By Vanessa Carter, January 20, 2021—
I was 11 years old when my parents showed me A New Hope for the first time. Up to that point, I didn’t know many friends who were really into Star Wars, let alone any other girls who watched it as well. Nevertheless, I fell in love with the storyline and characters and begged my parents to let me watch The Empire Strikes Back as soon as possible. Even now that I’ve seen the entirety of the Skywalker Saga, it never ceases to amaze me how such a narrative has brought millions of people together, and never seems to run out of stories to tell.
Upon the release of The Rise of Skywalker, and the end of the original Skywalker storyline, I was a bit reluctant to watch anything else Star Wars– related because I wondered how anything could possibly be better than the original storyline. Needless to say I didn’t even start watching The Mandalorian until this summer, but I still decided to give it a chance and not just because of every Baby Yoda meme I had seen on Twitter.
For those who don’t watch The Mandalorian, it’s a spin-off show within the Star Wars universe and the first to not involve any classic characters like Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Princess Leia and Emperor Palpatine. It takes place five years after the events of Episode Six, Return of the Jedi, and 25 years before Episode Seven, The Force Awakens. It centers around a bounty hunter, Din Djarin (The Mandalorian himself), who has been adopted into Mandalore culture. Early in season one, he becomes acquainted with ‘The Child’ whom he is instructed to deliver to ‘The Client.’
‘The Child’ is an infant of the same species as Jedi master Yoda, who was previously thought to be the only one of his kind, thus audiences calling him “Baby Yoda.” Every episode involves the Mandalorian and the child travelling to different planets and being acquainted with friends and enemies along the way. Once Djarin finds out the true purpose of what The Client wants to do with The Child, he takes him into his own care and vows to protect him from any harm while never leaving his side.
Season two consists of the Mandalorian being tasked to reunite The Child with other Jedi, as he possesses the Force and must surround himself with them to realize his true potential. Eventually, he is introduced to Ahsoka Tano, who is one of the last remaining Jedi. She reveals The Child’s real name as Grogu and insists he must be trained by someone else, thus leaving The Mandalorian travelling to other plants and being acquainted with other characters to deliver Grogu to where he truly belongs.
I finished season one quite surprised by how well it was executed. It had set the stage for a story that had nothing to do with the Skywalkers, and yet based it off of original components, like an infant version of Yoda learning to use the Force, and bounty hunters carrying out their miscellaneous tasks across the galaxy. A few weeks later, season two began and I found myself eagerly counting down the days every week until the next episode.
When the week of Dec. 18 arrived with the season finale, I expected a reunion of the Mandalorian with his friends Cara Dune, Boba Fett, Fennec Shand, Bo-Katan and possibly Ahsoka Tano to pursue a rescue mission to retrieve Gorgu from being held captive by Moff Gideon and the Empire. With this in mind, I wasn’t anticipating any “new” characters and I definitely wasn’t ready for the astonishing plot twist near the end of the episode.
With the Mandalorian and his friends trapped with Moff Gideon in his ship and an army of Imperial robots on the way, it was a pretty dire situation with little for them to do to protect themselves. Eventually, a single X-wing jet shows up, carrying someone who whips out a green lightsaber and single-handedly defeats the Imperial robot army in a sequence similar to that of Darth Vader at the end of Rogue One. At first, I was sure that this mysterious Jedi must be Ahsoka Tano since she was only in one episode and there was no way she could be left out of this rescue mission after seeing how much she cared about Grogu. I then drew my attention to the hands of the person wielding the lightsaber, and instantly I knew who it was.
There is only one Jedi in the universe who wears a black glove on his right hand and that is Luke Skywalker. I instantly wanted to burst into tears when he revealed his face to the Mandalorian and his friends, since a performance by young Luke Skywalker has not been seen since Return of the Jedi. My dad started clapping and said he hadn’t felt so happy with a Star Wars scene since he watched the original trilogy as a young boy in the 1980s.
Shortly after the finale premiered, Mark Hamill, the original actor of Luke Skywalker, took to twitter saying, “Seen anything good on TV lately?” and the comments exploded with people expressing gratitude and praise for his appearance, even if it was through a voiceover and a CGI face on look-alike actor Max Lloyd-Jones. Fan theories are already rising that Luke Skywalker may take Grogu as one of his students at his Jedi School, to train beside Kylo Ren and other pupils as Skywalker took Grogu away into his own care at the end of the episode.
Rumours are widely circulating that another spin-off series about said Jedi School is in the works, and many fans are calling for Marvel actor Sebastian Stan to play the young Luke Skywalker with a Mark Hamill voice-over. This is because it would likely be inefficient to use CGI in every episode, not to mention audiences would much rather prefer a live-action series, such as the recently revealed spin-off about Boba Fett and another about the adventures of young Obi-Wan Kenobi.
It’s no doubt that the success of this latest episode and the entire second season of The Mandalorian has been achieved for many reasons. If the Luke Skywalker appearance was the cherry on top, the characters of Boba Fett, Bo-Katan and Ahsoka Tano were the layers building up to a natural crossover of beloved characters being integrated into the series. Many felt that certain elements of the story in the newer trilogy felt forced, especially with bringing back Emperor Palpatine and integrating Rey into his bloodline and making her the ultimate heir to every Jedi ability.
Perhaps future Star Wars stories can all learn something from The Mandalorian, and even director Jon Favreau who brought such a natural and compelling storyline that is sure to be watched over and over again by fans everywhere. It isn’t always about including the most ideas, or making a movie that looks like the director made a post on Reddit for fans to post thousands of suggestions of what they want to see in the movie. At the end of the day, a simple storyline can go a long way, especially with the perfect blend of new and old features.