Major spoilers ahead of The Book of Boba Fett episode 5
The Book of Boba Fett‘s fifth episode is difficult to judge considering “Return of the Mandalorian” is basically an extension of The Mandalorian season 2. Think of it as a pre-season 3 episode that fills in the gaps of what Mando has been up to since we last saw him.
For fans of Boba’s story, this departure from the show’s plot was likely jarring if they’ve never seen The Mandalorian and this was their first encounter with the bounty hunter. To be fair to The Book of Boba Fett, the show is a spin-off of Mando’s series so it’s not necessarily coming out of left field with this episode.
However, personally, I didn’t expect to spend the entire episode with one of our favorite guns for hire and it did throw me off.
I can acknowledge that as a standalone entry into the universe that these two shows are adding to, “Return of the Mandalorian” is a strong middle of the season episode and does a good job continuing Mando’s story. But I’m not a fan of Boba Fett taking a backseat in order for that to happen and it did lead to a lot of exposition which slowed down the pacing of the show.
In all honesty, it felt like an interlude for The Book of Boba Fett but the prologue for The Mandalorian season 3. Here’s what I mean.
The Book of Boba Fett episode 5 is a prelude to The Mandalorian season 3
For the first time since the series began, we didn’t open on a bacta tank or in the middle of Boba and Fennec working through their criminal underworld checklist. Instead, we were dropped into a meat factory where we were reunited with Mando.
Fans of The Mandalorian likely went up with excitement the minute he walked onscreen. While it’d been rumored for quite sometime that he’d make an appearance in The Book of Boba Fett, poorly kept secrets aren’t the same thing as really seeing one of your favorite characters grace your screen again.
Of course, he was out bounty hunting and at the meat factory to collect Kaba Baiz. It led to a standoff which boiled into a fight where Mando drew the darksaber. His use of the weapon didn’t immediately bring the skirmish to a close, but it was amazing watching him fight with it.
Unfortunately, the bounty hunter was injured, but he was able to put Kaba’s head in a bag and secure his bounty. After receiving payment and information on where the nearest access shaft to the substrata is located, Mando managed to limp his way into the dwellings of the Armorer and Paz Vizsla who patched him up.
It’s at this point in “Return of the Mandalorian” that the eyes of viewers only interested in The Book of Boba Fett may have glazed over. The Armorer and Mando spend a good portion of their scenes together vaguely recapping what happened in The Mandalorian.
There’s enough information to get the gist of their culture and religion, explain the importance of the darksaber to the Mandalorians, name drop Bo-Katan Kryze while detailing her significance, and peak the interest of viewers not in the know about the Great Purge and the Night of a Thousand Tears without giving away too much about the loss of Mandalore.
This episode is, after all, trying to hook its audience and ensure that they tune into The Mandalorian if they haven’t already done so, catch up if they need to, and be all in on season 3. Also, Mando being soft-hearted and clearly missing his foundling, Grogu, goes a long way to help this effort.
If you were behind on the bounty hunter’s series and just learned in this episode that he no longer has guardianship of the child affectionately dubbed Baby Yoda, and that he’s returned him to his people then you’ve likely blocked out space in your calendar to find out why he would ever do that.
But, whether you’re all caught up on his show or need to get caught up, the promise of seeing Grogu likely delighted your heart. It did mine especially because Mando asked the Armorer to forge something for his foundling.
She reminded him that Jedi are taught to forego attachment and that’s what Grogu is training to be, but Mando assorted that the Mandalorian way is based on loyalty and solidarity which hints at a clash of cultures that could come up in season 3 through Grogu. However, there’s precedence for a union of the Mandalorian and Jedi belief systems considering the darksaber was forged by the Mandalorian Jedi, Tarre Vizsla.
We’ll have to watch season 3 to see if the two opposing cultures become a plot point but hopefully we won’t have to wait that long to find out what the Armorer forged for Grogu. She ties it up in a piece of cloth in such a way that the “ears” of the package are reminiscent of the child’s. Talk about driving the point home in an incredibly endearing way.
Afterward the two begin to train. Mando struggles to wield the darksaber and the Armorer informs him that it’s because he is fighting the sword. If he continues to do so, it’ll grow heavier with every swing. Seeing his opportunity, Paz Vizsla challenges Mando to a duel.
The darksaber is a symbol of the leader of Mandalore and must be won in order for their rule not to be cursed. Cue another solid fight sequence with Mando still having issues with the saber. Things almost look dire for the bounty hunter but, luckily, he’s able to turn the tables back into his favor.
Unfortunately, the Armorer then proceeds to strip him of his claim to the Mandalorian way because he has to acknowledge that he has taken his helmet off. The only way for him to atone is in the mines of Mandalore which no longer exist. Obviously, we’ll be revisiting this plot point in season 3.
Skipping ahead to Mando’s time in Tatooine–though I’d be remiss not to at least acknowledge the intergalactic “plane travel” scene which was humorous–the back half of the episode is spent on Mando working with Peli Motto to restore an N-1 Starfighter. It’s meant to replace his Razor Crest. If you’re into Star Wars’ vehicles this part of the episode must have struck a chord.
There’s some humor thrown in regarding Peli’s dating life which at one point involved a romance with a Jawa, hence why she’s so easy around them and has managed to form a quid quo pro relationship that’s guaranteed her hard to find parts for the ship. But for the most part this section of “Return of the Mandalorian” is an extended ship building montage.
It’s not until the end of the episode that Mando’s plot hooks up with The Book of Boba Fett. After a run in with Captain Carson Teva that read like a police stop, the bounty hunter escaped further questioning thanks to his new Starfighter. When he landed back in Peli’s workshop, he was greeted with the news that a woman had been looking for him.
Peli says she didn’t give away Mando’s location but her efforts to send the woman away were fruitless though that should come as no surprise for those who know Fennec Shand. The warm reunion between the two spoke to their respect for one another as did Mando agreeing to work with Boba free of charge.
First, however, the bounty hunter needs to pay a visit to a little friend. I believe that was a not so subtle nod to a Grogu cameo next episode. We should also expect more on the Pykes as they were name dropped by Peli while she and Mando were fixing the ship. She said that the authorities aren’t even willing to stand in their way. They’re too afraid.
Episode six may surpass episode four as the best in the season with this line-up raring to bring the fight to the Pykes. Until next week, Boba fans, may the force be with you!
New episodes of The Book of Boba Fett are available to stream every Wednesday on Disney+. The season consists of seven episodes.