Action, emotions, a hello, and a goodbye. Let’s discuss the last episode of the season. And here be spoilers.
Armed with the coordinates of Moff Gideon’s cruiser, Chapter 16: The Rescue comes in hot with a Slave I assault on an Imperial shuttle carrying Dr. Pershing. In no time, Mando and Cara Dune are on the shuttle with two Imperials in the way, one Imperial takes care of the other then makes the mistake of mocking Dune by talking about Alderaan and the Death Star. She shoots him in the face and that’s the end for him (Alderaan has come up more than I thought it would in this series and is clearly leading to more story for Dune). Now, with Dr. Pershing in their custody, Mando and the team are off for the Moff. Here are my thoughts on the season finale:
The Return of Bo Katan and Koska Reeves
On their way to Moff Gideon, Mando and the team somehow quickly find Bo Katan (Katie Sackoff) and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado). Axe Woves has moved on to other Mandalorian things (or Simon Kassianides would have been one too many Mandolarians) but it’s just Bo and Koska at a bar on an undisclosed planet. Words get exchanged between Boba and the Night Owls and Mercedes Varnado aka Sasha Banks gets to shine in a fight scene with Boba Fett. Perhaps Favreau is on to something with wrestlers and Star Wars creating more compelling fight scenes. Anyways, with Katan and Reeves on board and the promise of a Darksaber to reunite the Mandalorians across the galaxy, Mando has his rescue team. Things don’t go quite as planned for Katan with the Darksaber as Mando wins it in a fight with Gideon. In a rule that tracks with what we saw in The Clone Wars (but contradicts what we saw in Rebels) Katan has to fight Mando for the saber to rightfully be the leader. We never see this fight as the Dark troopers come back to finish what they started but, if she doesn’t get her own series, Katan should feature heavily in a season 3 as she now has to fight for the Darksaber.
The (Female) Rescue Team
This was awesome. To take the bridge, Dune, Fennec, Bo Katan, and Koska Reeves clear all the Stormtroopers and Imperials in an A-Force moment with some great fight scenes, particularly from Ming-Na Wen (and her stunt double, Ming Qiu). I know this is strange to write but, out of all the surprises this season, Fennec Shand has been THE surprise of the season for me. Even though it seemed like she would return in some way at the end of Chapter 5: The Gunslinger, no one but Lucasfilm really knew in what way. Who would have thought that that episode (one of the less popular episodes with fans or critics) would be so consequential to the series? Clearly, they have bigger plans for Shand (given the after-credits scene) and her animated appearance in The Bad Batch sizzle released on Disney Investor Day. We’ll be seeing more of her for sure so glad that she killed it in this episode. Dune had a funny gag with her gun jamming and Carano has filled into the world of Star Wars nicely after two seasons. I am also happy to see Sasha Banks back as Reeves and hope she has more to do in some form in The Mandalorian-verse. This is what I want to see more of to appeal to more casual female fans, not just a Baby Yoda.
Goodbye Dark troopers, and Good Riddance
If you have read my previous Mandalorian posts, you know I am not a fan of the Dark troopers. Droids that have beskar resistant armor (except for the neck) and are nearly unstoppable seem like overcompensation for the increasingly useless Stormtroopers. Between the two, I would rather just have more competent Stormtroopers who can hit a target. I know people love the Dark troopers but it felt like a waste because they were never a threat. I never felt like Mando was going to die so, when his beskar spear came out of nowhere, finished the Dark trooper off and he ejected the rest into space, I figured that was that. I knew they would return, however, once Mando took Gideon alive and brought him to the bridge but no one was ever in any danger. A powerful Jedi ends up destroying the rest of the troopers like a good meal and that was really that. If the Dark troopers return, they have to do more damage but I am fine leaving them at this moment.
Once Ahsoka mentioned the seeing stone on Tython for Grogu to call out with the force, there was speculation on which Jedi might show up. Luke Skywalker, Cal Kestis, Ezra Bridger, and for some reason Mace Windu were all popular picks. Windu was not happening and Bridger seemed like a distant possibility because he is somewhere lost in the galaxy, so my bet was on Kestis or Skywalker. Well, if I’m honest, I thought no one was going to show up. Because I didn’t think that they would give an exit strategy to Grogu, one of the main reasons The Mandalorian is so popular to non-Star Wars fans. And yet, Favreau and Filoni chose the correct, and obvious path. Of course, the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy, Luke Skywalker, would hear Grogu’s call. After Return of the Jedi, we know that Luke is off trying to rebuild the Jedi so it would make the most sense that he would jump at the chance to rescue a force-sensitive that has already had training. This does not bode well for Grogu’s future (unless Grogu leaves the Jedi order before Kylo Ren kills Luke’s students) but we can hold onto that conversation for another day. I don’t think we will see Luke again but Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is getting more comfortable with their facial performance-capture technology to bring back and de-age original trilogy characters. Will they continue to use this to bring back younger versions of Luke and Leia…Han and Lando? It still could use some polishing but it is looking better (I have no problem with how Luke looked but I’m sure some people are complaining about it). It will be interesting to see how this technology is used and for what purposes in the future.
The End for Mando and Grogu…and The Mandalorian?
Even though I am not a Grogu superfan, his popularity is undeniable (I don’t mind the little guy but the novelty just wore off faster for me). Just his presence in the show has gotten more people into Star Wars. That is a powerful tool for Lucasfilm (and Disney) as far as subscriptions to Disney+, merchandise sales, and overall pop culture real estate. I think creatively, though, he presented a problem long term for The Mandalorian as Mando couldn’t keep going from planet to planet searching for a Jedi for 3+ seasons. Something had to happen for the main characters to move on: either Grogu stays with Mando and you find some way to incorporate him into the story without the novelty wearing off for more and more people, or you say goodbye. I think the right decision was made by taking Grogu out of the picture, for now, and allowing Mando to continue his own personal journey and taking the lessons from this experience. Do I think Grogu will be back? Yes. I don’t know how he will come back into Mando’s life but I do think he will return. Until then, we move on to other things…maybe. This also seemed like it could be a series end. I know that Disney has confirmed season 3 but nothing has been shot and they definitely left it at a place where it could end. It likely will continue as planned and we will all be watching season 3 together next year but it will certainly be a more Grogu-less season. It’s a bold move by Lucasfilm and we’ll see if there is any fallout but I feel like it opens more doors than it closes.
Props to Peyton Reed for returning to direct the season finale. His first episode this season, The Passenger, was my least favorite but he ended the season strongly with a well-paced, action-heavy episode. Maybe they wanted the moment to be a somber, silent goodbye but it seemed like Luke and Mando should have talked about Imperial remnants returning to outer rim planets. The return of Luke is great but, heck yeah for R2D2!!! The best droid in the galaxy! What do you think he was saying to Luke about Grogu? And yes, we have confirmation of the Boba Fett series, and a name: The Book of Boba Fett, coming next December. Looks like he will be taking over a criminal enterprise after taking out Bib Fortuna (never thought I would be writing that name again). Adding the series to the list.
That’s it for season two everyone! I will be doing an overall season thoughts post next week on season two’s themes but it has been a fun ride and a highlight of 2020 for sure. This is the way!