I love Star Wars….
Shocking, right? I know it’s obvious. But every now and then something comes along. Something so special, something so beautiful, that when it hits you in your Star Wars ever-loving heart, you feel the need to profess your love for it….
This episode of The Mandalorian did that.
From returning director Peyton Reed, he graced us with one of the most beautiful pieces of Star Wars media that I have ever seen. This episode was an all timer, and everyone in front and behind the camera deserves to be commended. Because this was Star Wars at its best!
THE RETURN OF THE JEDI
I’m not gonna waste time explaining the plot of this episode. You already know what happened. There’s no sense in burying the lead. Because we all just witnessed the return of…
This was rumored. This was speculated. This is something fans have been wanting for a long time. But deep down no one ever thought it would happen…. Silly us. This is The Mandalorian. And this is where dreams come true.
Flying in by X-Wing, fans witnessed the triumphant return of Luke Skywalker. A Luke Skywalker we haven’t seen in a long time. Dawning the classic Return of the Jedi robe, we got to see the Luke of old. And it was glorious.
Judging by the reaction of fans across the world. With many crying tears of joy, this was a moment of rejoice for the fandom at large. And to make it even better, portraying the Luke of old, was none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill!
There’s a lot that goes into Luke Skywalker’s return and what it means for the future of this show, but I don’t want that to distract from what was already a great episode in itself.
TEARS OF ALDERAAN
Piggybacking off of last episode, they continue to blur the lines between the Imperials and the Rebels. Boarding a Lambda class shuttle, Mando and Cara come face to face with two Imperials escorting Imperial clone scientist, Dr. Pershing. Holding Dr. Pershing at gun point, the Imperial attempts to manipulate Cara, referencing her destroyed home planet of Alderaan. He accuses the Rebels of being terrorist, recalling the thousands of lives that were lost on both Death Stars. He continues to dig deeper into the guilt and sadness that Cara is already feeling until she can no longer stand to listen, and decides to blast him in his head.
This moment was pure perfection. It set the tone for the rest of the episode, and showcased the importance of this mission.
Gina Carano sold this scene so well. When the Imperial accuses the Rebels of being terrorists, you can see the conviction in her eyes. The look she gave told a thousand stories. You could tell that she has a history of doing the dirty work of the Rebellion that most soldiers wouldn’t do. And it’s evident when she finally decides to blast him right in the face. She gave one warning and capitalized on her promise. It was so cold blooded and raw, even Mando was surprised. The anguish in her face was palpable, and I can only hope to uncover more of her past. And with Rangers of the New Republic, I hope Cara is a part of it so we can delve further into her character.
There’s gonna be a lot of talk on Luke’s appearance in this episode. Obviously most are gonna love it, and say it “fixed” The Last Jedi. And some are gonna hate it, calling it “fan service” and say it “ruined” The Last Jedi. And to put it briefly, both of those people are wrong.
As a fan of what they did with Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi, I loved how he was used in The Mandalorian. Not only does it make logical sense in universe, but it gave Mark Hamill a chance to play his era of Luke Skywalker one last time. Which is why I think they opted for the CGI face model instead of recasting with Sebastian Stan. Though the CGI wasn’t perfect, it’s nice to know Mark Hamill got the send off he wanted.
And although I enjoy Luke in the sequels, there’s no denying the missed potential. Luke’s arc in TLJ is beautiful, but we don’t get to see much of him after he returns to his optimistic self. I’ve always contended that people would’ve enjoyed Luke’s depiction in TLJ much more if he didn’t die at the end and went back to his former self. Unfortunately he didn’t. But this cameo was a way to showcase more of that Luke we’ve all know and love. And it also allowed us to see Luke’s evolved force powers and combat with modern technology that the 80’s simply couldn’t pull off. I was delighted. And I can only imagine how Mark Hamill felt.
And again I know there will be a section of fans that will use this moment to fit whatever narrative they want to spin. But for me, it has no bearing on anything. It stands on its own as being a quintessential Luke Skywalker moment. In The Last Jedi, Luke went on an arc of self doubt and faithlessness, only to come out the other side, optimistic and hopeful, after saving the galaxy one last time. His appearance in The Mandalorian doesn’t undo anything, nor should it. It just adds more Luke Skywalker greatness to the overall mythology. And I don’t know how anyone can object to that. Both eras of Luke exist and are in tact. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I know you cried at this part. You can lie all you want, but I know for a fact you shed a tear at the very least. This was the moment we all saw coming, but didn’t want to accept. After seeing Luke go full Jedi badass, the script flipped and then we we’re forced to say goodbye to our favorite little Jedi in training.
The moment was beautiful. From the heartwarming score to Mando taking off his helmet (akin to Vader in Return of the Jedi). Pedro Pascals acting was subtle, but impactful. Whenever Mando decides to take his helmet off, you want it to mean something. And this definitely did.. From that small smirk he gives, to that moment he closes his eyes when he feels Grogu’s touch on his face. Man, I think I’m tearing up right now! It was so captivating, my eyes were glued to the screen! Then as Mando puts Grogu down to let him go, who appears than none other than everyone’s favorite astromech, R2D2!
Further adding to the numerous tears already shed, we see a nod from Luke and Mando that speaks a thousand words. A nod of acceptance, reassurance, and faith. And then he’s gone….
BRILLIANCE OF THIS FINALE
I love this finale.
Many are gonna accuse this episode of fan service. And that’s fine. But I’ve never bought into the idea that fan service was bad. I think that’s a narrowminded way at looking at things. Whether you subvert expectations or not, it all lies in the execution and if it makes logical sense. And as far as this episode is concerned, everything tracks. Storytellers shouldn’t go out of their way to avoid giving fans what they want just because they might expect it, it’s okay to lean into fan satisfaction, but just do it in moderation and make sure story and characters are at the forefront. With The Mandalorian, we can talk about the fan service all day, but when you take a step back, the heart of the show is the characters and their relationships. And that’s what makes The Mandalorian great!
The reason this finale works is because in giving the fans what they want, it neglects the characters of their wants. And that’s a sign of good storytelling. Mando didn’t get to keep the kid, Bo Katan didn’t get the darksaber, and Grogu didn’t get to stay with Mando, and Moff Gideon got captured. The only character that kind of got what they needed was Moff Gideon because he got Grogus blood sample.
So when you look ahead, there’s a lot of things that need to be resolved. Mando needs to figure out how to move on without Grogu and find his true purpose. Bo Katan needs to reconcile her convictions and whether she’ll be worthy of the darksaber. Gorgu needs to confront his fears and train. And Moff Gideon needs to carry out his plans for the blood of Grogu while confronting his defeat. That’s what makes this finale so great is that it doesn’t give the characters their wants, but instead it positions them in a place where they will have to search for what they need and in turn, grow into better versions of themselves.
This was a great finale. This season outdid the first in every way. In spectacle, action, character, emotion, and overall connection to canon. It allowed itself to give fan service when necessary, but more importantly, it expanded the universe. This episode was truly Star Wars at its best, incorporating all aspects of the mythology while also telling a personal story of the characters we love.
I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. There’s so many directions and so many unknowns. But seeing how Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have handled this season, I have nothing but faith in them that they’ll apply the same level of passion and understanding that they’ve been doing this whole time. It’s gonna be a long year until Fall of 2021. But it’s gonna be worth it….
This Is The Way.
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