Another week without Boba Fett brings a cavalcade of cameos and a hard look at the show’s issues as we reunite with old friends and new foes.
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that Dave Filoni is incapable of writing or directing a piece of Star Wars media that does not reference Order 66. Even co-writer Jon Favreau can’t stop Filoni from Filoni-ing this week, and it shows. This week’s episode of The Book of Boba Fett is another cameo extravaganza as Boba actually gets to make an appearance in his own television program, and we start (possibly) to get an army together. Full warning: “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” (but not the stranger you’re thinking of) is a plot-heavy episode, so it’s time to buckle into your space sports car and get ready.
On Tatooine, a clutch of Pykes are discussing the crate of spice that they’re currently smuggling when they’re interrupted by Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) who explains to them what a Marshal is and tells them to get out of his territory. He ends up dispatching most of them, telling the survivor to leave the spice (which Vanth dumps) and get out, and to pass on the message that they need to stay out.
Out in space, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) is flying to the forest planet where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is training Grogu. Din is greeted by R2-D2, who leads him to a building site where dozens of ant-droids are building what we learn is to be a Jedi temple/school. R2 isn’t very forthcoming with where Grogu is, so Din waits on a nice bench that one of the droids helpfully makes for him. Grogu is busy meditating with Master Luke, whose CGI is pretty impeccable this episode, always just on this side of the Uncanny Valley. I say meditating, but Grogu is actually busy being distracted by frogs, as some things never change.
This is all very adorable but is still happening on the wrong show. Luke tells Grogu about Master Yoda and tries to help Grogu remember something of his home planet and his people. What Grogu remembers instead, however, is watching Order 66 happen before his eyes. Good work, Luke. It probably doesn’t help later on when Luke shows off some lightsaber moves for Grogu. Their training goes on for most of the episode, including Force jumps and flips for Grogu (shadows of the prequels) and some good old riding around in Luke’s backpack.
Din, meanwhile, is taking a nap on the aforementioned bench when he’s woken up by R2 and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), who is visiting Luke. “I’m an old friend of the family,” she tells Din, and justifies being there despite refusing to train Grogu herself since Luke’s handling it. Luke and Ahsoka meeting offscreen is an incredible injustice. R2 brought Din to Ahsoka rather than Luke because, well, neither of them feels like it’s a good idea for Din to see Grogu. Grogu misses him and seeing him will just make all of this harder for him. “I came all this way,” a saddened Din says, seeing Luke and Grogu up on a hilltop. “He’s right there”. Ultimately Din decides not to press it and leaves, giving Ahsoka the little gift to pass on to Grogu.
Ahsoka meets with Luke, who is watching a tired Grogu take a little snoozle doozle on a rock and gives him Grogu’s gift. Luke admits that he doesn’t think that Grogu’s heart is really in his training and Ahsoka tells him to listen to his instincts and that he’s so much like his father. Don’t say that in front of Grogu! Ahsoka leaves.
Din returns to Tatooine and attends a meeting with the whole gang: Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), Fennec (Ming-Na Wen), Black Krrsantan, and the Mods; and Fennec admits that while they’re looking better than they have been, what they need to face the Pyke Syndicate are foot soldiers. Din has an idea about that and leaves. Boba and Fennec exchange glances and that’s the entirety of their appearance this week. This is still The Book of Boba Fett, right? After last week’s episode, this continuing absence is especially egregious, particularly when so much is being taken up with Luke and Grogu plot that could easily have been saved for The Mandalorian. Unless next week opens with Grogu arriving triumphantly to lead the charge against the Pykes then we could have waited to reunite with the little guy.
Din takes his new ride over to Mos Pelgo (now Freetown), where Vanth’s new overzealous deputy tries to get him to move his ship until Vanth comes over and shoos him away. Be a real pity if that young man’s passion for his job got him into trouble later. Din gets right to the point: they need people, and Vanth’s townsfolk proved themselves with the fight against the Krayt Dragon. Vanth is less than enthusiastic but eventually agrees to try and rally up some support. Din heads out (this is an episode full of exits) and Vanth tells the cantina’s bartender to set up a town meeting to try and drum up some support. As he heads out of the cantina, Vanth spots a mysterious figure approaching out of the desert. He sends the nearby townsfolk inside, though his deputy protests.
Who is this figure, you might ask? Why, it’s Cad Bane (Corey Burton), infamous bounty hunter, sprightly old man, and apparently on the payroll of the Pykes, as he tells Vanth that they’ll double what Boba pays him if Freetown stays out of it all. Oh, and if you didn’t know that was Cad Bane, you’re not alone, since he never does introduce himself. Really leaning on that infamy. The deputy butts into Vanth and Bane’s showdown and gets himself killed by Bane for his trouble; Bane also shoots Vanth before leaving (another exit!). The townsfolk rush to help Vanth and we’re left not knowing his fate.
Back in Mos Espa, a pair of Pykes enter Madam Garsa’s (Jennifer Beals) with a container, at first appearing to be there to sell spice. They leave shortly thereafter, however, leaving the container, which actually a bomb, behind. Madame Garsa’s goes up in a massive explosion and we don’t know who survives. Now, it’s clear that this is meant to be a cliffhanger situation, but we’ve been given little to no facetime with Garsa for the entire season and now she’s (seemingly) just gone? And we don’t see reactions or aftermath or anything? This plot point is almost an afterthought, shoehorned in between Bane’s cameo and the upcoming scenes. Things are finally kicking up between Boba and Pykes and instead we head back to the forest planet.
Luke sits with Grogu and opens Din’s gift: a tiny shirt of beskar chainmail. Luke then opens a box and reveals Master Yoda’s lightsaber. He tells Grogu that he has to choose, and then the credits roll. That Luke Skywalker, a man of many attachments, a man who, given the timeline, is also training his twin sister, is toeing this particular party line is a massive disappointment. Ahsoka refused to train Grogu because of this, and every indication seemed to be that Luke would train him because he didn’t fear the relationship between Din and Grogu with regard to Grogu’s training. Now he’s calling Din Grogu’s “friend” (that’s his dad, Luke) and making a baby choose his life path. That’s troubling stuff, Luke.
Cameo bonanza notwithstanding, this is another excellent episode with too many moving pieces from other shows. Vanth and Bane make sense. Cad Bane even knows Boba! Din going to Freetown for help? Also makes sense. Were the extended Jedi training montages worth it for anything other than to give viewers a hefty dose of Grogu? Will no one rid us of this meddlesome Skywalker? There’s one episode left and it needs to focus fully on Boba taking his throne. It’s time.
I want to relish the emotions that this episode provided and not look any harder, but that would be irresponsible. This is the second week in a row that has utterly sidelined the show’s title character while giving cameo-level dialogue to the secondary main, and that would be bothersome enough without said characters being played by actors of color. As previously mentioned in my The Bad Batch review, Star Wars has long had a problem with the numerous characters based on Morrison’s image. The clones, especially the Bad Batch, are frequently drawn fairly white and have since their first appearance been voiced by a white actor. To center a show around an actor who proudly discusses how he’s used his culture to influence his performance and then spend two episodes of a seven-episode show without his character? That’s disappointing at best. Using the Tuskens to touch on Indigenous issues and then promptly killing them off? (Ostensibly) murdering Garsa this episode, another actor of color? Come on, Star Wars. You can do better than this.
- How many more people who once kidnapped Omega are going to show up? Speaking of, where IS Omega?
- No Mando’a this week, but here’s a helpful word: Buir. It means parent and maybe Luke could look into the concept.
- I hope none of those ant-droids ever see what became of all their hard work.
- When Ahsoka leaves, Luke asks if he’ll see her again and she answers “Perhaps”. You can’t just use another character’s catchphrase, Ahsoka. Or can you?
- Hey, why didn’t Din ask Ahsoka to help them out?