NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Book of Boba Fett” are present in this review
So much for The Book of Boba Fett not leaning on The Mandalorian as a narrative crutch. I find myself so incredibly torn on the series’ penultimate episode, barring a potential Season 2 renewal, because it contains a lot of cool moments that Star Wars fans are bound to get a real kick out of. At the same time however, “Chapter 6: From the Desert Comes a Stranger” brings back The Book of Boba Fett’s stubborn structuring issues, on top of feeling overstuffed, clumsy and unfocused from the perspective of how it’s presented. There’s a collection of really cool scenes scattered around this episode, but a bunch of them don’t fit what The Book of Boba Fett originally aspired to achieve. Instead, they feel like they’re simply featured so they can tease future Star Wars projects in the Disney+ pipeline.
I also get the sense that The Book of Boba Fett is scrambling to make sure everything is in place for its upcoming season finale, which is likely why it keeps jumping between so many different perspectives in this episode. Once again, Boba Fett himself becomes lost in the shuffle here, even if he does at least make an appearance again, after he entirely sat out the previous Din Djarin-focused episode. Djarin also takes up a hefty amount of screentime in this episode, naturally, and so does Grogu, Djarin’s adorable former charge. This also means we inevitably get a reunion with Mark Hamill’s heavily-CG’d Luke Skywalker, as well as Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano, who nudges Djarin away so as not to disturb Grogu’s training.
So, after all of this hype surrounding Djarin reuniting with Grogu, it doesn’t even truly happen in the end. Ahsoka even leaves Luke’s planet shortly after Djarin’s departure, no doubt to set the stage for her own upcoming Disney+ series, Ahsoka. Instead, we get several extended sequences of Luke training Grogu, which are pretty cool, in fariness, especially when they deliberately call back to Luke’s own Jedi training with Yoda on Dagobah, all the way back in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Still, these scenes most of all feel like they just don’t belong in The Book of Boba Fett. They would have probably been better served being saved for Ahsoka, where they would narratively and tonally make sense. The final story device for Grogu, wherein Luke tasks him with choosing Yoda’s lightsaber or Djarin’s gift, a Beskar chain mail in Grogu’s size, is kind of interesting at least, plus the fact that we don’t see what Grogu chooses is similarly exciting. Even so, like I said, this scene doesn’t fit with The Book of Boba Fett, and only serves to further confuse the show’s already unfocused storytelling.
A second series of events that are cool separately, but a bit clumsy in this episode’s larger narrative, surround the unexpected return of Timothy Olyphant’s Cobb Vanth, another character that made his live-action debut in The Mandalorian. Vanth originally scares off the Pyke Syndicate after he catches them running Spice through the former Mos Pelgo territory, now re-christened as, “Freetown”, in this episode’s cold open. This eventually leads into Djarin going to recruit Vanth for Boba’s forces, only to hear that Vanth may not be interested in the job, due to Freetown’s newly-achieved peace. Even so, trouble manages to find Vanth in the end, after a mysterious stranger comes to Freetown, demanding that Vanth allow the Pyke Syndicate to run Spice through Freetown’s territory unopposed.
This stranger, the very subject of this episode’s title, doesn’t identify himself, but Star Wars fans that have at least watched animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars will no doubt recognize him; He’s Cad Bane, a bounty hunter that easily operates on the level of skill and notoriety as Boba Fett. I definitely didn’t anticipate Bane being a surprise antagonist in The Book of Boba Fett, but his appearance here makes a lot of sense, especially given that he’s a naturally worthy adversary for Boba and Fennec. Bane quickly makes a harrowing first impression as well, as he shoots Vanth’s deputy dead, and appears to mortally wound Vanth himself, before departing with a warning to the Freetown populace. Granted, Vanth’s fate isn’t confirmed, and he could very well survive Bane’s blaster shot in the end, but Vanth even being incapacitated is bound to put a serious dent in Boba’s forces, before the battle against the Pyke Syndicate even properly begins.
I must say that The Book of Boba Fett’s stakes are nicely escalating by the conclusion of this episode, at least on Tatooine. As the Pyke Syndicate appears to step up their offensive against Boba, Garsa Fwip and her cantina also end up caught in the crosshairs, after some Pykes bomb the establishment! Again, Garsa’s fate isn’t confirmed quite yet, and it’s possible that she survived the explosion (even if it did look pretty massive!), but either way, the Pyke Syndicate is clearly trying to defeat Boba before he can properly mobilize his forces, which nicely speaks to just how brutally efficient these criminals are. The Pyke Syndicate seems so dangerous in fact that I have no idea how The Book of Boba Fett can truly resolve a conflict with them in just one episode. I suppose there’s always the option to renew The Book of Boba Fett for Season 2, but will fans turn up for that, considering how bumpy this first season has mostly been?
“Chapter 6: From the Desert Comes a Stranger” is a frustrating episode that’s full of exciting moments, and yet another distracted narrative. It’s particularly irritating to see Boba once again pushed into the background within his own series, as if The Book of Boba Fett has already lost faith in the idea of doing a Boba-centric storyline, now that it finally cleared up how Boba survived the Sarlacc Pit, and ended up taking Jabba the Hutt’s territory. There are more teases for the future of The Mandalorian, as well as the premiere of Ahsoka, that may nonetheless keep Star Wars fans buzzing, but this is further evidence that The Book of Boba Fett is a series that seems to lack a core identity of its own, something that’s currently forcing it to rely on Star Wars’ other Disney+ prospects to maintain its appeal. We still have the upcoming season finale to look forward to as something that hopefully brings The Book of Boba Fett’s shaky first season together in the end, but I don’t think I’m going to hold my breath for that level of success at this point, as much as the inevitable battle against the Pyke Syndicate will hopefully be an exciting coda.