There's a question that has hung over 'The Mandalorian' since it first began - is it just fan service?
Is it giving people of a certain age and generation exactly what they've always wanted? Boba Fett has, up to this series, been something of a joke. He only had a handful of lines in 'The Empire Strikes Back', he was eaten by the Sarlacc in 'Return of the Jedi' in the most comical of fashions, and it's on in 'The Mandalorian' that people got what they thought of him - that he was this all-out badass, sort of like the John Wick of the 'Star Wars' universe.
'The Rescue' is by far the ending everyone wanted from this season of 'The Mandalorian', from all of the team - bar Cobb Vanth, of course - getting back together one final mission, to Moff Gideon and Mando fighting one another. To be fair, all of this felt like it was telegraphed from the start. None of it is all that surprising, and to have anything less in the finale seems like you're being had. Does that then mean by giving exactly what was expected, it's somehow less than?
Peyton Reed's direction throughout the episode is perfunctory, and there are no flashes of ingenuity here, nor does it have the same depth as last week's episode, or anything prior. It's another blast 'em up, shoot 'em out episode with a strong lead on action. Bo-Katan Kryze, Koska Reeves, Fennic Shand and Cara Dune blast their way into Gideon's cruiser while Mando sneaks his way through to Grogu's cell, encountering a Dark Trooper along the way who very nearly kills him.
There needs to be credit given to Peyton Reed in how he managed to make the fight sequence between Mando and the Dark Trooper surprisingly violent; the sight of Mando being punched repeatedly in the face by the Dark Trooper is quite queasy, not to mention Moff Gideon holding the Darksaber threatening over Grogu. At just over 40 minutes, excluding the credits, 'The Rescue' has to pack A LOT in.
Jon Favreau's episodes as a screenwriter have always been light on dialogue, heavy on action, and it's the same here. But it's in the final moments where you can feel some of the creakiness in his writing. Luke Skywalker was always, always going to turn up. From the minute Ahsoka Tano mentioned it in 'The Jedi', seeing Mark Hamill's de-aged face was a given. More the point, Mando and Grogu going their separate paths was also inevitable. As much as the story thus far has been about him learning to become a parent and care for others, giving up his solitary existence, the conclusion to that in this episode felt like a natural progression.
It's not up there with, say, 'White Fang' for its sentimentality and emotion, but it's definitely got a lot going on with it. Whatever it is that Disney is using for de-aging, it doesn't really work. Like in 'Rogue One' with Moff Tarkin's appearance, the approach should always be that less is more. The technology isn't up to a point where it looks completely flawless, so why so proudly display it when it looks off?
Let's go back to the original question at the top of this review - putting Luke Skywalker in the final episode, Grogu and Mando going their separate ways, and yes, the final post-credits scene where 'The Book of Boba Fett' is teased for December 2021. It all feels like fan service, doesn't it? It's giving everyone exactly what they want. Isn't that a good thing? The trick, it seems, is to give people what they didn't know they wanted.
If 'The Mandalorian' and its finale is fan service, the hope then is that the third season - which has already been confirmed - will do this. For now, you can't argue with 'The Rescue' being exactly what everyone wanted. It's thrilling, it reunites everyone, it wraps up the story in as neat a bow as you can imagine. Where does it go from here?