After the first two seasons of the “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian” were released in 2019 and 2020, respectively, fans had to wait over two years for season three to be released. Eight episodes of “The Mandalorian” season three will be released weekly through April 19. The season premiere was released on Disney+ on March 1 to middling success.
“The Mandalorian” follows the adventures of Din Djarin, a bounty hunter who belongs to the creed of Mandalorians — an armor-bound group of people from the planet of Mandalore. Djarin is often accompanied by Grogu, a 50-year-old “baby” of the same species as Yoda. The events of the show take place after the original “Star Wars” trilogy but before the sequel trilogy. Djarin is played by Pedro Pascal, and Jon Favreau serves as the showrunner for the show.
After the first two seasons of “The Mandalorian” received much critical acclaim — with both being nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmys — the hype for season three was immense. Although there are some positives to the premiere of season three, titled “Chapter 17: The Apostate,” it ultimately does not live up to the hype and is a disappointing way to start the season.
Starting with the positives, the sound design of the episode is excellent, with Ludwig Göransson returning to compose the score after winning back-to-back Emmys for “The Mandalorian.” The highlights of the music are when Djarin’s theme is played, and this occurs twice during the episode. First, when he comes in at the start of the episode to save a group of Mandalorians from a sea beast, the theme is used to reinforce the heroics of his efforts. Similarly, his theme plays again during a space battle between Djarin and a group of pirates, and it is seamlessly blended with the sounds of spaceships in combat, giving the battle an epic feel.
Likewise, the premiere of season three of “The Mandalorian” has excellent visuals that boost the story of the show. The best way to describe the aesthetic of the show is that it is incredibly clean, with elegant costumes, stunningly real settings and visual effects that look photorealistic. “The Mandalorian” does the “Star Wars” world justice with its strong visuals, from the character designs to the visual effects in space.
The episode also does a good job of setting up plotlines for the rest of season three. In particular, several clear goals for Djarin are established, starting with his goal of being allowed back into his sect of Mandalorians after taking off his helmet willingly at the end of season two. Similarly, a conversation with Bo-Katan Kryze sets up Djarin with the goal of uniting all of Mandalore again. Finally, his most immediate goal is to restore the droid IG-11 after he was destroyed in the finale of the first season of the show.
On the other hand, the premiere fails to adequately bridge the gap between the end of season two and the beginning of season three. The second season of the show ends with Djarin giving up Grogu to Luke Skywalker to train to be a Jedi, but season three picks up with Djarin and Grogu together — with little explanation as to how that happened. Of course, “Star Wars” fans will recognize that this was explained in the show “The Book of Boba Fett,” which was released between seasons two and three of “The Mandalorian.”
This is an unfortunate circumstance because it will certainly confuse viewers of “The Mandalorian” who did not watch “The Book of Boba Fett.” Even worse, the recap at the start of the episode completely skips over this fact, and this is frustrating because it means that an incredibly important plot point to the story of “The Mandalorian” is completely glossed over in the show. While this does not matter for big “Star Wars” fans who watch all of the Disney+ shows, it is sure to alienate the more casual viewers who just want to watch “The Mandalorian.” The title of this episode, “Chapter 17,” is misleading because it does not pick up where “Chapter 16” left off.
Beyond this, there are some other shortcomings of the episode. First, the episode is rather short and clocks in at less than 40 minutes — on the low side for “The Mandalorian.” The episode could have perhaps used some more scenes to bulk up the story as it is paced too quickly and does not trust its viewers enough to slow down. Similarly, the cameos of the episode feel disjointed, particularly the return of Kryze, as her scene has little connection with other scenes in the episode and it is confusing as to why Djarin is visiting her at that particular moment. These factors combine to make the episode feel somewhat pointless, as nothing too major happens as most of the episode is dedicated to set-up for the rest of the season.
As a whole, “Chapter 17: The Apostate” is a mediocre start to the third season of “The Mandalorian.” It has an excellent score to pair with wonderfully charming visuals but focuses too much on set-up while not actually connecting to the end of season two. Hopefully, the rest of season three will pick up the slack of this episode.
Rating: 2.25 out of 5 stars