January 30, 2022

Streamin' Meemies: The Book of Boba Fett Season 1 Ep 5, "Return of the Mandalorian"


You know, if I was Temuera Morrison, I might be a wee bit ticked that the best episode of my show.....had nothing to do with me at all. 

That's right, folks. Episode 5 of Boba Fett is actually a stealth episode of The Mandalorian! 

In one way, this is definitely not a bad thing. This episode, superbly directed by Bryce Dallas Howard (I'm very tempted to just say hand her the keys to all the director's chairs going forward), was fun and emotional and squee-inducing (it had a fucking Ringworld!), while showing us what's become of our favorite doting father since the sad separation from his Baby Yoda. Din Djarin is obviously lost and adrift; he's gone back to bounty hunting, clumsily swinging the Darksaber around like a knobbly-headed sledgehammer instead of the finely-tuned lethal weapon it is, to the point where he slices his leg with his own weapon. (The way he was stabbing and hacking with the Darksaber, it's a wonder he didn't cut the limb right off. In a later scene when the Armorer is trying to teach him the finesse necessary to use it, she remarks that he is "fighting against the blade." On Wookieepedia the article on kyber crystals, which power lightsabers, says they're quasi-sentient, so I can easily imagine the Darksaber's crystal wondering what the hell the untalented oaf hacking at things with it thinks he's doing.) After turning in his bounty and gaining the information he demanded, Mando descends to a lower level of the Ringworld and finds the two remaining members of his fundamentalist Mandalorian sect, the Armorer and a new character named Paz Vizsla. He doesn't remain with them long, because Paz is jealous of the fact that Mando has the Darksaber (which the Armorer says was forged a thousand years ago by Paz's ancestor, Tarre Vizsla) and challenges him for it. Despite his ineptness with the Darksaber, Mando manages to win, but loses all the same....because apparently a condition of the challenge is that each fighter must answer the question, "Have you ever removed your helmet?" and Mando admits that he did. The Armorer doesn't even give him a chance to explain and casts him out, saying he is a Mandalorian no more. 

(But we're there long enough to hear some general backstory about Mandalore, the Darksaber, and Bo-Katan Kryze, including a flashback to Mandalore's Great Purge, when the Empire all but wiped them out. This looked a helluva lot like a Terminator 2 outtake. Oh, and the Armorer forges Mando's cool beskar spear into....something....for his founding. From the tiny links I saw hitting the floor, I suspect it will be a Baby Yoda-sized mithril beskar chainmail shirt.)

Mando leaves the Ringworld and returns to Tatooine via commercial freighter (following a hilarious scene where the boarding droid demands he remove his weapons, and he fills up a good-sized suitcase with everything stashed and hidden in his armor) to meet the mechanic Peli Motto, who says she has a replacement for the Razor Crest. This turns out to be an absurdly tiny Naboo Starfighter, and though Peli persuades Mando to stay and help her put it back together, this is about the most impractical thing she could have saddled a bounty hunter with, despite its prodigious speed. The Razor Crest had, among other things, an actual living space, sleeping quarters and bathroom. This new ship has none of that. I guess Mando (and Grogu, because you know he'll be reunited with his kid in The Mandalorian Season 3) is just going to stay in hotels and bring back the chopped-off heads of his targets from now on (and maybe invest in a lot of diapers, cockpit catheters and urinary leg bags) because that ship isn't going to have room for anything else.

Nevertheless, the scenes in the middle of the episode of Din and Peli repairing and reassembling the ship were one of the best parts of it, mainly because of Amy Sedaris' hilariously improvised dialogue ("I dated a Jawa for awhile. They're quite furry. Quite furry. Lots of issues."), and Bryce Dallas Howard's wonderful eye for tiny details in characterizing Peli and her pack of droids. When Mando first shows up, Peli is chasing down a womp-rat who grabbed one of her smallest droids, BD. She yells at the other droids to help her, and not only do they fail to do that, they take turns hiding behind each other. At one point, little BD is so happy to have helped Mando put a part on the ship in its proper place that it stomps both feet up and down and shakes. In another scene, the droids are trying to guide one of the starfighter's new engines into its proper place, and one of the droids almost gets its head smashed. It pulls its head out, grabs it in both hands and runs away, clearly done with helping with the repair, at least for a while. In the background of one of the long shots of the repair bay, a rat (or Tatooine equivalent) runs across the sandy floor. These scenes were just a delight, and they were all punctuated by Amy Sedaris' funny, idiosyncratic banter. 

After the Starfighter is finished, Din takes it out for a run, shooting across Mos Eisley and through the same canyon where Anakin Skywalker pod-raced and Luke Skywalker chased womp-rats. He then takes the ship up and out of the atmosphere, where he gets caught by one of the same New Republic cops who tracked him in Season 2. One of them recognizes his voice and starts to question him, but he pressed the SUPER-SEKRIT BUTTON and the ship accelerates so fast it instantly vanishes from sight. When he touches back down in Peli Motto's courtyard, she asks him: "How was it?"

"Wizard," he replies.

(Apparently this, like several other references in this episode, is a callback to the prequel trilogy? I still have no great desire to watch it.)

Peli then tells Mando a "friend" has dropped by. Said "friend" is of course Fennec Shand, who says she wants to hire him as "muscle." When Mando realizes it's for Boba Fett he hands Fennec her money back: "Tell him it's on the house. But first I have to pay a visit to a little friend."

Well, well, well. This all but begs for the NEXT episode also to be about Din Djarin and Grogu, but I think we've shortchanged Boba Fett and Fennec Shand quite enough. I also think the powers-that-be may regret taking this diversion, because this episode shows just why Boba Fett is falling short. The protagonist's characterization is hopelessly muddled, we still have no real idea why he's doing what he's doing, and (banging the drum once again) the TUSKENS STILL DIDN'T HAVE TO BE SACRIFICED TO MOTIVATE HIM. Maybe if Bryce Dallas Howard were to direct the final two episodes? Regardless, even if--as I suspect he will--Boba gets to ride his baby Rancor, this show's first season (except for this episode) is going to be mediocre at best. 

No comments: