Long before the release of season two of The Mandalorian, quite a bit of casting news leaked. Timothy Olyphant was playing Cobb Vanth. Katee Sackhoff would be reprising her role of Bo-Katan Kryze. Boba Fett was back, played again by Temuera Morrison. And a fan-favorite would be making her live-action debut, as Ahsoka Tano would be brought to life by Rosario Dawson.
Almost every casting note leaked. Almost.
Because the biggest one of them all remained a secret all the way up until the final moments of the season two finale, when Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker heroically strode onto the scene to save the day. The filmmakers knew that this one was massive, and they tried to do everything they could to keep it from leaking (which, impressively, they did!).
One of the ways they did this was by, in the script, saying that it would be Plo Koon as the Jedi who appeared in the finale. This actually isn’t the first time we’ve heard about this, but the recent Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian: “Making of Season 2 Finale” revealed the incredible lengths that they went to in order to keep up the ruse.
Peyton Reed, who directed the finale, told the story about receiving the script and reading that Plo Koon would appear. He knew that Plo Koon was a Jedi from the prequel trilogy and was beginning to ask how they would visualize it and make it happen, when Jon Favreau pulled him aside in the corner and told him that, instead of Plo Koon, it would be Luke Skywalker.
Even though Reed was now in on the secret, along with others like Favreau, Dave Filoni, and Kathy Kennedy, that wasn’t the end of the Plo Koon deception. “We had to keep Mark a secret,” Reed says. “And that went from creating misleads in the script, creating artwork that was not Luke, creating some temporary visual effects that were the character of Plo Koon.”
That’s right: they actually created artwork and visual effects of Plo Koon for the sole purpose of trying to make sure the real news didn’t leak. In fact, they went so far as to place Plo Koon’s head on the body of the actor, digitally, in the dailies.
But why Plo Koon? Well it was actually very smartly-chosen. “It’s fairly well-known by deep-core fans that Plo Koon’s my favorite Jedi,” Dave Filoni said. “And a lot of people, if Plo Koon from the script got out, would assume well of course, ‘cuz Dave likes Plo Koon. So there’s these layers of intrigue we try to weave. We had a digital Plo Koon head placed on the actor in dailies so it looked like Plo Koon.”
He’s exactly right. Filoni’s love for Plo Koon isn’t a secret, and even though the Jedi Master supposedly died in Revenge of the Sith, if word got out it would at least be believable that Dave Filoni was bringing Plo Koon back. Even if fans wouldn’t like it or think it works, it would have been believable enough. Because, let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of Jedi roaming the galaxy out there who could have taken the focus away from Luke. So this one worked really well.
Of course, it wouldn’t have worked as well had Plo Koon actually appeared. The Jedi High Council Member from the prequel trilogy was shot down in his starfighter above Cato Neimoidia during the Order 66 sequence in Revenge of the Sith, killing him. It would have taken a lot of gymnastics to make it work for him to still be around during this era post-Return of the Jedi. But that’s just it: it didn’t have to actually work canonically, it merely had to be believable. And I think it would have been – at least believable enough.
Nothing did leak or come of it, but it’s incredible to see the lengths they went to in order to try to keep it from happening. Bringing Mark Hamill back as Luke Skywalker is a massive feat. Doing so without anyone knowing about it might even be more so.
And part of that was thanks to Plo Koon.