Mando agreed to join Boba's gang as they take on the dangerous Pyke Syndicate, a rival criminal group that wants to use Tatooine in its spice-running operations. However, he decided to go and visit little Grogu (aka Baba Yoda), whom we last saw being sent off with Luke Skywalker for Jedi training. This show is set around five years after Return of the Jedi and shortly after The Mandalorian season 2.
A criminal empire's worth of SPOILERS lies below, as we take a closer look at Chapter 6: From the Desert Comes a Stranger.
You old Cad
On Tatooine, we reunite with our old pal Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) – the marshal of Mos Pelgo (aka Freetown), former wearer of Boba's armor and perpetual owner of excellent Hollywood hair – who helped Mando kill a Krayt dragon. Cobb happens upon some Pykes conducting a spice deal, killing most of them and warning the survivor to stop conducting Syndicate business in Freetown territory.
Mando tries to persuade Cobb to join Boba's fight against the Pykes, but the lawman is uncertain. Later, the titular stranger strolls from the desert into Freetown – the utterly ruthless Duros bounty hunter Cad Bane (voiced by Corey Burton), a character extremely familiar to Clone Wars fans.
Now employed by the Pykes, Bane offers to pay Cobb to allow the Syndicate to transport the spice through Freetown territory and reminds him that Boba is a "cold-blooded killer who worked with the Empire."
After a tense showdown straight out of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Bane blasts Cobb and his idiot deputy, seemingly wounding the former and clearly killing the latter. His hat is also pretty similar to the one worn by Lee Van Cleef in the 1966 movie – Van Cleef's performance served as inspiration when Bane was being developed for The Clone Wars.
"Tatooine belongs to the syndicate," he says as Cobb lies in the sand. "As long as the spice keeps flowing, everyone will be left alone."
This guy was a regular antagonist during the CGI animated series, which is set decades before The Book of Boba Fett, and fought pretty much everyone in that show. He also worked with a young Boba, who was bitter after his father Jango was slain by Jedi Mace Windu. An unaired Clone Wars arc also would have seen Bane training Boba as his bounty hunting apprentice.
Our most recent encounter with him was during last year's The Bad Batch, in which he battled a younger Fennec Shand. So they got beef as well.
This is our first time seeing Bane in live action; his red eyes, sharp teeth and pale blue skin look absolutely terrifying under the harsh Tatooine sun. It's also just wonderful that this show now has a definite, scary villain beyond the vague threat of the Pykes. Not everyone was entirely satisfied with his look though -- fans have already tweaked the show's CGI to bring Bane closer to his Clone Wars counterpart.
The Pykes also blow up Garsa Fwip's lovely Mos Espa cantina, because they are jerks who can't appreciate excellent music or hospitality. It's likely that this and the attack on Freetown's lawmen will push people to join Boba's fight against the Syndicate.
Return to the Jedi
The Book of Boba who? A chunk of this episode is spent with Grogu and Luke Skywalker (who's once again CGI de-aged to look like 1983 Mark Hamill), as Mando tries to reunite with the little guy on the unnamed planet where Luke is setting up his training temple.
Noting how much Grogu misses Mando, Ahsoka says seeing his armored dad will toy with the green dude's emotions further and make his training more difficult. Mando quietly agrees, and returns to Tatooine without seeing Grogu.
Luke tells Grogu about his late master Yoda, who was of the same unnamed species, in an attempt to inspire and jog the memories of his wee apprentice. It seems like Grogu intentionally forgot chunks of his past and training at the old Jedi Temple on Coruscant as he hid his powers to stay off the Empire's radar over the years, but Luke unlocks his memories with the Force.
A flashback reveals Grogu's perspective of Order 66, in which the Galactic Republic's clone troopers turned on their Jedi allies as part of Emperor Palpatine's plan to seize power. A trio of Jedi try to protect him, but are gunned down by clones.
These clones have blue detailing on their armor, meaning they're part of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader's elite 501st unit. The Sith Lord led this squad in his attack on the Jedi Temple in Revenge of the Sith, so it's possible Vader was off killing younglings at the time of this flashback.
A heartwrenching choice
Luke is struggling with the fact that Grogu is caught between his attachment to Mando and learning to become a Jedi.
"So much like your father," Ahsoka says when Luke wonders aloud if Grogu's heart is in his training.
The episode ends with Luke presenting Grogu with a choice – he can take the beskar chainmail Mando had forged from his staff and return to his armored buddy or take a lightsaber once used by Yoda and continue his training.
Ugh, I don't envy Grogu this decision (though I'd 100% take the lightsaber). Social media is gonna have plenty of opinions until we find out in next week's season finale or in The Mandalorian season 3.
He's unlikely to remain with Luke though, since there's no evidence of him at the temple when Ben Solo turns to the dark side in Marvel Comics' Rise of Kylo Ren series (which takes place around 19 years after the events of this show) and it seems more financially lucrative for Disney if he goes on more adventures with Mando.
As delightful as it is spending all this time with Ahsoka, Grogu and Luke, it feels a little odd to put all this in The Book of Boba Fett. The early episodes were slow to develop Boba's character, motivations and conflict, and we're facing into the finale with little momentum in those areas. It's cool that he's mysterious, but it's hard to care about his plotline right now.
If you haven't watched The Clone Wars, you should. Despite a slow first season and meh movie, it develops into some of best Star Wars ever made, and the live-action shows are continuing plot threads it started.
This is the first time we've seen Ahsoka and Luke interacting, and it's excellent. I'd love to see their first encounter and hear them talk more about Anakin.
"I'm an old friend of the family," Ahsoka tells Mando of her relationship with the Skywalkers, because going into detail would take hours.