Last week’s episode of “The Book of Boba Fett” ended with a musical clue of what was to come: The opening bass recorder melody of “The Mandalorian.” Boba Fett needs muscle for his upcoming war with the Pyke Syndicate, and as Fennec Shand says, “Credits can buy muscle if you know where to look.” Most people speculated Din Djarin would be making a cameo in episode five, and make a cameo he did.
This episode begins in a dimly lit Klatooinian meatpacking plant. The camera zooms in on a door with plastic butcher curtains and a familiar silhouette appears. Out comes the Mandalorian in his shiny, silver Beskar armor.
I loved the way that the opening shot parallels Mando’s silhouetted appearance in the first episode of “The Mandalorian” when he enters the Pagodon public house to collect his quarry, the Mythrol.
Din walks silently into the office of the plant’s boss, Kaba Baiz, where armed lackeys line the walls. Baiz sits at a desk piled high with credits, a sharp contrast to the workers doing the gruesome manual work of butchery in the other room.
The Mandalorian is all business as he confronts his quarry, Baiz, who tries to play coy when asked about his own whereabouts. Mando calls Baiz’s bluff, pulling out a bounty puck with a holographic rendition of the face right in front of him. After a threat and an appeal to “discuss our options” from Baiz, Mando has clearly had enough. He repeats that iconic Mandalorian season one, episode one line, “I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold.”
And that’s when a Klatooinian lackey jumps forward to bite Din’s hand and begins a fight. We get to see Mando draw the beautiful Darksaber he won in battle against Moff Gideon in the season two finale of “The Mandalorian.” He’s clearly struggling to wield the weapon, which looks incredibly heavy, and he cuts his own thigh, leaving a nasty-looking burn wound. He takes care of the last advancing lackey, then turns as Baiz begins shooting him from behind. Din stabs him in the chest with a knife, throws his clearly dead body on a table, then slices through him – and the table – with the Darksaber. The classic Simpsons line, “Stop, stop! He’s already dead!” comes to mind. Is Din okay?
The camera returns to the Klatooinian workers crowded around in the other room, watching a silhouetted Mando as he uses the Darksaber to remove Baiz’s head from his body.
Mando limps out of the office and stops before the gathered workers, holding their former boss’s head in a bag. He tells the workers that if they let him pass, they should help themselves to the credits their boss won’t be needing anymore.
That tells the viewer a lot: the Mandalorian isn’t as interested in credits anymore. And Din siding with workers over management? I can get on board with that.
“The Book of Boba Fett” title card appears, followed by “Chapter 5: The Return of the Mandalorian,” accompanied by an incredible mashup of “The Book of Boba Fett” and “The Mandalorian” themes I will be jamming out to for months.
The next scene begins with a shot of a beautifully lit, ring-like space station reminiscent of both the station orbiting Ringo Vindo from The Clones Wars animated series and the stations of the Halo Array.
We then cut to Mando hobbling through the streets of the Galvis station, Baiz’s head still in hand. The way the light of the sun passes over the world and illuminates Din’s armor showcases why filming in The Volume has been such a game changer for ILM.
Din then walks into the private room of a cantina, where his client, an Ishi Tib guild master, is dining with an entourage. He doesn’t have time for the guild master’s entreaties to sit and dine before supplying the information Din’s looking for: The location of the closest access shaft to the substrata. The guild master eventually relents, and while the Ishi Tib offers another job to the Mandalorian, he just replies with a pithy, “I’d keep that on ice if I were you,” before walking away. Another instant classic Mando line that underscores just how unimportant credits are to the bounty hunter now.
We get another glimpse of how painful Mando’s Darksaber wound is as he travels through the station’s dark underworld, following hidden symbols revealed only by his helmet’s HUD. He struggles down a ladder to the underbelly of the station that’s exposed to the stars. There’s a figure in the distance, kneeling. Lo and behold, it’s the Armorer, who we hadn’t seen since the Empire attacked the Tribe’s covert on Nevarro.
The Armorer orders the Heavy Infantry Mandalorian Paz Vizsla to tend to Din’s wounds. I was just as stoked as Mando to see the remaining Tribe members again. Now we understand why Din wasn’t interested in wasting any more time on gathering credits: He was on the hunt for the only family he had left after handing Grogu over to Luke Skywalker.
The Armorer then launches into a history of the Mandalorians and the Darksaber, scoffing at the Empire lasting less than 30 years, while the Mandalorians existed for 10,000. Finally someone says what we were all thinking! She says that it was prophesized that if the Darksaber fell into the hands of the undeserving – those who do not win it by Creed in battle – “Mandalore will be laid to waste and its people scattered to the winds.”
That’s a pretty shady reference to Bo-Katan Kryze’s time with the Darksaber. Bo-Katan was simply given the weapon from Sabine Wren, who believed Bo-Katan could lead their people’s fight against the world-conquering Empire. Unfortunately, the Mandalorian resistance failed, leading to the destruction of the planet and genocide of its people under the command of Moff Gideon.
We even see a fiery flashback of Tie bombers, KX series droids and Imperial probe droids laying siege to Mandalore’s capital city of Sundari during the Night of a Thousand Tears.
The Armorer then says that only those who walked The Way escaped the prophesied curse. The extremism of the Tribe, which Bo-Katan alluded to in “The Mandalorian” season two, is really highlighted here.
Din confirms to the Armorer that he returned his foundling, Grogu, to his own kind. He also says he turned Gideon over to the New Republic rather than killing him, but both Paz and the Armorer disagree with that decision.
The next scene includes a montage of the Armorer making tiny armor for Grogu at Din’s request, using Beskar from his spear. It’s even wrapped in a cloth to look like Grogu’s head, like one of those animals that hotels make out of towels. That was a cute touch.
Din then spars with the Armorer using the Darksaber, but like Sabine in her training with Jedis Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger in Rebels, he is fighting against the blade. I loved hearing some Mando’a in live action canon as the Armorer yells, “Solus, t’ad, ehn, cuir,” or “One, two, three four,” during their practice.
Unfortunately, the tension that has been building comes to a head when Paz challenges Din to a duel for the Darksaber. It’s a well choreographed fight scene that seems to have Din on the ropes – until Paz himself struggles with the Darksaber. Just as Din puts a knife blade to Paz’s throat, the Armorer stops the fight.
She asks each duelers if they have ever removed their helmets. Paz says no, but Din hesitates. He, of course, has, in service of his original mission to return Grogu to the Jedi – and to say goodbye to his little foundling.
When he admits this, the Armorer lashes out, telling him he is no longer a Mandalorian, and that he can only redeem himself by going to the living waters beneath the mines of Mandalore, a planet that we’ve already established has been destroyed. There are only three members of the Tribe left and the Armorer is really willing to get rid of one because of a cultish rule that Din only broke to accomplish the task the Armorer gave him in the first place. He picks up the Darksaber and leaves silently, but it’s heartbreaking knowing that Din has, once again, lost his family.
What’s a rudderless man to do next? Head to Tatooine, of course. He has to check all of his weapons to board his flight, and I cannot believe he just left the Darksaber, one of the most powerful weapons in the galaxy that also makes him the Mand’alor, in a checked case. These scenes underscore just how much The Mandalorian has evolved in his beliefs since the series began.
On the flight, a small Rodian child in the seat in front of him turns around and waves. Mando doesn’t wave back, but looks at the cloth-wrapped armor made for his adopted son. Like the Armorer during her practice duel with Din, they are really hitting us over the head with the importance of his attachment to the little green foundling. The scene effectively pulls at the heartstrings, but I’m not sure it was necessary after the previous scenes established the importance Din gives to family and how much he misses Grogu.
The Mandalorian lands in Mos Espa, grabs his gear (I’m sure we all collectively let out a sigh of relief upon seeing the Darksaber) and heads to see yet another familiar face: Peli Motto! Amy Sedaris’s characterization of Peli is a delight, and we needed a little comic relief at that point of the episode.
Peli’s crew includes R5-D4 from A New Hope, a WED-15 Treadwell droid from the Battlefront games, and a BD unit like BD-1 from Jedi: Fallen Order. It makes me wonder if Cal Kestis will show up eventually in a live action Star Wars project, but we’ll most likely have to wait until the sequel game to learn his fate.
What happens next is bait for all of us Prequel-lovers out there. Peli has a new ride for Mando, and as she pulls the tarp off, we see a dilapidated N-1 starfighter, commissioned pre-war by the queen of Naboo. Why was it on Tatooine of all places? No clue. And is it a practical choice for a man who ostensibly needs room for his quarries? Absolutely not. But life has been too difficult the past few years to deny myself the happiness I got from seeing the iconic ship.
We’re treated to a humorous repair montage that also informs us for the first time that Jawas are hairy under those brown robes (no judgment from me on Peli’s choices of partners) before we see Mando take ‘er out for a test drive. Of course, he runs the Boonta Eve Classic podracing course and speeds through the treacherous Beggar’s Canyon before heading into Tatooine’s upper atmosphere. Now *this* is podracing!
Din tries spinning, which as a young Anakin Skywalker says in another N-1 in The Phantom Menace, is “a good trick,” and he even flies by the transport he was on earlier, waving to the Rodian child he sat behind. Of course, he encounters a speed trap and is stopped by a pair of New Republic Starfighter Corps X-wings like he was in season two of “The Mandalorian.” We see Carson Teva, the pilot who just happened to stop him in that episode, as well as a character named Lieutenant Reed, played by Max Lloyd-Jones, the actor who portrayed young Luke Skywalker in the season two finale of “The Mandalorian.” Teva clearly recognizes Din from their previous encounter, but lets him go. No dice on another Trapper Wolf/Dave Filoni cameo, though.
Din returns to Peli’s hangar, and when asked how the refurbished N-1 handled, he replies with another groan-inducing Phantom Menace reference, “Wizard.” I secretly loved it, though.
That’s when we finally see a character from “The Book of Boba Fett” make an appearance. Fennec Shand snuck into the hangar to ask Din if he was looking for work on behalf of Boba Fett, who is, again, looking for muscle. Din immediately agrees, even forgoing credits as payment, but says he has to pay a visit to a little friend first.
Overall, I really enjoyed the episode, a reunion with fan favorite characters from “The Mandalorian” that was packed with tons of Star Wars references. But it was less an episode of “The Book of Boba Fett” than it was “The Mandalorian” Chapter 17. Boba Fett never made an onscreen appearance and was referenced only in passing at the very end. We’ve been waiting for more live action Boba Fett content for decades and one of the precious few episodes of the show with his name on it focused on a different character entirely. It would have been more understandable if Din was brought back in an episode focused on Boba’s army building with only small references as to what the Mandalorian had been up to since we last saw him. The events of this episode could have then been part of a flashback in season three of “The Mandalorian.”
I’m honestly going to be upset if the next episode focuses on Din reuniting with Grogu even for a few minutes instead of Boba’s fight against the Pykes. I love the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda as much as the next person, but it’s Boba’s time to shine, dangit, and for that reason, I have to give the episode four out of five stars.