The Mandalorian Season 2 finale marks the third-longest chapter of the season – behind Chapters 9: “The Marshal” and 13: “The Jedi” – and drastically changes the lives of Din Djarin and Grogu. Consequently, I decided to divide my opinions across multiple articles, the others of which you’ll find in “Plugs” once I post them. In the meantime, I’ll start with my general thoughts on the finale, including a discussion on the least unpredictable of the drastic changes.
Brief Thoughts on Chapter 15
- 15. The Believer: Despite ties with my least favorite S1 episode, this suspenseful venture proves its worth with intriguing philosophical discussions and commendable acting. (I broke down two of my favorite scenes in the second installment of Unmasking The Mandalorian.)
Airdate: December 18, 2020
Director: Peyton Reed
Writer: Jon Favreau
Help me rescue the Child and you can have whatever you want. He is my only priority.-Din Djarin
Din Djarin enlists Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) into his Grogu rescue squad, also consisting of Boba Fett, Fennec Shand, and Cara Dune. The Nite Owls agree under the condition that Bo-Katan can reclaim a powerful weapon Moff Gideon has stolen, the Darksaber. When Din and his companions land in Gideon’s light cruiser, Din braves an army of cloned, robotic Dark Troopers to save his son from Gideon.
When I finished my first viewing, I privately declared this one of my top two Mandalorian episodes, with Chapter 8: “Redemption” as its biggest competition for first place. After my second viewing of “The Rescue”, its focus on Din Djarin and his love for Grogu helps ensure that it’ll at least top the other Season 2 chapters. My “Brief Thoughts” on “Redemption” listed “catharsis, excitement, and humor” as the most “necessary” elements for a Mando season finale. Humor feels in short display this time – despite Favreau’s and Reed’s respective comedic pedigrees – befitting the rise in stakes compared to “Redemption”. However, “The Rescue” does provide excitement in spades; everyone Din has recruited since Chapter 14: “The Tragedy” to help save Grogu proves essential in his journey to Gideon. Din’s duel against a Dark Trooper proves suspenseful, and subtly allows him to overcome his childhood fear of a droid killing him. (That fear hasn’t come up since “Redemption”, but remembering it myself increased my satisfaction in Din’s victory.) When Din finds Grogu, and later holds him for the first time since “The Tragedy”, I felt so much catharsis, that I twice exclaimed, “Yes!” at the TV. Even with the looming possibility of a Jedi eventually taking Grogu away from Din, the latter’s fight against Gideon remains engaging with Grogu’s life at stake. The aftermath of the fight helps generate excitement for another Mandalorian season, even if the chapter otherwise feels like it could make a logical point to end Din’s story.
All four of the Peyton Reed-directed movies I’ve seen boast compelling women, so it felt great to see Fennec Shand fight alongside three. Their fights against Stormtroopers keep the feminist themes subtle, yet their assurances of having each other’s backs help them pass the Bechdel Test. Fennec distinguishes herself from Cara and the Nite Owls when they confront Stormtroopers in a room full of crates, and she proves adept at stealth attacks and martial arts in addition to shootouts.
After I first watched “The Rescue”, I needed several days to sort out my feelings about the ending. Din completes his mission to deliver Grogu to a Jedi, when one of the Galaxy’s most renowned Jedi Knights personally answers the Child’s call for a trainer. Initially, I couldn’t decide if it seemed in-character for Din and Grogu to agree to split up.
I preceded my second viewing of this episode with Chapters 13-15, to help me finalize my private ranking of Mandalorian chapters. I also expected this marathon to help me decide if the show provided a satisfactory resolution to the clan’s conflict over whether to complete Din’s objective, or to stay together. Before starting it, I did note a few signs – with help from episode transcripts and clips – of Din remaining dedicated to his objective. In “The Tragedy”, he outright states that he doesn’t have enough power to Jedi-train Grogu. “The Believer” provides another sign, when Din modifies Moff Gideon’s demand for Grogu in Chapter 7: “The Reckoning” into a vow to save the kid from Gideon; one of Din’s alterations replaces, “It will be mine,” with, “He will be back with me.” Before “The Rescue” dropped, I felt so impressed with Din’s refusal to objectify Grogu, that I didn’t notice his lack of a mention of how long Grogu “will be back” in his clan. It might sound like Din hasn’t changed since Chapter 4: “Sanctuary”, in which he almost passes custody of Grogu to Omera, until realizing the wanted alien could attract other bounty hunters to her village. However, “Sanctuary” makes Din seem in a hurry to return to his life as a reclusive bounty hunter; when Cara warns him that he could break Grogu’s heart, Din shrugs it off with, “He’ll get over it.” In contrast, “The Tragedy” and “The Rescue” at least have Din discuss his delivery mission with Grogu onscreen, to emotionally prepare both members of the clan.
As to whether or not it sounds in-character for Grogu to decide to leave Din, I would agree that Grogu would benefit from Jedi Training. His clan leads a very dangerous life, such that they often need someone else’s help to get out of trouble. The Mandalorian provides multiple instances of Grogu protecting Din or himself through the Force, only to either faint afterwards, or use the Force carelessly. (Din’s faster age rate, compared to Grogu, could eventually make it even harder for Din to defend the clan alone, but that point doesn’t come up in this chapter.) With training, Grogu could more effectively protect himself, Din, and their friends from danger, and reinforce the importance of Din’s clan’s love in helping Grogu unlock his full potential. “The Rescue” provides a satisfactory end for Season 2’s overarching story, but only when I hope Din makes good on his promise to see Grogu again.
- Dr. Pershing, the first recurring Mandalorian character with a West Asian actor, appeared in person for the first time since Season 1, and I split off his spotlight into a separate article.
- The Mandalorian S2 finale ended by granting one of my biggest wishes, which I elaborated in the third installment of Unmasking the Mandalorian, along with some of the episode’s most unexpected plot developments.
- If you’d like a non-toxic place to further discuss Star Wars, join the Star Wars Television Discord server, which I help moderate: https://discord.gg/7cGUdCz
This review is dedicated to Jeremy Bulloch (1945-2020), whose physical portrayal of Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back effortlessly helped ensure that Mandalorian armor and culture would become desirable to Star Wars fans and future creatives.