The Latest 'Book of Boba Fett' Upstages Its Own Main Character
Cameos on cameos on cameos.
This article contains major spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett Episode 5.
So that's why The Mandalorian Season 3 is taking so long: Din Djarin and his pals had to crash The Book of Boba Fett this week for an interlude while Fett collects allies for his war against the Pyke Syndicate. After last week's episode, wherein Fett's backstory finally catches up with current events—spaceship, check; beskar armor, check; Jabba's throne, check; the help of a famously violent Wookiee, check—we're all dying to know what's going to happen in the coming conflict between Fett and those pesky criminals. But first, we need to catch up with the galaxy's other famous armored warrior, as Mando himself swoops in for one exhilarating hour in "The Return of the Mandalorian." The good news is it's the best episode yet. The bad news is… it's the best episode yet.
"The Return of the Mandalorian" is basically an episode of The Mandalorian, as we spend the whole hour with our friend Mando and don't even get to see the character whose show this is supposed to be. We check back in with Mando, who's picking up some bounty hunting work on the way to a Ringworld-inspired outer space travel hub, onboard which he reconnects with the effortlessly cool Mandalorian Armorer, whom we thought died at the end of The Mandalorian Season 1. But thankfully, she survived, and she's able to help Mando master his new Darksaber as well as offer up plenty of lore about what the sword means to the people of Mandalore. In an altercation with the Armorer's assistant Paz Vizsla, the only surviving member of his clan and technically the heir to the Darksaber, Mando reveals that he's voluntarily removed his helmet, and the Armorer tells him the only way to redeem himself is to carry out some impossible quest on the shores of his home planet. Great.
To do that, he needs a ship, so Mando pays a visit to Tatooine mechanic Peli Motto, who outfits him with an antique pre-Empire cruiser that just so happens to be the one Padmé Amidala flew around in Attack of the Clones and The Clone Wars. When Mando tests out the ship, we're treated to yet another familiar Star Wars landscape we haven't seen in a while: Say what you want about pop culture capitalizing on nostalgia instead of new ideas, but you have to admit, watching Padmé's ship fwoom around the pod racing track is so cool. The new-old ship is insanely fast and unregistered, which makes it the perfect craft to zoom around the galaxy under the radar. Even the X-wing traffic cops give Mando a pass.
Mando ends the episode by vowing to take a gift to little Grogu, whom he left in the care of some random Jedi named Luke Skywalker, whoever that is. The whole thing is a fantastic episode and probably the best of the season so far, which has fans conflicted. How damning is it when your show about one guy only gets really good when another more popular guy shows up and takes over the story? Makes us all kind of wish we'd just been watching another season of The Mandalorian this whole time. The Book of Boba Fett is good, but it's so restrained by its setting (all of it takes place on Tatooine, a certifiably boring planet, retreading locations and characters we've already seen before), and bounces back and forth between past and present for such long stretches of the narrative that as soon as you're invested in one part of the story, it fast-forwards to another.
Frankly, I don't give two bantha ticks about how Fett escaped the Sarlacc or joined the Tuskens or found his partner Fennec Shand. If The Book of Boba Fett wants to be the grounded gangster drama foil to The Mandalorian's planet-hopping Odyssey, it should be spending way more time building up that story, so that when another character from a completely different show pops up for that week's chapter, it doesn't feel like such a relief.