Mandalorian Review: The Rescue

This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian episode “The Rescue”

We’ve come to the end of another season of The Mandalorian with “The Rescue.” What I liked most about this season was how it challenged the experiment of live action Star Wars on television. For years, animation has been the only television Star Wars. But now with Disney Plus, there is a shift to help bring a general audience into this new medium for the franchise. So many new shows are coming that will continue to push this franchise forward.

And it is an experiment of sorts. The movies have always been for a more general audience while deep diving fans consumed animated television, books, and comics. Now, those groups are sharing the same space. While The Mandalorian hasn’t always been a perfect show, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have proven to be a good team to forge this path together into new territory. They both bring their strengths to the table with this series. “The Rescue” is a great example of this partnership.

It is both safe and bold at the exact same time. I don’t mean “safe” as a negative word either! At this time in making Star Wars, there has to be a little bit of a safety net while they pushed the boundaries. Favreau brings in that Marvel Cinematic Universe type of writing making each episode feel like a big blockbuster feature. It has that appeal to bring in the audience who has only seen the movies. Then, Filoni comes in with his animation background and the depths of the lore to balance him. He fine tunes moments with those details giving the show an indie feel at times. It’s such a great mix that is necessary in this transitional period of Star Wars.

To start with the biggest reveal of “The Rescue,” Luke Skywalker answered Grogu’s call. Because of course he did. I know there was a lot of debate if “The Rescue” would bring in Ezra Bridger from Star Wars Rebels, Cal Kestis from Fallen Order, or even super deep cut Quinlan Vos from Clone Wars that’s presumed alive thanks to the Vader comics. But it always had to be Luke in this moment. We’re just starting with Star Wars television. Anyone else would warrant an explanation to the audience and would have taken away from the story being told at this time. Luke was the safest choice, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad choice. It’s what was needed for the story.

It’s also not fan service if it serves purpose to the plot. Not only does his appearance serve purpose to The Mandalorian, but it’s also setting him up for who he is in The Last Jedi. In what will be the most controversial take in this review, I could see them setting up Luke to be an antagonist for The Mandalorian.

Please note that I said “antagonist” and not “villain” because there is a difference between them.

Luke’s downfall in The Last Jedi is repeating the mistakes of the Jedi Order. It’s what led him to lose everything. Here in “The Rescue,” he is returning to one of the original sins of the Jedi which was separating children from their families and taking them into their little cult to raise them. Yes, Grogu had called out to him, but keep in mind that he is a child. He’s doing what all the adults told him to do. Luke separating Grogu from Din, his father, is a big deal. It’s one of the mistakes that led the Jedi to their demise in the Republic era, and it’s one of the repeats by Luke that leads to the destruction of his temple.

Luke also has a little bit a that Jedi hubris which we see in Return of the Jedi, which is a great moment. It’s what makes him think he can take on the Emperor only to get smacked down. It makes him slip a bit into the Dark Side before choosing the Light to save his father. It’s a needed part of his character in those movies.

It’s this hubris where I could see him set up as an antagonist for Din in the future. I certainly don’t think we’ll get Luke as a main character in The Mandalorian. It’s more that I don’t think this is the last of Grogu. Din promised to see his son again which sets up the reunion at some point in the future. At this moment, Grogu does need a teacher. For how long is the question. At some point, Din will realize his son needs to be with him. Grogu still has his Mandalorian necklace and is a foundling. His place is with Din. When we get their reunion, what will Luke do? Will he let the Child go willingly or will his Jedi hubris make him repeat the mistakes of the Order? We’ll have to wait and see, but I would love to watch Din and Luke face off in an act of love, deciding what is best for Grogu.

And wouldn’t it be great if the first time Grogu talks is to declare his own decision? That would be a beautiful moment.

From a fandom sense, Lucasfilm doubling down on The Last Jedi Luke is also super ballsy too. It’s a movie that split the fandom. But it’s also a very Dave Filoni move wrapped up in Jon Favreau’s spectacle. The Clone Wars is the perfect example of how Filoni took the Prequel films, which also were controversial in the fandom, and made a bridge to connect it all together. If anyone could bring together fans to see Luke in The Last Jedi in a new light, it’s Filoni. And Favreau’s giving him the blockbuster writing medium to do it.

Also good for Lucasfilm to give up their cash cow merchandise baby for who knows how long! I know Grogu will be back at some point, but that’s a big old risk on their part.

Luke Skywalker in “The Rescue” is a brilliant move. I had to sit on it for a few days before I really started to jive with this idea. This is one of the strongest moments in the series.

 

To continue on the Filoni train for a moment, Bo-Katan is wonderful in this episode and so expertly played by Katee Sackhoff. Bo-Katan has never been a hero. She has always been a morally grey character who worked with the heroes when it fit her goals. We see that fully realized in “The Rescue.” There are two really great callbacks to her animation journey proving she who she truly is.

In the bar scene with Boba Fett, she flat out spews the same propaganda that Prime Minister Almec, a villain, said about the Fetts in Clone Wars. Remember, Almec and Bo-Katan were allies for a bit there. Bo-Katan showed her Deathwatch roots in that moment making it clear that she still truly believes in her classic Mandalorian ways. I have to question if she even believes in Foundling Mandalorians, which would be interesting to explore now that Din has the Darksaber.

The other animation callback was why she wouldn’t take the Darksaber from Din. It might seem confusing at first, because Bo willingly took it from Sabine Wren in Star Wars Rebels. Gideon gives us the missing piece of the puzzle. He explains that it would make Bo-Katan seem like a false ruler if it wasn’t won in combat. Honestly, that’s probably the explanation about how she lost it in the first place. She probably lost the loyalty of the Mandalorian people for not traditionally wielding the Darksaber how it was meant to be claimed. My speculation is it was taken from her either by another Mando or possibly even Gideon when no one backed her up.

Bo has never been a hero which is something I love about her. It’s going to be really great seeing how she proceeds with Din going forward.

 

Especially now that we get to see who Din Djarin is as a person. Up to this point, his entire identity has been wrapped up around The Way and his quest to get Grogu to his kind. Now, the armor has been stripped away. He stood mask less in a room full of people to say goodbye to his son. Grogu is now with the Jedi. So what does that mean now for Din? With the Darksaber and the rightful claim to lead Mandalore, I bet season three will be solely about him. This show has always been about identity. Now we will get to see what it means to truly be a Mandalorian led by a foundling of all people.

And that goodbye scene between Din and Grogu was so good. Pedro Pascal continues to own this role. When Grogu touches his face and Din closes his eyes, that’s probably the first time he’s been touched by anyone in years. It’s his son and him connecting in that moment. And then as a parent, he had to say goodbye. It was beautiful especially with Ludwig Göransson’s score continuing to rival John Williams and Kevin Kiner.

 

About that post credit sequence, I never thought I would be excited about a Boba Fett show, but here we are. This show has done such a great job giving needed depth to that character while connecting him to previous material. I also want to know more about Fennec. Between The Book of Boba Fett and The Bad Batch, we’re about to live in Ming-Na Wen’s Star Wars time. And I am here for that! I love her!

I will say I am a bit concerned for franchise fatigue. With so many shows announced, three of which are Mandalorian tie ins, it’s going to be another test for Star Wars on television. Will audiences continue to consume all the new content, or will they burn out on everything? I think it could work if they have a show in the spring and another in the fall. Keep them spaced out enough so the audience has downtime for Star Wars. It’s going to be an interesting but risky December next year with possibly multiple shows running at the same time.

 

If I had any real gripes about “The Rescue,” I wish the writing was tighter in places. Those little details did take me out of the story at points. Like Doctor Pershing just vanishes from the episode. They get what they needed, and he’s just not there anymore. Did they kill him? Is he floating in space somewhere? Is he with Boba? We don’t know! A little flash of an image of him sitting behind Boba or in binders on the Slave I after Boba leaves was all that’s needed there.

And while I do praise the Luke Skywalker scene in “The Rescue,” it’s missing a few bits of dialogue to clean it up. Luke never introduces himself to the group. We as the audience know who Luke Skywalker is. No one in that room does. Din Djarin hands his child over to a stranger, no questions asked, because this dude has a lightsaber and beat up some Dark Troopers. At least ask for his name, Din! I know you’re a darling himbo, but you don’t just give your kid to some random man. They could have had Luke introduce himself, and Bo-Katan could say, “Oh! Ahsoka used to talk about a man named Skywalker.” Din knows Ahsoka, so that would at least give him some piece of information with someone he’s familiar with.

Also if that had been anyone other than Luke Skywalker in the room, we as the audience would question them. We would want to know if we could trust this person with Grogu. Even if it was Ezra Bridger, the general audience viewers who hadn’t seen Star Wars Rebels would have been confused. What ends up happening is Din, to me, looks a bit naïve trusting whoever happens to show up with a lightsaber. That little bit of character clarity would have been nice, because it did take me out of the episode for the moment.

 

But I’m absolutely nitpicking here. “The Rescue” was a solid finale for season two. I’m interested to see how season three will shape up. Grogu is gone. Din has the Darksaber. There are three spin off shows coming. Will we get a time jump twenty years in the future when Luke’s Temple falls? There’s a lot of possibilities to play with here. I can’t wait to see what The Mandalorian does next.

Now bring on The Bad Batch!

 

Read my past Mandalorian reviews here!

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