SPOILERS AHEAD for the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian on Disney+.
Another season of The Mandalorian has come to an end and restarted the long wait for new Star Wars content, but the Season 2 finale guaranteed that fans will have plenty to talk about for the foreseeable future. Not only did the episode feature Mando handing Baby Yoda over to be trained after getting his hands on the Darksaber (and seemingly making an enemy of Bo-Katan), but arguably the biggest legend in Star Wars saga history turned up: Luke Skywalker, played again by Mark Hamill.
Yes, despite Mark Hamill saying earlier this year that he was done playing Luke Skywalker and even breaking down his reasoning for saying goodbye to his iconic role, he reprised the role for the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian. Since The Mandalorian is set considerably closer to Return of the Jedi than The Force Awakens in the Star Wars timeline, the show needed to use some technical tricks to de-age Hamill, and that technology has clearly improved from what Rogue One did to recreate Tarkin and Leia circa A New Hope.
Mark Hamill celebrated the fact that The Mandalorian pulled off "a miracle" in keeping Luke's appearance a secret, and fans in turn celebrated Hamill's appearance by showering the actor with love on social media. Hamill wasn't the only one thrilled that the secret was kept for so long, despite his repeated insistence that he was done playing Luke:
It's almost hard to believe that Mark Hamill pulled off this Mandalorian secret for so long without use of the Force! Of course, now nobody may ever believe him if he says he's done with Star Wars for good, but there are worse things than reasons to hope for more Luke Skywalker. Besides, Mando intends to see Baby Yoda again, and that could definitely put him in Luke's presence again.
Mark Hamill had already proved that he has what it takes to keep a gigantic secret for months at a time, as he famously was one of very few people people who knew about the twist that Darth Vader is Luke's father. Who better to trust with The Mandalorian's biggest secret since the debut of Baby Yoda?
For some on social media, there were apparently quite literally not enough words to describe the reaction to seeing Luke Skywalker reveal himself as the green lightsaber-wielding Jedi who arrived to save Mando and Co. and then take Baby Yoda away for training. "Eirdjiccid Kdan" keyboard smash indeed!
It was pretty much impossible not to notice that some TV magic was used to de-age Mark Hamill to how he would have looked a handful of years after Return of the Jedi, and the reaction to the de-aging was generally positive online. If only the Mandalorian process of removing a few decades was available to all.
For others on social media, the message for Mark Hamill after his surprise appearance in The Mandalorian was simple: welcome back and thank you. It didn't hurt that Luke's return involved one of the coolest lightsaber sequences in Star Wars since Darth Vader massacred the Rebel soldiers at the end of Rogue One. His hood was down for the battle to preserve the secret (and presumably make the visual effects more straightforward), but it was an awesome way for Luke to return.
Mark Hamill's return as Luke Skywalker with his Mandalorian appearance was exactly one week before Christmas, so what better present for Star Wars fans who might not have wanted Rise of Skywalker to be the last time he appeared in the saga? For me, there was a bit of an uncanny valley effect happening with the de-aging of Hamill to play post-Return of the Jedi Luke again, but I can't deny that it was a thrilling sequence.
You can watch and rewatch Mark Hamill's surprise appearance as Luke Skywalker on Disney+ now with the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian. The Disney streamer is the place to be for current and upcoming Star Wars content. For some options set elsewhere than the galaxy far, far away, however, check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule.