In a recent article I talked about this past season of The Mandalorian. The episodes hit their story points, provided us with some key ‘fan service’ moments, but over all lack that extra something. Short of anything by the Favroni brothers, the episodes run too short and lack that little extra something that helps to grow characters and give fans the quirks that endear characters to us. In the final episode, The Rescue, director Peyton Reed, made the precise calculations needed to create a wonderful episode, for it’s the little things that make shows special. Here are some of the key points that Reed used to perfection.
The first thing that made ‘The Rescue’ so good had nothing to do with Reed. He simply benefitted from the story and the timing. For the first time in the history of the show we have a threat bigger than our heroes. The Krayt Dragon being the one exception, we finally get something coming at our heroes that they had no answer for and that was the Dark Troopers. Din let one get out and then proceeded to get manhandled by it. The Trooper LITERALLY pounded Din’s head into a bulkhead. Blaster bolts bounce off it and they can punch their way through blast doors. Facing an army of those things, what were our heroes going to do?! Add in the fact they looked positively bad ass and you have a hit episode not matter what.
Precise Calculations – Reed’s Touches
My complaint with episodes needing to be longer centered around character development. Those small, extra moments add to character development and can add to the plot. The snarkiness between Fett and Bo-Katan framed this perfectly. It built a dynamic between the heroes that might complicate the journey. It shed a lot of light on the history between the Fetts and actual Mandalorians, while showing us some awesome Mando fighting abilities. Little things like that are what the show has been missing.
Reed’s use of weapons in this episode, as weird as this sounds, was amazing! First off we have the Mandalorian jet packs. They make for nice special effects shots when a scene might get boring, but in ‘The Rescue’ we see the Mandos use them repeatedly in their fighting. Koska uses it in her close quarters fight with Fett. Bo uses it to give a trooper an explosive knee to the chest. As they charge the bridge and cross the walkway, the Mandos disappear until Fennec and Dune are surrounded. Up they hover and obliterate the troopers. I really like seeing the backpacks being used so much.
Then Cara dealt with her gun jam. Unneeded. Completely pointless. Yet it turns into a very nice touch. It breaks up the tension, adds a bit of character to Cara and it made viewers laugh. Turning her assault rifle into a club seemed the perfect ‘Cara’ move. Then when it came time to fix it – when in doubt beat the crap out of something ’til it works. We’ve all done it. The small things like that add flavor and personality to the show.
Finally, we come to the Beskar spear. It took me awhile to figure out what poked out from Din’s backpack. He didn’t need to carry it, yet he did. Just another formidable weapon in his oversized arsenal, but it comes in handy both against the Dark Trooper and Moff Gideon. It saved Din versus the trooper, but other than that it means little. I liked them bringing it back to use once more.
Precise Calculations – Grogu Is Alive!
It’s a frakking pile of rubber! Foam, latex, warbla, whatever. He’s a simple puppet, yet episode after episode, puppeteers and writers continue to get such life and emotion out of the Grogu, and this episode went above and beyond all other episodes. Perhaps one of the simplest, yet most powerful moments came when the ‘mysterious X-wing’ docked. Reed could have cut to the others, cut to the Dark Troopers or any other number of shots and nothing would have been affected. Instead he made sure to add a scene where a sad and exhausted Grogu simply sits on the floor, but then he feels it. Something…elsewhere…powerful…hopeful.
The way Grogu responds to Luke’s landing spoke volumes of the as yet unknown pilot and Grogu through the force. Grogu’s reaching for the screen hinted at old memories of previous masters long gone, a safety he may not have felt in generations. The way Grogu moved added so much to those scenes, and it only took a few seconds. Little shots like this are what has been missing most of the season.
I do not know if I even want to talk about the helmet removal scene. Again a little pile of rubber generates an obscene amount of emotion. The looks between Luke and Din, his reaching for Din, they all added up to an extremely emotional and powerful farewell. We’ll cover the ramifications later, but I don’t know if anyone could have shot that final scene better. Even the way the door to the lift closed and it cut out of the scene worked amazingly.
Precise Calculations – It’s Him. It’s Them!
Okay, let’s face it. The minute we saw the X-wing we all KNEW who flew it, but we tried to predict the cross-up. Was it Kyle Katarn? Corran Horn? Some other known Jedi? Reed did a wonderful job hiding the truth as long as possible. All we see for the longest time are the black and white grainy shots on the monitor. Then we see a green lightsaber. Odds strongly favor Luke, but tons of Jedi use green sabers. For a quick second I asked myself it could be female, but I dropped that idea quickly. Then we see it. The traditional hilt of Luke’s saber followed by a black gloved hand. The next shot we see a left hand without a glove – It IS LUKE!
The scene came across so amazingly, fans compare it to the jaw-dropping Vader moment at the end of Rogue One. Luke’s movements were not as good, but that is a minor criticism for another day. The scene worked wonderfully, and then comes the moment we all waited for – Luke’s face. The CGI may not look as clean or as sharp as Tarkin or other facial reconstructions, but it worked well enough.
Despite all of the feelings, notice Grogu still hesitates to go to Luke. Here, Reed adds what I thought was a masterful touch with the addition on R2-D2. When the little Astromech rolls up, chirps and begins shaking, I immediately flashed back to Dagobah. Everything R2 went through and his memories of Yoda. R2 obviously triggered something in Grogu as well. Only NOW does Grogu walk up to them and eventually reach out to Luke. Reed’s addition of R2 work wonders for an already amazing scene.
Precise Calculations – This Is the Way
My head played that episode over and over again even after the second and third viewings. Peyton Reed did so many small things right, things I looked for all season, that I reveled in this episode and where the future may lead. Then I saw one of those Magneto memes where its three pictures. The first picture says I prefer the real (name). Second picture says I said the real (name). While the final picture says perfection. The first picture came from Avengers: Endgame and was that god-awful all-female scene that felt forced, completely political and completely contrived. I do not remember the second picture, but the perfection picture showed Fennec, Bo, Koska, and Cara running through the halls of Gideon’s cruiser. I did not even think about it until that meme, but yes it was an all female fight team.
He created an all female scene that felt 100% natural, plausible and bad ass! Unlike many other movies that tried this, The Mandalorian blew no bells or whistles. It didn’t pat itself on the back saying “See! See! See what we did!” They simply executed the story and went about it like it was no big deal. There was also no male bashing or belittling. It was a true female power moment and it worked beautifully! Once again proving Star Wars is the home for naturally powerful women dating back to 1977 and our beloved, late Princess.