Monday, January 11, 2021

The Mandalorian Season 2, Episode 8: The Rescue

It's the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian!

This week's episode has generated near-universal praise from fans, who claim it's managed to singlehandedly "save Star Wars." Eh, I dunno about that.

In reality The Rescue is a fairly average episode that gets a HUGE boost from its final minutes. Strip away the surprise cameo at the end, and you'll see that it features the exact same "Storming The Castle" plot as this season's The HeiressThe Siege and The Believer. 

The Rescue was written by series creator Jon Favreau of course, and directed by Peyton Reed. He's no stranger to Disney, as he previously helmed Ant-Man and Ant-Man And The Wasp

After a near perfect Season 1 of The Mandalorian, I was honestly dreading a second, as I was terrified that'd find a way to screw it up. Sadly, my premonition came to pass. The first half of Season 2 featured numerous filler episodes and side quests, as well as lots of recycled plotlines. Something that's honestly inexcusable in a season containing a scant eight episodes. It wasn't a complete disaster, but Season 2 never reached the heights of the previous one.

The thing I loved most about Season 1 was that it was its own thing, taking place in a far-off, previously unexplored corner of the Star Wars Universe. There was nary a Skywalker, Vader or Palpatine to be found. Heck, when the series began, Manny had never even heard of the Jedi before!

As a result of this, viewers didn't need a degree in Star Warsology to enjoy the series. The Mandalorian was quietly building its own little world away from the main franchise.

Unfortunately that all changed in Season 2, as the producers brought in a constant parade of guest stars such as Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan from The Clone Wars animated series. While it was cool to see these characters in live action, it also complicated things quite a bit. No longer is The Mandalorian a simple, standalone show, as these guest stars brought their own storylines and baggage along with them. Suddenly the audience has to do homework in order to understand what the hell's happening. 

And then there was Boba Fett. Ever since the series began, I knew it was inevitable that he'd show up at some point— despite the fact that he died in Return Of The Jedi. Even though I've been a huge fan of the character for four decades, I didn't want him anywhere near this series. I feared his presence would take the focus away from Manny and make him a supporting character in his own show.

And of course that's pretty much what happened. Not only did Boba Fett indeed get better after his death and appear on The Mandalorian, he actually became a regular character this season!

And if all that wasn't enough, they actually brought Luke Freakin' Skywalker in for a guest appearance.

Unlike the other 99% of the audience who watched Luke's cameo with tears of joy streaming down their faces, I audibly groaned when he appeared. Don't get me wrong— It was awesome to see the REAL Luke Skywalker in his youthful prime again. And I realize what an amazing moment it was when he showed up, as we were literally seeing television history being made.

But as cool as it was to see him again, I feel his inclusion was a mistake. As with Boba Fett, Luke's presence overshadowed all the other characters, and dragged the show from its quiet little corner into the larger arena of the movies.

Maybe that was Favreau's plan all along— use Season 1 to set up the character of Manny, then integrate him fully into the Star Wars Universe in the second year. If so, that's definitely not where I thought the series was going.

In the end my little dissenting opinion doesn't matter, as fans have gone crazy for this episode and no doubt made it the highest rated one of the season, if not the series itself.

MASSIVE, GINORMOUS SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT PROCEED UNLESS YOU'VE SEEN THE EPISODE! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!


The Plot:
The Slave 1 pursues a Lambda-Class shuttle through space. Inside the shuttle, Doctor Pershing (the Imperial scientist who experimented on Baby Yoda in Season 1) asks the pilots what's happening. One of them angrily tells him to shut it, as he's not in his laboratory now. Just then the Slave 1 fires its ion cannon, shorting out the shuttle's electronics and leaving it a sitting duck.

The Slave 1 docks with the shuttle, and Manny & Cara Dune enter the airlock. Manny asks Pershing if Baby Yoda's still alive. Pershing confirms he is, and is still being held captive on Moff Gideon's ship.

Suddenly the Co-Pilot grabs Pershing and holds a gun to his head, demanding Manny let them go. He shoots the Pilot dead to demonstrate he means business. The Co-Pilot then spots the teardrop tattoo under Dune's eye, recognizing her as a survivor of Alderaan. He then taunts her, saying the destruction of her homeworld was a small price to pay to rid the galaxy of terrorists such as herself. Dune has enough of his crap and shoots him in the head.

Manny & Co. confiscate the shuttle, landing it and the Slave 1 land on a Republic refinery planet. Manny & Boba Fett enter a local cantina, where they see Bo-Katan and her colleague Koska Reeves having lunch.

Manny tells Bo-Katan that Gideon's taken Baby Yoda, and he needs her help to get him back. She tells him to forget about the kid, as he'll never be able to find Gideon. Fett tells Manny they don't need the two women and says they should leave. 

Manny tells Bo-Katan he has Gideon's coordinates, and if she helps him she can have his ship and use it to retake Mandalore. Fett scoffs, saying the Empire reduced Mandalore to glass and there's nothing there to rule. This starts an argument between Bo-Katan and Fett, as she says he isn't a true Mandlorian and is a disgrace to his armor.

Fett informs Bo-Katan that he inherited his armor from his father, and she mocks him for being a clone. As tensions escalate, Reeves attacks Fett and the two battle right there in the cantina. Bo-Katan breaks up the fight, telling them to save it for the Empire. She agrees to join Manny's cause, in order to recover the Darksaber from Gideon and take his ship.

Cut to the Slave 1, where Manny's team— consisting of Cara Dune, Boba Fett, Fennec Shand, Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves— discuss their plan as they head for Gideon's coordinates. They question the captive Doctor Pershing, who spills his guts and provides schematics to Gideon's ship. He shows them where Baby Yoda's being held, and says the ship houses a fraction of the normal compliment of Stormtroopers. Unfortunately it contains a new danger— a squad of super powerful, robotic Dark Troopers.

Bo-Katan then comes up with a plan. The Slave 1 will pretend to attack the shuttle, which will make an emergency landing in the launch tube of Gideon's ship— thus preventing him from sending out any TIE Fighters. Once inside, Bo-Katan, Reeves and Fennec will attack the bridge, while Manny heads to the brig to rescue the Child. Bo-Katan warns them all not to kill Gideon, as it's vital he surrender to her.

The shuttle then drops out of hyperspace, "pursued" by Slave 1. It sends out a fake distress call to Gideon's ship, then heads straight for its launch tube. The cruiser is only able to send out two TIEs before the shuttle crashes into the tube, effectively blocking it. Boba Fett destroys the two TIE Fighters and jumps into hyperspace.

Manny & Co. exit the shuttle and fire on the approaching Stormtroopers. On the bridge, Gideon monitors the intruders' progress and sees them heading for his location. He activates the Dark Troopers, and they begin powering up.

The women fight their way through the corridors toward the bridge while Manny sneaks toward the brig. He passes the cargo bay housing the Dark Troopers, and sees it open. He dashes across the hall and uses Pershing's code cylinder to override the door and close it. Unfortunately he isn't quick enough, and one of the robots escapes before the doors lock.

The Dark Trooper attacks, and Manny desperately tries to fight it off. He blasts it with his flamethrower and even fires his Whistling Birds at it, but nothing seems to phase it. The droid grabs him and tosses him across the corridor, then begins punching him repeatedly in the head. Its blows are powerful enough to embed Manny's head into the wall. Fortunately that beskar's tough stuff, and it isn't even dented. 

Eventually Manny, er, manages to incapacitate it by stabbing it with his beskar staff. He then uses the code cylinder to open the airlock in the cargo bay, which sucks the remaining Dark Troopers into space. Well that was anticlimactic!

Elsewhere, Bo-Katan and the others reach the bridge. Unfortunately Gideon's not there, so they kill all the personnel there and secure the room.

Manny reaches the brig, where he's attacked by the two Stormtroopers guarding it. He manages to take them out with ease and enters the cell. Inside he finds Moff Gideon, menacing Baby Yoda with the Darksaber.

Gideon orders Manny to drop his blaster, and says whoever holds the Darksaber commands the Throne Of Mandalore. Manny says he doesn't care about the throne, as all he wants is the kid. Gideon says he wanted Baby Yoda to study his special abilities and is now finished with his experiments. He deactivates the Darksaber and says Manny can have the Child back.

Manny cautiously approaches, and just as he's about to pick up the kid, Gideon reactivates the saber and attacks. The two battle it out in the corridor, as Manny's beskar gauntlets protect him from the Darksaber's ebony blade. Eventually Manny disarms Gideon, and he lies defeated on the floor.

Cut to Manny entering the bridge, holding Baby Yoda in one hand and the Darksaber in the other, as he escorts a shackled Gideon. Bo-Katan looks on in horror, as Manny nonchalantly tries to hand her the Darksaber hilt.

Gideon chortles like a supervillain, saying she can't take it. The Darksaber must be won by defeating its current wielder in combat! Since Manny beat Gideon, he owns the relic and is now heir to the Throne Of Mandalore! Manny says he doesn't care about any of that, and insists Bo-Katan take it. She refuses, as that would make her a pretender to the Throne. 

Just then an alarm sounds, and Fennec says the Dark Troopers— who are able to fly through the vacuum of space— have returned and are boarding the ship. Manny barely survived a fight with just one of them, and realizes they're all screwed. He orders Fennec to close the blast doors.

The Dark Troopers march through the ship and reach the bridge. They begin pounding relentlessly on the blast doors, denting them a little each time. Manny and the others prepare to make their final stand.

Suddenly another alarm sounds, and the group sees a lone X-Wing approach and land in the docking bay. Bo-Katan asks the pilot to identify himself, but gets no answer. They watch as a hooded figure (hmm...) exits the X-Wing and purposefully strides through the corridors. Several of the Dark Troopers leave the bridge to intercept the intruder. 

While everyone on the bridge is distracted, Gideon pulls a blaster out from under his cape and shoots Bo-Katan, knocking her backward. He then fires at Baby Yoda, but Manny jumps in front of him in time to protect him. Gideon then points the blaster at his head, but Dune kicks it out of his hand and knocks him out.

Baby Yoda watches the hooded figure on a monitor and reaches out to him. 

In the corridors, the hooded figure pulls out a green-bladed lightsaber (hmmm...) and begins slicing up the Dark Troopers. This Mystery Jedi then easily cuts a swathe through the formidable droids as he heads toward the bridge. 

The Mystery Jedi eventually reaches the bridge, and Manny tells Fennec to open the blast door. The Jedi enters and removes his hood, revealing that he's a de-aged Luke Skywalker, circa 1983 (HUZZAH!). Manny asks if he's a Jedi, and Luke says he is. 

Luke holds out his hand to Baby Yoda, who looks uncertainly back at Manny. Luke tells Manny that the Child's asking his permission to come with him. Luke says Baby Yoda will never be safe until he masters his powers, and vows to give his life to protect him from harm.

Manny picks up the Child, and tells him it's OK to go. He says they'll see each other again someday. Baby Yoda reaches out and touches Manny's helmet. Manny then removes it and reveals his face to him (and everyone else!) for the first time. The Child stares at him in wonder.

Manny sets Baby Yoda on the floor, and he toddles over to Luke. Just then R2-D2 enters for no good reason, and has a beeping "conversation" with the Child. 

Luke picks up Baby Yoda, nods to Manny and exits the bridge. A tearful Manny watches them go.

In a post credit scene, a bloated and overweight Bib Fortuna now sits on the throne in Jabba's Palace on Tatooine (Jesus Christ, not this planet AGAIN!). Suddenly Fennec bursts in and kills Bib's Gamorrean Guards. Once the throne room's cleaned out, Boba Fett enters. 

Bib tells Fett he thought he was dead and is happy to see him. Fett kills Bib and sits on the throne, as Fennec takes her place at his side.

Thoughts
• Sadly, actor Jeremy Bulloch, who played Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, died on December 17th— just one day before this episode aired. Given his importance to the Star Wars franchise, I was disappointed to see there was no acknowledgement of his passing in the episode. 

Yes, I realize the show was likely already in the can when he died, but it would have taken them five minutes to attach a simple "For Jeremy" title card to the beginning of The Rescue.

• The episode begins with the Slave 1 pursuing an Imperial shuttle. Boba Fett fires his ship's ion cannon at the fleeing craft, which fries its electronics and incapacitates it.

We've seen ion cannons before— most notably in The Empire Strikes Back, where the Rebels used a huge ground-based one to take out an entire Star Destroyer.

By the way, it was awesome to see a Lamba-Class Imperial Shuttle onscreen again. It's one of my favorite Star Wars ships, as I've always had a fondness for its graceful, three-winged design.

• This is some Heavy Duty Nitpicking, but whatever. As Boba Fett pursues the shuttle, we see he has his targeting scanner tilted down in front of his visor in the "on" position.

A second later we see a readout on the Slave 1's dashboard as its weapons systems lock on to the shuttle. Wait, what?

As we've seen in the past, Fett's helmet scanner controls the rocket launcher on his back. So apparently it can also tie in to the Slave 1's weapon array as well? If so, then why does he need a second targeting scanner on the dash? How many times does he need to lock on to that poor ship?

See? Told you it was heavy duty!

• The producers did a pretty good job recreating the Imperial shuttle cockpit. It's not exact, but they got most of the major details right— specifically the angled door with the blue neon tubes on each side.

• When Manny & Dune board the Imperial Shuttle, the Co-Pilot grabs Dr. Pershing and holds him hostage. The Co-Pilot spots the "teardrop" tattoo under Dune's eye and begins taunting her, mocking the loss of her home planet of Alderaan. A couple things here:

Here on Earth, if you see someone with a tear tattoo under their eye I'm pretty sure it means they killed someone. In the Star Wars Universe it indicates you're a former resident of Alderaan.

The Co-Pilot mentions he was aboard the Death Star I when it destroyed Alderaan. I guess he must have hightailed it off the station immediately after that, since it blew up real good a day later! It's not impossible, but it does seem a bit suspect.

• More Hardcore Nitpicking: Eventually Dune has enough of the asshole Co-Pilot and shoots him in the head. Dr. Pershing instantly grabs his ear, as if his captor's exploding noggin made a deafening sound.

I don't think director Peyton Reed knows how guns work. The noise comes from the gun barrel, not the object being shot. The Co-Pilot's head might have made a brief sizzle when hit, but that's about it. 

By the way, take a look at Dr. Pershing here. It's disappointing to see that in a universe featuring sophisticated prosthetic limbs that are indistinguishable from the real thing, people still have to wear glasses.

• Manny & Co. land their ships on a New Republic-controlled planet, where they hope to recruit Bo-Katan in order to rescue Baby Yoda. We then see an unusual-looking ship parked to the left of screen.

That's Bo-Katan's ship, the Gauntlet. Here it is in its normal configuration. I'm told it's a Kom'rk class fighter/transport, and was featured extensively in The Clone Wars animated series. 

I have no idea why the Gauntlet can't just land horizontally like a normal ship, rather than tilting its wings up so it looks like a modern Lutheran church.

• Manny & Fett walk into yet another cantina, where they meet Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves.

On the wall behind the two gals is a menu board, written in Aurebesh, the official alien alphabet of the SWU. Someone with way more time on their hands than I have translated the menu and listed the cantina's specials. Note that the items in bold can be ordered in the restaurant inside the Galaxy's Edge theme parks in Disneyland and Disney World. 

Starting at upper left, the items are Kaduu Ribs, Gornt, Roast Nuna, Meiloorun, Roasted Sidi, Haroun Bread, Lamta, Ahrisa, Endorian Tip-Yip, Shaak Kabab, Jorgan and Topato, Cushnip with Fral, Yobashrimp, Polystarch, Space Waffles and Veg-Meat

Mmm, Veg-Meat!

• In the cantina, Bo-Katan sneers at Boba Fett and contemptuously says, "You are NOT a Mandalorian." He replies, "Never said I was."

Why are we rehashing this? Wasn't the question of whether Fett is a Mandalorian or not already settled in The Tragedy? That episode it was established that Jango Fett was a foundling taken in by a Mandalorian covert— just like Manny was. That makes Boba Fett a Mandalorian by proxy. Maybe Bo-Katan and Reeves didn't get that memo?

• This must be "Cryptic Space Slang Week" on The Mandalorian. When Reeves insults Boba Fett he replies, "Well, if that isn't the quacta calling the stifling slimy." Which I assume is the Star Wars version of "pot calling the kettle black."

A bit later in the episode Cara Dune says, "Those Dark Troopers are gonna be a real skank in the scud pie." I guess that's like "fly in the ointment?" And sometime after that her gun jams and she exclaims, "Dank farrik! Son of a mudscuffer!"

• While planning their mission, Manny & Bo-Katan question the captive Dr. Pershing, who gives them intel on Gideon's ship. 

Pershing warns them about the Dark Troopers, saying, "They're held in cold storage in this cargo bay. They draw too much power to be kept at ready."

Well THAT seems like a colossal design flaw! What if they're needed in a hurry? Wouldn't it be prudent to keep at least a couple of them powered up at all times in case of an attack?

And how much freakin' power do they need anyway? They're not much bigger than normal droids. I guess their super strength requires a lot of extra energy?

I find it odd that after four decades of never, ever mentioning it before, Star Wars is now all about power levels, energy and fuel. In the abysmal The Last Jedi, several Resistance ships ran out of gas while fleeing the First Order. Then in Solo: A Star Wars Story, Han & his pals stole a shipment of coaxium, which is used to power hyperdrive engines. Then just last week in The Believer, Manny's blaster ran out of power or ammo or something, leaving him vulnerable to pirate attack.

What the hell? Why all the sudden concern about power in the franchise?

• Not Necessarily A Nitpick, But Definitely An Oddity: As the ships approach Gideon's location, Boba Fett tells everyone, "Prepare to exit jump space."

Hmmm... Never heard it called that before. As near as I can tell it's always been "hyperspace."

• Ever since Discount Darth Vader, er, I mean Moff Gideon's ship first appeared, I've been wondering if it's CGI or an old-school physical model.

I was leaning toward model, since if you look closely at the image above, there are numerous subtle imperfections in the surface— such as raised strips that aren't completely straight. That wouldn't happen if it was generated with a 3D modeling program.
 
So I did a few seconds of googling and found out it is indeed a physical model! Cool! It's a whopping five feet long, and as you can see here features tons of internal lighting.

By the way, for weeks now I've been calling Gideon's ship a Star Destroyer. It's actually an Arquitens Class Light Cruiser. My mistake.

• Gideon's cruiser features a forward launch tube that dispenses TIE Fighters from a hanger. Jesus Christ! Talk about design flaws! Look at how narrow that thing is! The TIE Fighter wings barely clear the sides of it! Let's hope none of the pilots ever drift a foot to the left during a launch! 

Would it have killed them to make this tube a few feet wider?
 
• I've got nothing interesting to say about this image, other than I thought it looked really cool and menacing. So I decided to include it just because.

• In the movie Galaxy Quest, Jason and Gwen are racing from danger through the bowels of the NSEA Protector. As they round a corner, they're faced with a corridor filled with dozens of deadly mechanical chompers, that presumably have something to do with the function of the ship. Gwen comments on the ridiculousness of these devices, as they have to somehow make their way through the chompers to safety.

It's a fun scene that points out the often absurd and illogical layouts of fictional spaceships.

And so it is with Gideon's ship. For absolutely no good reason, there's a a narrow ramp that stretches across an open bay in the bottom of the ship. As with everything in the Star Wars Universe, this deathtrap features no guard rails and is separated from the vacuum of space by nothing but a thin forcefield.

To prove my point, Dune & Fennec are attacked by Stormtroopers as they cross the ramp. They shoot one, who topples off it and falls through the force field right out into space!

What the hell? Who thought this was a good idea? God forbid anyone trips while crossing the ramp, or they'll be doomed. And what happens if the ship loses power? There goes the forcefield and all the atmosphere inside.

An even better question is what the hell is for? It can't be a shuttle bay, because it's far too small— plus the ramp would be in the way of approaching ships.

A bit later in the episode we see the Dark Troopers reenter the ship through this bay, so I guess it's for them? There're a couple problems with that theory though. First, in a few minutes we'll see that they have their own personal airlock in their holding chamber. Plus according to Dr. Pershing the Dark Troopers are brand new technology, so there'd be no reason for an already-existing ship to have a special bay designed just for them.

• Once again, The Mandalorian gives us an episode filled with kickass women. Best of all, these strong female characters don't feel the need to build themselves up by tearing down or diminishing their male counterparts, as so many other movies and shows do (I'm lookin at you, Captain Marvel and recent seasons of Doctor Who).

Even better, the series doesn't make a big deal out of the fact that it features a cast of awesome women characters. They're simply there, with no fanfare. Which is exactly as it should be. 

Kudos to series creator Jon Favreau for the way he's handled this aspect of the show.

• I know I keep bringing this up, but that's because it keeps happening. For the third week in a row now we get an episode that features the "Paper Mache Stormtrooper Syndrome." Once again, Manny & his team take out dozens and dozens of Stormtroopers with a single shot each!

At this point the troopers might as well start wearing polo shirts, shorts and sandals. That outfit would offer just as much protection as their armor apparently does.

I understand that fragile Stormtroopers are a storytelling conceit, designed to give the heroes a fighting chance against an army of enemies. But do they have to be quite so brittle and delicate? Would it be too much to ask for it to take two shots to kill one once in a while?
 
• Did... did Fennec just dodge a blaster ray here? A blaster ray that travels at the speed of light? Yes. Yes she did.

I guess she's in good company. They used to do this regularly over on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Heck, Captain Picard even dodged phaser bolts a couple times!

• At one point Manny sneaks through the corridors of Gideon's ship, and hides from an approaching droid. This one has sort of an insectoid face, and looks like the same model as the one we saw in the Jawa Sandcrawler way back in A New Hope.

• Nice Touch: After Manny seals the Dark Troopers inside their chamber, they're smart enough to try and punch through the more vulnerable windows instead of the heavy blast door. Good thinking!

One of the Dark Troopers manages to escape from the chamber & grabs Manny by the neck. It then punches his helmet repeatedly with all the force of a battering ram.

Holy crap, that beskar really is tough stuff! Despite all the punishment from the Dark Trooper, Manny's helmet isn't even scratched!

And am I imagining it, or is there a little homage to the axe scene from The Shining here as the camera horizontally pans with the Dark Trooper's blows?

So if beskar can withstand repeated pounding from a Dark Trooper, then how the hell did Boba Fett's helmet get its characteristic dent? I guess from a beskar weapon?

• It happened yet again! Back in The Sin, the Armorer gave Manny's armor a weapons upgrade. Among his new equipment were the Whistling Birds— tiny but effective target-seeking missiles. 

At the time she gravely warned him, "Whistling birds are a powerful defense against multiple enemies, but they are rare. Use them sparingly."

Annnnd of course he's used them in virtually every single episode since, never seeming to run out. So where's he keep finding a fresh supply of Whistling Birds each week? 

• Manny dispatches the rest of the Dark Troopers by opening the airlock in their chamber, which sucks them all out in to space.

Wait a minute... virtually every ship we've ever seen in the SWU contains airlocks that are covered by forcefields that hold in the atmosphere. Heck, even that stupid bay with the ramp stretching across it has a forcefield covering it! How convenient that this chamber doesn't seem to have one and opens directly into the vacuum of space.

I suppose we could be generous here and say that Manny used the code cylinder to override the airlock controls and shut off the forcefield in order to eliminate the Dark Troopers. I suppose we could say that, but I don't see why we should.

• Earlier in the episode, Bo-Katan remarked that the Darksaber can cut through anything except pure beskar. It may not be able to cut through it, but as we see during the Manny/Gideon fight, it can definitely heat it up!

• At one point during their battle, Gideon manages to get Manny on the ropes before he rallies and eventually defeats him. Darksaber or not, Gideon's clearly in his sixties (as is Giancarlo E sposito, who plays him). I'm having a hard time believing he could overpower a man twenty or thirty years younger than him. Especially one who regularly engages in hand to hand combat like Manny does!

• Plot Trickery Alert! Bo-Katan needs to defeat Gideon in order to regain possession of the Darksaber. Since this is her entire reason for joining the mission, you'd think confronting him would be her number one priority. 

Once she discovers he's not on the bridge, one would think she'd search the ship for him. Instead she chills and stares out the forward window, passively waiting for something to happen. 

Of course this allows Manny to defeat Gideon, grab the Darksaber and become its new owner. Now the only way for Bo-Katan to reclaim the saber is to kill Manny in combat, thus clumsily and ham-fistedly setting up a conflict between the two.

Again, this wouldn't have happened if she'd have looked for Gideon herself.

• Oddly enough, Bo-Katan's actually accepted the Darksaber before, without winning it. So why's she suddenly refusing to take it now? Seems like a pretty big plot hole, eh? 

Actually there's sort of an explanation, but unfortunately you have to be a regular viewer of both The Clone Wars and Rebels to understand it. I'll attempt to explain it as briefly as possible. 

The Darksaber was introduced in Season 2 of The Clone Wars, where it was established that it can only be one in combat and whoever owns it becomes the rightful ruler of Mandalore. At that time it was owned by Pre Vizsla, leader of the Death Watch— a radical group of Mandalorians. Bo-Katan was a member of the Death Watch as well.

Vizsla lost the Darksaber in battle to Darth Maul. This apparently caused Bo-Katan to leave the group and attempt to recover the weapon. 

The Darksaber was next seen in Rebels, where it was owned by Kanan Jarrus (whoever that is). He ended up giving it to Sabine Wren, one of the first rebels against the Empire. Interestingly, Sabine simply gave the Darksaber to Bo-Katan without any kind of trail by combat. At the time, there didn't seem to be any rules regarding possession of the weapon, and no one objected to how she got it.

Now suddenly we're being told she can only accept it by defeating its current owner. So what the hell?

At some point after Sabine gave the Darksaber to Bo-Katan, she apparently lost it while we weren't looking— to Gideon, who's not a Mandalorian. So in order to assume the throne and become the rightful ruler of Mandalore, she needs to win it back in combat. If she simply accepts it as a gift, she won't have the support of her people.

 I love the way Gideon gleefully smiles as tells Manny about the Darksaber rules. He's clearly relishing the situation, and may have even engineered it himself.

• Gideon tells Manny & Co. they're about to face off against a platoon of Dark Troopers, saying they're all screwed as Manny barely survived a fight with one. Wait, how would he know that? He was hiding in the brig with Baby Yoda when Manny fought the trooper. I guess maybe he heard the battle from inside?

• When the Dark Troopers return, an alarm sounds and Fennec announces they're being boarded. Bo-Katan asks her how many lifeforms there are. 

Why the hell would she phrase the question that way? Why not just say "Who's boarding us" or something like that? The answer of course is so that Fennec can dramatically say, "None," to clue in the audience that the Dark Troopers are back.

• When the Dark Troopers enter, we see they have hollow ankle, knee and elbow joints. Just like K-260 had in Rogue One.

• When the single X-Wing arrived, I'm betting the producers hoped the audience would think it was Captain Teva. You know, the guy who's appeared several times this season, and seemed to be setting up a subplot that's apparently been dropped (or placed on the back burner till next season).

Obviously that wasn't the case, especially since a few seconds later we see the X-Wing pilot is wearing Jedi robes. Of course then I'm sure we were meant to think it was just some random Jedi we'd never seen before, and not Luke Skywalker— hence the hood obscuring the figure's features.

Once the green lightsaber came out though, even the dimmest member of the audience had to know it was really Luke!

• As Luke, er, I mean the Mystery Jedi fights his way to the bridge, note how Baby Yoda's ears prick up as he reaches out to the figure's image on the monitor. Clearly he senses a disturbance in the Force here, and knows the Jedi he summoned a couple episodes back is coming.

• The Dark Troopers make their way to the bridge and begin pounding relentlessly on the blast doors, intent on busting through and killing Manny & Co. 

As the Mystery Jedi boards the ship though, the Dark Troopers suddenly all stop. After a beat several dozen turn in the direction of the Jedi and march off to confront him.

The way the scene's shot, it appears as if the Dark Troopers sensed the Jedi's presences. That can't be though— they're droids! They can't feel anything! Especially not the Force.

I suppose it's possible that their artificial brains are tied in with the ships sensors, so they detected the Jedi's presence and went into defense mode.

• At one point the Jedi battles the Dark Troopers on the narrow ramp spanning the open bay that we saw earlier...

This scene was VERY reminiscent of the Luke/Vader duel in the Cloud City air shaft in The Empire Strikes Back. Everything in the two shots is virtually identical, from camera angles right down to the showers of sparks from lightsaber hits. There's no way this wasn't an intentional homage.

 Manny & Co. watch in fear and amazement as the Jedi strides purposefully through the ship, using the Force to take out the Dark Troopers. Note that every time he uses his powers, the video temporarily glitches.

Is... is this scene indicating that the Force interferes with video signals? If so, then that's pretty awesome! And something I don't think has ever been suggested before.

By the way, gotta love that retro Star Wars tech. They have sentient droids and hyperdrives, but they still use black & white security cameras and monitors!

 Even though we're not supposed to know this is Luke yet, it was still amazing to see him in action at the height of his Jedi powers. He got to use his skills a little in Return Of The Jedi, but we've never actually seen him fully cut loose like this until now.

 As the Jedi approaches the bridge, a panicky Gideon shoots at Bo-Katan, tries to kill Baby Yoda, and then even tries blowing his own head off. 

I think this is the first time in the history of Star Wars that we've ever seen a villain attempt suicide. What's Gideon so scared of? Does he just not want to be captured by the New Republic? Is he terrified of the approaching Jedi? Or is he secretly serving a higher master, and fears his wrath if he fails? A master such as... Grand Admiral Thrawn, maybe? 

Thrawn was mentioned back in The Jedi, so you know we're eventually gonna see him on the show. This could well be a subtle bit of setup for his inevitable appearance.

• To absolutely no one's surprise, the Jedi lifts his hood and reveals that he's... Luke Skywalker. GASP!

As I said in the intro, I'm not crazy about Luke being shoehorned into this series. If he absolutely has to be here though, then thank the Maker the producers gave us the REAL Luke Skywalker we all know, love and deserve, and not the shameful, murderous space hobo we got in the abysmal The Last Jedi.

• Back in The Tragedy, Baby Yoda sat on a rock in the middle of a Stonehenge-like formation and used his Force powers to summon a Jedi to come & train him. 

In one particular scene, many fans were convinced they saw two figures standing in the rock formation, and were convinced it was a Force projection of Luke Skywalker.

I scoffed at the time, saying that it did sort of like there were two objects in the scene, but they could have been anything. Rocks, bushes, etc. There was no reason to think one of them was Luke. 

I covered my ass though, by saying, "Given how much this series loves its fan service though, I would not be surprised if it turned out to actually be Luke after all."

Welp, looks like my ass-covering was correct! While it's unclear if that really was him or a bit of cactus in The Tragedy, he ultimately DID show up this week.

• The most amazing thing about Luke's appearance here was that the producers managed to keep it a secret until the episode aired. That's an astonishing achievement, especially in a world in which everyone and their dog carries a movie studio in their pocket and people routinely film the food they eat.

Actor Mark Hamill was surprised by this as well, tweeting, "The fact that we were able to keep my involvement a secret for over a year with no leaks is nothing less than a miracle. A real triumph for spoiler-haters everywhere!”


• Kudos to the FX team, as they did a pretty good job de-aging Mark Hamill here. He definitely looks more realistic than Grandma Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia did in Rogue One.

Supposedly they used the same method as in Rogue One, hiring a younger actor to play Luke, then pasting a computer-generated Mark Hamill face over his.

It works, but it would have looked even better if they'd used Deep Fake technology to de-age him. As you can see here, the Deep Faked Luke looks much more alive than the CGI version— especially around the eyes.

The process works by uploading hundreds of various photos of a subject into the program, then letting the computer construct a realistic face to place over a double.

I've seen dozens of Deep Fakes done by people on their home computers, and they look amazing. The majority are completely convincing, and often impossible to tell from the real thing. I don't understand why Hollywood seems so reluctant to adopt this method.

• Did you catch Luke's reasoning for wanting to train Baby Yoda? He tells Manny that "Talent without training is nothing." That's gotta be a dig at his daddy Anakin!

• Of course the big emotional scene of this episode— heck, of the entire series so far — was Manny's tearful goodbye to Baby Yoda. In a poignant and touching moment, he even removes his helmet in front of everyone present— something his creed forbids— in order to let the Child finally see the face of the man who's protected and cared for him all these months.

This should have been a momentous, watershed moment in the series, as Manny's love for the kid trumped everything he ever believed in. Instead, the scene was completely undercut by the fact that he already whipped off his goddamned helmet in front of a crowd just last week!

Despite the fact that the scene's shot like it's the first time it's ever happened, this is now the third time he's removed his helmet in the first two seasons. I have a feeling that from this point on, he's gonna be taking it off all the time.

There've been behind-the-scenes rumors that actor Pedro Pascal's unhappy with constantly having to keep his face covered during filming (even though there are entire episodes in which he's not even present, and Manny's played by his stunt double). I initially ignored these reports, chalking them up as typical internet bushwah, but based on the past two episodes... maybe there's something to them after all.

• OK, why the f*ck does R2-D2 show up in this episode? It was bad enough when Luke was shoehorned in, but at the very least his presence served a purpose in the story. I get that R2 is Luke's droid, but his appearance is nothing but 1000% pure, unadulterated pandering fan service. I half expected 3PO, Leia, Han & Chewie to come around the corner as well.

The only reason he was here was so he could beep and boop at Baby Yoda and give the audience an overdose of cuteness. When I saw him I rolled my eyes so hard I think I sprained them.

• Now we know why Mandalorians wear helmets— to hide their tears when their hearts break. That was, I say that was sarcasm, son.

• So Manny tearfully watches Luke walk off with Baby Yoda in his arms, while Dune, Fennec, Bo-Katan and Reeves look on. I bet the gals were probably all thinking, "Wait a minute... we just risked our lives a dozen times over to help you rescue this goddamn kid, and then you hand him over to some stranger? What the fraking hell?"

• Earlier in the season (in The Jedi, I think), I said there was no way in hell that Disney was going to write Baby Yoda out of the show. That little green puppet is the only thing propping up the entire company right now, and they'd never get rid of their gravy train.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I was wrong here. Kudos to them for actually going through with it.

I wouldn't worry tooo much about it though. Once the Baby Yoda-less episodes start airing and the ratings begin to sag, he'll be back faster than you can say Sweeps Week.

• I'm calling it right now— Season 3 will begin with a time jump, after Baby Yoda's been trained in the ways of the Jedi. He'll return to Manny, but will now be a sullen teen who grunts one word replies and constantly has his nose in his phone.

Look for Teen Yoda to tell Manny, "You're not my REAL dad! I wish I was never born!"

• The music swells to a triumphant crescendo at the end of the episode, seemingly indicating that the story's ended. But it ISN'T finished yet— not by a longshot. There are numerous dangling plot threads left unresolved, that will no doubt form the bulk of Season 3. Among the unanswered questions:

What happened to Dr. Pershing? After the mission briefing he's never seen again. Did they lock him up in the Slave 1? Did Boba Fett turn him in to the New Republic?

What's Manny gonna do with Moff Gideon? Hand him over to the New Republic for prosecution as well? Will his capture trigger action from the remnants of the Empire? Will he escape to cause trouble another day? Whatever happens, I'm sure we haven't seen the last of him, as he's too good a villain to waste.

And most importantly, what about Manny & Bo-Katan? She needs the Darksaber in order to reclaim the throne of Mandalore and restore the planet & her people to their former glory. Is she going to fight him for it, as Gideon says she has to? Or will she find some loophole in the law of her creed to get it back?

Based on how anticlimactic this series can often be with the resolutions to its storylines, I'm voting for the latter.

• For the first time in this series we get an MCU-like after credits sequence. Huzzah!

Wait a minute here... twin suns... a desert sky... Oh for f*ck's sake! We're back on goddamned Tatooine AGAIN! Jesus Jetskiing Christ, this show is positively obsessed with this ferkakte planet! Why doesn't it just marry it and get it over with?

We're then treated to an establishing shot of Jabba The Hutt's palace, last seen in Return Of The Jedi.

Inside, we see a now bloated and corpulent Bib Fortuna sitting on Jabba The Hutt's old throne. He's apparently taken over the crime lord's operation for himself.

By the way, the staff Bib's holding here is identical to the one his 1983 Kenner action figure came with! This reinforces my belief that Jon Favreau had all the Star Wars action figures as a kid, and is determined to reference them as much as possible.

• Hold up here... I freely admit my memory isn't what it once was, but... didn't Bib blow up real good in the first act of ROTJ? To the internet, gang!

A quick check of Jedi reveals that good ol' Bib was indeed present on Jabba's Sail Barge, along with all his other minions.

And in case you're wondering, this isn't some random Twi'lek or a twin we see in this scene. It's definitely Bib.

To refresh your memory, THIS is what happened to Jabba's Sail Barge in ROTJ. Apparently Favreau's asking us to believe that Bib somehow survived this conflagration. Maybe the initial explosion blew him off the ship, and the secondary one propelled him back to the palace, where he landed safely on Jabba's throne.

• Fennec enters Bib's throne room and murders all his underlings. Boba Fett then saunters in and confronts Bib, who's surprised to see him. After all, Fett seemingly died in ROTJ too, just like Bib did. Looks like they both got better.

Anyway, Fett gets his revenge (I guess?) by killing Bib and plopping down on the throne. Fennec finds a jug of spotcha (the only alcoholic drink on this show) and takes her rightful place at his side.

We're then treated to this title card, which apparently indicates we're getting a Boba Fett series sometime in 2021. As a lifelong fan of the character, I should be ecstatic at this news, but... I dunno. Is there really room for TWO concurrently running TV series about Mandalorian bounty hunters? 

I guess it's not without precedent— TNG and Deep Space Nine were on the air at the same time, and there are what, ten or twelve Law & Order and CSI series running concurrently, so I guess it can work.

I'd definitely be much more interested in watching a series set in this timeline than that of the Prequels or Sequels. Looks like Disney's finally realizing the movies they produced were huge failures, and are abandoning them in order to concentrate on Old School Star Wars!
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