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The Mandalorian

The Apostate (The Mandalorian - S03E01) - Live Action Series

Series: The Mandalorian

Title: Chapter 17 - The Apostate

Season: Three

Episode: 1

Original Air Date: March 1st, 2022

Runtime: 33 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"You are a fool!" SPOILERS.

Where's Waldo - Cara Dune edition

2022 was somewhat of a mixed year for Disney's two most important franchises. Marvel and Star Wars. While Star Wars is still absent from global box offices various MCU movies seriously underperformed, in fact, the latest MCU Movie, Ant-Man 3, will probably be a genuine flop. Various Marvel shows on Disney+ failed to repeat the ratings successes of earlier series and when it comes to Star Wars then both The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi had ok ratings, but failed to impress many fans who didn't like the shows all that much. And the one series that received a lot of praise from both critics and a good number of fans was not a huge ratings hit, Andor only had about 40% of the viewers of the other Star Wars series. And The Bad Batch is completely flying under the radar, it's not even in the top 10 Nielsen streaming charts and chances are viewership is pretty low. So The Mandalorian once more is supposed to come to the rescue. Now the big question is, can season 3 rekindle the magic and pick things up where they were left off? The last proper episode of The Mandalorian was released 15 months ago or so, which is a long time.

Brainwashing ceremony in progress

The first episode of season 3 is off to a somewhat weird start. We get a recap of previous events, however key events seen in The Book of Boba Fett are not referenced at all. And not all people who watched The Mandalorian have also watched The Book of Boba Fett. So chances are not all people are aware that Grogu was with Luke only for a couple of weeks at best and returned to Din Djarin, rendering the emotional season 2 finale mostly moot. After the brief recap the episode begins in earnest and we witness a baptism ceremony for a young boy by the weird Mando cult that wants you to wear your helmet 24/7.

Attack of the Megalodon

For some reason the Armorer and her cultists picked a lake that is also home to some giant megalodon (see also: the movie "The Meg") and the brainwashing ceremony is cut short when the not quite dinosaur wants to have the Mandalorians for lunch. We get an action filled sequence with Mandalorians trying to fight the massive monster, but things don't look too good until Din Djarin swoops in with his N-1 right on time (how convenient) and blasts the beast until it's dead.

A match made in heaven, would they remove the helmets for a kiss at least?

In case you forgot, Din Djarin is no longer welcome in his weird Mando cult, because he willingly and repeatedly removed his helmet. But instead of giving Din some character growth Jon Favreau decided to go the other route, Din wants back into the cult, from his point of view probably something that makes sense, since this is the only family he knows, if we ignore all the many friends he's made in the recent past who would welcome him with open arms, should he decide to stay with them. More about that soon. But the Armorer, the good cult leader that she is, of course reminds Din Djarin that he is an apostate now, because he sinned... and the only way to change that is to bathe in the Living Waters found in some mine on Mandalore, the planet turned to ashes by the Empire. But Din found a piece of some old Mando tablet that proves to him the mines could still exist and he informs the Armorer that he wants to go to Mandalore to atone, since this is the way.

Space Whales...

With that Din leaves the Armorer behind and flies to Nevarro. On the way to the planet we see space whales cruising through hyperspace. If there are one or two things I could do without in Star Wars it's Dave Filoni's obsession with wolves and space whales, ok three things, I need to add space horses here... I suppose we will see a lot more space whales and wolves in Ahsoka...

Greef offers Din the sweet life he deserves

Nevarro has undergone some drastic improvements, it is now a flourishing, beautiful town with Greef Karga as the high magistrate. And Greef is very happy to see Din, he not only offers him the job as the local marshal, he also offers him a nice home in a very sweet location... but Din Djarin would rather be a cult member and rejects the very generous offer. During the exchange with Greef Cara Dune is mentioned by name very briefly, we learn that she was recruited by the special forces and left, which is why Greef would love to have Din as the marshal now.

Space pirates who will soon be dead

The conversation with Greef is cut short when space pirates appear, they want to have a drink at the local school, which used to be a cantina. The pirates were previously hired by Greef to help with retaking Nevarro, but Nevarro is now a respectable place and has no space for filthy pirates. So the inevitable happens, all but one pirate is gunned down, the sole survivor is meant to tell his comrades that Nevarro no longer accepts them. And then we finally find out why Din Djarin flew to Nevarro, he wants to repair IG-11, the only droid he trusts. For some reason Din believes he needs IG-11 to help him with locating the mines and Living Waters. However, Din's attempt to repair the droid (since when is this a part of his skill set?) turns out to be unsuccessful, as IG-11's original programming is activated. So he's taken out of commission again after a brief fight. A real expert must repair IG-11.

This is getting out of hand - now there are three of them!

And the experts who are supposed to reactivate and repair IG-11 turn out to be an army of Babu Friks.... Anyway, one of the Babu Friks eventually informs Din that IG-11's memory doodad is fried and that he needs a new one. Din promises to find a replacement part and then he makes his exit.

Space pirates of the Caribbean

Back in space the space pirates attack Din Djarin. But Din gets the better of them and finishes them off one by one... until one of the remaining fighters lures him to the big mothership. It turns out the captain of the space pirates is Space Davey Jones. But Din Djarin gives them the slip by activating his Knight Rider turbo boost and off he is on his way to his next destination.

So, what is Bo-Katan up to these days? She lounges on her throne in a big empty hall...

Din's next destination is the Mandalore system, but not Mandalore directly, he flies to another planet in the system, to a castle that belongs to Bo-Katan. Bo-Katan is just sitting there, on her throne, in a huge empty hall... doing nothing. Ok. Din approaches her and tells her he wants to join her. But Bo-Katan then informs him that all of her plans were ruined when she failed to return with the Darksaber, her people scattered, her fleet disappeared. Din reveals to Bo-Katan what he really wants, to go to the mines on Mandalore to redeem himself. Bo-Katan tells Din that he is welcome to go ahead and go to the mines and then she also has the single most poignant dialogue of the entire episode: "You are a fool!"

Bo-Katan speaks what the audience is probably thinking....

And that's it for the return of Din Djarin. As you may tell from the tone of my review I was not all that enthusiastic about the episode. It's ok, it's fine, it was entertaining, but it's also dumb in many ways and annoying in certain ways even . One, well two, big reasons why I am not all that much in love with the first episode is that I do not care at all for Mandalorian culture, never have, I have zero interest in those SciFi warrior cultures that are all based on honor or glorious deaths, which is why I never cared for all the Klingon episodes in Star Trek TNG either. I also do not care at all for weird cults and that Jon Favreau decided to have Din want to return to their fold, instead of moving on (which may still happen of course in season 3) is a bit annoying as well, in my opinion. I do not like the Armorer's philosophy and religious cult. Of course Din has some reasons in-universe to want to be with them again, since he was brainwashed since early childhood and it's the only family he knows... but after two seasons of The Mandalorian and Din willingly removing his helmet in front of all the other people at the end of season 2 should have meant that Din is ready to move on, that he has found that this weird dogmatic faith is wrong in many ways. Also, Din has made a good number of very good new friends, you may call them family even. Even back in seaon 1 female villager Omera basically begged him to stay, because she had feelings for him and certainly woud have become his romantic partner and surrogate mother to Grogu. Then there's Greef Karga's more than generous offer in this episode now, with a good job and some prime real estate on what seems to be a flourishing planet with some actual civilization.

So Din's motivation to be a cult member again feels like regression, not progression. And I find that somewhat disappointing. Of course it is possible that we will get there eventually, but we should have reached that point with the season 2 finale already.

And when we talk about plot then the same criticism that was aimed at The Rise of Skywalker can be applied here: it's mostly a video game plot. Now of course much of modern entertainment uses video game plots. What do I mean by that? You have to do favors for "npcs" so they give you something, you have to do fetch quests and retrieve McGuffins, all staples of video games. All of that doesn't mean it's not entertaining, I wasn't bored at all throughout the entire episode, but when I am honest I have to say I expected more. It may very well be that Andor has ruined much of Star Wars for me, because the writing in that series was on a whole different level and puts all the other series to shame. Now The Mandalorian is supposed to be family friendly fun entertainment, and I would say the first episode of season 3 succeeds here, but when you think about it all not much, nothing really, happened here.

After two seasons I believe one big issue with The Mandalorian is threatening to slowly derail the show: Grogu. He used to be a cute gimmick. And he is still a cute gimmick in season 3. Yes, Grogu is adorable, but that's all he is, he is not a character, he is still just a gimmick that makes you say "awwww". But as a character Grogu is non-existent really. Of course you cannot really turn Grogu into a character when he can't talk or communicate his feelings and thoughts. This is something maybe that needs to be changed sooner than later. Grogu needs some character growth, he can't be the cute toddler forever. But let's hope Jon Favreau knows this too and will do something about it, the Order 66 flashback seen in trailers could hint at Grogu receiving some character growth. If Grogu does not receive a serious upgrade in the character department he could become a caricature, a one trick pony.

So all in all The Apostate was a solid episode, but overall it's pretty shallow and pretty average, even if it's fun. I am not sure we needed the inclusion of Babu Friks or Space Whales... and reactivating IG-11 because Din only trusts that one droid seems a bit far-fetched, he could have bought any droid and have it repogrammed by someone he trusts, especially when the droid he wants to have back is basically a sleeper agent with his original programming still lurking deep inside, as this episode showed us. My guess is if you love Mandalorians and their culture and if you like the Armorer and her cult you will enjoy this episode a lot more than I did. While I like the Armorer as a character, the idea behind her, I strongly feel Din Djarin should have moved on from them following the season 2 finale and instead he should seed some doubt in the Armorer instead. But then The Book of Boba Fett hit the reset switch pretty hard on both the character development for Din Djarin and the Grogu front, with both returning to the status quo from before the season 2 finale. Also, I strongly feel the two Mandalorian episodes in The Book of Boba Fett should have been season 3 episodes instead, opening the season with a bang, instead of this.

Another issue is that the episodes are once again very short, too short. Andor, so far, is the only series with an appropriate episode length. It seems The Mandalorian season 3 is back to the usual 30-ish minute episodes, which is much too short to allow the episode to breathe, so everything moves at a breakneck speed. On the upside things don't really get boring, because everything moves very swiftly. But longer episodes would be more welcome.

Let's wait and see where season 3 will take us. My one hope is that the Mandalore arc will be over by episode 3 with Din Djarin leaving the cult behind for good.

Added: March 1, 2023
Category: The Mandalorian
Reviewer: Thomas
Score:
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