Editor’s Note: Welcome to Mandalorian Monday, when Vanyaland film editor Nick Johnston recaps last week’s episode of ‘The Mandalorian‘. It runs — you guessed it — every Monday during the show’s second season, so you have the chance to watch it over the weekend and he can write about it without having to put a big SPOILERS warning atop the page.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially in Massachusetts, where we got hit with a nightmare of a snowstorm the day before the last episode of this season of The Mandalorian premiered on Disney+. It feels like there’s giant spiders around the corner everywhere I go, and no, I haven’t been dropping acid — it’s just like that Ice Planet we visited earlier on in the season. Anyway, a whole lot happened in “The Rescue,” directed by Peyton Reed, and we should go ahead and get down to business, because those Dark Troopers won’t kill themselves (or maybe they might, if they still have human brains in them).
We begin with some action, as Slave I tracks and fires upon a Lambda-class Imperial Shuttle which is carrying an important passenger: The famous Dr. Pershing, Imperial cloning specialist and the person responsible for extracting Baby Yoda’s blood and presumably also cloning Barbra Streisand’s dogs. The pilots grumble about the chase, but their complaints are rendered moot when Boba Fett fires an ion cannon blast and disables their ship. Mando and Cara Dune board the ship, and one of the pilots gets the bright idea to hold Pershing hostage, holding a blaster to the man’s right temple, willing to fry the big brains contained within that skull. He murks the other pilot once it becomes clear the dude wants to surrender and then begins shit-talking Dune about how blowing up Alderaan was the best thing the Empire ever did, and how he had pals on both Death Stars (somewhere, in New Jersey, a video store clerk just came). We get an official acknowledgment that Dune’s tear tattoo is a memorial to her homeworld, rather than the number of traitors she murdered in Imperial Prison, too, which is cool. But, as you might have figured, threatening a badass New Republic Marshal while insulting all the dead people on her planet and Dune puts a hot shot right in the middle of the pilot’s eyeballs. Mando and Dune take command of the shuttle and take Pershing as their prisoner. This episode means business, folks. Roll them credits!
Sometime later, Slave I lands on an unidentified planet full of refineries (and you know it’s serious, given that Wookiepedia doesn’t even know what planet it is), parking in a lot right next to a Gauntlet starfighter, which, of course, belongs to our next special guest star, who the Mando Crew are there to recruit. In a cantina, eating slop, sits Bo-Katan Kryze, and, more importantly, The Boss and Boston native Sasha Banks (look, you can tell me her character has a different name, but I’m not going to use it). In walk Mando and Boba Fett, and instantly the entire cantina goes silent. Mando asks Bo-Katan for her help, and, well, Bo-Katan is kind of a dick about it, being closer to the pompous former terrorist that we saw slapping Ahsoka’s ass in The Clone Wars back in the day (hey, remember when Bo-Katan and Death Watch kept slaves? Fun times). The former Mandalorian ruler tells them that they’ll never find Moff Gideon and that it’s pointless to try, and Fett interjects to tell Mando that they should just go ahead and leave without them.
This sets Bo-Katan off, who scolds Fett, claiming that he’s a disgrace to his armor. Banks gets in his face, but before fireworks can be set off between the two, Bo-Katan calms her sidekick down, and Mando tells her that he’s got Moff Gideon’s location and that the Moff has the child. The former Mandalorian leader’s eyes light up but are almost instantly dashed when Fett brings up the fact that, well, the Empire did basically turn the planet into glass. Bo-Katan, upset, tells Fett again that he’s a disgrace to the armor, and that his father was nothing more than a donor — she’s heard his voice a thousand times in a thousand clone troopers. Fett tells the “Princess” that his voice might be the last voice she hears, and Banks starts throwing haymakers. They scrap a bit, but since this isn’t a Marvel movie, cooler heads prevail quickly. Bo-Katan agrees, provided that they can keep the Light Cruiser in their quest to retake Mandalore, and also that Moff Gideon must surrender to her. This is important because the Darksaber — which bestows legitimacy upon the wielder as heir to the Mandalorian throne — can only be won in a combat trial, and this means Bo-Katan’s will have her third attempt at becoming the leader of the planet. Pride cometh before a fall, Starbuck.
Back on board Slave I, Bo-Katan and the assembled team start going over important information, but they’re interrupted by Pershing, who tells them about the Dark Troopers. They’re the third-generation model, pure droid, and they’re stored in cryo-storage in an airlock for quick deployment, and, more importantly, it’ll take a few minutes for them to boot up. He then shows them where The Child is being held — in the brig, under armed guard — and Bo-Katan reveals her plan: They’ll split up, like in a classic episode of Scooby-Doo. Mando says he’ll get the child alone, and the Princess reluctantly agrees. But the plan has an extra step that Bo-Katan thinks will get them on board: They’ll make it seem like the commandeered shuttle is under attack by Slave I, and they’ll force an emergency landing in the launch tube, to prevent any TIEs from taking off. The group splits up into the two shuttles, and we cut to hyperspace, where Dune tells Bo-Katan that she doesn’t want Gideon killed, given that he’s ex-ISB (the Imperial equivalent to the CIA or KGB), and he has a whole lot of secrets that the New Republic could use. Bo knows treachery, so she agrees, and banters with Fett a bit before they exit hyperspace.
Anyway, the plan is put in motion, and it works, for the most part, aside from a few TIEs managing to escape before they can land, which Fett easily takes care of (it is cool as hell to watch those things launch, too) before he jets out of there. And, upon landing, the ladies of the Mando crew unleash hell on Earth on some stormtroopers while Mando makes his way to the brig. It’s generally thrilling, fun stuff, and I’m surprised that Reed, Favreau, and company had the restraint to not put “Song 2” over it like they were making Equilibrium music videos on the web back in 2003. Gideon, of course, activates the Dark Troopers, who are intimidating, and also look like fuckin’ Shogun Warriors toys from the early ’80s. And, like many other toy robots, they take a minute or two to wind up, and Mando takes his sweet-ass time getting there like he’s trying to run a no-kill Metal Gear Solid playthrough.
While the Mando girl boss crew make their way to the bridge, massacring everyone in sight, Mando discovers that he’s a bit too late to prevent the Dark Troopers from totally escaping: One manages to get out after he closes the doors, and boy, is it an intimidating fight, given that the Dark Troopers are basically a T-800 mixed with a Super Battle Droid. The droid punches Mando in the helmet a bunch, which is more effective than when an NFL player does it, given that he doesn’t have any knuckles to break on that pure Beskar, and Mando is only able to kill it because of a perfectly-aimed shot with the Beskar staff to the bot’s CPU. He then opens the airlock and sucks the rest of them out into space, a move so obvious in hindsight that it made me chuckle.
The Girl Boss Fire Team arrive at the bridge, and pump the rest of the goons full of hot plasma, though Bo-Katan and company are stunned to discover that the Moff isn’t there. He’s actually, as Mando soon finds out, in the Brig, holding the Darksaber above Baby Yoda’s little head. Mando manages to seemingly talk Gideon out of killing the Child, after Gideon seems to notice the bond between Mando and Baby Yoda and admits that he’s already got everything he wants from The Child, but it’s easy to figure that it’s a ruse, and the Moff swings at Mando, sparking a well-choreographed fight where it’s Beskar staff (the only material, apparently, that the Darksaber can’t cut through) versus Gideon’s blade. After getting his ass handed to him, Gideon yields, and he sees an opening: He gives the Darksaber to Mando, and begins to smile like he just stole Christmas from the Whos down in Whoville.
Mando and his captor return to the bridge, but Bo-Katan is quite upset when she discovers that the Moff has given the saber to this foundling, making him the proper heir to the Mandalorian throne unless she can best him in combat. Mando, like most of the viewers, doesn’t give a damn about any of this, and he tries to give it back to her, much like Sabine did in Rebels, but apparently, the rules of Mandalorian society have firmed up since then. As the Moff admits, the Saber doesn’t have power — the story does, and that’s what gives the Mandalorian King Arthur their right to the throne. But before Bo-Katan can annoy anybody anymore, the Dark Troopers make their way back aboard the ship and begin making their way to the bridge. As everyone prepares for the worst, Gideon’s all smiles, knowing that he and Baby Yoda will be fine, and that the Girl Boss Fire Team (Mando’s Angels?) will be d-e-a-d like Gus Fring, Tyrus Kitt, and Hector Salamanca.
But just when things look like their darkest, with the Dark Troopers literally beating down the door of the bridge, a solitary X-Wing shows up and lands. A Jedi emerges, and he cuts his way through legions of faceless soldiers, much like his father before him, all to Gideon’s frustration and fear. It’s all cool stuff, and it’s nice to see this particular character be a Jedi badass after years and years of him being a whiny brat, but it’s missing that certain something that made the Vader scene in Rogue One so cool. By now, fans across the world were probably hyped that one of the things that they hoped and prayed for would come true, and most were probably disappointed when the cloaked figure made his way to the bridge and removed his hood: It’s Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, who presumably hadn’t changed his clothes since he burned his father in a Viking funeral or as a festive Yule log, depending on your interpretation of canon.
Now, look, the de-aging tech that Disney has access to is pretty ok, given the general state of the effects as used in Hollywood as a whole (though they’ve never been able to equal what we’ve seen from Marvel’s VFX department), but holy shit, did this look rough. It’s ugly enough to ruin the surprise of the moment and makes one wonder why Sebastian Stan couldn’t have been brought to set for a single day, aside from the COVID-19 pandemic cutting down the ability for them to do reshoots. Star Wars, as a whole, is basically zero-for-four on de-aging, and I honestly believe that it’s time for them to stop.
Anyway, Luke was, of course, the Jedi that Baby Yoda reached out to in the Force back on Tython, and Mando realizes his time with his adopted son is at an end. The little guy doesn’t want to go with Skywalker, because he’s a new, scary figure, but Mando knows that it’s the best for the young one for him to be trained by someone who understands his powers. As he says good-bye, The Child touches his helmet, and Mando takes it off, revealing a stubbly-faced Pedro Pascal (I will die on this hill, folks — that is stubble, not a mustache), on the verge of tears. The Child touches his face one last time, and Mando sets him down on the floor of the bridge. But everybody’s favorite droid, R2-D2, arrives to make both The Child and the viewer at home full of warm fuzzies even in the middle of this sad moment, and the three depart to places unknown, leaving Mando and his team in silence, a wide and uncertain future ahead of them all. We cut to credits, and a lot of people presumably reached for the tissues. It’s a similar mixture of hope and bleakness to what we find in things like Empire or The Last Jedi, and I definitely don’t hold it against anyone if they found themselves shedding a few tears. It’s been a hard year. Everybody hurts.
But I do hope those tear-streaked folks at home stuck around through the credits — you should probably have been clued in by the fact that there wasn’t any concept art being played over the credits. In a Marvel-style post-credits scene, we cut to Tatooine, where Jabba’s palace has apparently thrived in the years since Leia choked the Hutt crime lord to death, and Luke and his friends blew up the barge that all of his thugs were stationed on over the Sarlacc Pit (though there’s no sign of Sny Snootles, which is a real shame). A fattened Bib Fortuna now rules the roost, but his reign will end shortly. Fennec Shand walks down the stairs, blasting any fools who try to challenge her, followed by her boss, Boba Fett. Bib tries to make some banter with the Bounty Hunter, but Fett caps his ass, and pushes the dead Twi’lek off the throne. Boba Fett is now the ruler of Jabba’s crime empire, with Fennec Shand at his side, and a credit tells us that The Book of Boba Fett will hit screens next December. This was confirmed earlier on Monday, where an announcement made sure to emphasize that this was a miniseries separate from Mando Season 3, so that’s pretty fucking cool. Anyway, it’s over. Go home.
Yeah, this episode was a lot. Reed did a pretty solid job with what he was given for “The Rescue,” though I do wish he’d made a few changes. I’d give it a solid four out of five Jango heads, much like I would the season as a whole.
That’s right, I’m not that much of a Bo-Katan fan.
Speaking of her, it’ll be interesting to see where this next season goes — it seems like they’re setting up a contest between Mando and Bo-Katan for the throne of Mandalore, even though Mando doesn’t even really want to be there. It feels like a curse, frankly, imposed on him as soon as he lets his son go away. That said, there’s a lot of places this could go, and given that it’ll be intersecting with another three series in the future, well, the future looks pretty bright for Mandalorian fans.
Yeah, I’m going full-on basic bitch here and giving “The Rescue” MVP award as well as the season’s honor to Pedro Pascal, a really great actor who made the most of this performance. Most of his work is limited to the V.O. booth, but his physical presence in two of this season’s episodes made all of the difference. Frankly, his tear-soaked eyes are going to be the thing that endures with me from The Mandalorian, beyond anything involving Boba Fett or cool Krayt dragons or whatnot. He sells the hell out of his love for The Child, and I’d argue that it’s foolhardy to imagine this program without him. Plus, he’s got some swell dance moves, as evidenced in the video embedded above.
Star Wars Fan Film of The Week:
Since this week is “Fuck Bo-Katan” Week, I figured it was high time to spotlight Darth Maul: Apprentice, given that A) it’s about her first great enemy in The Clone Wars, B) it’s about the proper heir to the Darksaber, all things considered, and C) it’s a damn good short film, with some dope action and some really solid make-up work. There’s a decent chance you might have already seen this already, given that roughly 10 percent of the US population has viewed it on YouTube, but, hey, it’s Christmas.
This Week’s Weirdest Piece of Baby Yoda Merch:
Forget effigies of the Baby Jesus at your local office holiday party — what you need is some Baby Yoda puppetry to brighten the day of every single person around you. That’s right: Thanks to the people at UglyChristmasSweater.com and their new Baby Yoda The Child Forces Trees Ugly Christmas Sweater (Jesus Christ, that’s a mouthful), you too can pretend to be a visual effects artist while also annoying the hell out of every single person around the punchbowl. Now, I’m not totally opposed to this in theory — I’m sure kids at Christmas family dinner would love to see this — but you just know that some guy named Jim is going to be making jokes about Marcia’s sweater in a Yoda voice, and it will be both mean and not-screen-accurate, the latter of which is the greatest sin of them all. It can be yours for the sum total of $50 on the UglyChristmasSweater website.
Anyway, I just want to thank all of you out there for joining me on this very silly journey through the world of The Mandalorian. I had a lot of fun this season, and I hope you did too, but I’m just happy I don’t have to think about Star Wars for another six hours until Kathleen Kennedy greenlights my pitch for a gonk droid series. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday, and an absolutely lovely New Year. Remember, the days are getting brighter, and even if it might not seem particularly nice at the moment, things’ll get better soon enough. And, besides, there’s another season on the way.