The Mandalorian season 3 is a journey into the thematic heart of the Star Wars galaxy

Din Djarin holds onto Grogu in his starfighter cockpit in The Mandalorian season 3
Welcome back, Din Djarin and Baby Yoda (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

The Mandalorian season 3 is shaping up to be the Star Wars TV show's most ambitious installment yet. Almost two and a half years have passed since we last saw Din Djarin and Baby Yoda/Grogu – the pair's supporting roles in The Book of Boba Fett notwithstanding – so a reunion with everyone's favorite father-son-style duo has been long overdue.

Boba Fett's aforementioned Disney Plus show aside, The Mandalorian's executive team – including Rick Famuyiwa, the series' primary director and newly-installed executive producer – have had ample time to decide on the direction they want to take the hit Star Wars series in. The Mandalorian season 3's official trailer, multiple TV spots, first-look images, cast and crew interviews, and its opening episode have intriguingly teased what's to come from the show's most galactically sweeping entry so far.

Narratively progressive, character-rich, and universally expansive as its third season is lined up to be, though, The Mandalorian hasn't forgotten some of the Star Wars franchise's most valuable commodities. Namely, noteworthy themes encompassing identity and loyalty – both of which extend to the paternal bond that exists between Pedro Pascal's titular bounty hunter and his surrogate son.

"As a storyteller, having that central relationship between Din and Grogu keeps everything else grounded and in perspective," Famuyiwa tells TechRadar. "Ultimately, the most important story being told is their relationship. Each layer of adventure that's come since has been either a complication or a redefining of that bond. Even though we're living in a larger galaxy of storytelling, it's that intimate connection that keeps us focused."

This is the new way

Din Djarin stands in a desert location looking at something off screen alongside his fellow Mandalorians in season 3

The Mandalorian season 3 will introduce viewers to many new Mandalorians (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

Ahead of The Mandalorian season 3's release, little was officially known about its primary plot. Outside of a brief story synopsis, and what happened in The Book of Boba Fett's final episode – Din Djarin and Grogu reuniting after they parted ways in The Mandalorian season 2 episode 8 – the show's return was shrouded in secrecy.

Thanks to events depicted in The Book of Boba Fett episode 5, The Mandalorian season 3's trailers, and now its opening episode – Chapter 17, aka The Apostate – fans know that Din and Grogu are heading to Mandalore, the mysterious but historically rich planet, and Din's birthplace.

Once a thriving world, Mandalore was bombed extensively by the Galactic Empire at the height of the latter's powers – a devastating, genocidal chapter in Mandalore's history known as the Great Purge. Coupled with other violence-laced eras in its history – more on that later – the planet lies in ruins, with its people crying out for someone to unite them after centuries of instability.

The most important story being told is this relationship between Din and Grogu

Rick Famuyiwa, The Mandalorian director

It's apt, then, that Din's homecoming could mark a new dawn for Mandalore – and himself. Having regularly removed his helmet in past seasons – a crime punishable by exile – Din was cast out of the Mandalorian order in The Book of Boba Fett episode 5. Now, Din (with Grogu in tow) vows to return home to seek forgiveness for his sins by bathing in the waters of Mandalore's mines. However, his planetary repatriation might lead him down a far more noble path, particularly as he's in possession of the Darksaber, an ancient lightsaber that serves as a powerful symbol of leadership among Mandalorians.

Pedro Pascal as Din Djarin holding Grogu in The Mandalorian season 2

Din Djarin is seeking atonement for his transgressions in past seasons (Image credit: Lucasfilm Ltd)

For Famuyiwa, Din's return to Mandalore and his Darksaber ownership shine a grander thematic spotlight on the show's title than ever before. Equally, these narrative threads provide showrunner Jon Favreau and his writing team with the opportunity to explore the concept of identity, one of those aforementioned themes.

"Season 3 is the culmination of what's come in seasons 1 and 2, and [The Book of] Boba Fett," Famuyiwa explains. "For me, the biggest part of these shows – from thematic, narrative, and logistical standpoints – has always been the idea of the title, The Mandalorian, and what it means.

"I think each season has grown our understanding of that [meaning]. First, through an initial character in Din Djarin. But then, as he's had his ideas of what that meant to him, watching that grow over the course of these seasons and TV shows. In season 1, that was learning to look after someone other than himself in Grogu. Then meeting other Mandalorians in season 2, who had a different philosophy and views to him. Now, season 3 explores what being a Mandalorian really means. Who are you? How do you define yourself? How do these different views, about what being a Mandalorian is, come together and reconcile?

"Din has had to face the decisions he's made about his own creed and what he thought that meant, and where that leads him as we start season 3. So that exploration of the show's title was the binding element of everything we study this season."

Devotion to the cause

Din Djarin and Bo-Katan stare at each other in The Mandalorian season 2

Din and Bo-Katan will verbally lock horns again in the show's third season (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

The Mandalorian season 3's thematic observations extend to other notable concepts in the Star Wars franchise, including the universal battle between good an evil, hope, adventure and, in Grogu's case, growing up.

But it's the concept of loyalty, alongside season 3's exploration of identity, that's prioritized over the rest – and with good reason. Mandalore's various clans have struggled to see eye-to-eye throughout the planet's long history, though there have been occasions when Mandalorians have united under the banner of Mand'alor, a warrior worthy of leading them all into battle. 

Such occurrences have been few and far between, though. Without a respected leader to guide them, multiple civil wars have erupted over the centuries, eventually leading various factions, including The Children of the Watch and The Nite Owls – the latter group being led by Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) – to scatter across the galaxy. 

The show's title was the binding element of everything we study this season

Rick Famuyiwa, The Mandalorian director

It's this intergenerational conflict that's caused Mandalorians to fight each other as often as external threats. And, with the show's third season set to introduce many more Mandalorians – its first episode already set the stall out for doing so – than ever before, Famuyiwa is excited by the prospect of bringing the fraught, tension-fuelled drama that exists between various Mandalore tribes to the small screen.

"Season 3 has its big franchise moments in terms of Easter eggs and big reveals," he says. "But all of it has been in service to the central story we're telling in The Mandalorian, and what's already been told in the Star Wars universe. In many ways, season 3 is an expansion of the things we've established. We've seen Din and Bo-Katan verbally clash before. We've seen other Mandalorians interact in season 2 and The Book of Boba Fett. Now we get to test that loyalty, between individual Mandalorians and those as a collective, and ensure everything is a culmination of what's come before."

Four Jedi prepare to defend the temple in The Mandalorian season 3

The Mandalorian season 3 could really dig into some key moments in Star Wars history (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

Star Wars fans are just as excited as Famuyiwa to see how The Mandalorian season 3 will expand on Mandalore's trauma-infused past, the stubbornness of its clans, and – potentially – the live-action introduction of other famous Mandalorians. Many fans have poured over every ounce of season 3 material they can find to come up with numerous hypotheses about the series' latest installment. For his part, Famuyiwa admits some season 3 fan theories are true, although understandably, given the secrecy surrounding The Mandalorian's third season, Famuyiwa declined to reveal which ones were correct.

One thing Famuyiwa can discuss, though, is how season 3's themes of identity and loyalty extend to the show's creative team. From Favreau and Famuyiwa, to fellow Star Wars collaborator Dave Filoni and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, the camaraderie among The Mandalorian's main crew members, and the support and devotion they give one another, bears similarities to the deep affection Din Djarin and Grogu hold for each other. In some respects, Mandalore's people need look no further than The Mandalorian's braintrust to truly learn how teamwork makes the dream work.

"This team has been together for a few seasons," Famuyiwa muses. "And, like any good team that's played together for a while, you know where everyone's going to be on the pitch or the court. That's where we are as a storytelling unit.

"We're not perfect. We've made the mistakes that a lot of people in our position have made, and we're still figuring some things out. But we've also learned from those errors, which has made us stronger. This team is the best in the business at what we do. As long as we have that as our gravity, we can't get too far off the ground."

The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1 is now available to stream on Disney Plus. New episodes will be released every Wednesday.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

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