I recently had the pleasure of hearing my city’s philharmonic orchestra perform the score to Black Panther live while the film played in the background. The performance itself was exceptional. Making the evening even more special was guest conductor Anthony Parnther. Parnther, you see, conducted the orchestra that performed the film’s original, Oscar-winning score. You may be wondering what this has to do with an article the subject of which is The Mandalorian Season 3. Well, Parnther happens to work extensively with the film’s composer, Ludwig Göransson.

Göransson, as any good Star Wars fans knows, composed the main themes and scores for Seasons 1 and 2 of The Mandalorian. (Which, incidentally, Parnther also conducted.) Those compositions garnered Göransson two Emmy awards. He did not return to score the show’s current season, however. He and Parnther had recently turned their exquisite skills to the scores of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and the upcoming biopic Oppenheimer. As a result, score duties for The Mandalorian Season 3 fell to composer Joseph Shirley.

Mandalorian Season 3; Ludwig Goransson
Ludwig Goransson performs the them to The Mandalorian. (Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The Mandalorian Season 3 just isn’t quite the same

Shirley is a talented music writer in his own right; don’t get me wrong. He was part of Göransson’s team through the show’s first two seasons. He even did the heavy lifting in Season 2… but…. Through three episodes of The Mandalorian Season 3, however, something just feels a bit off. Missing from the show are the additional levels of depth, power, and emotion that Göransson’s scores impart on a product. For me, this became very clear in episode 3, ‘The Convert.”

Star Wars fans are uniquely aware of how significant a film’s (or show’s) score can be in setting the overall tone of the project. We’ve been blessed with decades of John Williams’ work. His compositions have shaped or defined critical moments throughout Star Wars history. Göransson’s work has similarly shaped and defined The Mandalorian. Granted, we’re only three episodes into the show’s third season, so there’s plenty of time for Shirley’s score to make its mark on the franchise. We certainly hope it does. The Mandalorian Season 3 is already shaping up to be impactful and exciting. Still…

Turning a project over to understudies is always risky, especially in Star Wars. Look no further than Dave Filoni relinquishing production of Star Wars: Resistance to other members of his animation team, to disastrous results. So far, the music of The Mandalorian Season 3 just hasn’t had the same feel without Göransson’s overarching influence. Notwithstanding, we hope that, as the season progresses and the drama intensifies, so too will Shirley’s Score.

The Mandalorian streams on Disney+, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday. For more information you can also always visit starwars.com.