The season 2 finale of The Mandalorian has finally arrived, and climactic might be an understatement for the action-packed drama director Peyton Reed and writer Jon Favreau served up. “Chapter 16: The Rescue,” manages to achieve so much in one episode, not only resolving the narrative arc of the second season, but also serving up intriguing future storylines and delivering a healthy dose of nostalgia for Star Wars fans to scream about.
The episode opens in high-octane fashion, with Boba Fett’s (Temuera Morrison) Slave I ship in hot pursuit of an Imperial transporter trafficking Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) to Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) Imperial Light Cruiser. After knocking out its functions with an ion cannon, Mando (Pedro Pascal) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano) board the ship to kidnap the clone engineer. But the Imperial pilot isn’t going quietly, threatening to kill Dr. Pershing while also throwing some digs at Dune. He boasts about watching her home planet Alderaan perish from the Death Star.
It’s a good moment to remind viewers how different the perspectives of this battle between Dark and Light can be. The pilot saw the galaxy cheer when the Death Star was blown up, even though thousands of people were on it. He thinks he’s one of the good guys: “Destroying your planet was a small price to pay to rid the galaxy of terrorism,” he says. She shoots him in the face.
After the opening credits, the crew arrives at a cantina to enlist the help of allies Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado), but Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides) is nowhere to be seen. (Maybe he’s on a solo mission for Bo-Katan, but that’s not important right now!) Mando wants their help rescuing Grogu, of course, and knows Bo-Katan has a vendetta against Moff Gideon—she would relish the opportunity to find him. It would certainly benefit the “higher purpose” she’s banging on about if she gets her hands on the Dark Saber again. But Boba Fett irks Koska by suggesting they don’t need the help. “I didn’t know sidekicks were allowed to talk,” she says. That’s a bit fresh coming from Bo-Katan’s own sidekick. It’s possible the Mandalorian are so disdainful of Boba because he’s a reminder of the Clone Wars; his voice is exactly the same as the other clones, who were also made from the DNA of his father, Jango Fett.
“You are a clone,” Bo-Katan says. “I’ve heard your voice a thousand times.”
After a short-lived fight where Koska shows off her wrestling moves (Varnado is Sasha Banks of WWE fame), Bo-Katan agrees to help as long as she gets the Dark Saber and Moff’s Imperial cruiser—and Mando reconsiders rejoining their cause to return Mandalore to its former glory. Mando is like, “look, I just wanna get my son back, he is my only priority, take whatever you want from Moff but can we just hurry this up!” Sure, he doesn’t say these exact words, but we can all could tell that’s what he felt.
Back on Slave I, Dr. Pershing gives them some info on the garrison of Dark Troopers: They’re a third-generation design that’s removed the final weakness of humanity by making them droids. Bo-Katan has a plan; she wants to trick the Imperial Cruiser into letting them board via their co-opted Imperial ship by having Slave I pretend to attack them in front of the enemy stronghold. Once in the docking bay, she and Koska, plus Cara and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) will use “maximum initiative” to take out the enemy and make a “penetrator maneuver” to get to the Bridge where Moff is in command. This “misdirection” will allow Mando to sneak away and find Grogu while also using Pershing’s code cylinder to keep the Dark Troopers from getting out of cold storage once charged. But there’s one thing Bo-Katan requires, and that’s Moff Gideon surrendering to her. Yeah girl, do your thing—just keep him alive. He’s got lots of info the New Republic might need, ok?
The mission begins and everything is going pretty well so far! The four women are tearing through the stormtroopers and it’s a fist-pumping scene to witness. Credit to Jon Favreau for casting actresses with fight training and also seamlessly allowing them to form an all-female squad without awkwardly signposting it, like that Women of Avengers moment in Avengers: Endgame. I digress!
Mando narrowly gets to the cold storage to prevent the Dark Troopers from escaping, but one pries itself free and it’s hard not to wince at the number of times it straight-up punches the bounty hunter in the face. Luckily, he’s clad in Beskar and can take several hits, but the droid is tough to destroy and he’s used all his firepower except the Beskar spear. Mando plunges the weapon into its neck, then opens the air duct to the cold storage to send all the remaining Dark Troopers flying.
Bo-Katan and the lasses take out the Bridge but, Dank Farrik! Moff Gideon is not there. Where could that slippery skud pie be? HOLDING THE DARK SABER OVER GROGU’S HEAD, THAT’S WHERE. This guy, honestly!!!
Mando finds the Imperial villain in Grogu’s prison cell and tries to bargain with him. Moff can leave with the Dark Saber if he just gives him the kid. Moff tells him, “whoever wields this sword has the right to lay claim to the Mandalorian throne,” but Mando is not interested. He wants his baby back! As he reaches for Grogu, Moff attacks, but as we learned earlier in the episode, Beskar is the only substance the Dark Saber cannot cut through. Mando puts his spear to good use and bests Moff. He delivers the baddie alive and handcuffed to Cara Dune with the saber and Grogu in tow, but Bo-Katan is clearly not happy. Moff begins running his mouth again, laughing at the predicament. The power and influence of the weapon comes from winning it in combat. Mando beat him—he’s now the owner and can lay claim to the throne of Mandalore.
“Why don’t you kill him now and take it?” Gideon scoffs when Mando tries to give the Dark Saber to Bo-Katan. But it’s one Mandalorian tradition that the royal warrior is militant about and she refuses, meaning we can expect another headache over this at some point. But the return of the Dark Troopers, who have jetpacks and can fly through space, interrupts the conversation and forces the crew to deal with this new problem. However, another ship has landed. An X-Wing carrying a hooded Jedi!
Knowing his escape is futile, Moff uses a hidden blaster to try to kill Bo-Katan and Grogu, but she’s wearing Beskar, of course, as is Mando, who jumps in the way to protect The Child and once again proves he’s Dad of the Year. Moff tries to take his own life but Cara’s ready with her rifle to knock him out before he pulls the trigger.
Then they wait, watching the Jedi absolutely devastate every one of the Dark Troopers in their path. The mystery knight uses Force powers to crumple the droids’ innards and a rather recognizable lightsaber to slice his way the door of the Bridge.
Clearly, this is the Jedi who answered Grogu’s call at the Seeing Stone in “Chapter 14: The Tragedy” and the lil’ green man is keen on meeting them. If the green lightsaber wasn’t a giveaway, the black glove certainly is, as we are soon facing the one and only…Luke Skywalker. Yep, a CGI version of Mark Hamill walks in and is ready to take Grogu on his padawan.
But Mando thinks his kid doesn’t want to go. Luke tells him Grogu wants permission which, of course, is given. Mando picks up his foundling, his surrogate son, and removes his helmet so they can look each other in the eye for the first time. Grogu touches his face and Djin closes his eyes. The bond is strong in these two.
Grogu is slightly reluctant to walk towards Luke, but a newly arrived R2D2 captures his interest. Hey, R2D2! They have a little non-verbal chat, then Luke picks the little one up himself. It’s a rather poignant bit of Star Wars symmetry when you consider that Luke’s Master was Yoda and now he will be Master to “Baby Yoda.”
The three depart and Djin Djardin watches with tears in his eyes. He’s done what’s best for the kid, but saying goodbye to the one being he truly loves will be tough to bear. This journey might be over (for now), but there’s a whole lot of drama and intergalactic politics the bounty hunter can no longer sit on the sidelines for. What will happen between Bo-Katan and Mando over the Dark Saber? How next will the Imperialists wreak havoc in the Outer Rim? Are Boba Fett and Fennec starting a new criminal organization after taking out Bib Fortuna in the post-credit scene?
Well, we know that storyline will play out in the series The Book of Boba Fett, while some familiar faces may well turn up in Ahsoka Tano’s own solo serial. For now, we’ll just have to hope Djin’s new friends will continue to offer him moral support, and that Grogu is not still studying under Luke Skywalker when Ben Solo is a student at his academy.
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