THE MANDALORIAN Season 3 Finale Is the Beginning of the End for a STAR WARS Era

“Chapter 24” of The Mandalorian didn’t just end the show’s third season. The action-packed finale also served as a reset for the entire series. Mandalorians are finally back home and united, even without the Darksaber. Moff Gideon is (seemingly) dead. And the Shadow Council no longer has a base of operations on Mandalore. Din Djarin and his son can now live a quiet life on Nevarro when they’re not busy on adventures. But the episode, which resolved multiple major plot lines without teasing any other spinoffs, did more than restore The Mandalorian to its original format. It also served as the beginning of an end. It’s the beginning of the end we know is coming for this era of connected Disney+ live-action Star Wars shows.

Din Djarin and Grogu walk through a sun-streaked door on The Mandalorian

Din Djarin and Din Grogu are going back out on their own after the defeat of Moff Gideon. Their peoples are home again and Grogu is officially an adopted Mandalorian. He needs to learn how to navigate the galaxy. Grogu’s apprenticeship—as Greef Karga’s on-the-nose analysis laid out—means the pair is now ready to return to their original way of life together. They will serve as independent contractors for the New Republic dealing with Imperial remnants on a “case-by-case” basis. That new/old bounty hunter lifestyle will also bring the series back to its season one and two roots. The Mandalorian will once again be the Lone Wolf and Cub in space after season three focused on the franchise’s larger stories.

Even if Din and Grogu don’t have to worry about Mandalore or Moff Gideon ever again, those larger stories aren’t over. Not for them or the galaxy. In the great tradition of Star Wars, which began with a trilogy, the credits rolling on one “episode” doesn’t mean the end of what the characters are dealing with. And the largest issue hanging over the period of The Mandalorian will play a monumental role on its next live-action spinoff, Ahsoka.

Grand Admiral Thrawn, whose return the Shadow Council awaits, is coming. His return has been Ahsoka Tano’s focus since she made her live-action debut on The Mandalorian. She’s right to worry about it. Thrawn’s reemergence also presages the coming of Snoke and Palpatine some day. Din and Grogu’s work for the New Republic won’t prevent Imperial remnants from regrouping. They will succeed at establishing the Empire as the First Order. And while Thrawn isn’t around for the sequel trilogy, the dangerous, cunning Imperial officer is poised to play a significant role in Palpatine’s resurrection.

His role during this time period is what Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni set up to be the next overarching issue of the The Mandalorian universe of shows. It’s also a story poised to be the last one these series tell together.

The back of Grand Admiral Thrawn's head, from the teaser trailer for Ahsoka.

Filoni is set to direct his own Star Wars movie. Lucafilm says it “ will focus on the New Republic, and close out the interconnected stories told in The MandalorianThe Book of Boba FettAhsoka, and other Disney+ series.” We don’t know when that film is coming, but the film’s announcement reveals the end is near for these shows. That inevitable conclusion—described as “big event in this time period”—will start with Ahsoka. No matter how many other seasons we get of it, The Mandalorian, or any other spinoffs, the coming of Thrawn is the coming of the end that began when Din Djarin accepted a bounty that turned out to be Grogu.

Don’t despair if you hope to see more of the pair’s adventures together. Filoni himself said it will be possible for Din Djarin and Grogu to continue having their adventure even after his film.

Grogu standing in his robe on marble steps on The Mandalorian

How can his film end an era launched by The Mandalorian but not the actual show? The same way The Return of the Jedi didn’t mark the end of Luke, Leia, and Han’s story, either. It only marked the end of the original trilogy’s story. Filoni’s film will do the same for the story The Mandalorian and its spinoffs told together. And it’s fitting that end started with a reset to how it all began for Din Djarin and Grogu.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at  @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.

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