This episode is… you know what, I give up, it’s mostly got nothing to do with Boba Fett. You should have just called this The Mandalorian season three, y’all! That’s okay, just let it be what it wants to be!
A group of Pykes are loading up a spice shipment into a speeder when Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) shows up. He says that he’s willing to overlook their trespassing into Mos Pelgo territory, but that he won’t be allowing it again. When one of the Pykes draws, so does he, and three of them hit the sand instantly. The Marshal leaves one alive to go explain the issue to the syndicate, and tells him to leave the spice behind. It’s worth more than the entire town, and Vanth dumps the box into the desert sand.
Din Djarin makes his way to the forest world where Luke took Grogu. He runs into R2-D2, who brings him to the site of a temple that is in the process of being built. R2 then switches off, leaving Din to wait. Grogu is meditating with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and learning to sift through his memories from the distant past. While Din is waiting, Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) shows up. She tells Din that she’ll take him to see Grogu if that’s what he wants, but that she doesn’t think it’s a good idea in terms of helping Grogu adjust to his new life. In the end, Din agrees to leave the armor gift with her and depart. Luke keeps training Grogu, getting his mobility up, showing him lightsaber choreography, teaching him balance. Ahsoka gives Luke the beskar shirt and he wonders how he should handle this situation. She tells him to trust his instincts.
Din lands back on Tatooine and gets the breakdown of how Fett and his crew plan to handle the Pyke situation. He tells them that he can get them more help on that front, and heads to Mos Pelgo—now named Freetown—to buy Cobb Vanth a drink. The townsfolk all believe that this isn’t their fight, but Din appeals to Vanth, and the Marshal agrees to try and sell his people on it. As he’s gathering them to explain the situation, a stranger comes into town (voiced by Corey Burton) and tells Vanth to stay out of this whole affair. Vanth’s deputy makes the mistake of trying to enter the showdown; the stranger shoots Vanth and kills the deputy with several shots, then walks away as the people of Freetown come out to care for their Marshal. Back in Mos Espa, Garsa Fwip notes two Pykes who come in and refuse to have their helmets cleaned. They leave a container behind that turns out to be a bomb; the Sanctuary explodes.
Luke sits meditating with Grogu and then presents the beskar shirt to him. He offers Grogu a choice, taking Yoda’s lightsaber from a box and setting it down before him. Grogu must chose one of them; if he chooses the lightsaber, he will be Luke’s first student at this new school. If he chooses the beskar, he can go home to Din.
Ugh. It’s Cad Bane, y’all.
I’m sure they were hoping for a more excited exclamation (what I actually said to my television as he swam into view on the edge of town was “Are you fucking kidding me, is it Cad Bane?”), and of course it’s fun to see him live-action for the very first time, but if you know anything about his role in the animated series, particularly in Clone Wars, you can recall—this guy is the worst. Of the morally gray set in the Star Wars universe, Bane is unequivocally the least enjoyable. At least Hondo Ohnaka is fun, you know? Bane just cares about money, sneers a lot, and continually searches out more dramatic hats. (Okay, that part I sympathize with.)
He’s a hard character to render in three dimensions, both figuratively and literally, and I’m curious if they won’t tweak the design as he continues to show up. He could use some extra facial movement, particularly around the eyes. Right now, he looks a tiny bit out of proportion, but that might just be due to the fact that his hat literally cannot be big enough; they have the same problem with Ahsoka in live-action. Her lekku (or head-tails) can’t be as large as we last saw them in animation, it would have been too impractical for filming and movement and prosthetic attachment. Conversely, Cad Bane always had the widest brimmed hat, to a truly absurd degree, but trying to render that with a moving person on camera was never going to work out.
They finally got some deepfake folks to step up their CGI, huh? (Oh wait, it’s the guy who fixed Mando with deepfake tech, they did in fact just hire him.) This Luke looks so much better than the last time we saw him, I full-body sighed with relief when he started talking. And they’re being more careful about how they shoot him as well, letting him speak when the camera’s not on him, doing shots from a distance sometimes. It looks way less uncanny, and while it’s still not “right,” I was more willing to go with the illusion when he didn’t look quite so stiff. Because, you know, it’s Luke. My childhood hero. My heart. The warmth in Mark Hamill’s voice just does me in, every time. Also, they at least managed to nail Luke’s “don’t laugh, you’re a serious Jedi Master” expression in the CGI this time, which is important, because I imagine that’s probably his primary expression most days.
On the other hand, the fact that they can’t overuse computer-generated Luke means that we’re missing out on one of the most important factors of this setup, which is that Ahsoka Tano and Luke Skywalker know each other. Ahsoka is talking to Anakin Skywalker’s son (telling him that he’s like his dad!), and we can’t really get the emotion that we deserve from these moments, or the detail. This means that Luke knows his father had his own Padawan now, that he has this unexpected and precious font of information about his family. Their first meeting had to have been momentous, and it’s hard not to feel robbed in its absence. This show isn’t up to doing that deep work, unfortunately—it’s being used as a way station for half a dozen other threads. It doesn’t feel like The Book of Boba Fett anymore, it feels like The Book of Everyone We Need You to Care About in Five Other Shows (Four of Which Are Still Forthcoming).
Also, more importantly, does anyone want to explain why Ahsoka seems totally fine with Luke rebuilding the Jedi Order without… any changes to that system? Because we know that this choice goes wrong, but what we’ve gotten from her so far is the insistence that because she walked away from the Order, nothing that occurs regarding it is her responsibility any longer. None of this checks out with Ahsoka’s character, and she hasn’t bothered to explain her thinking on it either. I’m sure they’re waiting for the Ahsoka series to bring any of these ideas to the fore, but the result is a version of this character that I’m not sure I recognize right now.
They clearly made the Freetown deputy all trigger happy and a little dim so that they could make sense of why Vanth wasn’t going to wind up dead—Bane is a known crackshot, but he didn’t have the chance to aim as carefully as he might have because he’s busy swerving to stop that kid, meaning that Vanth has to be alive. Which is good because you do not waste Timothy Olyphant, particularly when Din finally got up the courage to flirt with him properly. Bought him a drink and everything.
So this is stacking up to be a “Tatooine rises up unilaterally to kick the Pyke Syndicate out” kinda finale, which is fine, I suppose. Then again, I’m pretty disappointed at the lack of focus on Boba Fett for a show with his name plastered all over it. I’ve seen a number of hot takes claiming that the issue is Fett as a character, and it’s not. Fett has reams of excellent story attached to his name, and they’ve mined every other side of the Legends canon for this stuff already. The real issue at hand is Star Wars trying to build itself into an MCU-style story house, and demanding that we all go along with an endless rotation of previews and side quests for other stories.
And here’s my problem with the Foundling section of the plot:The tension of what Grogu might choose in this situation is nil. You know why? Because Peli Motto built him a spot in that starfighter. He’s gonna sit in it. Even if we saw a little light in his eyes at the sight of Luke wielding a lightsaber, the story already showed its hand on this. Luke’s point that Grogu’s going to be extremely long-lived actually makes this even less fraught—whoever trains to be a Jedi in the future, they’re not all going to be younglings, like the old Jedi tradition. Grogu can go get raised by his Mando dad and come back to the Force when he’s all grown up if he likes. He can build his own lightsaber later. But if he wants Din in his life, he has to say yes now. So we know he will.
Which means that this whole departure with Luke was ultimately just a power-up aside to make the kid more mobile, and… well, you know how I’m feeling about that.
Bits and Beskar:
- Not that I don’t love the ant-builder droids, but I dunno, I was always under the impression that Jedi temples were built using… the Force? This feels like cheating to me, Luke. I’m pretty positive none of the other temples we’ve seen were built with ant-droids. Maybe the one on Coruscant. Maaaaybe.
- So the point is, the older R2 gets, the more he uses the “I’m asleep” gambit when he doesn’t want to be bothered by people. Relatable.
- As usual, time in these sections makes no sense—for all I know, Luke could have been training Grogu anywhere from one day to several weeks, and it’s completely unclear which one I’m supposed to guess. But if it’s one day, I’ll be pissed. And it kinda seems like it’s supposed to be one day. Two, by the end there.
- The whole time Luke is running with Grogu in the backpack, all I could think of was the Seagulls song. “I can be your backpack while you run…”
- The renaming of Mos Pelgo to Freetown is an attempt to get these shows to settle up with the book canon, which is still a weird choice to make when they’re willing to make so many other little tweaks that keep them separate (like how Vanth got Fett’s armor in the first place).
- Krrsantan first appeared in the Darth Vader comics, and has also appeared in the Doctor Aphra comics, and I didn’t notice it was him because Aphra calls him “Black K,” and a couple other nicknames, I believe?
- The skull that the Jawas have fixed atop their sandcrawler is the krayt dragon’s that Mando, Vanth, and friends slew last season.
- Fun aside that was likely unintentional: The Twi’leks have certain physical differences in their secondary sex characteristics, one of them being that the men generally have “regular” shaped ears, while the women generally have ear cones. Fwip has (what appear to be) a male and female Twi’lek assisting her at the Sanctuary, but both of them have ear cones. Which could mean that the male Twi’lek is a trans guy?
Next week, the finale! Obviously Boba Fett will be riding a rancor, but I hope he also gets to do a few other things. Seeing as it’s supposed to be his show, and stuff.