A while ago, I noticed that the recap of the previous episode of “The Mandalorian” began to get quite specific as to what we could expect from the upcoming episode. This recap started with something that the show hasn’t addressed in some time: the apparent death of Fennec Shand, and the mysterious figure who knelt beside her. I always had my suspicions as to who it was, but it wasn’t confirmed… until now.
Before that can be revealed, we start out with Mando and the Child (now officially known as Grogu, thanks to Ahsoka Tano) aboard the Razor Crest as they reach Tython. Grogu, as always, is interested in that round knob aboard the ship. Mando keeps getting his attention by calling his name, and is greatly amused by this development in their interactions. After Grogu takes back the ball using the Force, Mando muses that Grogu is a special kid and that once they find where he belongs, that he will be well taken care of. Mando gives off the vibe of a parent who is proud, but also someone who is not ready to say goodbye to Grogu yet (who could blame him?). But Mando tells Grogu that he promised to take him back to his “own kind.” For a Mandalorian to protect a youngling Jedi… it is similar to a sci-fi classic called Enemy Mine, where a human befriends an enemy alien and ends up protecting the alien’s child.
Right away, Mando spots the area where he must take Grogu to reach out with the Force to other Jedi. It is an area similar to Stonehenge, a circle with rock monoliths and located upon a narrow hill. This forces Mando to land Razor Crest and take Grogu there using his jetpack. There is a round rock in the center upon which Grogu easily sits. Mando tries to figure out how to help Grogu use it to reach out in the Force. He uses his helmet to scan the rock and see if there is a “control” or something logical and tangible that is available. Of course, there is no such thing on the rock because the Force is a spiritual energy more so than physical. Grogu innocently reaches up to a nearby butterfly, indicating that he doesn’t really understand how to start either. Right when I was wondering how they were going to go about this, we hear a ship approaching. Mando looks up… and sees something that stuns, shocks, and excites me.
It is… the Slave I. This show has a way of dropping significant character entrances nonchalantly and blatantly. And there is something magical and powerful about seeing Slave I “in the flesh” after such a long time. The Firespray first appeared in Empire Strikes Back, and wasn’t seen again for over 20 years until Attack of the Clones came out. That in itself was also the last previous sighting of it in live-action, until now. (it also made appearances in The Clone Wars animated show). Slave I, like Boba Fett, makes few appearances. But also like it’s owner, those few appearances are meaningful. So as Slave I landed, that confirmed beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt that Boba Fett was indeed alive and active once more. Granted, that was fairly obvious after the season premiere. When we see that mysterious figure watching Mando, it simply could not have been a clone trooper. They age twice as fast as normal humans. So as of right now, Boba Fett is 41 while the clones are either 82 or dead. The only reason there could’ve been any reasonable doubt was because the character was not named or specified in any way. But obviously it was Boba Fett, considering how intently he was observing his armor back on Tatooine, and especially given that the Slave I has just been revealed.
The Mandalorian assumes that Slave I is a threat, and turns to Grogu just as it lands. But before they can leave, Grogu has finally succeeded in linking with the Force somehow. Grogu has his eyes closed and he has taken a meditative state with his fingertips touching and his legs seemingly crossed, while surrounded by an aura of energy. It is adorable and beautiful at the same time. Mando is unable to reach him through the energy, so he tells Grogu that he will buy him time and deal with the intruders. With his helmet, he sees a hooded figure exit the Slave I.
As Mando steps down the hill, he is intercepted by blaster fire. “I’ve been tracking you, Mandalorian.” The hooded figure is standing in the open, and Mando steps out of cover to face him with his blaster drawn. “Are you Jedi? Or are you after the child?” The figure takes off his hood, revealing a face lightly marked with what appear to be acid scars. “I’m here for the armor.” Mando mistakes this as meaning his own armor, but the robed man clarifies. “I don’t want your armor. I want my armor that you got from Cobb Vanth back on Tatooine.” Mando asks if he’s Mandalorian, to which Boba Fett replies “I’m a simple man making his way through the galaxy. Like my father before me.” This is a clear reference to what Jango Fett said to Obi-Wan Kenobi, back on Kamino before the Clone Wars: “I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.” It has been roughly 31 years since Boba heard his father say this, so perhaps that’s why he didn’t repeat it verbatim.
Mando still believes the armor belongs only to the Mandalorians, but Boba says that it belonged to his father. The standoff gets tense as Mando asks what’s to stop him from dropping Boba, which in this case is a sharpshooter Boba has covering him. Mando is unfazed since he’s wearing beskar, but Boba clarifies that the sharpshooter is aiming at Grogu. “And if you remember, I don’t miss.” That comment causes Mando to realize that this is Fennec Shand, the mercenary he pursued on Tatooine.
Thankfully, the situation is defused as Fennec Shand stands down, while Mando removes his jetpack per Boba’s request. Mando comments that Fennec was supposedly dead. Boba says that both she and him were left for dead on Tatooine, “but fate sometimes steps in to rescue the wretched.” A notable quote, that I’m sure will be remembered. “In my case, Boba Fett was that fate,” says Fennec as she reveals the cybernetic machine in her torso that is keeping her alive. There it is, fateful viewers and readers: the name drop. There is no excuse or reasonable doubt now at this point. Boba Fett is completely, officially, and irrefutably alive and well, having escaped the Sarlacc pit once and for all. Being a lifelong Boba Fett fan, it is something I have waited for essentially my entire life. Before Disney acquired Star Wars, the Expanded Universe had chronicled his escape, most notably in the Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy of novels. In that version, he was rescued by fellow bounty hunter Dengar, and they formed a partnership that led to interesting and memorable missions. But as great as those books were, it wasn’t the same as live action. There is something more meaningful and final about seeing your characters “in the flesh,” not just reading about them. Boba and Mando continue to go back and forth about the armor. “The armor was given to my father, Jango, by your forebears,” declares Boba. This line itself was also a heavy drop, because it implies that Jango Fett was a true Mandalorian after all, and not just a bounty hunter who somehow acquired an artifact from Mandalore’s ravaged past.
In exchange for the armor, Boba Fett guarantees the safety of both the Child and Mando. This offer is meaningful because the bounty on Grogu has increased significantly. But before they reach an agreement, an Imperial transport is seen landing next to the Razor Crest. Mando rushes back to Grogu but is still unable to touch him. Meanwhile, Boba and Fennec prepare to engage the incoming intruders. They are only stormtroopers, and the pair begin picking them off easily. The troopers try to flank them, but Boba Fett is waiting for them with his gaffi stick behind a rock. “A warrior is more than his armor.” This is a Mandalorian quote from the Expanded Universe, and what follows brings this quote to life. In an amazing sequence, Boba Fett surprises the stormtroopers and beats them viciously into submission. With precise and powerful attacks from the gaffi stick, Boba strikes them hard enough to break their armor and knock them into the ground. One troopers helmet is even cracked like an egg, leaving a grisly testament to Boba’s lethality.
Meanwhile, Fennec Shand is engaging another batch of troopers, using the high ground and her sharpshooting skills to cut them down. Return fire from a turret forces her to take cover, while a shot from a mortar trooper loosens the large boulder protecting her. She pushes it with her feet, and it tumbles down with lethal speed towards the stormtroopers. They try to run from it, in a shot that is obviously an homage to Indiana Jones and the boulder he had to avoid.
This serves as enough distraction for Boba Fett to reach the troopers and viciously finish them with the gaffi stick. He throws the stormtrooper captain to the ground and impales him with a ferocious strike. It is significantly rewarding and inspiring to see Boba Fett abundantly live up to his reputation, as he demonstrates the ability to bring down multiple enemies with minimal weaponry. Boba looks towards the open Razor Crest, and it is clear he is about to reclaim his armor.
A second Imperial transport arrives. Fennec and Mando are fending off the troopers just as Grogu completes his ritual with the seeing stone upon the hill. As they are being surrounded, an explosive det pack drops from the sky and explodes. Someone flies down behind a stormtrooper, and I inadvertently hold my breath in pulsing anticipation. This, perhaps more so than earlier, is the moment I have waited years for. Not only for Boba Fett to be confirmed alive… but to be fully loaded and back in action with his armor. Also, we never got the chance to see what Boba Fett could truly do in live-action. Now was the moment for such a historic and monumental moment. In a fast, electrifying, and phenomenal sequence, Boba Fett single-handedly slays the rest of the stormtroopers. He shoots them down with quick and accurate fire from both his blaster and gauntlet, and punishes one trooper that got too close by blasting him with his gauntlet.
As more approach, we finally witness the knee darts of his armor in action: they launch and rack up even more kills. Boba twirls his blaster, just as Jango Fett did on Geonosis. The remaining stormtroopers flee, and take off into the sky with both their transports. But unfortunately them, Boba locks on with his targeting antenna. I have always spoken highly of the missile on Boba Fett’s jetpack. It is perhaps his most lethal weapon, because it allows him to eliminate multiple opponents from a distance with a well-aimed shot. In this case, it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Boba launches the missile, and destroys not one, but BOTH transports in the sky. This sequence was my favorite part of the episode. THIS is the skill set that took Boba Fett from being an orphaned boy of the Clone Wars, to becoming the legendary bounty hunter that even Darth Vader himself respected. It is a scene that will go down in history, I’m certain of it.
This amazing victory is sadly short-lived. An orbital laser shot rips through the air… and lands a direct hit on the Razor Crest. The ship is immediately and completely destroyed, almost to the point of disintegration. This was a sudden, heavy and sharp blow. Not only because Mando is now without a ship. But also, the ship had grown to have sentimental value over the course of the show. Its was the site of some of the fondest memories Mando had with Grogu, and it is a great sadness to see that suddenly and permanently taken away. It also means that Mando is now without his Amban sniper rifle. Boba Fett flies off immediately in order to bring Slave I to Mando and Fennec.
What follows is an even more gut wrenching blow to Mando (and the rest of us.) Humanoid droids fly out of Moff Gideon’s light Imperial cruiser. They are Dark troopers, droid soldiers brought back into canon from the Expanded Universe. They surround Grogu, who is no longer protected by the blue aura. In an emotionally crushing shot, they snag Grogu and take off into the sky. It is difficult to explain the blinding, white hot fury that I felt watching this. The urge to annihilate the Dark Troopers — heck, all of Moff Gideon and his forces — into bits was overwhelming.
Boba Fett and Slave I fly into the area, and Boba attempts to rescue Grogu. There was something that I found oddly touching about watching Slave I flying to save the child. We are also treated to a shot in the cockpit where we see Boba Fett back in the pilot seat of Slave I for the first time since Empire Strikes Back. Unfortunately, it is too risky to take offensive action without risking harm to the child. Boba does a loose follow to see where the Dark Troopers are headed, and sees Moff Gideon’s cruiser. Slave I is forced to disengage, as the light cruiser heads into hyperspace.
Back on the ground, Mando is sifting through the Razor Crest’s remains. He finds the round knob that Grogu is so fond of — Jon Favreau, the showrunner and writer, sure knows how to tug our heartstrings, doesn’t he? — as well as the beskar spear that Mando acquired on the previous episode. Boba and Fennec watch with expressions that seem sympathetic. I thought this was a touching shot that brought a bit of humanity to Boba Fett. Maybe Mando’s relationship with Grogu reminded Boba Fett of his own bond with Jango Fett.
Boba takes this opportunity to show Mando a hologram image from his gauntlet. It is a chain code, essentially information about a Mandalorian individual and their family or clan history. Listed are Boba Fett and Jango Fett, and Mando realizes that Jango, like himself, was a Mandalorian foundling. “Yes… he even fought in the Mandalorian civil wars.” This was another heavy line, because it added an important and notable fact to Jango’s back story in canon. I will elaborate further in my summary, because to say this line is monumental is an understatement. It contains all sorts of significant implications. After accepting Boba Fett as the rightful heir to the Mandalorian armor, Mando states that their deal is complete. “Not quite,” says Boba, which confuses Mando. “We agreed, in exchange for the return of my armor, we will ensure the safety of the child… until he is returned to you safely, we are in your debt.” I was absolutely ecstatic to hear this. Boba Fett, my childhood hero, favorite pop culture character, and biggest inspiration… was going to use his skill set to help Mando rescue Grogu, a character who I have also grown laughably attached to and invested in. TIE fighters caught in the annihilating wave of a seismic charge, the Dark Troopers being ripped apart by Boba’s ferocity and array of weapons… I could hardly contain my excitement and enthusiasm. Moff Gideon and his forces are going to pay for what they’ve done.
Slave I flies down to the town on Nevarro, where the Razor Crest once proudly stood. Mando is there to ask Cara Dune about Migs Meyfeld, the sharpshooter from Season 1 who Mando did the prison break mission with. Mando wants to spring him from prison and use his knowledge to locate Moff Gideon’s cruiser. Cara is hesitant to help, and Mando tells her that Moff Gideon has the Child.
We do not see Cara Dune’s reaction to this terrible news, because we instead see what is happening aboard Gideon’s cruisers. Grogu is livid and is using the Force to choke and shove stormtroopers in his cell. Gideon teases him with the Darksaber, then has Grogu stunned and cuffed. A distasteful display, I have to give credit to Giancarlo Esposito’s superb acting for making me enthusiastic about Gideon’s future demise. Truly, this is the Gus Fring of Star Wars. He tells his officer to message Dr. Pershing that they have their “donor.” The final shot of the episode is Grogu unconscious with his small handcuffs, and it cuts to black.
I don’t even know where to start with unpacking this episode. It was phenomenal, and accomplished a lot in a short period of time. Let’s start with perhaps the most historic development: the return of Boba Fett. The idea of Boba Fett surviving the Sarlacc pit was one that always inspired me, because it showed that his resilience was great enough that he could even escape- literally- the jaws of defeat. That his iron will to uphold Jango Fett’s legacy was even greater than that of the almighty Sarlacc. The Disney takeover of Star Wars, however, left Boba Fett’s fate uncertain for even more years. Boba Fett has always been a character who gripped the imagination of the audience, commanded the attention of those watching him, and who inspired an entire culture and legion of characters based on his Mandalorian armor, his career as a bounty hunter, and his mysterious aura. I have always been very disgusted and annoyed with how Boba Fett went out in Return of the Jedi. There are mainly two reasons for this. One, it is a clear example of plot armor. No one in their right mind would use their jetpack to fly toward Luke Skywalker’s green lightsaber. That forced action by itself discredits the entire scene for me, because it is clearly meant to shaft Boba Fett for the purpose of the plot. It is absurd to the point of being unrealistic. Star Wars might be fictional, but it is a universe grounded in reality. In other words, if a weapon like a lightsaber is capable of beheading you, then you would clearly stay away from it, or engage with something that counters. it. The way Jango Fett flew away from Obi-Wan in their Kamino duel is a far more realistic and competent demonstration of what Boba Fett could’ve or would’ve done at the Sarlacc battle. And secondly, it was a terrible way to discard a character with so much potential. So with Boba’s return to Star Wars in “The Mandalorian,” this episode finally corrects the terrible mistake that was made in Return of the Jedi. It also makes canon the idea that I just expressed, about how utterly unyielding Boba Fett is. He is clearly a great warrior who never gives up under any circumstance. Whether it be putting the shattered pieces of his life together after Jango Fett’s death, persevering through continuous and dangerous struggle to become the best bounty hunter in the galaxy, or escaping the jaws of death, Boba Fett proves that he is “very brave,” as his original actor Jeremy Bulloch once said. This absolute relentlessness influenced me very positively from a young age, because Boba’s journey to live up to Jango’s legacy is what made me invested in him in the first place, and inspired me to be relentless in my own endeavors. I hope other Boba Fett fans can say the same, and now we have witnessed it in canon. It is also a historic moment because it has taken 37 years to happen: Boba Fett was last seen tumbling into the Sarlacc pit in 1983, when Return of the Jedi first came out in theaters.
My favorite part of the episode was when Boba Fett fights with his armor. In the Original Trilogy, Boba Fett’s lethality was implied far more than actually shown. This was somewhat remedied when Jango Fett saw more notable action in Attack of the Clones, but it still wasn’t Boba Fett himself. We were blessed to finally, and tangibly, see what Boba Fett is capable of. It was an undeniable testament to how Boba Fett truly lived up to his reputation. My fate in Boba Fett and his capabilities has never wavered, nor is anything new. From playing with my Boba Fett action figure many years ago, to using Boba to great effect in modern video games like the Battlefront series, I have always known that Boba Fett is the champion I believed him to be ever since I was a kid. Watching him throw down in such a devastating manner made me feel very vindicated as a Boba Fett fan.
Another significant reveal is Jango Fett’s official status as a Mandalorian. Previously, this had been addressed on The Clone Wars. Mandalorian Prime Minister Almec was speaking to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan mentions that he recently encountered Jango Fett, who wore Mandalorian armor. “Jango Fett was a common bounty hunter. How he acquired that armor is beyond me.” That was Almec’s reply, and it is a quote that has been cited ever since as “proof” than Jango Fett was not Mandalorian. Thankfully, that has finally been proven wrong. In-universe, Almec was a shameless liar. Treating his word as gospel was a mistake for this reason. It is well within his character to lie, especially when he was trying to make Mandalore seem more peaceful than it really was. Disavowing Jango Fett was convenient, petty, and easy; how cowardly and pathetic to tarnish the legacy of a dead man, and a great warrior like Jango Fett. But it was also wrong. Boba Fett’s chain code proves, once and for all, that Jango Fett was a true Mandalorian after all. How that status affects Boba we have yet to see; I suppose Boba could be considered a spiritual successor, or Mandalorian heir. It begs the question: what does it truly mean to be Mandalorian? If it means using the armor with a great deal of bravery, lethality, and honor, then Boba Fett certainly meets those requirements in spades.
Furthermore, this canonizes at least a few fragments of Jango Fett’s story from the Expanded Universe. In Jango Fett: Open Seasons, it was revealed that Jango Fett was adopted into the Mandalorians by Jaster Mereel, the leader of a group of Mandalorians fighting against the original Death Watch, in a conflict known back then as the Mandalorian Civil War. This story goes hand in hand with 2 things: Boba Fett’s statement about Jango Fett fighting in the “Mandalorian Civil Wars,” which seems to be an indirect mention of Open Seasons, and the translation of Boba Fett’s chain code. Translated, the chain reads like this:
Took into th…
The year, the…
Noteworthy is both Concord Dawn, Jango Fett’s home planet, and the cut off line of “Jaste” as the name of Jango Fett’s mentor. Clearly, this is a reference to Jaster Mereel. So at least Jango Fett being an orphan found by Mandalorians, and mentored by the man who is probably named Jaster Mereel during the Mandalorian Civil Wars is cemented as Jango Fett’s history. As a big fan of Open Seasons, I am very pleased with this Easter egg.
Along with Jango Fett’s Mandalorian status, this seems to retcon the Mandalorian armor as well. Boba Fett’s Return of the Jedi armor is now formerly Jango’s, rather than being a different set entirely. This was something unclear but implied in the Expanded Universe. Jango Fett’s helmet was seemingly blown up in The Clone Wars, so perhaps this means he had multiple copies of armor pieces. Also, we saw blaster bolts fly off of the armor when it was used by Cobb Vanth. Since the armor was given to Jango Fett by Mandalorians, and the armor fended off blaster bolts like Din Djarin’s beskar armor, I have to conclude that Jango/ Boba Fett’s armor is also beskar.
Lastly, I would like to touch on Boba Fett’s humanity and honor. The idea of Boba Fett being a ruthless but honorable bounty hunter was a staple of his character in the EU. This made me heavily invested in Boba Fett when I was a kid, for it made him head and shoulders better than the other bounty hunters. He was a notable exception in a world where treachery and lack of integrity were as abundant as air in the atmosphere. When Disney wiped the canon slate clean and designated these stories as non-canon “Legends,” much of Boba Fett’s honor went along with them. But now it seems that his honor as a warrior has been made canon to some degree. It was initially implied in The Clone Wars, when pirate Hondo Ohnaka told a young Boba that Jango would’ve wanted his son to do the right, honorable thing and not allow innocent Clone hostages to die. The way Boba Fett seems to sympathize with Mando, as well as the way he sticks to his agreement to protect Grogu, makes it seem like his character will indeed display some degree of humanity and honor. In the unfinished bounty hunter arc of The Clone Wars, Cad Bane mocked a young Boba Fett for “fighting for those in need.” But maybe that honor has led to great victories in Boba Fett’s past, and hopefully in the near future. The thought of Boba Fett aiding in the fight to save Grogu is exciting. I hope it fuels the ferocity we saw here, and that we see that ferocity applied against Gideon’s forces.
This episode left on a tragic cliffhanger — after all, it’s title is literally “The Tragedy.” Razor Crest was destroyed while Grogu was kidnapped. Din Djarin must be feeling terrible and disenfranchised. In my review of Chapter 12, I mused that perhaps we would see Boba and Din form a team, that the Dark Troopers would challenge their pride and honor as warriors, and that they would fight against the Imperial remnants. It seems that some version of those events is going to happen sooner than expected. Whatever Boba Fett and Din Djarin end up doing, I hope it is epic and swift. There are only 2 episodes left in the season, and I really don’t want to wait a whole year to rescue Grogu. I would love for Boba and Mando to save him before the season ends… and to show the Dark Troopers what Mandalorian bounty hunters can do.
In conclusion, this was an amazing episode, and my absolute favorite of the series thus far. It is rare for me to give a perfect score to anything. But, I believe this episode has earned it for bringing back a classic, beloved, and fan favorite character, for vindicating Boba Fett’s loyal fans, and for restoring Jango Fett’s status as a Mandalorian along with parts of his powerful backstory. Along with that, for displaying a well-rounded dose of emotion, action, high quality storytelling, and classic Star Wars fun, and for bringing to life my childhood dream of seeing Boba Fett once again shine in the spotlight post-Sarlacc. For achieving all of this in about 30 minutes, I give Chapter 14 full marks. After ending on such a bittersweet note, I try to wait as patiently as possible to see what will happen in the next episode. Until then, I’m just a simple man making my through the galaxy… like my heroes before me.