We’re running a weekly recap of The Mandalorian on Disney+ for season two. There are spoilers, duh! You’ve been warned.
For the last eight weeks, I’ve written of Mando’s quest in terms of its necessity to ensure Grogu’s safety. But I realize now, having polished off The Mandalorian’s season two finale, “The Rescue,” I was wrong about the nature of the threat.
Starting with Anakin’s slaughter of the Jedi Temple, continuing with the Client’s bounty, and then repeating on a loop through Mando’s casual run-ins with monsters of the week, Grogu’s life has always been in peril.
But then there’s Moff Gideon. He’s a different kind of threat.
Perhaps in another Star Wars writer’s hands, Gideon’s mission would have been turning Grogu to the dark side, making him the apprentice of whichever Sith was still lurking within the bowels of the Empire’s ashes.
In the untrained hands of one so powerful as Grogu, the Force is a recipe for calamity.
But instead, Gideon’s passionate pursuit lies not in the Child himself, but in the Child’s power. In the Moff’s eyes, the Child’s midi-chlorian super blood is the bridge between two eras, from the bygone times of cloning Emperor Palpatine’s army, to a new future that ends with the cloning of Palpatine himself.
And that’s why he has no interest in “turning” Grogu. After all, why take your chances with another new Sith when you can resurrect the Emperor? Why settle for the generic label when you’ve got Coke Classic on the shelf?
But bad as he may be, even Moff Gideon isn’t Grogu’s greatest menace. If he were, Mando could (and did!) protect him from it.
No, it turns out, the true threat is the one thing Mando can’t contain. And that’s the Child himself.
“He is strong with the Force,” Luke reminds Din Djarin. “But he will not be safe until he masters his abilities.”
Mando cannot protect Grogu from the Force’s temptations. And in the untrained hands of one so powerful as Grogu, the Force is a recipe for calamity.
Can I confess something to you? All this time I’ve taken Mando at his word that he needs to keep Grogu safe and reunite him with his kind. And I’ve gone along with his reasoning: the life of a bounty hunter is no life for the kid.
But in my heart of hearts, I didn’t really buy it.
Maybe you noticed the backdoor to his failed logic too. It goes something like this: If Din Djarin was raised as a foundling in the ways and Creed of Mandalore, then why can’t Grogu be raised the same? After all, Mando’s adopted family kept him safe, so why can’t Din Djarin keep Grogu safe?
Well, this episode finally gave me the answer to that nagging question. Only a Jedi can give Grogu the one thing that Mando never can: training to master his powers for good and not ill.
Hence Mando’s final encouragement to Baby Yoda. “That’s who you belong with. He’s one of your kind.”
The bounty hunter and the Child have reached their final step together, but it’s a step that Grogu must cross on his own. If he doesn’t, Mando failed at the one thing he’s been chasing this whole time: Grogu’s safety.
Which is why, here and now, in this closing chapter of their journey together, Mando removes the helmet once again. But this time, he doesn’t sacrifice the sacred as a necessary evil. No, he removes the helmet as his final, tangible, undeniable gesture of unconditional love for the Child.
The week before last, Mando assured Moff Gideon, “He means more to me than you will ever know.”
Well now, Grogu most certainly knows. Face to face, eye to eye, Grogu feels the weight of Mando’s final encouragement: “Don’t be afraid.”
And it’s in the confidence of his father’s love that Grogu chooses to leave with Luke.
Welp, this season has come to a close, which means my weeks of writing recaps are over too, just in time for the holidays.
Some final thoughts!
How about that Luke Skywalker, eh?!
All my speculating that Grogu’s Jedi would be Ezra or Ahsoka or some unknown space wizard feels dumb and silly in hindsight. After all, this show is taking place five years after Return Of The Jedi. Of course the Jedi was Luke!
So why didn’t we guess that? I think it’s because we still, on a practical, visceral level, have no category for anticipating the lengths to which big budget studios will de-age our childhood heroes.
And to be clear, from a story perspective, Luke is an excellent choice. But when it comes to the digital quasi-resurrection of 1983’s Mark Hamill, I’m not a fan.
Not for any ethical objections, mind you. It just looks…off.
The technology isn’t there yet; 2020 isn’t the year.
That said, seeing Skywalker’s green saber slashing its way through a hallway of dark troopers was the most thrilling moment this show has ever given us. It was fan service dialed to the extreme, and I loved the pants out of it.
It’s genuinely hard to imagine this show without Baby Yoda. But I think we’re primed for season 3 to take us in brand new directions, and that’s a good thing.
But I also know Disney well enough to know that they’re not going to jettison this show’s most bankable, merchandisable star for long. We will almost certainly see the Child on our screens again, only next time he’ll be an honest-to-goodness padawan of Luke Skywalker. Cute!
One of the more compelling ideas from this season were the varying sects and ways of Mandalorians. We’ve seen Din Djarin make some gut-level in-the-moment compromises with his piety. But we still haven’t seen him wrestle with the implications of being raised in a cult, nor how his religious deconstruction impacts his place in the world and his community going forward. One can only hope that the third season pushes on this idea a little further.
I promise you this. If and when that happens, it’ll be ripe for the Christ & Pop Culture weekly recap treatment all over again. See you then!