Any extensive reader will tell you that it’s common for adventure stories to shift points of view across chapters, or at the very least have an interlude from another point of view. Chapter 5 of The Book of Boba Fett, “The Return of the Mandalorian” was one such chapter as a familiar beskar helmet made an appearance.
As the episode title suggests, Mandalorian Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) returned to our screens this week. Despite having won the Darksaber from Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) in the second season finale of The Mandalorian, which entitles him to become the leader of the Mandalorians, Din hasn’t given up the bounty hunting gig.
What looks like a routine job apprehending a Klatoonian in debt to the wrong person takes a turn when Din pulls out the Darksaber and uses it to kill every lackey in the room, including his target. Though the weapon is his by right, Din is unused to wielding it and injures himself in the process.
With a severe burn on his leg, and the head of his target in a bag, Din returns to find his client and delivery the bounty in exchange for promised information: directions to access the lower portion of the station.
Once there, he finds what he seeks. Or rather, who he seeks. Waiting for him is the Armorer (Emily Swallow), last seen in the first season of The Mandalorian, along with the only other surviving member of their cohort, Paz Vizla. The discovery that one of their own has won the fabled Darksaber by Creed is something of a bombshell announcement to the two exiled Mandalorians.
Din agrees to stay and help them set up their cohort while the Armorer melts down his beskar staff to forge it into something worthier, and provides him — and the audience — with context surrounding the Night of a Thousand Tears, an event only hinted at up until now.
At his request, she shapes the beskar into armor for Grogu, who Din intends to locate and check on. She hands him an endearingly small (Grogu-shaped!) parcel, but before he can set off, Paz Vizla issues a challenge. His ancestor was the one to forge the Darksaber, and now Paz wishes to be the one to wield it. He and Din fight, and though it is close, Din ultimately emerges victorious. However, his triumph is short-lived.
When the Armorer asks them both if their helmets have ever been removed, Paz denies it at once while Din hesitates, and eventually reveals that he has. The reason doesn’t matter, nor do his attempts to immediately atone. He is stripped of his place as a Mandalorian at once and cast out.
The personal regression makes sense for Din, and is rather relatable. He did what felt right to him in the moment when with Grogu, but now without his quest, and without his home, it makes sense he would seek out the only familiar thing from his life before. And now he doesn’t even have that to fall back on. Nor does that seem like it’s going to be an option for him. The waters in which, according to the Armorer, he must cleanse himself in order to be a Mandalorian once more are now completely inaccessible.
With nothing left for him on the station, Din boards a flight to Tatooine and reunites with Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) in Mos Eisley. The mechanic contacted him regarding a replacement for his dearly-departed Razor Crest, and Din is eager to see what it is. In a moment that had prequel kids everywhere cheering, Peli removes the tarp to reveal an N1 starfighter, a class of ship personally commissioned by the Queen of Naboo in the days of the Galactic Republic.
Though Din is initially reluctant, Peli suggests that the two of them at least rebuilt the ship and make the necessary modifications to it before he makes his final decision. He agrees, and with the help of her pit droids, R5, and an adorable new BD droid the ship is reassembled in no time at all.
He takes it out for a test spin, furthering the nostalgic throwback to The Phantom Menace by piloting through the same pod-racing track once frequented by Anakin Skywalker. Wanting to really open her up and see what his new ship can do, he takes it out of Tatooine’s atmosphere and tries some fancy flying. He doesn’t spin though. I guess no one told him that was a neat trick.
His stunts attract the attention of New Republic officers Lieutenant Reed (Max Lloyd-Jones) and Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee). Teva suspects the reckless pilot they’re speaking to is the very same Razor Crest pilot he has encountered before, and tries to get him to answer a few questions about the destroyed Imperial facility on Nevarro. Peli’s confidence in the N1 is proven when Din speeds away before Teva can ask him anything.
He arrives back in Mos Eisley to find that Peli isn’t alone in her hangar anymore. Fennec (Ming-Na Wen) has arrived searching for Din and asks him to help her and Boba (Temuera Morrison) in their fight against the Pykes. Din agrees, but on the condition, he be allowed to check on a little friend first.
“The Return of the Mandalorian” was an absolutely packed episode. Credit is absolutely due to director Bryce Dallas Howard for keeping the pace between necessary exposition and the more dynamic action sequences.
Though the stories of The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian are obviously tightly interconnected, it became clear this week that both series are intended to coexist as one viewing experience. Viewed through that lens, it’s a little easier to understand how an entire episode of The Book of Boba Fett could pass without a single appearance from the title character.
That said, as engaging as the plot was, I found myself missing the relatively smaller scale of Boba’s story. Our time with him and Fennec is already so limited. Though I suppose they could always cross over into the third season of The Mandalorian. It’s an interconnected galaxy after all.
It’s a little hard for me to suss out my feelings on “The Return of the Mandalorian”. As a piece of Star Wars storytelling, I adored it. It furthered the lore, enriched existing characters and gave them new purpose, circled back to older plot points. But at the same time I question its placement at this point in the season. With only two episodes to go now, and an apparent stopover to see Grogu, I question whether or not they’ll be able to wrap it all up in under two hours. To be fair, I have yet to dislike any individual part of The Book of Boba Fett, and so I remain optimistic that when the season is over I will have enjoyed both the individual parts and the whole they create.
The Book of Boba Fett airs Wednesdays on Disney+
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Arezou Amin is a freelance writer with a lifelong love of Star Wars, romance, fantasy, and all things pop culture. She is the host of Space Waffles, a Star Wars-focused podcast on the Geeky Waffle network, where she also co-hosts the flagship show and writes reviews and recaps for the site.