The following post contains major SPOILERS for The Mandalorian Season 2 Finale. Like, seriously. Don’t read it until after you watch the episode. Maybe just don’t read it ever. That’s probably the safest thing to do.

Every episode of The Mandalorian this season has recalled different movies of different genres. “The Marshal” and its story of a frontier outpost besieged by powerful forces evoked countless westerns from My Darling Clementine to The Magnificent Seven. “The Jedi”’s misty village and forests looked like an Akira Kurosawa film, perhaps Ran or Throne of Blood. The rickety transport vehicles with explosive materials in “The Believer” were a clear nod to the famous suspense thriller The Wages of Fear and its American remake, Sorcerer. 

“The Rescue” was different. The movie it most resembled ... was Star Wars, and not just because it had lightsabers and Stormtroopers and blaster pistols. Like Star Wars, it features a daring rescue mission on an Imperial ship, with a small group of heroes fighting to save a kidnapped friend. Like Star Wars, it also featured an appearance by R2-D2 and Luke Skywalker — or at least Luke Skywalker’s non-union digital stand-in — who seemingly answered Grogu’s call into the cosmos a few weeks ago and agrees to train the widdle Baby Yoda in the ways of the Jedi.

Lucasfilm

Mark Hamill’s young face was certainly a surprise — although when Ahsoka said a Jedi may hear Grogu’s call a few episodes ago, you had to figure he could be the one who would, just because after the events of Return of the Jedi there aren’t too many Jedis left that could show up. Still, that wasn’t nearly as shocking as the fact that The Mandalorian apparently wrote off its most popular (not to mention its most merchandised) character, Baby Yoda.

As they said their goodbyes in a surprisingly moving scene, Pedro Pascal’s Mando promised Grogu he would see him again. I’m sure we will. But “Chapter 16 - The Rescue” seemed to draw Baby Yoda’s arc over the first two seasons of the show to a close. This entire eight-episode cycle was about The Mandalorian trying to reunite Grogu with “his kind,” i.e. the Jedi. With the end of the finale, he’s done that. Grogu will surely make more appearances somewhere; it’s possible he could still show up in Season 3. But based on how things played out, I would expect he will spend at least a year or two training off-camera with Luke Skywalker.

In his absence, it looks like the show will get even deeper into Mandalorian lore and politics. At the end of “Chapter 16,” Mando has become the new owner of the Darksaber, and whoever wields that weapon is considered the ruler of Mandalore. He wants to hand it over to Bo-Katan, but he can’t — according to Mandalore tradition, it must be won in combat. So for now, he’s stuck with it.

Lucasfilm

That sets up an interesting dynamic, with Mando the unlikely and uninterested leader of Mandalore, potentially with Bo-Katan either by his side or fighting for control against him. If that’s the path Season 3 goes down, it could look very different from the first 16 episodes. Previously, The Mandalorian has been extremely episodic. Each season had an overarching story, but every individual installment saw Mando and Baby Yoda going to a new place, meeting new allies, taking on different quests. With Grogu out of the picture and the Mandalorian seemingly now the Mandalorian, it appears the show is moving in a different structural direction, away from old anthology-style adventures like The Incredible Hulk or The Fugitive and more towards longform storytelling like Game of Thrones or The Sopranos.

At this point, of course, that’s just speculation. What’s indisputable fact is that The Mandalorian Season 2 brought the show much closer and deeper into the lore of Star Wars, starting with appearances by Star Wars: The Clone Wars characters Bo-Katan and Ahsoka Tano, and culminating with a full-fledged Luke Skywalker walk-on role. Moving forward, I’m curious how that affects the show’s popularity. A lot of people I’ve spoken with liked the fact that the barrier to entry for The Mandalorian was so low; you didn’t need to have followed all the movies and cartoons to follow along.

Things have gotten a bit more complicated now, and it looks like they’re going to get even more complex in Season 3 — and that’s before two new and interconnected shows, Star Wars: Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic, join it on Disney+The Mandalorian became so successful these sorts of spinoffs were probably inevitable; one popular series alone isn’t enough to prop up Star Wars or Disney+. In the world of 2020 franchises, this is the way.

Gallery — Amazing Star Wars Concept Art: