While most people are feeling the fatigue as the giant Marvel train chugs along, one could almost, as in almost, argue that Star Wars has been slightly left behind since the end of the latest film trilogy. There seems to be no plan to establish a coherent cinematic universe any time soon, and that leaves us with Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau.
In fact, they've been given leeway to play with their own little microcosm, with The Mandalorian paving the way for Ahsoka Tano and plenty of other projects. It's their own little secluded playground, where the two have used nostalgia, exciting new genre combinations and a consistent pace to recreate some of the magic that seems to have been lost. Now we're into the third season of The Mandalorian, which once again expands the subject matter and the playing field.
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Kicking things off, Mando, or Din Djarin, is in trouble, and must reconnect with his own people on Mandalore. This comes in the midst of a rift on the planet, as the rebel Bo Katan also tries to gather the wreckage of Mandalore's people, but who will lead them? There are plenty of intriguing questions, but the first episode remains fantastically limited in its desire to answer them. To date, that's been one of the series' finest skills, namely trundling the expansion of its universe.
It does seem, however, that the Mandalore customs, their mutual need to remain true to their warrior ways, and the possibility of renewal become a central focus, and that seems smart, since iconography, mysticism, and a sufficient distance from the broader mythos all seem to be present here.
It no doubt helps that The Mandalorian remains a pretty great TV show, even if a sequence with a large monster at the beginning shows some slightly questionable CG effects. In the lighting, Joseph Shirley's music and rock-solid set design the series finds the biggest aces up its sleeve. Moreover, it must be said, again, that Pedro Pascal continually proves he has range, gravitas and depth. Whether it's as Joel in The Last of Us, or under the helmet here, he's an excellent front man.
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He's also flanked once again by excellent supporting characters in the form of Emily Swallow's The Armorer and Carl Weathers' Greef Karga, and then of course there's Grogu. The first episode makes sure to take things in stride, but it works since the show has rather carefully built up tension and expanded its universe in a meaningful way.
The Mandalorian remains a solid Star Wars series, and a solid foundation that Favreau and Filoni can easily build on. The overall verdict on this third season will ultimately depend on how it builds towards a satisfying climax, but for now we can all breathe easy - we're on the right track.