The Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 8 leaves us on an unexpected different cliffhanger of sorts

In this high stakes season finale, Mando must try to rescue Grogu from the clutches of Moff Gideon. It won’t be easy and the odds are stacked against him. Can he manage to get the kid back safely or will he and his team be defeated?

Beware spoilers ahead in this episode review.

Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) rounds up his rag tag crew including Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and meets up with Bo Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and her fellow lieutenant Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado). Mando wants to recruit Bo Katan’s help in rescuing the kid, she will only help if she can face off against Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and retrieve the darksaber. After kidnapping Doctor Pershing (Omid Abtahi) they hatch a plan to board Moff Gideon’s light cruiser with the main team – Bo Katan, Koska, Cara and Fennec to create a diversion by taking out as many Imperial Stormtroopers as possible and to get Moff Gideon. Mando will go to the Brig and secure Grogu, however between him and his quarry are a large battalion of Dark Troopers. 

The tables turn when the main group arrives on the bridge to discover Moff Gideon isn’t there. Only for Mando to have to fight off against a Dark Trooper as well as Moff Gideon in order to save Grogu. The platoon of Dark Troopers Mando had earlier flushed out of an air-lock manage to retake the cruiser and trap everybody in the bridge. Just when they think they’re done for, a lone X-Wing arrives and out steps a hooded Jedi who annihilates the Dark Troopers. Hesitantly they open the blast doors, the young Jedi approaches and reveals himself as Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). After some hesitation, Grogu and Din have a moment as they part ways. Luke leaves with the young one and his astromech droid R2-D2.

In the closing credits we return to Tatooine, Boba Fett and Fennec Shand roll up to Jabba The Hutt’s palace taking revenge on Bib Fortuna and claiming Jabba’s throne and quite possibly his crime syndicate followed by a title card “The Book of Boba Fett – coming 2021”. 

‘Chapter 16 – The Rescue’ directed by Peyton Reed and written by Jon Favreau is pacey and doesn’t tend to have slow spots and is loaded with exposition. Mando’s individual one-on-one fights with both a Dark Trooper and Moff Gideon are engaging but somehow not as technically impressive as some of his other fights we’ve seen, and you can’t help but wince as he’s getting his head and helmet smashed into a wall. And while it’s cool that Mando’s core team of support is made up of all the ladies, it’s about time to be honest. The final act though is the most gripping of all, as we watch on in both shock and awe as Skywalker mows down all the Dark Troopers. And yet despite all of this showy carnage, the payoff at the end seems to fall a little flat. The balance of the episode feels a little off when the action goes too long and the goodbye between our two leads is too short.

Pascal for the third time in this series, reveals his face and finally gets to emote a bit more here. He genuinely looks heartbroken saying goodbye to his charge. It’s also a testament to the skills of the team at Legacy Effects that an animatronic puppet can fool us into thinking Grogu is real. Seeing him reach up and touch the face of his adoptive dad was adorable. The uncanny valley of the de-aging of Mark Hamill is only marginally better than that of Admiral Tarkin or Princess Leia in Rogue One. And whilst it was nice getting to see all the women team up, their banter was pretty limited and restricted to some quips. Ludwig Goransson’s music also does some heavy lifting in this episode switching between character themes and then dropping into an electronic dub theme for the Dark Troopers.

It’s interesting that for two whole seasons The Mandalorian was both connected and disconnected from the greater Star Wars universe. There were references and easter eggs dropped but having a Skywalker thrust into the story does change its dynamic somewhat. Where before it felt like we were being shown parts of the galaxy we hadn’t seen, now we’re back to familiar territory. For the hardcore Star Wars fans it’s the fan servicing they probably want. For me personally, I preferred meeting new characters, travelling to new planets and going on episodic adventures.

At the core of this show has been the unbreakable will of Mando to complete his quest and over its 16 episode duration the emotional bond between the bounty hunter and his foundling child. We have seen on multiple occasions that Din Djarin was willing to risk his life for Grogu. His character progression and changes in attitude were a softening that shaped him into a better man. Now that he has in fact, completed his quest by reuniting the child with his Jedi kind, the cliffhanger here is where does the show go next.

This season introduced us to the complexities of the Mandalorian culture, it’s different factions and Bo Katan Kryze’s desire to retake the throne of Mandalore. Her aim is to have the exiled Mandalorians return home, but considering how fractious and hot-tempered they are as a people, this may not be so easy or simple. Din Djarin had previously expressed no desire to return to Mandalore, maybe his attitude has changed. Will he still consider himself ‘A Child of The Watch’ now that he knows he’s part of a religious zealot cult? This could be something worth exploring in the next season.  

Maybe the post credit scene featuring Boba Fett and Fennec Shand is a clue. The fact that it’s called “The Book of Boba Fett” and we’ve been following The Mandalorian episodes as “Chapters” could be our next possible journey. Also considering that Favreau and Dave Filoni have gone to the trouble of bringing Boba back from the dead, they may as well put him to good use for a bit. And Kathleen Kennedy along with the Disney Investor Day announcements have made it clear that there are a few Star Wars spinoff series in the works.

We can only wait until next year to see where the next part of the journey leads. One thing is for certain though, Din Djarin is a man of his word and when he said “I’ll see you again soon” to Grogu, we’re all going to hold him to that.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

All 2 seasons (16 episodes) of The Mandalorian are now available to stream on Disney+

Carina Nilma

Office lackey day-job. Journalist for The AU Review night-job. Emotionally invested fangirl.

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