I just got to watch the last episode, and I’ve gotta say, that was certainly a…thing…that happened.
First, the Good:
The opening was solid, and the cruiser incursion was pretty good. The fight between Gideon and Mando was so much better than the previous fights with the Beskar spear, the glowing of the metal really helped sell the danger of the Darksaber. The Dark Troopers were similarly intimidating and well-utilized in the episode. Also, it was nice to see an all-female strike team in action. Din and the child were wonderful, and him taking off his helmet wasn’t cheapened by its removal in the previous episode for me since it felt like an organic process of slowly opening up to others. Luke’s role was good…on paper. Which leads me to
I’m not going to comment on Luke’s physical appearance here, since it’s been discussed enough. Rather, the far bigger problem for me was the way in which he was introduced.
From the moment the X-wing touches down on the cruiser, we suspect it’s Luke, even casual viewers such as my girlfriend who immediately asked ‘That can’t be Luke, can it? Is it Luke?!’ The question is almost immediately answered as we are treated to the cloaked figure and then the green lightsaber as he mows down dozens of droids leading to the bridge. Cut back to the bridge where we see everyone watching on the screens as this guy lays waste to the droids, and finally he arrives in the last hallway where we have another action scene of him destroying machinery in highly theatrical ways. Finally the doors open to reveal…Luke. The guy we revealed two scenes ago. He stands calmly, almost serenely, as our heroes behold him in almost religious awe. Artoo is by his side like an attendant cherubim, and Luke says the proper words to receive the child.
So yeah, this feels peak fanservice to me, and not in a good way. How much better it would have been if we had seen only the X-wing arriving, then had the droids continue their assault on the bridge? They might bring their weapons to bear on the door, and as it glowed red hot from their assault and they began to break through we would finally hear a commotion behind them and they would stop their assault. Din moves forward to investigate. Through a hole in the melting door he would see flashes and blaster fire. Could that be the sound of a lightsaber? Finally, a bright light flashes through the still-melted door accompanied by the squeal of a final dying droid, and is quickly drawn back.
Din moves to open the door, his hand over the button. One of the others protests in fear, not knowing who or what is on the other side. Din lowers his hand. Then a deep rumble permeates the bridge, and the door moves of its own, to reveal a small, cloaked figure, his hood up. Behind him lie smoking remains. He lowers his hood. “Did someone call for a Jedi?” His eyes move over the room, settling on Gideon. “I’m sorry, were those your droids?” The child peeks out from behind a panel. Luke catches himself, as if he’s seen a ghost.
You get the idea. It’s still fanservice, but it doesn’t waste time with mindless lightsaber action. The focus should still be on Din and the others, not on badass Luke. Now if they go with a somber, religious-icon Luke, fine, but I fear that they did it for the same reason they made Rouge One Leia into a Madonna-like figure - they are just too afraid of audience rejection to give them any character at all.
Believe it or not, I liked the episode overall. The core of the story remains, and it did a lot right. It just makes the parts where it stumbles that much more obvious.