The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 7 review: That’s more like it

Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 7Disney+

It may have taken until Episode 7, but The Mandalorian Season 3 has finally returned to gunslinging, thrilling form – this is the Star Wars show we’ve been forced to wait for.

Remember when Season 2 gave us the perfect ending to Din and Grogu’s story, only for it to be undone in a ham-fisted, cowardly plot diversion in The Book of Boba Fett? It felt odd at the time, and with hindsight, it could be the worst creative decision in Dave Feloni and Jon Favreau’s TV empire.

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The effects of the elsewhere father-son reunion heading into the new season of The Mandalorian have reverberated through all of the episodes. For the few highs (Episode 2’s return to Mandalore, Jack Black and Lizzo’s cameos, Bo-Katan getting the darksaber), there’s been a weightlessness to it; it’s hard to feel any urgency when the show seems to have lost its grip on its two main characters.

And yet, with Episode 7, I was on the edge of my seat, mainly thanks to the scene-stealing, dread-inducing presence of a villain who actually means something to the story.

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Spoilers for The Mandalorian to follow…

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 7 brings back Moff Gideon

We open on Daiyu, the Blade Runner-esque city seen in Obi-Wan Kenobi, with Elia Kane strolling through the rainy streets in a trench coat in search of a droid (it’s an explicit homage to the classic sci-fi movie, and it’s just pretty enough to get away with it). She meets with Moff Gideon via a hologram and tells him the Mandalorians are working together, despite being sworn enemies.

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“I shall deal with our Mandalorian friends,” he says, before marching through red laser walls in an incredibly cool series of images. Giancarlo Esposito brings a gravitas and charisma to Gideon that’s immediate – it’s a shame the season has taken this long to reintroduce him.

Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 7Disney+

He meets with the Shadow Council to ask for support to take on the Mandalorian threat. Some are happy to stand behind him and back his calls for new leadership, while others aren’t so keen; more specifically, Gilad Pellaeon and Brendol Hux (yes, the father of Armitage Hux from the sequel trilogy, and he’s played by Domhnall Gleeson’s brother Brian). Just as some people await the second coming of Christ, Pellaeon eagerly anticipates the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn – but Gideon is skeptical. The success of his comeback may rely on secrecy, but nobody’s heard a thing.

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Thrawn aside, the council eventually unites upon hearing the plans to retake Mandalore. “We shall be rid of the Mandalorians once and for all, long live the Empire,” Gideon shouts.

The Mandalorians return to Mandalore

We cut to Nevarro, where a huge Imperial Star Destroyer casts a shadow over the city – except it isn’t the Empire; it’s Bo-Katan’s recovered fleet. And as Greef Karga says, they’re his welcomed guests. But there’s trepidation in the air: this will be the first time those who walk the way meet Axe Woves and the other Mandalorian mercenaries. “What little they know of each other they hate,” Bo-Katan warns.

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Grogu in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 7Disney+

Sure enough, the atmosphere turns frosty as they come face-to-helmet, but The Armorer breaks the tension with the clanging of her hammer and the offer of a feast. Meanwhile, Greef gives Din two gifts: a bottle of Coruscant whisky and a rebuilt, re-envisioned IG-11. Now, it’s IG-12, and it requires Grogu to act as its pilot. Din, like the anxious father he is, doesn’t want his kid operating heavy machinery, but Grogu rebels and struts around the room, pressing “yes” and “no” buttons like a naughty boy with a toy. Babu Frik fans will be satisfied: he sees Grogu and says, “Bad baby, no squeezy.”

Bo-Katan sets out the plan: the fleet will move and sit above Mandalore while a small team surveys the planet to make sure it’s safe before bringing other settlers. Volunteers are few and far between at first (Din and Grogu were always going, so I don’t know why they take so long to step up), but their willingness encourages others to put themselves forward, including Axe and Paz Vizsla.

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The Mandalorians find survivors

As they break through the lighting clouds of Mandalore (as noted in an earlier episode review, these brief moments evoke the wing-rattling, immersive scenes in Blade Runner 2049 and First Man), some of the Mandalorians see their battered, purge-torn world for the first time. Soon after, they meet a group of Nite Owl survivors (including a captain played by Top Gun: Maverick’s Charles Parnell).

As they sit and talk about where they’ve been, and how things came to be, Bo-Katan makes a confession: before the Siege of Mandalore, she was tasked with negotiating a ceasefire with Moff Gideon. If she surrendered the planet, the lives of the remaining Mandalorians and their cities would be spared – but her misplaced trust saw her betrayed and partly responsible for the purge.

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Bo-Katan in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 7Disney+

This memory causes a crisis of confidence, but Din assures her that things will work out. “For thousands of years, we’ve been on the verge of extinction, and for thousands of years, we’ve survived… what means more to me is honor, loyalty… and character,” he says, before vowing to serve “Lady Kryze” until Mandalore and their futures are secured.

Paz Vizsla goes out like a champ

The survivors lead them to the great forge, but they’re attacked by a massive dinosaur-like creature en route (it’s definitely not a Mythosaur, if you were wondering). Fortunately, nobody is harmed – even Grogu in his silly mini-mech suit. They head underground and find the forge, but their reverence for such a historic place is quickly disturbed by Imperial troopers blasting from a distance.

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A firefight ensues (the action is still a little weighty for my taste, but the geography of each Mandalorian is well-observed and the music is terrific), but they’re led straight into a trap: doors separate Din and Grogu, he’s pinned down and stripped of his weaponry, and Gideon floats down from above in a next-gen Dark Trooper suit built from beskar alloy.

The next age of Mandalore is going to have to wait, because Gideon’s new Imperial station has already been built in the mines, and he plans on using the planet’s resources to strengthen his army – oh, and he wants the Mandalorians to join him after Bo-Katan gives him the darksaber.

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She refuses and makes a run for it while Paz Vizsla holds them off, but as an endless stream of troopers descends on him, he shuts the door behind him so the others can escape. “This is the way,” he says, as he uses everything in his arsenal to beat them: he maxes out his Gatling blaster, whacks them in the face with his gun, and shoves them off the side of the platform into the depths of the mines. Just as he seems to have survived, he’s met with a terrible fate: three members of the elite Praetorian Guard, who impale him with their terrifying electric blades. He went out like a champ, and regardless of what happens in the finale, we know what the next season has in store: war.

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 7 review score: 4/5

Some may resent how long The Mandalorian has taken to deliver the goods, but Episode 7 is superb – for the first time in Season 3, I’ve enjoyed the show for the reasons I should be enjoying it.

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The Mandalorian Season 3 Episodes 1-7 are available to stream now. 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? | What is a Mythosaur? | What are purrgil? | Where is Cara Dune? | Will there be a Mandalorian movie?