We’re at the penultimate episode of The Book of Boba Fett and the titular former bounty hunter is starting to feel like a footnote in his own show. That’s because the show took the narrative to strange and unexpected places that made this episode feel more like a great episode of Star Wars, almost like a live-action version of a comic book or an episode of The Clone Wars. That sentiment makes sense as Dave Filoni both co-wrote and directed this episode, which delivers some awesome moments and reintroduces some iconic characters.
After a brief introduction with Cobb Vanth, from the season two premiere of The Mandalorian, which importantly establishes his prowess as a gunslinger, the action pivots to Din’s journey to visit Grogu, answering the question I had last week. Most of the first half of the episode, which takes place in a lush bamboo forest, focuses on Grogu’s training with Luke Skywalker, who is portrayed once again by Mark Hamill and features some far superior deepfaking than we saw in The Mandalorian. I’m guessing that’s the work of Shamook, who was hired by Lucasfilm last year. They’ve certainly come a long way since the “Tarkin incident” from Rogue One and the younger version of Mark Hamill felt much more genuine and authentic than other attempts at deaging in the past. This segment no doubt will satisfy those who were fans of the old EU, which focused heavily on Luke’s adventures after Return of the Jedi.
Din wishes to see the kid again, but a surprise encounter with Ahsoka Tano steers Mando’s trajectory. Out of fear of attachment, which would distract the already distracted little guy, she advises against visiting him. The rest of this segment sees Grogu remembering his time during Order 66 and after some time dragging his feet (metaphorically and literally), Grogu is flipping around, using the Force to navigate obstacles with Luke’s guidance. Fans of The Clone Wars will also be giddy seeing Ahsoka, padawan to Anakin Skywalker, standing alongside Luke. Also, in a neat bit of worldbuilding, Luke’s temple looks an awful lot like the first Jedi temple, which was seen in The Last Jedi. In turn, this is the very temple that Kylo Ren will ultimately burn to the ground, so it’s kind of sad to know that something so beautiful will be destroyed by someone close to Luke. That act feels more impactful now.
By the end of the episode, Grogu is faced with a decision: pick up Yoda’s lightsaber and become a Jedi, or abandon the way and become a Mandalorian. I honestly have no idea where this goes, but both options seem plausible and interesting. Due to the N1 Starfighter having a little pod, I’m leaning towards Grogu choosing the Beskar amour, but Luke’s ultimatum felt brutally difficult for Grogu. Luke understandably wants Grogu to stay with him and become his first pupil, but I think he can sense that if he can’t get Grogu to commit now, it will never happen. Grogu staying with Luke makes sense thematically and will reinforce the season two finale, but his return to Din would be great for both of their characterizations, not to mention build more hype for The Mandalorian season three.
Meanwhile, the Pykes have been growing more ambitious. Din seeks out Cobb Vanth for assistance, who is reluctant to join up, stating that he and Mando are even at this point in life and he doesn’t see the need to risk his life or the lives of the citizens he’s tasked with protecting. I love Timothy Olyphant as Cobb. He plays the character with enough charm and bravado to make him instantly likable, while also being a total ace on the draw in a confrontation with the Pykes in the opening. This is why there’s so much tension when the titular stranger from the desert walks into town, someone who instantly puts Cobb on guard from a mile away. I’ve been wondering if this character would be showing up, and the more The Book of Boba Fett went on, the more likely it seemed. The stranger was none other than Cad frickin’ Bane from The Clone Wars, once again voiced by Corey Burton. Cad is almost certainly the individual who massacred the Tuskens and given his history with Boba (he was once the young bounty hunter’s mentor after Jango died and the two have an intense rivalry to say the least), is something of a father figure turned adversary and thus, has a lot of complex emotions that act as the perfect foil narratively for Boba. He shoots down Cobb in a Mexican standoff (I give him a 10% chance of surviving) before unloading on his deputy (no chance of coming back). I wish Bane had shown up earlier, this show desperately needed an antagonist and it has it now with Bane. I just don’t want them to introduce him, only to kill him next week (especially if this is a one-season show). But the live-action debut of Bane was great, full of tension, intrigue and malice.
As I mentioned in the intro, I found this episode felt like a great live-action comic book issue, or an episode of The Clone Wars. We bounced around a lot and had a lot of characters return from throughout the franchise’s history. In a single episode, we had Luke, Ahsoka, Din, Mando, Boba Fett, Cobb Vant and Cad Bane. That’s a lot of Star Wars, and I never thought I’d see them all in one episode. But here we are, and it was a very satisfying episode of Star Wars, I had a great time watching it.
But I can’t help but wonder if calling this show The Book of Boba Fett was a bit, misguided. The looming war with the Pykes is definitely the anchor for the narrative, but I’m starting to think an anthology-style approach, where we followed numerous characters throughout the entirety of the show (including everyone we saw in this episode) would have been the better move in the end. Fett is once again sidelined in his own show. He shows up this time at least, but has no dialogue or agency on the plot. People may say that this episode was in service of Boba’s story, and to a degree it was, but this episode was more in service of the Star Wars story as a whole. Fett is just one aspect of it. But the show is called The Book of Boba Fett and we’ve now gone two episodes without any major character development for him (the show doesn’t explain Cad Bane’s history with Fett, so newcomers are left wondering what’s what). Which makes this a tough episode to write about. It’s amazing Star Wars storytelling as a whole and will satisfy fans of the franchise in general. But for those watching the show for the characterization of Boba Fett, it’s understandable they’re feeling a bit wanting. With one episode remaining (and no word on a second season), time will tell if Fett will win fans over. Because for now, this show belongs to everyone but him.
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