Endings are never easy, and while I know more seasons of “The Mandalorian” are on their way, the season finale to Season 2 sure feels like the book is being shut on an era of the show. There will be spoilers in this review, so if you don’t want to see those, skip to the end of the review.
The finale naturally focuses on Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), and Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and their mission to save Grogu aka Baby Yoda aka The Child. They enlist the help of Mandalorians Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Vernando), who we met earlier this season. The two clash with Fett, who is not a true Mandalorian, but gets to wear Mandalorian armor because his dad was one, before they all mutually agree to take on Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), who is holding Grogu hostage. In it for Bo-Katan and Reeves is the Darksaber, a coveted Mandalorian weapon Bo-Katan needs to unite and rule Mandalore.
Gideon has legions of stormtroopers and the robotic Darktroopers, who are somewhat blaster proof. The troopers are easily disposed of, but the Darktroopers pack quite a punch, as they’re not much the group can do against them. But when all hope seems lost, a familiar figure in Star Wars lore comes to rescue them …
And it’s Luke Skywalker! And it looks like he’s been deep faked? The episode credits Mark Hamill as Skywalker, and while his introduction is particularly well done — in many ways, it mirrors Darth Vader’s finals scene in “Rogue One,” as instead of cutting down rebels, Skywalker cuts down Darktroopers with ease — but I couldn’t help but feel like his face was a little off. I really think they should have just went with the obvious choice of casting Sebastien Stan in the role.
Skywalker saves everyone and takes Grogu to train him, bringing Mando’s two-season long arc to a close. And I’m conflicted about it.
I can already see the many, many bad takes that will pollute the internet about the finale. Already, I’ve seen a few complaints about the fan service (the only remarkable piece of criticism in these pieces is that there is more fan service this season than the first), and I just now we’re about to see an avalanche of thinkpieces as to why Disney is ruining the show in hopes of “Marvelizing” the franchise. The thing is, the fanservice is fine, the action this season was really, really good, and the storytelling this season was miles above the first. I’m conflicted because, like Mando is with the child in this episode, I’m not ready to let this era of the show go.
And the more I think about it, there was no other way this season could have ended. Like it or not, Mando’s time with Grogu was always going to be limited, and even if he returns in the future, their dynamic will probably change a little bit. It needs to.
Plenty of people will have their opinions about Luke Skywalker’s return, and what him being Grogu’s teacher means for the franchise. As we all know, Luke’s Jedi academy ends in failure, but there are still decades to go before Kylo Ren destroys it, and while it’s probably best to not look too close at Luke’s face this episode, everything else about his inclusion was done very well.
I do admit, part of me does miss the simplicity of Season 1, when Mando was just this small, little show that was isolated from the rest of the “Star Wars” Universe, with no expectation of launching other spinoff products and building a cinematic universe. But Star Wars has always been interconnected like this, and sometimes change can be a good thing. I get why some people wanted Mando to just be an isolated “bounty of the week” show, and while I would still love to get back to some form of that, particularly next season, as the slate is wiped clean, there’s only so far a show like that could go before it got repetitive and overstayed its welcome.
I’m very torn on this episode. There are things I liked and didn’t like as a finale, but I understand why everything had to be the way that it was. I definitely expect my opinion on this episode to evolve over time.
“The Mandalorian” Season 2, Episode 8 gets a 7.5/10