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The Mandalorian season 3 episode 2 review: Diving headfirst into Manda-lore

Last week’s review of The Mandalorian season 3 episode 1 highlighted how Chapter 17 was built to let audiences know what had changed during The Book of Boba Fett, what the next step in Din Djarin’s journey was, and why we loved this show in the first place. It was a lot to tackle within 30 minutes, and while everything clicked together and delivered classic Star Wars fun, the episode felt largely unfocused and too fast at times.

With Chapter 18 ‘The Mines of Mandalore’, Jon Favreau immediately justifies such an odd premiere and quickly gets to work on the Mandalore plot. In fact, a good chunk of what we thought would take up most of season 3 has now been resolved, leaving the remaining six episodes in mostly unknown territory for fans and casual viewers alike.

Spoilers ahead for The Mandalorian season 3 episode 2 – Chapter 18: ‘The Mines of Mandalore’

(Image credit: Disney)

Chapter 18’s opening is a huge red herring, as Din and Grogu return to Tatooine to ask Amy Sedaris’ Peli Motto for the droid part he needs. This pit stop makes sense and also seemed logical to bring back Boba Fett and Cobb Vanth into the picture. However, the episode is as far as possible from being another Tatooine side quest chapter, and the charming Mos Eisley hustler doesn’t have a positive answer for Din and instead sells A New Hope veteran astromech R5-D4 (who was already hanging around in past seasons) to him.

R5-D4 is gonna fall apart any second and exhibits the literal opposite of R2-D2’s bravery, but it’s true he could get the Mandalore job done – analyzing the atmosphere and doing some quick scouting for Din – and help in future spacefaring adventures. Now, the Mandalorian’s N-1 starfighter is fully equipped with an astromech, which means that Grogu gets to share more bonding time with his adoptive dad inside the cockpit.

(Image credit: Disney)

At this point, we think it’s important to underline how good this episode looks. Mind you, The Mandalorian is a consistently nice-looking TV series crafted by a team of professionals that make the budget sing, but Rachel Morrison’s (the cinematographer behind Mudbound and Black Panther) touch can be felt all over Chapter 18, making it one of the most cinematic pieces of Star Wars television so far. We hope she returns to direct more The Mandalorian episodes for season 4 and beyond.

Back to the plot, there are no more pit stops between Tatooine and Mandalore, and Din spends some time telling Grogu the basics about the planet and its (almost extinct) civilization of warriors despite never having been there. He also mentions growing up on the moon of Concordia, which lines up with what we knew about his clan and its dark past. Kalevala, Bo-Katan’s planet from last episode, is briefly name-dropped too, underlining it’s in the same system – that will be useful later.

(Image credit: Disney)

As we arrive on Mandalore, Chapter 18 slows down and takes its time to tell this week’s story and let Din Djarin and Grogu breathe, as this isn’t just another random planet. There isn’t a big side quest in this episode either, but of course, obstacles are in the way…

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