The Mandalorian was an important show in the current era of Star Wars. After two trilogies of divisive films, The Mandalorian was a piece of Star Wars content that just about everyone liked — especially in the first season. It’s the lowest common denominator in terms of Star Wars storytelling, but that’s exactly what this agitated fan base has needed over the past few years.
This is the first episode of The Mandalorian that made me wonder if this show really wasn’t for me. In the episode, Din shows up in a random space station to pull off a prison break with a few Star Wars weirdos. The almost entirely Grogu-less episode had some cheap-looking production and some overly cartoony characters. Worst of all, it doesn’t have nearly enough fun with the prison break premise (see: Andor). Even stranger, much of Din Djarin’s backstory that’s mentioned in this episode is never brought up again, making this one feel even more out of place in the series.
The saving grace of The Prisoner is that it marks the first appearance of the New Republic X-Wings. The side story of the New Republic quickly grew into one of my favorite side stories of the series — with hopefully much more to come.
The first episode of season three of The Mandalorian felt more like table setting than any episode of the show so far. The plot lines and characters set up nearly every following episode of the season, but in a way that felt heavy-handed (and not all that exciting). Leading off the season with such a dud was difficult, especially with all the confusion and annoyance over how the Book of Boba Fett played out. The Apostate didn’t do much to quell concerns about the future of the show, even if there are some fun payoffs later in the season — such as BB-12.
The Mandalorian suffers sometimes from feeling formulaic, especially when there’s little in the way of big splashes of new canon or character introductions. The first episode of a season has one job: get me excited for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, that’s the opposite of what The Apostate did for me, which is why it ranks so low on this list.
Remember when revisiting Tatooine felt a bit more novel? Okay, maybe it never did. But considering how much more time we spend on the planet in The Book of Boba Fett, this little pitstop was a hasty reintroduction. Unlike most, I like the deep dive into Tatooine’s culture and politics provided by The Phantom Menace and The Book of Boba Fett — but The Gunslinger’s swing through favorite locations of the original trilogy just felt indulgent.
More than that, as much as I liked the idea of the young Han Solo-wannabe character, it ended up being some of the most awkward writing and stiff acting of the first season. This was also the first time I remember thinking that the limits of The Volume technology were a bit more apparent, especially in those desert scenes.
If there’s one highlight from this episode, though, it’s the interesting exploration of the nomadic Tuskens. I like the nuance this episode brought to these unique Star Wars characters, which would get further explored in The Book of Boba Fett, of course.
Has there ever been a more divisive episode of The Mandalorian than Guns for Hire? This one features Jack Black and Lizzo as rulers of a utopian planet that uses repurposed Prequel-era droids to keep their little society going. It’s not a bad idea for a storyline, and I’m not someone who minds when Star Wars leans into the sillier bits. I even liked the good-cop-bad-cop interplay between Bo-Katan and Din, harkening back to Obi-Wan sleuthing around Kamino in Attack of the Clones.
But as with a lot of the one-off, disconnected adventures in this show, I wish the writing had gone deeper and allowed for more interesting character moments. There are some interesting thematic elements here that I wish the show had more time to explore, but it also had to squeeze in a big fight between Bo-Katan and the leader of the Mandalorian fleet. That’s the kind of pacing and tone problem this show has consistently faced, and Guns For Hire is among the worst offenders.
There’s plenty of stuff to like in this episode, which includes the introduction of Cara Dune in a rowdy fistfight, some slower character moments where we learn the first bits about Din’s backstory, and even a battle against an AT-ST where it’s recontextualized as a horror monster in the woods. The montage of training village farmers to fight is a little silly, but I liked the opportunity to slow down enough for Din to be forced to consider living another life.
It’s a small-scale, character-based story, even if it ends up feeling a bit inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. And hey, if nothing else, this episode gave birth to the Grogu drinking bone broth moment.
The Mandalorian is known for taking detours occasionally, but The Convert doesn’t only spend time away from our main characters — it also completely takes a turn in terms of pacing and tone. It’s not that the leisurely, slow-build pace isn’t well-done, it’s just that it feels like it may have been shot for a different show entirely. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was actually cut out of the now-canceled Rangers of the New Republic show.
The story in The Convert, though, centers on two characters, Dr. Pershing and Elia Kane, who are attempting to readjust to life as part of the New Republic Amnesty Program. And don’t get me wrong: Seeing the inner workings of life of the New Republic on Coruscant is interesting in its own right, but I don’t jive with the way this was handled. There may have been a way for The Mandalorian to have edited this storyline through the third season of the show, but it just didn’t work for me to have it all featured in this episode. It’s a shame too, because I can tell what kind of show they may have been building to, and I would have really liked it.
On the surface, this episode is just about Bo-Katan winning over the trust of Din’s covert. But thanks to an extended flashback into Grogu’s past, the episode becomes fixated on this idea of Mandalorian foundlings. In the context of the season, it didn’t feel like a big move forward, but the internet just about exploded when it saw Ahmed Best (of Jar Jar Binks fame) portray Kelleran Beq, the Jedi who rescued Grogu during the aftermath of Order 66. It was a touching scene on a meta level, and as a reflection on the way children in these orders and clans are treated.
Grogu’s official induction into the Mandalorian clan is that perfect blend of Star Wars absurdity and unabashed cuteness. Remember, this is the series that made teddy bear-like creatures deadly (Ewoks) and put a tiny green lightsaber in a puppet’s hand to fight. The idea of Grogu someday walking around in a miniature suit of Beskar might be where this is all headed after all, and The Foundling starts to play with that idea for the first time.
Bo-Katan takes the spotlight in this highly anticipated episode of the show, which sees them return to Mandalore surprisingly quickly. I sure do wish we’d gotten more wide-eyed looks into the history of the planet, especially since not everyone is intimately familiar with the lore behind this planet. What was supposed to feel grand, just ended up feeling like another romp through yet another abandoned planet.
And yet, the juice at the ending of The Mines of Mandalore felt worth the squeeze. The mystery of Bo-Katan having a mystical experience of seeing the mythosaur has been set up for years now, and the split-second sight of it was perfect — and left me with so much interest in where the rest of this season would take the story of the Mandalorians.
The entire second season was building up to the appearance of Boba Fett, and it didn’t disappoint. Placing Grogu on the seeing stone on Tython created a great setup for the clashing of these factions, which is what this episode primarily consists of. If you came to the show to see a man in a Mandalorian helmet destroy stormtroopers, The Tragedy might rank higher on your list. I’m certainly along for the ride, but for me, the desire to characterize old man Boba Fett as a badass gets a bit excessive and try-hard. I suppose we can thank director Robert Rodriguez for that.
The cliffhanger ending is delightfully campy, though, and it’s not hard not to get emotional when you see little Grogu’s puppet hands in binders. Between the destruction of the Razor Crest and the capture of Grogu, this episode was our hero’s true all-is-lost moment, and it certainly lives up to the name of the episode.
The season three finale had a lot riding on it — perhaps a little too much. Fans expected a massive twist in the story, and instead, The Return is about as straightforward a finale as we could have imagined. No main character deaths (except perhaps Gideon), no traitors, and no major plot points to set up the next season — not even a post-credit scene! But let’s focus on what this episode did provide: an exhilarating mid-air battle with Mandalorians, some very scary moments of Grogu being in danger, and the heartwarming adoption scene at the end.
The story ends by resetting the stakes for a new season, with Grogu and Din taking on the job of adventuring around the outer rim of the New Republic. It’s not hard to see how this could lead season four to connect to Dave Filoni’s eventual film, which may be many years away. Still, for those hoping to see Din take off his helmet or for Grogu to speak his first words or for Gideon’s horde of clones to do something, or for Bo-Katan to ride the mythosaur — there was a lot hinted at that never came to fruition.
The Siege acts as a reunion of familiar faces from season one, bringing back both Carl Weathers and Gina Carano for an adventure on Navarro. We even get the unnamed blue-faced Mythrol character from the first episode. More than any other, The Siege feels like a classic Mandalorian episode. It’s not overly memorable, but it features some fun action, lots of cute Grogu moments, and some interesting tie-ins to the larger galaxy for fans.
In particular, The Siege gave us the first glimpses of Dr. Pershing’s cloning attempts, which looked a lot like they were experimenting with creatures like Supreme Leader Snoke in test tubes. This is a story we’re going to get more of eventually, and I love seeing the connected universe of Star Wars tying things together.
This episode represents the original turning point for Din Djarin’s character. Having collected his bounty and upgraded his armor, Din decides to go back for Grogu, single-handedly taking out the entire crew of Imperial baddies. This is our first time seeing multiple Mandalorians in a battle together in live action, which sounds quaint considering what comes in season three.
I love seeing more of Werner Herzog’s character in this episode, which is one of many that will involve Din rescuing Grogu and killing lots of people along the way. But The Mandalorian as Liam Neeson in Taken? Yeah, that’s the vibe of this episode, and it totally works.
A Star Wars horror episode with a frog lady? It doesn’t seem like it would work. But it’s exactly the type of experiment the format of The Mandalorian has allowed the creators to toy with. The frog lady character is a fun Star Wars design, all on its own, and the thrill of the giant ice spider attack is lots of fun. I just wish the show leaned even harder into the horror, as it takes the first half of the show just to get back off Tatooine. Because really, this is a detour from the “plot” of this season, but one that’s just as much fun as the larger story. And plus — who doesn’t love the running gag of Grogu’s obsession with eating frog lady’s eggs?
My enjoyment of this episode is aided by the introduction of Carson Teva, who quickly becomes one of my favorite side characters of the series. Seeing X-Wing pilots function as highway patrol is just perfect — which are the exact kind of small details that make this galaxy feel lived in.
There’s been a lot of discussion in the Star Wars canon community about how much the novels, the video games, and the animated shows would tie into the live-action shows would. I never thought I’d see the deep-cut cowboy character from The Aftermath books by Chuck Wendig in live-action — even if he is merely another ladder rung on the journey to Boba Fett. But seeing as they were mostly ignored through the Sequel trilogy, hopes weren’t high. With the Ahsoka series on the way, though, Cobb Vanth’s appearance was only the beginning.
But I loved seeing The Mandalorian make some more direct allusions to the Western genre, which had always been a part of its DNA. In the end, Timothy Olyphant cosplaying as a Mandalorian was just fun — and the Krayt Dragon certainly didn’t disappoint. There have been a lot of big monsters and beasts in the show, and by the end of season 3, they don’t hit with the same excitement as The Marshal‘s Krayt Dragon did.
The canon nerd in me loves this episode. The reintroduction of Bo-Katan was highly anticipated, and I love the different viewpoint she provided to the show. We learn here that Din isn’t an average Mandalorian but is instead involved in some sort of cult. Din’s meeting with Bo reframes much of what happened in season one and starts to plant the seeds for season three. We get to see two different interpretations of how Mandalorians define themselves, which may turn out to be what this show was really all about to begin with. This entire conversation started in The Heiress, and it’s fascinating to go back and see how it’s developed over the following episodes.
Beyond that, we get to see a loving embrace by two frog people, lots of squid-faced Quarrens, and a Mon Calamari in a lovely knit sweater. That’s pure, unadulterated Star Wars joy right there.
There was a lot to get excited about The Spies. This is the big return to Mandalore episode, an event the show has been building toward since Bo-Katan was first introduced to the show. As has become the tradition, the second-to-last episode of the season also reintroduces Moff Gideon, who returns in grand fashion, complete with a new villainous plan to command his new Imperial Remnant.
Even more deliciously, the lingering question around the title of the episode, The Spies, added even more tension. Was the Armorer going back to the fleet to escape the attack? Did the Mandalorian pirates deliberately lead them to Moff Gideon? How about the swift departure of Axe Woves? The Spies builds up the mounting feeling that this temporary unity among the Mandalorian was about to get split in half, all aided by Moff Gideon’s over-the-top villainy. Of course, none of that happened in retrospect, but it did add some suspense to the lead-up to the finale.
All in all, there was a whole lot for the diehard fans to love here, but everyone will remember the moments of Grogu in the IG-12 suit. That’s the kind of Grogu goodness season three had been missing.
The season finale of season one was a fantastic climax to the smaller-scale nature of the first season. It’s funny to think about now, but this episode escalated the story in an excellent way, especially with the intriguing revelation of the Darksaber at the end. Grogu gets his big hero moment about halfway through, as does the Armorer.
But the heart of Redemption is IG-11’s sacrifice walking through the lava and the closing of Din’s character arc with droids. The flashback to his own trauma is fantastic, and the show manages to make the death of a droid particularly emotional — which seems to be a specialty in Star Wars at this point (looking at you, K2-SO).
Still, my favorite line of the episode, of course, is Carl Weathers saying “Do the magic hand thing” to Grogu. Now, that is magic.
The action in The Mandalorian doesn’t always land like I wished it would. The fight scenes can sometimes seem sterile and feel like they are checking another box. But not in The Pirate. The Mandalorians roll into Navarro to take back the planet from the pirates on the ground, while we’re treated to a thrilling battle in the air simultaneously. It’s all aided by the return of a fun, piratey antagonist, and some great editing between the different characters involved.
Despite the seemingly low stakes of helping out Din’s ol’ friend, Greef Karga, I love the larger state of the galaxy set up by the different perspectives this episode offers. We finally see how the worlds of the New Republic, the pirates in the outer rim, and the plight of the Mandalorians all work together. This is as cinematic as The Mandalorian‘s writing and pacing have ever felt. And I’ll say it again: more Carson Teva, please!
The Rescue is a total rollercoaster. The first half has a nice build as the season finale of the show, knowing that our beloved team of armored weirdos is coming for Moff Gideon to take back Grogu, culminating with our first real sword fight with the Darksaber and a tense standoff between Din and Bo. Bo’s inability to just take the Darksaber represents a dramatic role reversal from her claims of Din being a cultist earlier in the season.
But the rollercoaster truly begins once the X-Wing flies in, and the first security-cam footage of a green lightsaber comes into view. The exhilarating hallway scene, of course, shows Luke Skywalker as badass as he’s ever been. The scene, unfortunately, is bookmarked by some laughably bad CGI, which has aged even worse since the episode aired. Just as you attempt to process seeing a young Luke Skywalker for the first time again, though, you’re hit by the undeniable emotion that comes from Din removing his helmet and Grogu touching his face with his little puppet hands. It’s a moment so precious it makes up for some bad CGI and put this near the top of the list.
I’m always torn about this episode. On one hand, it felt the most like a blatant advertisement for an upcoming Disney+ show. Din takes the backseat to a story that has very little to do with the main story or world of The Mandalorian. But when I set aside the abrupt feeling it gave me on my initial viewing and take it on its own, it’s one of the best bits of stand-alone storytelling in the series. Visually, it’s an absolute treat and the contained nature of the conflict with Morgan Elsbeth. The whole thing has a fantastic, old-school samurai vibe, down to the final showdown.
And yes, it’s thrilling on its own to see Ahsoka in live action (and to hear mention of Thrawn, of course). But the relationship-building between Grogu and Din is excellent here too, which has always been the heart of the show. The Jedi manages to weave Ahsoka’s story into this relationship in a way that still feels like a proper next step in the season.
The Reckoning is the second to last episode of the first season and is a strong setup for the season finale. Most notably, this is the episode where fan-favorite Kuiil makes his return. Deaths in The Mandalorian are few and far between, but this one is perhaps the most heartbreaking of the bunch as Kuill’s attempt to save Grogu doesn’t go as planned.
This is another episode that feels like a true Western as our band of heroes ride Blurrgs across the quiet surface of Navarro. It’s all bookended by the epic introduction of Moff Gideon and his Imperial Remnant.
After the dazzling conclusion of the first episode, it was The Child that cemented the show’s monster-of-the-week rhythm. The one-off, episodic pace of the show got frustrating at times, especially when it felt like Favreau and Filoni were leaving cards on the table with the main story. But in The Child, it just works.
We were still discovering our two main characters at this point, and the prospect of exploring the culture of the Jawas was tantalizing for older Star Wars nerds. It’s a simple episode with few words, and as it turns out, that’s not always a bad thing. What a weird, wonderful way to start off this show. For many fans, this is the tone of the show people miss given how much the larger scope of the show has grown into.
The Believer became a surprise hit with fans when it first aired. In what could have been just another side mission toward rescuing Grogu, this Bill Burr-starring episode quickly rose to the top of the best episodes of The Mandalorian of all time. The conversation between Migs Mayfeld and Din masterfully set up the final confrontation with the Imperial officer, where our Mandalorian hero willingly removes his helmet for just the chance at seeing his little green kiddo again.
This is as menacing as an Imperial officer has been in a long time, making for one of the most well-acted and best-written scenes in the show.
Is it a cop-out to give the number-one spot to the first episode? Maybe. But the power of those final 30 seconds encapsulates everything that makes this show work. I was never all that interested in a show focused squarely on a gruff, “badass” Star Wars bounty hunter. But the surprise awaiting us inside that pram changed everything for the audience — and for Din. It was brilliantly executed, and just as a stand-alone piece of storytelling, works magnificently.
The now-iconic shot of Din reaching out to touch that little puppet hand is the scene that hooked the world on The Mandalorian and stands as the single best moment the series has offered so far. In many ways, the rest of the show has been the exploration of this exact moment, which is exactly what a good inciting incident should always do. This is the way!
All three seasons of The Mandalorian are currently streaming on Disney+.
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