Led quite intentionally astray by some aspects of Chapter 23, The Spies, and comments by the cast and crew of the series, fans had put together some pretty wild theories about what to expect in the Season 3 finale of The Mandalorian. Suffice it to say, by the time the title of the episode (The Return) was revealed just a touch over five minutes in, it was pretty clear where the episode was headed and that no betrayals or heart-wrenching deaths were coming; instead, Chapter 24 was a spectacle-filled finale that significantly changed the status quo of the New Republic era of the galaxy far, far away and a promise of a return to a more episodic adventure in Season 4.
For much of the most recent season, The Mandalorian has been criticized for spending too much time on characters other than Din Djarin and Grogu. In some ways, the finale served as a very direct response to that criticism, bringing the duo back into the spotlight with an action-packed escape followed immediately by a battle with the galaxy’s biggest fanboy, Moff Gideon, and his Praetorian Guard. While many fans waited much of the season for Bo-Katan Kryze to betray Din Djarin, her well-timed intervention Din’s fight with Gideon allowed her to try to exact her revenge on the Moff while allowing for Din and Grogu to work side-by-side taking down the guard. The relationship between Bo-Katan and Din–which was developed on screen over several episodes while fans all threw their hands up and complained that nothing was happening–bore fruit when Din and Grogu joined Bo-Katan in holding off Gideon long enough for Axe Woves’ kamikaze mission to take him out. Teamwork makes the dream work.
That sentiment, shared by Bo-Katan while Din and Grogu joined her against Gideon, should have resonated strongly with the audience as a measure of the incredible growth made by the character since she first showed up in Season 3. Sitting alone in her throne room, Bo-Katan had given up on…pretty much everything. The weight of her past failures had become an anchor preventing her from moving forward and, having lost everything, she was content to pout in her big chair. Now, Bo-Katan has relit the Great Forge of Mandalore and stands ready to lead her newly reunited people into a new age of Mandalorian glory. In summation, it’s almost as if every minute of her journey over the course of Season 3 helped shape her into exactly the type of leader her people needed her to be.
With Mandalore’s future in the best of hands, The Return also promised a return of what made fans fall in love with the series in the first place: the adventures of Din Djarin and Din Grogu. After quickly convincing Carson Teva to let them take care of some of the New Republic’s dirty work, the Dins get a storybook ending to Chapter 24. What does that mean for Season 4, which is already in pre-production with cameras slated to roll this Fall? With Ahsoka and Skeleton Crew set to bear some of the world-building weight of the New Republic era and help move things toward Dave Filoni‘s “Heir to the Empire” film, the next season of The Mandalorian might look a whole lot more like Seasons 1 and 2, with several chapters devoted to taking the Dins on new adventures each week, allowing for Grogu to continue learning and evolving as a Mandalorian.
The Return certainly moved fast, packing a spectacular aerial battle of Mandos vs. Dark Troopers, the presumed death of Gideon and the retaking of Mandalore into 42 minutes but make no mistake, those 42 minutes changed the status quo of the New Republic era of stories. With Gideon, who was revealed only to be serving his own interests rather than that of the Shadow Council, now dispatched, there’s room for a new threat to emerge. With Bo-Katan and crew reconstructing Mandalore, a new and powerful force will continue to emerge on the other side of that threat. As far as a season finale goes, The Return seemed to deliver on just about every level: big action, resolution and the promise of what comes next. It may not have been what fans theorized but it seems to have delivered what they’ve all ben asking for all season.