The Mandalorian’s Explosive Finale Blew Our Minds and Imploded Its World

The Mandalorian’s Explosive Finale Blew Our Minds and Imploded Its World
An imposing silhouette. (Photo: Disney)

The credits have rolled on season two of The Mandalorian and we still can’t believe what happened — storylines from both seasons all came to a head in an epic mission to save Baby Yoda/Grogu. We were granted some exciting, intense Star Wars action, plus massive revelations teasing everything to come.

I absolutely want to geek out about what happens at the end of the episode, but let’s start at the beginning. It was no surprise to find out Chapter 16 of The Mandalorian was called “The Rescue,” since we knew that’s where Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and his new posse of badasses were headed. What was surprising was how it started. First with Boba Fett’s (Temuera Morrison) Slave 1 hijacking an Imperial Shuttle and kidnapping Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi). Next, a stop to meet up with Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) so Mando can ask for help by using the fact that he knows where Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) is. But the tension between Kryze and the clone wearing the same armour as her (Boba Fett, of course) is palpable. Reeves and Fett get into it a bit before calling a quick truce to tackle the bigger problem: rescuing Grogu and retrieving Bo-Katan’s Darksaber.

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The plan is solid; crash a hijacked Imperial shuttle onto Moff Gideon’s giant cruiser and have Bo-Katan, Cara, Koska, and Fennic draw the trooper’s attention while Mando slips off to grab Grogu. Luckily, Dr. Pershing has no loyalty whatsoever and offers up every piece of information imaginable, including ship layouts, Grogu’s exact location, and, most importantly, that Dark Troopers aren’t people at all — they’re droids.

This crew.  (Screenshot: Disney+) This crew. (Screenshot: Disney+)

Once onboard, the Star Wars Avengers absolutely decimate everything on the ship. Seeing those four women kicking unholy amounts of arse somehow brought to mind the weird, fanservice-y moment at the end of Avengers: Endgame where all the women came together. Here, they did the same thing, but it was actually motivated and driven by the story and that made it great. With their combined efforts, they take the ship relatively easily, arriving at the bridge to find Moff Gideon missing.

Meanwhile, Mando has two goals. One, get rid of the Dark Troopers before they get activated and two, find his widdle babby! Step one proved fairly challenging, though, because the Troopers were activated just as Mando arrived. While he was able to shoot the majority of them out of the airlock, one managed to get out, and that one trooper was more than a match for Mando. If it wasn’t for his beskar (which Bo-Katan makes a point of saying is the one thing the Darksaber can’t cut through early in the episode), the repeated punches to the head would’ve killed him. A long struggle occurs and Mando barely wins, only to reach Grogu and find Moff Gideon holding the Darksaber over him.

It sort of felt like an empty threat considering the Child’s importance to him this whole time, but Moff Gideon explains he’s already got Grogu’s blood so Mando can have him…but not the Darksaber. Mando has no interest in Darksaber lore and is fine with that but, of course, Moff Gideon is a bad guy and sneak attacks Mando after his back is turned, resulting in the episode’s 300th or so awesome action scene (props here to director Peyton Reed, returning for his second episode of the season). Finally, this is the battle we’ve been waiting for: Moff Gideon versus the Mandalorian and it didn’t disappoint. Darksaber vs. beskar clashes abound, eventually resulting in the superior warrior, Mando, disarming the Moff and capturing him. Here’s where things got really interesting.

This is a terrifying image. (Screenshot: Disney+) This is a terrifying image. (Screenshot: Disney+)

Upon entering the bridge with Moff Gideon and the Darksaber, the look on Bo-Katan’s face says it all: She doesn’t like this situation. Apparently, it’s because the Darksaber can’t just be handed off, it must be won in battle. (Tell that to Sabine Wren, who literally just handed it to Bo-Katan on Rebels, but we’ll get back to that.) Mando assumes this is an easy problem to solve and tells her he yields but before the tension can be dispersed, the floated Dark Troopers are back. Moff Gideon knows that a platoon of these troopers would be too much for anyone so he smiles in delight as they fly back onto the ship, march to the bridge and begin pounding on it like a slab of meat in Rocky.

Which is when a lone X-Wing Fighter arrives. Mando’s pals are none too impressed that only one X-Wing has come to help — and you’d be forgiven for assuming it was just the other X-Wing pilots we’d seen this season, Captain Carson Teva or Trapper Wolf — but something seemed different, and Grogu knew it.

We see a lone hooded figure cutting their way through the cruiser, mowing down Dark Troopers left and right…with a green lightsaber. It’s a Jedi. Could it be…? A glimpse of the hilt makes it much more definitive. Meanwhile, back on the bridge, Grogu keeps touching the security screens. He has a connection to this person, whoever it may be. Tensions continue to rise as this mystery Jedi rides the elevator up to the bridge, where he easily dispatches a dozen Dark Troopers in a hallway much like Darth Vader did after the battle of Scarif as he chased the stolen plans to the Death Star.

Black cloak? Green lightsaber? All facilities of the Force on his side? Folks, Luke Skywalker has arrived to help a little baby named Grogu.

And there he is. (Screenshot: Disney+) And there he is. (Screenshot: Disney+)

Allow us a quick detour. First, the CGI on Luke looked very bad. Obviously, this takes place mere years after Return of the Jedi so he had to look more like 1983 Mark Hamill than 2020 Mark Hamill, but in the four years since Rogue One’s butchering of Carrie Fisher’s face (and better, but not great, rendition of Peter Cushing) one would think the technology would’ve been better. It was not. Second, while Luke being the Jedi Grogu found through the Force makes the most sense, and is also insanely satisfying for Star Wars fans (I’ll admit, bad CGI aside, the nostalgia made me misty), ultimately, it feels very constrictive to the narrative we’ve been witnessing on The Mandalorian.

It’s true, at this specific time Luke is the most powerful Jedi that we know of and a few years later, he’ll start training a new generation of Jedi, including his sister. But we’ve spent nine movies with Luke’s family — we know what happens to them. Placing Grogu under his tutelage, while logical and thrilling, restricts a bit of what could happen to this plot thread. Basically Grogu and Luke have to separate before Ben Solo (who, at this point, is either a baby or not yet born) betrays Luke, or Grogu dies there. We’re about 99.9% sure it’ll be the former (in the form of some kind of Mando reunion) but the fact that there’s even a slight chance we know how this story could end feels somehow beneath The Mandalorian. The choice makes it a minor side trip from the Skywalker saga rather than its own thing, which is a shame considering how strong this story has been overall. I’d still love to see Luke sit down with Ahsoka and swap some stories though.

Everything we've been waiting for.  (Screenshot: Disney+) Everything we’ve been waiting for. (Screenshot: Disney+)

All that said, everything after Luke’s arrival is heartbreaking and beautiful. Luke explains he can train Grogu but his attachment to Mando is strong and Grogu needs Mando’s permission to leave. That’s when the biggest character moment of the entire series so far happens as Mando takes off his helmet so Grogu and he can look into each others’ eyes for the first time. It felt very reminiscent of the moment between Darth Vader and Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi. Grogu touches his face and Mando gets extremely emotional, but he knows the child belongs with this powerful Jedi. And so Luke, along with R2-D2 in a brief but fun little appearance, heads off with Grogu as an unhelmeted Mando, and everyone else, stands there and watches.

In a rare post-credit scene, which hopefully you stuck around for, we arrive on Tattooine and Jabba’s old palace in particular. Fennic Shand kills several guards, allowing Boba Fett to arrive casually and kill Bib Fortuna, who was just about to make some small talk. Fett sits in his place, now in charge of the palace, and setting up a new spinoff series called The Book of Boba Fett.

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Those two surprises, back to back, ended “The Rescue” on a high note of high notes. The Mandalorian has completed his two-season mission: save the Child, return him to his people. However, odds are you felt a little like I did in this moment, sad to see Mando and Grogu get separated, even if that’s what best for them, and curious about where Mando goes next after being changed by his relationship so drastically. He’s technically now the official owner of the Darksaber and he’s just betrayed his sworn creed for the first (well, second, but you get it) time. We don’t know where he’ll go from here but if Lucasfilm wanted to end The Mandalorian, that episode could have been it. The first story is complete and though it left things even more complicated than it started, the ride was amazing.

I’m not sure if “The Rescue” was the best episode of season two but that’s a testament to just how amazing season two has been. It certainly had everything you’d want in a Star Wars story, plus more, but if you think back to the Krayt Dragon, a Mandalorian siege, the return of Ahsoka, and Boba Fett, it was all so exhilarating. But to see Jedi Master Luke Skywalker there, bad CGI and all, it was hard not to feel that this was the right ending for this part of the story.

The book of Boba Fett begins next year. (Screenshot: Disney+) The book of Boba Fett begins next year. (Screenshot: Disney+)

Assorted Musings:

  • Why didn’t Boba Fett come back? We understand he was a distraction to help the mission go smoothly but they certainly could’ve used an extra blaster or two to help. He obviously went back to pick up Fennic before heading to Tattooine so it seemed odd to just disappear with so much at stake.
  • How messed up was the Imperial who taunted Cara about blowing up Alderaan? That was cold-blooded.
  • Remember how Mando warned Moff Gideon he was coming at the end of last week’s episode? Did he make did no preparations for this? He even seemed surprised when they arrived.
  • I thought it was very cool to get an inside view of TIE Fighters launching from a starship. We’ve seen glimpses of it before but this was our best look yet. Nerdy, yes, but awesome.
  • The fact that the Darksaber can’t destroy beskar is a fascinating tidbit of information. At first, it seems like an Achilles heel, but then you think about it some more. Since most Mandalorians wear beskar, it suggests the saber should never and could never be used against their own kind. Just an interesting aside, in addition to being a helpful piece of information in this episode.
  • Maybe Sabine could give Bo-Katan the Darksaber because they’re both “of Mandalore” rather than someone like Din, who is just Mandalorian, and that’s why she needs to win it in battle. That, along with her comments about clones and stuff, really offer an interesting — possibly upsetting — subtext to Bo-Katan.
  • The moment Moff Gideon tries to kill himself was important. He’s a very proud guy and that might, on the surface, seem out of character — but as Cara mentioned earlier, he is privy to all kinds of information he would not want anyone else to have. Information on clones and Jedis and all kinds of weird stuff. He’s still alive at the end by the way.
  • It doesn’t come up on the subtitles, but Bib Fortuna definitely says “Maclunky” as Fennic Shand enters the Palace. Oh also, Bib Fortuna was still alive? I didn’t realise. RIP Bib, but all hail crime lord Boba Fett. We’ll be very interested to see what he does with this new stronghold.

You can stream The Mandalorian on Disney+.

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