The Mandalorian S3 “The Return” – Top 3 Highlights

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| May 5, 2023


Chapter 24 – “The Return” 

The Mandalorians have united to take back Mandalore under Bo-Katan Kryze’s leadership. Bo-Katan led a scouting party to the surface to search for the remains of the Great Forge while the Stolen Fleet stayed in orbit above their home planet. The Stolen Fleet and the scouting party would be unable to communicate with one another because of Mandalore’s atmospheric magnetic interference. Once on the surface of Mandalore, they found Mandalorian survivors who could lead them to the Great Forge. 

Upon finding the Great Forge, a new form of Dark Trooper ambushed the Mandalorian scouting party. Axe Woves volunteered to contact the fleet using his jet pack to traverse the distance to the fleet in orbit to call for backup. The Mandalorians were then led into a trap where Din Djarin was captured alive, and Paz Vizsla was killed while covering the Mandalorians’ retreat. 

Moff Gideon has been busy building a secret base on Mandalore hidden away from the galaxy. He’s created a new and improved form of Dark Trooper, utilizing Mandalorian beskar for their armor while supplying a new intimidating set for himself. The battle of Mandalore has entered a new age. Will the Mandalorians be able to reclaim their home planet and defeat the Empire once and for all?

 My top three picks for noteworthy highlights of Chapter 24:

#3 Retreat, Rescue & Retribution 

Bo-Katan leads the retreat from Moff Gideon’s secret Imperial base. She reaches out to Axe via comlink to give him an update about Moff Gideon being alive and his secret base, “They’re sending up fighters to destroy the fleet. Evacuate everyone! Use the capital ship as a decoy. We can’t beat them in the air. We have to beat them on the ground.” Axe receives his orders right before he enters the upper atmosphere and loses contact with the ground team. 

Two Dark Troopers drag a bound Din Djarin toward the debriefing room. Din makes his move and attempts to escape from them, resulting in great two-on-one armed combat. Their upgraded armor has evened the odds, and fighting them is more challenging. Din downs one of them, but the other shoots out a wrist wire and garrotes Din. As the Dark Trooper brings his blaster up, a familiar robotic “No,” breaks the silence. Grogu, operating IG-12, crushes the blaster and holds on to the trooper long enough for Din to break free and knock out his captor. 

It was adorable that Grogu’s first response was to spray Din with the bacta spray in case he was injured. IG-11 once had to administer bacta spray to Din because he received a potentially fatal wound facing off with Gideon on Nevarro in the first season. 

“Grogu, I’m going to need you to be brave for me, okay? We can’t keep running. If we don’t take out Moff Gideon, this will never end. You with me?” Grogu gives a solemn nod. 

Din contacts Bo-Katan to give her an update. He lets her know he and Grogu are going after Gideon, and she lets him know she’s retreating to get the troops to safety. One of the Mandalorian survivors says he knows of a place they can hole up if they can get to the surface. 

Din contacts R5 to retrieve the Moff’s command center location. The timid droid uses his side thrusters to descend into the big scary Imperial base. R5 finds an access port located on a ledge of the base overlooking a huge crevasse and utilizes it to help Din gain access to Gideon.

Din encounters a series of barrier shields. He asks R5 to deactivate them one at a time, on his command, so he can deal with the Dark Troopers between each barrier. This was a strategic and visually appealing fight scene. Din makes his way through the pairs of Dark Troopers one at a time. Lateef Crowder, who is Pedro Pascal’s stunt double, definitely got a workout this episode! It’s good to see Mando back in action!

As Din encounters the last shield, R5 gets discovered by a mouse droid. I didn’t know mouse droids had tiny sirens. R5 shocks the tiny alarm droid and goes back to work. “R5. Next. Shield!” R5 completes his assignment. Din handles the last two troopers, “R5, good job, buddy.” Din has come a long way by referring to droids as his friends and calling them “Buddy.” R5 celebrates his win and his commendation but is soon surrounded by mouse droids with their alarms blaring, trying to ram him. He gets out of there and uses his side thrusters to escape the way he came in. I think it’s great that the rejected droid back in A New Hope is also a friend to the New Republic and gets to save the day occasionally. 

In the next room, Din and Grogu discover the reason for maximum security, Moff Gideon’s prized experiments: Clones of himself designated for the elite Dark Troopers. Din immediately goes over to the control panel to destroy the experiments. He sets off the self-destruct sequence on the cloning tubes. 

The Mandalorian survivors lead Bo-Katan and the troops to a safe haven, “We’ve taken refuge in these surface caves since the Purge. We have hideouts and food caches throughout the surface of the planet. It’s how we survived. There are predators above and predators below.” 

Bo-Katan asks if they found underground gardens, but the survivors explain they planted farms, “These are the old species indigenous to Mandalore. They’ve been dormant since before the centuries of Civil War. Once the planet was abandoned, they sprouted in spots. We cultivated farms. Life persists.” Bo-Katan admits to only having seen gardens in the domed cities and didn’t know the surface could sustain plant life. “All they need is room to grow.” 

This is a huge win for Mandalore. Plant life on the surface truly means this is a dawn of a new era for the Mandalorians. 

#2 The Aerial Spectacle, Return to Sender & the Final Battle 

Axe Woves clears the electromagnetic interference in the atmosphere and immediately contacts the Fleet, “The scouting party has been ambushed by Imperial remnants. They’re launching fighters to destroy the fleet. Load the Gauntlets and send all available troops down as reinforcements. Leave the capital ship behind as a decoy. Bo-Katan needs our help!” 

Axe has blasted through Mandalore’s atmosphere through the electromagnetic storm, delivering this vital warning while hitting the ground running as he boards the capital ship and enters the bridge, “I’ll take care of the cruiser. Everyone, go. Move!” He’s a man of action. As the Mandalorians quickly rally to board the drop ships via jetpacks, Axe takes the helm waiting for the coming attack. 

Just as the Mandalorian drop ships enter the safe cover of the electromagnetic field, the Imperial fighters and bombers breach that same field with the capital ship as their main target. The two factions barely miss each other in the electromagnetic quagmire. Axe gets the turrets up and running and braces for the one-sided fight. 

“Lady Kryze, your reinforcements have arrived,” the voice of the Armorer breaks the com silence. “Let’s take back our planet,” Bo-Katan says to her troops. The ground troops take to the skies. The Mandalorians aboard the drop ships exit their carriers and join Bo-Katan in flight with their jetpacks. 

The Mandalorians are impressively intimidating in their aerial skills. Seeing Bo-Katan take the lead, Darksaber lit, heralding her people to victory, is awe-inspiring!

Bo-Katan and her troops descend into the hidden Imperial base and are met with Moff Gideon’s new and improved Dark Troopers taking flight with their jetpacks. The two opposing groups meet midair like two different angry hornet nests fighting for survival. The aerial battle is intense, showcasing the Mandalorians’ skills! 

Din and Grogu infiltrate Moff Gideon’s command center. He’s waiting for them, “My clones were finally going to be perfect. The best parts of me but improved, adding the one thing I never had. The Force. I was isolating the potential to wield the Force and incorporating it into an unstoppable army. And you smothered them before they could draw their first breath.” Moff Gideon is angry. Angier than we’ve ever seen him. This secret project of his meant so much to him, but the revelation of the scope of his ambitions means he must be stopped at all costs.

Moff Gideon and Din face off and go toe to toe. In his new beskar armor, Gideon is evenly matched with Din in combat. He’s strong. The Praetorian Guards step in to take over the fight. They encircle Din, and when it appears they are about to execute him, like they did Paz Vizsla, Grogu, in IG-12, steps out of hiding, jamming the “No,” button over and over. 

Grogu has their full attention. It makes me wonder if the Praetorian Guards are Force-sensitive or if they are privy to the top Imperial secrets recognizing Grogu as a former test subject and Jedi? Grogu retreats into the former chamber, and the Praetorian Guards follow. Gideon uses a wrist rocket and wire to trip Din up, so he is unable to get to Grogu before the door locks. Grogu is now alone, trapped with three Elite Praetorian Guards. 

The Guards make quick work of chopping down IG-12. Grogu Force jumps up to some frames holding the lights for the room. He scurries along, Force jumping out of the way as the Guards keep trying to bat him down from above. It seems his time training with Luke Skywalker served him well. 

Gideon and Din continue their one on one fight. Gideon seems to have the upper hand this time around. His suit sounds like it’s been enhanced mechanically. His strength is unusually amplified. Bo-Katan notices Din’s plight amidst the aerial battle and uses her body like a missile to knock Gideon away, “I’ve got this. Go save your kid.” 

“Bo-Katan Kryze. What’s it going to be this time? Surrender or fight?” Gideon taunts. Bo-Katan ignites the Darksaber. Moff Gideon ignites a retractable electrified staff. 

One of the Praetorian Guards predicts where Grogu will next jump and cuts the lighting frame causing Grogu to fall and get trapped underneath it. As they approach Grogu, Din comes to the rescue. The Guards engage three to one, and when they’re about to get the upper hand, Grogu uses the Force to push them off balance or away, sliding their weapons out of reach and holding them just out of harm’s way if they get too close to help Din gain the advantage. Din makes short work of the Guards with Grogu’s help, “You did good, kid,” he commends. Grogu does a deep nod understanding the seriousness of the situation. 

Axe Woves clears the electromagnetic field as the capital ship descends in a blazing ball of fire and warns, “I’m coming in hot. Clear everyone out. I’m going to take out the base.” The Imperials wanted their ship back, and Axe is going to deliver! 

“Hand over the Darksaber, and I will give you a warrior’s death,” Gideon attempts to barter with Bo-Katan. She howls with rage and engages him with a renewed vengeance. Katee Sackhoff’s performance as Bo-Katan is outstanding! After a few swings and parries, he grabs her hand holding the Darksaber and crushes it along with the Darksaber. The weapon sparks, and the blade dies, “The Darksaber is gone. You’ve lost everything. Mandalorians are weak once they lose their trinkets.” “Mandalorians are stronger together,” Bo-Katan corrects just as Din and Grogu reappear as backup, Din firing his blasters.

Just as the battle reaches its crescendo, Axe Woves abandons the burning capital ship when he’s sure it will hit its mark. He escapes to fight another day. 

Din, Bo-Katan, and Grogu take turns keeping Moff Gideon busy. Gideon tries to drive the battle, but their offensive, defensive tactics keep him engaged long enough for the capital ship, his capital ship, to plunge into the secret Imperial base and incinerate everything in its path. Moff Gideon lets out a villainous yell, and the flames consume him. 

Grogu keeps Din, Bo-Katan, and himself safe by using the Force to create a shield as the torrent of flames washes over them. Bo-Katan’s face is filled with wonder as this little foundling saves the day. 

#1 Happily Ever After

The Mandalorians gather at the Living Waters to complete Paz Vizsla’s son, Ragnar’s, formal initiation. “I swear on my name and the name of the ancestors that I shall walk the way of the Mand’alor, and the word of the Creed shall be forever forged in my heart.” The Armorer baptizes Ragnar’s helmet, with the Living Waters completing the initiation that was interrupted earlier in the season. “This is the Way,” they all repeat. 

I found it interesting that the Armorer dropped the last line of the oath, “From this moment on, I shall never remove my helmet.” I guess now it will be up to each Mandalorian as to how they wish to adhere to the Creed. 

Din brings Grogu to the Armorer and sets him on the steps next to the Living Waters, “Grogu is my apprentice. He is no longer a foundling. Add him to the Song.” I guess helping rid the galaxy of an Imperial Moff will get you upgraded in Mandalorian society quickly. The Armorer says he is too young to speak, so he is too young to take the Creed. He must remain a foundling. “If his parent gave permission, couldn’t he then become a Mandalorian apprentice?” Din reasons. The Armorer says that Grogu’s parents are far from there, if they are even alive. “Then I will adopt him as my own.” “This is the Way,” the Armorer’s tone shows she approves of this arrangement. 

“Let it be written in Song that Din Djarin is accepting this foundling as his son. You are now Din Grogu, Mandalorian apprentice.” “This is the way,” the onlooking Mandalorians affirm. “You must leave Mandalore and take your apprentice on his journeys, just as your teacher did for you,” the Armorer recommends. 

Throughout this exchange, it’s very clear that Grogu understands all that is transpiring. He wants to be accepted as a Mandalorian, formally as Din’s son, and knows it’s an honor to have this rich heritage a part of his life. His little bows and solemn nods are adorable. Grogu peers into the Living Waters, sensing something deep beneath the surface: the Mythosaur. The Mythosaur senses Grogu too. 

The Mandalorians repair the Great Forge, the Armorer passes the torch to Bo-Katan, who reignites the heart of the Mandalorian civilization. The Mandalorians clank their bracers together, and Axe leads the crowd in a chant, “For Mandalore!” 

Din and Grogu pay Captain Teva’s New Republic outpost a visit. Grogu no longer has IG-12 to help walk him around, so he must use his tiny cute feet to keep up with his dad. Captain Teva mentions the New Republic is appreciative of the Mandalorians taking care of Moff Gideon. 

As Din is talking to Captain Teva, Grogu finds a place on the cantina’s bar top and starts munching on what looks like…chicky nuggies?! It looks like he has the option of plain or spicy. Well, it’s officially canon!

Grogu also takes in the Imperial helmet trophies lined atop the bar with some dangerous droid heads. He spots an IG model. Teva takes note as Grogu points and starts making a fuss, “One of them reminds him of someone he knew,” Din explains. 

“I have a business proposition. This youngling is my apprentice. I’m a bounty hunter by trade. Now that he’s with me, I’ll be more selective in my assignments. You don’t have the resources to protect the Outer Rim, let alone hunt down Imperial remnants. And I need work. On a case-by-case basis. An independent contractor.” Everyone loves contractors. 

Captain Teva says it goes against regulations, and he doubts it will ever get approved. “Which is why you won’t tell them,” Teva wants to think about it, “You already did. It’s a good deal, and you know it. All I require is a small advance. What I want in return is that. I need it for the parts,” Din points to the IG head.

“The people of Nevarro appreciate all you’ve done, Mando. I want to give you this deed to a cabin just outside of town where you can lay low with your new family if you choose to. Between adventures,” High Magistrate Greef Karga appreciates Din’s friendship. “And I have a gift for you as well,” Din nods to the true return of an old friend. IG-11 is back and functioning, thanks to the great work of the Anzellans! He will act as Nevarro’s Marshall

Din and Grogu settle into their new home on Nevarro. It’s a small place, but just enough for the two of them. Grogu even has a little pond with froggies to practice the Force with. 


This chapter was the perfect ending for season three! The story arc was neatly completed, with all the major loose ends tied up. The overall story was written in a way that encompassed more than just Din and Grogu but included all the Mandalorians. I loved that Mandalorian history and lore were the main focus and a major driving point for the story. Now that the Mandalorians have retaken their homeworld, maybe season four will focus more on Din and Grogu adventuring through the galaxy, uncovering more Imperial secrets, just the two of them. 

Bo-Katan stole the spotlight during much of this season while Din took a backseat, and Grogu got the side character treatment. It was refreshing to see her character take the lead in such a momentous moment in Mandalorian history. Katee Sackhoff is doing a wonderful job with her character. I am wondering if we will see more of her in the next season? Bo-Katan and Din seemed to become very close while working together, and even Grogu became very fond of her. Maybe there will be romance in Mando’s future? We’ll have to wait and see. 

The Mandalorian has been a fun ride for Star Wars fans, old and new. There has been so much brought to the screen and confirmed as canon that I am deeply grateful for as a long-time fan. I’ve enjoyed the story’s progression and can’t wait to see where the story will take us in season four! This is the Way!

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