“The Mandalorian” has always leaned hard on its side quests. Especially in Season 1, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) is the Star Wars version of a spaghetti Western hero who arrives, solves everyone’s problems by shooting, and rides into the sunset. Over time, the show developed larger arcs around Grogu, Mandalorian culture, and the remnants of the Empire vying for a comeback. By Season 3, there are tons of interesting plotlines to tackle, so it’s disappointing to see the show spend its early episodes in side quest mode — focusing on minor missions like bigger arcs don’t exist.
In “Chapter 18: The Mines of Mandalore,” Din solves the supposedly huge issue of losing his Mandalorian status in record time by revisiting Mandalore … and getting his behind kicked by the first cyborg monster he discovers. After he’s saved, he sinks into a deep pit of water while wearing a full suit of armor. Din has never been invincible, but that’s just venturing into slapstick territory.
Yes, several bits and pieces from the early episodes come together in the end — for instance, Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) beating the cyborg that captured Din eventually enables him to give her the Darksaber. Still, the season chooses to spend a strangely large amount of time cruising narrative back roads. Perhaps “The Mandalorian” needs to evolve beyond its classic space-case-of-the-week structure. Now that Din and Grogu’s current arc seems to be over, hopefully future seasons might continue to increase their focus on Bo-Katan to do just that.