The Mandalorian has had many great episodes throughout its run, but a select few convey the series at its absolute best. As the first live-action Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian paved the way for future shows by demonstrating how successful these long-term stories could be. While The Mandalorian has admittedly had some bumps along the way, the show’s greatest aspects far outweigh any of its shortcomings. The exceptional filmmaking, memorable characters, emotional performances, and respect for the Star Wars universe make The Mandalorian one of the best stories in the entire franchise.
The Mandalorian does have a great overarching story, but its episodic nature means that some chapters are better than others. These are the episodes that displayed superb direction, iconic visuals, stunning action scenes, and smart fan service. Most important of all, the best episodes of The Mandalorian contain plenty of heart-wrenching character moments that resonate with viewers long after the episode is over. Each chapter succeeds in at least one of these categories, but 10 episodes of The Mandalorian excel on all counts and illustrate what makes the show such a great addition to the Star Wars franchise.
10 Chapter 1: The Mandalorian (Season 1, Episode 1)
The Mandalorian season 1, episode 1 “Chapter 1: The Mandalorian” holds a special honor as the first episode of the first live-action Star Wars show. Director Dave Filoni seamlessly transitioned from animation to live-action after his work on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. The episode primarily serves as setup for the rest of the show, but it’s a great deal of fun nonetheless, perfectly capturing the Western vibe that series creator Jon Favreau was going for. Several new Star Wars characters debuted in this episode, most notably Din Djarin and Grogu, then known as “the Child,” with the duo immediately capturing the hearts of countless viewers.
9 Chapter 14: The Tragedy (Season 2, Episode 6)
Another incredibly fun episode, The Mandalorian season 2, episode 6 “Chapter 14: The Tragedy” is a very action-centric story, but still handles its character moments effectively. The episode is littered with fast-paced action, incredibly tense confrontations, and emotionally devastating moments. However, the true highlight of the episode is Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett, who returns with a new look and skill set before finally retrieving his Mandalorian armor. There’s plenty more fan service in the episode, but it’s successfully integrated into the story at hand, and the ending leaves the audience in suspense as the characters vow to rescue Grogu.
8 Chapter 21: The Pirate (Season 3, Episode 5)
The Mandalorian season 3, episode 5 “Chapter 21: The Pirate” served as a very satisfying payoff by bringing several story arcs full circle. The Mandalorians finally returned to Nevarro after the massacre in season 1, and it was great to see the entire covert in action as they became the planet’s liberators. The episode is full of compelling character moments, especially Paz Vizsla’s speech to the other Mandalorians, showing how far he and Din Djarin had come since the start of the series. Topped off with great aerial combat and setup for the next few episodes, this was a great halfway point for The Mandalorian season 3.
7 Chapter 8: Redemption (Season 1, Episode 8)
The Mandalorian season 1, episode 8 “Chapter 8: Redemption” didn’t disappoint as the show’s first season finale. IG-11 took the spotlight for some of the episode’s biggest moments, from Din Djarin being unmasked to the droid’s heartbreaking sacrifice that saved everyone at the end. Giancarlo Esposito also shines as Moff Gideon, taking on Din Djarin with a TIE Fighter and ending the episode with the massive Darksaber reveal. Despite all the incredibly exciting moments, Din Djarin and Grogu are the true heart of the episode, with the Mandalorian flying away with the child he saved at the end, just as the Mandalorians once did for him.
6 Chapter 23: The Spies (Season 3, Episode 7)
After six episodes of waiting, The Mandalorian season 3, episode 7 “Chapter 23: The Spies” finally saw the Mandalorians set off to retake Mandalore. The trek across the wastes of Mandalore offered time for the two clans to work together and also revealed more Mandalorian survivors. The episode finally divulged more information on the Great Purge of Mandalore, and Bo-Katan’s confession was one of her most powerful moments in the series. With an ending that saw incredibly tense action, Moff Gideon’s new armor, and the return of The Last Jedi‘s Praetorian Guards, the episode ended on a depressing note as Paz Vizsla died and Din Djarin was captured.
5 Chapter 9: The Marshal (Season 2, Episode 1)
Most season 2 episodes featured a character from the Star Wars movies and TV shows, but The Mandalorian season 2, episode 1 “Chapter 9: The Marshal” brought back a character from the books. First introduced in the Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wending, Cobb Vanth was played perfectly by Timothy Olyphant, whose flashback was done exceptionally. Having the citizens of Mos Pelgo team up with the Tuskens to kill a Krayt dragon meant there was never a moment that lacked tension, and the enhanced aspect ratio made the final battle even more epic. Cobb Vanth’s armor also served as a red herring that made Boba Fett’s reveal all the more shocking.
4 Chapter 13: The Jedi (Season 2, Episode 5)
The Mandalorian season 2, episode 5 “Chapter 13: The Jedi” was one of the most rewarding episodes for longtime Star Wars fans. Not only is the episode visually stunning, but Filoni and the crew did an excellent job bringing Ahsoka Tano to live-action, played brilliantly by Rosario Dawson. The episode also explained Grogu’s backstory, leading to a deeper understanding between him and Din Djarin and giving the two some touching moments. Ahsoka’s final duel with Morgan Elsbeth was some of the best lightsaber choreography in all of Star Wars and teased the long-anticipated return of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
3 Chapter 24: The Return (Season 3, Episode 8)
The Mandalorian season 3 came to an epic conclusion in episode 8 “Chapter 24: The Return.” The episode wisely brought the focus back to Din Djarin and Grogu, who were sometimes sidelined in season 3 to focus on Bo-Katan. However, all three characters got to shine at the end, triumphing over Moff Gideon together and reclaiming Mandalore. This is perhaps the most rewarding episode of the entire series, with so many plot lines coming to a close and offering fantastic payoff for the characters. Even though several more seasons, spinoffs, and crossovers are on the way, the episode honored the story at hand by ending with a sense of closure.
2 Chapter 3: The Sin (Season 1, Episode 3)
The Mandalorian reached some incredible highs later on, but there’s still something special about season 1, episode 3 “Chapter 3: The Sin.” Din Djarin’s choice made this chapter the true turning point of the series, making himself a target of the Empire to save an innocent child. Deborah Chow’s direction is phenomenal, expertly conveying Din Djarin’s inner conflict as he debates what to do. The close camera rescue at the Imperial base is incredibly suspenseful, as is the final showdown between the Mandalorian covert and Greef Karga’s bounty hunters. It may not be the first episode of The Mandalorian, but it’s definitely the one that set the series in motion.
1 Chapter 16: The Rescue (Season 2, Episode 8)
The Mandalorian season 2, episode 8 “Chapter 16: The Rescue” is without a doubt the series’ best episode. The culmination of the show’s story up to that point, it delivers some of the franchise’s most rewarding moments, including the dramatic return of Luke Skywalker. The different Mandalorians working together, the amazingly choreographed action, the countdown to danger, and the final goodbye between Din Djarin and Grogu all make this an outstanding season finale. “The Rescue” more than earns the top spot in the ranking of The Mandalorian‘s 10 best episodes and exemplifies everything that makes this Star Wars series great.