The Mandalorian season 2 finale's big Jedi cameo explained

The Mandalorian: Season 2
(Image credit: Disney)

Spoilers lie ahead for The Mandalorian season 2's final episode – big spoilers.

“Seen anything good on TV lately?” Mark Hamill joked on Twitter, and viewers of The Mandalorian’s season 2 finale will know exactly what he's talking about. This past weekend, Hamill reprised his role as Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker, looking years younger. With Mando and his allies facing insurmountable odds against a platoon of Imperial Dark Troopers, Skywalker showed up just in time to eliminate the army of droids – and revealed he was there to take care of Grogu (aka the Child, aka Baby Yoda).

This was one of television’s great shock moments, an unexpected appearance from one of the biggest names in that galaxy far, far away that sent the internet into meltdown. With the 30-something Skywalker recreated with a mix of Hamill, a double and a lot of CG, it was like going back in time.

But how does the last Jedi fit into the story of The Mandalorian, set five years after the Emperor’s demise and the destruction of the second Death Star? We’ve looked at events depicted in Star Wars books, comics and movies to reveal what happened to Luke Skywalker after Return of the Jedi – and what that could mean for Mando and Grogu. Well, now we know. Watch The Mandalorian season 3 for the next part of the saga.

Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian season 2

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/screengrab)

Who is Luke Skywalker?

Like you really need to ask…

Son of Darth Vader, twin brother of Princess Leia, he’s the young moisture farmer who went on to change the galaxy after meeting Old Ben Kenobi on Tatooine. He became a hero of the Rebel Alliance when he blew up the first Death Star, and subsequently trained as a Jedi before helping to restore balance to the Force in Return of the Jedi when he turned his old man away from the Dark Side. In other words, he hails from Star Wars’ answer to the royal family – icons in that galaxy far, far away don’t come any bigger.

What’s Luke Skywalker been up to since Return of the Jedi?

At the start of the original Star Wars trilogy, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda were the only (known) members of the Jedi order alive in the entire galaxy. Three movies later, they were both dead, so after Luke’s confrontation with the Emperor and Darth Vader earned him his Jedi stripes, he was the last Jedi standing.

By the time of The Mandalorian, set five years after Return of the Jedi, he’s taken it upon himself to rebuild the order. With both his teachers now absent – though thanks to the existence of Force ghosts, no one’s ever really gone – Luke looked for every bit of information on the Jedi he could find. Like some interstellar Indiana Jones, he hunted down artefacts, books and sacred sites. This wasn’t just driven by his quest to learn more about the Force – he was keen to ensure they didn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Along the way, he enlisted Poe Dameron’s mother, a Rebel pilot called Shara Bey, to recover fragments of a Force-sensitive tree that was one of many Jedi/Sith relics hoarded by the late Emperor Palpatine. He also located ancient Jedi texts like the Rammahgon and the Aionomica – the books Rey saved in The Last Jedi – and discovered the site of the first Jedi temple on Ahch-To. He also teamed up with Lando Calrissian to look for Dark Side relics like the Sith Wayfinder, and the Sith homeworld of Exegol.

Luke was assisted in his mission by Lor San Tekka, a non-Jedi who followed the order’s teachings as a member of the Church of the Force. Luke’s trusty droid, R2-D2, also remains at his side.

How does Luke Skywalker fit into The Mandalorian?


(Image credit: Disney Plus/Lucasfilm)

When former Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano met Grogu in The Mandalorian episode ‘The Jedi’, she decided she couldn’t train the kid because of his close attachment to the Mandalorian, Din Djarin. She did, however, suggest that he take Grogu to the Jedi temple on Tython, in the hope that the child could use the Force to reach out to other Jedi.

When Grogu sat on the seeing stone in the temple (in The Mandalorian episode ‘The Tragedy’), he entered a lengthy meditative trance in a forcefield. At the time it wasn’t clear who Grogu was communicating with, but season finale ‘The Rescue’ revealed he’d developed a bond with Luke.

When Mando, Bo-Katan Kryze, Koska Reeves, Fennec Shand and Cara Dune’s attempt to rescue Grogu from an Imperial cruiser flounders, salvation arrives in Skywalker form. Having communicated with the kid via the Force, Luke lands his X-Wing in one of the ship’s hangar bays, and subsequently battles his way past a platoon of the Empire’s new, state-of-the-art Dark Trooper droids to reach the group on the bridge.

He explains he’s there to take Grogu away, presumably to train him in the ways of the Jedi. “He is strong with the Force but talent without training is nothing,” says Luke. “I will give my life to protect the child. But he will not be safe until he masters his abilities.” And after a tearful farewell, they depart.

Hang on, isn’t Mark Hamill nearly 70 years old now? How did he play a younger Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian?

By taking advantage of the digital de-ageing technology that allowed a pre-A New Hope Leia to appear in Rogue One, young versions of Luke and Leia to cameo briefly in The Rise of Skywalker, and a 40-something Samuel L Jackson to take a starring role in Captain Marvel.

Luke’s appearance in The Mandalorian is a combination of two performances: one from original Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill, the other from body double Max Lloyd Jones, who apparently did all of Luke’s impressive lightsaber moves. (British actor Jones previously played Blue Eyes in War for the Planet of the Apes.)

The results in The Mandalorian aren’t perfect – there’s something very artificial about the way Luke’s lips move – but it’s a convincing way of bringing a classic character back into the Star Wars fray.

Incidentally, the season 2 finale isn’t Hamill’s first appearance in The Mandalorian – he voiced bartender droid EV-9D9 in Tatooine-based season 1 episode ‘The Gunslinger’.

What’s Luke Skywalker going to do with Grogu (Baby Yoda)?

That’s the big question, because it’s not clear whether Luke will try to train Grogu himself, or delegate the task to someone else.

We do know from books and comics set in the new post-Return of the Jedi continuity that Luke’s first apprentice was his nephew Ben Solo, who’d later turn to the Dark Side and become Kylo Ren. Luke started training the son of Leia and Han Solo when the child was about 10 years old, some 10 years after the events of The Mandalorian. He then went on to found an academy for new Jedi.

Star Wars canon is always in motion, with many interpretations of events depending on your own point of view. So while Grogu hasn’t previously been mentioned as Luke’s first apprentice or as a founding member of the Jedi academy, it doesn’t mean this didn’t happen.

Could Luke Skywalker return in The Mandalorian?

It was a major surprise when Luke cameoed in ‘The Rescue’ – the Skywalker family have their own movie saga, so don’t often appear in spin-off TV shows – but now his first appearance is out of the way, anything is possible. Indeed, Mando did promise that he’d see Grogu again, so he may cross paths with Luke during some emotional reunion with the child.

And with three Mandalorian spin-offs now in the pipeline (Ahsoka, Rangers of the New Republic and The Book of Boba Fett), there are plenty of other options for Luke’s return. Will Ahsoka Tano be drawn to meet her former master, Anakin Skywalker’s, son? And will he be able to help her in her mission to find Imperial commander Grand Admiral Thrawn?

Luke could also be a key figure in Rangers of the New Republic, seeing as he’s something of a hero in former Rebel Alliance circles. It wasn’t quite clear from ‘The Rescue’ whether former Rebel Shock Trooper Cara Dune recognized Skywalker, but chances are she’d have immense respect for a figure of his stature – as would X-Wing pilot Carson Teva.

What happens to Luke Skywalker next?

It’s no secret the subsequent decades were no party for Luke Skywalker, or his associates.

Leia trusted Luke to train Ben Solo in the hope he could avoid him falling to the Dark Side as his grandfather, Vader, had decades earlier. He failed.

The First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke got into Ben Solo’s mind, and by the time Luke moved to confront him it was too late. Watching Ben sleep, Luke sensed the power of the Dark Side in his apprentice, and drew his lightsaber, momentarily contemplating striking his nephew down to prevent the pain and suffering he could cause. When Ben realized what was happening, he brought the roof down on his master, killed the other Padawans at the academy, and burned the site to the ground. Ben renamed himself Kylo Ren and became the leader of a group of Dark Side warriors known as the Knights of Ren.

Luke became disillusioned with the Jedi order and went into hiding on the remote world of Ahch-To, cutting himself off from the Force. The only other person who knew the planet’s location was Lor San Tekka, who gave the co-ordinates to Poe Dameron before being killed by Kylo Ren.

When the Force-sensitive Rey found Luke on Ahch-To, he was living as a hermit and had no desire to rejoin the fight against the First Order. He eventually changed his mind, however, and used the Force to project himself to the desert world of Crait, defeating Kylo Ren and giving the remnants of the Resistance time to escape. Unfortunately, Luke’s efforts ultimately killed him, and he passed away on Ahch-To to become one with the Force.

Every episode of The Mandalorian is available to stream on Disney Plus every Friday.

Richard Edwards

Richard is a freelance journalist specialising in movies and TV, primarily of the sci-fi and fantasy variety. An early encounter with a certain galaxy far, far away started a lifelong love affair with outer space, and these days Richard's happiest geeking out about Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and other long-running pop culture franchises. In a previous life he was editor of legendary sci-fi and fantasy magazine SFX, where he got to interview many of the biggest names in the business – though he'll always have a soft spot for Jeff Goldblum who (somewhat bizarrely) thought Richard's name was Winter.