The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 8 review: A huge anticlimax
The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 8 is a dire finale; underwhelming, safe to the point of feeling pointless, and opting for cozy fun over any sense of actual drama.
We’re at the finish line, so we can say this fairly: The Mandalorian Season 3 is a new low-point for Star Wars’ television empire, feeling more like a big-budget appeasement for Dave Filoni and fans of The Clone Wars and Rebels than a compelling continuation of the story.
Ever since the first episode, there’s been a niggling weightlessness to all of it. We knew Din had to get to Mandalore to be redeemed, and that was cleared up quickly. Bo-Katan quickly emerged as the new de facto lead, with the rest of the season revolving around her legacy with the Darksaber and retaking Mandalore (with the exception of that paint-drying Dr. Pershing chapter).
Episode 7 gave us hope: Moff Gideon finally returned, summoning the choir-belting oomph of the Praetorian Guard to finish off the Purge of Mandalore once and for all. It teed up the potential for a thrilling, possibly shocking finale – alas, they may have won, but we lost.
Spoilers for The Mandalorian to follow…
The Mandalorian finale picks up right where we left off
No time has passed since Paz Vizsla’s death. We’re back with Bo-Katan and her surviving Mandalorians as they find a way out of the mines. Meanwhile, Axe Woves flies back to the fleet (they’re in the upper atmosphere, but surely their outfits aren’t built for those temperatures) while Din is dragged away by troopers. His feet are limp, but it’s a ruse to get the upper-hand: he breaks one of their necks, and just as he’s about to be blasted in the head, Grogu appears (out of nowhere, we’d add) to save him.
“I’m gonna need you to be brave for me,” Din tells him, explaining that they have to take out Moff Gideon or he’ll never be stopped. We then get the title card: ‘The Return’ – if you’re waiting on Grand Admiral Thrawn making an appearance, don’t get excited.
As interceptors whoosh to the sky to destroy the huge light cruiser in orbit above the planet, Moff vows to “take care of [Din] myself.” He’s a cool villain, boosted massively by Giancarlo Esposito’s scenery-chewing charisma – but as a character, he’s never been able to justify his arrogance. He criticizes the Mandalorians for relying on their trinkets, but he’s the one who crafted a next-gen Dark Trooper suit from their resources. He’s nothing without his toys, without firepower; we need a villain we can respect, not just enjoy as their cape wafts with their swagger.
Din calls for help from R-5, his anxious droid who assisted him on his first trip to Mandalore in Episode 2. He glides into action, managing to download the Imperial base’s schematics and guiding Din and Grogu to Moff’s station. “This might get messy,” Din warns, and messy it gets. He kills troopers in any and all ways: fire, blasters, stun batons, and knives. Action has never been the show’s weakness, and it’s nice to see it remembering the appeal of its titular hero: a gunslinging bounty hunter who makes light work of anyone who stands in his way.
Din and Grogu vs Moff and the Praetorian Guard
Meanwhile, Axe reaches the cruiser and orders everyone on-board to escape in smaller ships. They retreat through the clouds to Mandalore, narrowly avoiding the interceptors as they speed towards the spacecraft. Down below, Bo-Katan, The Armorer, and the others hide out in an underground farm full of greenery, carefully cultivated in the wake of the Great Purge. “Life persists,” one of the survivors says.
Bo-Katan and The Armorer then lead a jetpack dogfight (one shot of the badass pair flying side-by-side, with Bo-Katan wielding the Darksaber, is easily the episode’s strongest image), while Din and Grogu find Moff’s clones. To the shock of nobody, they’re all clones of Moff himself, so Din “smothers them before they could draw their first breath.”
When they come face to face with Moff, he reveals his clones would have possessed the one thing he doesn’t have: the Force, as he’d isolated the potential to wield it. Din and Moff then duke it out in a crunching, wrathful fight, but with neither man able to overcome the other, he calls on the Praetorian Guard. However, they barely touch Din: Grogu gets their attention, and they follow him into another area while Din and Moff continue their brawl.
While The Armorer bonks troopers left, right, and centre with her hammer, Bo-Katan takes a break to help Din. “Go save your kid,” she says, and he runs off to rescue him from the crimson-clad warriors. Grogu is basically bait for the guards, using the Force to fling their weapons and push them away while Din shoots them. Things do not go so well for Bo-Katan: Moff grabs the Darksaber and crumples it like a can of Coke. Don’t you think it’s great when one of the coolest weapons in the galaxy far, far away, one with eons of mythos, is just destroyed with no immediate repercussions? Remember when Rey and Kylo Ren split the lightsaber in The Last Jedi… those were the days.
Din, Grogu, and Bo-Katan are saved by Axe, who nosedives the light cruiser into the mine, engulfing it in fire. While Moff is consumed by the swirling inferno, Grogu uses a Force barrier to protect his space daddy and mommy.
When the dust settles on Mandalore, the Great Forge is relit, and Grogu officially becomes Din’s son: Din Grogu. He’s no longer a foundling, now his adopted dad’s apprentice, and they’re free to go off on their own missions. They head to Nevarro, where Din asks Carson Teva for some bounty-hunting work from the New Republic.
Of course, we get one last reunion with Greef Karga on Nevarro, who gifts Din a cabin for him and his “new family” to live in “between adventures”, while a rebooted, repaired IG-11 will serve as the city’s marshall. The episode ends on a peaceful sight: Din with his feet up, while Grogu plays with a frog.
We’re not saying we wanted Grogu to die – nobody wants that – but there were no surprises whatsoever; no watercooler moments, no payoffs, nothing to be excited for or scared of going forward (yes, Thrawn is coming… in another show). Some may feel emotional over Din officially adopting Grogu, but why? We’ve been calling them a father-son duo for years now, and everyone around them refers to Grogu as his kid. Maybe we’re just over it – the show seems content on being the equivalent of a soft blanket, and that’s not enough for us.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 8 review: 2/5
It’s not that The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 8 is outright bad, but it’s the most boring version of any finale we could have had. There’s no ambition to this storytelling, instead feeling like the last step of an elongated series reset for Grogu and his dad. We wanted more.
The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 8 is available to stream on Disney+ 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? | The Praetorian Guard explained | What is a Mythosaur? | What are purrgil? | Where is Cara Dune? | Will there be a Mandalorian movie?