The following story contains spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett Episode 5, "Return of the Mandalorian."
It's somewhat ironic that the best episode of The Book of Boba Fett yet was one that shifted the focus...away from Boba Fett himself. The title of Episode 5, "Return of the Mandalorian" basically says it all—the entire episode follows a post-Season 2 Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) in the time after his little pal Grogu/Baby Yoda has gone off for Jedi training with Luke Skywalker. Mando (Din, but we're going to call him Mando from here on out) has since returned to the kind of for-hire bounty hunting work that he was doing at the start of the series, only now he's got the Darksaber, and theoretically should be the ruler of all of Mandalore.
A lot to take on! But he's not exactly giving it up anytime soon. After an opening (and extremely badass) battle that finds Mando cutting his bounty target in half and taking his head in a sack (He tells him as he's told others before: "I can take you in warm, or cold" This guy chooses cold.). Eventually, our guy takes his check and finds some signals that lead him to a secret Covert where the Armorer and Paz Vizsla, fellow Mandalorians, have survived and would like to grow their type. They find out that Mando has earned the Darksaber, and Paz in particular is curious. Eventually—and we will touch on this more below—the two dual, as it's the Mandalorian creed for the owner of the blade to only shift by winning in combat. This is, of course, how Mando got it from the evil Moff Gideon in Season 2 of The Mandalorian. Mando wins in combat, but when he reveals to the Armorer that he's taken his helmet off, she casts him astray—unless he can make it to lakes in Mandalore (which have, uh, been destroyed) to redeem himself.
Following their climactic duel—and Mando's seemingly being cast out of the Mandalorian creed (at least temporariy)—he returns to Tattoine, where he meets up with Peli (Amy Sedaris) who hooks him up with a new ship. The ship, an N1 Naboo Starfighter, needs a DIY job pretty badly, but it's nothing they can't tackle together. After a risky test flight and proof the new bad boy can run like the wind, Mando is in a good mood—just in time for the story to match where we were headed last week, with Fennec Shand and Boba Fett needing his help. But first, he just wants to check on a little friend (and we all know that's our old pal Grogu aka Baby Yoda aka The Child aka everyone's god damn favorite).
But before we get to all that, let's take a closer look at the most exciting part of the episode—that Mandalorian duel and battle for the Darksaber.
Who is Paz Vizsla? Where have we seen him before?
Paz Vizsla makes his return in The Book of Boba Fett, but we actually first met him back in Season 1 of The Mandalorian once Mando went to the underground Cover (remember, these were surviving Mandalorians who made it off their destroyed planet). You may recall his most prominent appearance in the episode "The Sin," when he got into a fight with Mando upon Mando bringing his Beskar reward (from the Imperial client played by Werner Herzog) to The Armorer; Paz thought his working with someone aligned with the Empire was a cowardly move. The Armorer eventually broke it up, reminding them of "The Way."
Later in that episode, the Bounty Hunter's Guilt (led by Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) before he became a good guy again) tried to kill Mando and take Grogu; Paz and the rest of the Mandalorians arrived to help and stop them, allowing Mando to escape in the Razor Crest.
As a result of helping Mando escape with the child, though, the covert was discovered and greatly hurt by the remaining Imperial forces; the only ones to survive were Paz and the Armorer. We'll catch up with the two of them in The Book of Boba Fett.
The Book of Boba Fett basically turned into The Mandalorian meets The Last Duel—in an episode that didn't even feature Boba Fett.
Episode 5 of The Book of Boba Fett shifts the focus to our old friend Mando, showing us how he's doing after losing his little pal to Luke Skywalker's training at the end of Season 2 of The Mandalorian. Answer? He's not doing great, but he's functioning. He's doing OK.
After an opening bounty job that found him cutting a bad guy in half with the Darksaber and then removing his head, Mando is left with a badly bloodied leg from the encounter. So, after he cashes the head out for some credits, he follows some signs and finds that The Armorer and Paz Vizsla are alive and thriving; they're happy to see him too, and The Armorer tells Paz to use Bacta Spray to help heal.
Mando is apologetic for what happened on Nevarro (as he tends to be...for all his brutal tendencies, he's still a good guy), and Paz forgives; now that they have the three of them, they can continue to build the Mandalorians up. However, he wonders how Mando got this deep cut, and Mando tells both of them: it's from the Darksaber, which he won by defeating Moff Gideon in combat. So, yeah, they now know that he technically should rule them and every one of their kind.
This makes for instant tension; Paz says that Gideon deserved death for his actions that led to the death of millions of Mandalorians. Mando says that he's on trial currently, and when that's proven true he will face that same fate. Paz and The Armorer, instantly, don't seem to be on the same page.
We also learn that the Darksaber was crafted by one of Paz's ancestors, Tarre Vizsla, who was both Mandalorian and Jedi. When Paz saw that Mando was not quite adjusting right to the Darksaber, he came and insisted that he should be the one to wield it; it comes from his ancestry, after all. Mando accepts his duel, and the men fight it out.
Like Ridley Scott's The Last Duel (but not quite as brutally violent, and unfortunately lacking a chaotic Ben Affleck performance), these two warriors fight it out to near-death. At one point or another, both wield and swing the Darksaber, with neither 100% knowing how to use it right (While it's clearly a powerful weapon that can cut people in half, it also clearly weighs its user down and leaves them susceptible to quick attacks).
The battle concludes when Mando is just a bit quicker than Paz, and gets him by the neck before the Armorer ends the fight. However, she clearly sensed that something had changed; when she asks the two of them if they had taken their helmets off (as with the code), Paz says he hasn't, while Din tells the truth: he has (and honestly, good thing he did, because we love seeing Pedro Pascal under there). The Armorer casts Din away, sayng he's no longer a Mandalorian, and Paz calls him an "apostate."
Mando leaves—with the Darksaber and a new piece of Beskar armor for his foundling, Grogu. He's won the duel, but has been cast out of the only way of life he's ever known. This story, surely, will continue.
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