The Mandalorian has never been in hurry. For the most part, concerns about the pacing of the series have died down a bit over the years as fans seem to be able to accept it for what it is. Part of that acceptance has likely come from the fact that “filler episodes” have often turned out to be more than filler an episode or two down the road. With Chapter 17 of the series, The Apostate, it seems as though Jon Favreau and Rick Famuyia chose to kick off the third season of The Mandalorian with what feels like a “filler episode” but also feels like something a bit more.
From start to finish The Apostate seems hellbent on reminding us (both directly and indirectly) of what’s out there in the vastness of the galaxy. The Watch. Greef Karga. Kowakian monkey-lizards. Pirates. IG-11. A host of Anzellans. Bo-Katan. We’ve seen it all before; however, as they hopscotched around the galaxy and caught up with familiar faces from their own story, Din Djarin and Grogu’s adventures almost certainly led fans astray on more than one occasion. As they journeyed through hyperspace Grogu’s first encounter with Purrgil reminded Star Wars fans that there are other stories left to be finished in the Filoni-verse. And certainly, no Star Wars fan worth their weight in credits didn’t wonder for a beat or two when Hondo was going to walk around the corner during the dispute on Nevarro. The decision to intentionally and indirectly bring Ezra Bridger’s ongoing narrative to mind in the season opener of The Mandalorian seems a fairly clear indicator of just how central the series is to the New Republic universe that Favreau and Dave Filoni are building but it also makes the galaxy far, far away feel a bit smaller than it probably should, even if for only a few moments.
So while it’s a little awkward to kick off a fresh new season in first gear–indeed neither The Mando nor Grogu was much changed by the events of The Apostate–and fans of the series probably feel a bit indifferent about bits and pieces of the episode (did we really really need an update on Cara Dune?), the episode does provide plenty of opportunity for contemplation about just how important the story of Din Djarin and Grogu truly is in this New Republic Era. In fact, the episode is filled with an almost overwhelming amount of small and important details buried in exposition. So while The Apostate feels familiar and sluggish as it retreads old ground, it seems to be laying the foundation for an entire suite of New Republic adventures coming to Disney Plus this year. And, if past precedent for the series is to be followed, Chapter 18 will turn on the jets anyway.