Star Rating:

The Mandalorian 12+

Streaming On: Watch The Mandalorian on Disney+

Season: 3

Episode: 1

Actors: Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers, Amy Sedaris

Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Western

Running time: 40 minutes

Since 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' shambled its way out of cinemas, the future of the 'Star Wars' franchise has been on streaming and its fortunes have varied.

'Andor' was far, far better than it had any right or need to be. Brilliantly blending together a tense heist thriller with political machinations and spymaster twists, it's been a high watermark for everything else in 'Star Wars' to clear. 'The Book of Boba Fett' was an interesting if muted diversion, with Temeura Morrison growling his way through the series before it effectively took a sharp turn into being a forerunner for 'The Mandalorian'. Now at long last arrives the third season of 'The Mandalorian' as Pedro Pascal's career effectively hits its zenith.

Some of the discussion going into 'The Mandalorian' has been how much he's actually on screen, and it's kind of telling that the first and second episode picks up with Mando being forced into another perilous journey - this time, to atone for the high crime of removing his helmet and willingly showing his face to people. It's always been something of a bugbear with audiences connecting with 'The Mandalorian', as you've got a lead character who has no recognisable emotions. Sure, we know he's a cold-blooded gunfighter and what have you, but beyond that, it's relatively light on any kind of connection. All of that instead goes to Baby Yoda, which the first episode makes a point of reminding us of his actual name - Grogu.

'The Mandalorian' has always presented itself as a space western, with the title character rolling from town to town and planet to planet to ply his trade and bring in the bad guys dead or alive. Yet, this season feels a little different. Where 'Andor' had grown-up themes and acting, 'The Mandalorian' feels like it's clearly gearing itself towards family audiences. It's no bad thing, as 'Star Wars' is after all fun for all ages, but the shift feels unmistakable. There's less talk of Din Djarin as a bounty hunter or warrior, and more about him being played as a kind of knight-errant on a quest to redeem himself in the eyes of his people.

Again, this fits into the format of last season, which saw Mando move through a series of adventures to try and track down Grogu's people and put him in contact with the Jedi so that he could be trained. Anyone who watched 'The Book of Boba Fett' will know that it didn't take, and brought him back to Mando's waiting arms and set things up to where the show's at now.

Still, there's the inescapable feeling that 'The Mandalorian' might just be running out of ammo because of its sparse nature. Compared to 'Andor' or even 'Obi-Wan Kenobi', there feels like there's a lack of depth in the show. Much of the show is filmed inside the fabled Volume, which is essentially a soundstage with a wraparound screen that gives it the illusion of wide-open spaces. Up until now, 'The Mandalorian' always felt like it had an endless horizon. If the show is to retain an audience, it needs to expand beyond the confines it's set for itself and become more creative and ambitious. There's a galaxy out there, yet it's confined to a soundstage with a gimmick.