Now that’s how you do a finale. “Chapter 16: The Rescue” is a fan’s dream and a near-perfect episode of television.
This recap of The Mandalorian season 2, episode 8, “Chapter 16: The Rescue”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The much-anticipated finale of The Mandalorian Season 2 begins with Mando, Cara, and Boba Fett hijacking Dr. Pershing’s escort ship in Slave-I. His Imperial ferrymen — one of them, anyway — is a bit too smug for his own good and catches a blaster bolt for his backchat, leaving the good doctor in the care of the bounty hunters, who immediately go and enlist the help of Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves. There’s some tension since Boba Fett isn’t a Mandalorian and these two are purists, but after a brief stalemate scrap between Boba and Koska, an agreement is reached: Bo-Katan and Koska will help Mando retrieve Grogu in exchange for the Darksaber, which will greatly help in the restoration in Mandalore.
Dr. Pershing immediately turns full-time snitch, laying out Grogu’s location and warns of the contingent of Dark Troopers Moff Gideon has chilling in storage, ready for activation (they take too much power to keep ready all the time.) A two-pronged attack is planned, which begins with Boba chasing everyone else into Moff Gideon’s shuttle so that the cruiser thinks they’re fleeing Imperials. Inside the hanger, the shooting starts, mostly as a distraction so that Mando can go after Grogu. After so many seasons of The Clone Wars, seeing Mandalorians own in live-action is still a trip.
As the Dark Troopers power-up, the ladies cleave their way through a bunch of woefully outmatched Stormtroopers, including some rough-and-tumble hands-on business from Gina Carano. (How does a blaster rifle “jam”? Unclear.) Mando, meanwhile, is able to trap most of the Dark Troopers in their cargo hold, but one gets free and is able to absolutely stove Mando’s head in with straight right hands until he’s able to finally behead it and eject the rest into space. So long, Troopers. All things considered, you had very little to do.
The ladies storm the bridge and find Gideon missing, which is because he’s in the brig menacingly holding the Darksaber an inch above Grogu’s head. With the negotiating power in his hands, Gideon reveals he’s been peeking at the script and gives Mando a quick rundown on the Darksaber’s relevance to Mandalorian dynastic rule. Gideon’s apparently quite happy to let Mando take Grogu since he has already studied his magic blood, which apparently contains special properties that might bring order back to the galaxy. Somewhat inexplicably, Mando falls for this ruse, giving Gideon the drop on him. It’s the Darksaber versus pure Beskar steel and two obvious stunt performers for the reverse-shots — a duel that Mando gets the better of.
Mando drags Gideon to the bridge, Grogu safely in one hand and the Darksaber in the other, but there’s an additional problem. Since Gideon has gifted the Darksaber to Mando, Bo-Katan has to defeat him in combat to rightfully claim it, a rather annoying little aspect of succession that Gideon smugly lays out. Of course, we saw Mando betray his long-held principles last week in removing his mask, but Bo-Katan is a lot more die-hard than that, so this is an issue. Luckily, the platoon of Dark Troopers Mando ejected into space have made their way back aboard, which is a slightly more pressing matter, though Gideon is equally smug about this, too.
This is where The Mandalorian season 2, episode 8 takes a sharp turn into elite-level fan-service. The Dark Troopers form an orderly queue outside the blast door to the bridge and start to rather insistently knock. Gideon achieves maximal smugness in anticipation of the obviously imminent noble last stand, but suddenly a lone X-Wing arrives, refuses to identify itself, and docks while Grogu lovingly coos. Is this the Jedi he contacted through the seeing stone? Yes! On the security monitors, we see the Jedi begin cleaving through the Dark Troopers while Grogu excitedly watches on and Gideon’s attitude rather quickly alters. The camera is insistent about only shooting the Jedi from behind, but they’re carrying a green lightsaber — hey Wookiepedia, which Jedi alive post-Return of the Jedi carries a green one? It can’t be, can it? Surely the glove’s a coincidence?
On the bridge, Gideon makes a last-ditch effort to kill Grogu, but it’s unsuccessful, leaving the little guy to lovingly place his… paw, I guess, on the monitor as the mysterious Jedi boards the elevator. The Dark Troopers outside the bridge all turn and face the gradually ascending elevator as the anticipation builds to frankly unbearable levels. I can just imagine Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau designing this sequence specifically to torture every long-time Star Wars fan who is sat with bated breath waiting for those doors to open.
And they open! More Dark Troopers get cleaved to bits, and one gets crumpled into scrap by the Force. We still can’t see who it is. Mando insists the bridge doors be opened. And it’s… f*cking hell, it’s Luke Skywalker! And he’s rather convincingly de-aged with CGI! He has come for Grogu and swears to protect him, but the little guy won’t part ways with Mando without a tearful, unmasked farewell and a bit of encouragement from R2-D2, who is also there! Thousands of fans just burst into tears. May the Force be with you.
In a post-credits sequence, Fennec and Boba Fett visit Jabba’s palace on Tatooine, where a surviving Bib Fortuna is running things until Boba puts a blaster bolt through his chest and dismissively tosses his body to the floor, taking his throne. Some on-screen text informs us that The Book of Boba Fett is coming in 2021. We’re here for it.