Well. That was quite a finale, wasn’t it? This article does, indeed, contain spoilers for the finale (and the whole) of season 2 of The Mandalorian. By the way, does it ever mess people up that they call him “Mando” but it’s not spelled “The Mandolorian?” I never had trouble spelling Mandalorian before that. Now I keep doubting myself. But I digress.
“And A Jedi May Answer The Call”
Let’s start at the ending, shall we? When Ashoka (live action Ashoka! I still can’t believe that happened and she’s getting a series) said that, I’m sure all Star Wars fan’s minds were racing about who might answer. Cal Sestis? Ezra? Some other Jedi they’d introduce even though Luke (and Leia) were supposed to be the last ones? But, no. When the cloaked figure of Luke Skywalker started strolling through Moff Gideon’s starship, dispatching the truly terrifying Dark Troopers with ease (neatly echoing the Vader scene in Rogue One I might add) I thought for sure there was going to be a twist.
Even when we saw the green saber and the flash of his belt buckle. But, no, it was him. He was at least voiced by Mark Hamill (his name was in the credits) with a CGI face. And although there was certainly a lot of uncanny valley going on, it didn’t diminish the real emotional impact of seeing not just Luke Skywalker, but Jedi Master Luke Skywalker on screen.
The Legacy of Luke Skywalker
I have grown beyond tired of the debate on the “Sequel Trilogy” and whether Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, or The Rise of Skywalker are any good. Or any good as a whole. So I won’t get into that here, except to say that, while they have problems, I enjoyed them for what they are overall. But, even saying that there’s no denying the very real, very emotional response people have to the handling of Luke Skywalker in those films. I find it very dramatically interesting. I think it was an interesting place to go with it. BUT, for many longtime Star Wars fans, the desire to see Luke on top of his game is so painfully interlaced with their disappointment with the sequel trilogy. I get that. I have felt that.
Even though I do think The Last Jedi showed that in remarkable and beautiful ways, it wasn’t actually what a lot of fans wanted. So to see this scene in The Mandalorian, where Luke IS at the height of his powers, is a treat. It makes me feel like we could have our cake and eat it too. Even knowing things don’t go well for Luke, knowing that for—for a time–he was this Luke is hopefully healing for some of the Star Wars fans who are nursing some hurt over the sequels.
Wait, What Who Was This Show About Again?
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of what the show is (or has been—more on that later) about. Djin Djarin—The Mandalorian. There seems to be a small majority that dislikes Baby Yoda/The Child/Grogu in the same way fans have disliked or hated the Ewoks or Porgs before him, but for many of us, Grogu is as iconic to the series as Djin. For more casual members of the public, he’s more iconic than Djin. So the fact he’s handed off to Luke feels both appropriate and intensely heartbreaking. Not just because Djin had just fought hard to get him back, but because it means we might not see him again. At least not any time soon.
I have to say, losing the Razor Crest was tough, too. A good story puts their characters through the ringer. I guess what complicates this episode for me is the lack of clarity for what the future holds for the character. But, just taking it for what it is in the moment, it’s pretty heartbreaking. And I hope it’s not permanent. It’s not that I don’t want the Mandalorian to evolve. But I just wanted more time with Djin in the Razor Crest with Grogu.
Moff Gideon and the Dark Troopers
No, that’s not the name of the latest indie band, but it COULD be. It’s the name of the main baddies of the episode. Whoever decided to put Giancarlo Esposito into that outfit, give him the dark saber, and make him the main villain of the show deserves all the accolades in the world. He’s been the strongest Star Wars villain since Rogue One’s Krennic. And I’m probably going to have to buy the Hot Toys version of him. He is commanding and vile and you completely understand his agenda. He’s also probably the most competent villain since Grand Admiral Thrawn introduced into the mythos.
The presentation of the Dark Troopers in this was masterful. The fact that Djin nearly had his ass handed to him by one Dark Trooper upped their dread level. They looked amazing, gleaming and evil as they marched. I hope Hasbro gives them a proper finish and doesn’t bungle their action figures because I will buy many. That they were dispatched via the airlock was a little disappointing… until they came back! I loved every minute of that. Them pounding away at the door probably made very little sense (can’t they access laser drills or whatever like Stormtroopers?) but looked awesome. And who watches Star Wars for sense (see the episode where they transport tricky explosives via wheeled vehicles when they have hovering vehicles)—I know I don’t.
The Book of Boba Fett
Which brings us to the ending. Well, both endings. Hopefully everyone stayed until after the credits. If you didn’t you were likely spoiled by social media. I will say, I wish they released the show at a more practical time. I know some fans might send a bounty hunter after me for saying this, but I kind of wished the show premiered at 7pm or something. Staying up unitl 2am my time to watch the newest episode because I know people on social media just can’t STOP themselves from spoiling things is annoying. End rant.
Djin is left Grogu and ship-less. Theories that he might take over Slave One from Boba disproven by the after-credits sequence. So he’s on Gideon’s former starship with Bo-Katan, presumably off to help retake Mandalore. As we see in the after-credits, Boba returns to Tatooine to take over Jabba’s place(!) killing Bib Fortuna(!) and taking the throne. It was a shocking/cool moment, followed by the promise that The Book of Boba Fett would begin in 2021. There is a lot of confusion as I write this about what that means. A lot of sites (including trade sites like Variety and Deadline who usually check these things with sources) have said with confidence it’s a new spin-off series. But there’s a lot of rumbling that it might be what season 3 of The Mandalorian is about. I have to admit, if it’s the latter… I hate it. I. Hate. It.
Now, I could be won over. If there’s a promise we’ll return to Djin’s story or that it’s going to be picked up elsewhere. But I feel like I didn’t sign-up for some Mandaolorian anthology series. If Djin’s story is done, it’ll be even more irritating for me. But, you know, I’m not thinking about that too much right now. I’m willing to hold my breath and wait for the news to shake out. I’m looking forward to seeing Boba’s story play out. We know so little about what he’s been up to since he somehow escaped the Sarlacc Pit. Why didn’t he get his armor back sooner? Why does he want to take over Jabba’s operation? All of this is actually of interest to me, even though I must admit I have never been a “Jango Fett/Boba Fett” is a clone fan. But his appearance here made me a believer in that take on the character. I just don’t want it to come at the sacrifice of Djin and Grogu and that story.
The Mandalorian Season 2
A note about the season as a whole. I think this season built remarkably on the good (although at times uneven) season 1 by quickening the pacing. The only episode that I thought dipped a little in quality was the 30-minute Robert Rodriguez-directed episode. I don’t know if it was the direction or the length or what, but it was a pretty monumental episode in terms of the series that fell a little flat for me, because it didn’t feel like I had time to take it in, or to see the character’s response to everything that occurred. It was still entertaining, but again just a little dip.
The introduction of Bo-Katan and Ashoka could have derailed the series with too much crossover, but I thought they walked that line well. I wish Ming-Na Wen’s Fennic Shand had more to do and more material to work with other than just strutting around looking awesome and shooting things. Don’t get me wrong, that was cool and I was hoping Shand would come back, but let’s hope “The Book of Boba Fett” has more material to give her considerable talents.
The start, of course, of the series has always been Pedro Pascal’s magnetic performance (behind a helmet!) and the way he is able to convey emotion and his love for that little puppet is always remarkable. Djin is not always the smartest guy on the planet, but he makes up for it in sheer devotion and determination. He’s got heart to spare under the tough-Mando exterior. And, finally, a shout-out to the fine work Bill Burr did as Mayfield this season.
Whatever is to come, there’s going to be no lack of Star Wars in the future. It seems to have found a good home on TV, and if they can keep the quality of it up, I’m game. Although along with Marvel TV, I can see a time in the future where I just have no way of keeping up with all the series. I’m really intrigued by the Ahsoka series. Especially if it picks up the pieces of the Star Wars Rebels plot and furthers that, because I would really love to see Sabine, Ezra, and Thrawn show up in live action.
My interest in Rangers of the New Republic really turns on whether Gina Carano is a part of it. She’s pretty much ruined Kara Dune for me as a character with her Twitter alt-right pigheadedness and nonsense. If we’re moving towards some kind of crossover, though, in the “Mando” timeline that leads up to the retaking of Mandalore, that could be interesting. Time will tell. Until then I’ll be cradling my plush Grogu and waiting for this expensive-ass Razor Crest vehicle to show up next year. Hoping for more adventures.