If you just watched The Mandalorian Chapter 16 (and if you haven’t, why are you here?), take a moment to catch your breath.
And now, let’s scream together. About LUKE FREAKING SKYWALKER.
The Mandalorian‘s Season 2 finale, “The Rescue” would have taken a much darker turn and required an entirely different name if it weren’t for the eleventh-hour arrival of the galaxy’s most powerful Jedi. When Din and his allies are about to face an entire platoon of Dark Troopers (after we watched just ONE of them beat the hell out of him), they suddenly stop upon the arrival of a mysterious X-wing. A sole, hooded figure disembarks and proceeds to demolish trooper after trooper with a green lightsaber — and a gloved robot hand.
Gotta scream again, brb!!!
Despite getting deeper into the Star Wars canon and legends this season, The Mandalorian still keeps its distance from the Skywalker saga films. Introducing Boba Fett was the closest we’ve gotten, and with a new actor donning that found beskar (the original actor, Jeremy Bulloch, passed away on Thursday). In a pre-Rogue One world, there would be no question of Luke staying hooded and silent, interacting with Din and his crew as little as possible before dropping the mic on his cameo.
But this is not that world.
After that magnificent takedown of the Dark Troopers, Luke enters the cockpit and removes his hood, revealing a digital recreation of young Mark Hamill, circa Return of the Jedi (The Mandalorian takes place roughly four years later). He never utters his name, but invokes the Force and the Jedi, telling Din that he must take Grogu to train him. Luke’s mere presence in this scene imbues it the magic of the original trilogy, striking an emotional chord that will resonate with every kind of Star Wars fan.
And then, in the most wrenching scene of The Mandalorian to date, Din agrees. It’s time for Grogu to leave. “I’ll see you again,” he says, taking the baby in his arms. “I promise.” Grogu reaches for Din’s face, and he removes his helmet to look tearfully upon the face that changed him forever. And yet, the tears are on my face.
(Minor critique here: HUG THE BABY.)
Luke leaves with Grogu in the episode’s final moments…but what exactly is the child going toward? We have endless questions about Grogu’s past and future, and his relationship to the Force and Jedi throughout.
When Grogu turns his head upon Luke’s arrival, it’s because he senses a formidably powerful Jedi. But when he watches Luke on the security feed, taking down trooper after trooper with his lightsaber, the image also calls back to the newly-minted Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith, when massacred younglings at the Jedi temple on Coruscant. Grogu escaped that horrific event, but it still plunged his life into darkness, according to Ahsoka in episode 5.
Which brings us to the danger on the horizon. Roughly 20 years from now, Luke Skywalker’s toddling Jedi academy will be decimated after he senses the dark side in his nephew, Ben Solo, and a misunderstanding between the two of them (generous assessment, admittedly) leads to Ben destroying the temple and all its students.
The thought that Grogu is embarking on a path that will lead him to this fate is entirely unbearable, so we’re left to wonder how our favorite little foundling will get away. Grogu will be a fully-formed Jedi by that time so he wouldn’t necessarily be at the academy — but on the other hand, padawans need masters, so he could just as easily be present during Ben’s combustion.
And 20 years is a long time (though maybe not to a yodling). Just imagine the adventures Luke and Grogu could get up to in that time! Will they take a pilgrimage to Dagobah? Will Grogu learn to talk? Will he escape the young Kylo bloodbath and surprise Din with a “Your son, I am”??
Normally, we’d find out next season. But that’s a whole other story…
The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+.