The Mandalorian Saved 2020
Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for season two of “The Mandalorian.” If, for whatever reason, you have not watched the series yet, you have been warned.
In what might go down as one of the worst years in living memory due to COVID-19, Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” has provided television junkies and Star Wars fans with a much-needed distraction.
Airing throughout the last months of 2020, the second season of the show was nothing short of astounding. From kicking off on a high note fighting a Krayt Dragon in the premiere, to meeting Bo-Katan, to the appearance of Anakin Skywalker’s old padawan, Ahsoka Tano, and, of course, watching the infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett return to the screen, the series added fantastic stories to Star Wars lore.
For those of you who don’t know, “The Mandalorian” revolves around Din Djarin, a bounty hunter in the New Republic after the fall of the Galactic Empire. Djarin, nicknamed “Mando,” was adopted by a Mandalorian tribe after his parents were killed by Separatist battle droids. Mando is a soft-spoken, yet skilled, fighter. As a rule of his tribe, he never removes his helmet in front of another person. In the first season, Mando is ordered to capture a 50-year-old unknown creature, which he successfully does. It ends up being the adorable Grogu, then known as “The Child,” but more commonly known on the internet as “Baby Yoda.” Grogu is a cutie pie, to say the least, because despite being 50, he looks like a toddler due to his species’ slow aging process. Grogu also has force abilities, but due to his limited training, is not good at controlling it and uses it sparingly. Djarin decides to spare the Child and keeps him as a sidekick until he can find him a suitable home and eventually the two form a close bond with each other.
In episode six of season two, Mando takes Grogu to the planet Tython where the “seeing stone” resides, so that Grogu can make contact with a Jedi and alert them of his presence. After seemingly making contact, Grogu is captured by the villainous Moff Gideon and brought aboard his Imperial Light Cruiser. Moff wants to use Grogu’s blood for some unknown sinister purpose. Mando is upset and rounds up a rescue team consisting of Cara Dune, Bo Katan, Boba Fett and Fennec Shand to rescue Grogu.
The finale starts off with the Djarin’s team capturing the scientist team who experimented on Grogu. One of the bad guys, a former Stormtrooper, begins to mock Cara Dune and the fact that her home planet, Alderaan, got blown up. Dune retorts by angering the pilot, referencing the fact that the Death Star was blown up — twice. The pilot responds, “You think you're funny? Do you know how many millions were killed on those bases?”
I loved this response because it exemplified a common question that The Mandalorian explores: “Was the Empire really so evil?” Time and time again we hear from former Imperial supporters their side of the story and how they didn’t view the empire as an evil entity, but as a necessary authority for keeping law and order. The pilot’s response goes even further and brings up the fact that millions of people died in the destruction of the bases. From the Rebellion’s point of view, the destructions were happy moments, a culmination of years of planning leading to those triumphs. However, the pilot is reminding Dune, and the viewer for that matter, that despite the fact it was a victory for the rebels, millions still died.
As a Star Wars fan growing up, I’ve never really considered the Stormtrooper’s outlook of the conflict. The first time it crossed my mind was in the first of the sequel trilogy, “The Force Awakens.” In the film, one of the protagonists, Finn, is a Stormtrooper deserter who joins the Resistance which fought against the First Order, an autocratic military junta that was formed from the remnants of the Galactic Empire during the New Republic Era. Finn gives the viewer a new perspective from the point-of-view of a Stormtrooper. However, after Finn joins the Resistance, the trilogy doesn’t really explore so much how he feels about fighting against his former comrades. It feels like a no-brainer decision for him since Finn views the First Order as a pure evil that must be stopped. The Mandolorian show gives us a unique flavor that suggests that Stormtroopers are people too. They might not agree with the good guys, but they’re people and they have values as well. They see it as their mission to uphold order and sustain peace. I loved this opening scene, and thankfully it only gets better from there.
The heroes decide to steal Pershing’s ship and use it as bait to board Gideon’s ship. They lightspeed jump to the area where Gideon’s ship is and pretend to be escaping from Boba Fett. Fett puts on a show and fires a melee of lasers that intentionally miss Pershing’s ship, but are convincingly close. The rest of the team, onboard Pershing’s ship, sends a distress signal to Gideon and Gideon sends out a squadron of TIE-Fighters for assistance. The TIE-Fighters come out from the launch tube of the Imperial Cruiser and the heroes cunningly declare that they must land immediately and come in through the launch tube. The heroes then pop out and blast all the Stormtroopers at the launch bay.
This scene reminds me of the one from the 2nd sequel film, “The Last Jedi.” In the opening scene, Poe Dameron “deceives” General Hux by pretending that his transmission unit isn’t working and he can’t hear him. This gives Poe enough time to charge up his ship’s cannons and destroy a ship. The scene was downright silly and made a complete mockery of the Star Wars franchise. Why anyone in their right mind wouldn’t just blow Poe’s ship out of the sky makes no sense as he was literally just standing right in front of the ship and would have easily been destroyed. Besides that, it wasn’t a “brilliant” strategy by Poe, he just made a joke and somehow it worked. In the scene from “Mandalorian,” the heroes pretend to be getting shot at and use that diversion as a means to board the ship. This strategy is smart since Boba Fett is a known bounty hunter, they appeared to be clearly in distress and they were using Pershing’s ship which is an Imperial vessel. Thus the deception makes sense, whereas Poe’s was just a joke; for some reason, the director, Rian Johnson, must have thought it was funny to include. I may have laughed at Hux’s stupidity, but it was not a good scene at all for Star Wars.
After boarding the ship, the episode took a progressive turn to do an all-female scene with Bo-Katan, her assistant, Cara Dune, and Fennec versus the ship’s Stormtroopers. This scene was amazing and the fights were very well done. I would compare this scene to “Avengers: Endgame” which also had an all-female scene. In “Endgame,” I hated that scene as it appeared to be more about the fact that they are females as opposed to the fact that they are cool superheroes. It was way too forced and I think it took away from what the scene could have been. The emphasis that scene made of only having women, to me, made a statement that the females being powerful and able to fight is not the norm, but an exception. However, this episode did the women justice and it was an epic scene. They worked together, showed off some amazing fighting skills, and it was a very believable scene. It was a major triumph in that regard for women in cinema and I hope future filmmakers take note of this scene.
The episode continues with some epic battles between Djarin and a Dark Trooper and later with Moff himself who used the legendary Darksaber. After the capture of Moff, a platoon of Dark Troopers arrives to break free their leader. As all hope seems lost, a familiar X-Wing starfighter arrives on board. The music suddenly changes to a mysterious score and one can’t help but feel that this is no ordinary X-Wing. Moff’s face turns to terror as the Dark Troopers who have nearly opened the door to free him, turn around in unison to face this new foe. The heroes watch the video monitor in the bridge and see a cloaked figure walking through the halls. In the next few shots, we see the figure deflecting blasts, spinning, chopping and using the force to utterly decimate the platoon of Dark Troopers.
At last, the Jedi reaches the door and to the other heroes’ protest, Djarin opens the bridge door and the cloaked Jedi enters. In an epic shot, the Jedi lowers his hood and we see that it is none other than Luke Skywalker, the protagonist from the original trilogy. I’ve never shrieked so loud in my life.
The Mandalorian show made me fall in love with the unlikely duo of a tough, rugged and quiet bounty hunter, Din Djarin, and the adorable Grogu. I watched as Djarin’s tough demeanor slowly evaporated as he fell more in love with Grogu, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with him too. I could not imagine any scenario where I would be satisfied watching the two depart, yet the show not only left me satisfied, but ecstatic.
I read a review of the episode on IMDb and the user commented that “seeing Luke walk into frame was like seeing Jesus.” I am not a Christian whatsoever, but I fully agree with this theoretical comparison. Luke is the one who started it all. We watched him grow from a kid to a confident Jedi master who never stopped believing and was ready to take on any challenge. One Dark Trooper nearly killed Djarin. Luke took out an entire platoon of what looked like at least 50 of these Dark Troopers. He did so without even breaking a sweat. It was a magical moment that fans have been waiting for since “Return of the Jedi” (1983) and it was executed to perfection. Luke was the Jedi Master we had hoped he’d be and everything a Star Wars fan would want to see.
The last scene has Grogu looking at Mando seemingly asking him if he should go with Luke to begin his Jedi training. Mando picks up Grogu and tells him it’ll be alright, he can go. Then Grogu sticks out his little arms and points to his face, gesturing for Mando to remove his helmet. Djarin had never taken off his helmet to anyone, except once in the previous episode and that was in order to save Grogu. There was no life-threatening need for him to take off his helmet, but Djarin’s heart had fallen for the kid so much that he agreed and removed his helmet.
We see Grogu and Djarin looking at each other for the first time eye to eye. Djarin’s eyes are watery and he’s clearly heartbroken knowing that this is the end of their journey. Mando tells him that this isn’t the end and he’ll make sure they see each other again. Luke takes Grogu and begins carrying him away. The music score intensifies to a touching note and everyone in the room’s eyes are in tears. The camera zooms in on Djarin and Grogu’s faces separately as we see them say goodbye for the last time. I’m crying as I type this and I cried like a baby both times I’ve watched the episode. It was such a powerful and emotional scene to see.
This is what we wanted from the sequels. Seeing a confident and posed Luke taking out a hoard of bad guys. The chaos of the galaxy as it struggles to adapt to no longer being oppressed by the Empire. The old Star Wars feel of a mixture of futuristic technologies, like robots, lasers and machinery, with a slumville, western-style atmosphere with gunslingers, gangsters and grotesque creatures.
The finale of Mandolorian was everything a Star Wars fan could want, plus the most beautiful closure to an incredible show. I have never seen a rating so high. The episode literally has at the time of publishing a 9.8 out of 10 rating on IMDb and if you read the user reviews, it’ll take you several hundred reviews to find one less than a 10 out of 10. That’s how good it is.
Personally, I was fortunate enough, by coincidence, to have just rewatched the original “Star Wars: A New Hope” with my fiance. She agreed to watch it on the condition that I make a TikTok — I made it for the sake of Star Wars, okay! Rewatching “A New Hope” reminded me how amazing Luke was, and then when he returned in the Mandalorian, I was overwhelmed with joy.
I can’t stop thinking about the final episode and watching other people’s reactions on YouTube. I’ve been watching Star Wars since I was 4-years old and used to throw Star Wars themed birthday parties with my friends. I’ve been to Disney theme parks so many times and have been on the Star Tours ride at least 40 times. I have an R2-D2 robot in my room, two lightsabers and so much apparel, yet I’ve never felt this much happiness for the franchise until this episode. This episode is probably called “The Rescue” because it “rescues” the Star Wars franchise from the mediocre sequels we’ve had to endure the past decade.
In sum, the episode was an emotional rollercoaster and I give it a 10 out of 10. I probably should be studying for finals, but this episode was too good not to review. For those of you who have read this and did not watch it, shame on you! Go watch it now!
Photo Credit: © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & tm All Rights Reserved.
Photo Caption: The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+.