-Katan forges a new age of Mandalore

The Armorer then summons Bo-Katan for a private chat and orders her to remove her helmet. Remember when she confessed to seeing a real-life Mythosaur, and the Armorer wrote it off as a vision? Well, she wasn’t being entirely open with Bo-Katan. “I was taught that the Mythosaur only existed in legends, and yet, you saw it. It is a sign that the next age is upon us. Mandalore must all come together,” she says.

Bo-Katan has walked both worlds, so the Armorer allows her to keep her helmet off and travel the galaxy in search of other Mandalorians, “so that we may join together once again… she can bring all tribes together. It is time to retake Mandalore.”

Before the episode ends, we get a small bombshell: Teva finds a derelict ship drifting in outer space, which is soon revealed to be Moff Gideon’s prison transport. His body isn’t among the dead left in the ship, but that isn’t the shocking part – after scanning the wreckage, they find a fragment of Beskar alloy. For now, it seems like Moff Gideon was broken out by Mandalorians.

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

While The Mandalorian Season 3 is still struggling to reach the show’s earlier highs, Episode 5 is an improvement; five chapters in, and there’s finally a sense of urgency. Not enough Grogu, though.

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 5 is streaming on Disney+ now. Check out our other coverage here.