The Mandalorian The Rescue Review

Naturally, there are spoilers here.

This final episode of The Mandalorian season 2 brings to a head all of the disparate storylines from the series. After learning the location of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) moves across the galaxy to put together the pieces he needs in order to board the Imperial light cruiser and rescue Grogu.

First, Slave I, piloted by Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), captures an Imperial Lambda class shuttle with Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) on board. Then they arrive at an industrial planet where Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) have been hiding out. After fighting with Boba Fett (and it’s reiterated the he is not a Mandalorian) Bo-Katan agrees to accompany Din Djarin on the rescue.

The group plots an insertion into the light cruiser, using the Lambda shuttle as a Trojan horse to get on board. They split up, with Din Djarin flying quiet and alone to rescue Grogu while Bo-Katan leading the rest to the bridge to take over the ship and, hopefully, take back the Darksaber from Gideon.

Trouble brews when the Dark Troopers activate, but after Din jettisons them into space, he opens the cell to rescue Grogu. There, he finds Moff Gideon with the Darksaber. Din is able to overpower Gideon, take the Darksaber, and rescue Grogu. But this adds a layer of complication. Bo-Katan feels she is unable to take back the Darksaber without defeating Gideon and now wants to fight Din Djarin. Before this conundrum can be resolved, the Dark Troopers return to the ship and make their way to the sealed bridge.

It looks like there’s no escape for our motley band of bounty hunters, ex-rebels, and Mandalorians. But that’s when an X-Wing boards the light cruiser and a hooded figure with a green lightsaber cuts through the Dark Troopers like Anakin Skywalker through B1 battle droids. 

It’s Luke Skywalker (a digitally de-aged Mark Hamill). And he’s come to take Grogu.

Grogu asks Din’s permission to go train with Luke and Din grants it after taking his mask off to offer a tearful goodbye.

This is where the episode ends, leaving so many threads unresolved and questions unanswered.

Uncharacteristically, this episode also contained an after credits sequence that brings Boba Fett back to Tatooine. There, he murders Bib Fortuna (Matthew Wood, reprising the role) and ascends to the throne of Jabba the Hutt, promising an all new show called The Book of Boba Fett coming next year.

The Direction and Film References

Peyton Reed came back to direct the final episode of season 2 (from a Jon Favreau script) and it might be the most monumental. It changes the stakes on the show going forward, but also changes the dynamic significantly.

This episode borrows from The Dirty Dozen, just as the previous episode did, showing a group of ne’er-do-wells planning over a map. This time, Bo-Katan plays the Lee Marvin role, taking everyone through the insertion plan. Again, subterfuge is required, as well as pretending to be Imperials. Instead of Imperial uniforms, it’s the Imperial ship.

More than anything, this episode draws on the history of Star Wars, from The Phantom Menace and Return of the Jedi to The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Not just in the references, but the staging of scenes, sets and settings, and vocabulary used. 

It starts with the Imperial shuttle itself, which featured prominently in Return of the Jedi, and in the exact same function. Once aboard, the team fights their way through the light cruiser in a way that is reminiscent of some of the best episodes of the animated series, particularly episodes involving the Mandalorians.

Luke Skywalker’s appearance, though, evokes a wonderful — though unsettling — mix of The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith. Luke Skywalker stepping out in his hood and moving toward the Dark Troopers is framed very much like Darth Vader marching on the Jedi Temple to slaughter the Jedi. His moves are impossibly similar to his father’s from the security holograms. But as he moves through the hallways, cutting down droids, it also evokes Obi-Wan Kenobi’s flair and flourish from the opening action sequences in The Phantom Menace. Indeed, as the blast doors open on the bridge and the smoke obscures Luke, revealing nothing but the blade of his saber, we’re meant to think on the moment where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan step out of the dioxis. 

Some might argue that Luke Skywalker is nothing but a deus ex machina, coming in to solve an unsolvable problem for our heroes, and that might be true if it hadn’t been set up repeatedly over the previous episodes that Grogu had reached out to call him. This is an expected part of the story and not unreasonable or unestablished. 

This episode is bold in its direction, but somehow feels muted. In Star Wars, we expect our finales to overlap and cross cut with many different storylines coming together, each affecting the other. This episode maintains a laser-like focus on the singular objective of the fate of Grogu. Though it might feel muted because of our expectation, I think future viewings will reveal the wisdom of that choice. Some will claim this episode was nothing more than fan service, but I think we can look to the core story of Din and Grogu as the one playing out here. The central moment of Din revealing his face to Grogu is the entire point of the series to this moment. All of the rest is almost incidental. 

It would have definitely been fan service if Ludwig Göransson had gone all in with the Force theme and Luke’s music during his approach, discussion over Grogu, and departure. Instead, we get the Mandalorian’s theme with the full John Williams treatment, putting the focus exactly where it belongs.

Unanswered Questions

This episode leaves so many dangling threads and promises. 

First, we have the unresolved issues between Bo-Katan and Din Djarin as far as the Darksaber is concerned. This is something that confuses me a little, too though. In Star Wars Rebels, Sabine Wren handed Bo-Katan the Darksaber and said that the Force gave it to her to pass on to Bo so she could rule Mandalore. Here, Moff Gideon says that the story is the important part and she can’t just take it from Din. This causes consternation from everyone, but her focus is singular from the very start of the episode. That might be enough. She needs a good story to tell about how she won it for her right to rule Mandalore. Even though Mandalore is turned to glass. 

Naturally, the assumption is that the third season of The Mandalorian will answer this key conflict and see Bo-Katan and Din Djarin either at odds or as allies in re-establishing Mandalore’s place in the galaxy. One wonders: will The Mandalorian have the staying power it’s enjoyed without Grogu as a regular part of the show? What will motivate Din as he moves forward having learned the lessons over the last two seasons?

The other assumption is that Boba Fett will be headlining a second show: The Book of Boba Fett. This promises to be the show about the underworld of the galaxy, centered on Tatooine. Fett is out to build an Empire of his own and we’ll have front row seats for how it plays out. Could this have its roots in the Underworld property that George Lucas had spent so long developing? That show was set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, but how much of it could be adapted for a post-Empire world?

Only time will tell. 

And no, I don’t think The Book of Boba Fett will consume season three of The Mandalorian. Why would they have Boba Fett, who is not a Mandalorian, headline a show about Mandalorians?

What To Look Out For

The first big Easter egg comes in the form of The Gauntlet, Bo-Katan’s ship. This ship has appeared in the animated shows and Bo-Katan used it alongside Ursa Wren to gather allies like Ahsoka the first time they sought to take back Mandalore. Granted, this might not be The Gauntlet, it might just be another Kom’rk-class ship. Its use, however, has largely been by Mandlorians, though Maul did pilot one for a time in Star Wars Rebels. 

Another interesting note in this episode is that it’s confirmed once again that Boba Fett is definitely not a Mandalorian and doesn’t pretend to be one. He’s just a simple man trying to make his way in the universe and his ambitions, while honorable concerning Din Djarin and the Child, are more about taking control of the underworld from Tatooine than maintaining any sort of Mandalorian-style honor.

The Jabba’s Palace scene has, perhaps, the most fun easter eggs. First, you’ll recognize Jabba’s former majordomo, Bib Fortuna, who apparently survived the destruction of Jabba’s barge. Fortuna here is played by Matthew Wood, who played the role in The Phantom Menace. In this appearance, he speaks more Hutteese, and if you’re familiar with The Phantom Menace, you might recognize some of what he says since much of his vocabulary comes straight from that film. As best as I could translate, he says something like, “You slave scum, go check that out or this’ll be the end of you.”

That last part comes in the form of the infamous phrase “maclunkey” that has since become Greedo’s last words in A New Hope. 

There’s one other fun thing to spot in Jabba’s Palace. Speaking to a Gran in the background appears to be Rystáll Sant, one of the dancers that was added into the Special Edition. One that Boba Fett himself was flirting with…

Coda

This season has been an arrow firing directly at the bullseye of this episode. Every character Din encountered, every situation he grew through, every moral quandary he grappled with, culminated in the final moments of this season. And this crescendo was surprising but inevitable. 

Surprising in that this isn’t the normal mode of how climaxes in Star Wars tend to play out, but inevitable in that this really was what everything was built toward. This season closes off Din’s quest to restore Grogu to his people, but also places a new quest in his path. All of it is something that we can look forward to.

We want answers to all of these tantalizing questions. Will we see Luke Skywalker and Grogu again in the future? Will Din and Bo-Katan remain at odds over the Darksaber? Is it possible to restore Mandalore? It’s going to make the wait for Christmas of 2021 all that much longer.

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