Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian trumped the epicness of season 1 finale by a wide margin. If one now had to pick a couple of words to define it, they could be: epic, emotional, and both very classic and very refreshing. The latter deriving especially from the fact that – well, count how many times you have seen the main cast consisting of a nurturer-dad figure surrounded by an all-women squad of badass warriors.
If we look at Season 2 as a whole, one could say that the first season was only a setup. The second season was then fully driven by the plot to find a Jedi caretaker for the Child, with Moff Gideon throwing the wrench in. The overall plot development was, in retrospect, fairly predictable – including the final most epic plot twist. But that it was predictable in retrospect does not mean it was bad, quite the contrary. It means that it made sense. And it was the execution of this simple narrative idea that made S2 highly entertaining, together with the complex worldbuilding and a group of fleshed-out main characters.
Warning: further, more detailed Chapter 16: “The Rescue” spoilers ahead.
Pick Your Squad And Go
The epic final confrontation in “The Rescue” was inevitable. Bringing all the people – correction – all the badass women the Mando has met during his journeys together (perhaps the Frog Lady should have appeared too), each of the heroes had their time to show how epic they were and contribute in their unique way to the rescue.
But so did the villains. Moff Gideon is, to a degree, a cardboard villain. But unlike most villains with their gloating speeches, he actually managed to be menacing. Same goes for the Dark Troopers. Nothing could be less scary, in theory, than a machine that stands on funny legs that does not even talk. But the designers managed the Dark Troopers to be scary in exactly the same manner they managed with the AT-ST in season 1.
Everyone Has Their Motives
What was also remarkable, especially for future stories, was the casual reminder that all the characters have different backgrounds and priorities. Some became clear in the end. Fennec and Boba remained on the shadowy side of the law. Cara Dune meanwhile supposedly aims at turning the Moff over to the New Republic.
And Din and the remaining Mandalorians are now in a deadlock over the Darksaber and the legacy of Mandalore. We can expect any future story to focus mostly on this. Din is now free of his babysitting obligations. The person who appeared to take it away was probably the only whom the fans would forgive for parting the “dad” and the child. Nonetheless, Grogu’s departure is a pity for many “baby Yoda” fans (even though I’m sure it will make a comeback). But it is also clear that the series no longer needs to bait its audience by showing cute babies. This way, Grogu also stopped being a mere object of cuteness before he became boring.
So what can we expect in the future? The shift from gunslinging-while-babysitting to actually Mandalorian-centered stuff? Revolving around the fate of their planet, culture and legacy? (Including Din’s new take on it all, now that he has breached his code by taking off his helmet in public multiple times.)
While at the same time, either Grogu will not be shown for a while, or we will see brief updates from his “training”? I would not expect too much, however – especially by the clear reluctance to show the CGI face of his mentor too much.
I must underline, however, that no matter how things are going to develop in the future, the fatherhood element can’t be just swept under the rug. That should go without saying. Precisely because everything Din had done in S1-2 was for Grogu.
The CGI cameo is perhaps the last thing that deserves mentioning – and praise. Unlike some of the other similarly made cameos in recent films, The Mandalorian has managed to use it as little as possible while maintaining the presence of the character.
So how would I evaluate “The Rescue”, and the second season overall? Extremely positively. With it, The Mandalorian is a Star Wars story through and through. It has complex worldbuilding. It has established, Star Wars-y characters who each have their own personality and motivation. The finale managed to be epic and touching without resorting to insane plot twists – which likely means that it will have a similarly powerful impact on second watching, even if you already know what is going to happen.
So we are left with waiting for the future season – and, as we have been informed in the post-credit scene, more about Boba Fett and Fennec Shand. As far as I am concerned, December 2021 cannot come fast enough.