Friday, April 19, 2024

The Mandalorian is the Best Thing to Happen to Boba Fett

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As a somewhat ambivalent Star Wars fan throughout my life, I have never particularly understood the hype for Boba Fett. I thought it somewhat interesting that The Mandalorian reintroduced him back in the season 2 premiere, but was I hyped? Eh. As far as I was concerned, he had cool armor and ultimately did not matter all that much. His inclusion in Attack of the Clones and the Clone Wars TV show did nothing to make me care more.

The above title gave away where I’m going with this. “The Tragedy” was yet another strong episode in a strong second season for The Mandalorian, and did more to justify the hype of Boba Fett than anything else in Star Wars canon.

the mandalorian boba fett

We did not really learn anything about what Boba has been up to or how he escaped his fate in the Sarlaac pit (though his upcoming travels with Mando provide ample opportunity for The Mandalorian to explain). He did not have much personality beyond being a stoic badass. That is okay. This episode was seemingly here just to formally introduce this classic character back into the Star Wars story. It succeeded and then some.

To say he lived up to his reputation is an understatement. Even before Boba gets his hands on his iconic Mandalorian armor, he spends multiple scenes beating the crap out of Imperial troops with a stick. When he gets his hands on the armor, he becomes a force of nature in ways that Mando himself has never been. He wipes out soldiers in seconds with an arsenal of weapons at every joint of the armor and takes out multiple troop transports with a single rocket. This was the bounty hunter we were told about back in the original trilogy.

After so many years of such obsession over the man, it was refreshing to see a reason for it for the first time. Boba Fett was the inspiration for the entire existence of The Mandalorian. He works in-story as a model for Mando himself to strive for and on a meta level as our expectations for an experienced Mandalorian weapon of mass-destruction. It was nice to see that justified with such exclamation.

And now he will travel along with Mando and Fennec (she lives!) because of the events which give “The Tragedy” its name: the destruction of the Razor Crest and the kidnapping of Baby Yoda.

Mando and Grogu do arrive on Tython in this episode (no side trips here) and find the temple Ahsoka told them about. After some reluctance, Grogu activates the temple and puts up a forcefield that prevents anyone from reaching him. Boba and Fennec make their entrance soon after to demand the return of Boba’s armor, and shortly after that we see Moff Gideon’s imperial troops arrive, having followed the tracking beacon placed on the Razor Crest back during “The Siege.”

Mando, Boba, and Fennec manage to hold off the Stormtrooper grunts, but Gideon’s Imperial cruiser blasts the Razor Crest to pieces. We then get our first look at the Dark Troopers in action as they fly down to kidnap Grogu. It is a damning, depressing bit of loss all at once made all the worse when we see Grogu trying to use his Force powers to defend himself while Moff Gideon laughs. The Mandalorian doesn’t often go hard like this, but it sure did this week.

the mandalorian gideon grogu

Last week I mentioned how the reveal of Grogu’s name and backstory was a bit of a transformational moment, changing the character from the Baby Yoda merch mascot of the series to a fully-fledged character I am emotionally invested in. The Mandalorian continued this turn in fine form. Just try not to melt every time Mando says Grogu’s name and the little precious baby reacts. The opening scene on the Razor Crest does so much to establish the bond these two have and their hesitancy to let it go, whatever words Mando may speak.

Grogu spends much of the episode afterwards locked inside some type of Force barrier atop the Jedi Temple on Tython, but the actions of everyone else continue speaking the truth of that bond. Mando desperately tries to protect his child by fighting off the Empire alongside Boba and Fennec. It’s remarkable how an actor hidden under a helmet and an animatronic puppet manage more believable emotion than most shows you can watch right now. Pedro Pascal manages to communicate everything through subtle body language and tone of voice, and he carries so much of the burden in making his growing parental bond for Grogu believable. He nails it, every single time.

Then the little mascot gets abducted and there is the aforementioned heartbreaking scene where Grogu uses his Force powers to try and defend himself before getting knocked out by a stun gun. The puppet carries its own weight in this scene, and really gets across the fear and history he has with Moff Gideon and his experiments.

(And wow could I write something all its own about the potential dark side corruption Grogu may struggle with moving forward, and how this scene hints at it.)

I am ready to run through a wall and destroy everything in my path to get this baby back, and I expect Mando to do the same.

With the destruction of the Razor Crest, the upcoming attempt to rescue Grogu, and all the larger galactic contacts Mando has made throughout season 2, I’m quite curious to see how the season ends. I still stand by my thoughts last week that The Mandalorian is not going to change into an entirely different show. Mando will still travel from planet to planet, he will still have Baby Yoda by his side, their bond will still define the show, and it will maintain that travelogue Western feel.

Without the Razor Crest, I am not quite sure how it will retain that feeling. Mando will need a new ship. Successfully rescuing Grogu would paint a bigger Imperial target on his back than ever, unless Moff Gideon is relatively independent and he is taken out of the picture entirely. There is no denying the seeds planted regarding Bo-Katan, Mandalore, and the potential of Din Djarin helping take the planet back. Just like last season, I would expect Bo-Katan and her crew to team up with Mando and his other contacts to help take Grogu back, which may create a debt to repay.

It is all so promising and exciting, and I can only imagine how good the final two episodes will be.

In the meantime, let us all appreciate how The Mandalorian finally justified the badassery of one Boba Fett.

Images Courtesy of Disney

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