I am writing this opening just ahead of pressing play on the latest episode to ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ and I am nervous. I am nervous because I loved the opening two chapters to this story and started to lose my smile with episode 3 and then last week, I was kind of bored. Whilst it was lovely to see the early partnership of Boba and Fennec with some love moments for Fennec standing out, overall, I am very bored and tired of this family friendly “binding my time” style for Boba. Now I am sure before we reach the finale, we will see Boba going all out but this is the 5th episode and I need to see a glimpse of the Boba Fett we saw in the second season of ‘The Mandalorian”, I need to see the most feared Bounty Hunter in Star Wars causing others to fear him. The tease at the end of Episode 4 did make me smile, but now it is time to see if that tease helps get this show back on the track I need and hope it will now take!
That tease leads into the best episode of this show yet but also brings one hell of a problem as well. It was a tease that was as close to a real time response to the audience feedback ever since this show began at the end of 2021. This is an episode full of Star Wars lore delivered in an exceptional way that only the Disney Plus Star Wars shows have been able to deliver in the last decade. It reminds the audience immediately why Star Wars is a wonderous universe capable of telling a variety of stories with emotion for the characters and the audience and this episode, had me grinning like a kid from ear to ear for the entire run time of the episode, this was the story I needed to have for Chapter 5 of ‘The Book of Boba Fett’. So just what is the big problem it created? It never features Boba Fett.
This entire episode is all about the returning Mandalorian Din Djarin, who we last saw at the end of the second season finale, watching as Luke Skywalker took Grogu away in a turbo lift. I just like millions of other fans of ‘The Mandalorian’ expected not to have a “what happened next” moment but instead we have Chapter 5 of ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ which is all about him. I am not kidding when I say that as the episode opens with him back to what he does best, hunting a bounty. Immediately the others there are fearful of him, just his mere presence puts them all on the back foot and nervous, something missing from Boba Fett and there lies the problem. This episode works better because it does not feature Boba Fett. This episode quickly puts the audience into the same world of Din Djarin, from the moment his bounty asks if there are options and getting the “I can bring you in warm or I can bring you in cold” reply.
It is no surprise that one of the reasons why this episode feel made me feel like I was watching the opening episode to Season 3 of The Mandalorian is because this chapter was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, who directed episodes of The Mandalorian and so the vibe, the tone and the very essence of this episode manages to completely lift it out of ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ that you forget for the best part of 40 minutes that you are supposed to be watching that show. This shows the weakness of Boba Fett’s story so far with now just two episodes remaining after this, to round off and either finish Boba’s story or do enough to suggest another season is possible.
I am truly astonished at just how much this one episode manages to accomplish and it is simply thrilling to watch Din once again. We see he has returned to his Bounty Hunter ways but as before, Din will take a job if it gives him information, this time he is once again searching for his Mandalorian tribe led by The Armorer. Once found, we learn that the Beskar Spear he used to defeat Moff Gideon is frowned upon as Beskar is only supposed to be used to make Mandalorian armour and this spear can pierce Beskar Armour. Din quickly offers it up to be melted down to make armour, but he has a request, that it be used to make something for a foundling, one foundling in particular…Grogu.
The attachment Din has for Grogu is as strong as ever, and even when told by The Armorer that a Jedi must forgo relationships, for Din is this against the way of the Mandalorian and so he seeks to find or at the very least visit Grogu, something that underlines everything in this story, his need to see him again. Then there is the Dark Sabre, something that Din has kept possession of and is trying to learn how to wield it, in the opening fight to collect the bounty, he injures himself with the blade, unable to control what appears to be the weight of the blade. When with the Armorer and revealing that he does now possess it, a short training sequence shows that with every swing, the blade is getting heavier, making Din struggle to use it and is quickly defeated by her. She explains that he must learn to use the Dark Sabre to fight his enemy but right now he is fighting the Sabre just to use it. The best way to describe it would be to say it is like Din is holding a Katana sword, but it swings like a heavy broadsword. This shows us that Din has some work to do to fully master this sword, made more obvious when he is challenged in combat for ownership of the Dark Sabre which he manages to win but then serves another callback to his story.
We also see the penalty for that beautiful moment in the second season finale where Din removed his helmet so Grogu could see his face for the first time, but we know that his creed forbids the removal of the helmet by an enemy of himself, when he confesses he is cast out of the tribe, told the only way to atone is to visit the waters underground of Mandalore itself, an impossibility with all the mines closed so Din believes but now he is cast out by the tribe, no longer able to call on them for help, he is now alone but creates such an interesting possible redemption story arc for his next season.
The majority of this episode is about Din finding a replacement for the Razer Crest (im still not over its destruction) as the humor that has worked so well for The Mandalorian but fails in The Book of Boba Fett with Din forced to fly “commercial” as he has no ship but returning to Mos Eisley we learn that he is there because fan favourite Peli Motto, has been looking for a new ship for him. Here we see a throwback to the Phantom Menace as Peli has been able to obtain, though still in much need of repair, an N-1 Light Starfighter from Naboo, and whilst Din has his doubts and still hoping for a new Razer Crest, after working with Peli to both repair but custom build a brand new super-fast and agile ship. Now I have to give full and amazing credit here to Amy Sedaris who portrays Peli with so much humour and humanity along with the droids including a brand-new addition in the form of a BD unit which those who have played “Jedi: Fallen Order” video game will instantly recognize, and once again using Disney Plus shows to make so much of the new Star Wars universe canon. This entire sequence of Din working with Peli and learning that she once dated a Jawa who are rather furry was a delight.
Just everything about this episode is a reminder of why and how good The Mandalorian is but it does show just how weak The Book of Boba Fett is in comparison. Yes, this episode is a complete filler as the only connection to Boba Fett is the appearance of Fennec at the end, offering credits for Din to help Boba as muscle, to which he simply says he will do it on the house, but he has to visit a little friend first just hits all the right fanboy elements. That and the fact Peli removed the usual Astro droid compartment on the new ship and just happened to build something very Grogu sized instead just teases so much for Season 3 of the Mandalorian.
This Chapter works on every level but highlights so many failings in Boba’s show. We now have two remaining episodes to get the job done and this distraction is on such a massive scale that when the credits role on the finale to ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ I like many other fans will not be hoping for a teaser for a second season, but very much hoping it will be a release date for ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3. I understand why they did an episode like this but for me, it certainly shows that the focus is more on building the return to The Mandalorian and adventures of Din and Grogu than to do anything more than tell a single story for Boba Fett.