Well here is the weirdest episode of The Book of Boba Fett thus far. It sees the Mandalorian Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) collect on a bounty before reuniting with his clan members, and travelling to Tatooine to collect a new starship. None of those events are weird in and of themselves. They seem perplexing because this is for all intents and purposes a new episode of Star Wars series The Mandalorian, billed as an episode of Boba Fett. Temuera Morrison does not even appear, while Ming-Na Wen makes what is essentially a last-minute cameo. It is impossible to judge it all really, since it feels so wildly out of place.
It initially seemed that The Book of Boba Fett was going to tell a tighter story than The Mandalorian, relating the title character’s transition from bounty hunter to crime lord. It is becoming clearer from the languid pace that such a story is going to take more than this season’s seven episodes to tell. That was before fourteen percent of the series was given over to Din Djarin.
What seems particularly galling is that the time is not even being diverted to an interesting episode of The Mandalorian. Instead it represents 45 minutes of narrative housekeeping for another show. We last saw Djarin having gained the mythical ‘darksaber’, handed his young charge Grogu over to the Jedi, and had his starship destroyed. “The Return of the Mandalorian” showcases the new weapon, reveals how he is coping without his young friend, and follows him around dealing with the consequences of his actions with his own people and collecting a new ship. It even includes now-obligatory references to other Star Wars productions – in this case The Phantom Menace (Djarin’s new ship) and The Star Wars Holiday Special (my only explanation for Amy Sedaris’ one-dimensional mechanic character). There is no real drama to be found. At its best it is a very ordinary episode of the wrong series. At its worst it is a 45-minute advertisement where The Book of Boba Fett should be.
The saving grace is how it looks. Director Bryce Dallas Howard has previously demonstrated a nice visual eye in these Star Wars series, and there is some fabulous eye candy going on among the trivia and changes of equipment. In particular the early scenes take place on a wonderful ring world that is just beautiful to look at. Scenes of Djarin flying his new fighter are also very nicely composed and executed. It would have been nicer to have seen an episode of The Book of Boba Fett, but there are at least small mercies to this weirdly awful creative decision.