A few thoughts on the upcoming third season of The Mandalorian

The official trailer for the third season of The Mandalorian has just been released:

Disney announced that the popular space western will begin streaming on March 1. Between this trailer and the original teaser that arrived several months ago, it appears that this season will center around a pilgrimage to the Mandalorian homeworld of Mandalore as the lead character Din Djarin (or Mando), accompanied once again by Grogu (colloquially known as “Baby Yoda”), attempts to appeal his excommunication.

The season’s premise might seem confusing for anyone who skipped (or memory-holed) the painfully disjointed saga of The Book of Boba Fett. While season two of The Mandalorian left off with an emotional scene in which Mando gives Grogu over to CGI Luke Skywalker so “the child” can receive formal Jedi training, a multi-episode side-plot during Boba Fett reversed that narrative. Also during The Book of Boba Fett, Mando is told that he is “a Mandalorian no more” for repeated violations of his clan’s rule against removing his helmet in the presence of others.

In this trailer, Mando states a desire to “be forgiven for my transgressions” and says that he will journey to Mandalore in order to seek redemption. Other shots in this trailer suggest that we will be given yet another Order 66 flashback to learn more details about Grogu’s backstory and how he escaped the attack on the Jedi Temple (marking the third time that Disney-era live-action TV shows will have revisited this event).

The first two seasons of The Mandalorian featured moderately enjoyable characters, action, and world-building. We can likely expect the same from the third season, although this trailer indicates that it has the distant potential to be much more. In order to do this, it needs to improve in two areas.

First, the show needs to shed the rigid episodic story structure that has thus far defined it — resisting the urge to make each entry a story unto itself. And second, it needs to level up the the character development and depth of dialogue. Andor set the bar high for this, and it seems highly unlikely from his past work that showrunner Jon Favreau can match that caliber of storytelling. However, The Mandalorian need not match Andor‘s intrigue and unpredictability to learn from it.

A show like this — that is thus far Disney’s most-viewed Star Wars TV title — must not settle for mediocrity as it enters its third season. Stories can only coast for so long on exciting action scenes and artistic trailer shots without creating compelling characters. This is The Mandalorian‘s do-or-die moment to distinguish itself from Kenobi and Boba Fett and establish itself in the top tier of its genre.

Only time (or a midi-chlorian tester) will tell if it is up to the challenge.

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