The Book of Boba Fett Episode 5 is Star Wars fan service at its best

Image: The Book of Boba Fett/Disney+
Image: The Book of Boba Fett/Disney+ /

Holy. Cow. That was my first reaction to the first few minutes of the newest episode of The Book of Boba Fett. And also to at least a dozen other moments throughout. Especially the end. Definitely the end.

The previous episode, “The Gathering Storm,” showed how Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) first met, how he saved her by modifying her body with droid parts and how she helped him retrieve his Firespray gunship from the late Jabba the Hutt’s hangar in Mos Espa. The episode teased the duo’s coming war with the Pyke Syndicate and heavily hinted that The Mandalorian himself, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), would return.

Like the premiere, Episode 5 is chock full of Easter eggs and moments that likely had Star Wars fans jumping off their couches and shrieking with delight. There are nods from every single era of Star Wars, all the way back to The High Republic.

And for an episode in a series about Boba Fett, Episode 5 doesn’t feature Morrison’s ex-bounty hunter at all. But that’s okay, because the episode is called (SPOILERS INCOMING) “Chapter 5: The Return of the Mandalorian.”

And indeed, this episode features the return of Pascal’s Beskar-clad Mandalorian Din Djarin. He’s back to bounty hunting after letting Grogu leave with Luke Skywalker at the end of The Mandalorian season 2, but he still has the Darksaber, the infamous glowing black lightsaber that Bo-Katan Kryze probably still really wants. Mando earned it in battle, however, so for the time being he’s the rightful wielder.

The Return of the Mandalorian

While Episode 5 reintroduces us to Mando and sets up his eventual team-up with Boba and Fennec, it’s also a backdoor pilot of sorts for The Mandalorian season 3, which is still expected later this year.

We kick off the episode with Mando collecting a Klatooinian bounty, not-so-expertly whipping out the Darksaber to get it done. The bounty earns him credits and information about where to find the survivors of his Mandalorian Tribe. The only ones left are the Armorer (Emily Swallow) and Paz Vizsla (voiced by Jon Favreau).

The trio are as intense and cultish as ever, with the Armorer explaining the origins of the Darksaber (see also Rebels) and how its original wielder was Tarre Vizsla, a Mandalorian and Jedi. The Armorer emphasizes that the Darksaber must be won in battle and that whoever tries to wield it without doing so “will be a curse unto the nation.”

This detail is a nod to the final season of Rebels when Sabine Wren gave Bo-Katan the Darksaber to unite the Mandalorian clans. Shortly after, the Empire laid siege to Mandalore, murdering millions and destroying the planet’s surface. The Siege of Mandalore was first seen in the final season of The Clone Wars, and The Book of Boba Fett features a live-action flashback to the horrific Purge.

While Mando is currently the rightful wielder of the Darksaber, the Armorer says he still fails to properly use it because he tries to master it like a Beskar spear instead of a Force-imbued lightsaber. The Armorer tries to help him, but we think this is the perfect time for Mando to go visit his buddy Grogu and get some lightsaber training while he’s there.

This is the way

Din may seem (happy? indifferent?) to be back with his Tribe, but it’s clear he won’t be sticking around for long. Not surprisingly, Paz Vizsla tries to stake his ancestral claim to the Darksaber by fighting Mando in a thrilling and uneasy battle on a narrow walkway in the Tribe’s new headquarters. “The way” of the Mandalorians may be “loyalty and solidarity,” but it’s clear all bets are off when it comes to the Darksaber.

Both Vizsla and Mando walk away from the fight with their lives thanks to the intervention of the Armorer. Mando still keeps the Darksaber, but his admission that he has removed his helmet (see the tearjerking goodbye with Grogu in season 2) gets him excommunicated from the Tribe.

This behavior reaffirms the Tribe’s strict rules and zealotry as a subgroup of the Children of the Watch, likely an offshoot of Death Watch. The Armorer adds further context by explaining that the Children of the Watch were luckily “cloistered” on the moon of Concordia during the genocidal attack on Mandalore.

That moon is also where we first saw Death Watch — a terrorist group previously led by Pre Vizsla and Darth Maul — during the Clone Wars. Both Death Watch and the Children of the Watch were dedicated to reestablishing the ancient ways of the Mandalorians.

Now THIS is podracing

Mando may have been kicked out of his Tribe for taking his helmet off, but he doesn’t seem too bent out of shape about it. He’s more concerned about getting another ship (RIP Razor Crest), so he takes a leisurely commercial flight to Mos Eisley on Tatooine.

Din reunites with mechanic Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris), who tells him she has a replacement ship for him. That ship is none other than an N-1 Starfighter, a sleek Republic-era ship crafted for defense, security and escorting the royalty of Naboo. These starfighters first appeared in The Phantom Menace; a young Anakin Skywalker flew one during the Trade Federation’s invasion.

Mando and Peli fix up the old ship in a fun, greasy montage. Then it’s time for a thrilling test drive that transports us all the way back to 1999 and the podracing scene from The Phantom Menace. Din speeds through Beggar’s Canyon a la Anakin Skywalker in the Boonta Eve Classic before breaking through Tatooine’s atmosphere to bring the N-1 back to space. He flies too close to commercial transport and is “pulled over” by New Republic Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and Lieutenant Reed (played by Max Lloyd-Jones, who doubled for Luke Skywalker on The Mandalorian). Teva says Mando’s voice sounds familiar and tries to ask him some questions about Imperial remnants on Navarro, but Din doesn’t have time for this so he activates the N-1’s sublight engines and blasts away back to Tatooine.

Waiting for him in Peli’s hangar is Fennec, who says she and Boba need him to help fight and handing him a bag of credits. Mando tells her it’s on the house, and “but first, I gotta pay a visit to a little friend.”

Verdict and Easter eggs

Boba Fett is back. Din Djarin is back. It’s only a matter of time before the little green guy formerly known as Baby Yoda, Grogu, is back as well.

Before Din is kicked out of the Mandalorian club, he has the Armorer use the Beskar spear to forge a gift for Grogu, who he wants to claim as a Foundling. The Armorer protests, but makes him something anyway. We don’t see what the gift is, but the bag containing it is shaped like his little big-eared head and our hearts exploded. That said, I don’t think Grogu will come back until The Mandalorian season 3 — this series is about Boba, after all.

Episode 5 was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, who also did a couple of episodes of The Mandalorian. “The Return of the Mandalorian” is technically a filler episode, but of the best kind. It’s peak Star Wars, full of speedy starfighters podracing through sand and space and cheeky, well-delivered jokes alongside emotionally heavy violence. It also showcases the weight of Din’s journey so far, even if it doesn’t push the main story of The Book of Boba Fett forward.

What would have made it a perfect episode is having Fennec and Boba reunite with Mando in the end. Maybe he was busy trying to make friends with Black Krrsantan or training with his new Rancor.

At least we’ll see all three together again next week in The Book of Boba Fett finale.

The Book of Bullet Points:

  • Ringworld: Though ringworlds are common in science fiction, this may be the first time we’re seeing one in a Star Wars property. Halo fans surely enjoyed the appearance of this ringworld.
  • The Night of a Thousand Tears: The flashback to the Night of a Thousand Tears shows the Empire massacring the people of Mandalore and desecrating the planet. The flashback shows the planet covered in flames and wreckage as massive Imperial droids search for and kill any survivors. The scene is reminiscent of Sarah Connor’s dream from Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
  • That’s so wizard: When Din lands the N-1 back in Mos Eisley, Peli asks him how the test flight went. “Wizard,” he says. The slang, which basically means “awesome,” comes directly from The High Republic era’s Ram Jomaram, a Jedi Padawan, who says many things are “wizard.” The slang is also heard in The Phantom Menace when Anakin’s friend Kitster Banai says his podracer is “so wizard.”
  • Jedi: Fallen Order: Peli Motto has a BD droid, a cute little companion droid featured prominently in the 2019 video game Jedi: Fallen Order. In the game, BD-1 accompanies former Padawan Cal Kestis on his journey to rebuild the Jedi Order.
  • Jawa dating: Peli says she once dated a Jawa and that they’re “very furry.” We still aren’t sure how to feel about this information.

Next. Boba Fett gathers machines and muscle for “The Gathering Storm”. dark

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