Moff Gideon returns and puts Din Djarin, Bo-Katan and the rest of the Mandalorians on their heels as it appears he has taken over the planet of Mandalore in the latest episode of the Lucasfilm and Disney+ Original Series, “The Mandalorian.” After teasing it all season, Moff Gideon is back and he looks to be badder than ever. From his meetings with Imperial loyalists to his arrival with Beskar armored dark troopers at the Grand Forge, he is proving to be every bit the villain this show has truly needed.

This series just took a drastic change in pace following the events of episode six. I identified episode six as my least favorite of the season and, quite possibly, my least favorite of the series. In contrast, episode seven is easily my favorite of the season, and may be my favorite of the series. Whereas episode six felt like it would’ve been at home in the Holiday Special or the Ewok movies, episode seven feels like an episode of the first two seasons of “The Mandalorian” mixed with a dash of “Andor.” The scenes on Coruscant reminded me of “Andor,” but, unlike episode three where the Coruscant storyline took over the episode, it did a better job of complementing the series’ tone here.

This episode managed to hit me in all the right places. For the first time this season, Din Djarin and Grogu finally felt like the Mando and Baby Yoda of old. It was a nice way to tie in the remains of IG-11, give the pair a funny little scene without the comic relief going too long, and put them at the forefront of the show where they belong. From there, we learn about Bo-Katan’s previous surrender to Moff Gideon before the purge. That’s what makes Gideon’s line “Mandalore will live on through me,” so devastating for Bo-Katan. Plus, it is expertly delivered by Giancarlo Esposito. All of that leads up to the most emotional sacrifice ever for a character whose face we have never seen.

Paz Visla has been antagonistic throughout the series to both Din Djarin and Bo-Katan. He opposed Mando being allowed to return to the Children of the Watch despite Mando meeting all the requirements for redemption. He was vehemently opposed to Bo-Katan being allowed to stay with them even after Mando was accepted. But, when Bo-Katan led the mission to save his son, Paz became an uneasy ally. He still fought with the Nite Owls before reaching the Grand Forge, but he was always willing to fight for Mandalore. He covered Axe Woves and Axe flew an injured Mandalorian to safety. Then, he sacrificed himself to ensure that Bo-Katan escaped after Moff Gideon captured Din Djarin. Lost in the uneven pacing of the series was Paz Visla’s journey from antagonist to ally to hero. It’s arguably the greatest character arc of season three.

What can we expect in the season three finale? This episode has increased my excitement for next week. Season three has been hit or miss for me. The quality hasn’t hit in every episode. I’ve enjoyed the storyline about reclaiming Mandalore but haven’t always enjoyed Din Djarin being shunted to the side. I loved the “Andor” like feel of Coruscant but didn’t love its pacing in episode three. That was clearly a case where the story should’ve been spread out over multiple episodes instead of crammed into one. And I’ve loved some of the cameos this show has given us but didn’t like how the Lizzo and Jack Black appearances took me out of the show. But after the penultimate episode? I’m ready for the finale. I’m ready to see if Thrawn returns here or if they have just been laying the groundwork for his return in “Ahsoka.” Either way, I’m ready. This is the way.

Rating: 5 stars

What did you think of this latest episode of “The Mandalorian?”

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Jeremy Brown

Jeremy has been a big Disney fan since he was a kid growing up during the Disney Renaissance. One day he hopes to go to every Disney Park in the world.

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