The Book of Boba Fett’s penultimate episode, “From the Desert Comes a Stranger”, featured the return of many a familiar face which set the stage for not only next week’s finale, but also the broader storyline of the interconnected Mandoverse.
The episode opens not with anyone we’ve seen in the series so far, but out on the flats of Tatooine. Some Pykes are arranging a handoff of a spice shipment and are interrupted by the handsomest Marshal on Tatooine, Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant). The quickdraw defender of Mos Pelgo gets rid of most of the Pykes, but leaves one alive on the condition he doesn’t return. Famous last words.
Things very quickly take a turn into territory many expected after last week, with the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal/Brendan Wayne) heading off to visit a “little friend.” He arrives on a lush, green planet and is greeted not by Grogu, but another familiar little friend. R2-D2 guides him through the forest to a small construction site where a series of droids are building the first temple for Luke’s eventual Jedi school. It is there that Din is instructed to wait.
Meanwhile further in the woods, little Grogu is getting one-on-one Jedi lessons from Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill/Max Lloyd-Jones). The second season of The Mandalorian was accompanied by a lot of speculation as to the state of Luke’s Jedi school. The audience got their answer fairly quickly, and saw that Grogu is currently the only pupil at the future academy.
As Grogu struggles to master the skills Luke tries to teach him, his teacher offers to help him remember his early life in the Jedi temple. Grogu accepts and his memories of Order 66 are unlocked — though granted not in full. How he got out of the temple is still a mystery, one that will hopefully be explored in a future season of The Mandalorian.
Eventually, Din is found, but not by Luke or Grogu, but by an old friend of the family, Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson). She agrees to take Din to see Grogu, but questions what he hopes to gain from it. Grogu, she tells him, misses Din very much, and is struggling to adapt to the expected life of a Jedi due to his attachment to him.
This adherence to the rule against attachment is surprising coming from Ahsoka in particular. While she has borne witness firsthand to the pain these kinds of attachments cause, this is also the same woman who learned the hard way not to take the Jedi Order at face value. It’s expected for Luke Skywalker to spout Jedi dogma without question. Everything he knows about it, he learned from a book. That is ultimately what winds up dooming the Jedi school.
Recognizing, however, that Ahsoka may have a point about letting Grogu determine his own future, Din leaves the little beskar gift behind and returns to Tatooine.
Din arrives at the palace to find Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) in conference with Black Krrsantan (Carey Jones) and the Mods (Jordan Bolger and Sophie Thatcher). While they feel confident in the protection Din and Krrsantan can provide, they are still short on foot soldiers. Din volunteers to reach out to some local friends.
His trip takes him to Mos Pelgo — now called Freetown, as it was in the Aftermath books — where he asks Cobb Vanth to consider helping them in the fight. Though Freetown is now at peace, Din reasons that the Pykes won’t just stop at Mos Espa, and will eventually move to take Tatooine as a whole. With the intercepted spice shipment still on his mind, Vanth agrees to consider it and speak to his people.
The marshal never quite gets that chance, as no sooner does Din leave than a new visitor appears on the horizon. This one is far more sinister than the Mandalorian. Fans of The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch got a treat this week with the first live-action appearance of bounty hunter Cad Bane, who arrives in Freetown to scare Vanth off of helping Boba Fett in the upcoming fight with the Pykes. The deputy of Freetown tries to help out the marshal break the standoff, getting both of them shot (and himself killed) in the process.
The gears are really in motion now for Tatooine to go to war, with the Pykes planting a bomb at the Sanctuary, causing an explosion so powerful I would be very surprised if Garsa Fwip (Jennifer Beals) or any of her patrons survived.
In all, the episode works very well as a piece of the larger Star Wars story. The early signs of Luke’s failure as a teacher are there, because despite him parroting the same lessons he received, he doesn’t understand the Order at a deep enough level to recreate it without the pitfalls. I do, however, question its placement in The Book of Boba Fett. The title character appears in a single scene, and this is the second episode in a row where the man has not spoken a word. Even his second in command only has a single speech where she refreshes everyone’s memory on the first four episodes of the season.
It is here the question of fan service inevitably arises. I am not opposed to it on principle. I think it works quite well when it serves the story at hand. Cobb Vanth is a natural fit for a story about a war on Tatooine. Cad Bane has an antagonistic history with both Boba and Fennec. They serve the story and reward those fans who have explored the continuity a little deeper without being inaccessible to those that haven’t.
But there was little reason for Luke Skywalker to appear in this story. Inevitably, any time he is onscreen he pulls focus away from the central characters, and this series was already struggling to keep the focus on the series stars. The cliffhanger ending, where Luke asks Grogu to choose between the beskar chainmail Din brought him and Master Yoda’s old lightsaber seems to indicate we haven’t seen the last of the Jedi Master, but once this arc is wrapped up, I would implore Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni to have enough confidence in their own story to not consistently rely on defaulting to the safest of safe bets.
The Book of Boba Fett airs Wednesdays on Disney+
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Arezou Amin is a freelance writer with a lifelong love of Star Wars, romance, fantasy, and all things pop culture. She is the host of Space Waffles, a Star Wars-focused podcast on the Geeky Waffle network, where she also co-hosts the flagship show and writes reviews and recaps for the site.