Mando finale .jpg

The ultimate battle awaits between Moff Gideon and Mando in this final chapter. 

Beware of major spoilers ahead.

What a way to close out a season. 

“Chapter 16: The Rescue” was equally exciting, nerve-wracking and heartbreaking. Needless to say, I was on the edge of my seat for the entire 45-minute episode. 

The chapter begins with Slave I in pursuit of an Imperial Lambda shuttle with Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) as its passenger. Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) expertly hits it with an ion cannon, disabling the ship. Mando (Pedro Pascal) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano) board the shuttle to take Dr. Pershing and get details on how to infiltrate Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) light cruiser.

I loved seeing action from the get-go because I knew this was going to be a legendary episode. Even the theme song introducing the title card was on a grander scale, portraying that this would be an awesome finale for season 2.

Slave I flies to an unidentified planet where Mando and Boba find Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Koska Reeves (Sasha Banks) to ask for their help. Per usual, Mando makes a deal: if the two warriors help him rescue Grogu, then Bo-Katan can take Gideon’s ship and the Darksaber, so she can reclaim the throne on Mandalore.

The crew gets together on the Lambda and devises a plan with Pershing’s insider information. Bo-Katan and Koska pilot the Lambda and pretend to be in distress as Boba flies behind and shoots at them in Slave I. They crash the Lambda into the hangar while Boba flies away into hyperspace. As Stormtroopers prepare to check on the shuttle, Bo-Katan, Koska, Cara and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) come out blasting everything and everyone in sight to divert Gideon’s resources and attention.

Meanwhile, Mando makes his way to the Dark Trooper droids’ storage bay to keep them from coming after his allies. Unfortunately, not all goes as planned; all of the Dark Troopers were able to charge up, and one got out before Mando could shut them out of the main ship. The Dark Trooper poses a challenge and beats up Mando a bit, but he stabs the droid with his beskar staff, defeating it. Mando opens the blast door, and all of the Dark Troopers are sucked into the vacuum of space, then he collects himself to find Grogu.

When Bo-Katan, Koska, Cara and Fennec reach the bridge, they’re surprised and terrified to find that Gideon is gone. That’s because he’s in the brig, where Mando finds the villain holding the Darksaber over poor Grogu’s head. Gideon says he’ll let Mando take Grogu and go as long as they never cross paths again. 

The offer seems fair enough, but it could never be that easy. Gideon strikes Mando from behind, and the two fight each other in the hallway, the Darksaber clashing against Mando’s beskar staff and suit. The battle is epic and fun to watch, but at the same time, it feels fairly quick. After a season-long buildup, Mando defeated Gideon — while sparing his life — and takes the Darksaber in just a few minutes. Nevertheless, the remainder of the episode still has plenty of action.

Mando cuffs Gideon and grabs Grogu to meet his allies on the bridge, but there’s a problem. Because Gideon was bested in combat by Mando, the hunter has the rightful claim to the Darksaber and Mandalore, not Bo-Katan. Before they can sort out this conflict, the Dark Troopers, who Mando supposedly eliminated, fly back to the ship and make their way to attack the bridge.

The droids put all their might into breaking down the blast door until they suddenly stop. An X-wing fighter — a New Republic ship — boards the light cruiser, and the pilot unleashes a green lightsaber on the platoon of Dark Troopers. Grogu senses this Jedi through the Force and watches the camera feed as the Jedi slashes through all of the droids. They reach the bridge, and Mando opens the doors for them to enter as Luke Skywalker, portrayed by a digitally de-aged Mark Hamill, reveals himself.

What an entrance. Luke explains he’s there for the Child, who doesn’t want to leave without Mando’s permission. Mando picks up Grogu and tells him he’ll be okay with Luke; he has strong Force skills, but he needs to be trained to master his abilities. 

Grogu puts his hand up to Mando, who removes his helmet, so the Child can see his father’s face for the first time. Grogu rests his hand on Mando’s cheek, and one can see the slight quiver of his lip as he closes his eyes and takes in the moment with the Child.

This scene is a poignant performance by Pascal. Though I was excited to see Luke, I was heartbroken, just as Mando was, that he had to say goodbye to Grogu. I’ve become invested in their relationship, and that’s because of the phenomenal storytelling work of “The Mandalorian.”

After the credits roll, viewers are treated to an additional scene on Tatooine. Fennec and Boba make their way to the palace of crime lord Bib Fortuna (Matthew Wood), who Boba promptly kills. The pair of assassins sit on Fortuna’s throne before the screen flashes to a tease of “The Book of Boba Fett,” a spinoff series coming December 2021. 

Creator Jon Favreau confirmed “The Mandalorian” would return soon afterward on “Good Morning America.” I wouldn’t be surprised if season 3 follows Mando and Bo-Katan duking it out to rule Mandalore. Regardless, fans will be excited to watch new stories — though I’m not-so-secretly hoping for a reunion between Mando and Grogu.

Overall, I’m thoroughly impressed with season 2 of “The Mandalorian.” It’s a step up from the already fantastic season 1 and continued to blow me away each week in every aspect. With “The Book of Boba Fett” and additional spinoffs “Ahsoka” and “Rangers of the New Republic” down the pipeline, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for “The Mandalorian.”

Contact Michael Russo at russomw@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.