The Mandalorian season 2 has come to a close in a big, jaw-dropping way with Chapter 16 The Rescue. I am going to give my general thoughts at first followed by spoilers, but let’s be honest, if you’re here reading a review of The Mandalorian right now, I imagine you’ve seen the episode so feel free to jump right to the spoiler section. Here is my review of The Mandalorian Chapter 16, The Rescue.
My first non-spoiler thoughts on this episode are that Peyton Reed delivered an edge of your seat ride. That’s what this episode felt like, a ride, in the best way possible. The space battle sequences and everything happening around Moff Gideon’s ship made me feel like I was on a simulator ride because I felt so sucked into the action. Reed’s direction was very immersive to the audience, I felt like I was a part of every frame. This episode blends a throwback feel to A New Hope in so many ways before it flips everything on us with surprises that will be listed among the biggest in franchise history. If you thought the reveal of “Baby Yoda” at the end of chapter 1 or the Darksaber at the end of chapter 8 were mind-blowing, this takes it to a whole new level.
Also this has to be said. I don’t know how this is happening, but Jon Favreau’s writing is being overlooked. This is some of the best Star Wars screenwriting we’ve seen since Lawrence Kasdan. Favreau knows how to tell a story with the best of them and in two seasons he has slowly developed one of the strongest bonds/relationships between two characters the Star Wars franchise has ever seen between Din Djarin and Grogu.
I had concerns through the first half of the episode that this finale could fall flat but as you’re about to find out when I head into spoilers, my concerns were swiftly swept away.
I fought back some tears. Listen, I am a Dad and seeing Grogu leaving Din Djarin at the end of the episode ripped a hole through my heart, regardless of who he was leaving with. But who did he leave with? Luke Skywalker! Mind blown.
Before I get any further on this, I feel like I need to get my full thoughts on the first half of the episode out of the way so I can focus on what is important. The action of this episode was great from the beginning with Slave 1 tracking down the imperial shuttle with Dr. Pershing aboard. Slave 1 docking with the ship was very reminiscent of Vader’s Star Destroyer picking up the Tantive IV in A New Hope, I actually think they might have used the same exact sound effect too.
Din Djarin and Boba Fett then proceed to locate Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves (which by the way Sasha Banks, credit for being a massive liar in saying in an interview that chapter 11 was your only appearance in the show, well played). After Boba Fett and Koska get into a bit of a scuffle and Bo-Katan mocks Boba Fett for being a clone, Mando manages to convince Bo-Katan to help them rescue Grogu, with Bo-Katan’s obvious incentive being getting the Darksaber from Moff Gideon to restore Mandalore. What I love about this scene is that Din Djarin has remained consistent that the only thing that matters to him anymore is Grogu.
The crew uses the imperial shuttle to sneak into Gideon’s ship, this immediately took me back to Han and company sneaking onto the forest moon of Endor in shuttle Tydirium. Look, it was an older cold, but it checked out. They split up with Fennec Shand, Bo-Katan, Cara Dune, and Koska Reeves clearing out the stormtroopers and heading to the bridge in order to serve as a distraction so Mando can quietly go on his way to locate Grogu. It wasn’t going to be that easy though, of course, it’s never easy in Star Wars.
Boba Fett wasn’t heavily featured in the episode itself, but he did have an awesome moment of mowing down TIE fighters into an immediate blast off. We will see him later, literally. No but seriously I hope you stayed until the end credits and saw The Book of Boba Fett teaser clip. It appears that the Boba Fett limited series is indeed very real and it will arrive in December 2021. This is likely why The Mandalorian has been pushed to Christmas. The Fett series will stream in early December followed by The Mandalorian. What an absolute surprise and something amazing to look forward to. Okay, back to Mando.
My one main gripe with this episode is how truly pointless and stupid stormtroopers are, which while this is consistent with the franchise throughout its history, it’s just becoming a bit redundant and I am not sure seeing stormtroopers offers any sense of wonder as to what might happen. If Favreau wrote these scenes as a simple nod to their efficiency and lack of accuracy because it is fun for him, then I am all for it. That is my only issue with the episode, and it’s very minor.
As Mando walks down the ramp to begin his search for Grogu, his theme song plays as we are used to, except this time it is being played at a much faster tempo. I like this usage by composer Ludwig Göransson, it stresses the sense of urgency or race against time that Din Djarin is dealing with. The music in the show has for the most part melded into the visuals where I am never distracted by it, but this stood out to me, and it did fill me with a sense of urgency, so well done Ludwig!
I really, really enjoyed Mando and Moff Gideon’s fight. The Darksaber against Beskar was something new to live-action Star Wars and the effects were magnificent. Earlier this year Giancarlo Esposito spoke about breaking a few Darksabers while filming, now we know exactly when that happened. He was swinging hard at Mando, I felt Gideon’s anger and violence, such a well done performance across the board. I enjoyed that not only did Din finally get the best of Gideon, but that he didn’t kill him. And while I am on that, I am glad Gideon didn’t die, even though he attempted to kill himself before being knocked out by a swift UFC-style elbow by Cara Dune.
The dark troopers were cool, but I feel like the true reason for their existence in this show was so that we could see Luke Skywalker absolutely wreck house at the end of this episode, and my God did he? I know I am not the only one that saw a direct parallel between his entrance and disposal of the dark troopers and Darth Vader’s now famous hallways scene in Rogue One right? I mean…
When the alarms went off and we learned a single ship was approaching my alarms starting going off, and when we got a glimpse of a T-65 X-wing landing on the ship I immediately got chills up my back and down both of my arms, immediately bringing my hands to my face (it’s happening again right now as I type). I could not believe what I was seeing. Luke Skywalker is back in Star Wars. In addition to taking in what was happening, I was as mystified as the characters in the room watching him mow down dark troopers on the monitors, as Grogu immediate drew himself to the Jedi Master.
As I watched, one part of me was nervous. I have been adamantly against a recast of Luke Skywalker. I don’t believe Star Wars should recast actors sandwiched in between another actor’s portrayal. Pre-dating them, absolutely, but going Hamill – another actor – back to Hamill? Nope. That’s why I have been so against the Sebastian Stan fan-casting. So when Luke finally gets to the room and removes his hood, I was elated to see they didn’t recast Luke, and there I was staring at a post-Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker, unapologetically dressed as he was in Episode VI with the same haircut and everything. I don’t care if that doesn’t make much sense, I was all in.
Favreau didn’t stop there. He kept feeding us, and he did so by having R2-D2 rolling in right after Luke. I smiled like a child. I was so happy. This is one of those moments I will point back to as a highlight of experiencing Star Wars for the first time. I know people will make comments about a CG Luke, but I thought he looked fantastic, and the fact that Mark Hamill was listed in the credits means he was involved in playing him. To what extent we will surely find out, but perhaps he recorded the dialogue and the team at Skywalker Sound adjusted his frequencies to match how he sounded back in the 80’s. Honestly, I am not even sure if I care how they did it, it was incredible.
Side note: Can Din Djarin pick up a galactic newspaper once in a while? No idea who Luke Skywalker is? Really? “Are you a Jedi?”, come on man. I kid, I kid.
So here is where I surprised myself, my conclusion to my review. As incredible as Luke Skywalker appearing was, the most powerful moment of this episode was Din Djarin saying goodbye to Grogu, and taking off his helmet. This moment really hit me emotionally, seeing the two of them embrace. It was interesting to know that Luke Skywalker was witnessing Din and Grogu share a similar moment that he and his father shared. “Take this mask off…let me look on you with my own eyes.” The following shot is a visual definition of what this series is about. Nothing else needs to be said.
The fact that Din and Grogu’s goodbye was the most powerful part of an episode where Luke Skywalker returned to Star Wars is a testament to how well Jon Favreau has built this relationship. The fact that I didn’t want Grogu to go with Luke Skywalker speaks for itself! It cannot be overstated how well written this story has been. The Mandalorian is a slow-burn in terms of the main storyline, the relationship between Mando and The Child, and after all of the serialized adventures, 16 chapters later, I found myself tearing up as Grogu was leaving with Luke Skywalker, with Din Djarin painfully but understandably looking on to see his son off.
I can not wait to see where the story goes for The Mandalorian season 3, but I hope Din Djarin was right, that they will see each other again, because like Mando, this was me too at the end of that episode.
This is the way.