For the second consecutive season, The Mandalorian has concluded with a finale that feels like it could end the whole series. Wednesday's episode wraps up season 3 with some bombshell reveals, changes in the status quo, and a possible death, leaving fans with plenty to think about regarding the series' future. As the wait for season 4 begins, these are the biggest questions raised by the finale:
Was Moff Gideon's cloning project unrelated to Palpatine's return?
We've known for a while that Moff Gideon wanted Grogu's blood for a mysterious project, and when a room of creepy tanks was revealed on Nevarro in season 2, fans assumed this was teasing the creation of Supreme Leader Snoke and the resurrection of Emperor Palpatine in the sequel trilogy.
But Wednesday's season finale, "The Return," reveals Gideon has actually been working to clone himself and infuse these clones with the Force, hence the need for the blood of someone strong in the Force like Grogu. So it appears that Gideon's plan has never been about creating Snoke or resurrecting Palpatine after all, even if Doctor Pershing's cloning research could eventually play a part in that.
What is Project Necromancer?
But the show may be tying into Palpatine's return in a different way. The season's penultimate episode mentioned Brendol Hux is working on another mysterious project called Project Necromancer, and the name suggests this, rather than whatever Gideon has been up to privately, could be the effort to bring Palpatine back.
The Rise of Skywalker novelization already established Palpatine returned by moving his consciousness into a clone body, but there's still room to fill in many of the details. Project Necromancer is implied to be something that would provide the Imperials with new leadership and may have to do with cloning, so perhaps it's about getting Palpatine a more permanent body to inhabit so he can make a full return and lead the Imperial remnant; in the Rise of Skywalker novelization, Palpatine's clone body is described as an imperfect vessel. But for now, it still isn't clear how aware these Imperials are that Palpatine isn't dead.
What was 'the return,' and who were 'the spies'?
One big surprise of the finale is what doesn't happen in it, as last week's episode seemed to set up the imminent return of Grand Admiral Thrawn by name-dropping him during the Imperial council scene. The finale is even titled "The Return," and you'd be forgiven for assuming that's about Thrawn. Yet he never appears, leaving it somewhat vague whose return the title references. Does it just mean the return of Bo-Katan and her fellow Mandalorians to being in control of Mandalore? Either way, perhaps Thrawn was left out of the episode so his return feels like a bigger deal when it happens in this summer's Ahsoka series, as teased in that show's trailer.
Speaking of titles, fans were convinced the Armorer and/or Axe Woves were secretly working for Moff Gideon based mainly on last week's episode being called "The Spies." We know Elia Kane is a spy, but the title implied there was another. No secret spy is revealed in the finale, though, so shouldn't it have just been "The Spy"? Could there still be a spy yet to be exposed, or were the spies meant to be the council of Imperials?
Is Moff Gideon really dead?
The finale seemingly dispatches with the series' main villain when Moff Gideon is consumed by flames during the final battle. But not so fast. We don't see a body, which in television tends to mean viewers should assume the character isn't dead. Besides, Gideon was wearing his armor during the explosion, so it's not impossible he could have survived it. But even if he did die, who's to say one or more of Gideon's clones didn't survive, meaning they could come after Din next season? Alternatively, could this Gideon have been a clone himself?
Is the Darksaber really destroyed?
An even bigger shock is that during Gideon and Bo-Katan's fight, the Darksaber is apparently destroyed. Fans of The Clone Wars and Rebels know how big a deal that is given this legendary blade has been a part of Mandalorian history for over 1,000 years.
It wouldn't be totally surprising if the Darksaber has simply been repaired next season given The Last Jedi also made a big deal of destroying Luke's lightsaber, only for Rey to repair it for The Rise of Skywalker. Still, at least The Last Jedi showed Rey in possession of that broken lightsaber at the end, whereas the Darksaber was presumably destroyed in the subsequent explosion. The Darksaber clearly isn't necessary for Bo-Katan to rule the way it once was, though, so it would make sense to get rid of it.
Why is it Din Grogu, not Grogu Djarin?
Grogu has essentially been Din Djarin's son for a while, but the finale makes it official when Din adopts the kid. After he does, the Armorer declares his name is now Din Grogu. But wait, wouldn't it be Grogu Djarin? Or does this imply Din is actually his last name, and his first name is Djarin? A bigger question, though, is whether any fans will call him Din Grogu when they're just barely getting used to not saying Baby Yoda.
Is Din ever going to leave his cult?
Season 2 seemed to set Din on a path toward leaving some of the practices of his Mandalorian cult behind, namely the rule against removing one's helmet. Not only did he take it off during a mission when he had no other option, but he chose to remove it to say goodbye to Grogu. Yet season 3 saw Din quickly seek forgiveness and return to the cult, never taking his helmet off again. So is the show's position that we should celebrate Din's loyalty to the Children of the Watch, or could he still gradually break from their customs in the future?
It's also possible the Children of the Watch could move away from the helmet rule considering when the Armorer does the initiation ritual for Ragnar, she doesn't tell him to promise he "shall never remove my helmet," as she did at the start of the season. Then again, that could just be because he already has it on.
Will season 4 bring the series back to basics?
When The Mandalorian debuted in 2019, one of the appeals was that it offered standalone episodic adventures that weren't as tied up in a broader saga as the movies. But as the show has progressed, it has moved further and further away from that, and this is part of why some fans have expressed disappointment in the third season.
But the finale sets up a back-to-basics approach by having Din make a deal with the New Republic to work as an independent contractor hunting Imperials, suggesting next season can primarily consist of standalone adventures as Din travels the galaxy and leaves this whole Mandalore plot behind. This could also allow the show to repurpose Lucasfilm's abandoned plans for Rangers of the New Republic, a canceled spinoff that looked likely to star Gina Carano prior to her firing. If the hope is to recapture some of the magic of The Mandalorian's first season, this may be the way.