The Mandalorian recap: season two, episode eight – not your average finale

Spoiler alert: this blog is published after The Mandalorian airs on Disney+. Do not read unless you have watched season two, episode eight

Hidden deep within a distant subreddit, someone will have predicted precisely what happened in this episode. But it certainly caught me by surprise. A superbly paced and structured finale culminated in the biggest cameo of the series to date as Luke Skywalker slashed his way through a platoon of Darktroopers to reach Grogu and take him under his wing.

The final image of the season is of the door closing on Luke, Grogu and a cheery R2D2 as they head off into deep space to party with some Porgs. Our current hero, meanwhile, is left with nothing. Din Djarin’s whole reason for doing, for getting into his armour in the morning, has been taken away. He wants to keep hold of his kid (“He doesn’t want to go with you”, Mando says, trying it on with Luke), but he can’t.

This is not how a season usually ends. You tee up the next adventure, tease the return of a villain or an extra unexpected complexity, something like that. But in a display of confidence from the show’s creator, Jon Favreau, who wrote this episode, The Mandalorian offers nothing of the sort. There’s a half-commitment to fighting a civil war on Mandalore, a potential feigned duel for the darksaber, but that’s it. It’s all a bit of a downer.

When Din Djarin removes his helmet to show Grogu his face before they say goodbye, he looks beaten, haggard almost. Compare that with the retrofitted clean cheekbones of the Skywalker (CGI can truly take years off you) and you are reminded that our hero is an everyman. An everyman with exceptional fighting ability and a strong moral code, but still. He’s not a chosen one like Skywalker, or Grogu or even Bo-Katan. His job is to complete tasks to allow others to flourish. Without a task, what is he?

Anyway that’s probably a bit chinstrokey, but I wanted to get it down. To get to my next point I must quickly return to conventional recapping, reminding you all that this episode begins with a cleverly faked space chase that allows Mando and a team of female enforcers to crash a landing shuttle right down Moff Gideon’s launch tube.

The mission from then on is straightforward: the women will blast their way through a metric tonne of stormtroopers as a distraction, while Mando goes to deactivate the darktroopers and rescue the kid. He thinks he has achieved the first bit when he boots the robots out of an airlock and, after a brief battle with old man Moff (beskar lance v darksaber is a fair fight, it turns out), he unlocks the second achievement too. All done and dusted. With … er … 20 minutes still to go.

I loved this pause in the story. We’re all used to watching a drama, thinking it has been resolved but suspicious that it has not been. But in this moment of calm my brain began to spin as I tried to guess what would happen next (and it had to be something, there was so long left). I thought Moff had a plan up his sleeve, but actually he was the rather ineffectual villain that his fight with Mando had exposed him to be. Then the darktroopers turned up again and I thought OK, this is a fight but one that our team will win. As the troopers then got into formation and slowly, slowly pounded their way through the door of the deck, I started to reconsider my opinion.

And just as I did that, the X-wing starfighter arrived. What a brilliant moment. A plot twist just as you’re on tenterhooks waiting for another part of the story to be resolved. After that, a minute of craning at the screen, trying to look behind the lightsaber flashes to see who it might be (I guess the colour gave it away, but not definitively). Finally, a sweetly choreographed slash-a-thon.

That’s how you do it. Just to take the edge off, the next requirement was that you watch an animated, rejuvenated Luke struggle to sync his lips with his dialogue. But heck – you can’t have everything. Luke’s aura is enough to communicate a strong message to our crew – you are heroes, but I’m the icon. And soon enough, he was gone.

If a job’s worth doing … As much as it might have hurt, Din Djarin kept another promise. He passed the kid on to someone who could complete his education (“Talent without training is nothing,” as Luke puts it). The relationship between the tiny hairy green thing and the big silver shiny one was life-changing for both, but every story needs an ending and Mando followed through on it.

We got a brief tour of a cantina at the beginning and I think I spotted a few Rodians mooching about.

Please see above. Decent.

Looks traumatised for most of the episode, but knows exactly what is going on at the end. Seeing his little arms gesturing for Luke to pick him up was quite the heartstring plucker.

It has been a been a pleasure to write this recap, and following the announcement of a whole galaxy of new Star Wars content by Disney last week (including a third series of the Mandalorian), I would hope there would a possibility of seeing you all again in future. Merry Christmas and stay safe everyone.