January 26, 2022 4:05:31 pm
Moments after people had finished watching episode four of The Book of Boba Fett, someone tweeted that we’d now seen all the footage from the trailers and other promotional material. “We’re now in the dark zone,” they wrote. Chapter five makes good on the promise made at the end of the previous episode, which concluded with a musical tease of what (but more importantly whom) to expect.
Episode five—titled Return of the Mandalorian—opens with Din Djarin and stays with him for 50 minutes, as he scores a bounty, engages in a duel, and goes on a joy ride to end all joy rides. After four episodes that ranged from downright disappointing to surprisingly enjoyable, Return of the Mandalorian, directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Having arrived at a bit of a crossroads after concluding his mission to deliver Grogu to safety, Din Djarin now is confused about what to do next. He can continue taking on jobs like some sort of freelance samurai, or he could maybe explore the possibility of leading his people, now that he’s in possession of the fabled Darksaber. Like the Elder Wand from the Harry Potter series, it was prophesied that the one who wields the Darksaber (after having won it fair and square in battle) would be the one to lead the Mandalorians to salvation.
But first, he must have his wounds tended to. So, he shows up at the Mandalorian hideout, where a mysterious character called the Armorer asks him all sorts of questions about the Darksaber, and gives him (and us) an important lesson in Mandalorian history. It is this fascination with lore that has been almost completely missing from The Book of Fett. And despite this episode, it can be argued that it still is.
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Because as wonderful as Return of the Mandalorian is, and as vital as it is in shaping our overall impression of The Book of Boba Fett, it’s actually just an unexpected special episode of The Mandalorian. To the extent that the titular Boba Fett doesn’t even make an appearance.
Instead, we get an episode that could easily match up to anything that we’ve seen over on The Mandalorian. It’s everything that The Book of Boba Fett isn’t–staid, spiritual, and surprisingly silly.
At the hideout, Din Djarin is forced to own up to the fact that he removed his helmet once—which, according to Mandalorian Creed, is akin to a devout Muslim woman removing their hijab in public. Din Djarin is ordered to ceremonially atone for his transgressions—a big price for the character to pay, just because you wanted to catch a glimpse of Pedro Pascal’s beautiful face.
This significant plot diversion a reminder of just how ambitious Star Wars storytelling could be, and the sort of semi-serious ideas that The Book of Boba Fett had so far avoided tackling. In a later scene, played for laughs, Din Djarin is stopped at the ‘airport’ for carrying weapons. “I’m a Mandalorian,” he tells the security droid, “Weapons are a part of my religion.”
The episode also continues The Book of Boba Fett’s dedication to forging a stronger connection between the more contemporary Star Wars stories and the much-maligned prequels. After a couple of episodes that literally used old footage from Attack of the Clones, episode five embraces the past in a most fun manner, when it gives Din Djarin a new ride on Mos Eisley.
It is there that, unbeknownst to him, a mediocre Star Wars show has been unfolding for the last month. But hopefully now, with a potential joining of the forces in the offing, the last two episodes will bring the show to a satisfying conclusion.
The Book of Boba Fett, Chapter 5, Return of the Mandalorian
Director – Bryce Dallas Howard
Cast – Pedro Pascal, Ming-Na Wen, Amy Sedaris
Rating – 4.5/5
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