Deus X-Wing Machina - The Mandalorian: Chapter 16
Baby Yoda has been kidnapped by a secret sect of galactic Fascists looking to steal his blood. Din Djarin has assembled space cop Cara Dune, resurrected clone Kiwi Boba Fett and the cool yet underused Fennec Shand to rescue his little green son. The villainous Moff Gideon is just asking to get his ass-kicked...
Everything was in place for a stunning season finale yet at almost every turn The Rescue squanders its own potential, instead, relying on the easy nostalgia that the franchise craves so desperately.
The following contains major spoilers for season 2 and this final episode. You have been warned.
Things start off on an odd note as Mando and company board an Imperial shuttle carrying Dr Pershing, the cloning expert in charge of the experiments we last saw in The Siege. Is he the man behind “dark science and secrets only the Sith knew”? But before they rescue him there’s an incredibly awkward exchange in which the ship's pilot awkwardly compares blowing up a planet to the destruction of the Death Stars, even throwing out “terrorism”. Combined with Bill Burr’s PTSD from the previous episode (who thought that would ever be a sentence in a Star Wars review?)
The Mandalorian seems to have a strange interest in taking the events of the original space-opera quite seriously. This has its place in world-building but at times comes across like one of the classic Robot Chicken sketches. I mean, when your boss is an evil wizard can you really claim to be in the right? Star Wars isn’t a series where grey areas work all that well, as the fairy tale dynamic of good versus evil is fairly rigid.
We then go to a cantina to meet more Mandalorians, namely Bo-Katan and her ally Koska Reeves played by a Sasha Banks/ Mercedes Varnado. Following a scuffle between the well-known wrestler and Boba Fett, Katan is convinced to join the mission by promise of obtaining the Dark Saber from Gideon as well as his ship to help retake Mandalore.
Here once again this season we start to steer towards cartoon lore dumps from Clone Wars and Rebels, the simplicity of the first season of The Mandalorian a distant memory. This stuff may be entertaining for mega-fans but having to scour Wookieepedia articles to understand the context of a TV season is a broken way to make a show.
The big bucket-head gang make their way onto Gideon’s ship, the ladies going to storm the bridge, whilst Djarin goes to bust a puppet out of jail. This leads to possibly the most passively dull action sequence of the series so far as Dune and company tear through the ship with absolutely no real resistance or interesting scenarios that shooting a gun cannot solve. This lack of ingenuity has been a constant problem this season, especially learning that our hero is both blaster-proof and lightsaber proof. The previous episode when he’s forced to don cheap stormtrooper garb offered a much more welcome change of pace.
Speaking of our hero he rushes to deal with the robotic dark troopers before they are fully charged. He comes close to screwing up entirely and ends up fighting one in a slightly more engaging bout until the robot starts punching him in the head which; surprise, surprise, Beskar steel once again provides literal plot armour!
He then uses his Beskar spear to off the offending droid. Djarin is playing this game with cheat codes at this point as he blasts the other robots into space.
He then gets to the cell where Gideon is pointing the dark saber at Grogu’s head. In a rare interesting moment, Gideon encourages Mando to take the child, pending he cause no more damage, leading Djarin to agree and take the child and leave, having no real interest in Katan’s desire to retake Mandalore. However, of course, Gideon was lying and the two have a very short duel resulting in Gideon’s defeat. The series main villain puts up a pretty pitiful show, only redeemed by the fun of having Gideon’s arrogant demeanour crumble, revealing him as more of a snivelling weasel.
Din and Grogu escort the captured Moff back to the bridge, reuniting with their boarding party. Din tries to give the dark saber to Katan as per their agreement but a rift presents itself. In Mandalorian culture (which continually grows vaguer, yet exponentially dogmatic) the saber must be earned by defeating the owner in single combat. Hence Din is now the owner and Katan would have to defeat him to gain the weapon.
But this will have to resolved in another season, as the ship sensors pick up an incoming signal- the dark troopers are flying back to the spacecraft, as the airlock gambit only bought them time. The group seem to be in an impossible situation, Gideon gloating that the troopers will kill them all and soon he’ll have possession of The Child once more. A strange thing to brag about in a group that mostly wants you dead but villains rarely know when a monologue is inappropriate.
Indeed with their backs against the wall, it seems they’ll have to come up with a clever plan to escape this lethal dilemma. Just kidding! Let’s just have a legacy character show up and save them. Indeed a lone X-Wing docks and a mysterious hooded figure enters the scene, dispatching the troopers with ease with a green lightsaber. As Gideon witnesses this over CCTV footage he decides to try and use a hidden weapon to shoot Bo-Katan, Grogu and Djarin in quick succession. Again, Beskar. He then tries to escape his Disney contract by blasting himself but is stopped by Cara Dune. Gideon will live to gloat another day it seems.
Their saviour approaches the door and the gang let him in. The horrifying deepfake of Luke Skywalker enters, awkwardly standing as still as possible. He offers to take Grogu and train him, having a telepathic conversation with his potential student. However, Grogu will not go unless given permission from his father figure. Djarin accepts and removes his helmet for a tearful goodbye to his little green pal. This is the episode highlight, Pascal’s performance truly winning and wonderful. Indeed it’s amazing the emotional depths of human performers as opposed to digital tomfoolery.
“Luke upon my works, ye mighty and despair!”
Unfortunately, this is quickly followed by some truly vile fan-service as franchise staple R2-D2 trundles on screen. Whatever contract the droid signed back in the 70’s it seems he’s obliged to make an appearance at least once in all Star Wars media. On that depressing note, season two ends.
Or does it? The bane of modern cinema, the post-credits scene has somehow made it to Star Wars. We are now in the palace of former crime lord Jabba the Hutt, his old majordomo Bib Fortuna now sat on the throne. Fortuna has tried to fill in the void left by his master by gaining a lot of weight. To the victor the spoils eh? Not bad for a guy who inexplicably survived the skiff explosion in Return of the Jedi.
However, his reign comes to a violent end as fellow resurrection enthusiasts Fennec Shand and Boba Fett storm the place killing him and setting his dancer slave girl free. The two sit on the throne and we are told that this story will be continued in The Book of Boba. This was the straw that truly broke the camels back, enough that Fett should return but now we have to revisit more locations from the original films? The Star Wars universe is the opposite of our own, constantly shrinking rather than expanding. After a season with some truly terrific episodes, The Rescue was a truly tiring exercise and a dismally disappointing conclusion to the sweet story of a bucket head and his puppet pal.
Remember you can catch more of Niall's thoughts and jokes on our latest Star Wars podcast, link below!
If you enjoyed what you read, and want to support Fresh Take, Niall and our commitment to fresh content support Niall with a cup of coffee
Subscribe here to Fresh Take for more opinions on the world of film and television.
And subscribe to our new weekly Mandalorian podcast The Monday-lorians!