An impressive haul of 24 nominations for the upcoming Emmy Awards confirmed what we already knew – everybody loves The Mandalorian. The story of a masked bounty hunter protecting a Force-sensitive known to the world as Baby Yoda captured our imaginations in a way Star Wars hasn’t since the original trilogy. That’s why The Mandalorian season 3 is one of the most hotly anticipated shows on the Disney Plus slate.
Lucasfilm being Lucasfilm, most intel about the new season remains hidden behind an impregnable forcefield – we’re not even sure when we’ll see Mando return to our screens. But we do know that Pedro Pascal will be back under the iconic helmet (at least some of the time), and that the show will continue the story of Din Djarin as he makes his way across the universe.
There are also plenty of questions to answer about the fate of Grogu (aka Baby Yoda), the future of Mandalore, and the ongoing activities of a troublesome Imperial remnant. And we’re keen to find out how The Mandalorian season 3 fits in with upcoming spin-off The Book of Boba Fett.
Here’s everything we know about The Mandalorian season 3 so far, from casting to plot – and rumors of Wookiee involvement.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The third season of The Mandalorian, the first ever live-action Star Wars TV show.
- When can I see it? The new season is expected to debut at some point in 2022.
- Where can I see it? Like its predecessors, the show will stream exclusively on Disney Plus.
The Mandalorian season 3 release date: 2022
Back when The Book of Boba Fett was announced at the end of The Mandalorian season 2 finale, Grogu fans were concerned that the new show was taking the place of a third season of The Mandalorian. But that’s definitely not the case: Favreau has confirmed that The Mandalorian season 3 will continue the story of Din Djarin.
“What we didn’t say in [the Disney Investor Day announcement about upcoming Star Wars TV] is the next show coming up – [Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy] said the next chapter – that’s gonna be The Book of Boba Fett,” Favreau told Good Morning America in December 2020. “And then we go into production right after that on season 3 of The Mandalorian, back with the main character that we all have known and loved.”
So The Mandalorian season 3 is confirmed and filming this year – but you might have to wait a little longer than you originally hoped. While seasons 1 and 2 debuted in November 2019 and October 2020, respectively, Mando’s third outing isn’t due until 2022. And that’s all we know, because a specific Mandalorian season 3 release date is yet to be confirmed. At least we can look forward to The Book of Boba Fett’s arrival in late 2021 to fill that Star Wars-shaped hole on Disney Plus…
A production listing for The Mandalorian season 3 by the Film and Television Industry Alliance says filming was scheduled to begin on April 5, 2021. Lucasfilm hasn’t said anything to that effect just yet, however.
Adding to the confusion, Pedro Pascal – the man beneath Mando’s helmet – suggested in an appearance on Variety’s Actors on Actors series that, as of early June 2021, production was still yet to get underway. When fellow Star Wars star Ewan McGregor asked if principal photography had begun for The Mandalorian season 3, Pascal responded: “We haven’t shot a third season so, confidentially… actually, maybe I shouldn’t say…”
Pascal has another commitment that may further delay Mando’s return. He’s been cast as Joel Miller in HBO’s live-action series based on Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed videogame The Last of Us. Production got under way on the new show in early July, and Pascal’s contract with HBO means The Last of Us is in “first position” – in Hollywood speak, that means it takes precedence over any other shows the actor might work on, including The Mandalorian.
The Last of Us doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world for Mando, however – especially as he’s not always the actor inside that famous helmet, as season 1 director Bryce Dallas Howard revealed to Vulture in 2019. We’re guessing much of the shoot will proceed with someone else playing Din Djarin on set, with Pascal turning up when he’s required for voice work, or a rare view of his face.
With The Book of Boba Fett already confirmed for late 2021, all this points to The Mandalorian season 3 landing on Disney Plus at some point next year. A rumor on The Direct (based on a leak from a book marketing platform) points to Spring 2022, but right now we’d take that with a fairly large pinch of salt.
We’ll update this section once we have confirmation on an official launch date.
In the meantime, you can enjoy this picture of Pedro Pascal in-costume as Mando:
Category is: helmet head realness. #Maythe4thBeWithYou pic.twitter.com/XUUF4hYjN3May 4, 2021
The Mandalorian season 3 cast: what we know
Spoilers follow for The Mandalorian season 2. Don’t go any further unless you want the series ruined for you.
While there’s no officially confirmed supporting cast for season 3 yet, Pedro Pascal will return (at least some of the time) as Din Djarin, aka The Mandalorian.
Other actors returning next season are unclear – no surprise, seeing as Lucasfilm tend to enjoy keeping guest stars secret until new episodes debut on Disney Plus – but the show now has a big ensemble to pick and choose from.
We fully expect to see Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze appear again – perhaps season 3 will dig further into her quest to restore Mandalore – while Carl Weathers (Greef Karga) is likely to pop up at some point.
Gina Carano, however, isn’t returning as former Rebel Shock Trooper Cara Dune. We’ve touched on this further down, so jump ahead if you want to know why.
Giancarlo Esposito seems fairly confident he’ll turn up again as rogue Imperial Moff Gideon in season 3. “I have a feeling you’ll see more of me next season. More than likely you’re going to see a lot of Moff Gideon,” the actor told Entertainment Weekly. With his life spared by Mando in the season 2 finale, the Imperial bigwig clearly has a bigger part to play in the post-Return of the Jedi universe. And besides, why ditch a perfectly good villain?
It’s also possible that Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) will appear again after their starring roles in the upcoming The Book of Boba Fett, but that’s by no means certain.
“I don’t know, you’ll probably find out before I do,” said Ming-Na when Digital Spy asked her about a possible appearance in The Mandalorian season 3. “You guys have your feelers out on everything. I mean, come on, I didn’t even know I was shooting The Book of Boba Fett, so you’re asking the wrong person.
“We’re so secretive about everything, right?” she added. “We don’t call the shows, the shows. The contracts are always under different names. The show is under different names. When I was told I was going to become a season regular, I just automatically assumed it was for The Mandalorian season three. So for two weeks, while I was working with Tem [Temuera Morrison] and Robert [Rodriguez, The Book of Boba Fett executive producer], I had no idea that I was actually shooting the spin-off!”
An earlier Deadline report, which correctly reported a Boba Fett show was happening, suggested that it’s possible actress Sophie Thatcher will appear in The Mandalorian season 3, but we await official confirmation on this – indeed, it’s just as likely she’s appearing in The Book of Boba Fett.
Additionally, rumors surrounding an appearance from the Wookiees have emerged recently. According to the Bespin Bulletin podcast, sources close to season 3’s production have suggested that a Wookiee will be making an appearance in the show.
Naturally, there’s no confirmation as to whether this is true, so we’re staying sceptical for now. If you’re interested in viewing the rumor yourself, though, check out the Instagram post below:
Finally, while this isn’t a casting rumor per se, it’s believed that Rian Johnson wants to direct a future instalment in The Mandalorian. According to author and reporter Sariah Wilson, The Last Jedi director is “dying to” direct an episode of the series, and she added that Johnson had already spoken to executive producer Dave Filoni about the potential to do so.
However, Star Wars fans who disliked The Last Jedi can rest easy for the time being. As Wilson claims, Johnson is currently shooting Knives Out 2 for Netflix. If Johnson is tied up with that sequel, his schedule probably won’t enable him to direct an episode of season 3.
You can view Wilson’s thread about Johnson and The Mandalorian below:
I asked Rian if he’d ever consider doing an episode of The Mandalorian. He said he was dying to, but that for him it’s all about scheduling. He’s been writing KO2 and now he’s going to go directly into filming it. So it would be a matter ofApril 17, 2021
The Mandalorian season 3 story: will Grogu return?
We think there are two big plot threads from season 2 that The Mandalorian season 3 has to pay off. First, who will wield the Darksaber? And, second, when will Grogu – also known as The Child/Baby Yoda – return to Din Djarin’s care following his time training with Jedi Master Luke Skywalker?
At the end of season 2, Mando won the Darksaber weapon – the Mandalorian blade highly coveted by Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in her journey to reclaim the throne of Mandalore – from Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). However, he couldn’t simply hand it over to Bo-Katan, and tensions mounted as it became clear that she and Mando were going to have to duel in order for her to claim the weapon. This plot thread should be picked up again in The Mandalorian season 3, as any further developments were scuppered by the impromptu appearance of Luke Skywalker in the season finale.
Speaking of Luke, the other big plot point we expect to be picked up in season 3 is the fate of Grogu after the artist formerly known as Baby Yoda went off with Luke to be trained in the ways of the Force. “He is strong with the Force, but talent without training is nothing,” said Skywalker. “I will give my life to protect the Child… but he will not be safe until he masters his abilities.”
Mando promises he’ll see Grogu again, but when?
We would be shocked not to see the little green guy again next season. While we did see in season 2, episode 7 that the show is capable of having great adventures without Grogu, the story of Mando and Baby Yoda is the heart of the show, and we don’t expect that to change despite season 2’s cliffhanger ending.
Then, of course, there’s the resurgent Empire to deal with. Moff Gideon’s ship is just one small part of the Imperial remnant forces out there waiting to be dealt with, and we know that Imperial leader Grand Admiral Thrawn is alive and being hunted by Ahsoka Tano.
We expect the Thrawn story to form the basis of the upcoming Ahsoka live-action show, but it’s possible we’ll see it picked up again in The Mandalorian, too.
One thing we’re certain of is that Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t interested in the role. The Doctor Strange and Sherlock star recently stated that there’s “no way” that he wants to be cast as the live-action version of the beloved villain, mostly because he doesn’t want to be colored blue for the role. If Thrawn does crossover into The Mandalorian season 3, we should hear about any castings before filming begins.
It’s also likely that we’ll see more hints at what Grogu’s blood is being used for by the Empire. It seemed fairly obvious the show was pointing at the cloned origins of the sequel trilogy’s puppet villain Supreme Leader Snoke, and the eventual return of Emperor Palpatine that would make us sigh with disappointment in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker. We’ll have to see if season 3 addresses this or not.
Some members of the cast do at least have an idea of where the show is heading. In an interview with IndieWire in January, Pascal teased that he’s aware of “what the plan is” for season 3 and beyond, but obviously couldn’t elaborate on it due to spoilers and NDA agreements in his contract.
“I can’t share it (the plot), he said. “They’re in the expansion of this world, where there are so many unexpected surprises and timelines that are going to be dealt with. If the character were to cross over into these worlds, it will be utilized in a way that isn’t meant to be expected. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise of whether or not characters from the show we already know are crossing over.”
The Mandalorian season 3: Gina Carano won’t return
Due to an offensive social media post, Gina Carano was removed from all future Lucasfilm projects. “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future,” the company said in a statement. That means you won’t see her in future Star Wars shows, including season 3. Carano has since fired back over her removal from the show, with the actress claiming that she had been “bullied” by Disney and LucasFilm – accusations that both companies have strenuously denied (h/t BBC).
It’s unclear if this means the Cara Dune character is being retired or if she’ll be recast. The Mandalorian’s showrunners could easily find a way to kill her off-screen but, until we know for sure, we’ll wait to see what Favreau and company decide to do with Cara Dune. The fact that the Rangers of the New Republic spin-off – widely rumored to focus on Dune – has been mothballed by Lucasfilm suggests we may have seen the last of the character.
The Mandalorian season 3 trailer: when will we see one?
We don’t expect to see a trailer for The Mandalorian season 3 until late 2021, possibly around the time The Book of Boba Fett releases on Disney Plus.
The Mandalorian season 3 and its spin-offs are heading for a ‘climactic story event’
The Mandalorian has two spin-offs in the works: The Book of Boba Fett, which we’ve talked about already, and Ahsoka. Both are set to take place in the timeframe of the main show, around five years after Return of the Jedi. (The previously mentioned Rangers of the New Republic would also have been set during the same period, until Lucasfilm and Disney put it on ice – or should that be carbonite?)
Most intriguingly, there’s a plan for this sub-universe of shows to converge into a larger story. It sounds a little like what Netflix did in uniting its various Marvel superhero TV shows in the miniseries The Defenders, but we’d expect Disney and Lucasfilm’s plans to be better received than the Netflix crossover series was.
“These interconnected shows, along with future stories, will excite new audiences embrace our most passionate fans, and culminate in a climactic story event,” explained Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy during Disney’s Investor Day stream in late 2020.
It sounds to us, then, that we’re going to see either a miniseries or movie-length episode that brings these stories together – though we wouldn’t expect to see that for a few years from now. First, let’s get The Mandalorian season 3 out of the way…