The Mandalorian Chapter 16 – This is The Damn Way

The season two finale of The Mandalorian has arrived and brings a ton of action, more revelations, and some hints to what happens next…

It feels like just the other day we were talking about Chapter 9 of The Mandalorian and the appearance of Cobb Vanth. Now, through a bunch of adventures and familiar faces, we’ve come to the end of this season. It’s all been leading to this and there’s plenty to discuss. Let’s break it all down!

Beware of spoilers, however, and be sure to catch up on the previous episode recaps right here: Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15.

No Time to Waste

Today’s episode, appropriately titled “The Rescue,” kicks off right in the middle of the action (letting us know from the start, there’s little time to be wasted in getting to Grogu). Din Djarin, with the help of Boba Fett and Slave I, manage to capture Dr. Pershing aboard a familiar Imperial ship–Lambda Shuttle for you nerds. The goal being to find a way on board Moff Gideon’s cruiser…but they’ll need more help.

Din and company manage to track down Bo-Katan once more, on a planet that feels familiar but isn’t named. Since seeing it, I’ve been racking my brain on whether or not this is a planet we know about, or have seen in the past (not necessarily in this show), but I’m not so sure. Guess we’ll have to wait for the Visual Guide to (hopefully) settle this one.

Regardless, they find Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves in a cantina with the goal of enlisting them to help rescue Grogu. Bo isn’t interested at first until Din mentions Moff Gideon, a person with whom she’s eager to get back at and reclaim her Darksaber. After a really fun showdown between Koska and Boba, the pair of Night Owls (I wonder where their other friend, Axe Woves, is) agree to help.

With the strike force assembled, it’s time to come up with a plan. This part definitely brings in one of the heavier exposition moments in the episode, which isn’t all bad, but messes with the overall pacing a tad. For those who haven’t been steeped in Star Wars lore for decades (specifically the old Expanded Universe stuff), it does a solid job explaining what exactly the Dark Troopers are and why they should be feared.

Staging a Rescue

The plan is surprisingly straight forward. They’ll use the captured ship to make it seem like they’re Imperials in distress (being chased by Boba Fett). This gives us a pretty fun space battle, once again showing us that Fett is more than “all talk” and still the badass we remember/thought he was.

Once on board, the formidable team of Cara, Koska, Bo-Katan, and Fennic clear the way and begin carving a path of destruction to the bridge. This is among many of the finale’s impressive action sequences, showing exactly why this team of fighter’s should give any enemy pause. Seeing Koska (Sasha Banks) using her jetpack to deliver one incredible knee to the face put a big smile on my face.

While they’re busy making one hell of a distraction, Din has more freedom to sneak around. His first task is to try and take the Dark Troopers out of the fight, by using Dr. Pershing’s Code Cylinder to lock them down.

The action doesn’t let up and we finally get a chance to see why the Dark Troopers shouldn’t be messed with. Seeing Din get his butt handed to him by ONE of them was crazy, and the tension was ramped up to another level as they others attempted to break through the door. As a fan of the Dark Forces game and EU lore from which these villains come from, I really enjoyed seeing them get quite a bit of action.

Thankfully Din is able to win out and send the remainder of the Dark Troopers into the vacuum of space, leaving him free to find Grogu’s cell….Where Moff Gideon is waiting for him. As we saw during the villain’s introduction, Gideon always seems to be a step ahead, and was anticipating the path Din and his helpers would take. As he so aptly states, “Assume I know everything.”

A Showdown

Din makes it clear he’s only after one thing: Grogu. He doesn’t care about the Empire, he’s not an agent of the New Republic, and is only out to protect the child. He doesn’t even care about the Darksaber despite Moff Gideon trying to distract him with it, by filling Din in on some of its history.

Gideon explains he already has what he wants from Grogu (more of his midichlorian-filled blood), a concerning development we’ll have to talk about later. As such, he offers Din a chance to take Grogu and leave; with the promise of never interfering with one another again.

Of course, we should know better than to trust an Imperial. Gideon attacks, showing more aptitude wielding the Darksaber than expected (he’s clearly been training with it), and the battle is on. Of course, as we’ve seen over the past two seasons, Din knows how to handle himself in a fight. With the help of the Beskar spear he’s able to fight back and ultimately overpower Gideon.

I love this fight scene. It’s very personal feeling, as we know Din is fighting for much more than his own survival. Not to mention it’s choreographed in an excellent way. It shows both of them have unique skills, but very distinctly isn’t the same as seeing the Jedi Lightsaber battles we’re used to. It’s fun to watch and felt more satisfying than the previous duel with that particular spear…

More Explanations

Once defeated, Din leaves Moff Gideon alive. The line of reasoning for this could be multi-fold, but it more than likely has to do with the fact he’ll be rewarded handsomely by the New Republic for it. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Din wanted Gideon alive until he could learn more about his machinations involving Grogu so he can be prepared for any future threats.

Anyway, with Darksaber and Grogu in hand, Din marches a handcuffed Gideon up to the bridge to meet up with the rest of the crew. Bo-Katan obviously isn’t thrilled to see the Darksaber in Din’s hands. Hell, she emphasizes being the ONLY one to face Gideon throughout the whole episode!

Thus kicks off another exposition dump for viewers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about explanations and giving us info, but this episode tends to drop them in big chunks that feel at odds with the rest of the action-heavy pacing. I think some of this stuff could have been spaced out a little better throughout the season, especially since some of this is info used to catch up audiences who don’t necessarily watch all the supplemental shows.

Here, Din learns a little more about the Darksaber and it’s legacy. Notably it seems to be a way for Gideon to try and pit his opponents against one another. Din’s victory over Gideon means he is the rightful owner of the Mandalorian blade. If Bo-Katan wants it now, she’ll have to best him in battle to lay claim to it and the Mandalore throne. It’s a tense set up and something I suspect will be a big focus of the next season. Even so, it doesn’t make complete sense.

The idea that the Darksaber can only be taken from another in battle isn’t exactly a new one. It’s what Darth Maul had to do in The Clone Wars in order to claim it from Pre Vizsla, and take over the Mandalorians/Death Watch. The warrior culture respects strength and power, so it makes sense to have that kind of association to the blade.

However, as we saw in Star Wars Rebels the Darksaber CAN be given freely to another. Sabine gave it up to Bo-Katan, seeing her as the rightful heir/ruler. So it’s a little strange now to see Bo agree that the Darksaber can’t simply be handed over. Obviously it doesn’t even have to be a fight to the death, as Din doesn’t kill Gideon.

I’m sure it’s something that can be explained away down the road, maybe even connected to Bo-Katan losing it to Gideon. Hell, it might all just be Gideon trying to get in their heads and get them at each other’s throats long enough for his Dark Troopers to return and mess up all their plans…which they kinda do.

Rescuing The Rescuers

Of course the Dark Troopers, being droids, would be able to survive in the vacuum of space. Even so, their return makes for one impressive “holy shit” moment that left me genuinely concerned and wondering how our heroes would be able to survive this one. After all, we saw how much trouble ONE of them gave Din.

Just when things seem hopeless, and the Dark Troopers are literally banging on the door, hope arrives.

Luke FUCKING Skywalker is here to save the day. Having, apparently, heard Grogu’s call from Tython, Skywalker has managed to track them down aboard Gideon’s ship. Arriving in the knick of time to rescue them, he makes quick work of the Dark Troopers, making it clear this is Luke at the height of his powers in all his post-Return of the Jedi glory.

The homage to Vader’s hallway scene in Rogue One is kind of impossible to miss, and funny considering they’re both Skywalkers. It makes for a fun connection while giving Star Wars fans some of the Luke Skywalker content they’ve been hoping for since Return of the Jedi ended. Seriously, it felt like seeing the Luke portrayed in the old EU stories brought to life and I had a smile on my face the whole time.

Sure, much of that sequence is pure “fan service” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. Fan service in and of itself isn’t bad, and it’s something The Mandalorian has played with since the first episode. It’s all in how it’s handled. Sometimes it doesn’t always work (looking at you Chapter 5), but when it works, it works amazingly well. For me, personally, Luke worked and I loved seeing that green Lightsaber back in action. And that’s not to mention the awesomeness of seeing R2 again!

While Max Lloyd Jones filled in for the iconic character, Mark Hamill was also brought in to do the voice, along with some VFX de-aging work. The result is pretty damn impressive, especially for a TV show, though it’s not perfect. Even so, I loved seeing Luke Skywalker once again in his prime though it feels like they could have added just a little more to his introduction (he didn’t even give Din his name!).

Parting of Ways

This is where things have been leading to, and the end result is one of the more emotional moments I’ve experience in Star Wars on the screen. With Luke’s arrival, Grogu has a choice to make, and Din’s quest has seemingly come to an end.

Their good-bye hit me hard. To the point I actually got a little teary-eyed and choked up. The love and devotion we’ve seen grow between the two characters over the past two seasons makes it hard to see them separate, even if it’s for the best. I LOVED that Din removed his helmet to let Grogu see his face before saying goodbye.

It shows the connection between the two of them, cementing that father-son dynamic (clan of two) and let’s Grogu see how important he’s become to Din. On top of that, it’s another example of Din shedding his indoctrination from the “Children of the Watch” sect. Something I suspect will be explored even further in the future seasons.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is the last time we’ll see these two together. For one, they’re bonded with one another and there’s no reason they couldn’t see each other down the road. Secondly, Luke’s own explanation seems to leave the possibility open. He says that Grogu is a danger “until he can learn to control his abilities.” That leaves the door open for Grogu to get just enough training to control himself without having to make it to full “Jedi” status.

There’s a lot to explore in this idea, which I might have to do in a separate article. Regardless, I think Din and Grogu will still have interactions of some sort.

What Happens Next

Moff Gideon is defeated. Din has completed his quest to unite Grogu with a Jedi who can help him, while acquiring the Darksaber along the way. We’re in a very different place at the end of this season than we were before. So what happens next?

That’s an excellent question. In fact, it lines up with a few of the things I mentioned in my big “speculation” article from last month (though obviously quite a bit didn’t come to pass). With Grogu’s role in the story “done” for the moment, it’s an excellent time for Din to reconnect with more of his Mandalorian buddies.

First, we’ll have to see what happens between him and Bo-Katan. Will she try and take the Darksaber from Din, or will she use this as leverage to get him to join their cause. Where the first two seasons of the show was focused on dealing with The Child, it seems like the next phase will be about re-taking Mandalore and uniting all the clans once more. We’ve heard hints about what happened to the planet and it’s people, but perhaps now we’ll get to see what happened and how they’ll come back as a power in the galaxy.

As for Moff Gideon, we clearly haven’t seen the last of him. A man like him has plans within plans and I’m guessing the New Republic won’t be able to hold him for much longer. Not to mention he already harvested more of Grogu’s blood there’s no reason to think his plans for those are done, or that he doesn’t have more forces lying in wait. Not to mention we know Grand Admiral Thrawn is back around to potentially cause trouble.

The real question is whether or not whatever happens next with Gideon is something we see explored in The Mandalorian, or one of the recently announced spin-offs that take place in the same time period. I could easily see Rangers of the New Republic delve more into this idea (and some stuff with the Ahsoka show), while The Mandalorian stays focused on the battle to reclaim Mandalore.

Then of course there’s Boba Fett. The scene that plays out after the credits shows Boba return to Tatooine to another familiar location: Jabba’s Palace. Bib Fortuna has claimed the Hutt’s throne, but not for much longer. What Boba and Shand plan to do next is anyone’s guess, though we’ll see it explored in The Book of Boba Fett show coming next year. I’m curious to see if his future plans will intersect with Din’s once again or not.

Easter Eggs

While the big reveal of the episode is obviously on Luke Skywalker and R2-D2, there are still some minor things to look out for in the episode:

The Gauntlet – Well, at least I think it’s the Gauntlet. Either way, as Slave I lands on that unknown planet, we clearly see Bo-Katan’s Kom’rk-class ship (originally introduced as Mandalorian ships in The Clone Wars).

RA-7 – On board Moff Gideon’s ship we can see a shiny RA-7 Protocol Droid wandering the hallways.

Rystáll Sant – This one I’m not 100% on, but if you look closely in the background of the show’s post-credit sequence it looks like you can spot Rystáll Sant. This is one of the dancers added in to the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi, and is actually the one Boba Fett is seen flirting with. It’s hard to tell because her hair is mostly obscured (right-hand side of image above), but you can kind of glimpse it. Could be wrong on this one, but would be a neat connection.

Maclunkey – This is a fun, if recent, Easter egg. Upon seeing Boba Fett, Bib Fortuna exclaims, “maclunkey.” It’s a goofy line of dialog added to A New Hope (when Greedo is shot) just last year for its Disney Plus/4K debut.

I’m sure there are plenty of others I missed as I my eyes glazed over at seeing so much awesomeness this week. If you noticed others, be sure to let me know!

Though the episode (once again directed by Peyton Reed) felt a little uneven, it delivered in some important ways. The action felt impressive, befitting a finale, and managed to bring Din and Grogu’s story to an emotional conclusion. There are some things I wish were handled a bit better, but in context of the full season, I very much enjoyed it.

The biggest problem now is the wait until the show returns next year….

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Editor-in-Chief: Writer and cartoonist who went to college for post-production, he now applies his love of drawing, movie analysis, filmmaking, video games, and martial arts into writing.