There were two or three shots of Luke that I thought were really off, but other than that, I think it was great. Like it has already been noted, the de-aged voice in particular was fantastic.
Overall I think S2 was better than S1, but this week’s episode was subpar, IMO. As soon as I finished watching it I was obviously in awe, I felt like a kid again, I teared up, all that. I mean, fuck yeah, that’s Jedi Master Luke, he’s literally my favorite character ever by a good mile, and he’s back and in his prime! I was so happy. Last time I was this happy with a sequence was Master Skywalker in TLJ and before that Vader going apeshit on the Rebels in RO, which curiously is a very similar sequence to this one. You also have the emotional Din & Grogu moment, which is just fantastic. So I walked out of the episode in awe.
However, I thought it was VERY rushed. Compare it to last week’s episode: they dedicated the entirety of Chapter 15 to the quest of finding the location of the cruiser. There was room to breathe, several character moments for both Din and Mayfeld, the action didn’t feel overwhelming because there was actually tension building up due to the slower pace. There were scenes of people sitting down and talking. This one felt like it should’ve either been 20 - 30mins longer and/or be split in two. So much happened. And most of it is not very good - the way they brought back Bo-Katan felt incredibly rushed. A 1min scene in a bar, a 20sec scene planning an attack, then BAM, just action upon action and more action and, WOW, look at that, even more action! And I wasn’t invested at all, killing hundreds of stormtroopers isn’t really interesting anymore. I will say I loved the opening with the scientist and the chase and hostage crisis, though, that was great. The Din and Gideon sword fight was also fantastic.
It doesn’t help that the one character aspect of the whole Bo-Katan affair was just brushed aside, for no good reason other than “Wow, look, Luke’s here!”, either. The problem isn’t that Luke got the spotlight (though some would say that that in itself is a problem, and I’d potentially agree), it’s that they literally ditched the Mandalore aspect of the episode and don’t even go back, like, not even for a couple more lines. I mean… right, we had to have a resolution to Grogu’s story (but not a final resolution like this episode appears to be, that’s rushed!), it’s what the season was all about, but the Mandalore aspect is also very important - Din’s whole identity is in check, come on - and they literally just forget about it. Obviously they were setting up something to be resolved in the next season, but, I mean, literally not even go back for one more shot, really? End the episode on Luke and Grogu? I dunno, I think we needed at least a little bit more in order for it to feel like a proper cliffhanger, in order for stakes to actually be high.
Regarding Luke: I love that he’s back, and I hope we get to see more of him, but that’s fanboy me talking. I had hopes and kind of expected him to show up once the temple thing was mentioned, but realistically I thought there was no way. But, alas, I was actually right, he did show up, and I had a blast. However… if I actually choose to turn my brain on, I’m really unhappy with the characterization they gave him. He’s a cold, calculist Jedi Master, and… that’s not Luke. Luke is all about emotions and attachments, that’s how he saved his father’s soul. He went against his masters, he was a truly unorthodox Jedi, that’s how he won. He won through love, he understands that that’s what the Jedi are all about, so that’s how his Jedi Order should be. And that character would never remove Grogu, an infant, from the care of a loving father figure, because he knows the importance of such a figure. That was my biggest - and only - problem with TLJ Luke too (that got a pass because Hamill’s just so fantastic). I buy depressed/disillusioned Luke, that’s an extremely emotional Luke, but I don’t buy how he got there, and it’s already showing here. How he seems to have become a cold, detached Jedi, without the love and compassion that won the revolution and his father’s heart in ROTJ. That’s exactly why the PT Jedi failed and exactly why he fails in the post-ROTJ world, but it goes directly against his character IMO.
I dunno though, maybe I don’t really understand the character, I guess. But then again, maybe Mando’s writers actually agree with me, but are stuck with this characterization since this is a prequel to the ST after all, and JJ Abrams and co. chose to give Luke’s OT arc to Rey, at the cost of coherence between OT and ST Luke. Rian still managed to bring back idealist Luke, but other than his redemption in TLJ, we’re told he was just another PT Jedi for a good while, which is the antithesis of his OT journey. Sad.