Lucasfilm and Disney+’s flagship Star Wars series The Mandalorian finished season3 with less fanfare than the first two outings. Overall, the season still earned a generally positive reception, but its comparatively more mixed bag of episodes was tough to ignore.
It certainly didn’t suffer from the same intrusive problems as The Book of Boba Fett, and its last two episodes felt like more what fans expected. Even so, the story had more of an identity crisis when it came to its overarching narrative. Couple that with the more episodic stories that didn’t use their time wisely, and there are several things fans might hope to see in the inevitable season 4.
A more focused main storyline
Of The Mandalorian season 3’s more negative marks, the most noticeable one is how aimless it could feel. The first episode, for instance, was solid but felt too much like an introduction to events and characters we’ve already been invested in for two seasons. Add to that the other issue of its episodic, one-off adventures feeling lackluster, and too much of this past season lacked focus.
Season 3’s lean into Mandalorian culture was welcome, as it felt thematically fitting to flesh out the lore that’s so important to characters like Din Djarin and Bo-Katan Kryze. However, the main story didn’t feel consistently compelling enough, and it felt like most of it didn’t happen until the final two episodes anyway.
Compelling side adventures
The term “filler” is often used nowadays with a negative connotation, but there’s nothing wrong with episodic or anthological narratives. A Star Wars show with the premise of The Mandalorian is even perfect for such a format. A grizzled intergalactic bounty hunter takes on exciting one-off ventures much in the same way that Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher‘s early books and games handled his contracts.
But it’s important that they complement the main plotline rather than detract from it, and some of the lesser episodes of The Mandalorian season 3 happened to be its one-offs. Seasons 1 and 2 were notably much stronger in this department — with episodes like The Gunslinger and The Marshal being great examples of this. Season 3’s finale seemed to at least hint at a more free-flowing adventure with Moff Gideon gone, so this is an area that’s going to need stronger writing.
Consistent episode runtimes
One of the most prominent criticisms of The Mandalorian, even in its acclaimed first two seasons, is the inconsistent runtimes. Granted, that’s an issue that can be extended to Disney+ in general, with several of its original shows feeling like they’re too long or too short in spots. Of the live-action Star Wars offerings, only Andor has fulfilled its potential in this respect.
It feels like a dilution of what makes long-form serialized storytelling so engaging in the TV medium. For The Mandalorian, some episodes felt abruptly short or, in the case of season 3’s third episode, like they overstayed their welcome. Ultimately, the story should dictate the runtime of the episodes, but season 4 should feel more consistent with what’s expected of “TV hour” storytelling in length and substance.
A new main antagonist
Giancarlo Esposito has more than proven with his work in Breaking Bad, The Boys, and now The Mandalorian that he can command a room as a villain. The first two seasons of The Mandalorian made him an engrossing and consistent presence, but come season 4, it should be time to move on.
Moff Gideon played an excellent part in The Mandalorian season 3’s main plot, but it’s perhaps ideal to leave his demise as final. Admittedly, it did manage to touch on the cloning technology used by Emperor Palpatine in the Skywalker Saga’s finale. However, given The Rise of Skywalker‘s poor narrative finish, it’s clear enough that cheap villainous revivals should be thrown away. Keeping in mind what season 2 teased and what the upcoming Ahsoka will be centered around, perhaps Grand Admiral Thrawn could flex his strategic muscles in season 4.
Keep away from excessive fan service
Season 2 was extremely well-received, and while its guest stars and cameos by Ahsoka Tano and Luke Skywalker were celebrated, it was also when Star Wars started teetering into excessive fan service. That fully became a problem by the time The Book of Boba Fett rolled out on Disney+, as the show warped itself into The Mandalorian season 2.5 and undermined its supposed lead character.
Along with Moff Gideon’s welcome return, avoiding this issue was another high point of season 3. Diving into Mandalorian culture and tying up loose ends with Gideon’s plotline ensured that the season didn’t morph into an MCU-like cameo extravaganza. That should be firmly kept in mind going into season 4.
All three current seasons of Lucasfilm’s The Mandalorian are available to stream now on Disney+.