Review: Chapter 16 (Season 2 Episode 8) of “The Mandalorian”

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Ever since Boba Fett’s return in Chapter 14, and continuation in Chapter 15, the show has maintained a momentum of excitement, suspense and entertainment. It has been a long time since I’ve watched a show and constantly been dying to know what happens next. Chapter 16, called “The Rescue,” follows this through to the finish line and gives us a season finale that I think will be remembered for a very long time.

After the usual recap, we are immediately thrust into the thick of the action. Slave I is pursuing an Imperial shuttle through space. After pinning it down with blaster fire, Boba Fett activates the ion cannons and launches a direct hit. As demonstrated in DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront II, as well as much material beforehand in both Canon and Legends, the ion cannon is one of Slave I’s most useful weapons. It doesn’t do much damage but instead disables the electronic systems of a ship for a short time. As you can imagine, this comes in very useful when capturing bounties who are wanted alive in space, or disabling any hostile unit.

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Boba Fett tells the Imperial crew to deactivate all of their ship’s gear and prepare for boarding. I love the shot where the Imperials see the Slave I passing over the Imperial shuttle’s view port, like a shark rising from the depths of the ocean. It is very “in your face” and menacing. The Mandalorian and Cara Dune board the shuttle, and one of the Imps takes Dr. Pershing hostage while shooting his own colleague. He confirms what some of us have suspected ever since seeing Dr. Pershing’s shoulder patch, the symbol that matches those worn by clone cadets on Kamino: he is a clone engineer. He also taunts Cara Dune, noting that her Rebel tear tattoo is of someone who mourns the destruction of Alderaan. He says he is on the first Death Star when that planet is destroyed, and that blowing up Alderaan was a small price to pay for ridding the galaxy of terrorism. What a simpleminded and ignorant stance. Imagine thinking that an entire planet consists of only people who are terrorists? Furthermore, call me crazy, but provoking someone who has a blaster drawn on you seems like a terrible idea. This assessment turns out to be true as Cara silences him with a blaster bolt.

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With the preliminaries out of the way, we follow Slave I as it enters a planet’s orbit. This planet has large factories looming in the background: I suppose it is both industrial and backwater. Slave I docks next to a vessel that makes me catch my breath: a Mandalorian Gauntlet fighter. These are Mandalorian starfighters first seen the The Clone Wars. This one is the larger version; the smaller one is essentially identical in everything but size. The body of this vessel is smaller than Slave I, but the wings are longer.

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What follows is one of my favorite sequences in the episode, although I have mixed feelings about how it plays out. Mando and Boba Fett both enter the cantina they landed at. Mando’s efforts to protect Boba’s armor in the earlier episodes have paid off greatly. Boba Fett has proven to be a valuable ally to Din Djarin, and the two of them make a dream team duo. I absolutely love this and hope to see more collaboration between them. I cannot stress enough how awesome the shot is of the two of them scoping out the area. They spot Bo-Katan and her fellow Mandalorian Koska Reeves, who we met in Chapter 11. Mando immediately asks for her help. Bo-Katan replies that “not all Mandalorians are bounty hunters. Some of us serve a higher purpose.” This quote was interesting because I am not entirely sure if that was a shot at Boba Fett or the Mandalorian. Also, she once committed unforgivable war crimes serving under Pre Vizsla and Death Watch. So she should hardly be someone who takes the “moral high ground” and I would be more than happy to elaborate on that. After all, I’m going to use her history to address the juicier parts of this interesting conversation.

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Mando informs her that Moff Gideon took the Child, hoping to pique Bo-Katan’s interest. But instead, she dismisses this information and says that Mando will never find the Moff. Boba Fett turns to Mando and says “We don’t need these two. Let’s get outta here.” I love the supreme, self-reassured confidence with which Boba says this. He is the type of individual who faces the challenge with or without help. This seems to get under Bo-Katan’s skin because she tells Boba Fett “You are not a Mandalorian.”

“Never said I was,” he coolly replies. I thought this was a strong comeback, but at the same time I was slightly taken aback. Does this settle once and for all that Boba Fett is indeed NOT Mandalorian? What about the chain code concerning Jango Fett and Jaster Mereel only a couple of episodes ago? I will go into further detail as I always do in my episode summary. Koska Reeves interjects, dismissing Boba Fett as a “sidekick.” Boba Fett chuckles, and they get in each other’s faces as the tension rises. He replies with the Star Wars equivalent of the pot calling the kettle black (“Well, if that isn’t the Quacta calling the Stifling slimy”).

Before anything happens, Bo-Katan asks them to take it easy. Mando tells her that he has Moff Gideon’s coordinates, and this certainly draws her attention. To sell her on the idea of collaborating, Mando offers the Moff’s cruiser to Bo-Katan so that she can retake Mandalore. I suppose Boba Fett and Mando did not talk about these details prior, because this provokes a response from Boba. “You gotta be kidding me. Mandalore? The Empire turned that planet to glass.” I imagine Bo-Katan is not a big Boba Fett fan at this point, because she calls him a disgrace to his armor. Boba simply tells her that his armor belonged to his father.

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“Don’t you mean your donor?” So Bo-Katan is aware that Boba Fett is a clone. But is she aware that the clone troopers came from Jango Fett, who was indeed an actual Mandalorian? Or does she merely recognize the voice? In any case, her line seemed like an attempt to cheapen or disrespect the relationship between Boba and Jango. It seems Boba was thinking the same thing, because he tells her “Careful, princess” and Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves stand up to face him.

“You are a clone,” Bo-Katan continues. “I’ve heard your voice thousands of times.” For all my attempts at being witty and quick on my feet, I don’t think I ever would have come up with the excellent comeback that Boba Fett counters this with: “Mine might be the last one you hear.” It was a line that not only turned her insult on itself, but also defended Boba’s individuality while threatening her all at the same time. This will go down as one of my favorite Boba Fett lines, no question.

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At this point Koska has had enough of our charming friend Boba and took a swing at him. Boba catches her and throws her hard into a table, breaking it. He then whipcords her gauntlet, to prevent her launching any weapons from it. Koska uses the cord to pull Boba toward her and lands her knee into his gut. This presents an opening where she puts his head in a guillotine (basically tucks it in the crook of her arm) and uses her jetpack to turn him and flip him over. They then activate their flamethrowers at once, causing the flames to collide with one another. Bo-Katan stops the fight, saying that if they had half that spine that Mandalore would’ve never been lost. She also agrees to work with Mando and his team. Mando will keep the Child, while Bo-Katan secures both Moff Gideon’s cruiser and the Darksaber. She explains to Mando that it belonged to her, and that it can cut through virtually anything except pure beskar.

With everyone in agreement, they make their game plan aboard the Slave I. Dr. Pershing informs them of the Dark Troopers. They are droids difficult to destroy, but they take a couple of minutes to initially power up. This presents a window of opportunity. They are going to use the Imperial shuttle to fake being pursued by Boba Fett in Slave I. This will cause the Imperials to “rescue” the shuttle and let them into the cruiser. Bo-Katan, Fennec Shand, Cara Dune, and Koska Reeves will act as an initial strike team and distract the bulk of Gideon’s forces. Meanwhile, Din Djarin can seal off the holding bay of the Dark Troopers and rescue the Child, since the holding bay is on the way to the brig where Grogu is being held. Afterward, they will rendezvous at the bridge of the cruiser.

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Slave I and the shuttle travel through hyperspace. I absolutely LOVE this shot. It makes me wonder how many times the Slave I has navigated hyperspace like this, either to or from a successful hunt. They exit hyperspace and immediately put on their charade, with Slave I firing at the shuttle. Gideon orders TIE fighters deployed. This causes a problem because their launch tube is the same entrance that the shuttle is trying to enter through. The team maintains their charade, causing the TIEs to stop deploying and letting them slip into the cruiser. Meanwhile, Slave I easily slays the pursing TIEs by rotating its cannons backwards and blasting them in a corkscrew maneuver. This allows Boba to slip into hyperspace. Although this was an awesome display, I was dismayed to see Boba leave and I was hoping he would return later. I wanted him to take part in the rescue mission and fight side by side with Mando.

The all-star female rescue team easily clears the initial wave of stormtroopers in an impressive assault of blaster fire, causing Moff Gideon to begin activating the Dark Troopers. As the team continues ambushing stormtroopers, Mando makes his way towards the Child. He crosses paths with the Dark Troopers right as they are about to exit their room. He tries to seal off the door, but one Trooper is able to force its way out and brutally punch Mando into a wall. Mando tries shooting it, but to no avail; the Dark Trooper armor is of high quality. The Trooper begins punching Mando’s head into the wall, causing the wall to leak. Meanwhile, the other Troopers are repeatedly hitting the door in order to break in on the action. I was squirming in my seat in frustration watching all this, because I wanted to see something intervene and it was difficult watching Mando be pummeled. He tries to burn the Trooper but this also fails. At this point it occurs to me that the only weapon he has that can harm the Troopers is the Beskar spear. The Whistling Birds also fail but this lets Mando reach for his spear, and he is able to use it to behead the Dark Trooper. He then opens the other side of the Dark Trooper bay, sending them into the vacuum of space. But this is only a temporary solution…

The rest of the team finally reaches the bridge, but Gideon is missing. We find out quickly where he is, when Mando enters the prisoner brig: Gideon is with Grogu, holding him hostage with the Darksaber. The two of them negotiate, with Gideon informing Mando that whoever rightfully claims the Darksaber has the right to the Mandalorian throne. Mando is not interested and only wants the Child, so Gideon fakes a truce where he “surrenders” Grogu and in exchange him and Mando are to never cross paths again. Gideon says he only wanted to study the Child’s blood because it has the potential to “bring order back to the galaxy.” Maybe one day we’ll see what he means by that, but in the meantime Gideon fakes surrender and Mando goes for the Child. Predictably, Gideon turns on him and begins landing blows with the Darksaber. As we saw in Mando’s brief fight with Ahsoka earlier, the Beskar armor easily defends against the saber and Mando is able to pull his spear. We finally see the two of these characters go face to face. Gideon is, impressively, a pretty solid duelist and is able to hold his own against Mando. However, eventually he is disarmed and defeated by Mando, and Gideon is surprised that Mando chooses to spare his life. This is a bit too convenient…before I continue, I wanted to take note of a funny parallel. Pedro Pascal, the actor for Mandalorian, also played Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper in Game of Thrones. This character used a spear, just as Mando is using a spear here as well. Same person, same weapon, but different universe.

Mando brings Grogu and Gideon to the bridge, where the rest of the team is waiting. Bo-Katan is shocked to see Mando holding the Darksaber. “Why don’t you kill him now, and take it?” Gideon asks her. He tells Mando that the Darksaber now belongs to him. Mando tries to give it to Bo-Katan, but Gideon says it must be won in battle. Mando tries to “yield” and again hand it over, but Bo-Katan is too honorable to simply accept the blade illegitimately like this. Before this can be resolved, the cruiser’s alarms go off. The Dark Troopers have returned. There are enough of them to slay the rescue team through numbers and brute force alone, especially since they are all pinned down in the bridge with no exit. Things get very tense as the Troopers reach the hallway outside the bridge, and the team prepares to make a last stand against them. Just as the Troopers are about to break in…an alarm goes off. A lone X-Wing has approached the cruiser. I immediately had a notion as to who this was, but I didn’t want to jump the gun.

Ominous music plays as the Dark Troopers suddenly cease their assault, and turn to face something else. On the bridge camera, we can see a hooded figure approaching. This absolutely has to be LUKE SKYWALKER, himself. It simply cannot be anyone else. I am stunned because I know we are about witness something unforgettable.

This is correct, because what follows could perhaps be best described as the light side version of Darth Vader’s Rogue One hallway scene. A green lightsaber cuts easily through the Dark Troopers and their blaster fire. The scene in Rogue One showed Vader, essentially a machine, cutting down the Rebel Troopers, or men. Here, we see a man, Luke Skywalker, cutting down machines, warriors without heart or soul. It is truly a beautiful parallel. It is difficult to do this sequence justice through typed words alone, but I’m trying. Just like the Boba Fett sequence on Tython, this scene shows what Luke Skywalker fans have always imagined he could do at his full potential. He uses the Force and lightsaber strikes to gracefully, yet swiftly inflict much deserved retribution upon the merciless Dark Troopers. Luke has not been this phenomenal ever since Return of the Jedi, so it is truly meaningful and exciting to watch all of this unfold. Luke was taught by Yoda that a Jedi only uses the Force to defend, “never for attack.” But Luke knows that he can be ferocious and decisive when defending those in need, hence why the Dark Troopers get utterly wrecked here.

Seeing the trump card of his plan fail is too much for Gideon. He pulls a hidden blaster and opens fire on Bo-Katan, then tries to coldly murder the Child. Din Djarin dives in front of Grogu to take the shots for him. Gideon then tries to shoot himself but is stopped by Cara Dune and knocked out.

Luke finally reaches the final hallway. He is clearly the Jedi that Grogu was able to call upon the stone on Tython, because he reaches out to Luke’s image on the camera. In a final amazing shot, Luke cuts down the remaining Troopers and uses the Force to crush what remains on them. Again, it is beautiful to not only see the original protagonist of Star Wars once again in his prime, like a time capsule, but to also come to the aid of perhaps the biggest recent Star Wars character, the beloved child Grogu. This is probably going to become my favorite Luke Skywalker scene, or at least a close second to Luke’s final scene with Vader. It is also touchingly ironic that Luke has come to save a young member of Yoda’s race, using Yoda’s teachings to come to Grogu’s aid. It is like coming full circle. When Luke left Yoda he was but a learner, but now rescuing a “younger Yoda,” Luke is the master.

When he reaches the bridge, Luke removes his hood and confirms what we all knew: that it was indeed him. The protagonist of the Mandalorian meets the protagonist of the Original Trilogy… WOW. Luke pledges his life to protect Grogu, but says that Grogu won’t be safe until he masters his abilities. Grogu is hesitant to leave Mando; he wants Din’s permission to leave, according to Luke. Din tells Grogu that he can go with Luke, but promises that he will see him again. He removes his helmet to show his face to Grogu. It appears that Mando has reconsidered his zealous roots, and no longer cares to remain masked forever. I also thought it was a very strong show of integrity. He cares more about the Child than the does about a misguided, impractical creed. In the previous episode, it crushed me how vulnerable he was spiritually without his helmet, but I was very touched by the integrity and commitment that was displayed by him crossing any line to reach Grogu. Grogu touches Din Djarin’s real face with his adorable, green little hand for the first time.

R2-D2 rolls in, adding more emotional weight to the scene. He was the sole companion Luke had when Luke sought out Yoda on Dagobah, so it is fitting that he is here to receive Grogu alongside Luke. Grogu beckons for Luke to pick him up. He does, and Luke departs from the group, telling Mando “May the Force be with you.” The final shot is the group looking on as Luke, R2, and Grogu board the elevator…and depart.

A beautiful note to end on, but for once, there is actually a post credit scene. We see the twin suns of Tatooine, and Jabba’s Palace. It appears Bib Fortuna, Jabba’s majordomo, has taken over ever since Jabba’s death. Fennec Shand goes down the entrance steps and blasts away the few henchmen that Fortuna has. She frees the Twi’lek slave that was chained next to the throne. Fennec is followed in by Boba Fett, the classic spurs ringing as he steps into the last place he operated before his fall into the Sarlacc Pit. Fortuna is surprised to see him, and pretends to be glad of his return. Boba doesn’t buy this, or doesn’t care, and simply shoots him. He throws Fortuna’s body and sits on the throne, as Fennec swigs a glowing blue drink. What is Boba Fett’s plan and intention with doing this? We will find out in December 2021… “The Book of Boba Fett.”

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Overall, this was a phenomenal season finale. I expressed much of my thoughts and feelings above, but I’ll wrap up any loose ends and conclude here.

Concerning the initial conversation between Boba Fett and Bo-Katan: I gotta admit, I thought much of her words against Boba Fett were laughably hypocritical. Take, for example, saying that he was a disgrace to his armor. In her first appearance in Clone Wars, she helped Pre Vizsla murder innocents and burn down a village. This is a despicable action, yet BOBA FETT is the one who is a disgrace to his armor? Give me a break. Boba Fett upheld Jango Fett’s legacy far better than the Mandalorians upheld theirs, so I’ll let that fact speak for itself. Also, whether Boba Fett is officially a Mandalorian or not, he is still a great warrior nonetheless.

I was disappointed that Boba did not join in on the rescue mission, but everyone involved displayed great skill and bravery. It also might have been somewhat awkward if Boba had been there when Luke showed up. So in the end it seems everything played out the way it was meant to.

There is now an issue between Mando and Bo-Katan concerning the Darksaber. The weapon was originally a family heirloom of House Vizsla. It was created by Tarre Vizsla, and wielded by Pre Vizsla in The Clone Wars. When it was in his possession, it did not have any political power. Pre Vizsla was merely the leader of Death Watch, a faction of Mandalorians who did not represent the Mandalorian people as a whole. The only other formal leader was the Duchess Satine Kryze, who was Bo-Katan Kryze’s older sister. This narrative of the Darksaber being the weapon to unite Mandalorian clans stemmed from the fact that Darth Maul wielded it after he took over both Death Watch and Mandalore as a whole, and was elaborated on by Tarre Vizsla’s story in Star Wars Rebels. All of this is important because I am explaining why Bo-Katan cannot simply take the blade from Mando. In Star Wars Rebels, Sabine Wren gave Bo-Katan the Darksaber after stealing it from Darth Maul on Dathomir. In other words, neither Sabine nor Bo-Katan had a “rightful claim” to the blade; neither one defeated Maul in combat. Thus, Bo-Katan became the Mandalorian leader, but I’m sure this fact about the Darksaber bothered her in the back of her mind. Furthermore, she lost control of both Mandalore and the Darksaber during the Empire’s conducting of a “Purge” and the “Night of a Thousand Tears.” I really don’t think Moff Gideon took the Darksaber from Bo-Katan in a duel. He is a decent fighter but I don’t see him defeating her. But regardless, Bo-Katan now has to win the blade legitimately because she wants to make amends for her “past failures” and prove that she is a worthy leader of Mandalore. Simply taking the weapon from Mando would not satisfy this requirement. This will surely be a key plot point in Season 3 of The Mandalorian.

The concluding intervention by Luke Skywalker was truly a sight to behold. Bringing back a classic character like him was a bold move but it certainly paid off and I’m sure it overwhelmed everyone emotionally. Luke having his own version of a hallway fight scene and doing so in his classic prime will keep him alive in the hearts and minds of fans even more so than he already was. I also find it moving to see the character’s integrity weaponized in such a tangible way. There is not an ounce of hate in him when he is cutting down the Dark Troopers. Instead, he is simply being the hero he was always meant to be. His display with his classic green lightsaber and Force abilities is the light side at its finest.

I was saddened to see Mando and Grogu part ways for now. Their bond is perhaps what has been most meaningful about this show. Although I have no doubt that Luke would take excellent of Grogu and his training, I can’t help but wonder what would be the long-term plan. We know from the sequel trilogy (which I mostly despise, but that’s a different story entirely) that Luke’s Jedi Order is ultimately a failure. I really don’t see Disney doing something as crazy or stupid as letting Grogu fall prey to Kylo Ren. Grogu will instead be rescued by circumstance, sort of how Ahsoka Tano was spared from Order 66 in the finale of The Clone Wars. My long-term hope for Grogu is that he would reemerge after the events of the sequel trilogy, and perhaps help Rey pass on the Skywalker legacy.

Lastly, the post credits scene with Boba Fett. I thought the execution was cool, but the implication was weird to me. I don’t see why Boba Fett would now want to be a crime lord. In the Expanded Universe/ Legends, he still operated as a bounty hunter and eventually became Mandalore. In other words, to me Boba Fett seems too much of a warrior to simply sit back and let others dive into the action. He is also not a straight criminal like Jabba, instead taking many legitimate contracts from the formal ruling power like the Empire. I will try to have faith and be open-minded, but I truly hope that Boba Fett still operates as a bounty hunter first and foremost.

The Mandalorian Season 2 has brought Star Wars back to its roots of down to Earth, heartfelt storytelling mixed with captivating action, along with bringing back classic fan favorite characters and giving them their due in live-action. It has something for everyone, whether it be new fans brought on board by Din Djarin, semi-seasoned fans who grew up with Ahsoka, or even past fans who idolized Luke Skywalker and Boba Fett. I was not a big fan of Din Djarin in Season 1, but he somewhat grew on me this season. I respect the character’s integrity, his bond with Grogu, and the fact that he is essentially a “light side Boba Fett,” and this of course strikes a cord with me since Boba Fett and Jango Fett are my favorite characters. I look forward to both Mandalorian Season 3 and Book of Boba Fett, which I assume are two different projects. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll rack up the occasional win with Mando in Fortnite and unlock his Beskar version in Galaxy of Heroes. What else can I do to pass the time and maintain the hype? Let me know in the comments. Until then, I give full marks to The Rescue and season finale. This is absolutely the “way” you do Star Wars.

Rating

5 / 5 1

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