We knew he was coming due to the music cue at the end of the last episode but I don’t think anyone was expecting this; Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal and others) enters in the first shot and then remains the focus for the whole episode. This has drawn complaints (because Star Wars fans can never be satisfied) as this is the Boba Fett show but, although the title character has been switched out this episode, the themes remain the same.
Both Din and Boba were violent bounty hunters because that was all the knew but now, due to finding family, both have faced moments of enlightenment and are looking to be something else. This episode catches up with Din after the events of season two of ‘The Mandalorian’ and he is now without Grogu, his reason to change. On the surface it looks like he has fallen straight back into his old ways; he is after a bounty and, now that he has the Dark Saber, his methods are more violent than ever. He’s stabbing, slicing, chopping people in half and cutting their head off but he is unskilled with his new weapon, so much so that he cuts into his own leg, and it has a visible weight to it. But, during a beautifully crafted tracking shot by director Bryce Dallas Howard (returning for her third go at Star Wars), it is revealed that he is hunting for information not credits.
Having lost his purpose he is now looking for his old family, the coven of Mandalorians from season one of ‘The Mandalorian’. He finds them in the underbelly of a ring city that’s floating in space. Following their run in with the Imperial remnant there are only the Armorer and Pas Visla left but they are looking to rebuild. It’s here that questions that were asked about events that happened in ‘The Mandalorian’ are answered. This is the beauty of the Jon Favreau written Star War; every time the audience has a question or something happens to contradict what has come before, we get answers, whether it be straight away, in a few episodes time, or in a completely different series. We get answers to how Din feels about Grogu (the Armorer makes Grogu something out of beskar so Din has a reason to visit him), the power and meaning of the Dark Saber and why Bo-Katan didn’t take it, and what actually happened to Mandalore.
The other great thing about Favreau’s Star Wars is he isn’t afraid to show things and make logical jumps in the story. There is no “somehow Mandalore fell”, we’ve be told about it in ‘The Mandalorian’ and here we see it in all it’s Terminator-esque glory. Din needs to learn how to use the Dark Saber and the episode takes the time to show him being trained by the Armorer. The other Mandalorian is Paz Vizsla, descendant of the creator of the Dark Saber, and he believes it belongs to him and challenges Din for it. Din wins but the Armorer declares him unfit to be a Mandalorian as he has taken his helmet off and the only way he can be purified is in the waters underneath Mandalore. This is all set up for future adventures as he now has a new quest. It has also become clear that Din’s belief in the Armorer’s extremist views has been shaken and there are now more important things in life to him.
The second half of the episode see Din travel to Tatooine. He is there to visit Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris), the mechanic he encountered in his own series. It turns out she has been looking for a new Razor Crest for him and has summoned him because she has found a replacement. What follows could and will be labelled fan service but it’s done so right and isn’t the whole point of shows like this to keep as many fans as possible happy. If you alienate the fan base the shows will go away.
The replacement ship is a wrecked Naboo starfighter, possibly one of the most beautiful bit of design in Star Wars, and in the rebuilding montage and first flight the references come thick and fast. The starfighter is from the prequels. Din is aided in the repairs by a BD droid, a class that is from the ‘Fallen Order’ game. The spare parts are provided by Jawas. We revisit the pod race course. We see a womp rat in Beggar’s Canyon. Spinning is a good trick and Din says “wizard”. We even get a name for the rod that Han used to try and stop the trash compactor in ‘A New Hope’. To top everything off we see X-Wings again, piloted by Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and a new wing man, to remind us there is something bigger going on that’s out of sight.
While all of this seems like more set up for season three of ‘The Mandalorian, Din now has a new ship and Teva is still digging around for clues in the outer rim, this is all a lot better than Din just randomly turning up with no explanation about what he has been up to since we last saw him. When Fennec turns up to recruit him to fight for Boba we no exactly where he is in his life. Favreau and Filoni are buildings a universe of shows around these characters so they are moving everyone’s stories towards whatever endgame they have planned.
Put the shows title to one side and enjoy this as a near perfect slice of Star Wars.