Welcome to my weekly review of The Book of Boba Fett, where I will be walking us though each episode and giving my thoughts on the show. My reviews will follow my usual format: an overview of the plot (so be aware, there will be spoilers!), my review of the show, then a few “Moments in canon” – references that link to other media and the galaxy as a whole. Today, we’ll be looking at Chapter 5: “Return of the Mandalorian”.
On the ring space station Glavis, Din Djarin makes his way through an abattoir full of Klatooinian workers, eventually finding a back room with the boss and a handful of workers. Din tells them that he is looking for Kaba Baiz, who has a bounty on his head. The boss says that he is not here, but Din produces a bounty puck that shows that the boss is Kaba Baiz. Baiz and the workers in the room attack Din and he successfully kills them using the Darksaber, but he also injures his own leg in the process. Din leaves the office with Baiz’s head to find the rest of the workers have gathered, but they let him through when he reveals that he left Baiz’s credits in the office for them.
Djarin returns with the head to the local guild master, in exchange for directions to reach the lower levels. Taking these directions, Din makes his way to the lower levels, where he finds the Armorer and Paz Vizsla creating a new covert. As they heal his wound, Din briefly gives some details of his adventures and shows the pair the Darksaber. The Armorer explains more of the history and significance of the weapon to Din: including its creation by Tarre Vizsla and how Bo-Katan accepted the blade as a gift, going against The Way, which led to the Night of a Thousand Tears and the Great Purge. The Armorer shows interest in Din’s spear, but declares that beskar should be used only for armour not weapons, so Din hands it over to reforge into armour for a foundling, requesting armour for Grogu, who he wants to go see.
“Had our sect not been cloistered on the moon of Concordia, we would have not survived the Great Purge.”
The Armorer tries teaching Din to fight with the Darksaber, but he struggles to master it as it continues to feel heavier for him, which the Armorer states is due to him being unfocused. Paz Vizsla suggests that he is not worthy of the blade and challenges him. Though Paz initially gets the upper hand, Din is victorious. However Din is forced to reveal that he has removed his helmet, which leds the Armorer to declare that he is no longer a Mandalorian. Din leaves the covert with the Darksaber and makes his way to a commercial freighter going to Tatooine.
Arriving in Mos Eisley, Din makes his way to Peli Motto’s hangar just in time to save her from a Womp Rat. Fennec has been looking for a replacement ship for Din and has found one: an old N-1 starfighter, which needs a lot of work. Peli and Din work to make the ship flyable, but also modify it to fly even faster, while not requiring an astromech. With the ship completed, Din takes it out for a test run, initially flying through Beggar’s Canyon before taking the ship out of atmosphere.
“Your voice is mighty familiar. Did you used to fly a Razor Crest?”
His flying catches the attention of 2 nearby X-wing pilots, and while the one, Lieutenant Reed, wants to take him in,he is overruled by his superior, Captain Teva. Teva feels he recognises Din’s voice and asks if he used to fly a Razor Crest, noting how a Razor Crest was recorded as being on Nevarro and involved in an incident involving Imperial remnants. Not feeling comfortable with Teva’s questions, Din uses his new ship’s superior speed to fly away from them.
Arriving back at Peli’s docking bay, Din finds that Fennec Shand has arrived. Fennec greets him and explains that she has a job for Din, clarifying that they need him as muscle rather than to catch a bounty. Realising the job is for Boba, Din agrees to do it without charge, but says that there is a little someone he needs to go and see first.
Well this is going to be very interesting, as while this was my favourite episode of the series so far, it also felt like just the last couple of minutes had any bearing on the series, while the rest felt like an episode of The Mandalorian.
After last week’s musical tease, we knew that Din was coming, and I’m glad that they didn’t delay in showing him, but I don’t think any of us expected a full episode following Din and not even a second of screen time for Boba Fett in his own show! Having a scene showing what Din was up to and then getting contacted by Fennec made sense to me, but the whole episode being an update about what Din has been doing brought Boba’s story to a crashing halt even more so than the flashbacks in previous chapters. And in this way, while I loved the episode and thought it was truly special, I can’t help but think that this has actually harmed the series we are watching.
Everything here felt like a season opener for The Mandalorian. We see Din returning to the Watch, learn more about the Darksaber (for those who haven’t seen Rebels), get more information on Bo-Katan and the Great Purge, see Din giving up his spear and beginning to learn to wield the Darksaber, see Din excommunicated from the Watch and told that he is no longer a Mandalorian (which is clearly setting him up to learn that being a Mandalorian is not all about the old creed and most likely return to Mandalore as leader of his people), get a new ship to replace the Razor Crest (which as a single-person fighter rather a freighter will leave him unable to carry bounties and at a point to move on with his life). And while that is all great, this is The Book of Boba Fett, not The Mandalorian. The story of Bo-Katan and the Darksaber is not important to Boba Fett’s story, nor is Din’s status as a Mandalorian, and yet it is either vital to The Mandalorian or answers many of the questions we have been left with over the last 2 seasons. But now fans of The Mandalorian have to watch The Book of Boba Fett in order to get the whole story, which they won’t know without having Din’s appearance in this show spoiled for them. Right now, it feels like a cheeky title change at the end of The Mandalorian season 2 to The Mandalorians (à la Falcon and the Winter Soldier/Captain America and the Winter Soldier) and calling the Boba Fett storyline episodes “The Book of Boba Fett: …” as these stories are so clearly interlinked at this point, while if this series is to then continue for multiple series and not be linked to The Mandalorian, the “The Book of Boba Fett” episodes would have worked as a backdoor pilot, and given the name recognition for fans.
“Looks to me like you’re surrounded. But you look like the practical type. Let’s discuss our options.”
“I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold.”
Moving away from that and getting into the episode itself, I can confidently say that Bryce Dallas Howard has hit another home run. I really enjoyed Chapter 4 of The Mandalorian (bar a couple of performances) despite mixed reviews, and Chapter 11 of The Mandalorian is probably one of my favourite episodes in that series, and she kills it again with this episode. Every performance hit the mark for me—maybe I’m finally getting used to Amy Sedaris as Peli Motto, as she seemed much more bearable this time, bar one recurring joke about her dating Jawas and them being furry.
The visuals were all incredible, with a range of different environments including 3 very different sets on the space station Glavis (which I can’t wait to see more of in canon), Tatooine and cockpits. The one-shot as we watch Din go to deliver Baiz’s head to the local Guild master and then leave, going up and down in the elevator, was great, and it only hit me that it was one continuous shot as Din limped back into the elevator. But the real sequence that is sticking with me is the flashback of the Imperial attack on Mandalore. TIE Bombers have never looked so dangerous in live action as seeing them en masse bombing Mandalore, and seeing Sundari destroyed really hit the mark having spent years seeing it in the animated series. But the shot after of the KX-series droids and the probe droids going through the remains with the helmets of fallen Mandalorians in the foreground instantly became one of my favourite images in all of Star Wars.
Beyond that, though, this was a love letter to all of Star Wars. The return of the N-1 starfighter (an underrated fighter in my opinion) and mentions of Naboo, the use of the word “wizard” and the trip through Beggar’s Canyon with shots very reminiscent of the podrace felt like a love letter to The Phantom Menace, Carson Teva’s appearance in his patrols of the Outer Rim was a clever tie to The Mandalorian beyond all the obvious, the stories of Bo-Katan and her family linked back to The Clone Wars and Rebels, and then the appearance of a BD unit—their first time in live action—was a wonderful nod to the game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
As a final point, Din’s struggles with the Darksaber were great to see. As great as he has shown himself to be with weapons, a lightsaber of any kind is something very different. What I especially loved was his comments of the weapon getting heavier and the Armorer saying that it is because he is not committed/believing. It’s a wonderful tie to the Rebels episode “Trials of the Darksaber”, where Sabine notes how the weapon is feeling lighter as she trains with it, because she is accepting the importance of the weapon and what it means to wield it.
So what next? Well Din is clearly planning a trip to see Grogu before coming to help Boba, so are we going to see this trip, and therefore get another cameo from Luke? To me, that is taking the story too far away from The Book of Boba Fett, but at the same time if we don’t continue to follow Din’s story at all and just wait for him to turn up to help Boba, the whole episode we just watched could have been left out and a line from Fennec added into the next episode saying the Din’s in and will be there soon. Without a doubt though, the next episode needs to focus strongly on Boba and his story, and be another longer episode like this, in order to get the balance right.
A few final thoughts on the episode:
- All the building of the N-1 and the tech talk including requesting aftermarket parts from the Jawas gave me early The Fast and the Furious vibes, especially seeing the modified N-1 with the engine sticking outside the bodywork
- There needs to be a payoff to Carson Teva continually finding himself just on the edge of Din’s fight against Moff Gideon needs a payoff. While word is that Rangers of the New Republic was scrapped with Gina Carano’s sacking, I can’t help feel that the show could take advantage of this character and have the show base around him instead
- Sticking with the pilots and it was great to see Lieutenant Reed played by Max Lloyd Jones, allowing him a clear on-camera appearance after having previously doubled for Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Chapter 16 of The Mandalorian
Moments in Canon
- Paz Vizsla and The Armorer are confirmed as the only survivors from Nevarro’s Mandalorian covert
- The Armorer’s story about Bo-Katan being given the Darksaber is shown in the first 2 episodes of Star Wars Rebels season 4: “Heroes of Mandalore: Part 1” and “Heroes of Mandalore: Part 2”
- Din flies his N-1 starfighter through Beggar’s Canyon. As well as being part of the route for the Boonta Eve podrace, Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter used to practice their flying here
What did you think of the episode?
Thanks for reading. This is the Way….