Dave Filoni returns to direct the penultimate episode of The Book of Boba Fett and happens to bring some friends along the way…
Hard to believe, but we’re already nearing the end of The Book of Boba Fett. The second to last episode arrived this morning on Disney Plus, giving Dave Filoni another shot at the director’s chair. In episode filled with all manner of goodies for Star Wars fans to enjoy (and teasing things down the road), we’re still waiting for more of Boba’s story. Let’s chat about it!
If you haven’t watched today’s episode yet, beware of spoilers below. Be sure to read up on the show so far via my previous TBOBF recaps/breakdowns: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5.
An Old Friend
Hooooo boy! We kick off today’s episode, From the Desert Comes a Stranger, back on Tatooine and actually get to see a little bit more of the Pykes doing their dirty work. Thankfully, Cobb Vanth, shows up to put the fear in them and run them off. Turns out, Boba Fett isn’t the only one who doesn’t care for spice running happening on the planet.
Not going to lie, I absolutely loved seeing Cobb Vanth once again. Timothy Olyphant is such a fun actor to watch, and I loved all the things he did in the The Mandalorian season two premiere. It’s a character who originates in the novels, but isn’t really fleshed out. Even so, Olyphant manages to make him into something special that feels both uniquely Star Wars and fresh all at once.
An Older Friend
Cobb Vanth is just the tip of the iceberg in characters who show up in today’s episode. As implied by the ending of last week’s episode (and something I told you about in last week’s recap), Din Djarin makes a quick stop to see Gorgu before committing to Boba Fett’s war against the Pykes.
Lo and behold…we actually get to see LUKE SKYWALKER training Grogu in the ways of the Force. Holy crap. I can’t begin to tell you how cool this is, and I literally had to pause the show to gather myself for a moment before continuing. While seeing Luke kick ass in Mandalorian was cool, actually getting to see him interact and do things as a character having his own story (sort of), is blowing my mind.
As a kid growing up before the Prequels were a thing, with only the Expanded Univrse to continue Luke’s story, I can’t believe I’m getting to see this period of time covered with my own eyeballs. Also, seeing Luke actually TALK ABOUT YODA to Grogu, even carrying him in a little backpack like in Empire Strikes Back, is all kinds of awesome.
It’s just neat, and the de-aging VFX work has made a dramatic improvement since we last saw Luke. It’s impressive to see what they’re able to do with the technology, moving past that uncanny valley effect (for the most part) and being able to use it for more than quick shots and cameos.
Not to mention, it’s fun to see Grogu interact with other Jedi and in a capacity outside his life with Din Djarin. We get to see more of his personality come through, even if he still doesn’t talk, while also garnering some insight into the events only previously alluded to.
Filoni seems intent to keep breaking our hearts by showing us different moments of Order 66 taking place. Here we get to see some of what Grogu has been repressing, the night the Jedi Temple fell, and he mostly shut himself off from the Force. It’s a cool, and emotional, moment that seems to set the stage for more of that story down the road. We still don’t know who saved Grogu from the Temple, and I suspect that will be its own thing whenever we learn about it.
Speaking of Old Friends
Turns out, Luke isn’t the only familiar Jedi we encounter. When Din lands on the planet (which from what I can tell continues to remain unnamed), R2-D2 escorts him to where a bunch of construction droids are in the process of building Luke’s Jedi Temple—it’s kinda fun to know we’ve seen both it’s creation and destruction at this point.
Anyway, R2, the rascal that he is, isn’t actually leading Din to Luke. Instead, he brings the Mandalorian to Ahsoka Tano! I can honestly say, in all the things I’ve heard about the show, her appearance wasn’t one of them. A genuine surprise to see her as she’s making another pit stop before her own adventure…
She gives Din a bit of a pep talk, and guidance on how he should interact, or not, with Grogu at this point. I love how Din still thinks of Grogu as a Mandalorian foundling in his care and wants to ensure he’s taken care of despite having completed that quest.
I know some are concerned that bringing Grogu back in any capacity somewhat robs the emotional weight of Mandalorian’s season finale. Personally, I don’t feel that way as I don’t think I ever saw that moment as the end of Grogu’s story. I knew he’d be back and still have a part to play in the story going on in this particular time period, though he needs to grow into his abilities. Ahsoka makes makes it clear to Din that in order for Grogu to learn to be what he NEEDS to be at the moment, he can’t have the familial distractions that Din brings to the table. In some regards I get what they’re going for here. Grogu is still avoiding the things that happened to him before. Until he can face that and regain control of his training (and balance), he’ll be both in danger and dangerous.
At the moment, seeing Din could be too much of a distraction for Grogu at a time when he needs to detach a bit and learn. The problem, however, is this idea isn’t really covered the best in the episode. Instead, the explanation comes off a bit more stilted and almost feels as though Ahsoka and Luke are falling back on some of the bad habits of the Prequel Jedi.
I mean, Luke helped redeem his FATHER through the power of his love and understanding that love/attachment on its own isn’t of the Dark Side. Hell, we know he even ends up training his own NEPHEW down the road. So hearing him tell Grogu at the end that he must choose between his attachment to Din or the Jedi way is just…strange.
Yet Another Old Friend
Either way, Din leaves the gift of chain-mail armor with Ahsoka to pass on to Grogu and heads back to Tatooine. Here he meets up with Boba Fett (yes, he got a cameo in his own show!) and the other allies he’s gathered as they convene a war council of sorts. While they have some serious muscle, they’re still outnumbered and need more fighters to help against the Pykes. Thankfully, he knows someone who could help.
Back to Mos Pelgo, now known as Freetown (which was the town’s name in Star Wars Aftermath novels where Vanth originated), where Din implores Cobb to help with their problem. While Cobb is reluctant to get involved in the bigger problems on Tatooine, he already knows the Pykes are going to be a problem.
In fact, they become a far more personal problem as a stranger comes strolling into town just after Din leaves. Fans of The Clone Wars series should have no problem immediately recognizing the look (and voice) of Cad Bane. The notorious bounty hunter, who has a long history with Boba Fett, finally makes his live-action debut.
He’s there to threaten Cobb Vanth into staying neutral in the oncoming conflict, even mentioning Fett’s prior—less noble—work with the Empire. Cobb, as we’ve seen, isn’t one to back down and the conversation doesn’t go as planned, resulting in Cobb being seriously injured, while reminding fans how dangerous Bane can be.
I really liked the look of live-action Cad Bane, and feel he’s made the transition pretty well. Of course it helps when so much of his personality is conveyed via his voice, which is easy enough to maintain between the mediums. I can’t say I was ever really big on the character before, though I know he’s a favorite of many, but it’s neat to see him brought in here. Even for those who aren’t familiar with the cartoons, it manages to make him look to be a badass enforcer, which is pretty much all that’s needed.
Pacing and Structure
There are a lot of elements in today’s episode that I love. Some moments that are just pure, unadulterated Star Wars, and leaves me eager to see what comes next. It’s hard to deny the thrill of seeing these characters interact and fill in the gaps.
The problem, however, is it isn’t always handled the best. I’ve made no secret that Filoni’s episodes in Mandalorian were among the weakest for me personally (though I think today’s Boba episode has certainly shown much improvement). I love the man to death and he has some of the best ideas I’ve seen in Star Wars. The way he incorporates lore and emotion into storytelling is engaging, but he struggles to actually execute those ideas.
I loved seeing Luke and Grogu training, but the framing and pacing were just kind of…there. As I mentioned, I get the idea they were going for with the conversation between Ahsoka and Din, but the way it played out felt flat, robbing it of the impact they were clearly going for. Coming off the heels of Bryce Dallas Howard’s episode, where she manages to bring such a distinctive style/flair to even the mundane moments, Stranger felt like a bit of a step back.
And that’s not to mention we’re on the second episode of a series where the TITLE CHARACTER isn’t really a part of the story. I’m having a hard time complaining about this, to be honest. For the longest time, I’d heard from a number of sources that Book of Boba Fett would largely be “Mandalorian 2.5.”
This, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing and I love seeing all these elements connect together. The problem is these last two episodes were great, but felt like part of a different show altogether. The connections to Boba’s main story is tangential at best. While I know it’s all leading to a finale that will bring things together, it makes it clear the show has had a bit of pacing problem.
There are so many things I’ve loved about this show. Seeing Boba’s time with the Tuskens was a surprising highlight (and something I keep coming back to), and developing him into a more three dimensional character is great. Fennec has been awesome, I loved the Hutts (despite having little screen time), and the Rancor is cool as hell. It’s got all the key elements, but the structure in which they’ve appeared has been wonky.
Considering they went with a more serialized approach to telling this story, these issues feel more pronounced than they normally would. Yes, I’m still enjoying myself (for the most part) every week and loving seeing all these things come together. As I look back throughout the episodes so far, The Book of Boba Fett has been disjointed, and harder to enjoy on the whole despite the awesome elements.
Even though we haven’t spent much time with Boba Fett in the past couple weeks, all the pieces are in place for an epic finale. I suspect the major focus of the finale will be on Fett’s war against the Pykes, bringing together all the characters and elements so far into one big battle.
We did get some hints at how the Pykes are staking their claim. From encroaching on Mos Pelgo, to even attacking the Sanctuary. They’re making the first moves and ready for war. I’m seriously bummed that Garsa Fwip is no longer with us, but I wonder if Max Rebo was able to, yet again, survive a massive explosion…
I’m STILL not convinced the Pykes are the main ones running the show. Someone gifted the Pykes the Tatooine territory, and I doubt the Hutts would have done so. As such, I think there’s still a chance to see some larger Syndicate pulling the strings, even if they aren’t dealt with in the show right now.
As we’ve seen, however, Boba’s journey is only a part of the story being told. Stranger sets the stage for the bigger Star Wars story going down (which, as I’ve speculated on in the past, is leading towards some sort of Thrawn showdown). The main thing fans are left to wonder is what’s next for Grogu.
He’s given a choice between the armor and Mandalorian lifestyle, or taking up Yoda’s Lightsaber and continuing his Jedi journey. Something tells me that ultimately, Grogu will end up with both. After all, we’ve already heard stories about the legendary Mandalorian Tarre Vizsla (who the Armorer mentioned just last week), so it’s possible to balance both. In the immediate future, however, I imagine Grogu will choose to stay with Luke, finish his training and then move forward into the life he wants.
Either way, they are definitely laying the groundwork for a bigger story, one that will incorporate Boba’s criminal empire, Din’s quest to restore Mandalore, and Grogu’s Jedi past/future. Certainly a lot to be excited about.
R2-D2 – I don’t know if this really counts, but I find it hilarious that his reaction to someone asking to see Luke Skywalker, is to just shut down. I mean, the droid shut down for years to keep Luke’s location secret by the time of The Force Awakens, so it’s just kind of funny.
Krayt Dragon Skull – As Din flies across Tatooine to Mos Pelgo, he passes a Sandcrawler adorned with the large skull of a Krayt Dragon. I would hazard to guess that this is the remains of the dragon Din and Cobb slayed in The Mandalorian, which is cool to see.
501st – Darth Vader’s personal legion of Clone/Stormtroopers, and their distinctive armor pattern, appear in Grogu’s flashback. It’s not unusual to see them, considering they were behind the attack on the Temple, but cool to see them once again in action.
Other than these, I honestly can’t think of much else. Yoda’s Lightsaber is freaking cool to see, though it serves as a plot device and not really an Easter egg for fans to find. I’m sure there are plenty I missed, but I’m struggling to think of anything beyond these little nods.
Overall, From the Desert Comes a Stranger has a lot of good things going for it. As a long time fan, I’ve been losing my mind about it all morning. The problem is it just doesn’t feel right for The Book of Boba Fett story they started out telling. It’s hard to reconcile the pure joy I feel at seeing certain elements play out, against my desire to see more of Boba’s journey.
Perhaps it’s best to say the last two episodes have been GREAT Star Wars, but not necessarily good Book of Boba Fett episodes and leave it at that. It’s just a bummer to see best/most engaging episodes of the series have nothing to do with the title character.