The Mandalorian

“Chapter 17: The Apostate”

2 stars.

Air date: 3/1/2023
Written by Jon Favreau
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa

Review Text

Just about every episode of The Mandalorian, even as the show got slightly more serialized in the second season, has benefited from a streamlined sense of episodic purpose. Stories were lean, straightforward, and had great momentum. With "The Apostate," the series' third-season premiere, we have an outing that is surprisingly scattered, lackadaisical, and inconclusive. As we step into the mythology of Mandalore and whatever that may hold for Din Djarin, we're going to need to have a sense of purpose far clearer than what we get here.

The episode opens with the coastal ceremony of a foundling as he becomes a Mandalorian among the Children of the Watch — which is violently interrupted when a massive gator creature emerges from the sea and begins eating people. It's a set piece that might be more exciting if I weren't constantly asking myself why these warriors with jet packs don't immediately fly out of the danger zone and attack with tactics befitting intelligent soldiers with flight technology ... or just retreat. Din Djarin comes in to save the day (hoping to be forgiven for removing his helmet, I guess?), but is later informed by the female Armorer that there is but one (impossible) way to redemption: bathing in the waters of the mines on Mandalore, which were supposedly all destroyed. That's gratitude for you. So (ex-)Mando embarks on a mission to actually go there and see the mines for himself.

The motivation for this quest is worth some analysis. Why, beyond pure dogmatic lifetime-held belief (I suppose I've answered my own question before asking it), does Mando feel the need to rejoin the Children of the Watch when they've kicked him out for straying from its inflexible purity? What does he hope to gain by continuing to live by its code? There are other Mandalorian ways of living (see Bo-Katan Kryze) or even non-Mandalorian ways. It might be nice for the writers to challenge these beliefs, or, if not that, at least explain why Mando continues to want to live by them. What if he were an apostate for real, rather than by accident?

Anyway, Mando returns to Nevarro, which, with the Empire expelled, Greef Karga has turned into a thriving and legitimate city. There's a run-in between Karga and some pirates, which ends with a showdown and a quickdraw and four of the pirates dead, thanks to Mando's help. But Mando is actually here to have IG-11 rebuilt for reasons that seem arbitrary (the droid's remaining salvaged parts have been assembled into a statue in the town square honoring its role in freeing Nevarro). This fails because the right parts aren't available. So he next decides to head to the Mandalorian system and see what Bo-Katan is up to.

En route, he's ambushed by the ships of the pirates he killed on Nevarro, which results in an action sequence that's yet another rehash of the asteroid belt scene from The Empire Strikes Back. This is executed with all the technical skill you would expect on this series, but very little imagination. It doesn't feel the least bit necessary to the story other than an [INSERT ACTION SEQUENCE HERE] moment. I'm not sure if we'll see these pirates again after this (although it seems like we must), but I wasn't impressed by the goofy Muppet design of their captain.

Finally, Mando arrives in the Mandalorian system, where he meets Bo-Katan, sitting on a throne in an empty room after having been abandoned by her followers because, she explains, she doesn't have the Darksaber (Mando has it). If ever a new team were destined to be created — one where Pedro Pascal could remove his helmet, no less — it's here, but Mando turns around and walks away, deferring this possibility to another day. I'm honestly not sure why he even bothered coming here.

I dunno. This is the first episode of this series that feels truly listless, uncertain, and obligatory, going through all the usual action beats and cute Grogu and puppet-creature moments but without the conviction that usually makes it all work. What's lacking is the sense that this has a reason for being. Hopefully the series' drive hasn't been lost with the mission to reunite Grogu with the Jedi having been completed (and immediately undone). As an ice-breaker after two-plus years since the end of season two (and also the good Mandalorian-related sequences in The Book of Boba Fett, of which episodes 5 through 7 are practically required to properly understand why Grogu is back with Mando here), this feels like a major letdown. Hopefully upcoming episodes will find the narrative, the through-line, and the juice.

Previous episode: Chapter 16: The Rescue
Next episode: Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore

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Comment Section

31 comments on this post

    It hits all the familar stirring beats. Even better photography and CGI, and a great evolution of Navarro, despite the swift wipeaway of Cara Dune. But the insistence on reviving IG was odd, and the encounter with Kara Thrace.... something felt off....

    Action packed but predictable and plot holed.

    I'm not sure the simplicity of the Mandolorian format can hold up to multiple seasons.

    I forgot to add, as usual it packs a lot into a very short time frame, but the whole pirate shootout in the asteroid field was far too derivative....

    A few quick words to set expectations: The Mandalorian S3 reviews will not be posted the same day as the episode's release, and will take priority *behind* the Picard reviews. And they are likely to be shorter than those reviews as well.

    It was a bit clunky, still I'm glad it's back and hopefully it'll pick up now the exposition's all out of the way.

    This episode was a good reminder that The Mandalorian is designed for about as general an audience as possible, and I love it for that. There was something there for all kids, from one to ninety-two.

    What I said about the trailer now seems true in regards to #TheMandalorian       . He lost his edge. He went from a badass bounty hunter to a family-friendly tour guide. Its.. fine. But what happened?

    Simple and to the point, which is what I love about this show. I do think the dogfight in the asteroid field deserved a bit more focus - my love for The Mandalorian usually increases directly in proportion to the inventiveness of the action scenes, and this one was a bit too rote to really move the needle.

    @Tim C
    There's a limit to how much "sumple and to the point " works as an excuse for disappointment. I'd rather the show treated the audience as a thinking agent rather than a needy child

    I'm watching this mostly because of baby yoda. All the rest is mediocre Star Wars writing. The existence of Andor really devalues this show. Before Andor this was the "good" Star Wars show, even though it had some significant shortcomings, but now it feels almost dated. Lots of stupid stuff.

    This episode was basically an RPG video game, right down to the Mandalore's helpful "tutorial" to Grogu.

    But hey, I'd play this game so count me in. The writing still makes Picard's look like it came from toddlers suffering from ADD.

    This was easily the worst episode of The Mandalorian. Not necessarily a bad episode; certainly watchable; but disjointed and lacklustre, as @Jammer suggested.

    Credit to the series and broader franchise though for conceiving of a species like the Anzellan, the minute aliens who attempted to repair IG-11, and were in The Rise of Skywalker. They and their workshop were neatly woven into and enriched the fabric of Nevarro. I wish Star Trek featured greater diversity in the shape and sizes of its aliens (see, e.g., the horta).

    I hope this premiere doesn't set up the tone for the season because I'm so underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, I adore Grogu, but... wasn't the second season emotional climax the fact that Din was able let him go? Suposeddly for his best? Why is he back an episode later? And why resurrect IG-11? To cheapen his sacrifice? I don't know. I feel cheated. Greetings from Brazil

    I join Victoria (greetings from Kazakhstan for my part) in asking the same question. Was there an explanation for why Grogu is back with Mando after the very ending of 2nd season's conclusion when Din said bye to him, with great emphasis, and and let Luke take him away? Did I miss something?

    Otherwise, I'm in line with Jammer's review.

    Victoria/Zarina - There are some episodes of Book of Boba Fett that fill in this gaps.

    It was only thanks to Jammer informing me through the Boba Fett review that a good chunk of the spin-off is Mando S2.5, so at least I was up to speed here (and still marvel - no pun intended - that they couldn’t simply find an actor who looked enough like a young Luke instead of creating an unholy CGI zombie character, but whatever…).

    But this episode definitely felt like coasting on both goodwill and the audience’s Mando/Grogu withdrawal.

    I can understand the frustration of those who skipped Boba’s show now find themselves a little lost as to why Grogu is back with Mando, since they really could have done a better job making it clear those Boba episodes were pretty essential to the story proper.

    The missteps started with the big beach battle. Never mind the laughable tactics and lack of coordination of the Watch…never mind that this felt like a flashback to when Din first got his helmet, but wasn’t…the main issue was that the giant gator monster was *cute as hell* and both me and my viewing companion were sad when it was killed!

    @Zarina and @Victoria
    You need to watch the last 3 episodes of The Book of Boba Fett as they are all about Mando and Grogu.

    Now we have to watch even more Star Wars shows to understand the one we are actually watching?!


    Yes, thats how it looks like. I would call it a marketing ploy if there actually was any marketing out there telling you that these episodes of the Book of Boba are more or less required viewing for Mando Season 3.

    If its any consolation: I don't think you actually need to watch the first four episodes of the Book of Boba to sufficently understand whats going on. Episode 5 is actually a pure Mandalorian-episode and episode 6 is mostly a Mandalorian-episode. And I am not sure you need to watch episode 7 to understand Mandalorian season 3.

    So we basically have two extra episodes of the Mandalorian mislabeled as belonging to the Book of Boba. Make of that what you will.

    Oh but Episode 7 is essential viewing for Mando and Grogu fans! And at the end of episode 6 Luke presents Grogu with a a choice, we don't see the outcome of that choice until episode 7.

    Ok, so I watched maybe 20min of the fifth episode of that other show and had to quit. Boring fighting, boring mandalorians AND NO BABY YODA!

    I’m with Booming that Andor’s excellence has made every other SW show a little less glitzy by comparison!!

    Something that’s been eating me lately is that there is such excellent material out there about the Empire and post-Empire period (ie Rogue One, Andor, Mandalorian, Rebels); most of them do a great job of showing the depth of sacrifice and struggle so many made against the Empire. So much hard work, so much dark-alley scheming, so much risk, so much loss. Whether it’s rebels doing their best to survive, or quasi-slaves working on the earliest stages of the Death Star. All of that work, toil, and blood is so drastically demeaned and devalued by the awful sequel trilogy. Magic Solar System Vaporizers! Instantaneously-built fleets of 10,000 “Death Star Star Destroyers!” Abrams’ unimaginative hunt for repetition and spectacle cheapens all that poignant work. I haven’t followed every comment thread so I’m sorry if I’m repeating something someone has already voiced.


    Just do what I do: Treat the sequel trilogy as fan fiction and not canon. It's your right 😁

    Disney, you’re doing it wrong when we are completely out of the loop due to not having watched a different show. :(

    We paused this episode 15 minutes in and rewatched the S2 finale thinking we had totally misremembered it.

    Crossover episodes are one thing but this is like Ziva suddenly reappearing on NCIS via a crossover episode of CSI Miami. 🤦🏻‍♂️

    Jammer's review is pretty much spot on. I did enjoy the battle with the giant croc, but his point about their tactics is valid.

    @Booming: "The existence of Andor really devalues this show. Before Andor this was the 'good' Star Wars show, even though it had some significant shortcomings, but now it feels almost dated. Lots of stupid stuff."

    I had similar feelings, but I don't think it's just the Andor effect. This episode was notably weaker than others, especially by comparison to the fifth and sixth episodes of the Boba Fett show (and FWIW I had only watched part of the pilot of that show before tapping out and returning just for the Mando stuff).

    @Walding: "I would call it a marketing ploy if there actually was any marketing out there telling you that these episodes of the Book of Boba are more or less required viewing for Mando Season 3."

    This is the really inexplicable part. Why would they do this and not give audiences any indication of what happened? They didn't even put any of it in the "previously on" bit at the beginning.

    When watching Mando 2.5 during The Book of Boba Fett it was clear then that was a weird move. Such key plot points to this show, in that show, months ago. And this first episode didn't really explain it.

    Strange choices.

    Disappointing start to S3 after how awesome S2 was -- there's really very little substance here and a lot of padding - at least that's how it seems at the surface (unless the pirates play a prominent role this season - but that too would be disappointing). Also had forgotten how short these MAND episodes are (compared to BBF).

    Just a lot of things seemed stupid to me. For starters, with the Mandalorian initiation ritual for the young boy -- do the other Mandalorians not know they can be attacked by a giant croc? The ensuing battle scene was worthy of an eye-roll. Then there's the pirates who want a drink with Karga at what is now a school. So this leads to a shootout?? And then Mando wants the IG droid restored, but this should be impossible after its self-sacrifice. And then he has to eventually shoot at it to stop it from attacking... But Mando's still going to try to get a new part for it. And then there's the space battle scene amongst the asteroids -- just no need for that.

    What's far more interesting is what the status of the planet Mandalore is, given what Mando is told and what he believes based on that crystal relic etc. Why the conflicting accounts? Also have to wonder what Bo-Katan is doing now -- just sitting around?

    2 stars for "Chapter 17: The Apostate" -- by far the weakest MAND chapter to date. This new story of Mando's quest for redemption with Grogu along for the ride doesn't seem as compelling as S1 & S2.

    Feels like the show runners are basically making Pedro Pascal go on a ritual journey of apology for wanting to have more scenes without the helmet - and then turn the starring role over to someone else as punishment.

    Someone whom they agree WILL be allowed to show their face all the time, because that was a dumb rule for any serious actor.

    Really just made me feel like they were doing Pascal dirty.

    This show hasn't been good since the first season.

    I don't know why Jammer hasn't reviewed the masterpiece that is Andor.

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