Friday, February 4, 2022

The Book Of Boba Fett Season 1, Episode 5: The Return Of The Mandalorian

What the hell?

Apparently I made a mistake, and accidentally downloaded an episode of The Mandalorian instead of The Book Of Boba Fett.

All kidding aside, this week's episode is for all intents and purposes the Season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian. In fact at no time does Boba Fett make so much as a cameo appearance— in his own series yet! 

How utterly bizarre. I cannot overemphasize just how strange this is, seeing one character take over the show of another. In fact I can't think of anything like this ever happening before in all of TV history. The closest example I can come up with is when Urkel hijacked Family Matters and became its ostensible star.

Don't get me wrong here, as I'm not complaining about the substitution. For weeks now I've been growing increasingly bored with this show, so this week's episode was a breath of fresh air!

Based on the end of last week's episode, I knew that Manny would eventually show up on this series. But I figured the Pykes would surround Fett's Palace in the season finale, and Manny would show up at a dramatic moment to help out. I definitely DID NOT expect to see an entire episode devoted to Manny, as he usurped his pal's series!

It's probably telling that so far the best episode of The Book Of Boba Fett doesn't even feature the titular character!

For weeks now I've known there was something... off about this series, but I could never quite put my finger on just what it was. This episode finally highlighted it in stark black & white— it's the star of the show. I hate to say it, but Temuera Morrison just isn't a very good actor. Sure, he's adequate, and he's got a lengthy IMDB resume. But he has zero charisma or onscreen presence. His performances are all workmanlike, to put it politely.

Compare that to actor Pedro Pascal. From the moment he appeared I was completely invested in his character and what was happening in the episode— and all without even seeing his face! In fact I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't even there on set, and simply recorded his lines after the fact. And he was STILL more compelling than Morrison!

This week's episode of The Mandalorian, er, I mean The Book Of Boba Fett was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard. She previously directed Sanctuary and The Heiress over on The Mandalorian. Both were very good episodes, as she's clearly inherited her father Ron's talent for directing. She's definitely keeping things all in the family, as Ron Howard helmed (sort of) Solo: A Star Wars Story, stepping in after original director
s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired from the project.

She clearly "gets" Star Wars, and fans are now calling for her to direct the next theatrical film in the franchise (whatever that might be). Sounds like a great idea to me, and I'm all for it. And in these woke times, it's nice to finally see someone lauded for their talent, and not because of their gender, race or orientation. Come at me, SJWs!


The Plot:
The episode begins in a meat packing plant run by a group of Klatoonians. Suddenly Manny The Mandalorian from The Mandalorian series makes a guest appearance, to the delight and surprise of the audience.

Manny heads to the back office, where he tells the Klatoonian Kaba Baiz he's there for him. Baiz lies about his identity, so 
Manny shows his a tracking fob which displays the Klatoonian's face. Manny tells Baiz he can bring him in warm, or he can bring him in cold. The choice is his.

Just then one of Baiz's Klatoonian cronies lunges forward and bites Manny on the arm. A fight instantly breaks out, and Manny fires up the Darksaber he got in his Season 2 finale. He mows down several Klatoonians with it, but he's not very skilled with the blade and accidentally slices his own leg open with it.

Baiz comes at Manny, but he stabs him with a knife, throws him onto his desk and cuts him in half with the Darksaber. He then removes Baiz's head, puts it in a cloth bag and exits the office. He tells the rest of the Klatoonians they can help themselves to Baiz's fortune if they let him pass. After thinking it over, they all run into the office and he limps away.

We then see that Manny's on Glavis, and artificial ring-shaped world that orbits a nearby star. He limps through the industrial lower level, then rides an elevator up to the residential & retail district. He enters a restaurant where his client, a snooty Ishi Tib, is dining with guests.

Manny drops the head on the table and demands his reward and the information he was promised. The Ishi Tib tells him not to be in such a rush, and invites him to join the dinner party. Manny takes the head back and says there are others who'd pay just as much for it. The Ishi Tib relents and gives Manny an address. He tosses the head on the table a second time and re-boards the elevator.

Manny exits in the industrial underbelly of Glavis, where he follows a series of infrared symbols. They lead him to the Armorer and Paz Vizsla, last seen in Redemption. Apparently the two are the last surviving members of their once thriving Mandalorian Covert, and are hiding out on the ringworld.

The Armorer orders Vizsla to tend to Manny's wound. She asks what caused such an injury, and he shows her the Darksaber. She examines it, and infodumps its history to Manny— it was created a thousand years ago by Tarre Vizsla, a Mandalaorian who was also somehow a Jedi. According to their creed, whoever wields the weapon will rule Mandalaore. She warns though that if it's not won in combat, it'll bring a curse to their world.

Manny says he won the blade in combat from Moff Gideon, but the others are disappointed that he didn't kill him. Manny says the New Republic will punish Gideon for his crimes, but the Armorer is skeptical. She asks about Baby Yoda, and Manny says he returned him to the Jedi. She says his quest is now complete, and asks him to join their Covert and rebuild.

She notices his shiny new Beskar spear, and says the metal's meant for armor, not weaponry— as it could kill many Mandalorians. She says it should be melted down and made into something useful. Manny willingly hands it over and asks her to use it to make something for Baby Yoda.

As she works, she infodumps again, telling him the tale of The Great Purge, and how the Empire bombed Mandalaore into oblivion in The Night Of A Thousand Tears. She said their people were scattered throughout the galaxy, and only their adherence to "The Way" has preserved their race. She then makes the spear into what looks like chainmail, ties it up in a little bindle and gives it to Manny.

Sometime later the Armorer spars with Manny, teaching him how to fight with the Darksaber. After a while he says it's getting heavier, to the point where he can barely lift it (?). She says he's fighting against the blade, when he should be fighting his opponent. She says it's controlled by the mind, not strength.

Vizsla watches, and finally decides he's had enough. He says the Darksaber was created by his House, and by rights belongs to him, and challenges Manny to a duel for the blade. The two battle for a while, and the hulking Vizsla eventually gets Manny on the ropes. He manages to rally though, holding a knife a Vizsla's throat. The Armorer declares Manny the victor.

The Armorer then asks Vizsla if he's ever removed his helmet. He proudly replies no. She asks Manny, and he hesitates and says yes. She then announces he's a Mandalorian no more. He asks for forgiveness, and she says the only way he can be redeemed is by dipping his toes in the Living Waters Beneath The Mines Of Mandalore or something. Manny then gathers his belongings and sulks out of the Covert.

He goes topside to board a starcruiser, but sets off the metal detector. Comedy Ahoy! He then has to remove all his weaponry— including the Darksaber— and place it in his check-in luggage (!).

The ship takes off for Tatooine (where else?). Along the way, a Rodian child in front of Manny turns around and waves at him. The child reminds him of Baby Yoda, and he takes out the bindle and stares sadly at it.

The ship lands in Mos Eisley on Tatooine, where Manny recovers his weapons.

Cut to the hangar/garage of Peli Motto, Manny's mechanic friend he met a couple seasons back. She and her little posse of droids are hunting a Womp Rat that's infiltrated the garage. Peli chases it behind a large piece of machinery, and it grabs and attacks her. She yells to her droids for help, but they turn out to be useless.

Suddenly a blaster shot rings out, as Manny appears and shoots the Womp Rat. Peli thanks him, and asks what brings him to her garage. He says he got her message that she found a replacement ship for his late, lamented Razor Crest.

Peli takes him over to a large object covered by a tarp. She whips it off, revealing an ancient, half-build N-1 Naboo Starfighter. Manny's not impressed, asking where's the replacement Razor Crest she promised him. She says she never promised him a Razor Crest, but a replacement for his old ship.

Manny says he doesn't have time for her crap, and starts to walk away. She begins talking up the ship, saying it's Pre-Empire and as such is off the grid, plus she's made several modifications to soup it up and make it extremely fast. She asks him to let her finish building it before he decides. Against his better judgement, he agrees.

We then get a rebuilding montage, as Manny and Peli work on the ship. She contacts a couple of Jawas, who scavenge hard-to-find parts for the ship and bring them in.

After an inordinate amount of screentime, they push the completed ship out of the garage. It looks like a cross between a spaceship and an Earth hotrod, complete with an air scoop on the "hood." Peli tells Manny to take it for a test flight, so he jumps in and blasts off.

He roars over Mos Eisley, and says the ship handles rough. Peli tells him he's used to flying a gunship, and needs to get used to piloting a starfighter. He flies away from the city into the open desert. She tells him to head for Beggar's Canyon, where he tests the ship's maneuverability between its narrow walls.

Manny exits the canyon and flies straight up into space. He passes the starcruiser he was just on, and the same little Rodian girl sees him zoom by. Suddenly Manny's surrounded by two New Republic X-Wings, as an officer informs him he was speeding next to a commercial liner.

One of the officers is Captain Carson Teva, who's run into Manny before. Teva says Manny's voice sounds familiar, and asks if he used to fly a Razor Crest or been to Nevarro. Manny says he's mistaken him for someone else. The other officer demands Manny hand over his controls so they can tractor him back to Mos Eisley.

Manny decides he's had enough and powers up the ship. It zooms away before the two officers can even react. The younger officer wants to pursue, but Teva tells him to let it go.

Manny returns to Peli's garage, and says he's impressed with the ship. She says she knew he would be, and says an old friend of his dropped by while he was gone. Just then Fennec Shand appears, and asks Manny if he's interested in a job. She tosses him a bag of coins, and says Boba Fett's hiring muscle to help drive the Pykes off Tatooine. Manny gives the money back and says it's on the house— but first he has to pay a visit to a little friend.

The Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian ended with Baby Yoda going off with Luke Skywalker, while Manny, Bo Katan, Fennec Shand and Cara Dune stood on the bridge of Moff Gideon's ship, awkwardly waiting for the credits to roll.

In the interim, Disney took the disgraceful and cowardly action of firing actress Gina Carano (aka Cara Dune), simply because she has a big mouth and said some things they didn't like.

That made me wonder just how Season 3 of the show would start. Would it pick up right where Season 2 left off? Eh, that'd be tough, as they'd have to address Dune's absence and explain why she was no longer on the bridge. Would they Poochie her, and say she went back to her home planet while we weren't looking?

In the end it looks like they solved the problem with a time jump! This episode clearly takes place weeks or even months after The Rescue, allowing Disney to simply dispense with Cara Dune by never mentioning her again. Feh.

• Did... did they just film this opening scene in a plain old Earthly meat packing plant? It sure looks like it to me!

It even features those clear plastic curtain strips to keep the cold in, for corn's sake!

• Note that when Manny makes his dramatic (and unexpected) entrance, he's carrying the Beskar spear he got back in The Mandalorian Season 2 episode The Jedi. It was gifted to him by Ahsoka Tano, who won it in battle with the Magistrate.

• Manny's at the meat packing plant hunting for a Klatoonian named Kaba Baiz. Baiz tells him he has the wrong guy, so Manny shows him his holographic wanted poster. Note that the Aurebesh text reads, "WANTED, 9830 Credits."

By the way, I had to chuckle at the way Baiz spoke. The fake canine teeth the actor was wearing made it sound like he had marbles in his mouth. I guess it makes sense, as someone with teeth like that probably would struggle to enunciate clearly, but it kind of took me out of the episode.

• When Baiz refuses to give himself up, Manny stares at him for a few seconds and then says, "I can bring you in warm... or I can bring you in cold." HE SAID IT! HE SAID THE LINE!!! THE SAME LINE HE SAID IN THE VERY FIRST EPISODE OF HIS SHOW!!!

• I've often described the Klatoonian race as being "dog-faced," and that's apparently a pretty apt label! When the inevitable fight for Baiz starts, one of them actually lunges forward and bites Manny on the arm! Bad! Bad dog!

• I love how Manny's Beskar armor repels all the blaster shots, without even a scratch! I'd actually kind of forgotten it could do that till I saw this scene. Awesome!

• As the fight wears on, we see Manny still has the Darksaber, which he took from Moff Gideon after defeating him in combat back in The Rescue.

Oddly enough, in that episode it was clear that Manny had absolutely NO idea of the Darksaber's history, which seemed a bit odd. He's an Orthodox Mandalorian after all, the kind who's a stickler for dogma and refuses to ever remove his helmet. The Darksaber plays a HUGE role in his culture— it's basically the Shroud Of Turin, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Spear Of Destiny all rolled into one big religious artifact. How the hell could he never have heard of it?

Anyway, in that episode his fellow Mandalorian Bo Katan told him all about the Darksaber— specifically how whoever wielded it would be the rightful ruler of Mandalore. He said he didn't want the thing, and offered it to her instead. She refused, saying it couldn't be gifted but only won through combat.

Apparently after all that he he decided to keep it for himself then!

• Eh, I dunno. I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm not sold on this whole Darksaber thing. I know it started on The Clone Wars series and has been around for a while now, but... it seems a little too gimmicky to me. Like someone on the writing staff thought it was really clever. "Hey, you know how we have lightsabers? What if we had... get ready now... what if we had... DARKsabers too? Get it?"

I think what bothers me most about it is the way it looks. It's supposed to be a blade of BLACK energy, right? Fine. So then why's it surrounded by a glowing WHITE aura? I get that's so the thing shows up, since most Star Wars environments tend to be dark gray. But the bright white glow makes absolutely zero sense to me.

I think it'd look a lot better if it had a dim electric blue glow around it. Just bright enough to make it show up, but not TOO bright. I think it looks much more sinister that way!

• During the fight, Manny actually burns the hell out of his own leg with the Darksaber.

I LOVE this, as it perfectly illustrates that he's not very experienced with it yet. It also underscores just how dangerous a lightsaber would actually be, and how much skill it would take to wield one without accidentally dismembering or killing yourself!

Note how he also drags it across the floor during the fight too, as if it's really heavy. We'll talk more about that in a bit.

• Manny throws Baiz on a table and actually slices him clean in half with the Darksaber! Wow, that's pretty violent for Disney Star Wars!

Nice Touch: As we smash cut to the title screen, we hear the usual drum & male choir theme of The Book Of Boba Fett, overlaid with the fluty score of The Mandalorian.

Now that I think about it, I dunno why they didn't just go ahead and flash The Mandalorian title card on the screen! This is basically the premiere episode of Season 3 of that show, so why the hell not?

• We then get the absolute best part of the episode (and maybe even of both series!) as we see Manny's actually on Glavis, a massive, artificial ring-shaped structure surrounding a sun. Seriously, Glavis? Who named this place, Jerry Lewis? 

Anyway, thank the Christ Baby Jesus! At long last, we FINALLY get away from Tatooine on this show! Well, for a few minutes, at least. This series reeeeally needs to rethink its premise, and get us off that rock once in a while, because honestly the setting's become stifling.

Anyway, about this ribbon shaped world...

Youngin's will likely say they cribbed this from the Halo videogame franchise, while older folks like me will realize it was shamelessly lifted, er, I mean was inspired by Larry Niven's Ringworld novels.

In Niven's books, the Ringworld was an artificial ribbon constructed around an alien star, and was roughly the diameter of Earth's orbit around the sun. Its surface was one million miles wide, with thousand mile-high walls along each edge— to hold in the atmosphere. It rotated to provide simulated gravity, so the inhabitants didn't float away. There was also an inner ring of "shadow squares" orbiting the star, which would periodically block out the sunlight on the ring's surface, to simulate day and night.

It looks like the producers pretty much copy and pasted most of that into Glavis— right down to the shadow squares simulating nighttime. It's a cool visual, but I feel like it's happening WAYYYYY too fast here. Based on the speed that "dawn" races toward Manny, a day on this artificial world must be about fifteen minutes long!
• We then get another awesome shot, as Manny walks through the streets of Glavis and boards an elevator...

He exits and walks through a nightclub or restaurant, where he presents Baiz's head to his client.

After claiming his bounty he leaves the dinner party, then walks back through the nightclub...

Gets back on the elevator...

And exits in the hidden, sparsely-populated underbelly of Glavis.

The most amazing thing about all this is that it happens in one continuous shot!

The entire sequence lasts two minutes and eighteen seconds, and is absolutely seamless. I'm not sure if they filmed Pedro Pascal (or rather his stunt double) walking back and forth on a green screen stage, or if they used their fancy new Stagecraft rear projection system. However they did it, it was damned impressive!

By the way, I'd love to post a video of the scene here, but alas, the awesome Blogger interface won't allow gifs of longer than thirty seconds. Go figure. Take my word for it though, it's an amazing sequence.

Nice Attention To Detail: When Manny walks through the deserted streets, we see him limping in pain from his Darksaber injury. Once he arrives in the nightclub though, you can see him suck it up and walk almost normally. Then the minute he exits in the deserted bowels of the city, he starts limping again and breathing heavily.

Obviously he's trying to mask his pain around others, so as not to appear vulnerable and maybe even invite an attack. It's an amazingly subtle little bit of acting, one that's very much appreciated.

• Deep in the labyrinthine bowels of Glavis, Manny activates the infrared filter on his helmet and spots a Mythosaur symbol, indicating the hideout of what's left of the Armorer's Covert. This symbol is very important in Mandalorian culture, as even Boba Fett has one on his armor.

• Manny enters the secret Covert, where he sees the Armorer sitting on a ramp that seemingly juts straight out into open space. What the hell?

OK, I know Star Wars has never concerned itself much with scientific accuracy, but this is going too far. Maybe Glavis is surrounded by a forcefield that keeps the air in?

Or are their helmets protecting them? Back in Stranger In A Strange Land, we saw that Boba Fett's helmet was apparently airtight, and inexplicably had its own oxygen supply. Is that what's supposed to be happening here?

Backstory Time: If you'll recall, back in Redemption (the Season 1 finale of The Mandalorian), the Armorer's Covert on Nevarro sacrificed itself to give Manny, Baby Yoda and his friends a chance to escape from Moff Gideon and his Imperial forces.

In the end, the Armorer and Paz Vizsla were all that was left of the Nevarro Covert. Or are they? At one point Vizsla tells Manny, "There are three of us now."

So is he counting Manny in that group? Or is there a third Mandalorian who just doesn't show up in this episode?

• Once again, Paz Vizla is played by series creator Jon Favreau. That's definitely him doing the voice, but I'm not sure if he's actually inside the armor. Favreau's a big guy, and Vizla looks pretty bulky as well, so who knows? Maybe it really is him in there.

• Manny hands the Darksaber to the Armorer, who examines it and explains its significance to him (and the audience as well). It was created by Tarre Vizsla, who was somehow both a Jedi AND a Mandalorian. It's over a thousand years old, and whoever possesses it rules Mandalore, yadda yadda. It's basically a space version of Excalibur.

This is why when Manny holds out the Darksaber, Vizla reacts with wonder and reverence at this ancient and important relic of his House. Even though we can't see his face, it's obvious what he's thinking here. It's amazing just how much emotion the actors can convey through those helmets! Well done, guys!

It's also why Vizsla resents Manny. As a direct descendent of Tarre Vizsla, the Darksaber's his birthright and rightfully belongs to him, not some random Mandalorian who doesn't even understand what it is.

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. At one point we see Manny and Vizsla physically struggling as they drag what appears to be a large cauldron across the floor. Turns out it's a Beskar forge! It's unlikely they found one sitting in a storage closet in the bowels of Glavis, so I have to assume this is the same forge the Armorer had in the underground Covert on Nevarro!

Holy crap! How in the name of George Lucas' Mighty Neckbeard did they drag this two-ton thing all the way to Glavis!? Did the Armorer check it at the spaceport with the rest of her luggage? 

Similarly, she also has a massive walk-in steamer trunk that contains her hammer & tongs, as well as other tools of her trade. No wonder Paz Vizsla's so big— he bulked up after carrying all her crap on his back when she travels!

Sometime later the Armorer tells Manny, "The songs of eons past foretold of the Mythosaur rising up to herald a new age of Mandalore." She then adds, "Sadly, it only exists in legends."

Hey... Was that a shot at Disney there? Back when they first bought the Star Wars franchise, they summarily ruled that all the novels, comics and other media were no longer canon and didn't count. So is her mention of "legends" a subtle reference to that action? The Mythosaur first appeared in the Star Wars Holiday Special. Is the Special now considered one of these "legends?"

• The Armorer (who reeeeally likes to hear herself talk) tells Manny of The Great Purge, as we see a squad of Imperial TIE Bombers strafing the surface of Mandalore with what appear to be nukes (!). We first saw TIE Bombers many decades ago in The Empire Strikes Back.

We then see the TIES bombing a large domed structure. According to The Clone Wars animated series, Mandalorians built their cities inside massive domes like this.

Finally we see numerous droids combing the rubble for survivors, in a scene ripped straight out of Terminator 2; Judgment Day.

Note that these are clearly KX series armed forces droids— the same model as K-2SO in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. There are Imperial Probe Droids helping them out during the bombings as well.

• The Armorer tells Manny that Beskar was intended for armor, not weapons, and insists his spear be melted down. At his request, she uses the Beskar from the spear to make something for Baby Yoda. 

It's unclear just what she made for him, but based on this shot I assume it was some sort of chainmail. Much like Frodo's Mithril armor shirt in The Lord Of The Rings. I'm sure the script was just being coy here, and we'll find out what she made in an upcoming episode.

• I had to roll my eyes when the Armorer put the mystery item in a tiny handkerchief— which she tied to resemble Baby Yoda's head and ears.

Also, from this scene it looks for all the world like she melted down the eight foot long spear into something the size of Manny's fist. I'm assuming that's not really the case, and she just used PART of the spear to make Baby Yoda's gift.

• The Armorer then spars with Manny as she trains him in how to use the Darksaber. As she does so, she shouts out the words "Ehn, Solus, T'ad" over and over. Apparently this is "one, two, three" in Mando'a, the Mandalorian language. Because Knowing Is Half The Battle!

Also, didn't she just tell him that Beskar wasn't meant for weaponry? So what the hell's she fighting him with? Her hammer & tongs— which she uses as weapons— are clearly made of Beskar, as they're immune to the Darksaber blade.

More Star Wars Science: The two continue to spar, until eventually Manny can barely lift the Darksaber, saying it gets heavier with every swing. Yeah, I'm having trouble understanding how a blade of pure energy can be heavy. That's like turning on a flashlight and not being able to pick it up because the beam weighs too much!

Also, note that they're fighting on the same ramp the Armorer was sitting on. At one point Manny lunges and actually falls off the edge of the ramp and into space (!). He manages to use his jet pack to fly back up onto the ramp.

And a couple scenes from now, Manny and Vizsla will take off their jet packs and fight, presumably so that if one of them falls off the ramp they'll die in space.

Yeah, none of that is how gravity works in space. I have no trouble accepting that the ramp likely has some sort of artificial gravity built into it. Even so, there's no way Manny can "fall" off it. If he jumped off the ramp he'd just float in the weightlessness of outer space.

As I said earlier, Star Wars has never concerned itself much with scientific accuracy, but this is going a bit too far.

• During the training session, the Armorer tells Manny, "Persistence without insight will lead to the same outcome." Is that the Star Wars equivalent of "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity?"

• Eventually Vizsla can't take it anymore, and challenges Manny for possession of the Darksaber. He then pulls out a tiny knife and starts swinging at him.

Who brings a knife to a Darksaber fight?

• After a lengthy battle sequence, Vizsla manages to temporarily best Manny and takes the Darksaber from him. Just like Manny though, he struggles with its weight and is barely able to lift it off the floor, holding the blade at a very unfortunate angle. 

If this scene didn't instantly remind you of Spaceballs and the "Schwartz," well, then you're just not trying.

• Manny manages to best Vizsla and win back the Darksaber. For some reason, the Armorer then asks him if he's ever removed his helmet. Boy, HAS he! At least three times in the course of just sixteen episodes! He admits it, and she says that according to their creed "he's a Mandalorian no more." A couple things here:

First of all, this is a pretty pivotal moment in Manny's life, but it's barely given any screen time at all. In fact the episode rushes right past it, as if it can't wait to drop it and get to the seemingly much more important matter of how Manny got a new ship. This scene definitely needed more emphasis and time to properly breathe.

Plus why did the Armorer just let him go with all his stuff? If he's truly no longer a Mandalorian, then it seems like she'd have demanded he hand over his helmet, his armor and ESPECIALLY the Darksaber!

Secondly, the Armorer says the only way he can redeem himself is bathing in the Hot Tub Of Doom, er, I mean the "Living Waters Beneath The Mines Of Mandalore." 

Now THAT was an example of setup if I ever heard one. I'm assuming this "Quest For The Holy Waters" will be the main story arc in Season 3 of The Mandalorian. How odd that something so big would occur on someone else's show, instead of Mannys own!

More Extreme Nitpicking: Manny then finds the spaceport to charter a flight. As he walks up to a large starcruiser, we hear a helpful announcement state it's a non-stop flight to Tatooine. Note the literal crowds of people boarding this flight. Hmmm.

Remember in A New Hope when Luke described Tatooine by saying, "If there'a a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from." And just a couple weeks ago the Hutt Twins said Tatooine was a "worthless rock."

By all accounts, Tatooine is a remote backwater planet of little or no interest. So why are so many people trying to get there then? Is it a podunk world or ain't it?

• Manny sets off the metal detector(!) when he tries to board the transport. A security droid informs him he'll have to remove ALL his weapons, so he spouts the old Religious Exemption excuse. Nice try, Manny! That trick never works! For Mandalorians OR anti-vaxxers!

We then get a wacky sitcom scene as he starts taking off his many, many weapons— including the Darksaber. Note that as he begins there's steady line of people boarding the ship behind him, and when he finally finishes the line's dwindled to nothing. Com-O-Dee!

By the way, there is NO way in the Seven Hells that he'd leave something as invaluable and monumentally important as the Darksaber in his check-in luggage! It'd be like some dowager leaving the Hope Diamond in her suitcase! It just wouldn't happen. In fact when I saw this scene I assumed it'd get stolen, and the rest of the episode would involve Manny frantically trying to get it back!

Deep Dive Alert: Check out the dude next to Manny when he's finally allowed to board the ship.

He's wearing one of the fur-trimmed heavy winter coats seen on the Range Troopers in Solo: A Star Wars Story! So where the hell'd this guy get that? Is he an ex-Range Trooper, who kept the jacket from his old unit after he was discharged? Or did this guy find it on a rack in the Space Goodwill Store?

• I had to chuckle at the sight of Manny wearing a shiny metal suit of armor, while flying in what's basically a passenger plane in space.

• Does this starcruiser ever go into hyperspace? Every time we see it during the episode, it's chugging along at slow, sublight speeds. It can't have even jumped to lightspeed while we weren't looking, because at no point to we see the hyperspace "tunnel effect" outside the windows!

• While Manny's on the starcruiser, a young Rodian child in front of him turns around and waves. The kid clearly reminds him of Baby Yoda, as we see him take out his little gift bindle and stare at it wistfully. Well done, guys!

• Eventually the starcruiser lands on Tatooine (because gods forbid we get an episode of this show that's not set there!). This appears to be the same ship we saw back in The Streets Of Mos Espa. The same ship that Skad called Boba Fett about, as it was full of Pyke soldiers.

But then when Manny gets off the ship, a helpful droid welcomes him to Mos Eisley. So I guess it can't be the same ship after all.

Unless Skad was really in Mos Eisley when he called Fett in Mos Espa? Are the two cities reeeeeally close together?

• When the starcruiser lands at the spaceport, note the Japanese Torri-like structure in the background.

These arches are apparently one of the more popular architectural features in the Star Wars Universe, as several of them popped up on Jakku in The Force Awakens as well.

Of course these arches are based on production art by the late, great Ralph McQuarrie, whose paintings defined much of the look of Star Wars.

• The Star Wars references and shoutouts then go into overtime in the second half of the episode. We cut to the garage of Peli Motto, who first popped up back in The Gunslinger episode of The Mandalorian

Inside the garage we see a little BD droid tiptoeing around before it's attacked by a viscous creature.

This is the same droid model seen in the Jedi: Fallen Order videogame, which apparently just became canon! In the game, main character Cal Kestis had a little droid pal called BD-1.

Oh, and the creature that ambushes the BD unit here is a Womp Rat, mentioned many times in various Star Wars media.

• We then see Peli Motto and her little posse of droids, hunting for Womp Rat. Her crew consists of three pit droids (a model first scene in The Phantom Menace), R5-D4 (who appeared in A New Hope before he exploded, giving R2-D2 a chance to take his place) and a Treadwell model (the one that looks like a pair of binoculars on a pole). Luke Skywalker actually had a Treadwell droid in a deleted scene from A New Hope.

• Peli's then attacked by the Womp Rat, which pulls her behind a piece of machinery. At first I thought she was just pranking her droids and pretending to be attacked, but apparently it really was trying to kill her! She even screams that it's chewing on her before it's blasted by the timely appearance of Manny. 

So I guess if he hadn't shown up she'd have just been killed then? It sure seems that way. The Womp Rat looked to be the size of a Doberman, so it could have easily mauled her to death.

• Once she's been rescued, Peli holds her hands high and says, "Hey look everyone, it's Mando!" Several things here:

First of all, I've never quite warmed to this character, as she seems very out of place in the Star Wars Universe. Characters there have traditionally spoken somewhat formally, and tend to avoid Earth slang and phrases in order to sell the idea that this is all taking place in a galaxy far, far away. Peli sounds WAY too contemporary and modern, and her presence feels jarring to me.

Second, why does she announce Manny so sarcastically? He literally just saved her life! How about a little gratitude?

Lastly, the way she announces him felt like a line from a sitcom. I half expected to hear the studio audience cheer and applaud his entrance.

• Peli tells Manny she's found a replacement for his late, lamented Razor Crest (which was blowed up real good back in The Tragedy). She then unveils a half-built N1 Starfighter she scrounged from somewhere.

You may remember this type of ship from such films at The Phantom Menace, in which they played a significant role.

• Manny wants nothing to do with such a small ship, but eventually Peli cons, er, I mean talks him into helping her rebuild it. While doing so, she mentions she once dated a Jawa, and reveals that they're "surprisingly furry" under their robes. Sigh...

That line had the unmistakable stink of improv about it, and came dangerously close to reminding me of the "hilarious" humor in Ghostbusters 2016.

• I could have also happily lived out the rest of my life without hearing actress Amy Sedaris speaking "Jawa-ese" to a couple visiting Jawas. Jaysis.

• I dunno, guys... I feel like the prop department kind of dropped the ball a little in the "Ship Repair Montage" in this episode.

For example, at one point Peli holds out a futuristic space flashlight...

Which was really nothing more than an Arlec 2-In-1 LED Torch, available at finer big box home improvement stores here on good ol' Earth! They just sanded off the logo and gave it a new paint job!

Pretty sure Manny's using a standard Earth grinder here as well!

And Peli even dons a plain old welder's mask! What the hell?

Why not just get Manny to do the welding? He's already wearing a mask, and could likely filter out the UV light from the welding arc to protect his eyes.

• For some reason the technobabble ramps up to eleven this week as Manny & Peli restore the starfighter:

Peli: "Great news! I found you a turbonic venturi power assimilator."

Peli: "Trust me, the last thing you want strangling your thrust capacitor is a vapor manifold. I fabricated you this induction intake charger that’s gonna double your output coefficient."
Manny: "It’ll also blow the shaft out of my motivator block."
Peli: "That’s why I’m reinforcing your compression housing, and you can access it by using this Kineso-switch right here. You hit this button, you’re gonna evacuate your exhaust manifold, if you know what I mean."

Manny: "Where did they get a cryogenic density combustion booster?"

There's nothing wring with this per se, but such gobbledygook has traditionally been the territory of Star TREK. The only time I can remember it being a thing in Star Wars was in The Empire Strikes Back, when Han asked Chewie for a hydrospanner to check the Falcon's aluvial dampers.

• If you look closely in the rebuilding scenes, in the foreground you can see a Scurrier, er, scurrying about as BD-1 (or whatever his name is) hears it and starts looking around for it. Obviously this scene was designed for maximum cutseyness, but eh, I'll allow it.

• During the rebuild, the Jawas bring Peli a big metal rod that Manny identifies as a "cryogenic density combustion booster."

Because this is a Star Wars show, this seemingly random prop couldn't just be a plain old piece of metal. Instead it's the same type of metal pole that Han, Luke and Leia used to try and stop the Death Star's trash compactor walls from crushing them in A New Hope.

Sigh... Apparently Tatooine is home to reptiles that sound just like terrestrial roosters, and crow when the suns come up.

• After the rebuilding sequence, we get the big reveal of Manny's tricked-out hotrod starfighter. There's even a goddamned air scoop sticking out of the hood, just like on an Earth muscle car! I honestly can't tell whether that's extremely clever, or the stupidest thing I've ever seen.

Note that Peli's also removed the droid socket (just behind the cockpit) and covered it with a little clear bubble. A clear bubble that would be the perfect place for a little green child to ride in! Mark my words, it won't be long before we see Baby Yoda sitting in that thing!

• The first time Manny starts up his new starfighter, we get the VERY familiar "Failing Engine Sound Effect," first heard when the Millennium Falcon malfunctioned in The Empire Strikes Back.

• OK, so this starfighter looks cool and all, but... it doesn't seem like much of a replacement for the Razor Crest. Where the hell's Manny supposed to put all his stuff? His old ship was the size of a Winnebago, and big enough for him to live in!

Plus it had an entire cargo area that held the bounties he placed in carbonite. I guess he won't be doing that anymore! And the Razor Crest even had a small bathroom. Where's he supposed to go in THIS thing? In an empty water bottle?

The Phantom Menace references just keep coming hot & heavy, as Manny tests out the ship on the exact same rocky course that Anakin drove his pod racer.

He even flies through Beggar's Canyon, seen in The Phantom Menace and mentioned by Luke in A New Hope (during the Death Star attack when he tells Biggs, "It'll be just like Beggar's Canyon back home!").

As he zooms through Beggar's Canyon, he passes a dirt ramp leading up to the surface.

This is the exact same ramp that Anakin drove past in the pod race scene in— you guessed it— The Phantom Menace.

• And of course we see another Womp Rat— this one sunning itself on a rock. Luke referenced them in A New Hope, when he told a fellow X-Wing pilot, "I used to bullseye Womp Rats in my T-16 back home."

• Manny takes the ship out of the atmosphere and into space to see how she handles. As he speeds along, he passes the same starliner he was on earlier, and sees that same Rodian kid still inside it!

Why's this kid still on the ship? I guess she and her mom just had a layover on Tatooine, and are heading somewhere else?

Also, note that the kid's mom is sitting in her seat, diddling with her goddamned space smart phone! People are alike all over!

Although it's a funny image, the Rodian mom's smart phone causes a big continuity error. Back in The Streets Of Mos Espa, the aforementioned Skad saw a squad of Pykes getting off this same starcruiser. He then drove around till he found a space PAY PHONE and called Boba Fett to warn him. Yeah... a pay phone!

At the time I said it was odd that there didn't seem to be any cell phones in the Star Wars Universe. But based on this scene, there clearly are. So why didn't Skad use one, instead of wasting time looking for an inconvenient pay phone? Have such devices just not made their way to Tatooine yet?

• Less than a minute after Manny flies into orbit, he's surrounded by the local Space Police in their X-Wing patrol ships, who attempt to ticket him for speeding (!).

So let me see if I have this straight. There are numerous crime families operating on Tatooine, Boba Fett (remember him?) straight up murdered Bib Fortuna and took over his empire and the Pyke Syndicate is threatening to illegally annex the entire planet— but the police turn a blind eye to all that and go after a guy flying his spaceship too fast. 

Wow, they're just like police on Earth! I keed, I keed!

To be fair, the script makes an attempt to explain this seeming plot hole. Earlier in the episode Peli informs Manny, "Let me tell you something, Pykes do not mess around. Ever since they’ve been moving spice through the system, everything’s gone to hell. Everyone’s afraid of ’em and law enforcement won’t even go near ’em."

Eh, nice try, writers. It's still a pretty weak excuse though.

• One of the X-Wing pilots is Captain Carson Teva, who should be familiar with fans of The Mandalorian. He first popped up in The Passenger, where he encountered Manny and tried to impound his ship for not having the proper registration. He pursued him to the planet Maldo Kreis, and eventually saved Manny's life there after learning he helped capture several criminals on a correctional transport.

We saw him again in The Seige, where he questioned Magistrate Greef Karga on Nevarro, and asked Cara Dune to join the New Republic rangers (which was a setup for a series that'll never happen now).

Man, this guy really gets around, as we've seen him nosing around in THREE different solar systems now. He's basically a cop, so don't they typically have specific jurisdictions? Do Earthly cops regularly go on patrol in other states? I think not.

• When Manny returns to Peil's garage, she asks how the ship handled. He replies with one word— "Wizard." Ugh. That's yet another Phantiom Menace reference, as it was uttered by Anakin's friend Kitster when he first saw his cool pod racer.

• In the final scene we get the one, and ONLY one indication that this is an actual episode of The Book Of Boba Fett and not The Mandalorian, as Fennec Shand pays a visit to Manny. She appears onscreen for maybe thirty seconds, as she asks him to help her and Fett fight the Pykes. 

And that's it! Boba Fett, nor any other characters from his own series ever make an appearance this week— on his own show! As I said in the intro, how totally bizarre!

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