Star Wars

Mandalorian Season 3 is Finally Learning from Season 2's Best Choice

After half a season of floundering, things are getting back on track.


The Mandalorian Season 3 has had growing pains. Now that it’s no longer a show about one Mandalorian making his way through the galaxy, there isn’t much of a playbook. The action is now shared across an entire group of Mandalorians, and we sometimes take large chunks of an episode to focus on what’s happening on Coruscant.

But in Season 3 Episode 5, the show has rediscovered what made it great. Not the stories, not the characters, but an element you may not have noticed: the actual structure of the series. The Mandalorian isn’t a serialized show like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor. Each episode is supposed to be a standalone adventure that introduces Mando to new characters and challenges. Often, new episodes introduced not just new stories, but an entirely new genre.

Ahsoka’s introduction to The Mandalorian was clearly influenced by samurai movies.


Throughout Season 1 and especially in Season 2, it was easy to pinpoint which genre which episode was influenced by. The Season 2 premiere was a Western, complete with a sheriff, a ghost town, and the Indigenous Tusken Raiders. The Frog Lady episode brings to mind taxi driver movies like Collateral, while the episode that introduced Ahsoka took multiple notes from the samurai genre that inspired Star Wars to begin with.

Season 3 took a break from this model to wrap up its many stray narrative threads: Mando’s apostasy, the mythosaur sighting, the Children of the Watch, the pesky question of who the villain even is. In doing so, it became a serialized show, and not a terribly compelling one. Each episode just kind of... ended.

Episode 5 felt like a pirate story from top to bottom.


But Episode 5, “The Pirate,” put Season 3 back on track with a story that was all pirates all the time. From the panicked Grand Magistrate Greef Karga, to Carson Teva trying to get aid from a frazzled bureaucratic seat, to that thrilling ambush scene, the action felt more like a re-skin of Pirates of the Caribbean than Star Wars.

Hopefully, this trend will continue as we move into the back half of Mandalorian Season 3. Now that there’s a clear goal (unite the Mandalorians with the help of Bo-Katan Kryze) and a clear enemy (the now-at-large Moff Gideon), Mando can go back to the wandering adventure it was, just with a larger cast and higher stakes.

The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 5 is now streaming on Disney+.

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