The Mandalorian Finds a Home in “The Return”

The last episode of season three! The last episode ever? Probably not, but given all the wrap-ups involved, it certainly could be…


Bo-Katan gets in touch with Axe Woves and tells him that they’ve found Gideon, his base, his plan, and that a fleet is coming to intercept their people. They need to get all their warriors on the ground and use the flagship as a decoy to distract the TIE fighters. Axe boards the ship, gives the orders and takes over command alone, automating the weapons so their people can take drop-ships to the surface. Din takes on his guards and is helped by the sudden appearance of Grogu. He asks the kid to be brave, as he plans to find Gideon and stop him. Asking for R5’s help, he learns where Gideon is likely to be on the base.

The Mandalorian, season 3, episode 8, The Return

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Din finds a series of guards and fights them in turn, taking their weaponry. He then finds Gideon’s cloning chambers, and destroys the entire lot. Bo-Katan and her people are taken to underground caverns where they learn that Mandalorians have been growing native flora. Their reinforcements arrive, and they head to the base to fight Gideon’s troopers. As they clash in a jet-packed assault, Din confronts Gideon, who brings out the Praetorian guards. They fight Din until Grogu steps in. Then Gideon has the guards menace Grogu into another room while he fights Din, but Bo-Katan sees this from above and arrives to have her final fight with Gideon. Din goes to help Grogu and the child uses the Force to help him defeat the guard.

Bo-Katan fares well in the fight with Gideon, but he crushes the Darksaber in her hand. He gloats, insisting that she cannot beat him, but she reminds him that Mandalorian strength comes from unity as Din and Grogu return to help her fight. Axe Woves is crashing the flagship into the base, telling everyone to flee, but Bo-Katan, Din, and Grogu don’t have time to evacuate. As the ship explodes, Gideon is taken by the flames, while Grogu shields Bo-Katan and Din using the Force.

The Great Forge is relit on Mandalore. The Armorer completes Ragnar Vizsla’s “baptism” into the covert. Din wants the same for Grogu, but the Armorer points out that he cannot talk, meaning he cannot take the creed. Din says that his parents could give permission, but she notes that they have no idea if his parents are even alive. Din decides that he will adopt Grogu. The Armorer accepts this and dubs the child Din Grogu. Now that he is adopted and an official apprentice, Din must take him on journeys to mentor him, as custom dictates.

Din heads to the New Republic outpost to see Carson Teva. He tells him that he can continue to help the New Republic on his own terms, and that if Teva needs help, he should give them missions. Teva knows this would never get approved, but basically agrees to the arrangement. Din asks for an old IG unit head that he sees Grogu eyeing in the bar. They use it to repair IG-11 and give him to Greef Karga as a Marshall for Nevarro. Karga gives Din the key to a cabin on the outskirts, where Din and Grogu can rest “between missions.”

The Mandalorian, season 3, episode 8, The Return

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

And that’s exactly what they do.


This was simultaneously wildly satisfying while being the goofiest, most clichéd mess I’ve ever watched, and I’m still laughing about it. I mean, I had fun, but what.

Let’s start with a couple obvious things—first off, how long does it take to jetpack up to low-atmosphere, like I buy that it would take some time, but there was a whole speech and a fight and a face-off with Gideon, a lot of stuff has happened and Axe is still jetting to the carrier like it hasn’t been about a half hour since he bolted. And then Grogu magically appears to save his dad and Din is like eh, we should definitely just take on Gideon ourselves while we’re here, right?

The Mandalorian, season 3, episode 8, The Return

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

To be fair, this is very him. What’s not very him is immediately calling up R5, asking for desperately needed help, and calling him “buddy” the whole time. Din, you doubled down on your droid racism, remember? It was awful? Why is R5 suddenly okay again, aren’t you still mad at him for telling Carson Teva where the cult was hiding out? Also, how did he get here, I don’t remember seeing him jetpack down with everyone else…

And look, I know that we love a series of ray shield partitions, but this is absurd. With Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon in Episode I, those shield segments were being used for dramatic effect and they worked wonderfully, so I’ll forgive the fact that they don’t make much sense at first glance. With this… why would you keep your forces sectioned off from each other? What is the point of stationing them in a line with the partitions unless Gideon literally just did it for vibes? Not that he doesn’t strike me as a “this looks cool” guy, I mean, look at his demonic Mandalorian helmet knockoff…

So Din does his video game simulator and gears up as he takes on each section of troopers—seriously, this is a video game, they’re all equipped differently, so he takes different weapons and gear from each set, don’t even look at me right now—and gets into Gideon’s cloning room where we find all his duplicates and one of them fully jump-scares Grogu before Din blows them all to hell somehow. (Everything is always rigged to explode, didn’t you know?) Then it’s time to stumble on Gideon, who is ready to tell them about the whole evil plot, being that he was trying to give his clones the one thing he needed to be truly great, which was obviously the Force!

The Mandalorian, season 3, episode 8, The Return

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

…There’s a whole aside here that needs making, being that it’s super unclear what anyone thinks they’re accomplishing when cloning themselves like this because clones aren’t duplicates or new bodies. They’re unique individuals, as the clone troopers show us, so unless Gideon developed a way to download your consciousness into a fully grown clone (which was clearly a thing Palpatine wanted/eventually does, but is never brought up here), then how exactly is he thinking of these clones? As his… progeny maybe? The overwrought lines certainly have that ring to them—“I’ll give my kids opportunities I never had, like Force supplements with their blue milk!’

We’re just gonna skate right over the fact that, as of this moment, the whole Doctor Pershing episode was utterly pointless. I guess they can bring it back later, but for now, it did absolutely nothing for this arc aside from showing us the New Republic being unethically monstrous to people who are technically prisoners of war. (Which, again, WHY?)

Then there’s another totally random aside where the Mandalorians who have been living on the planet briefly take Bo-Katan and company to await the arrival of reinforcements in a cave where they’ve been growing vegetation this whole time. The entire all-too-brief section is literally devoted to the showing us that green native plants can still grow on the planet, there is nothing else to add since they immediately leave because their reinforcements arrive, and it could have easily been shown to us in the previous episode. But, you know. It’s pretty. So that’s nice.

Sorry, another thing, didn’t they transport wounded to the flagship in the last episode? Wasn’t that less than a day ago? People who were too hurt to go without advanced medicine? Where did—you. You just forgot about them, didn’t you. Yeah.

Also, the fact that Axe Woves doesn’t die when they give him all the usual “suicide run” cues once he takes over the flagship is pretty funny, but that’s a discussion for another day.

The Mandalorian, season 3, episode 8, The Return

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Battle commences, everyone’s fighting in midair, Bo-Katan can see that Din is having a tough time with Gideon since the guy had Grogu hauled off by the Praetorian guards. She sends him off after his kid, has her proper showdown with This Fucking Guy, who has been ruining her life on a regular basis. While Din gets to feel the full advantage of the Force (this kid should not be able to make the fight this easy for him given the Praetorian skillset, but fine, I digress) as Grogu helps him dispatch the guards, Bo-Katan holds her own against…

…hang on, is Gideon half-a-robot here? Does no one else hear that clanking every time he moves, what is going on with this man’s joints?

Then he grabs her hand holding the Darksaber and crushes it like an aluminum fairy wand and, yup, you know what, this man is definitely part robot. Are we not. Not gonna talk about that. No? Okay.

Which is unfortunately distracting because when he insists that Bo-Katan can’t defeat him and she tells him “Mandalorians are stronger together,” I did genuinely tear up. Not because it’s a good line, it’s pretty dang rote, but because she’s right and that’s the theme of the show, after all, and it’s great watching Din show up to defend her the way he promised he would. Watching him and Grogu give it all up for her while the rest of their people escape and the flagship is crashing down on Gideon’s base. Watching Bo-Katan shield them in turn from Gideon’s assault, this is all great stuff. And then the ship hits and Gideon is engulfed in an explosion and there’s no body, so I’ll believe it when I see one—also, as mentioned, this man is half-robot, I’m pretty sure. What are those sound effects for otherwise.

The Mandalorian, season 3, episode 8, The Return

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Of course, Grogu must protect Din and Bo-Katan from this inferno with his Force powers, but I have to tell you all, the music cue being used is almost the exact same cue used whenever Moses commits an Act-of-God in The Prince of Egypt, so that’s all I’m thinking about while I watched it. Sorry, I’m ruining the moment. I’ll wait for Grogu to part the Red Sea some other time.

Then we get all the cool denouement stuff, with the relighting of the Great Forge, and Din demanding the Grogu be added to the song of his covert. Which is how we find out that the adoption hadn’t been quite official on their terms, only being “apprenticed” to Din or whatever. (I would like to point out the apprentice terminology didn’t really turn up much until this season, so methinks they changed their minds about how they wanted the adoption deal to work, to make things more dramatic. They were a clan of two before, how is that not being adopted? Anyway…) Din finally makes it official. THAT’S HIS SON NOW, OKAY? HIS ENTIRE SON.

Now that means he has to take the kid off and train him, which is… not a thing we see being done with any of the other Mandalorian kids, but okay. Sure.

The Mandalorian, season 3, episode 8, The Return

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Which is how we get Din heading to that New Republic pilot hangout (I guess he asked R5 to tell him where Teva lives as payback) to create a brand new arrangement. Din and Grogu will be the sheriffs of the Outer Rim for the New Republic, taking bounties to help the new government keep things in check. And, you know what, okay. I’ll allow it. I’ll also allow for Dave Filoni (creator of Clone Wars, Rebels, and Ahsoka to name a few things) just sitting at the bar in his regular people clothes, but seriously, guy, you couldn’t ask them to make you a pilot suit? Who are you supposed to be? I love ya, but why would you step on set and not ask the costuming department to make you a real outfit? This is baffling to me.

That droid head is highly convenient, but yeah okay, IG-11 is back and the Marshall of Nevarro now. Karga gives Din a cabin (because as I’ve been mentioning since Peli gave it to them, that starfighter is not a house, thank you for finally fixing this). The cabin has these weird not-rails that look like a place for tying up horses, only there are no horses and they’re clearly just there to give Din a place to put his feet up when he’s sitting in his trusty Adirondack chair. Sorry, this is a Western, that’s the wrong region. Lawn chair. Fine Nevarran rocker.

And honestly, you could end the show here? They’ve done all the stuff they need to do, but presumably we’ll get at least one more season of Din taking Grogu on learning missions. Which seems fine, but I’m perfectly contented to leave them in their cabin. They deserve a break.

Bits and Beskar

  • Sorry, Gideon is still calling Din “The Mandalorian” like he’s not fighting all of the Mandalorians.
  • I would like more information on the fact that apparently they couldn’t grow anything outside of well-regulated gardens on Mandalore well before the Empire attacked. Tell me what they did to the planet, I’m so curious, it sounds bad. The idea of regrowing all the native wildlife is so exciting to me, can we get way more of that?
The Mandalorian, season 3, episode 8, The Return

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • The naming convention with Din is weird because literally no other Mandalorian names that we know work this way—they all go first name followed by family surname (typically the clan name), but Din Djarin is apparently the opposite for no given reason. It’s possible that the Mandalorians know the naming conventions of his former people and this is where they’ve taken the cue from, but then they should tell us that?

Well, my friends. That was season three, and Ahsoka is coming. Star Wars abides.


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