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The Mandalorian: Chapter 23: The Return

What is it ? : As Bo-Katan leads the Mandalorians away from the Imperial ambush, she sends Axe Woves up into space to contact the fleet to warn them of the incoming attack. One of the survivors of Mandalore leads them to a underground grove where they have planted crops and brought life back to the planet, something Bo-Katan hasn't seen outside the gardens of the domed cities.
Meanwhile Din Djarin is being taken into the Imperial Base, when he breaks free of his captors and while he fights them he is rescued by Grogu in his IG-12 suit, afterwards he contacts Bo-Katan to let her know they are going after Moff Gideon. He also contacts R5-D4 to come to the base as he needs help.
Axe Woves arrives in space getting through the jamming effect so he can warn the fleet, he orders them into the smaller vessels down to the surface to help Bo-Katan, while taking control of the cruiser himself to fight the incoming Imperial attack.
The Mandalorian fighters head into the clouds, as the Tie Interceptors and Tie Bombers emerge and engage the cruiser.
Din reaches the ray shields which protect the command center, and orders R5-D4 to deactivate each in sequence, allowing him to just deal with the guards between each set of shields. He fights his way through, and emerges into a room containing numerous cloning vats, each containing a clone of Moff Gideon, and sabotages them, only for Gideon in his Beskar Dark Trooper armour to be seen in the command center proper.
Gideon isn't happy about the death of his clones, which he tells Din were perfect, as they corrected for the one thing he didn't have, The Force.
Din fights Gideon, and isn't doing well, especially when the Praetorian guards join the fight. But Grogu in his IG-12 suit joins the fight, and the Praetorians turn on him, leaving Din fighting Gideon alone. The Praetorians destroy IG-12, and Grogu's nimbleness keeps him out of their way for a while.
Bo-Katan leads her forces, now joined by all of the Mandalorians from the fleet back to the Imperial base, and they begin skirmishing with the Imperial commandos. She however fights her way to the control centre and joins Din, sending him to help Grogu while she ignites the Dark Saber and fights Gideon.
The Cruiser in orbit is smashed by bombs and the ship is wracked by explosions and is on fire, so Axe Woves begins deorbiting the vessel, pointing it towards the Imperial base, smashing a window and using his jetpack to escape the doomed vessel.
Just as the Praetorians pin Grogu to the ground and prepare for a killing strike, Din comes to his rescue, and Din aided by Grogu using the Force beat the Praetorians and return to help Bo-Katan.
Gideon grabs hold of Bo-Katan's hand, crushing and breaking the Darksaber, and as he prepares to kill the three, the Cruiser smashes into the base and the explosion engulfs them all. However as the flames begin to clear we see that Grogu is holding the fire back and protecting Bo-Katan, Din and himself.
In the aftermath the Mandalorians relight the forges of Mandalore, and complete the induction of Ragnar the son of the now deceased Paz Vizsla, as his was interrupted previously. Din asks for Grogu to be made his apprentice rather than just a foundling as he has fought in battle. The Armourer refuses as he cannot speak and has no family to speak on his behalf, so Din asks to adopt Grogu, and it is done, with Grogu now becoming Din Grogu. But they must leave Mandalore while Din shows Grogu the universe and The Way, but we see Grogu looking at the waters of Mandalore, and the camera moves under the water and we see deep beneath the Mythosaur waiting.
Din and Grogu leave in their N-1 Starfighter and head to the Republic camp on Adelphi where they meet with Carson Teva, Din explains the situation saying that while he is still a bounty hunter is now more selective as he has Grogu to think about, and offers his service to Carson to help hunt down the Imperial Remnant, asking only payment in the remains of an IG assassin droid on display in the cantina there.
He then heads to Nevarro, where Greef Karga gives him a small home on the outskirts of the town where he and Grogu may rest between adventures. In return Din gives Nevarro the now fully functional and repair IG-11, to act as the marshall of the planet. And as the episode ends we see Din sitting on the porch of his new home, with Grogu sitting at a pond nearby playing with a frog. . . .

High Points : Okay, I was wrong. Last episode I thought that this one was going to be formulaic and obvious, and it wasn't. It was a massively satisfying conclusion to the season, and in many ways felt like a conclusion to the entire series as nearly everything has been wrapped up.
There was loads of fighting, and it all felt fantastic, with Din escaping from the Commandos feeling really earned instead of just a deus ex machina escape to get the rest of the episode moving. And the fight through the Ray Shields was brilliant, with new opponents being added as Din fights his way through, fantastic stuff.
Now while I'm going to nitpick below, I have to admit that I'm not listing a massive amount of High Points, as I felt that most of the episode was a High Point. It was pretty much all good.

Low Points : The one part of the episode which I did feel didn't feel satisfying was the death of Moff Gideon. He dies in an explosion, and while it's nice to have Grogu saving Bo-Katan and Din Djarin, in a scene reminicant of the death of Kanan Jarrus in Rebels, it does mean that he's kind of defeated by accident. It also leaves a bad taste in my mouth as with Clones of him going around, and us not seeing a body, we probably haven't seen the last of Gideon, so it's likely a fake out.
I also have to question the use of the Jetpack to reach orbit. Only a few episode ago we saw a group of Jetpack using Mandalorians chase a winged creature only for them to run out of fuel. But now they can fly straight to orbit without it being a concern?
And while it's not as bad as some, this felt like there were too many endings. We get the scene where Din adopts Grogu, a nice ending to the season. Then we get them going to the New Republic and saying they'll work for them, also a nice ending. Then we get them going to Nevarro to provide a new marshall to replace the Mandalorians who were going to protect the planet but have now moved home, a decent ending. Then we get Din sitting on the porch watching his kid play, a nice little ending, but come on, how many endings do we need. At least they had the decency after all that to not put in a post credits scene.

So what do you really think ? : I really enjoyed this one, it felt really satisfying, a word I've now overused, but one that really describes how I felt.
Although it does seem that they've perhaps wrapped too much up, Gideon is gone and Mandalore reclaimed, Grogu is now an apprentice Mandalorian, Din isn't just a Bounty Hunter, but also a heroic one working to take down the Imperial Remnants. We've seen that Grogu was being experimented on to create force wielding Gideons, we've seen (earlier in the season) how Grogu escaped Order 66 (although much of his history is still to be explored), and we've seen that while the New Republic is filled with good people, it's doomed to fail.
While we can continue to explore this era in the future, as the Mandalorians restore their world, as the Republic falters and fails leading to the creation of the Resistance, and as the Imperial Remnant build into the First Order. Along with exploring more of Grogu's history, where he went after Order 66, how the Empire got their hands on him, etc. And of course we can bring back Gideon, either scarred from the fire, or a Force using Clone. But much of that feels like padding, the story we've been watching for the past 3 years feels pretty much done with.

Final Words : Anyway, while many have hated this season, I felt it did some interesting things, and while being very marginally worse than previous seasons, was extremely solid with some excellent episodes exploring the early days of the New Republic and some world we haven't seen before. And I for one consider this season a success, one that I'll continue to enjoy on rewatches in the future.

Score : 9.5/10

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