A year ago, when Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon emerged from a wrecked Tie Fighter wielding the Darksaber in the end-credits stinger to season one of The Mandalorian, it was a signal to the audience that season two would tie more directly to established Star Wars canon than initially expected. Fast forward to the end of season two and it’s safe to say no one was prepared for just how extensive those ties would be.
In a season full of cameos and call backs to every installment of the franchise’s four-decade history — from the return of Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett to the live action debuts of Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan and Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano — The Mandalorian season two proved to be as integral a part of the Skywalker Saga as each of the episodes released in theaters since 1977. None more so than the events of the second season finale, titled “The Rescue.” Spoilers for The Mandalorian season two finale from here on out.
One of the things I loved most about the first season was how Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni were able to find the sweet spot between nostalgia and innovation. “It’s both nostalgic and new; original yet familiar,” to quote, well, myself. As great as season two has been, I must admit the series has started to feel more nostalgic than new. More familiar, then original. That isn’t to say I’ve been disappointed. Not in the slightest. In fact, season two has been a master class on how to do fan service. As thrilling as it is to see Ahsoka Tano’s twin lightsabers ignite in battle or Slave-1 enter a planet’s atmosphere, those instances only work if they are in service to the story of Din Djarin and Grogu.
In the closing moments of Chapter 16, we get the biggest cameo yet. In a set piece reminiscent of Darth Vader’s appearance at the end of Rogue One, we learn that none other than Luke Skywalker was the Jedi on the other end of Grogu’s Force outreach two episodes prior. As soon as a lone X-Wing boards Gideon’s cruiser, the excitement of seeing Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master in all his glory was undeniable. Still, part of me was a little sad to see Din take a backseat in his own show, if only for a moment. (At least Din got to have his own duel against Gideon earlier in the episode in a fight that ended better than the last time a Pedro Pascal character handled a spear on TV).
Unlike Vader’s hallway fight in Rogue One, Luke’s inclusion in the finale is more than fan service. Mando’s quest since the last season finale was to reunite the Child with the Jedi so having an encounter with Luke Skywalker — who should be rebuilding the Jedi Order at this point in the timeline — makes the most logical sense. So his surprise cameo, in hindsight, wasn’t really a surprise. In fact, I was more curious about whether they would actually reveal CGI Mark Hamill (sorry, Sebastian stans on twitter) or keep him shrouded in his cloak the entire time.
More importantly, because this is Din Djarin’s story after all, Luke’s intervention led to potentially the most touching scene in all of Star Wars: the goodbye between Din and Grogu. A moment that truly felt earned and pulled at the heartstrings (and tear ducts) of each and every parent watching.
So having Grogu go off with Luke and R2(!) feels like a proper conclusion to the story. And that’s what leads me to the most interesting surprise on The Mandalorian: it actually isn’t the story of Din Djarin. The Mandalorian, it turns out, is an anthology show. Seasons one and two — or Chapters 1-16 — followed the story of Din Djarin and Grogu, but it looks like season three is the beginning of not a new chapter, but an entirely new book.
After the credits, we were treated to another stinger scene to set up next season. Cut to the twin suns of Tatooine and we find Bib Fortuna has taken over Jabba’s throne (literally). After Ming-Na’s Fennec Shand blasts her way to the throne room (by the way, thank god Ming-Na finally got the Disney Triple Crown — something we’ve been calling for since 2014), Boba Fett enters and gets revenge on the people who left him for dead in the Sarlacc Pit, claiming Jabba’s throne for himself. Then, the onscreen text reveals that “The Book of Boba Fett” will premiere in December 2021.
Now, there’s been some confusion of what this all means. Some assumed that the title was referring to a third Mandalorian spin-off show, following Rangers of the New Republic and Ahsoka which were revealed last week. But I don’t think so. Clearly, that third Mando spin-off is a dance competition show featuring the Dubstep Troopers:
As stated earlier, Mandalorian tells its story in chapters so we can think of seasons one and two as “The Book of Din Djarin (and Grogu)” though it doesn’t mean it will be the last we see of either character (Lucasfilm is smart enough to keep the Baby Yoda merch machine going, I’m sure). Maybe they become secondary characters while Boba and Fennec take center stage? Whatever happens, Din Djarin’s book is now complete, and it’s time for a new one.
This is the way.