“From the Desert Comes a Stranger” opens with Cobb Vanth dealing with a group of Pyke spice traders who have wandered into his town. We then find Mando arriving at Luke’s future Jedi training academy. He runs into R2-D2, who leads him farther into the grounds and deactivates. Din waits a while for Luke, but instead, it’s Ahsoka Tano who greets him. She dissuades him from interrupting Grogu’s training and takes his gift to Luke herself. Back at Boba Fett’s fortress, Fennec expresses a need for more troops, and Mando thinks he has the ticket. He asks Cobb Vanth and his people for aid, emphasizing the threat the Pykes pose to all of Tattooine. Vanth doesn’t want to get involved in another fight but says he’ll see what he can do. The Pykes bomb Garsa’s place. A bounty hunter rolls into town and offers Vanth an ultimatum to stay out of the conflict, and things go south. Luke offers Grogu the choice of the armor Mando left for him or Yoda’s lightsaber and the life that comes with each.
I didn’t think they could outdo last week’s “The Return of the Mandalorian,” but depending on what you’re looking for, I think they just did. That episode was tighter and more focused, but “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” is just pure fun from start to finish. I’ve been enjoying The Book of Boba Fett quite a bit, and I’ve been pretty lenient with aspects other people weren’t thrilled with. I liked what we were getting and assumed something bigger was coming. Now that that something is here, I think they might have created a monster. This show might as well be The Mandalorian now, with its tone, supporting characters, and action-packed adventures. Boba Fett is outshone not only by the Mandalorian himself but by side characters from Mando’s show that I never imagined we’d be seeing here. “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” is like a highlight reel for Star Wars TV, bringing back characters beloved by fans of every era of Star Wars content. The crazy thing is that it works as well as it does, rather than coming off like a series of forced cameos to beef up excitement for the finale. Cobb Vanth taking out that party of Pykes was electrifying. It’s a short scene, but it felt like something right out of a Western, as Dave Filoni again pays homage to the influences that inspired George Lucas to make Star Wars. Timothy Olyphant’s Vanth is used perfectly in “From the Desert Comes a Stranger,” never overstaying his welcome or taking over too much.
I was stunned again by the outcome of his shootout with Cad Bane. Bane is consistently ruthless and great at his job, but I just didn’t expect Vanth to lose or die regardless of the circumstances. And is he dead? Will his townspeople rally to Boba Fett to get revenge on the Pykes and Bane, or will the Weequay bartender lead them down the cowardly path? Cad Bane looks absolutely incredible in live-action. I admit this isn’t a character I was expecting to get the treatment, but the results speak for themselves. I had no idea who could be coming to face Vanth until I recognized the shape of the hat. I’m glad Corey Burton came back to do the voice as well; I’m not sure any other actor could do it quite the same way. If The Book of Boba Fett gets more seasons (and I assume it will), maybe he could be a recurring antagonist. His design and the way he carries himself are just super cool and not something I thought would translate so well to live-action. Furthermore, they could use this as a way to play out the fatal duel Bane was set to have with Boba Fett in a scrapped Clone Wars story arc. The timeline and circumstances would obviously have to be different, but I’d love to see it. In bringing Bane in and bombing Garsa’s bar, the Pykes are finally starting to show just how ruthless they are. I’m far more concerned about Cobb Vanth, but I assume Garsa and her attendants are dead now.
Everything on Luke’s planet was great too. It’s stunning visually, and I really like the music employed with these sets. Grogu’s training was very entertaining, and I particularly liked it when Luke told him about Yoda. The scene where Luke lifts all of the frogs in response to Grogu’s one felt very classic Star Wars. Yoda riding in Luke’s backpack was a nice touch, too. I liked how Grogu fixated on the ship leaving. He doesn’t have any way of knowing that’s Din’s new ship, so he either senses him or associates all spacecraft with him. Either way, I’m not crying; you are! Even Luke and Din’s interactions with Ahsoka felt organic, and I wasn’t expecting to see her at all. A Luke and Ahsoka meeting has been on my wish list for a while now, and I only wish there was more of it. I would love to see their first encounter and anything involving her telling him about Anakin from back in the day. That could always be a flashback in the Ahsoka show, and for now, it was a treat to see them together at all.
Between Mando, Luke, Ahsoka, Grogu, Vanth, Bane, and more, there is very little Boba Fett in this episode! He appears once, and if I remember correctly, doesn’t say anything, merely nodding along during his war meeting. It’s wild that my two favorite episodes so far feature so little of the show’s title character. Just like last week, I find myself wondering if this was a good move for this series’ story. This is The Book of Boba Fett, not The Book of Various Star Wars Characters and the Wacky Hijinks They Get Into. But these episodes do have a sense of fun and energy that the others have lacked, although, as I have said, I have enjoyed the season for the most part. This could be attributed to Bryce Dallas Howard and Dave Filoni at the helms of their respective episodes. After Robert Rodriguez directed “The Tragedy,” I assumed he was a good fit for The Book of Boba Fett. However, I’m not so sure anymore. The episodes overwhelmed by other creative voices seem stronger than the ones he guided himself. It’s a shame because between Boba Fett’s unceremonious end in the original trilogy and his whiny child portrayal in Clone Wars, his appearance in The Mandalorian actually got me interested in the character. But here we are with one episode left to go, and I assume it’ll be a rushed one at that. I’m more worried about the Jedi code on attachments and whether Baby Yoda wants a shirt or a sword than anything involving Boba Fett.