by Hunter Johnson
[Editor’s Note: The following contains major spoilers for “The Mandalorian” Season 2, Episodes 5 and 6]
After the major plot developments of last week’s episode, many fans probably expected “The Mandalorian” to take a break from the main story. The last episode ended with Ahsoka tasking Djarin to take the Child to an ancient Jedi monument on the planet Tython, and fans wouldn’t be blamed for expecting this season to wrap up with two filler episodes building up the duo’s arrival at the monument in the season finale. Nevertheless, these predictions would turn out to be wrong.
From the beginning, showrunner Jon Favreau wastes no time: the opening scene shows Djarin and Grogu arriving at Tython, ready for their next adventure to begin. However, as the episode continues and its title “The Tragedy” is revealed, viewers will quickly realize that things are not going to go as expected. Directed by Robert Rodriguez (“Spy Kids,” “Alita: Battle Angel”), this episode is an explosion of fast-paced action and jaw-dropping visuals.
What starts as a quick pit stop at an ancient temple turns into a full-on battle between bounty hunters and Imperials. Standing alongside Djarin against the Imperials is bounty hunter Fennec Shand, with Ming-Na Wen (“Agents of SHIELD,” “Mulan”) reprising her season one role. Shand was introduced as a sharpshooter in last season’s “The Gunslinger,” but wasn’t given a chance to fully show off her skills before meeting her seemingly fatal end.
Apparently, she survived, and now she’s back and badder than ever. Her sharpshooting action is thrilling to watch and a wonderful complement to this episode’s main event: the return of Boba Fett. After nearly forty years of fan speculation and an ambiguous cameo at the end of “The Marshal,” the infamous bounty hunter has finally made his epic return to a galaxy far, far away.
The return of such a criminally underused character makes Rodriguez the perfect director for this episode. If the creators of this show are going to bring Boba Fett back from the dead, they might as well go all out, something that just happens to be Rodriguez’s speciality. Boba is an absolute warrior in this episode; missing his classic armor, he now wields a cycler rifle and a gaffi stick, using the latter to viciously bludgeon stormtrooper after stormtrooper. The expert choreography, mixed with yet another brilliant musical theme from Ludwig Goransson, makes for some satisfyingly brutal fight sequences.
Temuera Morrison (“Moana,” “Aquaman”) played Boba’s father Jango in “Attack of the Clones” and voiced Boba in various video games, but in “The Tragedy,” he gets to portray the iconic bounty hunter in live-action. Morrison is fantastic in the role, playing Boba with such gritty intensity and gripping gravitas that Disney might as well give him his own movie. He delivers an all-around great performance, stealing the show from everyone else in the best possible way.
His presence is also a great reminder that Din Djarin, while initially designed to resemble Boba Fett, is wildly different in terms of character traits. Boba could never be the caring father figure that Djarin has been to Grogu, and Djarin could never be the brutal executioner that Boba is. Their differences far outweigh their similarities, making for a fascinating contrast.
On the other side of the conflict is Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), returning yet again for the third time this season. Favreau continues to hold back from revealing too much about the character, slowly building him up for what will inevitably be a terrific showdown as the series progresses into its third and fourth seasons. For now, Esposito shines in his limited appearances and exudes potential for what could happen down the line.
All in all, “The Tragedy” continues to build upon what is turning out to be one of the best seasons of television this year. “The Mandalorian” was good in the first season, but this season is filled to the brim with expertly crafted action sequences that make for a far more engaging watch. Favreau’s strategy of combining his “director team-up of the week” with the extended story of Moff Gideon and Grogu continues to impress. Whether it be Cobb Vanth, Bo-Katan Kryze, Ahsoka Tano, or Boba Fett, this series manages to include loads of asked-for fan service while also effectively moving the main story forward.
Hunter Johnson is a Senior Theatre Performance Major and an A&E writer Cedars. He spends his time acting on stage, directing off stage, and critiquing the endless amounts of content that Disney pumps out.