Episode 6 of Book of Boba Fett was a tale of two Stories. The better part of the story built on the successes of episode 5 by mostly staying away from Tatooine and not really featuring much Boba Fett. For the second time in two weeks we go to a new planet. The less interesting part of the story continued to slowly advance the idea a large scale gang war is in the offing on Tatooine. Still, it’s the least boring that planet has been for a while now.
While some of the episode is spent far from the bright, shiny center of the galaxy, it’s really a just a wrap-around. Most of the core of this episode takes place on a peaceful forest planet and involves main franchise hero Luke Skywalker being something fans have wanted for a long time – a kind and powerful Jedi Master teaching a new student the ways of the Force. This sequence was satisfying in a way the Sequel Movies never touched. At times the episode was as good as The Phantom Menace. Then there’s stuff on Tatooine that’s as average as the rest of the series but for a change it’s not that awful.
This episode is good but does have a momentary appearance of the hated power ranger “Mod” sidekicks as well as substance abusing bully Black Kryssantan. We start in the Tatooine desert where our friend from Season 2 of The Mandalorian, Cobb Vanth; Marshall of Mos Pelgo has a problem.
Vanth confronts and guns down some Pyke Syndicate Spice runners. This was cool right away. It set a tone that we weren’t going to waste a lot of time with indecisive fistfights or mere exchanges of threats. The Marshall has been pretty formidable in the past and is one of the better new characters. He tries some cop-psychology on them, but it just doesn’t work out and he prevails in a gunfight.
Vanth dumps what’s said to be a fortune in spice and sends the last Pyke back alive with a Batman-like warning; Mos Pelgo’s policy is now to waste all lowlife spice runners who come inside it’s borders. With that we get the title card and the episode title, ‘From the Desert Comes a Stranger.’
In the next moment we rejoin the Mandalorian landing his Naboo Starfighter in front of R2. We find out finally he now knows exactly who Luke is. He specifically asks for Skywalker. This makes me wonder why he would be reluctant to just tell the New Republic Rangers he encountered as he left Tatooine who he was. In the same episode he had said he handed over War Criminal Moff Gideon to the New Republic to stand trial for innumerable crimes against humanity and a lot of non human aliens. So he knows one founder of the New Republic personally and just helped them get some justice. He was not ever going to get a space ticket for having no space license plates. We were told Moff Gideon is a scoundrel in season 2 of Mando. Formidable Cara Dune was chilled at the very mention of his name. The person who handed him over to the New Republic would be a hero. At least he seems to have been well paid.
R2 takes Mando to a grove where a structure is being created by a swarm of ant-like droids. Here he’s literally benched. R2 shuts down rather than interact with Mando. With that we join Luke and Grogu, meditating.
What follows is a great Force use sequence with a kind Luke Skywalker displaying power while being a mentoring, avuncular figure to Grogu. This is the sequence we didnt get from the Sequel Movies and it was great to finally see it. Deep Fake Luke, voiced by Mark Hamill, looked great. There’s not a whole lot of dialogue for a few moments as we let the characters simply use the force in subtle, charming ways. We get some visual storytelling this show has sorely lacked.
The conversation that follows is just Luke speaking, non verbal Grogu merely listens and reacts. Luke likens him to Yoda, which makes sense, and helps him recover a past memory. We see what appears to be Order 66 through Grogu’s eyes, probably from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. He’s surrounded by Jedi, but the Arc Troopers have mostly prevailed by the end of his vision. We don’t see Vader so while its almost definitely Order 66, the location we see may by any Jedi facility anywhere. The music is similar to John WIlliams Order 66 music but seems to be new.
In the grove, Ahsoka awakens a sleeping Mando. She’s cryptic but we know what shes talking about. Ahsoka is as misguided as Mando in her beliefs. She’s held on to the worst ideas of the Old Jedi Order. She doesn’t sound at all like the person who quit the Jedi over their severe views near the end of the series Clone Wars.
She unspools the idea seeing Mando would simply be bad for Grogu, who may be more of a padwan than a foundling now. Mando is eventually convinced, satisfied to merely see Grogu from a distance. This pretty much fulfills his mandate to make sure his foundling is safe. It’s also the right thing to do for the child.
Its a decent act that shows the Mandalorian is thoughtful, caring and unselfish when it comes to Grogu. It was nice and well done. While we’ve seen the Mandalorian cares deeply about Grogu, perhaps it’s slightly out character for him to be this smart. Maybe he’s just a better foster parent than he is a Bounty Hunter, because its a forward looking parenting move. From his perspective he knows Luke is a kindly and powerful protector. Mando can give the relationship time and it’s fine that he trusts Luke. I found this part of the episode to be actually somewhat touching.
Grogu senses Mando as he leaves. Then we start a full on Jedi Training sequence where optimistic, upbeat Luke is a very caring teacher. This sequence features great voice work by Mark Hamill. The dialogue is fine, Luke comes off wise and thoughtful. He and Grogu have a joyful Force-enhanced run across a natural obstacle course in a sequence that manages to evoke Empire Strikes Back without being a bad sendup.
The Force theme finally very briefly plays for just one measure to culminate Luke and Grogu bonding as they behold a beautiful forest world of lush hills and valleys from the crown of a tree. It really felt like Star Wars. They could have looked out at that horizon silently even longer and it would have been fine. This was unironically enjoyable.
The Force philosophy we hear is in line with the way it was spoken of in the original trilogy and the Prequels more than anything from the Sequels. It has a little too much meat on the bone to be called mere Fan Service. We stay with Luke and Grogu for a while longer and see the retraining of Grogu in the ways of the Force. There’s even a training remote like the one in A New Hope. With minimal dialogue and some good fun Jedi action the Force training sequence is a fulfilling view. It’s far more enjoyable than the sequels. It’s about as good as some parts of the Phantom Menace. I could have easily watched five minutes more of this.
There’s not much to say about this sequence in the sense its neither dense with events nor is it overly profound, it’s more that we get to finally see a NORMAL Luke. The fact it took five forgettable movies, a couple of animated shows and three seasons between two live actions series for Disney to achieve this sort of says it all. It’s the second bite at the apple. That said, this sequence was very Star Wars and very fun.
Then Ahsoka reappears and resumes her role as a total Debbie Downer in this episode. After chastising Mando into just leaving without meeting with Grogu she’s still sounding very much like an Old Republic Jedi in all the wrong ways, even bringing up Vader to Luke. She passes on the chainmail the Armorer made. Luke expresses he is unsure whether he should train Grogu, seemingly thinking more about the child’s well being than just cranking out some new Jedi. This is perfect for Luke. The reasons for his reluctance to train Rey in Last Jedi was sort of nebulous at best.
For some reason at this point Ahsoka gives Luke a cryptic farewell and splits. We have to wonder why she was even here since all she does in run interference on Mando. She seems to have only dropped by to congratulate Luke on his half built Dojo. We leave this planet and return to super-boring Tatooine for the rest of the episode. This week, however, a couple of substantial events happen in town.
We get a Situation Update from Fennec and all the cringiest new sidekicks are there. Fennec described Kryssantan and Mando as equally tough, difference making muscle. They still need more but Mando has an idea. He hops into his new ship and heads to Mos Pelgo, recently renamed Freetown. He ‘has a drink’ with Cobb Vanth and proposes the town join forces with Boba to throw the Pykes, and their narcotic spice ring- off the planet.
Its sure to be a hard fight but the people of Freetown are tough and adventurous. Sadly for Mando they want no part of the problems of Mos Eisley’s Crime Families. Cobb Vanth feels otherwise though and has the locals summoned for a meeting, before that can happen we introduce a Clone Wars character to this world. Cad Bane, alien cyborg baddie take on Iron Maiden’s mascot makes his love action debut. He’s in ‘Clint Eastwood in Space’ gear when he first shows up in in Clone Wars before switching to a prison jumpsuit for the rest of that shows run. Im guessing they paid Iron Maiden under the table because this is the original look for Bane and is exactly what we see on a 1986 Iron Maiden single cover.
Cad Bane doesnt mess around. After the Marshall and his deputy equivocate over his “Stay out of this else” ultimatum Bane blasts them without a second thought, shooting the deputy a few times to make his point. Closed Caption subtitles alone reveal Vanth is probably alive. To me this was a flaw. What would have been wrong with him coughing, groaning or maybe moving a bit? Instead the first time I watched this I was sure Vanth was dead. The background dialogue is unintelligible. He does appear to be hit in the shoulder though
Cade Bane leaves Freetown after making an ultimatum that’s also a threat to the citizens. “Tatooine belongs to the Syndicate” he says, warning people to just leave the Spice Runners alone. This seems to have the opposite effect of what Bane intended. The citizens of Freetown now hate Bane and the Pyke. They didn’t have a stake in helping Boba Fett til Bane overkilled their deputy and shot their sheriff!
Events shift to Mos Eisley’s Twi’Lek casino. We see some Pykes come in and leave behind a bomb that (hopefully) takes out the second most boring faction in town (no one beats the Mods). The explosion is definitely pretty big and it seems over for Jennifer Beals. Whoever may have been killed in this we were shown the band and Max Rebo was notably absent. It seems this character is still ok. So it’s pretty much all good news when it comes to the end of this boring, so-so casino. I’d rather drink in Freetown than there any time.
Returning for a final moment with Luke and Grogu, Luke makes the child a Matrix-like offer. It’s almost a choice between a blue pill and a red pill. It’s just as binary.
The choice offered Grogu is either to take Yoda’s lightsaber or take a chain mail shirt the Mandalorian left for him. He can have only one. The conditions Luke puts on the choice of item will determine the course of Grogu’s life. Luke makes it clear the choice is Grogu’s.
Should he accept the lightsaber he will be the first student in Luke’s New Jedi Academy and spend years learning the Force. Luke promises if he chooses this pathe he will become a great Jedi, but he may not ever see the Mandalorian again. Should he choose the armor he will be returned to Mando and continue as a Mandalorian Foundling.
While he mentions the Jedi shun attachment and says ‘you may never see the Mandalorian again” and lets the line hangs in the air, he then explains that it’s because of Grogu’s long lifespan and not a prohibition. It’s hard to say how seriously Luke is taking the ways of the Old Jedi Order right now. In the EU books we seem to be taking a lot of this from, Luke fundamentally changes the Jedi and all but scraps the rules about attachment. His views here seem more in line with older jedi, we will have to wait and see about this one.
We leave them with Grogu considering the two options. Its a little video game like but it works. With that episode six ends. This week was the best episode of any kind of Star Wars that we’ve gotten from these people. Like last week this is because we just dont waste a lot of time with the title character.
The appearance of Cad Bane improves Tatooine a little. He’s definitely a well liked Clone Wars character. Re-assuming his most menacing guise, he’s enough of a threat to be a real problem for our heroes. He also seems to have inadvertently solved the manpower shortage that was plaguing Boba Fett. The people of Freetown were effective in the past in a semi-military operation to kill off a Krayt Dragon with a friendly-ish tribe of Tuskens as allies. They don’t seem ready to accept this assault on their Marshall.
Looking back on the episode its not perfect all the way through, but the bar has been raised a little more every week and the middle of this episode is a lot of fun and very satisfying. We’ve dragged our feet for a long time in this series. I would love to throw away all the Bacta Tank Tusken dreams and replace them with weekly catch ups with Luke and Grogu. The simple jedi training balanced comedy and drama well. It felt deeply Star Wars in ways the Sequels never tried to or avoided all together. Its been a long time coming.
Episode 6 has me in ironic territory. This week the lack of dialogue is fine, the pacing of the training sequence is also just fine and if anything could have been even longer because it was interesting. I had condemned slow, dialogue free sequences in episodes one through four, but rightly so. Its okay now because the events were meaningful and advanced the story for a change. In earlier episodes it was pure bloat. Luke only speaks to Grogu just so much during their meditation and training. When he does it is in character. This seems like the Luke we know and that in itself scratches an itch.
My biggest issue with this episode is purely personal. It doesn’t slam the door on the events of the sequels, which is something I will appreciate any time I see it. For instance, Luke’s Jedi Academy and the planet we see him establishing it on are not verifiably different from what little of it we see in The Last Jedi. We aren’t openly disavowing that movie yet. The fact Luke tells Grogu he should never stay down in a fight is probably directed right at destroying Last Jedi’s cowardly Luke, who simpers in the mud before Rey. A decent start but this was not enough for me. This episode missed a couple chances to be more hostile to The Last Jedi.
The episode is the most enjoyable thing we have gotten in live action Star Wars since Revenge of the Sith though. I enjoyed it both times I watched it and it’s fun writing this review. Youtuber Star Wars Theory was openly pretty emotional to see it. I was even pumping my fist when I saw the Luke we knew acting in a way we remembered.
There were still a few things I didn’t like, but nowhere near as many as in early episodes. There were some truly bad musical choices in the score, we had more very ordinary tekno music. The show is just unbearable sometimes on Tatooine (though we had very little of that this week) and we haven’t had much in the way of fun with our title character. Ahsoka had no reason to be in the episode and her delivery of some of the dialogue was strange. It would probably have been better if C-3PO was there to talk to Mando instead of Ahsoka. She doesn’t hurt the episode, but she’s slightly out of place. Someone just needed to explain to Mando why it was better he put off meeting Grogu and they decided to go with her.
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Til Next Time Friends!