It’s been 2 years since the events of Season 2. Those who only watch The Mandalorian need a recap. The last time we saw Grogu, he left Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) to join Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and become a Jedi. Favreau, Filoni and co. reversed during The Book of Boba Fett, which reunited the two. They also set their new path: they must return to Mandalore. Director Rick Famuyiwa helms the season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian with “Chapter 17: The Apostate.” Jon Favreau pens the teleplay.
A liquid is poured into a pool, and a Mandalorian insignia can be seen against the wall. The Armorer (Emily Swallow) works on a new piece of armor. She steps out of a cavern and presents the helmet to a small boy waiting in the lake. This is a Foundling ceremony. The Armorer goes to baptize the foundling. Just before she does, a monster emerges from the depth of the pool. The giant crocodile-like monster proceeds to attack the Mandalorians and eat those it catches.
Paz Visla (Tait Fletcher) takes control, yelling for young Mandalorians to return to the cave. The creature is mighty and continues to wreak havoc on the Mandalorians. When the armorer falls, the young founding from the ceremony takes aim. Paz Visla saves the boy. As the creature is about to swallow him, Din Djarin (Pascal) arrives in his ship, shooting the creature and taking it down. Din and Grogu emerge from the ship.
Din and Grogu walk into the cave and speak to The Armorer. Dinn asks if redemption is possible for removing his helmet. The Armorer believes Mandelore to be destroyed (by the events of Clone Wars). Dinn shows the armorer a shard of green crystal, recovered by a traveler and sold to the Jawas on Tatooine. If this traveler recovered it, Dinn thinks the planet might be inhabitable. He lets the Armorer know he embarks for Mandalore to redeem himself from exile.
Grogu watches light speed from his cockpit. Even at this speed, there are shadows of squid-like creatures traveling alongside them. Grogu steps out of the cockpit and rests in Dinn’s arms.
Dinn and Grogu arrive in Nevarro. The city looks to be thriving, not only for some but for many. Karga set up a statue of IG-11 (Taika Waititi) in the city square (a memorial to his sacrifice in the Season 1 finale). Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) meets them in the square. After his promotion to “High Magistrate Karga” he wears beautiful red cloaks. Greef offers to set them up with a piece of land so they could settle down. Dinn refuses. Before the conversation continues, they are interrupted by a protocol droid. There are pirates in the courtyard.
Din and Greef step downstairs and find a crew of pirates harassing a droid. Greef knows their leader, Vane (Marti Matulis). They once worked together for Pirate King Gorian Shard (Nonso Anozie). Vane wants to drink, but Greef informs him the bar has been turned into a school. They can continue the conversation in Greef’s office. Vane refuses, insisting the location should still be treated as a bar. Vane accuses Greef of going soft, and the two quick draw. Greef is faster and shoots the gun out of his hand. Dinn cleans up the other members of Vane’s posse. Greef tells Vane to leave and spread the word that Nevarro no longer welcomes pirates.
Dinn and Greef continue to catch up. Moff Gideon is at a war tribunal for the New Republic. Dune “left” when she was recruited by special forces. Greef needs a marshal and refuses to bow down to the new republic.
Dinn lets Greef know his true purpose on Nevarro. He wants to recover IG-11 as a droid he can trust for the trip to Mandalore. Greef lets him know this is only the remnants of IG-11, but Dinn insists. They pull IG-11’s pieces into a workshop, but when he’s turned on, IG defaults to his original programming and tries to kill Grogu. Greef’s protocol droid crushes IG’s head with a statue of Karga, and Dinn loads up IG’s parts into his ship. Karga recommends that Dinn take IG to the best droidsmiths in town. Apparently, a colony of Anzellans (Babu Frick’s species, voiced by Shirley Henderson once again) has built a workshop in Nevarro.
The Anzellian team works on IG-11. The chief droidsmith tells Din there’s nothing to be done. However, Dinn believes they can change out a few pieces, and the Anzellan agrees it would work. Grogu picks up the chief droidsmith, causing some funny chaos. Dinn and Grogu depart to find the missing parts.
Dinn teaches Grogu how to navigate the galaxy. However, their lesson is interrupted by Vane and a pirate gang. They try to take Dinn, but his ship is faster. Despite throwing 4 pirates at him, he slowly begins to eliminate them one by one. Eventually, it’s only Dinn and Vane.
Before he can get Vane, he turns around an asteroid, and Gorian Shard’s warship locks on. Gorian demands Dinn give up his ship, but Dinn concludes Grogu’s lesson with a simple creed: “never trust a pirate.” They escape and leave Gorian in the dust.
Dinn and Grogu arrive in Kalevala, a planet in the Mandalorian system. He points out a castle, and they land safely. Here they meet with Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), who is depressed and disillusioned. Din offers to join her, but she laments there’s nothing to join. Since Din won the Dark Saber, her forces left to pursue mercenary work. She tells him if he still has the saber, he can lead the group.
Din challenges Bo, asking if she’s given up her cause. She pushes back, reminding him that the Children of the Watch and other groups fractured Mandalore’s unity. Din informs her know about the plans to bathe in the mines of Mandalore. She scoffs, telling him the planet has been poisoned. However, she tells him where to find the mines (“beneath the civic center in the City of Sundari”). He leaves to pursue the lead.
Much of The Mandalorian “Chapter 17: The Apostate” sets the board for the season. Din obsesses with returning to Mandalore and The Child of the Watch. His mission brings him into conflict with many, but also provides us with a way forward. The season sets up the objectives early. 1) Din needs to find pieces to repair IG-11. 2) He needs IG-11 to bathe on Mandalore. 3) There are other forces Din will fight to get the parts he needs. 4) Pirates run amuck. 5) Systems defend themselves despite the New Republic. 6) Bo-Katan fumes about Din.
Greef has set himself up well, but the threat of pirates will surely weigh on him this season. The introduction of Gorian Shard will surely be a recurring threat throughout the season. Not only does the pirate design look outstanding, but his presence helps tell a deeper story.
Greef chooses his own law over The New Republic. Pirates are openly assaulting travelers. We know the First Order will rise by Episode 7 in the next two decades. The disorganization and lack of trust in the New Republic is not only endangering individual systems. It’s letting mercenaries and pirates run amuck. Without a semblance of control, cracks emerge in a government’s foundations. These cracks will mean the rise of another fascist dictatorship in the Galaxy.
Bo-Katan seems genuinely broken by the events of Season 2, namely Din claiming the Dark Saber. She’s wallowing, but Bo has always been a little petulant. She’s clearly planning something, and will likely find herself coming to blows with Din in an attempt to win back the Saber.
“Chapter 17: The Apostate” ultimately earns a higher score than the typical “setup” episode might. The spectacle of the space fight, the shooting of the croc-monster, and the quick draw all showed how The Mandalorian can be so good. Famuyiwa has become a reliable director for the series, and episodes like “Chapter 17: The Apostate” wisely balance exciting action set pieces with the lore. There’s too much table setting to make this one an all-timer but is a great way to kick off the season.