HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD for The Mandalorian Episode 16
Holy Crap… they actually pulled the trigger on the one thing I didn’t think they would do.
I’m currently writing Geeks Under Grace’s Season 2 review but I wanted to pump out a quick note on the finale that addressed some of the massive events from the story. I needed to discuss the spoilers after watching the finale Friday morning and getting shocked about what happened like everyone else.
I think the ending is (mostly) unsurprising. The fact that Mando was going to save Grogu was never in doubt. The question was always HOW does he do it and to what end will that rescue affect his relationship with the infant Jedi. Will Grogu choose to remain with his adopted father or take on the burden of Knighthood by restarting his training for the first time since Order 66?
The episode starts on a really clever note. At first, I wasn’t sure how the show was going to address how this ragtag group of criminals and assassins could possibly lay siege to an entire Star Destroyer by themselves with only a single ship. Thankfully, the episode deftly dismisses the concern immediately by making it clear that they have a plan.
Instead of blasting their way aboard on SLAVE I, they hijack an imperial shuttle holding the Kamino cloning scientist from the beginning of the first season. When the ship jumps out of lightspeed near the cruiser under fire from Boba Fett, the cruiser allows the shuttle to emergency land in the launch bay.
And that ends Boba Fett’s contribution to the season. Surprisingly, he hardly has anything to do. That said, we do see him again one more time in the episode.
The moment the shuttle’s door opens, Cara, Fennic and Ko Katan go to work on blasting their way to the bridge while Mando sneaks his way to the holding cell to break Grogu out. Much to everyone’s surprise, Moff Gideon isn’t on the bridge and is actually holding the Child at knifepoint. Mando duals with Gideon using the Beskar spear he received from Ahsoka and manages to disarm him and take him prisoner.
Just as it seemed that the situation had mostly worked out, the ship is flooded by robotic Dark Troopers who make it their mission to break into the bridge and kill all of the rebels. Just as all seemed lost, the show pulls another deus ex machina out of it’s rear end and saves the crew from certain death. Unlike previous episodes though, the cavalry isn’t just some previously established New Republic pilot or a plot convenience. The Mandalorian legitimately pulls the most blatant moment of fanservice I could’ve possibly expected by having Luke Skywalker singlehandedly lay siege to the Dark Troopers and save our heroes.
In a scene mimicking the Darth Vader hallway scene in Rogue One, Luke smashes, crushes and cuts his way through a platoon of robotic super soldiers and leaves a path of destruction in his wake. This is Luke Skywalker at his mythical Jedi Master peak. This is the version of the character we saw in legacy stories like Dark Empire that could destroy Imperial Walkers just by crushing them with the force.
It is awesome to behold and likely very stupid. As far as I can tell though, the fans aren’t terribly perturbed by this naked pandering and fan service. I don’t exactly blame them… It is awesome!
Once the dark troopers as dispatched, Luke tells Mando that Grogu needs to come with him for training but Grogu won’t go unless he is given permission by Mando. Mando takes his helmet off, says goodbye for now to the child and sends him off to be trained with the Jedi in one of the most emotional scenes of the show.
There is so much about this episode that needs to be unpacked.
In execution, I’d go as far as to call the finale incredibly uneven. Considering how many action highlights this season had, it’s hard to say this is any sort of crescendo in a dramatic of action sense. Most of the foreshadowed duals and moments of drama were resolved rather quickly. The final “all is lost” moment feels like it’s a few beats short of being an excruciating exercise in tension but just isn’t. The highs of this episode are very high but the lows are also low.
Sadly, some of the implications of this episode bid poorly for the future of the series.
For one, I honestly didn’t expect they’d pull the trigger on bringing in Luke Skywalker. I’m still not sure it was a good idea. It mostly works (mostly). The cool factor for these scenes is off the charts and the show did foreshadow that a Jedi would seek out Grogu if he used the seeing stone. Naturally the de-aging CGI used on Mark Hamill kind of sucks. His hair looks like plastic and his cheeks look low-resolution. I also feel like his characterization was just a bit too stern. Luke was always a fairly personable character in the original trilogy and his appearance here makes him look cold and unapproachable. A more conversational approach to his dialog could’ve gone a long way to adding drama to Dinn and Grogu’s final scene together.
Speaking of that, where is the story of this series even going? It’s actually kind of shocking that Grogu decides to go with Luke instead of staying with Dinn. Implicitly, we aren’t going to see the child again very much for the next two seasons of the show. Unless they’re planning to move the plot into radical new territory with their newly self actualized bounty hunter finds a new purpose in life, I have no legitimate idea where the show is going. So far, this show has been about the relationship of these two characters and the show just cut that story arc off at the knees.
Unless Jon Favreau or Dave Filoni have something REALLY creative up their sleeve, this is a creative decision that could potentially scuttle the show going forward.
At it’s appearance though, moving the show into new territories does seem to be part of the calculation. The one unresolved plot thread of the episode came in the form of Bo Katan’s tension at the realization that Mando won the Darksaber in combat from Gideon. Because of that, Mando became the rightful ruler of Mandalore at her expense. I’m not sure if that means that Season 3 and Season 4 will involved the two of them dueling for that title or if Mando is suddenly going to be thrust into resurrecting his home-world with him as it’s rightful ruler. That would mean shifting these series into a very different gear rather suddenly.
Either way, the show is going to feel empty without Grogu around…
(Also they announced a Boba Fett spin-off in the post-credits scene but we already talked about that)
I’m as excited as anyone else is for Mando Season 3, Rangers of the New Republic, Ahsoka and Book of Boba Fett. I’m interested in making this story into more of an anthology like The Clone Wars that dives into new stories, tangents and world building details. I think that’s one of Dave Filoni’s genuine talents as a writer. I’m just sitting here right now with a pit in my stomach as I ponder where the stories of Mando and Grogu go from here.
Does Mando fade off into irrelevance? Does he die trying to save his home planet? What will his surviving Covent members think of his transformation? Is Grogu killed by Kylo Ren? Can this series even survive if we don’t have the central dynamic between these two characters? All that remains to be seen for another year, at least…