Why were we surprised? Season 2 of The Mandalorian has proven it's more than capable of blowing us away time and time again, so why were we shocked that it saved its biggest Star Wars surprise for the season finale?
Perhaps it was because it's what we wanted, exactly how we wanted it, and the show delivered that and so much more. It did it in royal fashion, to a level that we did not think possible. Unlike some other reveals this season, it came out of nowhere.
We knew that Grogu communed with a Jedi, and that a Jedi was possibly going to show up in this episode. A Jedi showed up alright, and it wasn't just any Jedi.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be massive spoilers for Chapter 16 of The Mandalorian, "The Rescue." If you have not watched the episode yet, get out of here Dewey! You don't want any part of this! Get outta here!***
Ezra Bridger? It wasn't him. If he returns, it will likely be in the recently announced Ahsoka Tano spin-off show. Cal Kestis from Jedi: Fallen Order? It wasn't him either.
As the hooded Jedi was gradually revealed in "The Rescue" it became slowly obvious who it was. That robe, that green lightsaber, that hilt, those boots, that buckle. The way he flew in solo in an X-Wing, it all pointed to one Jedi. Even so, we couldn't quite believe it until the hood came down.
It was Luke Skywalker.
Not only was it Luke Skywalker, it was Luke Skywalker played by Mark Hamill.
Fans had Luke in the running to possibly appear, but almost every theory had him being recast with a younger actor. Hamill had said after appearing in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that his time with the galaxy far, far away was over, and we stupidly believed him. Even if Hamill had wanted to do it, this show takes place in a time period where Luke was much younger than Hamill is now.
Yeah, that didn't matter, because somehow the effects wizards made Hamill look and sound just like he would a few years after his appearance in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. If Luke was going to return, obviously any fan would want Hamill to play him... we just did not think that it was an option. He said he was done, and he was too old. It could never happen this way.
Such is the way of things. No one's ever really gone — because here he is. That goes for droid hero R2-D2 as well, who appeared alongside Luke. It wasn't enough to bring Luke Skywalker back, they brought Artoo back as well.
Of all of the returns, reveals, and moments that this season has gifted fans, we're most glad that this one was kept a secret. Bringing Luke Skywalker into the mix is a big deal, but having Mark Hamill in the role? That is seismic. That is the stuff that Star Wars dreams are made on, and we still can't quite believe it.
It's not simple fan service either. Luke's appearance makes perfect sense for the story, as there are hardly any Jedi around in this time period. Luke is obviously very present, and currently training (or about to start training) a new order of Jedi. If Grogu was going to end the season going off with a Jedi, then why play around? Have him go off with the Jedi Master we all know and love, one who we know is collecting students.
This section of Luke's history has been a big blind spot when it comes to the books and comics of the new canon. We knew he'd begun to train Jedi, at some point here he begins to train Leia, and eventually his mentorship of young Ben Solo begins. His creation of his own Jedi Temple will also take place, but most of these events are things that we've only heard about or read general references to. There is so much of Luke's history between the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy that has been untouched. It always felt deliberate, like the storytellers were waiting for the right vehicle to fill in those details.
The Mandalorian ended up being the start of those reveals. Welcome to something special, because Grogu is now in the care of Luke Skywalker himself.
While the appearance of Luke and the possibilities that are now open are obviously exciting as all karkin' kriff, this series also made sure to remind everyone who its main character is. It doesn't suddenly become The Luke Skywalker Show, nor will it. It's still the story of Din Djarin, the Mandalorian who has to say farewell (for now) to the child he has come to love like a son. He does this with his helmet off, fully vulnerable in front of everyone, and we know what a big deal that is for him.
Grogu is going off with Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker, but it's the emotions on Pedro Pascal's face that make the moment a triumph. He's the title character, and as excited as we are for Hamill to be back in the story, he's still just a guest. A glorious guest.
Will Grogu reunite with Djarin, or will he go off and study with Luke full time? Is this the last that we'll see of Hamill on this series? Will a wee little Ben Solo ever hit the scene?
That we're even asking these things is beyond crazy. The official "Skywalker Saga" may be over, but the stories set in the Star Wars galaxy will never be done with that family. Not when there are such interesting gaps in their history.
Welcome back, Mark Hamill! And how dare you. No one's ever really gone indeed.