Editor’s Note: Welcome to Mandalorian Monday, when Vanyaland film editor Nick Johnston recaps last week’s episode of ‘The Mandalorian‘. It runs — you guessed it — every Monday during the show’s second season, so you have the chance to watch it over the weekend and he can write about it without having to put a big SPOILERS warning atop the page.
Finally, some good fucking Fett.
Greetings, Mando Monday readers — I hope you had a lovely weekend, and that you didn’t have money on the Chargers or the Seahawks yesterday (I personally believe that Vegas put the Chargers at -2.0 because they wanted to personally provide a stimulus payment to the people of Massachusetts). We’ll get on to Robert Rodriguez’s “The Tragedy” in just a second, but I quickly want to discuss a related topic: I want to quickly mount a defense of Star Wars‘ most non-badass badass, Boba Fett, who plays a big ol’ part in this week’s episode.
Over the past few weeks, it’s been popular to talk about how The Mandalorian is “redeeming” Boba Fett, who, admittedly, was a whole lot of talk and a whole lot of non-action in the Original Trilogy. He had maybe six lines, did absolutely nothing aside from looking badass and imposing alongside Darth Vader, and was dispatched with the ease of a stormtrooper by Luke Skywalker on that Skiff over the Sarlacc Pit when push came to shove in Return of the Jedi. But, then again, perhaps in the mind of George Lucas and company, he was never meant to be big: It was always a long-shot for a character from the fucking Holiday Special‘s cartoon segments to achieve any sort of status beyond being an answer to the pub trivia question “What Star Wars action figure was given away with four mailed-in proofs of purchase?”
But, as we all know, that didn’t happen: Boba Fett became this weird nerd phenomenon, especially among the Power of the Force-era Star Wars fans of the ’90s. He captivated the imagination, being a bad guy you wanted to root for, who had a razor-thin moral code and a whole lot of cool-ass weapons, who could take out the worst in the galaxy without having to worry about Lucas re-editing it so it looked like he gave his target a hug instead of blowing the Rodian’s brains out (indeed, I think the only reason Lucas felt as secure in doing what he did to the Han and Greedo encounter is that there was someone like Boba Fett — a true chaotic neutral — out there in the world to scratch that kind of rogue-justice itch). The fans wanted him to endure, to be this sort of genre-defining space fantasy badass, and, sure enough, he became so huge that there was practically a cottage industry involving him back in the day: shirts, toys, comics, books: Anything you wanted with Boba Fett’s face on it, you could get it — hell, my first email address had his name involved in it, somehow. The writers of the original Expanded Universe spilled massive amounts of ink trying to explain how and why he would escape from the Sarlacc, and penned a ton of adventures confirming their beliefs: The dude was at that point canonically badass, and the fans made it happen.
So, when people write their histories of The Mandalorian and choose to ignore the, like, 30 years of Fettmania that preceded it, well, they’re not really being honest (IG-88, on the other hand, you could say was totally made by IG-11): It was the fans who saved Boba Fett, and it’s one of the few truly great things Star Wars nerds have done over the years. Anyway, on to “The Tragedy,” which I’m sure you and yours found delightful.
We pick up shortly after where we left Mando and Baby Yoda last episode, having left Corvus following their encounter with Ahsoka Tano and Kyle Reese for the greener and presumably Force-filled hills of the planet Tython. On board the Razor Crest, our hero plays ball with his young companion, continually testing his powers like he’ll lose ’em if he stops for a moment. You can feel the love radiating from Mando to this little dude — he’s so proud of him, in awe of his abilities — but he knows that one day, he’s gonna have to leave him and the little metal ball behind. He’ll have to find a Jedi who can help him, because all Mando can do is try to keep him safe. The Razor Crest enters Tython’s atmosphere, and, helped by the ship’s computers, the pair soon spot the Stonehenge-like structure that Tano told them about. It’s too rocky and small to land the ship on, so Mando tells the Child that they’ll have to do the last stretch of their journey “with the windows open. Cue “Can You Read My Mind?” because Mando and Baby Yoda are flying through the skies using the former’s jetpack.
The pair land at the Jedi ruin, where a small half-sphere stone sits in the middle of a circle of rocks. Mando guesses that Baby Yoda probably needs to sit on the stone to make it work, and he sets him down there, expecting something crazy to happen. Nothing does, and Mando wonders if the thing is broken. He scans the area with his visor, double-and-triple-checking if this thing has an on-switch, while Baby Yoda takes in the sights and reaches out to a butterfly. Yet a familiar ship (well, familiar to the viewer, not Mando or Baby Yoda) interrupts Mando’s search, and Mando tells his young companion that it’s time for them to get the fuck out of there, knowing that this entails something bad. But, bad luck and bad timing strike again, as Baby Yoda manages to tap into the Force and unleashes a force-field of blue energy that surrounds him while he meditates (it is so stupidly cute watching him sit in the Lotus position, honestly). Mando doesn’t think that’s very funny, and he tries to grab the kid, but he’s blown back. He resigns himself to the fact that he might have to shoot his way out of this instead of running back to the Razor Crest, so he walks down the hill. He can see a figure emerge from the ship from his visor, but his path down the mountain is interrupted by blaster fire. The same cloaked figure from the first episode of this season emerges from the mountain, and Mando emerges from the cover he scrambled to. We’ve got ourselves a Mexican standoff, y’all.
The figure (who is fuckin’ Boba Fett, if you haven’t realized it yet), tells Mando that he’s been tracking him and that he’s after his armor. Mando retorts that the only way he’ll ever get his hands on that Beskar is if he peels it off his corpse, and Fett surprises him by saying that he wants his armor, the one that he got from the Marshal on Tatooine. Having encountered a whole lot of weird-ass Mandalorians this past season, Mando’s a little suspicious and asks Fett to prove he’s a Mandalorian, which, well, he can’t. He brings up his father’s heritage — it is his father’s armor, after all — but Mando’s not too sure if he can believe him, given how poorly the Mandalorians have been treated over the years.
But it’s then that Fett reveals the ace up his sleeve — he’s got a sharpshooter on the hill, with a sight trained on the meditating Child, and it turns out that it’s his old target Fennec, back from the worst episode of the entire series, who Fett saved after she was gutshot on Tatooine by that dweeby asshole who wanted to join the bounty hunters’ guild, and she now owes a Life Debt to the aging bounty hunter. Fett encourages everyone to put down their arms, and they do so. Mando continues to refuse to deal with Fett, but the former bounty hunter offers to help him protect the Child in exchange for the armor, and Fennec tells Mando to take the deal, given just how high the bounty on Baby Yoda is right now. But an Imperial Troop shuttle enters the airspace above them, and the group scatters as Mando runs to grab The Child and Fett and Fennec take up a defensive position. The audience’s blood pressure has just shot up, and I hope you’re ready for some A-C-T-I-O-N, folks. You don’t hire the director of Desperado to just shoot conversations.
Mando gets back to the rock and tries to get into the force-field in order to pry out Baby Yoda, but he’s yeeted from that motherfucker like his name is Kylo Ren, and the hit knocks him out of action for a little while. Meanwhile, on the hill, Fett and Fennec open fire as stormtroopers storm out of the ship. The Imperials begin to storm the hill, and the pair split up, with Fett taking on a number of troopers like an unholy combination of John Wick and Batman, appearing from the shadows and wrecking fools with a Tusken Raider staff (I knew something like this was going to happen again in Star Wars as soon as Donnie Yen did it in Rogue One, and it never stops being insanely cool). Fennec’s on the gun, eliminating idiots like she’s going for the Nuke in Modern Warfare 2, but the Troopers have set up a blaster turret and force her to run across the hilltops in order to avoid fire. She takes cover behind a boulder, and the turret’s fire loosens the rock enough to the point that Fennec’s able to roll it down the mountain and, in the process, allows boulderkind to redeem itself for never being able to kill Indiana Jones by letting one of their own annihilate some Stormtroopers. After Fett takes care of the Stormtroopers’ commanding officer, he notices the Razor Crest sitting nearby, doors open for the taking. By then, Mando’s woken up and he tries one final time to get Baby Yoda free of the force-field. But a second troop transport flies overhead and he decides that his protection is more important than anything else. Mando and Fennec have a bro moment after he saves her from getting overwhelmed, and then comes what nerds have been waiting for so patiently for the last 30 plus years: The Star Wars equivalent of this.
Look, it is a fool’s errand to try and describe this scene to you as a play-by-play, so just go and watch the episode yourself or find said scene on YouTube. But it is fucking righteous. Boba Fett drops a grenade on some stormtroopers and starts waxing motherfuckers like he’s Mr. Miyagi. He uses every single trick in the book — blaster, knee rockets, and his motherfucking fists — to take down the Stormtrooper hordes, and the rest just plain ol’ wimp out and return to their ships to run. But Fett’s got other plans — he uses his helmet’s targeting computer to get a lock on one of the ships and fires the rocket mounted upon his jetpack and blows both vessels out of the sky by forcing them to collide. But, when victory looks to be assured, a laser blast from orbit annihilates the Razor Crest (just after everybody gave their money to HasLab for the Vintage Collection edition of the ship, huh?), and Fett jets to his ship in anticipation of aerial reinforcement.
Sure enough, Moff Gideon has found them, and there’s no time. Mando and Fennec run back to the hill and, aboard his cruiser, Gideon dispatches his Dark Troopers, who jet out of the ship and surround the freshly-force-field-free Baby Yoda. As The Child screams, the troopers grab him and fly off towards the ship. Fett follows them, intending to rescue them, but is told not to fire by Mando, who fears that he’ll kill the child with Slave I‘s blasters. Fett gets close to the ship and realizes that the Empire is back in full force, which strikes fear into his companion’s heart. But he’s outgunned, and the Moff escapes with his target, a development to which a whole host of children across the world reacted like this:
Mando’s seriously bummed about the destruction of his ship, but it turns out that, even though he’s lost his most prized possession, he’s gained allies in Fennec and Fett, who have promised not to finish their deal until The Child is safely returned to him. Fett also proves to Mando that the armor is his, and, perhaps even more importantly for Star Wars lore experts, confirms that Jango Fett was a Mandalorian, who, like Mando, was adopted into the fold and later fought in their Civil Wars. The threesome head to Nevarro, where Mando asks Cara Dune, the newly appointed Marshal of the city (so that’s what that thing was), to help him bust Bill Burr out of prison so that they can track down the Moff. I know he’s got an in-universe name, but there’s no way in hell I’m not calling him Bill Burr. Dune tells him she can’t help him, but Mando tells her about The Child’s capture. Meanwhile, Gideon watches The Child, in his cell, torture a pair of his troopers, and then shows him the Darksaber, which he one day hopes Baby Yoda will wield. A stormtrooper stuns him and places handcuffs on his little wrists (how can he even make imprisonment cute?!) and the Moff instructs his men to tell Dr. Pershing that they’ve captured the subject. And, with that, “The Tragedy” comes to its end.
Yeah, this ruled. This may be the best thing that Rodriguez has directed in the past decade (look, we’re Alita fans, too, guys, but he’s always best when he’s doing shorter projects), and it allowed so many nerd fantasies to come true while also significantly advancing the show’s plot. I can’t even believe it, honestly. I’m going Four and 1/2 Jangos on this one, folks. The whole damn fandom just got blindsided by this like they’re Johnny Knoxville getting hit by Jared Allen.
This week’s recipient is, of course, Temura Morrison, who has not-so-secretly had a career renaissance over the last few years. He was really good in Aquaman, not bad in Dora and the City of Gold, and he’s just a ton of fun here. He really was one of the best parts of the prequels, and I hope everyone goes and plays Star Wars: Bounty Hunter at some point because it’s a solid-ass game! It’s currently available on the Playstation Store if you want to check it out and get your Fett on.
Star Wars Fan Film of The Week:
In keeping with our Boba Fett theme this week, here’s a really fun fan film starring the Bounty Hunter himself entitled The Twelve Parsec Stare, which takes a great deal of inspiration Spaghetti Westerns — specifically from Leone and his ilk. The production values are good, the sound design is fantastic, and honestly, I think Ruined Films did a solid job with this one. If you can’t wait until next Friday and Bounty Hunter isn’t your speed, try this as some Star Wars methadone.
This Week’s Weirdest Piece of Baby Yoda Merch:
So, you’ve just kidnapped the Star Wars universe’s most famous child, and you want to brag about it to all your boys at the Imperial Shipyard. Well, why not get this lovely “The Child on Board” Decal from Hot Topic, which advertises that, yes, you have The Child with you, and that you probably should be gatted by the next Beskar-wearing individual wherever you touch down next. Don’t like the design? Well, there are a few of them, each of which we know you’re going to love, even if means you’ll get a blaster bolt between the eyes from Pedro Pascal. They’re anywhere from $5-10 on the Hot Topic website.
Anyway, it’s gonna be a long and hard wait for “Chapter 15” to hit on Friday. It looks like we’re springing Bill Burr out of prison this week, which should be a ball and a half, especially if the prison likes him as much as Philadelphia did.