This is it! Season Two wraps up with Chapter 16: The Rescue, written by Jon Favreau and directed by Peyton Reed. It’s been an absolutely stunning season, but endings can make or break a story. Does Season Two stick the landing?
As a kid, I remember waiting for Attack of the Clones to release. I’d never actually anticipated a film before, and every moment was glorious: Seeing the first stills in Star Wars Insider, buying new action figures on release day, and finally sitting down in a theater to see a new chapter in the Star Wars saga. Looking back, I embrace the film with a much more critical eye.
But back then? Pure joy.
As an adult, I can remember two specific times that Star Wars completely recaptured that magic: the release of The Force Awakens and this chapter of The Mandalorian.
You can certainly critique some aspects of this episode. It’s not an absolute perfect piece of storytelling. After a season of buildup, Moff Gideon comes off a tad weaker than expected; Boba Fett gets sidelined in the main quest; the de-aging CGI on a certain Jedi Master doesn’t entirely hold up.
But this chapter shows how smaller inconsistencies disappear when the viewer is totally bought in and everything else works. Because this chapter ties together the emotional themes, plot threads, and world-building of two seasons into one perfect conclusion.
A few chapters ago, I wrote about the Hero’s Journey (who doesn’t when talking Star Wars?). Mando has been taking his first steps into a larger world: His creed is questioned, his motivations are expanded, his path increasingly intersects with core players of the saga.
But I missed what now seems obvious: This isn’t just Din Djarin’s journey. It’s Grogu’s journey, too. At the end of this chapter, Grogu must choose to accept his calling, must literally step into the arms of the figurehead of the larger Star Wars world: Luke Skywalker.
The appearance of Luke Skywalker in this chapter might be the most joyous moment of Disney-era Star Wars to date. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been such a surprise. This show spins from Jon Favreau’s Original-Trilogy-loving childhood imagination. When he imagined a Jedi hero responding to Grogu’s call, who else would he imagine? Luke is the Jedi.
Once again, it’s not just fan-service. Luke’s appearance marks a truly satisfying conclusion to Mando’s quest for the Jedi. It’s hard to imagine any other ending providing quite so definite a sense of discovery. We know in our bones that Mando has truly discovered the Jedi.
Now, it has to be said: the CGI work here detracts something from the moment. Luke’s de-aged face doesn’t quite match the movement of his head. It’s a shame, because we know Lucasfilm can do better (compare this to the similarly-aged Luke in Rise of Skywalker). It’s a cliche at this point, but it’s true: Deep-fakers on YouTube could do (and have done) a better job, and almost certainly for less money. It’s honestly a bit surprising that the creators of the Volume were satisfied with this version of Luke going to screen.
But here’s what makes this conclusion truly amazing: Luke’s appearance doesn’t steal the show. The chapter’s most impactful moment, the moment everything has led up to, is Mando removing his mask.
Star Wars is probably my favorite film franchise of all time. And yet this, right here, is the first time a Star Wars moment actually made me cry. In this universe full of father/son stories, the theme of redemptive father/son attachment has never felt so palpable.
That’s what elevates this show. In the midst of all the action, all the lore, all the upcoming spin-offs, the most important thing is this small moment between a father and son: Din Djarin letting Grogu see his face.
Everything else is the cherry on top.
Be Mindful of the Future (But Not at the Expense of the Moment)
So what comes next?
As the post-credit scene reveals, The Book of Boba Fett is coming up next. It seems unlikely that Boba’s path will have much more to do with Mando’s. Perhaps, Boba Fett will take up the “bounty hunter show” mantle as Mando’s horizons expand.
Din Djarin is set to return for Season 3 in 2022. As the rightful wielder of the Darksaber, Mando is bound to only become more involved with the greater fate of Mandalore. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if the big upcoming “crossover event”—hinted at Disney’s shareholder meeting—concerned a final battle for Mandalore against the remnants of the Empire. Maybe even a fan-favorite blue-skinned Grand Admiral?
But of course, the big question: What about little Grogu? Hopefully a year of waiting is enough to make the tearful parting feel justified, because I don’t see Disney and company abandoning the character. And I don’t think any of us want them to.
Merch We Need
When the LEGO sets for Season 2 arrive, I’m hoping to see a massive version of Moff Gideon’s light cruiser, complete with some LEGO Mandalorians, some LEGO dark troopers, and of course a LEGO Darksaber. Although, granted, this would probably retail for the price of a small house.
Also, how about a Black Series Luke Skywalker whose face is a peel-off sticker you can attach wherever?
I kid. Mostly.
That’s it for The Mandalorian Season 2. It takes time to view these things objectively, but for now, this feels like some of the best live-action Star Wars storytelling we’ve had since the Original Trilogy. And a big part of that is one small father-son relationship in the middle of a big, dangerous galaxy. In some ways, that’s what Star Wars has always been about. But Mandalorian finds a way to take that theme, make it new, and even bring some tears to our eyes along the way.