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The Mandalorian Chapter 16, ‘The Rescue’ Review: Action, Tears, & a Surprise Return All Make for an Epic Season Finale

Photo Credit: Disney+

**Warning Major Spoilers Ahead**

The Mandalorian Chapter 16, ‘The Rescue’ had the unenviable task of being the final episode to a beloved, wildly popular and masterful season of television. Each and every week the series found ways to top itself whether through grandiose action sequences, beloved character debuts or (most importantly) the ever-evolving father/son relationship between our heroes Dinn “Mando” Jarin and Grogu. 

Yet, as the final credits rolled (yes, even past that end credits scene) — the finale not only left audiences shook with multiple major revelations, but it also smashed the bar set by the episodes that preceded it this year. 

The first half of the Peyton Reed (Ant-Man) directed episode played as expected — a run-and-gun shoot ’em up where Mando recruited his team to charge into the breach of Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad) Light Cruiser to save our dear sweet baby Grogu. 

However, there were a few wrinkles along the way that set up the future of this series — in particular the path of Bo Katan (Katee Sackhoff, Battlestar Galactica). The seeds of Katan’s potential heel turn were laid here as the vitriol in her words and her obsession with reclaiming the throne of Mandalore in her eyes when she verbally dresses down both Koska (Mercedes Varnado, Sasha Banks in WWE) and Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison, Aquaman) after they brawl in a bar. Also, there’s something in the way she makes demands of Mando in exchange for her assistance in the jailbreak that is very unsettling — hopefully something to be explored in future seasons. 

The shootout between “The Fire Team” (Koska, Bo, Cara and Fennec, played by Ming-Na Wen of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and The Storm Troopers, while stylistically a fun watch, was rather predictable. We knew all four of these highly-skilled, fierce fighters were going to make quick work of the mostly incompetent Men in White Plastic. However, this “predictability” allowed for us to focus on the chaos and action that was Mando’s journey through the cruiser — first battling The Dark Troopers and then encountering Moff Gideon. 

While the fight scene between the lead Dark Troopers and Mando was fun (and let’s hope they return in a future series like Rangers of the New Republic), it was his confrontation with Moff Gideon that was the real highlight of the first half of Chapter 16. Giancarlo Esposito imbues such calm and poise into Gideon, crafting a character that is just so utterly frightening and sinister. His dangling the Dark Sabre over Grogu’s head steals your breath – even the slightest of moves put you in fear that this agent of the Empire would murder our favorite little green guy.

Yet, the most interesting part of the scene is that Mando is ready to go against his deal with Bo Kataan and even Cara Dune in order to save The Child. He’ll let Gideon, who admits to using Grogu’s blood to attempt to “restore order to the galaxy” (read: create clones a la Snoke of Palpatine), walk in order to keep the being he legitimately loves the most in the galaxy. Mando has taken that reverence he has for oaths and codes and shifted it to Grogu. 

The seeds of Bo Katan’s potential villainous turn are sowed even deeper when Gideon reveals that Katan must defeat Mando in battle in order to rightfully lay claim to the Dark Sabre. There are a few logic gaps here. This is not like The Sword in the Stone where she has to pull the sabre from a magical space rock in order to claim it. She can take it from Mando, who is literally handing it over to her. It seems the “lore” of the sabre and how she got it back would spread through the galaxy and she’d have no legitimacy. Again – questions. Who’s going to spill the beans Mando just handed it over to her? Koska? Why would she betray the person whose cause she would die for? Mando, Fennec or Cara Dune? They seem to care nothing about the Mandalorian throne. Moff Gideon? He’s the most likely to spill the beans, but he’ll likely be in a prison. So logically, not a crazy amount of sense here, but it seems like the Bo/Mando clash is inevitable. 

Yet, this clash was placed on an indefinite hold as The Dark Troopers return to the ship and are on their way to destroy our heroes. As they try to hammer the door down where our heroes prepare for their final stand, a lone X-Wing shows up. Initially my reaction was “Oh this is probably the Filoni character and the New Republic fleet will be right behind him.” Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. It’s Luke Skywalker. 

Now it’d be hypocritical of me to not point out my own hypocrisy. I’ve stated multiple times on The Socially Distanced Podcast’s Mandalorian mini-series that it’s been a blessing that this series has not directly tied the Skywalkers into the show. Granted, we do have Boba Fett, the Empire and X-Wings in the series. Yet, we didn’t have anything egregious like Vader being injected into Rogue One or Darth Maul crowbarred into Solo or The Emperor showing up in Rise of Skywalker

That all went out the window the moment Luke Skywalker climbed out of his X-Wing. The visual of Luke Skywalker in his prime destroying The Dark Troopers with such ease and violent grace was a sight to behold — as we’ve never really seen it portrayed on screen before. It was an even bigger shock to see Hamill as Luke but de-aged to his days of Return of the Jedi. It was jaw-dropping, but it was also extremely believable. 

Yet it begs the dreaded question — “Was this fan service?” The knee-jerk reaction would be yes. However, let’s be honest with ourselves — we’re watching a Star Wars spin-off that features a character named Baby Yoda, resurrected Bob Fett and makes deep cut references to books, video games and animated series from the past three decades. So isn’t fan service inherent? 

The better question — was the inclusion of Luke Skywalker logical? If we follow the logic of the series, then yes it is logical. Grogu did reach out through The Force to all the Jedi in the universe on the Seeing Stone. Since, as Ahsoka said, there are few very Jedi left (and she herself would not help Grogu) it only makes sense that one of the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy would hear Grogu’s call and come to his aid.

Yet, Luke’s appearance isn’t even the best part of The Mandalorian Chapter 16. The final moments between Grogu and Dinn Jarin, without a shadow of doubt, is the best moment in the entire episode — if not one of the best in the entire series. Hell, let’s take it a step further. That moment is one of the most genuine scenes of emotion in the Star Wars franchise in the past 20 years. The life force of The Mandalorian isn’t the nostalgia or the action or the effects – it’s the bond between Mando and Baby Yoda. The moment where Mando takes off his mask and Grogu touches his face as tears stream down Mando’s face is a scene that’s nearly impossible not to get swept up in. 

Separating Mando and Grogu is a risky move for the series. As just stated, their bond is the life force of the series. However, keeping them together for too long and continuing the same story for seasons to come would wear out its welcome. Yes, we love these two together — for now. However, evolution and growth is essential to the longevity of any series. Besides, when these two reunite it’ll be a moment we’ll all really cherish. 

The Mandalorian Chapter 16, ‘The Rescue’ was everything you could want in a Star Wars property. It was filled with big action, adhered to the mythology of Star Wars, was teeming with big emotional moments and left us begging for more. 

Speaking of more … there was a lot more that happened in the end credits. Yes, we return to Tatooine, Jabba the Hutt’s palace to be exact, where Fennec and Boba come in gangland-style and take everyone out. Boba takes his place on the throne with Fennec guzzling liquor at his side. We get the title card ‘The Book of Boba Fett — Coming Christmas 2021.’ 

Big questions here. Is this the new direction of The Mandalorian? Will Mando and Boba be clashing in a Sopranos Meets Star Wars series? Is this a spin-off? Does this mean ‘The Marshall’ himself Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) returns as our hero? What does this mean for Grogu? When do we see him again? What about the Dark Saber and Bo Katan? 

Whatever’s happening, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni took some major creative risks in The Mandalorian Chapter 16 and they absolutely paid off — delivering not only an incredible and unforgettable season finale, but also plotting a new course for the Star Wars television universe. 

The Mandalorian Chapter 16, ‘The Rescue’ is Now Streaming on Disney+

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.


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