This review contains spoilers for Episode 6 of Boba Fett’s book, “From the Desert Comes a Stranger,” now available on Disney+. To remind you where we left off, check out our review of The Book of Boba Fett episode 5.
Boba Fett’s book increasingly feels like a bait and switch viewing experience. It’s called “The Book” and not “The Boba Fett Synopsis,” after all, so it’s not entirely unfair to viewers to expect every episode to feature the bounty hunter prominently. But with Chapter Six, “From the Desert Comes a Stranger,” Jon Favreau, along with co-writer and episode director Dave Filoni, once again sidelined his eponymous antihero in order to continue the story of The Mandalorian.
At least we see Temeura Morrison after a complete absence in the previous episode, but the scene only serves to put Din Djarin in the room with Boba and repeat information we already know: they need more men for their battle for control of Tatooine against the Pyke Syndicates and they have a lot of credits to pay for the muscle. Yet this briefest scene spans 28 minutes in a 42-minute episode that devotes a significant portion of the action to two Mandalorian characters: Grogu and Cobb Vanth.
Now, Timothy Olyphant is always welcome in Mos Pelgo, especially now that we can see his gorgeous face all the time after giving up his armor. There’s a moment where Din asks if he can buy Vanth a drink and for a good minute I thought he was asking her out on a date. The chemistry between them is palpable and Olyphant is a natural cowboy; he has the long gaze, western sled and swaggering assurance to rival even the most Sergio Leone of gunslingers. The prologue scene and confrontation with Cad Bane – an evil bounty hunter from The Clone Wars animated series with Sith connections – is delivered with such precision, framing detail and nods that the tension at the screen could be cut with a lightsaber. From the eerie silence, close-up of hands before a gun is drawn, and the dusty outline of Bane entering from the desert, to aerial shots of him and Vanth looming in the empty downtown as residents peek out from behind the windows – Filoni and Favreau are certainly suckers for the classics. But while that nostalgic aesthetic bolsters the storytelling of these characters — who may not be Boba Fett but still have important ties to his solo narrative — Grogu’s subplot drowns so much in Star Wars sentimentality that she almost made me doubt my loyalty to the little dude.
Boba Fett Lives: How the Bounty Hunter’s Story Continued After Return of the Jedi
I’m writing these reviews with my own trusty toy Grogu by my side, so I’m not entirely opposed to being reunited with him, especially if his inclusion serves this particular series as a whole. But this episodic storyline has nothing to do with Boba and everything to do with Grogu’s relationship with Din, which is always a tender and endearing line to follow. However, most of his appearance was spent facing a CGI Luke Skywalker in a bloated training sequence meant to mirror the Jedi Master’s own training with Yoda. I get it, Luke is the OG and I enjoyed his return to the legacy sequels, but given the breadth of the Star Wars universe, especially across comics, books and animated series, can’t we pass Skywalkers? Or at least, in the live-action series, keep them on the periphery with little cameos rather than those overly long meta-winks that provide fan service at the expense of exciting, fresh storytelling?
This week’s narrative journey is once again a bad episode of The Book of Boba Fett and a good episode of The Mandalorian. The writers seem to be using the bounty hunter’s little Mandalorian connection – the man himself said he wasn’t a Mandalorian, guys! – as a way to explore what it means to be part of this warrior race, but so far he has yet to pull this thread in conjunction with the titular protagonist.
With Cobb’s ally under threat after his encounter with Bane, will his people join Fett’s tribe and fight? Does Grogu? Faced with Sophie’s choice to go the Jedi or Mandalorian path, and a remaining episode that surely has to come out with some sort of blow, perhaps the young foundling/padawan, as well as those frustrating Jedis, will lend their muscle. An epic battle featuring all of these non-Boba Fett Book characters would certainly explain why so much screen time has been devoted to them.
There are a lot of ultimatums in this episode; hoping that our decision to subscribe to this Star Wars story was the right one.