Last week’s episode of The Book of Boba Fett gave us a look at how Fett and Shand’s partnership officially began. It also showed us how he got his ship back, which he used in a possibly misguided act of vengeance against the Kintan Stiders for slaughtering his adopted Tusken family.
In the present storyline, Fett and Shand were unable to secure assistance from the other Mos Espa crime lords for their coming war with the Pyke Syndicate. Judging by the episode’s final musical cue, it appeared the pair were going to ask their old buddy Din Djarin for help, instead.
This week, we discover the music from the end of Chapter 4 wasn’t simply hinting at a cameo from Djarin — it ended up being the precursor to what is essentially the Season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian.
As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers along with some brief explorations of Star Wars lore.
Cut That Meat
The episode opens with Din Djarin walking into a meat packing plant filled with tough-looking Klatoonians. We quickly discover that he’s bounty hunting again. His target this time is the Klatoonian’s boss (Kaba Baiz), who initially plays dumb before attempting to negotiate. This leads to Djarin uttering his infamous “I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold” line.
Unlike the Mythrol from The Mandalorian‘s series premiere, Kaba Baiz opts for the cold option via his enforcers attempting to jump Djarin. Before the Mandalorian chops his target’s head off, we’re treated to a great fight scene which sees him using his recently acquired Darksaber. Unfortunately, he also manages to cut and injure himself very badly with the fabled blade.
Djarin tells the remaining Klatoonians that he won’t stop them from looting their former employer’s office, allowing him to limp out of the meat packing plant with Kaba Baiz’s decapitated head in tow.
Later, Djarin arrives at a giant space station/ringworld (similar to the one in the movie Elysium) and delivers the bounty to his client. She attempts to play coy with him, but eventually provides the promised reward: Information on a hidden area within the ringworld.
*Side Note: This entire sequence take place within a 2 minute tracking shot, which definitely helps the ringworld feel as big as it should be. This is just one of many things director Bryce Dallas Howard does exceptionally well throughout the episode.
Djarin follows his client’s instructions (along with some helpful infrared markers) to a remote location occupied by the Armorer and Paz Vizsla, who he learns are the only surviving members from their covert back on Navarro.
The Armorer stiffly instructs Paz to tend to Djarin’s wounds before asking what weapon could have possibly messed him up so badly. Djarin replies by showing them that he’s in possession of the Darksaber. This leads to the Armorer providing some exposition on the weapon’s history and it’s importance to the Mandalorian people.
*Side Note: Nearly all of the information that the Armor ends up revealing about the Darksaber (and much more) is covered in this article. That being said, she does drop a pretty big bomb in a little bit.
She explains that the weapon was originally forged by a Mandalorian named Tarre Vizsla who was also a Jedi. Whoever wields the Darksaber can rightfully claim leadership over Mandalore (and its people) so long as they acquire it via combat. According to her, claiming the weapon by any other method will curse both the wielder and Mandalore.
After learning that Djarin returned Grogu/Baby Yoda to the Jedi, she declares that he will join her and Paz Vizsla as they rebuild the covert.
Tears and Fears
While rebuilding the Armorer’s forge, Paz asks how Djarin acquired the Darksaber. He’s disappointed to learn that his returned brethren defeated Moff Gideon for it without also killing the man who caused their people so much pain. The Armorer appears to agree with this sentiment, expressing skepticism that the New Republic would hold Gideon rightfully accountable for the millions of their kind that he had a hand in slaughtering.
She then asks Djarin where he got his sweet Beskar spear. He tells her that it was a gift from a Jedi (Ahsoka Tano) and it can block a lightsaber saber. It also helped him to defeat Moff Gideon. The Armorer responds by saying that the spear’s existence is a risk to their people since it’s the only substance that can pierce their own Beskar armor. She then adds that Beskar should only be used to forge armor and not weapons.
*Side Note: Leaving aside that the Darksaber’s hilt is made of Beskar, this seems like a weird rule–which is really saying something when you’re talking about devout/fanatical Mandalorians.
Djarin immediately hands the spear over and asks for her to forge it into protective gear. As the process begins, he asks the Armorer if she knows who Bo Katan is. The Armorer confirms that she does, referring to the former ruler of Mandalore as a “cautionary tale.” It was apparently under her rule that the Great Purge of Mandalore happened — a horrific tragedy that she fully believes was due in part to the Darksaber being gifted to Bo Katan rather than won by creed.
*Side Note: I’m so glad that this Star Wars mythology sticking point is not only getting addressed, but also being incorporated into the Armorer’s fanatical view of Mandalorian history.
The Armorer also reveals that if their sect had not been cloistered (more likely banished) on the Mandalorian moon of Concordia, they would not have survived the Empire’s destruction.
*Side Note: During the Clone Wars, the Mandalorian terrorist group Death Watch (who rescued Din Djarin as a child) used Con Cordia as a base of operations. They were led by Pre Vizsla, who ended up wielding the Darksaber and ruling Mandalore for a short while until Darth Maul (or just ‘Maul’ by that point) defeated/killed him in duel.
From there, we’re treated to a breathtaking flashback sequences of the Empire razing Mandalore. As tie bombers, KX-droids, and Viper probe droids wreak havoc across the planet, the Armorer continues to narrate her people’s destruction — specifically during the Night of a Thousand Tears. As far as she’s concerned, this massive loss of life was a direct result of the majority of Mandalorians turning their backs on their core/fundamentalist beliefs (and the Bo Katan/Darksaber issue, of course).
She then declares that it was their sect’s adherence to the old ways that spared them from being wiped out like so many others from their homeworld. That same dedication to their beliefs will be what allows them to return one day to their Mandalore.
The Armorer deftly pivots from that extremely heavy subject matter to ask Din Djarin what he’d like the Beskar from his spear to be turned into. When he requests a tiny piece of armor for Grogu (!!!), she subtly needles him a bit about his attachment to the “foundling” that’s no longer in his care. She still makes it for him, though.
We don’t get to see how the armor turned out before it’s wrapped up to be delivered, but I think we can safely assume it’s one of the most adorable things ever created.
Losing My Religion
Later, the Armorer trains Djarin with the Darksaber in combat. Unfortunately, he finds himself struggling with the weapon due to it feeling more and more heavy as he wields it. The Armorer explains that this is because he is fighting the weapon and attempting to wield it with only brute strength.
Paz Vizsla sees this and decides to challenge Djarin for the Darksaber — a weapon that he not only desires, but considers to be his birthright.
Djarin agrees to duel Paz on a walkway suspended over the black void of outer space. To make things even more interesting/dangerous, both warriors remove their jetpacks, assuring that a fall from the walkway will result in almost certain death.
Following a brutal back and forth, Djarin finally defeats Paz and holds him at knifepoint. It’s not clear if he plans to kill him, but the proceedings are interrupted by the Armor, who declares the fight to be over.
She then asks Paz if he’s ever removed his helmet. The large warrior emphatically responds that he hasn’t. When she asks Djarin the same question, he reluctantly admits that he has. She then declares him to no longer be a Mandalorian.
Djarin begs her forgiveness, causing Paz Vizsla to refer to him as an apostate and demand that he leave. The Armorer replies that the only way he can atone for his sin is to bathe in the water beneath the mines of Mandalore…you know, the planet that is virtually uninhabitable at the moment.
When he tries to point out that all the mines on Mandalore were destroyed during the purge, she coldly replies that “this is the way” and waits for him to depart.
Some Things Never Change
Now without a Baby Yoda or a covert/family, Djarin decides it’s time get at least one thing back in his life: A ship.
His first step is taking a commercial flight from the ringworld to Tatooine. After a hilarious scene where he’s forced to check all his weapons with flight security, he boards the ship and takes a seat behind a small Rodian child.
After landing on Tatooine, Djarin retrieves his belongings and heads over to Peli Motto‘s shop (Hanger 3-5) in Mos Eisley. He arrives just in time to save her and a droid named BD-1 from a very large and aggressive vermin.
Djarin hands Motto a sack of credits in exchange for what he hopes will be another Razor Crest, which was destroyed during a run in with Moff Gideon’s forces. He is disappointed to discover that the “replacement” she got for him is actually a junked Nubian N-1 starfighter.
After a bit of convincing, however, Djarin decides to help Motto restore and modify the ship — especially after she reveals that some local Jawas are able to get any part they’ll need. Turns out they’ve been stealing them from the Pyke Syndicate, thus finally connecting what we’re seeing here to what’s been going on in the previous four chapters of The Book of Boba Fett.
Following a work montage, Djarin is finally able to take his souped up starfighter for a test drive. It’s a bit rocky at first, but he quickly figures out the controls…and that the ship is far better and faster than anticipated. He then zips out onto roughly the same path young Anakin Skywalker took during the pod racing scene in The Phantom Menace, which was really cool. Upon arriving back at Motto’s shop, Djarin gleefully describes the experience as “wizard,” a phrase Anakin used in the Phantom Menace (which was definitely not cool, but still kind of funny).
Before doing that, however, he takes the N-1 into low orbit over Tatooine and buzzes the commercial starship that brought him there. The Rodian child from before is thrilled, but a couple of nearby X-Wing pilots are not as pleased and pull him over.
Djarin is able to talk his way out of being arrested, but is almost caught when one of the pilots turns out to be Carson Teva, who he had a little adventure with back on the ice spider planet (Moldo Kries). Just when it appears that Teva recognizes his voice, Djarin uses the ship’s heavily modified sublight thrusters to make an impressively hasty retreat. When Teva’s partner asks if they should give chase, the veteran pilot decides it’s not worth the paperwork and lets it go.
After Djarin exits his new ship, he’s surprised to find Fennec Shand waiting for him. Peli Motto is also shocked to see her considering that she thought the assassin had been successfully locked out of the building.
Shand asks her old ally if he’d be willing to assist her and Boba Fett in an upcoming battle — for a premium fee, of course. Upon hearing that Fett is involved, Djarin tosses back her credits and says that he’ll do it for free.
First, though, he needs to deliver the world’s most adorable armor kit to Grogu.
Now that was a really good episode. So good, in fact, that it has me a little worried. It’s not a good sign that what is arguably the strongest chapter of The Book of Boba Fett didn’t even feature the title character.
As I mentioned before, this was essentially the first episode of The Mandalorian‘s third season. Yes, it connects the events of Chapter 5 with what’s happening with the rest of the series, but not by a lot. That being said, it’s not like The Mandalorian hasn’t had its share of weak episodes, either. This one certainly could have turned out to be subpar, as well.
Instead, we got a story that reminded us why the original Disney+ Star Wars series is so great.
The story was very simple, but beautifully executed. From the gorgeous aerial sequence to the horrifically beautiful flashback, the whole episode looked downright gorgeous. The three close quarter fight scenes could be easy to overlook in a jam packed production like this, but they were top notch, as well.
There were also a plethora of gorgeously framed shots enhanced by a judicious use of editing — and not just the one beautiful tracking shot that helped bring the ringworld’s massive size to life. I really like Bryce Dallas Howard as an actress, but I hope she eventually decides to go all in on directing.
Especially if it’s in the Star Wars universe.
Speaking of the Star Wars universe, I could see some folks feeling that the Armorer’s expositional moments were a bit clunky. But for big Star Wars lore nerds (like myself), it was absolutely wonderful. While the franchise’s dense mythos is often referred to as a narrative obstacle, this episode used it to make the story even better.
The only thing that didn’t feel as authentic as it should have was the Armorer’s banishment of Din Djarin. It was still a very powerful moment, but the seeding used to get there didn’t quite reach the level it was needed. That being said, Chapter 5 did a much better job portraying/explaining the more fanatical aspects of Mandalorian culture than the actual Mandalorian series has in two seasons.
One aspect of the episode I did not expect to enjoy so much was the comedy. Amy Sedaris was funny in her prior appearances, but this one had moments that were genuinely hilarious. I’m normally a bit of a grump when it comes to comic relief characters in Star Wars, but this episode made me an unabashed Peli Motto fan.
The scene at the airport was also great, thanks in no small part to the meticulous manner it was shot and framed.
Sticking with the production aspect of things, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ludwig Göransson’s exceptional job of mixing the themes from both series.
Am I wondering/worried about how Djarin’s trip to visit Grogu will fit in the chronology of the series? Maybe a little, although that’s nothing compared to some of the chronology issues we’ve had already. At the end of the day, I can forgive a little time fudging for the sake of the a great story.
Let’s just hope that the final two chapters of The Book of Boba Fett can rise to the level of this episode reminded us of.
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