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The Mandalorian Isn't For Parents Anymore. It's For Kids

Parents may not see themselves in the world of Mando Season 3. But your kids are gonna love it.

Originally Published: 
Baby Yoda in 'The Mandalorian.'

Back in 2019, The Mandalorian created a powerful fantasy for parents. Mando kicked ass and he was, basically, a good dad to Baby Yoda. This theme continued into Season 2, and even The Book of Boba Fett proved that the love between Daddy Mando and Grogu was the heart and soul of this journey. But now with Season 3, the show has become something a little different. In 2023, the new Mando episodes feel like a show you watch with a 10-year-old for fun.

This subtle change doesn’t mean Mando is a bad show now. Far from it. But this show is different from how you might remember it. Spoilers ahead for the Season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian.

The quest of Mandalorian Season 3 picks up from events that were actually depicted within a non-Mandalorian series. In the middle of The Book of Boba Fett, we caught up with Mando and learned he’d been ostracized from his sect because apparently, they learned that he took off his helmet to say goodbye to Baby Yoda in the Season 2 finale “The Rescue.” By the end of The Book of Boba Fett, Mando, and Baby Yoda were reunited, after Grogu decided he didn’t actually want to live with a digitally de-aged Luke Skywalker and become a Jedi. The latest Mandalorian season assumes you’re more or less caught up on all of that, but because it’s been two and half years since we’ve had new episodes at all, it’s interesting how little any of the Luke Skywalker stuff in 2020 ended-up mattering.

If we’re being honest, the relationship between Mando and Grogu hasn’t really changed all that much since Season 1. The biggest difference in Season 3, is that you’re not remotely worried about Baby Yoda’s safety at all. The idea that Mando has to scramble to protect Baby Yoda from the Empire, criminals, or creepy mad scientists no longer really feels like a thing at the start of this season. Any conflict that exists in the status quo of the Star Wars galaxy is run-of-the-mill space action stuff: Giant alien crocodiles, absurd space pirates, and later in the season, even more monsters from the deep.

Like most of Star Wars, The Mandalorian has pulpy adventure tropes baked into its basic DNA. The series has never really shied away from these gee-wiz elements, but in Season 1 you could feel the restraint. Back then, Mando didn’t even have a rocket pack until the very end, and the danger felt more grounded, closer to being a show for adults than for kids. This started to shift a bit in Season 2, as the series actively incorporated several characters from the animated Star Wars shows. To the credit of the show, these imports worked. If your kid loved Bo-Katan or Ahsoka from The Clone Wars and Rebels, seeing those characters in live-action was a treat. For everyone else, these felt like new characters, which was fine too.

The Mandalorian and Grogu in the debut of Season 3.


But, this shift is notable. Mando Season 1 became a global phenomenon specifically because it was a date night show that didn’t require you to be in the weeds about Star Wars canon to “get it.” Several hilarious memes circulated back in 2019 about how Baby Yoda isn’t really Yoda, but in Season 1 that detail did not matter at all. Season 2 pivoted hard the other way, and made the nitty-gritty continuity of Star Wars central to understanding why anybody is doing anything. And now, in Season 3, that transformation is complete.

This is why the show is probably more fun to watch with a Star Wars kid than with a half-interested Star Wars adult. If you’re looking for a date night show to watch with your partner, Mando Season 3 is probably no longer that show, despite the fact that Grogu is still very adorable. Instead, with its swashbuckling action, and nonsensical plotting, the writing of the Mandalorian Season 3 feels much closer to one of the animated shows like The Bad Batch or The Clone Wars. This isn’t a problem, and that’s no shade on those shows. But it does feel different from the simplicity of early Mando. Before, Mando was a cool show that just happened to take place in the Star Wars galaxy. Now, it’s very much a Star Wars show, concerned with Star Wars stuff constantly.

If parents are looking for a rollicking good time with Star Wars action, great for co-viewing with an older child, the latest season of The Mandalorian Season 3 will deliver. Just don’t watch with your adult brain. That’s not the point of this anymore.

The Mandalorian streams on Disney+.

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