The Book of Boba Fett‘s latest episode takes a bit of a side trip, but brings all the awesome together for one of the best episodes of the season.
Well, there’s a whole lot to talk about in today’s episode of The Book of Boba Fett, as Bryce Dallas Howard returns to the director’s chair and reminds us why she rules.
Return of the King
Excuse me, but I have to say something first. Ahem *Clears throat*, SCOOP CONFIRMED. As we exclusively reported last year, Din Djarin, THE Mandalorian has returned. At the time of my report, I had no real idea in what capacity he would appear. Without knowing the extent of his appearance (or any real details about the show), I was thrilled to see this entire episode dedicated to the character.
So yes, today’s Book of Boba Fett, doesn’t actually feature the show’s titular character.
The ending of last week’s episode left off with a teasing musical cue, suggesting with a heavy wink and nudge that Din Djarin would be among the “muscle” Boba Fett calls upon to help him. Turns out this is exactly the case, but the episode, appropriately titled The Return of The Mandalorian, spends its time catching audiences up on what the character has been doing in the time since we last saw him…Sort of.
The episode starts off showing Din doing what he does best, tracking down a bounty in some seedy places. Now, however, he’s got his fancy new Darksaber with which to whip all kinds of ass and take care of business…Which he does. Quite impressively I might add. Seriously, the show kicks off with some excellent action before we even get to the title card.
The bounty in question, a Klatoonian, is a means to an end, and it’s clear Din isn’t after mere credits this time. As he returns to the one who issued the bounty, he is gifted with information, about the current place he’s on.
This new ring-world is one of my favorite new designs we’ve seen. It’s just gorgeous and manages to feel simultaneous fresh within Star Wars, while fitting comfortably within it. Maybe I’m just excited to be going off-world in the show, which has stuck entirely on Tatooine so far (I haven’t disliked that as much as others have), but everything about it hit the right notes for me.
Turns out, Din is there finally tracking down the survivors of his Enclave. The end of Mandalorian’s first season showed Moff Gideon vindictively scoured the tunnels under Nevarro, all but wiping out the hidden batch of Mandalorians Din had grown up with and visited frequently.
After the Armorer gave Din his jetpack and signet, it’s implied that she was leaving to go in hiding elsewhere. With the second time completely focused on Din’s quest to find Grogu a home, we haven’t seen what happened to the Armorer. Thankfully, that’s exactly who Din finds in the underbelly of the ring world.
This whole sequence is neat for a number of reasons (not least of which being the Armorer is one of my favorites), but we get some decent exposition and answers. For one, we learn that ONLY the Armorer and Paz Vizsla (the big guy) survived Moff Gideon’s purge on Nevarro. That’s a lot less than I was expecting, and an even bigger bummer considering how many foundlings were under the care of that enclave…
We also get a brief history of the Darksaber, something handy for audiences who haven’t watched the animated shows. For those who HAVE watched the animated series, it also does some hand-waving to explain away the new “must be earned in battle” rule of the Darksaber.
There’s apparently a whole mythos surrounding it, wherein if a person weilds the saber WITHOUT winning it in combat, it would ultimately lead all of Mandalore into darkness. Thus Bo-Katan’s possession of it (from Star Wars Rebels) wasn’t valid and potentially brought about the current plight of the Mandalorians.
We even get a cool flashback showing the “Night of Tears” we first heard about a couple years ago! While it’s short, it’s a devastating look at what became of Mandalore since we last saw it in Rebels, and the destruction we’d only heard of up to this point. Crazy to think our first time seeing this planet in live-action is it’s decimation.
I loved seeing this play out, along with the nifty Terminator homage as the K2 series droids walk upon the desolation like hulking T-800s. It’s just a neat scene; one I thought we’d see in The Mandalorian rather than Boba Fett, but I’m not picky.
The Next Steps
During his time here, the Armorer also does some crafting for Din, taking the Beskar Spear (which apparently shouldn’t have been forged into a weapon) and using it to make something special for Grogu. While we don’t see what it is, there are some hints of it being chain-mail, or something similar. Either way, it’s really cool to see Din’s continued fatherly attachment and treating Grogu like a true Mandalorian foundling.
We also get to see some Darksaber training, and a duel with Paz Vizsla who thinks the blade belongs with him, since it originated with his clan. Ultimately, Paz fails in his attempt, but the confrontation brings about the knowledge of Din removing his helmet…the ultimate sacrilege for this group of Mandalorians.
He’s nothing if not honest. I love how he didn’t even try to hide the fact about him removing his helmet. It once again hammers home how much he cared for Grogu. He’s willing to face the consequences of his actions without backing down.
Turns out, there’s a loophole for those who have removed their helmets and want to remain Mandalorians. he must be “cleansed” in the waters under the mines of Mandalore itself. No easy task now that Mandalore is a smoking husk, but this is the quest Din is given and he seems set to make it happen.
To complete this new quest, however, Din is going to need his own transport once again. Turns out he’s been using regular ‘ol public transport to get where he needs to go, but a message about a new ship from Peli Motto brings him to Tatooine.
Have I mentioned how much I adore Peli Motto? She was a favorite side character in The Mandalorian, and am thrilled she gets some more attention in this episode.
Anyway, she’s found a new ship for Mando’s personal use, an older one from before the Empire, which makes it harder to track, just like his Razor Crest. It’s a bit smaller, however, as it turns out to be an N-1 starfighter!
Haven’t seen one of these in a LONG while and it’s cool to see it brought back in this way. Whereas they were shiny and new during the Prequels, here we get to see them as older relics, busted and in need of repair. The two work together, in an old-fashioned montage, to get the ship operational again. Hell, they even modified the astromech port, giving it space that could be easily used for a tiny passenger…hmmmmm.
Once it’s up and running, Din takes it for a test flight that feels pulled straight out of the Prequels and showcased the enhancements they put into the old ship. After a fun conversation with some New Republic rangers, Din returns to Peli’s hangar, where none other than Fennec Shand is waiting for him.
She’s there to purchase Din’s skills as Boba Fett’s extra muscle. It’s a task Din is more than willing to take on, even going so far as to do it for free. He just has one little stop to make first.
The implication in Din’s words is that he intends to visit Grogu first, give him the gift he had forged, and then help out Boba Fett. I would imagine he’s doing that first and then returning to assist in Boba’s big fight against the Pykes before the season comes to an end.
Now, I have heard in the past that Grogu (and even Luke, who he’s with) would appear in The Book of Boba Fett, but didn’t run it as a story because I don’t like posting scoops that give away story stuff. Based of the hints we got in today’s episode, however, it seems more than likely we’ll be seeing that happen pretty soon.
Surely Din isn’t the only ‘muscle’ Boba is looking to bring in. I suspect the next episode will also show the man himself reach out to various contacts from his past, people who may owe him favors (or at least willing to take his money), to fight with/for him. This could bring in some of the classic bounty hunter characters many have been hoping to see.
Regardless of how it goes down, the die seems to have been cast for the story we’re heading towards. As he told the crime families during his little feast, he intends to drive the Pykes off of Tatooine and consolidate his own claim to power. That’s pretty much it! Everything left for these next two episodes it likely leading to that showdown, but could still include some fun surprises.
The Bigger Picture
Apart from The Tribes of Tatooine (which I love for more personal reasons related to the Tuskens), The Return of The Mandalorian is easily my favorite episode of the show so far. Bryce Dallas Howard brings the goods, which comes as no surprise considering she also directed my favorite Mando episodes. There’s a level of cinematic quality to today’s episode that has been missing so far, and it manages to elevate things all around; even as some of the dialog gets clunky.
But for a show about Boba Fett, it seems odd the best episode doesn’t even include him. Overall, I’ve enjoyed The Book of Boba Fett. I like the idea of a slower burn, smaller scale story set in the galaxy far, far away and have appreciated the deeper character work done for the character.
The story, however, has been….okay. For one, aside from the general idea that “Boba wants to be in charge” there hasn’t been much driving the present day story. At least his time with the Tuskens in the flashbacks gave more clear motivations and things to work towards. Except for dealing with a couple thugs and threats, we haven’t actually seen much of what Boba has going on in running his crime family.
Based on the run time left, I’m sure we’ll only be dealing with the Pyke problem, perhaps setting up a bigger Syndicate villain to deal with later. So the show has been relatively straightforward, the it’s meandered so much getting there, it’s kind of sluggish.
Din’s story is still one we’re highly invested in, so the momentum of that carries over into this episode. Even here, though, apart from Fennec recruiting him at the end, it had little to do with Boba’s story. It’s hard to complain when you get an episode that whips so much ass, but it sure highlights the differences/issues with the series so far.
Getting off planet meant more opportunity for different Easter eggs for fans to notice and pick apart in the background. Here are the ones that stuck out to me:
Trials of the Darksaber – the training sequence with Din using the Darksaber is very reminiscent of when Sabine Wren first used it in Star Wars Rebels. It’s not necessarily a direct Easter egg, but a consistent callback that ties things together.
Mando’a – During the Darksaber training, you can here the Armorer speaking Mando’a. It’s language has been mentioned before, and used a couple times in the animated shows, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve heard it in live-action.
BD Droid – One of the new droids in Peli Motto’s employ is none other than a bipedal BD droid. The style first appears in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (which just had a sequel formally announced) and serves as your trusty companion throughout the story. Really cool to see this make the jump to live-action.
Carson Teva – Our old friend Carson Teva, played by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, makes an appearance as one of the X-wing pilots who pulls of Din.
Lieutenant Reed – Speaking of the X-wing pilots, you may have thought Carson’s new partner, Reed, looked familiar. That’s because he’s played by Max Lloyd-Jones, who was the body double for Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian’s season finale. Nice to see him be able to use his actual face this time.
Wizard – Upon completing his test flight of the N-1 fighter, Din tells Peli it was “Wizard,” an obvious callback to the phrase first introduced in The Phantom Menace. Funny enough, The High Republic comics/books have given an origin to the phrase, making it all the more awesome to see brought back.
In short, this was a mighty fine episode of The Book of Boba Fett, and fully leaned into the idea of all these shows being connected in various ways. While there’s some clunky dialog (even for Star Wars), Bryce Dallas Howard brings an impressive style to her work on these shows and I would definitely love to hear about her getting a Star Wars movie of her own.
Let’s just hope the final two episodes brings the focus back to Boba and leaves his show on a high note.