The Mandalorian episode 3 arrived on Disney+, and along with it comes the gift of poor storytelling. The latest installment of The Mandalorian shifts the focus away from our beloved pair of Din and Grogu.
While we do check in with them in the beginning and end of the episode, the central focus features a side plot that simply isn't worth our investment. Episode three drags out a story we can't possibly care less for, and reintroduces us to a couple of familiar faces.
A home in ruins
Before we discuss the most unnecessary side plot ever, let's try for the people we actually care about. The opening sequence is so enthralling that it's almost misleading, given the trajectory of the episode. Bo and Din are on the run from TIE interceptors, and while they're fighting off enemy ships, a bombing run destroys Bo-Katan‘s home.
This sequence doesn't add much narrative, but it gives us some classic, captivating Star Wars aerial action. The opening in this episode also provides one of the most iconic shots in the series thus far. In an attempt to reach the N-1 Starfighter to provide backup, Din jumps out of Bo-Katan's ship and ignites his jetpack, the TIE interceptors barely miss turning him into a bug on a windshield.
The editing and camera work in this sequence is stellar. Ships look like they're flying right off the screen into your living room; you can almost feel each blaster bolt connecting with the ship's hull. Hat's off to director Lee Isaac Chung.
Where The Mandalorian episode 3 fails
It pains me to say, besides a brief epilogue at the end of the episode, we've covered the high points already. The central focus of this installment is the journey of Dr. Penn Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and Elia Kane (Katy O'Brian).
There's a bigger problem here, other than how little this storyline has to offer. Star Wars is falling into the habit of developing episodes that feature little to none of our titular characters. We see this with episodes five and six in The Book of Boba Fett, and again here. This is a solid, albeit forgettable episode of television if it exists in a vacuum, but it doesn't.
It's jarring to get an Andor-like episode after such an action packed start to the season. Attempting to infuse that same kind of energy into this show is a major failure. Andor fleshes out characters in a meaningful way, leaving you invested in everyone's personal journey. Despite multiple attempts to get us to care about the duo of Pershing and Kane, they couldn't be less interesting.
Why the Pershing/Kane dynamic falls flat
Aside from their story being generally pedestrian, the pair have next to no chemistry. They both give solid performances in their own right, Katy O'Brian stands out more so than Omid Abtahi, but pairing them together contributes nothing to the episode. There are several points where you might find yourself thinking: “I'm supposed to care about this more than I do.”
It's a major indictment on a show when you realize you're bored with the current storyline, and want to get back to another one. Within a few minutes of the Pershing/Kane arc, I was dying for more Mando, Grogu, and Bo-Katan. This could be avoided by spacing out their journey, instead of mashing it all into one episode.
If we spend 10–15 minutes with Pershing and Kane each episode, and follow them along little by little, it wouldn't fall so flat. They expect us to care when she turns against him, and when she amplifies the voltage on the 602 Mitigator (mind flayer). They expect us to care when they're walking out to the ship and sharing bits of their past with each other. However, we just don't, because the two have no discernible chemistry and their entire “quest” is boring.
A new home in The Mandalorian episode 3
With Bo-Katan's home destroyed, she needs a new place to lay her helmet. She returns to the Mandalorian covert with Din, where The Armorer (Emily Swallow) announces both of them are absolved, and can continue to walk the Way.
When she welcomes both of them into their covert, Din feels pure relief; this is what he's he's been chasing from the second he was branded an apostate. It still feels like he has his priorities scrambled up a bit, but that's a topic we're sure to hash out in coming episodes.
Bo-Katan, however, is much more hesitant to accept a place in the covert. She pleads with them: “I do not walk the Way,” but The Armorer is quick to remind her that until she removes her helmet, she's no different from the rest of the Mandalorians standing beside her.
The contrast in performances from these two is fascinating. Despite not being able to see either of their faces when they receive the news of absolution, it's clear they both take it in very different ways. You can almost see Din breathe a sigh of relief right through his helmet. Bo-Katan, on the other hand, seems to accept this role due to a lack of options.
Katee Sackhoff and Pedro Pascal once again give top-notch performances here with limited screen time. Their ability to convey emotion strictly through body language is extraordinary.
A bump in the road
The Mandalorian episode 3 is a less-than-desirable entry for the season thus far, but hopefully we're able to put most of it behind us. We likely haven't seen the last of Dr. Pershing or Elia Kane, but surely they appear in smaller doses going forward.
The Din/Grogu of it all has yet to miss this season, so as long as the showrunners stick to what works, they're sure to get back on track.
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'The Mandalorian' season 3 episode 3 review'The Mandalorian' season 3 episode 3 review
- Awesome opening, really cool ship battle
- Great ending, raises a lot of questions I'm excited to see answered
- Spends way too much time on the side plot
- Side plot characters feel flat despite an effort to flesh them out
- In a vacuum the side plot is fine, but in contrast to the rest of the season it's very boring