The End and a New Beginning – A Review of “The Rescue”, season 2 finale of “The Mandalorian”

The final episode of “The Mandalorian” Season 2 has aired and what a way to end the season. As the title of this essay implies, this is an ending but also a new beginning for the show. Major spoilers are ahead because I’m going to be doing a deep dive into this season finale. You’ve been warned.

The episode begins with Din Djarin capturing Dr. Pershing and getting Bo-Katan and Koska on-board with recapturing Grogu from Moff Gideon. As the group were discussing their planned rescue, the focus on the Dark Troopers grabbed my attention. Note to fellow writers: this is how you set up a potentially unstoppable enemy. The focus on creating a diversion to allow Din to reach Grogu made sense, particularly given Bo-Katan’s seething hatred for Gideon.

The tension of the episode was well-maintained throughout, right up to the ending (more on that in a bit). Every step of the way felt like the rescuers trying to reach their objectives before the Dark Troopers came online. And when Din found himself face-to-face with a single one and found himself fighting for his life while the other Troopers attempted to break free, the peril for all of the characters felt real in that moment. Jon Favreau’s script was tightly-wound from beginning to end, with each moment leading into the next excellently. And the direction of Peyton Reed (who also directed episode 10 “The Passenger”), was spot-on, never losing focus on all the moving pieces.

Assault on Gideon’s light cruiser. Source

The sequence where Bo-Katan, Cara Dune, Koska, and Shand make their way to the bridge, mowing down Stormtroopers left and right was awesome. It felt exactly right that these four characters would be this effective, given everything we’ve seen them accomplish during the show (and in the case of Bo-Katan, throughout the character’s appearances in Star Wars).

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And of course, Moff Gideon wasn’t on the bridge once he figured out what was going on, because he’s a well-written villain. He knew once the shuttle started acting erratically that a rescue was underway. The brawl between Din and Gideon was well-choregraphed, with both hero and villain fighting with every trick in their arsenal. It was the scene directly after, though, that got me to thinking about Gideon’s motives. Given the explanation he gave regarding the Dark Saber, I wouldn’t put it past Gideon to instigate a fight with Din and lose purposefully, thus depriving Bo-Katan of her victory over him and being able to lay claim to the Dark Saber. But this also puts Din in the position of wielding a weapon that signifies authority and power to all of the Mandalorians.

Moff Gideon vs. Din Djarin. Source

The ending of the episode felt like the only way this could have happened, particularly after the events of “The Tragedy”. The Dark Troopers returning in force and about to lay waste to the heroes was fraught with tension, which the musical score heightened. And then a lone X-wing appeared, to which Cara Dune quipped that they were now saved. And how right she was. Before the pilot exited, I knew who was going to be walking into this mess. And how glorious it was.

Luke Skywalker comes to claim Grogu. Source

Much like the hallway scene in Rogue One, this was the moment Star Wars fans had been waiting nearly 30 years for: Luke Skywalker at the height of his powers as a Jedi moving through an enemy ship with the ease one expects from a Jedi Master. As soon as the green lightsaber appeared, the robotic Dark Troopers didn’t stand a chance, regardless of their numbers. And Peyton milked the sequence for all it was worth. This sequence is fanservice done right. And it gave Luke the “Big Damn Heroes” moment that felt hollow when it was attempted in The Last Jedi.

In the end, Din Djarin and Grogu parted ways, a surrogate family breaking but under the best possible circumstance. Grogu clung to his adopted parent, his protector, and lingered before accepted the new path awaiting him. In watching this with some of my friends and discussing it afterward, this really was the only way the story could go. The show is called The Mandalorian, after all, and as much as Grogu has been the center of so much of the plot, this has always been about Din Djarin’s journey. This is not the same merciless, remorseless bounty hunter we met in Episode 1. Through his relationship with Grogu, we have seen the rougher edges of Din been smoothed off, leaving him a better person than when we first met him.

And the end-credits stinger felt awesome to watch. Boba Fett and Shand taking over Jabba’s Palace on Tatooine, becoming the new crime lord of the wasteland. To me, it felt like the best ending for those two and left them available to come back in the future, potentially as antagonists.

Where the story goes from here will be an interesting one. Grogu’s time with Din seems to have come to an end, at least for now. If I had to guess, the Dark Saber and Din’s new role as The Mandalore (the title given to the ruler of the Mandalorian people) will be the focus of the next season. Which means we may end up getting to see the wasteland of the planet Mandalore in live-action (something that has only previously been seen in animation on The Clone Wars). I felt that this was a satisfying season finale and I’m genuinely looking forward to what the next part of this story has to show.

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