Every series I’ve ever watched has what’s called a “breather episode”. It’s the type of episode that is normally a standalone story and only barely connected to the main story arc of the season. Examples would “Smile Time” from Angel, “His Way” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and “Day of the Dead” from Babylon 5. For The Book of Boba Fett’s Chapter 5, we see the return of Din Djarin in “The Return of the Mandalorian”.
Spoilers ahead, obviously, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the episode.
We start with Din Djarin hunting a bounty, like he is prone to do. It becomes quickly apparent that this is not a flashback episode when we see Din wield the Darksaber, the ancient symbol of Mandalorian power that he earned in combat against Moff Gideon in the season 2 finale of The Mandalorian. We also get to see what happens when someone who isn’t really trained in how to wield a lightsaber (you get injured easily). The first few minutes of the episode were paced well, with every step building on the previous one until we got a pretty good fight scene.
The ringworld Din is on is the first I can recall seeing in live-action or animated Star Wars. There have been stories in the Legends continuity of ringworlds but this is the first onscreen appearance. The effects team did a masterful job of bringing it to life. The idea behind a self-sustaining ring habitat that surrounds a star has been a staple of science fiction for decades now (since Larry Niven published his novel Ringworld back in 1970). The science fiction geek in me was overjoyed seeing this brought to life in the Star Wars universe.
Din Djarin soon locates the last members of the covert from the first season of The Mandalorian, the Armorer and Paz Vizsla. The reveal that the Beskar Spear is not the intended use of Beskar is an interesting turn but not an unexpected one. The spear served its purpose, from a storytelling perspective, giving Din a weapon he could use to fight Moff Gideon in melee combat (and survive the Moff’s use of the Darksaber). Despite giving Grogu away to Luke Skywalker at the end of the second season, Djarin’s thoughts are still with the child he took under his wing, which is seen when he has the Armorer smelt down the Beskar spear to create something for the being he still considers a foundling.
Din’s reunion with his covert is not without incident, though. We finally learn what happened to the Mandalorian homeworld from the Armorer and how it might be connected to a curse laid on the Darksaber. The Galactic Empire bombed the planet, with several of the bombs looking like nuclear blasts. Then, in an image that is straight from The Terminator franchise, we see Imperial droids wandering the devastated landscape, killing any Mandalorians that survived the bombing. The idea that anyone who does not win the Darksaber in combat cannot be the true leader of the Mandalorians is an intriguing entry into the canon, and also provides a way to explain why Bo-Katan refused to accept it from Djarin during the finale of The Mandalorian. When Paz Vizsla attempts to take the weapon from Djarin in a duel, Din succeeds in defeating the much larger Mandalorian but is cast out from the covert because he removed his helmet (multiple times). This harkens back to what Bo-Katan said of the group in season two: they are a religious order and have a zealotry to their beliefs that is unnerving. Djarin is exiled from the covert but is given a way to find redemption, which is a story thread that will no doubt be visited in the third season of The Mandalorian.
After the heavier aspects of the beginning part of the episode, it was nice to see the return of Peli, the dockworker on Tatooine. I have a soft spot for characters that are written as being slightly off but still fun and Peli absolutely fits the bill. She reveals that she found a rusted out and largely dismantled Naboo N-1 starfighter to serve as Djarin’s new space craft. With a good bit of time (and some assistance from some Jawas), the pair are able to heavily modify the craft, creating a speedy fighter that even Djarin finds enjoyable to fly. The sequences of Din flying his new ship were exceptionally done, particularly when Djarin makes his way through Beggar’s Canyon (which any Star Wars geek will recognize from The Phantom Menace).
The episode ends with Fennec Shand paying Djarin a visit, offering to hire him as muscle to help Boba Fett in his war against the Pyke Syndicate. Due in no small part to how Boba and Fennec helped him recover Grogu, Djarin offers to do the job for free, once he’s run an errand. It was a great amount of fun seeing what essentially servers as a precursor for the third season of The Mandalorian. Given that Jon Favreau and Bryce Dallas-Howard know this character so well, it was no surprise to see the two of them were behind this episode. A nice breather from the main story arc of Boba Fett’s growing war with the Pyke Syndicate, this episode adds a few pieces of the larger mythos of The Mandalorian while also giving us a tie to the current story arc. I’m on board with seeing Boba Fett and Din Djarin working together in the next few episodes.
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