When Disney announced a series of stand-alone movies in 2013 (some of which have since been canceled), one was purportedly to revolve around Boba Fett, and that seemed like a stretch. Fett in my book has long been an overrated figure in the Star Wars lore. He's more sketch than character, mostly known for having a cool suit and helmet (hence Mando's look here hewing very much to the original Boba Fett design, but with even more-cool chrome metal), but there was little when it came to concrete dialogue or actions. Probably what gave him more cachet than anything was when Vader, in Empire, singled him out and warned, "NO disintegration." It was all about reputation. But Fett seemed mostly inept and faced a rather ignominious defeat in Jedi, falling haplessly into the Sarlacc pit. Jango Fett (and his clones) fared slightly better in the prequels, but he still lost his head in the end.
"The Tragedy" confirms Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison, who played Jango in the prequels) survived the Sarlacc and has been biding his time on Tatooine and now wants his armor back. And this episode turns him into a fierce, one-man wrecking crew — vicious and deadly in hand-to-hand combat — and provides him an honorable code. It's a long-overdue rehab that helps build up a character more deserving of his following, and if this episode did nothing else, it at least did that.
But this episode does many more and exciting things, and cements this series as a thrilling, crowd-pleasing serial, even if the show's DNA and success has often been in its episodic beats. Here, Mando — having reached the ruins of a Jedi temple on Tython, where Grogu can hopefully call to other surviving Jedi in the galaxy from a mountaintop while protected by a Force-generated forcefield — teams up with Boba Fett and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen, whose character was saved by Fett from her apparent death in last season's "The Gunslinger"), who have tracked him here to retrieve Fett's armor from Djarin, but now team up with him when Moff Gideon's stormtroopers land on the planet surface and attack.
The protracted action centerpiece is exciting and well-constructed (minus some choppy video frame issues with certain cameras, which look like they were converted from 30 to 24fps), and benefits from real tension because of the high stakes (and the foreboding of the episode's title, which has us bracing for something bad) — even though if there's one constant in the Star Wars universe, it's that the hallmark of the stormtroopers, aside from their white suits, will always be their stunning incompetence as a fighting force. (I suppose their usefulness comes through quantity, not quality.)
But then Moff Gideon destroys the Razor Crest from a high-altitude blast from his star destroyer (Yes, destroys it! There's nothing left but the beskar staff that was inside!) — and then he sends in his Dark Troopers, droids who kidnap Grogu and take him back to Gideon's ship! And here I am, using exclamation marks in my review! I generally use them sparingly! (But here's again where my lack of knowledge with the non-feature-film Star Wars universe fails me. Since the Dark Troopers can fly, are droids, and appear to be more effective in every regard than the stormtroopers, why does Gideon even bother with stormtroopers?)
This is the sort of episode that demands exclamation marks. It smashes the series status quo into a million pieces and promises a complete shakeup of the formula. Gideon now has Grogu in a holding cell and — wait, OMG, Grogu is Force-hurling stormtroopers around the room like rag dolls! LOL! Gideon intends to use Grogu's blood in experiments to, I assume, create new warriors strong with the Force. But can that work, and what else is up his sleeve?
With Djarin's ship destroyed and the Child not having been protected per their arrangement, Fett and Shand agree to join Djarin's mission to recover Grogu, and they also bring in (unofficially, since she's now beholden to her new Republic bosses) Cara Dune. I gotta say, of all the things here, I'm probably most excited about the possibilities of turning this one-man mission into a new motley team. This universe keeps getting bigger. I dig it.
The episode was directed by action-grindhouse auteur Robert Rodriguez, who mostly does the franchise's stuff as viscerally ass-kickingly as possible. While this doesn't have quite the artistry or cinematic pedigree of last week's "The Jedi," as a Saturday-morning (or Friday-whenever) serial adventure epic, you'd be hard-pressed to pack much more Star Wars excitement into 30 minutes than "The Tragedy" does, and whose title is encapsulated by Djarin's quiet gesture of pocketing Grogu's silver ball.