SPOILERS AHEAD … AND A SURPRISE GUEST … OR TWO …
So, that’s what it feels like to have your heart metaphorically ripped out.
The finale of The Mandalorian‘s brilliantly good second season, in which the bonds between Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu aka the Child deepened to that of father and son simultaneously adding even more emotional resonance to an already immensely affecting storyline, was one in which we got out our happy ending but which left us feeling like we’d somehow lost something along the way too.
No doubt, and this reviewer can only speculate not being the parent of children himself, the feeling is similar to that which every parent feels when they have to let go of their child for the first time, whether it’s to school or daycare, or even university many years later, and you know you’re doing the right thing but it’s killing you a thousand times over inside.
Certainly even though Din can tick “mission accomplished” off his list, having handed Grogu off to a few Jedi for safekeeping and training – the Jedi by the way was a young Luke Skywalker (!!!; played in this instance by Max Lloyd-Jones with Hamill present on set) with R2-D2 accompanying him, a delightful burst of nostalgia for anyone watching – there was something supremely sad about seeing Grogu and Din parted.
After all, they’d only just been reunited on Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) ship after a valiant though truncated rescue attempt by Din, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), Fenec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), Bo Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) which left everyone trapped on the Bridge with Dark Trooper battle droids pounding ominously on the blast doors.
Moff Gideon had been brought to heel by Mando who inadvertently staked a claim to the throne of Mandalor by taking the Darksaber off Gideon in battle – apparently you can’t just have it handed to you; you must win it fair and square in battle which is why Mando gets to keep it and not Bo Katan who really, really wanted it – and the ship was ostensibly theirs until all the Dark Troopers who’d been sucked out of their storage bay clawed their way back on the ship.
All of Mando and his allies’ good intentions looked to be doomed since the Dark Troopers, once they broke into the Bridge, would only leave Gideon and Grogu alive, but then, hurrah!, Skywalker appears (although all we see at first is a dark-caped figured lightsaber-ing their way through the battle droids like they’re butter), evil is defeated once more and we can breathe a sigh of relief that Din and Grogu can wander off into the galactic sunset together.
But wait! Not so fast, my young Jedi …
For it turns out that not only is Luke there to rescue Grogu – they bonded, it turns out, when Grogu went into a trance in the ancient Jedi temple on Tython which is how Luke knew where to find him – but to take him with him to train and build up the considerably depleted Jedi Order.
On one level, you’re inwardly cheering because Grogu is safe and back with his own kind and Din has done just what he set out to do (a warm and fuzzy glow of narrative satisfaction) but on the other … well, on the other you are crying into your tissue box because Grogu and Din have to go their separate ways.
The Mandalorian executes this scene perfectly with just the right balance between inevitability and shocking sadness, a sense that absolutely the right thing has happened but with the kind of pain and loss that comes with any parting, no matter how right or timely.
As endings go, “The Rescue” was just about perfect, giving us some tasty Star Wars nostalgia, thrilling battle scenes, good triumphing over evil and the biggest shot of humanity, painful though it was, that you could want.
It also served as a worthy launching pad for a hitherto unannounced series (via a short but sweet end credits sequence at a location that is instantly familiar to every Star Wars fan), The Book of Boba Fett, which will launch in December 2021 at the same time as the third season of The Mandalorian, part of a dizzying slew of new Star Wars shows debuting over the next two years or so.
STAR TREK: DISCOVERY
SPOILERS AHEAD … AND HARD GOODBYES …
Memo to self: Do not accidentally stray across the boundary between our universe and the hard and cold Terran mirror universe.
It might seem exciting to go tripping across the Multiverse with giddy abandon but as we saw again in bloody, graphic fashion in “Terra Firma, Pt. 2”, it is not an undertaking for the fainthearted and certainly not when you’re ex-Emperor Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and dying of some sort of nasty time displacement disease.
Georgiou you will recall from last week’s “Terra Firma, Pt. 1” has been sent back to her onetime brutalist home by a mysterious man who turns out to be the Guardian of Forever, whom we first saw, along with his newspaper The Star Dispatch in The Original Series: “The City on the Edge of Forever”, in an attempt so Georgious and Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) believe, to cure her.
That isn’t exactly what’s happening here.
It turns out that Georgiou’s trip back to the Terran Empire, which is riven by coup and counter coup, something the ex-Emperor now realises is not sustainable and must change lest it break apart from the inside, is one big therapy session, a way for this most intriguing of characters to make peace between her old murderous self and the new enlightened person she has become in the more benign surrounds of the Federation.
As therapy sessions go, it is a doozy!
While she manages to save a Kelpian from death (slave Saru, played by Doug Jones) who finds out that vahar-ai is not a death sentence but simply a rite of passage) and has her Emperorship saved by Captain Killy (Amy Wiseman), she and her daughter Burnham die battling each other in a messy fight for power that is emblematic of the way in which the Empire itself is spiralling to a mutually destructive end.
It’s a brilliantly-realised morality tale that underscores how much the Empire needs to change to survive, but how much Georgiou has changed, outwardly as snarlingly vicious and barbed quip-heavy as ever, but inside a person who sees the value of value and compassion and noble humanity.
It’s a tremendously affecting piece of storytelling which emphasises how Star Trek, at its heart, is a story about the way in which humanity, good and bad, must battle its own demons every step of the way and constantly the better, more empowering and uplifting way.
It is not the easier of courses by any means and there are many times where you see this battle for a person’s soul almost visibly manifest in Georgiou but it is a vital and necessary one, even if its distillation in this weirdest of therapy sessions doesn’t quite come with the expected payoff.
For as Georgiou snaps back to the present, only a minute or so after passing out but with three months worth of life signs in his futuristic Fitbit, she starts experiencing her atom-busting fits again, proving she may have come a long way soul wise but is still not in sync with her current place in time and space.
What to do, what to do, what to do, huh?
Turns out, she has to go via yet another spinning vortex to a mysterious place in the timeline where she is in lock step with the world around her, somewhere Burnham cannot follow her and where she must, very much, go alone.
It’s a sudden and unexpected goodbye, which earns a final scene wake of sorts, but it’s unlikely we have seen the last of Georgiou with her disappearance the perfect launching pad for yet another Star Trek series (?) and her character, rich with redemption and re-discovery of her clouded humanity, a storehouse of a great many stories to come.
In a small but critically important B-story, Booker (David Ajala) helps Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Tal (Blu del Barrio) to tap into the Kelpian ship, the KSF Khi’eth, trapped in the Verubin Nebula for 125 years, to gather data which might mean they discover how the Burn began.
Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) is none too pleased that they are using Emerald Chain tech to gather the data but Booker and Saru assure him it is safe and that using it, and Booker’s less orthodox, non-Federation techniques might just pay some significant dividends.
Quite what they are remains to be seen but suffice to say there is a delicious build-up to the end of a season which has reinvigorated Discovery in ways large and small, and which promises just as compelling an ending as the beginning and the middle, proof that the one of the newest entries in the Star Trek canon is more than upholding its end of the franchise’s considerable legacy.