The Book Of Boba Fett Goes Full 'Mandalorian'

This article contains spoilers for the new episode of "The Book of Boba Fett."

Bryce Dallas Howard returns to direct the fifth episode of "The Book of Boba Fett," titled "The Return of the Mandalorian." It's an appropriate title for the episode since it follows Din Djarin from "The Mandalorian" and does not feature a single frame of Boba Fett.

In this episode, we catch up to Din Djarin who has gone back to a life of bounty hunting. He wields his beskar spear and the Darksaber, seeking information to find the remnants of the Mandalorian covert. Aside from Din, only two survived Moff Gideon's attack: the Armorer and Paz Viszla. The Armorer melts down the Mandalorian's beskar spear and he asks her to turn it into a gift of armor for Grogu, who he wants to check on. Before he leaves, however, Paz Viszla challenges him to a duel for the Darksaber.

Din wins and keeps the Darksaber, but since he has removed his helmet, he is not considered a Mandalorian by his people and must return to Mandalore to atone for his sins. But first, he needs a ship. This sends him to Mos Eisley, Tatooine, where Pelli Motto convinces him to refit a Royal N-1 Naboo Starfighter into a sleek speed machine as a replacement for the Razor Crest he lost in "The Mandalorian" season 2.

After getting his ship together, he is approached by Fennec Shand, asking if he would help Boba Fett with his muscle problem. The Mandalorian agrees, but only after checking in on Grogu. The credits roll, leaving us to hope that Grogu will be back soon.

The Direction and Film References

Bryce Dallas Howard might now be one of the best directors of "Star Wars" on television. The first episode she directed, a "Star Wars" take on Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" (1954), might have been one of the best of the first season of "The Mandalorian." She is able to direct very quiet moments as well as the big, action moments and slip between the two skillfully. Perhaps my favorite shot of the episode is where Din is carrying the little bindle of Grogu's gift, but it is tied in such a way as to evoke the shape of Grogu's head.

As with most episodes of "The Mandalorian," this episode of "The Book of Boba Fett" definitely leans on some of the classic Spaghetti Western vibes of Sergio Leone as Din Djarin moves from job to job, strong as silent, clinging to his code.

Bryce Dallas Howard brings a "Top Gun" (1986) vibe to some of Din Djarin's sailing through the stars in his new fighter. There are also hints of "The Rocketeer" (1991) or "Superman" (1978) with Din Djarin's majestic trip through the clouds.

The Extended Disarming trope is in full effect in this episode, where Din Djarin is forced to disarm all of his weapons before boarding the Galactic Star Liner. Maybe the most memorable scenes like this in the "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" where Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas are forced to turn over their weapons before gaining audience with Theoden.

Howard brings an energy to a script that actually includes narrative mystery, something "The Book of Boba Fett" has been lacking through its first four episodes. We've been left wondering about what Din's next steps would be without Grogu and these are our first hints. Because the episode turns on our expectations, we are able to add more to the equation. First, we believe Din might have simply gone back to bounty hunting, but then we realize he is on another quest. We discover his quest is returning to the covert, but now he has been tasked with another, which gives us a hint of what the third season of "The Mandalorian" will hold for us.

But the biggest film references in this episode come from "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," but we'll talk about those connection further down.

The Cameos

This episode is one big cameo, with Pedro Pascal returning as the Mandalorian for an entire episode without a shred of Boba Fett, but there are a few others worth noting here.

The first comes with the Ishi Tib Guild Master in the second sequence. She is played by Helen Sadler, who is no stranger to "Star Wars." She voiced Rey in the "LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special," Jyn Erso in "Star Wars: Forces of Destiny," Vonreg in the "Star Wars: Squadrons" video game, and Anri in the "Star Wars: The Old Republic." Her part here is small, but fun, goading Din Djarin to sit and eat — tacitly taunting him to remove his helmet.

And then Amy Sedaris and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee reprise their roles from "The Mandalorian" as Pelli Motto and Carson Teva, respectively. Jon Favreau also returns as the voice of Paz Vizsla.

Additionally, Amy Sedaris might be the only person in the galaxy who could sell the idea that she had dated a Jawa.

The Legend of the Darksaber

One of the most curious bits of lore that fans have been puzzling over for the last year is the idea that Bo-Katan needs to win the Darksaber in combat since she led Mandalore after being handed the blade in "Star Wars Rebels." The Armorer recaps the story of the Darksaber's history which was first related to audiences by Fenn Rau (Kevin McKidd) on "Star Wars Rebels."

But the Armorer fills in the holes. It was said that if the blade was not won in combat, the leader who wielded it would be cursed and their people would be scattered to the four winds. Which is exactly what happened to Mandalore during the reign of Bo-Katan. We also get to see a glimpse of The Night of a Thousand Tears, first mentioned by Moff Gideon in the first season of "The Mandalorian." This great purge is led by hundreds of TIE Bombers — first seen in "The Empire Strikes Back" — and led on the ground by KX-Series Imperial Security Droids, like K-2SO from "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," and Probe Droids like in "The Empire Strikes Back."

What to Look Out For

As for subtle references to "Star Wars," this episode is chock full of them.

Most of the best ones come from "The Phantom Menace." First off, Pelli Motto thinks the perfect ship for Din Djarin is not a Razor Crest, but a Royal N-1 Naboo Starfighter. A classic: perhaps the best looking ship in all of "Star Wars." They convert it into a muscle car, taking some of the sleekness and elegance from it, but make it look very cool. The controls on the inside match those Anakin Skywalker uses when he pilots from the inside of the Droid Control Ship. Pelli Motto also calls out the J-Type pulse engines, another nod to Naboo ships, as Qui-Gon was looking for a hyperdrive for a similar J-type engine when he found Watto's junk shop. The attention to detail and nerdery on display is nothing short of stunning.

When Din Djarin takes it for its first flight, he tracks much of the Boonta Eve podrace track and heads into Beggar's Canyon. Beggar's Canyon was first mentioned in "A New Hope," a place of legend where bush pilots proved their mettle, including Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter. It's also where Anakin Skywalker overtook Sebulba in the podrace after being shoved onto the service ramp.

It brought a smile to my face when Din Djarin returns after the test flight and she asks him what he thought and his only response was, "Wizard." Clearly another reference to Anakin Skywalker in "The Phantom Menace."

Pelli Motto's docking bay is also chock full of references to other bits of "Star Wars." The scene opens with a womprat attacking a BD-series droid. BD-series droids first appeared in the video game "Jedi: Fallen Order" and BD-1 is your constant companion through the game. Pelli Motto's BD is an excellent helper and it's fun to see him hop around the yard.

As Din Djarin takes a Galactic Star Liner to Tatooine, it is apparent that everyone around is a fan of the Disneyland ride "Star Tours." With RX-series droids like the pilot from the original "Star Tours" ride hanging around everywhere and hassling "The Mandalorian" about his weapons. The announcing voice sounds a lot like the one you'd hear queuing for the ride, too.

The last cool touch I would call out came during Din's training montage. As the Armorer is attacking him with her beskar tools, she is counting in Mando'a, the language that has been created over the years in Legends material for Mandalorians. Solus means one. T'ad means two. Ehn is three, and so on.

The Verdict

I think this episode proves that "The Mandalorian" might have the more compelling hook for a show. I had not expected to get an episode of "The Book of Boba Fett" that did not feature a single frame of Boba Fett, but somehow this might be my favorite episode.

It added layers of needed exposition to the story of "The Mandalorian" and this part of the "Star Wars" sandbox without feeling like an infodump, and hinted at what would be to come, not just in the next episode of "The Book of Boba Fett," but the entire third season of "The Mandalorian." This episode makes all of that a lot more interesting and exciting to look forward to.

The biggest question everyone will have, though, is, "Will Grogu turn up next week? And if he does, does that mean Luke Skywalker will too? Will Luke Skywalker join Boba's muscle to rid Tatooine of the Pyke Syndicate?"

Maybe no one is asking that last one. But after the hoojibs Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni keep pulling out of the helmet, anything is possible.

"Book of Boba Fett: Chapter 5 – Return of the Mandalorian" is now playing on Disney+. New episodes of "The Book of Boba Fett" premiere on Wednesdays.

You can find Bryan Young on Twitter and on the Full of Sith podcast.