The Mandalorian and the Child continue their journey through a dangerous galaxy.
The vague synopsis for this episode could not be any further from the truth. "Chapter 16 - The Rescue" was a rollicking adventure from start to finish, full of major plot reveals and enticing character moments.
The first big surprise was the return of Bo-Katan Kryze and Koska Reeves from "The Heiress," finally promising the Mandalorian team-up that the season has been building up to. Boba Fett's heritage caused quite a lot of tension, both in terms of his Mandalorian and Clone status. However, after a brief scuffle, and a quick mention of the Child, the Mandalorians knew it would be best to join forces. With an all-star crew assembled to mount an attack on Moff Gideon, the team embarked on a mission to rescue Grogu.
Following a thrilling space battle with some TIE Fighters, the squad crash-landed their hijacked Imperial Shuttle into the hangar of Gideon's light cruiser. The team split up, leaving Mando to face off against a threatening Dark Trooper. "The Rescue" sought out to demonstrate how terrifying even just one Dark Trooper could truly be, being a formidable force to be reckoned with. While Din came out on top in the end, the Imperial droid's punches certainly left an impact. On his helmet, that is.
After taking out Moff Gideon and retrieving Grogu from his prison, the team was met with another threat. As Dark Troopers approached, a lone X-Wing flew into the ship's hangar bay. We finally have an action sequence on the level of Darth Vader's final scene in Rogue One. But this time, it was headed by a Jedi. The biggest "What the Babu Frik" moment from "Chapter 16" was the return of the legendary Luke Skywalker. The Jedi Knight made quick work of the fearsome droids, saving Mando's crew from a gruesome fate.
This culminated in a touching farewell between Mando and the Child, who finally chose to remove his helmet willingly to get one last look at the youngling with his own eyes. Din Djarin and crew tearfully watched as Luke departed with young Grogu.
If Luke Skywalker wasn't enough, "Chapter 16" kept on giving with a post-credits scene to tease the imminent future of the Star Wars franchise. Returning to Jabba's Palace on Tatooine, Fennec Shand and Boba Fett infiltrated the gaudy, derelict building now overtaken by Bib Fortuna. The Twi'lek appeared to have enjoyed his lavish lifestyle, almost ballooning to the size of Jabba the Hutt himself. His indulgence was short-lived though, literally, as he was swiftly taken out by the galaxy's favorite bounty hunter. As Boba Fett sat on his new throne alongside Fennec, a title card appeared. The Book of Boba Fett will arrive in December 2021.
With such a star-studded line up for this episode's cast, it is incredibly difficult to pick a favorite. Giancarlo Esposito infused the iconic menace from Breaking Bad's Gustavo Fring into Moff Gideon, creating a conniving and cunning performance. Katee Sackhoff gave an excellent portrayal once again, perfectly transitioning Bo-Katan over into live-action. Ming-Na Wen's Fennec Shand also got some time to shine, displaying flashes of Agents of SHIELD's Melinda May through her awesome stuntwork and cool demeanor.
Pedro Pascal deserves massive praise for his portrayal of Din Djarin, being the undeniable MVP of the season. "The Believer" saw what Pascal could do without his helmet, and "The Rescue" continued that trend. The Mandalorian himself has gone through a lot of character progression throughout the second season, and Pascal presented this story perfectly right through to his final tearful goodbye.
Perhaps the most surprising performance was the return of the one and only Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Star Wars fans have been fan casting MCU star Sebastian Stan as a young Luke for years, though Lucasfilm opted to bring back the OG. Luke was definitely progressed a bit since his appearance in Return of the Jedi, appearing more calm, collected, and sure of himself in "The Rescue." Hamill reflected this in his performance, demonstrating that Luke is no longer the learner.
PRODUCTION - CINEMATOGRAPHY, MUSIC, EDITING, ETC.
Ant-Man director Peyton Reed has clearly learned a lot from his work with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with his action in "Chapter 16" being second to none. From Mercedes Varnado flexing her WWE skills against Boba Fett to the exhilarating space chase between the Imperial Shuttle and TIE Fighters, Reed may have directed some of his best work yet. This is not to mention all the other exciting action sequences in the episode.
Fennec Shand, Cara Dune, Koska Reeves, and Bo-Katan all received some stellar action moments during their approach to the bridge, mowing down Stormtrooper after Stormtrooper along the way. Moff Gideon and Din Djarin also had an exciting showdown, with Mando using his Beskar spear from Morgan Elsbeth to hold his own against the Darksaber. Finally, Luke Skywalker had a standout moment against the Dark Troopers, arcing his blade and using the Force to slice and crush his way through the onslaught. Ultimately, Peyton Reed knows action, managing to capture each moment perfectly with every meticulously crafted shot.
Although the visuals were generally top notch throughout "The Rescue," one aspect did feel slightly off. Luke Skywalker's entrance was nothing short of incredible, mirroring a lot of the cinematography from Darth Vader's Rogue One hallway sequence. Once the hood was off though, the television budget started to rear its, err, ugly head. With Mark Hamill back, it is likely that Lucasfilm used the same de-aging techniques seen in The Rise of Skywalker. However, the effect doesn't look nearly as convincing here, unfortunately.
Did Ludwig Goransson just use dubstep for the Dark Troopers' theme? Indeed he did, and it worked out surprisingly well. Goransson's score has been a point of praise throughout his time on The Mandalorian, and "Chapter 16" was no different. The composer's range is staggering, managing to go from the dark and imposing theme of the Dark Troopers to the hopeful and epic melodies that accompanied Luke Skywalker's entrance. We can only hope that Goransson keeps coming back for more.
A LARGER WORLD
As always, The Mandalorian features a multitude of intertextual references to the wider Star Wars universe.
The episode opened with the return of the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle, also known as the Imperial Shuttle from Return of the Jedi. This type of ship was often used to transport individuals of high importance, like Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine during the Galactic Civil War.
The important figure being transported in this shuttle was none of than Dr. Pershing, played by Omid Abtahi. It was alluded to in the first season and "Chapter 13 - The Siege," but "The Rescue" outright confirmed that Pershing is a specialist in cloning. With Gideon claiming to have retrieved some of Grogu's blood, who knows what could be created when throwing clones into the mix.
Bo-Katan Kryze also made reference to Jango Fett's shady past as a Mandalorian. It was originally believed that Jango Fett stole the armor and was therefore not a true Mandalorian. Lucasfilm rewrote its history in "The Tragedy" by confirming that Jango was a Mandalorian foundling from Concord Dawn. Bo-Katan also questioned Boba's own heritage, due to him being a Clone. She even mentioned her time around other Clone Troopers during the Clone Wars, when saying “I’ve heard your voice thousands of times.”
"The Rescue" featured a surprising number of in-universe phrases and sayings.
During their meetup, Boba Fett says to Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves:
Well, if that isn't the Quacta calling the Stifling slimy.
What this means is anyone's guess, but likely refers to all three Mandalorians being just as bad as one another.
Cara Dune mentions that Moff Gideon's Dark Troopers would be "a real skank in the scud pie," which roughly translates to "a big problem."
Dune also lets out a "son of a mudscuffer" when trying to fix her blaster. This phrase calls back to when she mentioned the term "mudscuffer" in "Chapter 7 - The Reckoning." While it is unknown what a mudscuffer is, the translation of the full phrase is likely self-explanatory.
The Dark Troopers are mentioned as being in their "third generation," previously existing as armor for regular troopers. This refers to how the Dark Troopers had three phases in Star Wars Legends.
"The Rescue" saw the return of the Darksaber, the fabled blade that promises its owner the throne to Mandalore. In the episode, it is mentioned that Bo-Katan would need to defeat Din Djarin in order claim the Darksaber and the right to Mandalore. This likely refers to Darth Maul claiming the Darksaber from Pre Vizsla, after beating him in one-on-one combat. This tradition seems to be a new addition in The Mandalorian, as Bo-Katan was quite comfortable taking the blade from Sabine Wren in Star Wars Rebels. It appears that Bo-Katan was beaten quite badly by Moff Gideon likely during the Great Purge, which possibly led to her change in attitude.
In addition to Luke Skywalker, "Chapter 16" saw the return of the famous astromech droid R2-D2. Luke also brought his Red Five X-Wing starfighter along with him, though the S-foils didn't need to be put in attack position this time around.
What was left out of the episode is arguably just as interesting as what was included. Therefore, the question has to be asked: where was Axe Woves? Simon Kassianides was noticeably absent from the cast list, after he was introduced alongside his fellow Mandalorians in "The Heiress." Perhaps the warrior was off on his own adventures, though it is peculiar why he did not make a return this time around.
After 16 episodes of journey across the galaxy, the Mandalorian completed his quest to deliver the Child to the Jedi. The Mandalorian has had its ups and downs, its filler episodes and major reveals, but ultimately the Season 2 finale delivered in providing an action-packed, emotional conclusion. With stellar character moments and plenty of fan service to boot, The Mandalorian has stuck the landing with its final episode this season.
With Din Djarin's quest completed, what comes next? "Chapter 16" ended with somewhat of a finality to Din Djarin and Grogu's story, but we know that a third season is on the way. Will a fateful event force Mando to take care of the Child once again? With Grogu being a marketing cash cow for Disney, the foundling will undoubtedly be featured in some capacity in the next season. Whether this is through seeing his training with Luke Skywalker and other younglings, or back in the hands of Mando remains to be seen.
Will Din accompany Bo-Katan to reclaim and rebuild Mandalore? The Mandalorian princess really wants that Darksaber for herself, so a faceoff between her and Din is more than likely. Will the Mandalorian ever get himself another ship? A new starfighter may be just the thing to fill the Grogu-sized hole in Mando's heart.
The other exciting prospect is the announcement of The Book of Boba Fett, a possible spinoff show set to release in December 2021. A Boba Fett spinoff was heavily rumored in the lead up to Season 2, and its absence from Disney's Investor Day 2020 left many confused with its exclusion. Lucasfilm was clearly just holding out on Star Wars fans though, so it will be exciting to explore Boba Fett and Fennec Shand as they seemingly tackle the criminal underworld of Tatooine.
This is, of course, not quite the end of Season 2's journey, as a behind-the-scenes special of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian will dive deep into the production of the second season. In the meantime, Star Wars fans can revel in all the exciting moments and awesome spectacle of "Chapter 16" and the second season as a whole.