One of the complaints levelled against 'The Book of Boba Fett' thus far has been how it's a thin show.
Up to now, each episode has had half of its runtime set in flashback, detailing how Boba Fett escaped the Sarlaac, joined up with the Tusken Raiders, went on a rampage after getting his ship back, and even roping in a little from his childhood on Kamino. The cumulative effect of this is that 'The Book of Boba Fett' feels like it has no real stakes. After all, we know he's going to survive because, well, we all saw 'The Mandalorian' and now the show's current time.
Yet, this week's episode - imaginatively titled 'Return of the Mandalorian' - drops Boba Fett entirely and opens with Din Djarin on his own, fighting off a gang of criminals in a slaughterhouse, getting pretty badly wounded, and then having to fight for his life against Paz Vizla in a challenge for the Darksaber. By the end of all this, the poor old Mando has get to the 'Star Wars' version of a Ryanair flight to Tatooine, all while trying to figure out what he's going to do without Grogu. After all, he and Grogu were a clan of two, and what made 'The Mandalorian' so special was just how deep that connection was. It's not surprising that single fathers sharply identified with the character, but now he's on his own and looking for work.
Going back to the complaint at the top, this week's episode could be very easily be described as wheel-spinning if it wasn't so damn enjoyable. Bryce Dallas Howard, who directed one of the best episodes of 'The Mandalorian' last season, knows just how to pace an episode, inject humour in the right places, and layer it with enough references and callbacks to keep audiences on their toes. You've got nods to Beggar's Canyon, a BD-unit from 'Jedi: Fallen Order', the Night of a Thousand Tears, not to mention bringing back Amy Sedaris as Peli Motto, and the N-1 Starfighter from 'The Phantom Menace'. Of course, none of this is moving the main story forward which is why it's spinning the wheels because, when you come right down to it, 'The Book of Boba Fett' is a thin show.
As much as Jon Favreau might enjoy writing these episodes, and as much as they're trying to evoke the taciturn dialogue of Westerns, there comes a point when you have to wonder if all that's just an excuse. Even when Fennec Shand turned up in the final moments here, there's a hook for next week's episode - Din Djarin is going for his court-appointed visit to Grogu, at long last.
- How cool does the N-1 Starfighter look without that yellow paint?
- The little napkin in the shape of Grogu's ears would turn any Mandalorian to a blubbering mess
- Are we just basically leaving 'The Book of Boba Fett' behind for this episode and the next episode to tee up 'The Mandalorian' because if that's the case, just chuck the rest of the season already