The latest episode of the behind-the-scenes series Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian dropped on Disney+ today, with the special episode titled, “Making of Season 2 Finale.” And true to form, it focused exclusively on the finale – namely, the final few moments of it. That’s when, to the thrilling surprise of Star Wars fans, Luke Skywalker showed up to rescue Grogu and take him away.
The episode explores how secretive this epic appearance was, with the showrunners trying to keep it from leaking – which explains why nothing about this was even mentioned in the Disney Gallery episode for season two that was previously released. Jon Favreau even noted that while the other appearances leaked – such as Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano and Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett (and we could add Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze too) – the biggest one of them all did not. Think about how impressive – and surprising – that is: Mark Hamill returned to the role of Luke Skywalker for the incredibly popular show and it didn’t leak.
One of the reasons for that, as the episode explored, was that there was a placeholder name in the script: it was supposed to be Plo Koon appearing. Dave Filoni explained that Koon was chosen because, if the script were to leak, Star Wars fans would find it believable, since Filoni is so outspoken about his love for Plo Koon. That actually does make a lot of sense. But Peyton Reed, the director of the finale, mentioned how even more elaborate steps than that were taken, as there was concept art and designs created for Plo Koon, even going so far as to place his head on some of the footage. This was all done to throw people off the scene that it was Luke Skywalker.
But in actuality, the plans for Luke to appear seemed to have been planted long before. Favreau and Filoni invited Mark Hamill to the set of The Mandalorian season one to get his take on it – which Hamill here says should have been a giveaway – and he wound up voicing the droid in the Mos Eisley cantina in an episode. And it was also in the process of all of this happening that they mentioned to Hamill the idea of having Luke Skywalker show up at the end of this whole two season arc. There’s also a section of the documentary where Favreau talks about how they brought Lucasfilm President Kathy Kennedy in on it very early on and how she’s a fantastic producer who makes things happen. It was great to see that, since it’s yet another sign that confronts some of the ludicrous internet B.S. that’s out there. Anyway, Hamill assumed that Luke’s return meant they’d get someone younger to play the part, so he didn’t think too much of it.
Seeing Hamill as Luke Skywalker, however, the showrunners were insistent on bringing him back. And that was easily the lengthiest part of the episode, as there was discussion about pretty much everything. Favreau runs viewers through the options that you have to de-age an actor, and we see what they tried and what they ultimately wound up using. There was discussion about what color his cloak should be (because, though it’d be a surprise to many, it was actually brown rather than black in Return of the Jedi). There’s a lot of discussion about how they brought Hamill back, along with Max Lloyd-Jones, who also played Luke in the finale. The amazing people at ILM took the performance of Hamill and Lloyd-Jones and used their de-aging technology to make it work. As for the voice? Surprisingly, it was totally synthesized! And then, of course, there’s discussion about bringing R2-D2 back as well, which was what particularly got to Jon Favreau.
And that’s the thing that was so evident in this episode: you could see and hear what bringing Mark Hamill back as Luke Skywalker meant to these people. The show stayed away from any sort of sequel-bashing whatsoever, thankfully, and in fact footage from The Last Jedi (and also The Rise of Skywalker) were included, as well as Hamill explaining that this appearance is set after Return of the Jedi but before Luke starts his Jedi Academy. After all, this is merely a different time period, not a different character. And to bring him back in this setting was truly special.
One other element of this episode was Jon Favreau going on a bit of an extended discussion about the dangers of using this sort of deep-fake technology. I can imagine that it felt a little out of place to some people, but I was really glad it was included. We need to see creatives like Favreau openly and publicly wrestling with the right way to use these things while acknowledging it could be used for sinister purposes. He said that this sort of deep-fake technology, which is readily available to anyone and isn’t just reserved for the most elite filmmakers, is still somewhat discernable, but he said it’ll soon get to where it’s indistinguishable. The same is true for voices. And so this was Favreau giving a plea to other filmmakers, like himself, that they need to be proactive in thinking through ways to strengthen this technology for their purposes while limiting the potential for harm that comes from it (his suggestion is to use something like the chain codes they introduced in The Mandalorian with Boba Fett’s armor to allow you to track the information and source). In an episode like this, I thought that was especially important and am really glad it was included.
Without a doubt, though, the best part of this episode was simply seeing Mark Hamill back as Luke Skywalker. Seeing the joy, seeing him holding Grogu, seeing how they made it happen. We mustn’t take seeing that for granted, and it’s special every time we get a glimpse of it. This episode was all about how they brought Star Wars’ greatest hero to its first-ever live-action series. Seeing it come to life, hearing what it meant to these filmmakers, is something that will resonate deeply with any Star Wars fan.