NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Book of Boba Fett” are present in this review
Well, this is awkward. Following my previous worry that The Book of Boba Fett would use its crossover storyline with parent series, The Mandalorian as something of a crutch for its narrative, the series truly went above and beyond there, delivering an entire episode that revolves squarely around Din Djarin. In effect, “Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian” becomes a backdoor pilot for The Mandalorian’s upcoming third season, even if it does ultimately end with Djarin agreeing to join Boba’s cause in the short term. Before that though, we get a lot of setup for what’s to come on The Mandalorian next season, some of which is actually fairly unexpected.
To start however, Djarin is doing exactly what viewers would imagine he’s doing after The Mandalorian’s previous second season; Collecting bounties, and carrying around the Darksaber to help with those bounties. Djarin, naturally, is cool as ever, and admittedly, it’s tough not to get excited about Pedro Pascal taking some time to join the ensemble of The Book of Boba Fett, however briefly. Djarin’s also extra cranky in the wake of giving up Grogu to Luke Skywalker to boot, though he does take it upon himself to make sure that Grogu is safe, complete with melting down the Beskar spear he received previously as a gift.
Frustratingly, this opening portion continues The Book of Boba Fett’s pacing problems, at least after the superb action scene that kicks off this episode, wherein Djarin claims a bounty at what appears to be a meat packing plant on a Halo-esque ring colony. What follows is a ton of exposition from the Armorer surrounding the Darksaber, what Djarin’s possession of the Darksaber means, and other connections to the ancient lore and creed of Mandalore. It’s kind of interesting at first, but ultimately becomes more dull as it drags on. Even Djarin’s subsequent duel with Paz Vizsla, one of the Mandalorians from Nevarro, feels disappointingly bland in execution, though it does take some surprisingly big narrative swings that help to keep the storyline engaging.
First and foremost, Djarin loses the Darksaber here. This is done in a shocking, yet logical way, even though Djarin initially wins the duel. Even so, the Armorer forces Djarin to confess that he removed his helmet, something that occurred during The Mandalorian’s second season, assuming we don’t also count a droid removing Djarin’s helmet when he was injured during The Mandalorian’s Season 1 finale. Because Djarin violated a core tenet of Mandalorian creed by removing his helmet during his infiltration of an Imperial compound, he can’t lay claim to the Darksaber, and must surrender it to Vizsla, who happens to be the descendant of the Mandalorian that originally forged the Darksaber anyway. Djarin does however have an opportunity to, “Purify himself” within the living waters of the Mandalorian mines, even though those were all destroyed during the Siege of Mandalore. I guess that’s our big setup for The Mandalorian’s third season.
For now though, Djarin has another job to do, one that properly unfolds upon his return to Tatooine. This gives Djarin a chance to reunite with Amy Sedaris’ Peli Motto, who has apparently been searching for a Razor Crest replacement off-screen. Instead, Motto finds something even more exciting; A classic Naboo Starfighter, from the era of the Galactic Republic, i.e. the Star Wars prequel movies. This is easily the best tease for The Mandalorian’s upcoming third season, as it once again allows Djarin to fly under the radar and avoid New Republic detection, as aptly displayed when he’s able to easily outfly some New Republic Rangers that pull him over. Demonstrating the capabilities of Djarin’s new ship, particularly its outstanding speed, within the old canyon that Anakin Skywalker’s pod race took place in during Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a particularly nice touch!
Being armed and ready again, albeit also down a Darksaber, Djarin is thus primed to reunite with Grogu, though he’s intercepted by Fennec Shand first. Djarin quickly accepts the job of being Boba’s muscle, even refusing pay, but first, he tells Fennec that he has business to take care of. I guess this means that The Book of Boba Fett is going to continue doing double duty as a backdoor introduction to The Mandalorian’s upcoming third season during its next episode. To its credit though, The Book of Boba Fett does manage to make the early reunion with Din Djarin fairly compelling, even if this fifth episode also represents a complete narrative detour for the series.
“Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian” still suffers a bit from being too long, plus its heavy exposition during the early stretch can be particularly tedious. The payoff of Djarin getting a new prequel-era ship from Peli Motto is pretty awesome though, as is Djarin not wasting time teaming up with Boba and Fennec. We don’t even see Boba at all during this episode, in fact, with Fennec ultimately recruiting Djarin by herself in the end. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to see Djarin again regardless, even if his showing up in this series does slightly take away from The Book of Boba Fett’s own narrative ambitions. Considering that The Book of Boba Fett doesn’t seem to fully be able to stand on its own two feet yet anyway, maybe it does need the guiding presence of The Mandalorian’s lead to help it fully come together. I just hope that The Book of Boba Fett remembers to try and be more than a satellite series to another Disney+ series that’s already supposed to be exactly that for the Star Wars movies.
- Djarin completely stealing the narrative, even outside of his own series
- Djarin unexpectedly losing the Darksaber due to his creed violation
- Djarin's impressive new Phantom Menace-era ship
- Early pacing remains too sluggish
- Heavy Mandalorian exposition is a drag