When last week’s episode of The Book of Boba Fett concluded, audiences were pretty certain that the titular Mandalorian would be joining the show to assist Fett and his fight against the Pykes. While that fight is certainly ahead of us, Chapter Five of this show was actually more of a standalone episode of The Mandalorian. As such, it was a great episode of The Mandalorian but not a good episode for The Book of Boba Fett.
The reason why I say this is because chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian is basically season 3, episode 1 of The Mandalorian. We never catch up with Boba, nor have there been any major developments pushing the narrative forward. So before The Book of Boba Fett was a seven-episode show, it now sort of feels like a six-episode show. This means we now have far less time to wrap up the events in the main storyline. Before, we assumed we’d have three full episodes, but with two, the room for development and payoff feels much narrower.
But while this may have been to the detriment of Boba Fett, no doubt that this episode was a welcome one for fans of The Mandalorian. Directed by series regular Bryce Dallas Howard, the episode opens with the revelation that Din Djarin has returned to the world of bounty hunting. He even says his old threat from the first episode out loud again to his quarry: “I can bring you in warm or I can bring you in cold.” If people thought The Book of Boba Fett was too light on action, then Mando will scratch that itch, as Din slices through a handful of goons with the Darksaber with a ruthlessness that was honestly shocking to see in this show. When the bounty is cut in half with the sword then decapitated (off-screen), I can honestly say I didn’t see that coming. But it was very interesting, in terms of narrative choice, to see that Mando has essentially regressed and gone back to his old ways and is actually more violent than he was before with Grogu there by his side.
Din trades that bounty for information on the whereabouts of The Armorer, whom we’ve not seen since the season one finale. She’s taken refuge on a station that looks almost like a Halo ring meets Elysium alongside Paz Vizsla, the heavy Mandalorian from season one. Din learns the way of the Darksaber from The Armorer and it’s interesting to learn that the blade seemingly gets heavier the more it’s used incorrectly. Din might be sound of body, but his mind isn’t focused and he uses the blade like a total novice. Later on, he learns about the Night of a Thousand Tears, which was when the Empire destroyed Mandalore. Some of the shots of the Empire laying waste to the planet reminded me heavily of The Terminator franchise, with the KX droids looking like T-800s from the future, stepping over fire and debris.
While she recounts this tale, she also crafts him some armour for Grogu out of the spear, as beskar shouldn’t be used as weaponry. Then, Paz challenges Din for the right to wield the Darksaber, claiming the sword belongs in his family by birthright. Din wins the duel, barely, but it’s also revealed that he has taken his helmet off in front of others, which exiles him from the Mando creed. The numbers of Mandalorians are dwindling and it’s maddening to see that The Watch would rather face extinction head-on and honour their ways than adapt to bolster their ranks. Having Din on board would’ve been a great asset to their cause, but they’d rather kick him out, despite preaching that solidarity is “the way”.
Din then makes his way to Tatooine to collect a ship from Amy Sedaris’ Peli Motto. Oh all the planets to visit, Din just so happens to visit the one planet where Boba Fett is on, right at the moment where he’s looking to hire some muscle. I found the second half of the episode to be a little less interesting than the first, largely thanks to Sedaris’ character, who was speaking Jawa and talking about her dating history with the scavengers. The weird humour in the Disney+ Star Wars shows is the one thing that has irked me consistently and this portion was no exception. I also found the ship-making sequence to be a touch too long. But in the end, Din’s new ship is now a heavily modified Nubian (Naboo) N-1 Starfighter. Also, was that BD-1 from Jedi Fallen Order? I don’t think so, as the paint scheme doesn’t quite match, but droids can be painted.
The episode ends with Fennec recruiting Din to Boba’s cause, which Din accepts, free of charge. But Din says he has to go deliver a gift to an old friend first before accepting any work on Boba’s behalf, which is naturally going to be Grogu. Now, does this mean we don’t see any more of Din for the rest of the season and that this thread will only be picked up with a second season to The Book of Boba Fett? Because I would find it even more unusual to spend more time with Din within The Book of Boba Fett as he ventures off-world to visit Grogu. That would mean the next two episodes would see Boba Fett consolidating his forces. On the other hand, Din could visit Grogu offscreen and easily return next week-which may sadden fans of the little green guy, considering his popularity. I’m very curious about how this will all play out.
In the end, it was great spending some time with Mando, it was like catching up with an old friend. But by bringing in Mando for a whole episode, it also inadvertently showed some of the weaknesses of The Book of Boba Fett. This episode ultimately didn’t serve Fett’s arc and narrative whatsoever, which is frustrating as this show’s protagonist still needs a lot of work. This episode could have likely been a standalone special that aired as a prequel episode that would have aired over the summer or something, as nothing that happens was in service of Boba’s narrative. Wondering how Mando got that sweet new ship? Stay tuned, that’s coming this summer to tide you over. As it stands, The Return of the Mandalorian was a great episode of The Mandalorian, but it cut the much-needed screentime for Boba Fett down and derailed the momentum as we rush to the finale. Hopefully, those final two episodes can really deliver.
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