The Mandalorian’s season finale took Din Djarin’s small slice of the Star Wars universe and exploded it into smithereens — smithereens with much larger ties to the vast Skywalker Saga than any of us could’ve imagined when this show first started last year. But now that its adventures are inextricably linked, here’s some context beyond that shocking reveal.
It’s time to talk about the return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker. Who, as “The Rescue” showed, is very much like his father before him, sharing the twin loves of being That Extra Drama Boy and completely messing shit up in corridors. Yes, it was revealed in The Mandalorian’s season two finale that it was none other than Luke who sensed Baby Yoda/Grogu in the Force on Tython’s seeing stone. The hero of Star Wars swooped in, for better or worse, leading to a heartbreaking separation between Din and the young Child. Luke took him away, intending to train him, presumably, as one of the first students of his new Jedi Temple.
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Though really, this would be way early in Luke’s path to creating a new Jedi Order. From what we know of Luke’s post-Return of the Jedi story before the events of the sequel trilogy, The Mandalorian takes place on the cusp of the Jedi achieving the dream he wanted ever since he made the vow to follow in the footsteps of Obi-Wan, Anakin, and thousands of Jedi Knights. But that’s not to say that Luke hasn’t been busy in the five years or so between the destruction of the second Death Star and the time of The Mandalorian, which takes place around 9-10 ABY (that’s After the Battle of Yavin).
Much of Luke’s Star Wars time — up until his Mandalorian cameo — is in a period of intense, isolated discovery. Unlike Leia and even Han, who were quickly swept up in their own adventures with the New Republic in Endor’s wake — Leia forming the foundations of the new Senate alongside Mon Mothma, Han heading with Chewbacca to the Wookiee homeworld to liberate it once and for all — Luke pretty much sequestered himself from the status of being a commander in the Rebel Alliance. With his father and the Emperor dead, believing himself to be one of the last if not the last Jedi around, Luke immediately began looking for relics of Force users from eons past to guide him on the path of re-establishing the Jedi Order, texts and artifacts that he could study to truly expand upon the training given to him by Yoda and Obi-Wan and one day pass on to a new generation of Jedi.
One of the first things we know that Luke did after Endor was head to the planet Pillio, home to a secret observatory established by Emperor Palpatine to store trinkets and objects strong in the Force, part of the Sith Lord’s own explorations of the power to bestow eternal life. It’s an important moment depicted in EA’s Battlefront II story campaign, but certainly not one immediately apparent. Pillio is where Luke finds acquires a compass that would one day take him to the site of the first Jedi Temple on Ahch-To, the island he’s living on when Rey finds him in The Last Jedi.
One of the other first steps he took was that he indeed take on an apprentice, in Leia herself. Taking to the world of Ajan Kloss, Luke trained his sister to explore and understand the Force sensitivity that she’d had inside her whole life, teaching her how to tap into it, and how to build a lightsaber of her own. But it was a life Leia was not willing to follow as her brother had: witnessing a vision of the Dark Side and her unborn son during one of her final tests, Leia decided that her path didn’t lie in rebuilding the Jedi, leaving her brother and her lightsaber behind for generations beyond their family to learn from.
From there, Luke’s story is hazy — he sticks to the shadows, keeps out of the galactic scale his friends find themselves in, largely staying out of the final days of the Galactic Civil War. In fact, his presence as much as we know it is very much in line with his appearance on The Mandalorian: he appears, as if out of nowhere, a mysterious figure cloaked in black and wielding the weapon of a Jedi Knight, only to slip away when the job is done, leaving people nothing but a legend to tell others.
Months after Endor, Luke worked with the Rebel pilot Shara Bey — the mother of Poe Dameron — to retrieve a Force-imbued Uneti Tree, one grown at the heart of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, from Imperial Remnant holdouts on Vetine. From here, he laid the groundwork for his own Jedi Temple, but after failing to convince Leia to stay by his side, Luke believed he still had much to learn before taking on more apprentices.
What followed was a quest all over the galaxy to find and study artifacts that had power in both the Light and Dark sides of the Force: Luke visited Gatalenta, a planet rich in Jedi history despite the Empire’s purges, to learn more of the Order’s history. He even visited Moraband, the homeworld of the Sith, to better understand the full depths of the Force, and Ossus, home to one of the oldest Jedi libraries. He recruited people like Lor San Tekka to help him hunt down as many texts and teachings as he could, travelling the galaxy almost in secret.
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The product of those journeys was, as Luke called them in The Last Jedi, the ancient Jedi texts. With that collection of teachings and ruminations from across centuries of Force user history, Luke’s archive was slowly built as he and Tekka used the Pillio compass to eventually locate Ahch-To, keeping the location of it a secret as Luke searched what was left of the temple for even more texts. He hoped not just to enhance his own view of the Force but to find ways to stop the Sith from ever threatening the galaxy again.
What we know beyond that is a mystery — all this happens within the time frame of those five to six years between Return of the Jedi and The Mandalorian, but there are still many pieces of the puzzle left unknown. Presumably, it would be safe to say that Luke sets up his Jedi Academy in this time period, completes what archives of old Jedi teachings he could, and reaches out to young Force-sensitives to train the next generation of Jedi. He wouldn’t be training Ben Solo yet — Ben, born in 5ABY, was not sent to train under his uncle by Leia until he was 10, long after Grogu. He’d also probably spend some time on things like the history of Sith Wayfinders and the location of Exegol, home of the Sith Eternal (including the broken spirit of a certain, hard to kill former Senator from Naboo), which would compel him until the tragedy of his nephew’s downfall would lay the Academy low decades later.
Beyond that, we don’t really know much more. It seems like Luke Skywalker, dancing in and out of the galactic spotlight and the pages of folklore as the last bastion of the Jedi Order, would like to keep it that way for a good while yet. That is, unless Disney decides that now’s the time to start putting a young Mark Hamill’s distressingly rendered face on as many stunt doubles across The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, or its plethora of other upcoming Disney+ series as possible. Star Wars does love itself a legend that can never die, after all.
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