The Mandalorian Season 2 Review – Episode 8: The Rescue

Here we have it, the final episode of the series, one that no doubt many people were super excited to see reach its conclusion. Much to my own surprise, it’s one I come out of with some really mixed feelings about. Not something I was expecting to say going into this one considering how positive I’ve been about the series as a whole so far.

Specifically, I’m mixed on the ending of this episode and one major choice that weirdly bummed me out. Especially considering this moment is going to be something that elates the vast majority of the fandom. But I’ll get to that further down the post. I’ll even highlight it so you can skip right to it if you want to.

Like with the finale of the previous season, there is some element of building the crew again. for the final mission. After kidnapping the Imperial scientist who had been working with Grogu’s blood, they recruit Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves to their cause in assaulting the light cruiser that Moff Gideon is holding Grogu on. If anything, it feels like they need to work way harder to convince the pair than they really should have to.

Especially considering they’re basically leading Bo-Katan to exactly where she wants to be: the right to the Darksaber.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Review - Episode 8: The Rescue

As they plan the rescue mission, it seems like it should be an easy job. There’s just one big wrinkle: the Dark Troopers. Through the weirdly compliant Doctor Pershing, they learn that the Dark Troopers take a few minutes to power up. So they settle on the plan of using the highjacked Imperial shuttle to get aboard the cruiser, the four women will all pour out, guns blazing to act as the distraction, while Din sneaks aboard, flushes the Dark Troopers out the airlock and then rescues Grogu.

The plan seems to go almost flawlessly until Din gets to the hold containing the Dark Troopers. While he manages to activate the door, one of the troopers grabs the closing door and manages to get out before is seals shut. The show does a great job of making these droids Terminator levels of intimidating. In a one on one fight, Din finds himself severely outmatched by the relentless machine.

It’s once again only because of his armour, and the Beskar spear that he manages to survive the beating from the droid. Then destroying it by stabbing through it’s neck and wrenching it’s head off. Dragging himself to the airlock, he managed to flush the rest of the platoon out into space before they can break through the door. With that the most threatening enemy is out of the way. Or are they.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Review - Episode 8: The Rescue

With the Dark Troopers out of the way, taking the ship is a breeze for the team. Although, when Bo-Katan reaches the bridge, her quarry is nowhere to be seen. A shrewder individual than most, Gideon is inside Grogu’s cell, holding him hostage at the point of the Darksaber. While he seemingly seems content to make a deal with Din, he ends up trying to stab the Mandalorian in the back, his Beskar once again saving his bacon.

As everyone saw coming, we get a duel between Din using his spear and Gideon using the Darksaber. It’s a great if brief battle that ends with Din on top, sparing Gideon’s life. Action which has a consequence I’m not sure any of us would have seen coming, causing a potential rift between Din and Bo-Katan. It’s an interesting flipping of the script actually. The last time these two encountered one another, Din was the one getting berated for being tied to dogma and tradition of the Watch.

This time however, tradition seems to be the thing Bo-Katan is tied to. While she needs the Darksaber to rally the scattered Mandalorians and bring them together again on their homeworld, she can’t simply take it from Din when he tried to hand it to her. For it to mean anything, she needs to win it in combat. Something Din doesn’t seem to give two gundark’s tails about, not understanding the problem. While she is frozen in place, seemingly unable to process the series of events happening in front of her.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Review - Episode 8: The Rescue

It’s an issue that we don’t see a resolution to in this episode though, and no doubt something that will be a focus for season 3. Because those Dark Troopers that Din flushes out into space are all coming back aboard the ship through the hanger. And as Gideon points out, Din had a lot of trouble with just one of these Troopers, pitting them against an entire platoon seems almost like an unwinnable situation for them.

As the Dark Troopers pound through the blast door with unrelenting force, an X-Wing approaches the cruiser and docks below. While I was fully expecting a Jedi of some kind to show up and save them, answering Grogu’s call from a few episodes ago, I don’t think I would have ever expected to see this particular Jedi show his CGI face in a thousand years.

 

Here’s the part where I complain about Luke Skywalker being in this episode

 

The choice to bring Luke Skywalker into the series is one that I’ll be honest, I’m not crazy about from a personal level. One of my core frustrations with Disney’s handling of Star Wars up until the Mandalorian was how they seemingly refused to tell a story that doesn’t revolve around the core characters we already know. One of the reasons I loved the Star Wars franchise so much back in the Legends days was that there are so many stories to tell that have nothing to do with the Skywalkers, the Solos or the Kenobi’s.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Review - Episode 8: The Rescue

Which is why the Mandalorian was such a breath of fresh air to me when it first got going. It was a totally disconnected story from the rest of the franchise that showed audiences that same enjoyment I got from the books and video games of the old Legends continuity. While it’s been really cool to see the likes of Boba Fett, Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan show up in this second series of the Mandalorian, the more the show brings in recognisable faces the more it feels like the Star Wars universe is not a universe at all, but a set of stories constantly circling around the same set of characters.

I’ll admit that seeing Luke just ripping the Dark Troopers to pieces was a great visual moment, akin to Vader’s rampage at the end of Rogue One. But like that rampage, it felt a little like a pandering moment, one that took me out of the story. Luke’s presence is so distracting in fact that I feel like it takes away from the dramatic and tearful parting of ways between Din and Grogu at the end.

I’m honestly surprised that Grogu went with Luke, I felt like his ultimate fate would be to turn his back on the Jedi and stay with Din. The parting of ways between Din and Grogu was a genuinely surprising outcome to me, and Din finally taking his helmet off and revealing his face to Grogu should have been a really touching moment. But the impact of the moment is reduced significantly by the presence of a certain character.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Review - Episode 8: The Rescue

It’s because you can’t take your eyes off of Luke’s uncanny valley, CGI face. (Because it’s Luke, not just because of the questionable facial recreation) It’s a bummer because I feel like that moment overrides the final moment between the main to characters, almost draining away all the emotion from the moment. From a personal standpoint, I would have rather seen literally any other character show up at this moment, Quinlan Voss, Cal Kestis or that guy from Rebels everyone keeps talking about.

In the end, I think this is a reductive move for what Favreau and Filoni are trying to do with the Star Wars franchise. They’ve said they want to build it both upwards and outwards, bringing a ton more characters into the mix and making the universe a larger platform for the future. Luke never mentions Grogu in the sequel trilogy, there’s no hint of him whatsoever, so we can only assume that the Child’s training never really goes anywhere.

The more I write, the more I get frustrated by this, but the more I realise this is a silly thing to get worked up about. I understand and accept that a lot of people reading this are going to think I’m talking nonsense or that I’m being a spoilsport. But putting Luke into this episode felt like a low-stakes, fan pleasing moment that is negative for the long term future of the series. It’s very cool no doubt, seeing Luke Skywalker being an utter badass is amazing, but it feels deflating, especially when it’s Din Djarin’s story I’m invested in, not Luke’s.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Review - Episode 8: The Rescue

The episode ends with Luke leaving with Grogu and R2-D2 in tow, leaving the future of whatever season 3 ends up being a total mystery to me. Maybe it’ll focus more on the Mandalorians themselves and Bo-Katan’s mission to rebuild their people. One thing I feel is that I don’t know if we’re ever going to see Grogu again. As much as he’s become a fan darling, I can’t see a season 3 of the Mandalorian showing him at all if he’s going to be with Luke.

How can you possibly call a series “The Mandalorian” when Luke Skywalker is one of your supporting characters. Had this been a lesser know Jedi, I could have easily seen us going back and seeing him being trained, but I don’t foresee Grogu showing up again now until maybe he’s an older character.

After the episode ends, we’re treated to a post-credits sequence where we see that Bib Fortuna has been living it up in Jabba’s old palace, taking control of the Hutt’s syndicate in the years since he died, getting nice and fat in the process. Although the reveal that’s he’s alive doesn’t last very long, as Fennic Shand and Boba Fett rock up and gun down everyone in the throne room, with Fett taking the seat at the end. With an ending credit revealing that a new series: The Book of Boba Fett will be coming to Disney Plus this time next year.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Review - Episode 8: The Rescue

While this was a very good episode, I can’t help but feel very mixed feelings about Luke Skywalker’s presence in the story. While I know the executives as Disney will be excitedly rubbing their hands together at the huge, positive reaction this episode is no doubt going to get from the fanbase, I feel like the moment really sucks the emotion out of the final farewell between Din and Grogu.

I know nobody is going to agree with me on this one. That people are going to accuse me of getting mad at “Disney pandering to the casual fans”, but that’s not really the case. But that’s fine anyway because ultimately it doesn’t really matter.

In the end, this has been a fantastic season and some of the best Star Wars stuff we’ve had since the original trilogy. I’ll talk about my feelings on the second season in their entirety at a later date. But for now I’ll say this, the second season of the Mandalorian feels like a launchpad for a whole slew of new Star Wars content that will make my complaints about this episode seem ultimately meaningless in hindsight.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Review - Episode 8: The Rescue

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