The Book of Boba Fett
If last week’s episode left you confused about what show you were watching, there’s a good chance this week only deepened that confusion. The sixth and penultimate episode of The Book of Boba Fett features one scene with Boba Fett. Remember him? We spent a bunch of time watching his post–Return of the Jedi, pre-Mandalorian backstory with the Tuskens, who were central to this series until they disappeared from it? That scene — which finds Boba, Shand, the Mods, Krrsantan, the mayor’s assistant, a Gamorrean, and a late-arriving Mandalorian gathered around a map of what’s about to become a war zone — sets up a finale pitting Boba and the gang against the Pyke Syndicate in a battle for Mos Espa (and Tatooine in general). Maybe at its heart, The Book of Boba Fett was really just setting up a finale that pays homage to The Seven Samurai in keeping with Star Wars’ Kurosawa roots. Many of the other scenes, however, seem to be setting up something else. It’s an all-over-the-place installment filled with moments that suggest adventures to come as if the TV Star Wars wing was already looking past Boba Fett and his book.
However, we begin on Tatooine with a visit to an old friend from The Mandalorian: Cobb Vanth, played by the always welcome Timothy Olyphant. With the efficiency that’s allowed him to keep the peace in Mos Pelgo (or Freetown, if you prefer), he takes out some spice-running members of the Pyke Syndicate, letting one go free to tell the tale of his misadventures but keeping his spice shipment as tribute. Though the Pyke tells him “it’s worth more than your town,” Cobb dumps it into the sand. Cobb’s isn’t the sort of town that has room for such stuff.
Meanwhile, far, far away, the Mandalorian tries to check in on Grogu. This takes some doing. Upon landing, he meets up with R2-D2, who plays coy about the location of Luke Skywalker and Mando’s erstwhile companion, essentially inviting him to chill while watching a bunch of antlike droids build what’s destined to be Luke’s school for Jedi. (Sadly, we know how this turns out, but it looks nice at the moment.) He’s not alone for long, joined by Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), who’s hanging out in Luke and Grogu’s general vicinity. Using more direct language than R2, she, too, wants him away from approaching Grogu directly, fearing their attachment will be a distraction from Grogu’s training. And she makes a pretty good case, apparently, or at least one persuasive enough to prompt Mando to leave the armor he had made for the little guy behind before returning to Tatooine.
R2 and Ahsoka probably have a point. Luke and Grogu’s training appears to be progressing steadily as evidenced by Grogu’s restraint when it comes to eating the many frogs surrounding him. He’s picked up the skills to make them float directly to his mouth and the discipline to stop himself from snacking on them. Good Grogu. (It really is striking how much Grogu’s Jedi training resembles dog training, at least at this point.)
After that, Luke (played by Mark Hamill, who’s been de-aged even more convincingly than in his Mandalorian cameo), takes Grogu for a walk and talks to him about Yoda before assisting in remembering his past, a process that lands on a traumatic memory of an even tinier Grogu witnessing the slaughter of Jedi at the hands of Imperial troopers. “The galaxy is a dangerous place,” Luke tells him. But Grogu already knows.
The training continues (and continues some more) via a montage sequence that pays homage to The Empire Strikes Back by putting Grogu in a backpack as Luke moves through the wilderness, only this time it’s Luke doing the instructing. “It’s more like he’s remembering than I’m actually teaching him,” he tells Ahsoka. But that’s not entirely encouraging. “Sometimes I wonder if his heart is in it,” he says moments later. “So much like your father,” Ahsoka replies, which seems rude, honestly, but Luke takes it in stride. He also might not be wrong about Grogu’s heart. In the episode’s final scene, Luke asks him to choose between Yoda’s lightsaber and Mando’s armor, a decision that will send him down the path of the Jedi or the Mandalorian. What he chooses, however, remains to be seen.
Back on Tatooine, Mando tries to recruit Cobb and other Freetown residents to join him and Boba in the fight against the Pyke Syndicate. “I still don’t see what all that has to do with me,” Cobb says at first, echoing the sentiments of other Freetowners. Even Mando’s argument doesn’t sound that convincing. If they don’t stop the Pyke now, he tells Cobb, they’ll overtake Freetown. Someday. Eventually. Maybe. He wins over Cobb, but Cobb still has the hard task of winning over the rest of the town.
Enter the stranger of the episode’s title, the scary-looking Cad Bane (voiced by Corey Burton), a character familiar to viewers of The Clone Wars. A bounty hunter, he has a past history on Tatooine and with Boba Fett, though none of that comes up in his Sergio Leone–inspired showdown with Cobb. “Boba Fett is a cold-blooded killer who worked with the Empire,” he argues in an attempt to keep Cobb out of the Pyke-Boba battle to come. Bane’s not wrong, but it doesn’t work. In the dustup that follows, Bane kills Cobb’s deputy and at least seriously wounds Cobb (though it seems likely we haven’t seen the last of him). In the short term, he wins. But Bane also made Cobb’s case for him and put Freetown on a path to siding with Boba.
And if we at home needed any further convincing that the Pyke Syndicate is bad news, a pair of its members plant a bomb in Sanctuary, presumably killing many innocents in the process (and maybe even its proprietor, Garsa Fwip). These are not nice spice runners. Can Boba beat them? He has one more episode to get it done.
• If this is the end of Garsa Fwip, it’s a sudden one. It seemed like her character, played by Jennifer Beals, would have a major role in the behind-the-scenes machinations of the Tatooine underworld.
• Then again, it seemed as if The Book of Boba Fett itself would have more to do with the behind-the-scenes machinations of the Tatooine underworld. And the tensions between the Tuskens and the rest of Tatooine. And Boba’s evolving conscience as he tries to turn from a cold-blooded killer to a kinder sort of crime lord. That’s not the show we’ve gotten. In fact, The Book of Boba Fett seems to lose interest in each of those threads along the way. Instead, we’ve gotten a grab bag of Star Wars miscellany, most of which has been pretty entertaining while only occasionally working as a story. Will the third season of The Mandalorian be the same? To be determined.
• That Krait Dragon skull is huge. But what can the Jawas do with it?
We haven’t heard much from the rancor in a while. Hmm…