This is the second part of a series of three editorials on the shows related to The Mandalorian. Last week, we discussed everything we know about The Book of Boba Fett, as well as present some theories, and today, I’d like to do the same for season 3 of Mando. Feel free to leave a comment with your predictions on what is going to happen in the show. This is not a news article. No new information about the show will be posted here. This is a compilation of what we know (and don’t know) so far (which our usual readers will already be familiar with) and some guesses of what may be coming in the form of an opinion piece.
Season 3 of The Mandalorian is currently in pre-production, and as we learned last month, will begin filming either by the end of the year, or early next year. There’s plenty of room for speculation on multiple fronts with this show. In early 2020 we learned that season 3 was already in the writing stages (this was months before the release of season 2), and the Art department was already at work with sketches and storyboards. In hindsight, this could actually have been about The Book of Boba Fett, which we assume was hidden in secrecy for so long due to the thick walls that The Mandalorian provided, since it is all coming from the same team. But what if it wasn’t?
If The Mandalorian season 3 has been written for a year now, why hasn’t it started yet? Season 3 of the show has been one of the biggest mysteries from the past few months, and every two or three months, we get a new headline saying that it will begin filming soon. Back in October, Variety published a quote from Jon Favreau saying that season 3 was scheduled to begin filming before the end of the year. There were two or three other rumors that went around in late 2020 saying that it was coming soon, and that it would hit Disney Plus by Christmas 2021. The Deadline article where the Boba Fett spin-off series was first reported said that The Mandalorian season 3 would begin filming the month after, that is, December 2020. Also, on his appearance on Good Morning America back in December, Favreau said that they were in pre-production of season 3 while they were in production of Boba Fett and that shooting would begin as soon as the spin-off series wrapped.
Furthermore, in the first five months of 2021 there were several reports going around that it would start filming soon. Initially, a report mentioned an April start date, and then, a few months later, Bespin Bulletin came out saying that it was indeed starting soon (they also said that they are planning to bring Wookiees into the show, although it is unknown to what extent). There were even tweets from trusted scoopers saying the show was actively filming (that were then deleted).
And yet, now, another report (this one coming from Collider) is saying that this is actually not true, and that it won’t begin filming until the end of the year. On top of that, Production Weekly, claim The Mandalorian season 3 will start filming on September 20:
The Mandalorian Season 3 starts filming on September 20. pic.twitter.com/cRrhoY3ZEN
— Moviebuff1219 (@dodgerfan4life9) July 2, 2021
What is going on? It is entirely possible most of the 2020 reports were actually referring to Boba Fett, and not The Mandalorian, including Favreau’s quote to Variety. Favreau’s second quote clearly differentiated between the two, and Deadline‘s story did too. Is something else going on? After Gina Carano’s exit, one has to assume that there had to be some kind of rewrites if the season was already in development. But to what extent? Are these delays due to the fact that Cara Dune was going to be a significant part of season 3? I honestly don’t think she was going to be in more than two or three episodes, but the relevance of her role is anybody’s guess.
The reason I think that is because she was reportedly going to have her own spin-off show, which Lucasfilm decided to cancel before it was announced in December, and she could have easily been a part of the Rangers of the New Republic show, which was very clearly set up in season 2. The excuse of delaying filming for season 3 due to Obi-Wan Kenobi is believable to some degree (the show has always been shot in L.A., same as Boba Fett, but they could have easily used one of the new Volumes they built), but the one that bugs me is Pedro Pascal’s schedule and we have sources familiar with Favreau who know the filmmaker prefers to stay in the LA area as much as possible for work.
If Pascal was planning to shoot The Mandalorian in 2021, why would she sign on to do HBO’s The Last of Us, which is going to be shooting for eleven months, starting in July 2021? There are several theories that could explain this long shoot, one of which is that they are going to skip the winter season, where Pascal would possibly film The Mandalorian. If it turns out this way, Pascal and the whole team should have known months ago that this was the plan. There’s also the possibility that they thought they could film his helmet-less scenes before July, and then they shoot the rest without Pedro, but then they realized they needed more time to work on the show, and they delayed it until schedules matched.
While I was initially worried when I found out about Last of Us‘ long schedule, as it could mean that they would be filming the entirety of Mandalorian season 3 without Pedro Pascal, which means Din Djarin is having his helmet on the entire time, this alleviates it a little. In fact, this could actually be very good news, because if they are waiting for Pascal to clear his schedule, we could be getting quite a bit of helmet-less Din Djarin, which is great news for the story.
And what is the story? I have no idea, to be honest. I think most people are expecting season 3 to be the retaking of Mandalore, but I actually don’t think that will be the case, because I have a feeling (which will totally be proven wrong in a few months) that they are going to build towards that throughout the upcoming shows, and in season 3 we will continue to do so. We are probably going to be having a lot of Din Djarin vs. Bo-Katan confrontations, both physical and emotional, for the Darksaber. I think that we are going to find out exactly what happened to Mandalore, and start laying the ground for how our characters will retake it.
Moff Gideon might be the antagonist for the season (I think he’ll have a bigger role than in season 2, which was probably the season’s biggest disappointment), and I think we might even get to know a bigger bad, who might be responsible for the downfall of Mandalore. If there is indeed one individual responsible for that, I believe there is a chance it might be none other than Grand Admiral Thrawn. His name already appeared in season 2, and I think they have larger plans for him (more on this on next week’s editorial, which will cover Ahsoka), so either he is behind it all, or is directly linked to the individual behind it. That being said, Thrawn is not someone who would necessarily want the Empire back (he’s more concerned about the Chiss), so if they went in that direction, they’d probably need to redirect some of the story (which currently seems to be focused on the Empire surviving the Galactic Civil War). I’m really curious to find out about this.
Could Grogu return? I think so. The merchandising argument is quite powerful, although one could also argue that they didn’t plan any toys or merchandising for season 1 to keep the secret as long as possible. The Mandalorian brand is already quite powerful without considering the Grogu aspect of it, and they can certainly capitalize on that. I believe they will go back to Grogu, in some way or another, but I wouldn’t put money on it. And certainly not on Luke (I don’t think Lucasfilm hiring the YouTube deepfake artist means anything for him). Luke showing up again will be extremely complicated because you can only get the surprise factor of that entrance once. And let’s be honest here, even though I grinned like a little boy when R2 showed up, the magic was over once he pulled that hood. Having Luke back might take away some of the weight of that moment, although I admit there are two very easy counterarguments here.
On the one hand, I thought a Luke appearance by the end of the season was totally off the table because that would be something that would completely sequester the conversation around the show. And to a point, it did, but it also showed us the importance of the relation between Din Djarin and Grogu and how we as an audience were so invested in that. So I’m not taking anything off the table anymore. And that moment between the two characters brings me to my other point — if Grogu is back, that might also take away some of the weight of the final moments of season 2. So maybe he’s not coming back at all, and this is from now on Din Djarin’s story. We will definitely see Grogu again, but maybe not on this show. That’s an interesting thing to bet on, though.
There’s another loose end from the first two seasons, which might be a key player going forward — the whole cloning operation. At first, I didn’t think they would tie it into the sequel trilogy and the return of Palpatine, but now I certainly wouldn’t bet against it. This will certainly be the deciding factor on whether The Mandalorian stands on its own, or it is key to the overall canon story (despite the show bringing back characters from all media, and even resurrecting fan-favorite characters). I’m cool either way, though I certainly understand arguments from both sides. As far as the story is concerned, I do think that if they move forward with cloning as one of (if not the) main plotline of the shows, Grand Admiral Thrawn will have a smaller role than I speculated earlier — his allegiance is with the Chiss, not the Empire, and they would have to stretch the story way more than it needs to explain why he’d want Emperor Palpatine to return.
As far as the future beyond season 3 goes, who knows, really? Giancarlo Esposito has talked about Favreau having plans for both season 3 and season 4, and given the success of the first two seasons, I totally believe Disney has already given him the thumbs up for both of them. Depending on where they take the story, I could very well see the show ending on season 4. They already have big plans for this franchise inside the larger Star Wars franchise, so they can easily bring the Din Djarin story to a nice end without killing the story completely.
Speaking of season 4, though, there is an interesting point to be made here — what if the reason they delayed the show is that they want to shoot both of them back to back? Seasons 1 and 2 were very much connected, but with Grogu’s story ending with Chapter 16, at least for now, maybe there is a natural separation between 1&2, and 3&4. And the separation is of course The Book of Boba Fett. Disney now probably wants seasons 3 and 4, even before they have their numbers for the third one, so what if…? This certainly explains the long wait, although there is one thing working against it. The Mandalorian season 2 was shooting for around five months, the same amount as The Book of Boba Fett. If they wanted to shoot two seasons back to back they would probably be looking at eight to ten months, depending on how they work out their schedules. If Pedro Pascal is going to shoot Mandalorian during a break on The Last of Us, it certainly rules it out, especially if they are planning for him to be without his helmet for at least the majority of season 4, which I believe is totally on the table.
What do you think is going to happen? Make sure to leave a comment below, and come back next week, when we’ll discuss Ahsoka, Rangers of the New Republic, and the culmination event!