It's unfortunate, but the lead up to The Mandalorian season 3 has filled me with both excitement and dread. "This is the way," I think to myself, acknowledging I'm a chronic overthinker. But it shouldn't be.
Don't get me wrong. Din Djarin and Grogu — better known as Mando and Baby Yoda — are two of the most popular new characters that Disney Plus has given us for good reason. This show is a primary reason why we were so comfortable calling Disney Plus one of the best streaming services early in its life.
And throughout two seasons — or is it two and a half seasons given how Mando took over The Book of Boba Fett? — The Mandalorian has been pretty darn good at telling stories.
It's just that the most recent pages of Mando's story have me wondering what the actual heck the plan is for The Mandalorian. Jon Favreau has to have a plan, right?
The Mandalorian season 2's finale has already been resolved
This all came flooding into my brain as I read my colleague Kelly Woo's piece on what to know about The Mandalorian season 3. The previous Mandalorian finale, where Din Djarin let Grogu go train with Luke Skywalker was basically erased by Baby Yoda choosing to go back with Mando during the latter half of The Book of Boba Fett.
That felt like a whole arc of TV erased because the team had a better idea. To which I say, "OK, show me what you got." Now, I'll admit there are two loose ends from that ending: fellow Mandalorian Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) wants the dang Darksaber, which Djarin earned by defeating Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) in Combat.
Speaking of Gideon, he's still in play, and arguably the biggest threat to our heroes outside of the big crux of season 3.
The Mandalorian season 3 looks to find purpose in its new home
"Our people are scattered, like stars in the galaxy. What are we? What do we stand for?" Those words, from Din Djarin, ring out in the start of the below trailer. He speaks of navigating the galaxy, so you'll never be lost. All that said, Mando's return home to be forgiven for his transgressions, is an odd setup for a new season.
Djarin knows that he's made enemies, and removing his helmet — once in front of Gideon to show how much Grogu means to him, and a second time when saying farewell to the lil creature — is his main reason he has to seek forgiveness. It's akin to sacrilege. And Kryze will probably use her position in Mandalore to make life hell for Djarin.
Then, there's the other storyline. In the above clip, Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) warns Mando that "There's something dangerous happening out there." And that Mando will be too late to stop it by the time he can act against it.
This sounds like it could be connected to the Mandalore storyline, as in a growing threat to the peace could be brewing in Djarin's homeland — one that would threaten Mando's forgiveness if he stood up against it. That would be a stellar way to follow the thread of the individual and the community that The Mandalorian has always tracked in one way or another.
But The Mandalorian season 3 needs to find its exit strategy
Three seasons may sound short for a massive hit of a TV show, but it's at this point in any show's arc where it needs to be giving audiences an idea of where things are going.
Many Mando fans will probably tune in and happily enjoy the new season, and I don't begrudge them on that. In fact, I admire it. I wish I could watch TV without analyzing.
But if it seems like The Mandalorian season 3 ends where it began, our heroes venturing out into space for new adventures and trying to dodge Moff Gideon (or some other big bad), it will look and feel like everyone is merely spinning their wheels and collecting paydays. And I don't want The Mandalorian to feel like it's being phoned in.
So, to the team at Lucasfilm, and Mr. Favreau in particular: please think about something that The Last of Us executive producer Craig Mazin told Collider: "I don’t have much narrative interest in writing a show that is designed to perpetually continue until the network finally puts it out of its misery somewhere. I write to endings. Endings are everything to me. I don’t know how to write, if I don’t know how it ends. And also, if the show doesn’t have an ending, it means nothing ultimately is truly purposeful. All the stakes become empty because, if the network renews you, everything’s fine, and I don’t know how to do that."
Yes, The Last of Us is a different breed of show, an adaptation. But Mazin (who's previously proven himself in TV with Chernobyl and the excellent "Backstory!" episode of Mythic Quest he wrote) is proving a point here. The Mandalorian can be fun, sure, but it can also mean so much more if there's a plan for how it all ends. And I really need season 3 of The Mandalorian to give me some reason to believe such a plan is in place.
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.