Much like last week's episode of 'The Mandalorian', sorry, 'The Book of Boba Fett', this week's episode has the definite air of wheel-spinning.
The main thread of the series thus far has been about how Boba Fett pulled himself out of the Sarlaac, got his groove back with the help of the Tusken Raiders and in doing so rehabilitated our perception of them from monstrous aliens to an indigenous culture, and is now gearing up to fight the 'Star Wars' equivalent of a drug cartel. There's now just the one episode left in this season, with Robert Rodriguez returning to see out the series as he began it.
Yet, this week's episode - 'From The Desert Comes A Stranger' - is undoubtedly Dave Filoni's work, and not just because two of his creations appear in this episode, one of them which makes their live-action debut. No, the reason why this episode clearly bears Filoni's mark is because of how it's very much a transitional episode, trying to tie together numerous strands but ultimately fashioning something else entirely. The opening third of the episode is set on a beautiful garden planet where Din Djarin has arrived to visit
Baby Yoda Grogu, who's now deep into his training with Luke Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano. The new-and-improved facial effects on Luke Skywalker aside (that deepfake guy must have worked on this episode for sure), what we're seeing is Grogu effectively unsure of who and what he is. Sure, he's got talent, but his heart clearly isn't in it because the attachment he has to Djarin is still clearly there. He just wants to chow down on wildlife and nap. Don't we all?
While all this is happening, Timothy Olyphant and his fantastic hair are back as Marshal of Mos Espa, Cobb Vanth, sans the armour. The local marshal dispatches a couple of small-time drug smugglers, which in turn sets the Pyke Syndicate on bringing a hired gun to town to pay them off and make sure that they stay out of the upcoming rumble between Boba Fett's bounty hunter union and the Pyke Syndicate. The standoff is straight out of a Western, complete with rack-focus shots of hands hovering over holsters, dusty towns, and taciturn gunslingers inviting violence. Again, this is Filoni all over as he's infused many episodes of the animated 'Clone Wars' with Western iconography. Cad Bane, the hired gun in question, was a creation of his from that very series.
Anyway, after that shootout goes as you'd expect, we jump back to the garden planet after a brief, pointless recap of where everyone's at with Boba Fett (still planning). Grogu's training is improving, yet Djarin is still eager to see him and give him the gift that was forged for him because, to him, he's a Mandalorian foundling - not a Jedi apprentice. Rosario Dawson's performance as Ahsoka Tano is surprisingly mellow, much more mature than you initially realise, and correctly asks Djarin that he's trying to make himself feel better by interjecting into Grogu's training or if it's in his best interest. Yet, that all seems to be kind of moot as the episode ends with Luke Skywalker revealing to young Grogu that he has two choices in front of him - one leads him back to the Mandalorian, the other to become the first student of the newly-founded Jedi Academy.
Given how 'The Book of Boba Fett' has for the past two episodes diverted into setting up 'The Mandalorian' Season 3, we can pretty much guess that Grogu is going to be reunited with Djarin. Their single-dad-son dynamic really did make the second season of 'The Mandalorian' quite special, but it would have been quite fun to see Djarin go a little bit off the rails, and sort of capture that listlessness and idle anger.
It also speaks to how, ultimately, 'The Book of Boba Fett' has been a sideshow than the main event. While the first few episodes had some thrilling and entertaining moments, not to mention reshaping how we view some long-held aspects of 'Star Wars', it's effectively just been sidelined to make room for 'The Mandalorian'. If there was more pages in the book, you wouldn't even dream of doing it, but because it's so sparse, there's room there for this to happen. It might be that this was always their intention, but it's certainly cheapened the whole thing in a way that won't be easily shook by the time next week's finale rolls around.
- They really did step up the facial work on Luke Skywalker, but it still looks alien and weird
- Really hoping the 'Ahsoka' series gives Rosario Dawson more to do than simply lean against trees and smiles
- How despicably cute was the chainmail onesie? Despicable, how dare you, it's so sickeningly sentimental
- Cad Bane casually blasting Cobb Vanth and the hapless deputy and walking away is one of this season's highlights