A few episodes back, when Mando and Grogu made it to the Jedi shrine they’d been told by Ahsoka Tano may or may not summon a Jedi, it seemed impossible we’d encounter the one Jedi we knew to be out there somewhere in the galaxy. Could Luke Skywalker himself show up to claim Grogu? Nah. The Mandalorian has had close ties to the movie wing of the Star Wars universe from the start and, sure, Boba Fett turned up recently, but there’s no way such a major figure would arrive to interact with our little Force-rich friend, right? And yet, here we are at the end of season two and not only has Luke shown up (played by Mark Hamill with the help of some impressive de-aging technology), he’s whisked Grogu away to parts unknown, after the creature formerly known as The Child and Mando exchange a tender, helmet-free good-bye. In some ways, bringing in Luke seemed like the obvious move, but also the one move the series couldn’t make because, come on, are we really going to get to see Luke Skywalker on this show?
But that’s jumping ahead to the end. Before Luke makes his hooded, Dark Trooper–slaying entrance, Mando, Fennec Shand, Boba Fett, and Cara Dune must commandeer an Imperial shuttle, nab Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) from the clutches of some Imperial officers, and find a way onto the Light Cruiser, where Moff Gideon has Grogu. They succeed in the first step, but not before the pilot lays some moral relativism on Cara Dune. He taunts her about being from the destroyed Alderaan, and then, when she replies with a Death Star burn, asks, “Do you know how many millions were killed on these bases?” By his logic, he was just protecting the galaxy from terrorism by serving the Empire and blowing up a planet full of bad guys. Everyone has to find a way to sleep at night. (Not that the pilot will have to worry about sleeping after Cara Dune blasts him at close range before he can kill Dr. Pershing.)
From there it’s time to pick up two more old friends they feel they need to get the job done: Bo-Katan Kryze and Koska Reeves. It takes the length of one short, intense Fett vs. Koska fight scene to convince them to sign up, but there’s a catch. Bo-Katan would like to keep the ship and maybe Mando could consider helping her retake Mandalore? Oh, and one more thing: Moff Gideon has the Darksaber that will allow her to reclaim the Mandalore throne. She’ll be needing that, too. (She fails, however, to share the fine print about what she needs to do to reclaim the Darksaber. But there’s no way that could have repercussions, right?)
It’s not going to be easy. As Dr. Pershing explains, there might not be that many human officers aboard Gideon’s cruiser, but it’s filled with Dark Troopers, the ultra-efficient droid soldiers who Childnapped Grogu a couple of episodes back. “The human inside was the final weakness to be solved,” Pershing explains. And, when we see them in action later in the episode it’s clear he’s not kidding. The Dark Troopers don’t just combine the best parts of Stormtroopers with the best parts of Battle Droids. They’re relentless, semi-indestructible opponents. Mando and his pals clearly need a solid plan before heading in.
The plan comes courtesy of Bo-Katan and it involves heading in through the launch portal while the cruiser is in the process of sending out its TIE Fighters, then Mando slipping through the shadows while the rest of the crew wreaks havoc throughout the ship as a distraction. It’s so crazy it just might work and, after a pretty thrilling bit of space combat, everyone makes it onboard.
From there it gets trickier. Bo-Katan and the others continue to mow through the Stormtroopers — though not without a few tense moments — but Mando struggles to take the Dark Troopers out of the equation, letting one slip into the corridor before closing the door. The tremendous trouble he has taking out just one of the Dark Troopers, even with that cool beskar spear, establishes just how tough an opponent they are. They’ve got no chance against a whole platoon. Fortunately, Mando blows them out the airlock and we’ll never see them again. (Spoiler: We see them again.)
Then it’s time for the endgame. Bo-Katan’s band arrives on the deck only to discover that Moff Gideon’s nowhere to be found. That’s because he’s with Grogu, holding the Darksaber over his head in a threatening manner. Fortunately, Mando proposes an arrangement: He’ll take Gorgu and let Gideon go, Darksaber and all. And that’s fine by Moff Gideon because, in his words, he’s “already got what [he] wanted from him.” Apparently Gideon’s obtained enough of Grogu’s blood that he doesn’t need the source anymore. It’s, in his view, his best shot to “bring order back to the galaxy.” That’s good news for Grogu but bad news for, well, probably everyone else in the Star Wars universe.
The deal, predictably, proves short lived, leading to another intense fight, one that puts Mando’s beskar armor to the test. Mando prevails, but the scene raises an interesting question: Did Mando accept the deal in earnest? It’s Gideon, after all, who breaks the arrangement. Mando’s concern all along has been rescuing Grogu, but would he sell out Bo-Katan to ensure Grogu’s safety? And, by selling out Bo-Katan, he’d also be selling out Mandalore and the chance the planet might be reclaimed. Is his attachment so strong it could overwhelm his sense of honor? We leave the episode without an answer. (We leave this episode without answers to a lot of lingering questions, in fact.)
Mando wins the battle, but that’s a solution that creates another problem. Having bested Gideon in combat, he now owns the Darksaber. And though he’s happy just to hand it off to Bo-Katan, that’s not how the Darksaber works. She has to best him in combat to reclaim the weapon and the right to rule Mandalore. That has nothing to do with any property intrinsic to the Darksaber itself. “The Darksaber doesn’t have power,” Gideon explains. “The story does.” This is a messy situation. But The Mandalorian punts its outcome down the road because, hey, the Dark Troopers are back.
Can the deck’s blast doors hold them off? Short answer: yes. Long answer: no. As our heroes prepare for a doomed battle with the Dark Troopers, Gideon mocks their chances, not reckoning on the unexpected arrival of a dark-hooded Jedi wielding a familiar-looking green lightsaber who arrives via X-Wing.
Luke chews through the Dark Troopers like a dog through a sirloin then meets up with our heroes after Mando, over the others’ objections, opens the doors to the Jedi. Then it’s time to say good-bye to Grogu, maybe for good? It certainly seems like they’re saying good-bye for a while, if not forever, despite Grogu’s initial reluctance. “He wants your permission,” Luke explains, then adds that Grogu’s better off with him because “talent without training is nothing.” And so Mando says farewell to his surrogate child, even taking off his helmet to look Grogu in the eye. “I’ll see you again,” he tells the little guy. “I promise.” It’s a truly heart-tugging moment, even if the arrival of R2-D2 (no stranger to Grogu’s kind) and Luke’s tender manner as he takes Grogu into his arms suggests everyone has made the right decision.
Then, with a “May the Force be with you,” they’re gone, ending this season of The Mandalorian on a bittersweet note, and with a teary Mando making no effort to pick up his helmet. Whatever form the third season takes it will certainly look a lot different than this one.
But wait: there’s more! After the credits, we find out what happens next, not for Mando or Grogu, but for Boba Fett and Fennec Shand, who show up at what used to be Jabba’s palace to find it presided over by Jabba’s former righthand man, Bib Fortuna. Bib looks a little portlier than the last time we saw him, suggesting that even running a decimated gangland empire has its benefits. But he won’t be enjoying them much longer: Boba Fett kills him and assumes the throne. If the season has revealed he can be an effective good guy, that doesn’t mean being a good guy is really what he does best.
• Great season, right? And it ended well, too, achieving the same heightened emotions as the first-season finale and without killing off anyone (or at least anyone who matters). Grogu’s departure is a surprise. From the start, this has been a series about an ace bounty hunter who unexpectedly becomes the father to an orphan who needs his help. Will it be that in season three, eventually if not immediately? We’re going to have to wait a while to find out.
• “I saw the tear,” the Imperial pilot says to Cara Dune while explaining how he knew she was from Alderaan. So that’s what that symbolizes.
• “I’ve heard your voice thousands of times,” Koska tells Boba Fett, assuming he’s a clone and not the source of all that clone DNA. But wait: Could he be a clone? Is that how he escaped? Hmm… (Addition: as others have pointed out, Boba is a clone, too. If a different sort of clone. Clones are confusing!)
• The launch portal sequence in which all those TIE Fighters shot out the front of the Light Cruiser plays like an homage to the original Battlestar Galactica, which used a similar sequence in almost every episode. (The show made the most of the same few expensive effects shots it had at its disposal.) Even though that series was the subject of a lawsuit at the time, the presence of Katee Sackhoff suggests Star Wars has made its peace with the franchise. Besides, The Mandalorian has been pretty free about paying homage to other science fiction universes. As many have noted, Amy Sedaris’s Peli Motto looks a lot like Ripley from Alien. More recently, the Dark Troopers owe a bit both to The Terminator and Robocop; their herky-jerky movements even seem like a tip of the hat to an older style of special effects.
• Speaking of resemblances, does anyone else think Dr. Pershing looks a bit like classic era Saturday Night Live writer Michael O’Donoghue?
• And that’s a wrap for now. May the Force Be with you and please keep Baby Yoda, er, The Child, er, Grogu in your thoughts until next season.
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