Friday, February 11, 2022

The Book Of Boba Fett Season 1, Episode 6: From The Desert Comes A Stranger

This week on The Book Of Boba Fett, we get what is ostensibly yet another episode of The Mandalorian.

Seriously! The entire focus of the episode is split between him and Baby Yoda, who makes his return this week.

As I stated last week, I cannot overemphasize just how strange it is to see a character completely hijack the show of another like this. In fact I can't think of anything similar ever happening before in all of TV history.

As I said before, I'm not complaining about the substitution! For weeks now I've been growing increasingly bored with this show, so having it usurped by the Mandalorian is definitely a good thing.

What's really odd to me is that these latest episodes both feature MAJOR developments in Manny's life. He gets a new ship, he's drummed out of his Mandalorian clan, he's tasked with redeeming himself and to top it all off, he decides NOT to reconnect with his surrogate son Baby Yoda.

Jaysis, that's a lot of plot points! And they all happen on someone else's show! What the hell? I'm no producer, but that seems like a bad idea to me. Having a character guest star on another series is fine. Having them go through life-altering events outside the confines of their own show is not.

Fans who aren't watching The Book Of Boba Fett are gonna miss all these revelations, and will likely be totally lost when Season 3 of The Mandalorian starts up! They're be asking where he got his new ship, why he was thrown out of his clan, why he's looking for the "Living Waters In The Caverns Of Mandalore" and most importantly, what the hell happened to Baby Yoda.

Viewers shouldn't have to watch every series a company produces in order to understand what's happening on a particular show.

Lastly, the producers really lean into the guest stars this week, trotting out at least FIVE of them! Including a digitally de-aged Luke Freakin' Skywalker! Jesus Christ! After a while this episode started to remind me of this image! 

As my pal Ted Parships quipped, why not just rename this series The Star Wars Show and be done with it?

I have to assume the producers loaded up this episode with so many guest stars because they worried Boba Fett (and actor Temuera Morrison) wasn't a big enough draw on his own. If that's the case, then why the hell'd they center an entire series around a character who can't carry his own show in the first place?


The Plot:
On Tatooine (where else?), sevreal Pyke Syndicate members meet near the tiny town of Mos Pelgo (aka "Freetown"). Three of them present a wooden chest to another, who hands over a container of credits.

Suddenly their illicit transaction's interrupted by Cobb Vanth, the Marshall of Mos Pelgo. He tells them he's willing to overlook the matter if they do their business elsewhere. One of the Pykes pulls out a blaster, but Vanth's too quick and guns down three of them. He orders the fourth to leave the chest and beat it, and to tell his bosses that Tatooine's closed for business. The Pyke quickly hightails it out of town.

Vanth walks over to the chest, opens it with his foot and sees it's full of Spice. He dumps it out onto the sand and it blows away in the wind.

Cut to Manny in his new starfighter, as he approaches an unnamed green planet. He lands in a field, where he's greeted by R2-D2. He says he's looking for Luke Skywalker, and the droid takes him through a lush bamboo (?) forest. They stop at a clearing, where a swarm of large ant droids are building a large temple.

Manny asks if this is where Luke is, but for some reason R2 shuts down. A couple of ant droids make a bench for Manny, and he reluctantly sits down and begins waiting.

Elsewhere, Luke and Baby Yoda sit near a pond and meditate. The kid hears a frog croaking, and sneakily uses the Force to levitate it out of the water and over to his mouth. Just as he's about to eat it, Luke opens his eyes and gives him a disapproving look. Baby Yoda lets the frog go.

Luke then waves his hand and dozens of frogs levitate out of the pond, as Baby Yoda looks on in wonder. I guess he's just showing off here? Unclear.

The two then go for a walk, and Luke tells the kid about his teacher Yoda. He asks the child if he remembers anyone like that, or can even recall his home. Baby Yoda doesn't respond.

Luke says he can help him remember, and places his hand on Baby Yoda's forehead. He instantly has a vision of the 501st Legion of Clone Troopers attacking the Jedi Temple, an incident we saw back in Revenge Of The Sith. Baby Yoda looks on in horror as the Troopers cut down the various Jedi defending the temple, as well as the students inside.

Luke pulls him out of the vision and says the galaxy can be a dangerous place, and he'll teach him to defend himself.

Meanwhile, Ahsoka Tano, who's also on the planet for no good reason, approaches Manny. He asks what she's doing there, and she replies that she's "an old friend of the family." He says he wants to see Baby Yoda, but she claims that's not a good idea, as it would distract him from his training.

He asks about the Temple, and she says one day it'll be a great school, and Baby Yoda will be its first student. Ahsoka then tells Manny that becoming a Jedi means leaving all former attachments behind. Manny says he just wants to make sure the kid is OK, and to give him the gift he had the Armorer make for him last week.

Ahsoka takes him through the woods and points to a nearby hill, where Luke and Baby Yoda sit under a tree. She asks if he's here for Baby Yoda's sake or his own. Manny says he came all this way just to deliver the gift, which will protect him. She says she'll make sure he gets it.

Manny reluctantly realizes she's right, and flies off in his starfighter. Atop the hill, Baby Yoda apparently senses him, and reaches out toward the departing ship.

Cut to Luke running through the forest with Baby Yoda riding in his backpack— which echoes his own training in The Empire Strikes Back. He sets the kid down and tries to get him to Force jump, but he can only manage a weak, inch tall leap. He tells him he's trying too hard.

Later he presents Baby Yoda with a training remote, which zaps him if he moves too slowly. Eventually the kid gets the hang of it, and is able to leap from rock to rock in the river, all while avoiding the remote. Finally the kid has enough and uses the Force to short out the remote and destroy it.

Ahsoka appears and says Luke's trained the child well. He says it's more like Baby Yoda's remembering things he used to know, rather than learning. She hands Manny's gift to Luke, saying there's a strong bond between the two.

Luke looks at the wrapped gift and wonders if Baby Yoda's heart is really into the training. Ahsoka says Luke's "just like his father." Yikes! let's hope not! She leaves, and Luke asks if he'll ever see her again. She smiles mysteriously and says maybe.

Manny returns to Tatooine (of course), and heads for Boba Fett's Palace. Once inside, he joins Fett's little army, which consists of Fennec Shand, Black Krrsantan and the Mods (oy vey).

Fennec briefs them, and says that with the addition of Manny they now have enough muscle to take on the Pyke Syndicate— but they'll need more numbers to drive them off the planet for good. Manny says he knows where to find more help.

Cut to Manny landing his ship in Mos Pelgo. He meets with Cobb Vanth, and says he needs the town's help agains the Pykes. Vanth refuses, saying his people just want to be left alone and live in peace. Manny says if the Pykes take over, there'll be no peace anywhere on the planet. Vanth says he'll think it over and see what he can do.

Manny blasts off, and Vanth sees a lone figure approaching from the deep desert. Feeling uneasy, he tells the townspeople to get inside. He watches as the Stranger comes closer. Eventually the Stranger stops a hundred yards away from Vanth, in classic Western shootout fashion.

The Stranger tells Vanth that whatever Boba Fett's paying him, he'll match— and all he has to do is stay out of the Pyke's way. The Deputy slips outside and tells the Stranger the Marshall's not for sale. Vanth tells the Deputy to get back inside and let him handle things.

Vanth asks the Stranger's name, and he reveals he's notorious bounty hunter Cad Bane (!). He warns the Marshall to be careful where he sticks his nose. Vanth asks if that's advice or a threat. Bane states that Fett's a cold blooded killer who worked for the Empire, and he'd do well to avoid associating with him.

Vanth decides he's had enough and tells Bane to inform the Pykes that Tatooine's seen enough violence, and is closed for business. Bane says Vanth should never have given up his armor, and then moves his hand close to his holster.

The Deputy reaches for his gun as well, distracting Vanth for a split second. Bane then shoots Vanth in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground. He fires several times at the Deputy, killing him. He states that Tatooine belongs to the Pykes, and slowly saunters back into the desert.

The townspeople rush out to treat the Marshall, glaring at the departing Bane.

Back in Mos Espa, two Pykes enter Garsa Fwip's Sanctuary. They bring a camtono with them and set it on a table. They order drinks from a droid, then get up and walk out— leaving the camtono behind. Fwip sees it a split second before the nightclub explodes.

Back on Luke's planet, the Temple's completed. He and Baby Yoda sit inside. Luke unwraps Manny's gift, which turns out to be a tiny shirt of Beskar chainmail. He then shows him Yoda's old lightsaber, which he got from... somewhere.

Luke tells Baby Yoda he has to make a choice. If he chooses the shirt, he'll be reunited with Manny. If he picks the lightsaber though, he'll have to renounce his relationship with him and concentrate on his Jedi training.

The episode ends with Baby Yoda staring at both items.

• An observation: This week's title— From The Desert Comes A Stranger— sounds like the name of a pulp novel or a Spaghetti Western starring Clint Eastwood. 

Western Reference #1: Star Wars was inspired by four main things: Flash Gordon serials, Dune, samurai movies and Westerns. It definitely leans hard into the Western genre this week, as the episode opens with a spinning wind catcher atop a moisture vaporator, echoing the windmills and weathervanes so often seen in such films.

• We then see several members of the Pyke Syndicate  standing around a speeder as they engage in an illegal Spice deal.

Their speeder looks very similar to the one Han drove at the beginning of Solo: A Star Wars Story. This was the best photo I could find of it (it's on the left). It looks like they took the windshield and spoiler off it for this episode.

Note that the camtono (the bucket-like device they carry their money in) shows up again this week too. This prop— which is really just an Earth ice cream maker— popped on numerous times over years, most notably in The Empire Strikes Back and then several times over on The Mandalorian

Western Reference #2: This shot of the Marshall of Mos Pelgo stepping dramatically into frame has been used in dozens and dozens of Western films over the decades.

Guest Star Parade #1: Look, everyone, it's Cobb Vanth! Last seen in The Marshall over on The Mandalorian.

If you'll recall, he was wearing Boba Fett's armor in that episode, and eventually handed it over to Manny. He really needs to find some new kind of armor for himself, as he looks positively naked without any.

Vanth's look could probably be considered another Western Reference. In fact he'd look right at home in any cowboy movie made in the last fifty or sixty years! All that's really missing is the ten gallon hat!

• Maybe it's just my rapidly failing eyesight, but actor Timothy Olyphant looks a LOT like Josh Brolin here!

• Vanth orders the Pykes to drop their cargo and then chases them out of town. He then toes open their chest and sees it's full of Spice.

Much of the look and feel of Tatooine was "inspired" by Frank Herbert's classic sc-fi novel Dune. The desert world setting, the Sandpeople, the giant creatures that live under the sand and the powdery addictive space narcotic were all swiped, er, I mean borrowed directly from that book. Heck, Star Wars even calls their drug "Spice," just like Dune. They didn't even bother to change the name!

For decades now Spice has never really played much of a part in Star Wars. There was a mention of the "Spice Mines Of Kessel" in A New Hope, but that was about it. For some reason though it's suddenly become a major issue in this series.

So far Star Wars Spice just seems to be a recreational drug, and doesn't have any of the mutagenic or psychic powers of the version in Dune.

• We then cut to Manny— who's once again hijacking Boba Fett's series— arriving at the unnamed planet where Luke Skywalker took Baby Yoda to train him. 

How the hell does Manny know where to find Baby Yoda? Am I forgetting some detail that Luke told him when he took the kid away? I guess it's possible Luke emailed him the address sometime later when we weren't watching. Then again that seems unlikely, as Jedi are supposed to distance themselves from friends and family. So I still don't know how he knew where to find the kid.

• As Manny approaches the planet, we get a good look at the controls of his new Naboo Starfighter.

They look identical to the ones we saw in the ship Anakin Skywalker flew back in The Phantom Menace. Which makes sense, as they're the same model. I thought it was cool that they recreated them so perfectly.

The only difference is that Manny's controls are blue, because he's not on autopilot like Anakin was.

Guest Star Parade #2: Hey guys, R2-D2's here! Seems odd that that whenever we see him now on one of these TV shows he's alone. I guess he and C-3PO must have gotten a divorce?

• After Manny lands and climbs out of his ship, there's a brief moment when the camera pans across it and we see R2-D2's head framed by the bubble behind the cockpit. 

Everyone and their dog is pointing this out online, and saying it was a deliberate homage to The Phantom Menace. That is where droids normally ride in this kind of ship, but eh, I dunno. I guess it could have been deliberate, but it seems like a lot of trouble to line everything up for such a fleeting and inconsequential moment. Until I hear otherwise from the director, I'm gonna assume it was just a happy coincidence.

• Recently The Book Of Boba Fett has gotten pretty sloppy about letting Earthly references into the Star Wars Universe. So far this season's shown us that both rats and pigs exist in this world!

The trend continues this week, as we see that plain old Earth bamboo is apparently a thing here as well! What the hell? I thought all this was happening a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?

• R2 takes Manny to a clearing, where a swarm of ant droids are constructing a stone temple. According to Star Wars lore, this is where Luke Skywalker will eventually set up a Jedi Academy and train students in the ways of the Force.

Note that this is the very same temple we saw in flashbacks in The Last Jedi. Ugh. Boy, do I hate to see anything related to that cinematic turd crop up in any of these shows. I absolutely LOATHED The Last Jedi in particular and the Sequel Trilogy in general. So much so that I not only refuse to ever watch any of them again, but I don't even consider them part of the canon. To me they're just big budget fan fiction.

By the way— where the hell did Luke get these construction droids? Did he order them from Space Amazon, and they were delivered to the planet two days later?

• After delivering Manny to the temple construction site, R2 shuts himself down for some reason. Note that when he does so, where hear a sound effect very much like a computer hard drive spinning down. THAT'S definitely new! Never heard him make that noise at any point in the past forty-some years!

Guest Star Parade #3: Luke Skywalker's back, and The Book Of Boba Fett's got him!

Back in The Rescue episode of The Mandalorian, we got a digitally de-aged Mark Hamill as Luke. Many fans (like myself) were blown away by his appearance, as he looked just like he did back in 1983. Others weren't quite as impressed. In fact a few people out there took it upon themselves to improve ILM's groundbreaking effects!

One such fan, who calls himself Shamook, redid all of Luke's scenes from The Rescue using off-the-shelf Deep Fake technology, freely available to anyone. The results were stunning, as Shamook's version was indeed better than ILM's!

Apparently Lucasfilm thought so too, as they offered Shamook a job! WOW! He reportedly worked on the Luke scenes in this episode, which explains why this version is leaps and bounds better this time. He looks much more natural and lifelike here, and if you didn't know better you'd think Mark Hamill was still in his thirties!

• We see that Luke's now training Baby Yoda (sorry, I just can't bring myself to call him "Grogu"), who's more interested in eating the local wildlife than learning the ways of the Force.

So now in addition to rats, pigs and bamboo, there are apparently frogs in the Star Wars Universe as well! And they even croak like terrestrial frogs! In fact the only real difference I can see is this species only has one eye! What are the odds?

• I loved the scene in which Luke goes for a walk with Baby Yoda, and Force-lifts him every few seconds to help him keep up! Manny definitely could have used that trick over on his show!

During their walk, Luke says, "I want to tell you about someone you remind me of a great deal. His name was Yoda. He was small like you, but his heart was huge (?), and the Force was strong in him. He once said to me, 'Size matters not.' That's how he talked. He would speak in riddles."

Wellllll, eventually he did. In his very first chronological appearance in The Empire Strikes Back though, Yoda actually spoke pretty normally. He'd say things like, "You must unlearn what you have learned" and "For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is."

Unfortunately, with ever subsequent appearance his kooky twisted syntax got more and more pronounced, until by Attack Of The Clones he was spouting nonsensical gems like, "Around the survivors a perimeter create!"

• In order to unlock his repressed memories, Luke performs the Vulcan Mind Meld on Baby Yoda. Pretty sure this is a new power, as I don't remember ever seeing a Jedi use the Force this way before. It's possible it might have happened in one of the various animated series I haven't seen, but it's definitely was happened in the Prequels or the Original Trilogy.

• Baby Yoda then relives a memory in which he's somewhere, seeing something that clearly terrifies him. 

We then see he's watching what appears to be the "Execute Order 66" scene from Revenge Of The Sith, in which Darth Sidious gave the word for his Clone Troopers to start slaughtering the Jedi all over the galaxy.

Note that the unknown Jedi in the center is one of those weirdos who uses the bizarre "backwards grip" on his lightsaber (like Ahsoka Tano always does).

Based on the markings of these troopers, they appear to be the same ones who accompanied Anakin Skywalker into the Jedi Temple, where he killed all the Padawan children. Apparently Baby Yoda was among those kids, but somehow survived the massacre.

The big question now is WHO saved him? There are a lot of theories circulating out there, from the logical to the outrageous. Many think Obi-Wan grabbed him before Anakin had a chance to kill him. Others claim it was Mace Windu, which would be quite the impressive trick, considering we saw him get killed before the Order 66 incident.

A lot of fans insist he was saved by Jocasta Nu, the Jedi Temple Librarian! For some reason fans are downright obsessed with this woman, and can't stop coming up with bizarre theories about her. There were even some who suggested she somehow turned into Supreme Leader Snoke in the Sequel Trilogy (based solely on the fact they both wore gold lamé gowns)!

Also note that Baby Yoda's vision here happened close to thirty years ago in the Star Wars timeline. How the hell's that possible, you ask? Welp, if you'll recall, in the first episode of The Mandalorian we learned that Baby Yoda's species ages at a very slow rate, and he's currently about FIFTY YEARS OLD! That is a long-ass time to be in diapers!

• In the vision, one of the Jedi is cut down by the Clone Troopers, and drops his lightsaber as he dies. We then get a VERY obvious and deliberate closeup of it lying on the floor. Nothing happens by accident in a scripted show like this, so this has to mean something.

At the end of the episode, Luke gives Baby Yoda a choice— pick a chainmail shirt and return to Manny, or choose Yoda's old lightsaber and forego all past relationships as he becomes a Jedi. I'm betting this shot here is a not-so-subtle clue as to which he will and won't pick. Obviously lightsabers are a painful and traumatic memory for him, so he may not want anything to do with them or the sect who wields them.

Guest Star Parade #4: The guest appearances keep on comin', as Ahsoka Tano (who made her live-action debut in Season 2 of The Mandalorian) shows up. Manny asks what she's doing on this planet, since she refused to train Baby Yoda herself. She says she's "An old friend of the family."

That's technically true, I guess. After all, she was the student of Luke's father before he turned evil, massacred a tribe of Tuskens, slew a bunch of innocent kids and helped wipe out the Jedi Order. Not sure I'd be admitting I was a friend of such a person though!

• Manny asks Ahsoka, "I don't understand why you're alright with Skywalker's decision to train the kid when you wouldn't." She utters a world-weary sigh and says, "Because it was his choice. I don't control the wants of others."

Who's choice is she talking about here? Luke or Baby Yoda? Either way, it's clear that she doesn't agree with the training, but is powerless to do anything about it. Kudos to actress Rosario Dawson for a subtle little bit of acting here.

• Props to Pedro Pacal (or more likely his stunt double) as well in this scene. Manny wants to give Baby Yoda the present he had made, but Ahsoka says seeing him will only make things more difficult for the kid. We then see Manny staring longingly at Baby Yoda from a distance, torn by what he wants and what he knows is right.

Even though we can't see his face, it's clear this is what he's thinking. As always, it's amazing how much emotion a guy with a bucket on his head can convey!

• Ultimately Manny realizes that reuniting with Baby Yoda would be too big a distraction, and he leaves.

Baby Yoda then sees Manny's ship fly off, and reaches out to him in longing. I'm assuming he Force-sensed who was in it, since he's never seen this particular ship of Manny's before! Lucky he didn't use his rapidly-developing powers to yank the ship back down to the ground!

• Green Aliens Can't Jump! During a training session, Luke orders Baby Yoda to jump, resulting in this impressive leap. Wow, Baby Yoda jumps about like I do!

• During the training, Luke tells Baby Yoda, "You're trying too hard. Don't try. Do."

This of course is a variation of Yoda's line to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, in which he says, "No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try." A very Zen-like line which blew my mind when I first saw that film in the theater back in 1980. Seriously, that simple little aphorism had a huge impact on me, and I've tried (not always successfully) to base my life on it ever since.

• Luke stuffs Baby Yoda into a backpack and takes off running through the bamboo forest, spouting pearls of wisdom to the kid along the way. Again, this is a nice little reversal of Empire, in which Yoda rode in Luke's backpack and taught him as he ran through the swamps of Dagobah. 

At one point Luke even performs the exact same flip he did in Empire!

Wow, it's like poetry, it rhymes!

• Luke shinnies up a bamboo stalk with Baby Yoda on his back. All through this scene I couldn't help but think of another popular franchise— specifically one to do with sparkly vampires:

Baby Yoda: "How old are you?"
Luke: "Thirty One."
Baby Yoda: "How long have you been using the Force?"
Luke: "A while."
Baby Yoda: "I know what you are."
Luke: "Say it. Out loud. Say it.''
Baby Yoda: "Jedi!"

• At one point Luke teaches Baby Yoda to Force balance on a log. I have NO idea how the hell they managed to pull this off. The textures and movements look way too real to be CGI, so I'm betting they used the practical animatronic puppet. But it's hanging out over the water! There's no way they could have had green-suited puppeteers controlling it without making ripples in the lake. So I'm stumped as to just how they accomplished this shot. However they did it, well done!

Nice Touch: Luke begins practicing his sweet bo-staff, er, I mean lightsaber moves, as Baby Yoda watches. He ends the routine by pointing his blade in the kid's direction, and we see its green light reflected in Baby Yoda's eyes. The kid's expression immediately changes from one of delight to fear. 

I assume the sight of the swinging blade reminds him of the Order 66 Massacre he witnessed, hence the apprehensive look. Well done!

• Luke presents Baby Yoda with a training remote— just like the one seen on the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope. Hilariously, the kid thinks it's a ball and plays with it by rolling it over to Luke! Haw!

I love how they replicated the jerky, stop/start moves the remote had way back in 1977.

And when the remote zapped Baby Yoda, I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of viewers suddenly cried out in anger and were suddenly outraged.

• Eventually Baby Yoda figures it out and masters jumping as the remote chases after him. I'm pretty sure he's CGI this time, as again, it'd be nearly impossible to perform these movements with the puppet over water.

• Baby Yoda finally wises up and uses the Force to short out the remote and drop it into the water. I half expected Luke to shout, "HEY, what the hell? That thing cost $499 credits at Space Best Buy!"

• Ahsoka observes the training and tells Luke, "You've taught him well." Luke replies, "It's more like he's remembering than I'm actually teaching him anything."

As I said above, we know that Baby Yoda's really fifty years old. I think they're implying here that he may have been a pretty powerful Jedi at some point in the past, but the Order 66 Massacre traumatized him so badly that he repressed all memories of his training. If that's what's really happening, then it's pretty darned interesting, and could be a major setup for Season 3 of The Mandalorian.

Luke then stares at Baby Yoda and says to Ahsoka, "Sometimes I wonder if his heart is in it (meaning his Jedi training)." Ahsoka smiles wistfully at Luke and says, "So much like your father."

Well THAT was ominous! "Er, I mean, so much like your father back when he was a normal human! You know, before he went all dark and turned into a nightmarish, black clad genocidal killer!"

• Hey guys, look! We're finally back on Tatooine! Whew! Thank the Maker! For a minute there I was afraid we might get an episode that wasn't at least partially set on that miserable rock!

• I absolutely LOVE this shot of Manny's starfighter coming in for a landing in Fett's hangar. I'm especially impressed by the way the engines kick up sand that interacts with the god rays streaming thorough the ceiling. Amazing! 

Special effects have come so far since 1977! There's no way they'd have been able to pull off a shot like this with a miniature ship and hangar.

Guest Star Parade #5: Next we get a cameo by the one and only Boba Fett (see what I did there?)!

Seriously, now that this series has been hijacked by Manny, it really does feel like Fett's making a guest appearance here— on his own show yet! He pops up for the the first time in two episodes, and is onscreen for exactly one minute and eight seconds. And oddly enough, he doesn't utter so much as a single line of dialogue!

In an interview several weeks ago, actor Temuera Morrison said he disagreed with the way Boba Fett was being portrayed on the show, as he thought he was taking his helmet off way too often and talking far too much. To that end, he tried convincing series creator Jon Favreau to give all of Fett's lines to Fennec Shand.

At the time Favreau reportedly said no, and ordered Morrison to knock it off and do what he was told. Maybe he finally got through to Favreau and gave his lines to Fennec after all!

• Ugh, the Mods are back. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to see them! That was, I say that was sarcasm, son. Even worse, they're apparently part of Fett's little army! I bet the Pyke Syndicate will be shaking in their collective boots when they see THEY'RE on the case!

• We then cut to a completely pointless shot of a Jawa Sandcrawler, complete with a Krayt Dragon skull lashed to the top of it. I assume this skull belonged to the same dragon that Manny helped Cobb Vanth and a tribe of Tuskens slay back in The Marshall.

So what the hell's up with this skull? Jawas are scavengers, but they're usually interested in technology, not animal remains. Are they planning on using the skull to make a really big bowl of soup broth? Or do they think having a bitchin' skull hood ornament makes 'em look really badass?

• Um... Just where the hell does Vanth come from in this scene?

The Deputy tells Manny he can't park his ship in front of the jail, and orders him to move it. Note that as he does so, Vanth is nowhere to be seen. We then cut to Manny, who says he ain't moving the ship. We cut back to the Deputy, and suddenly Vanth appears from behind him like magic!

There wasn't time for him to walk out of the building in the background, so where'd he come from? Did he teleport into the shot? Or was he crouching down behind the Deputy the whole time, and popped up like a Jack In The Box?

By the way, the Deputy here's apparently played by Not James Marsden!

• Similarly to the Jawas, the people of Mos Pelgo, er, I mean Freetown, have decorated the inside of their bar with bones from the ribcage of the Krayt Dragon. Classy!

Western Reference #3: After Manny leaves, the Marshall sees a lone figure in the distance, striding slowly toward the town.

This shot is ripped straight out of numerous Spaghetti Westerns, such as A Fistful Of Dollars and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. It's a pretty classic trope.

By the way, when the Stranger got a little closer I immediately guessed he was Cad Bane. It's the hat that gave it away!

Western Reference #4: You'd have to be blind not to see that these two shots are homages to classic Western shootout scenes. The only difference is there're Banthas on the street instead of horses!

• The Stranger finally raises his head, revealing he's Cad Bane— in all his glory! 

WOW! He looks absolutely PERFECT! 

Bane made his debut years ago in The Clone Wars animated series, but this is the first time he's ever appeared in live action. They absolutely NAILED his look here! All the details are perfect, from the wide-brimmed hat to the breathing tubes on each side of his face. Color me impressed!

I've seen lots of chatter online from fans who say he looks bad, and others have posted videos in which they've allegedly "fixed" his appearance. These people are all morons, and you'd be wise to ignore them. He looks amazing in this episode, and I wouldn't change a thing!

According to The Clone Wars creator Dave Filoni, he based Bane on the character of Angel Eyes (played by Lee Van Cleef) in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. I guess I can see that.

Bane's voice is provided here by actor Corey Burton, who voiced him in the various animated series as well.

• It'd take another 50,000 words to adequately explain Cad Bane's backstory, and I'm not about to go down that rabbit hole so I'll try and be brief. If you want to know his entire story you can google him. 

Basically he's a Duros bounty hunter, who began his career during the Clone Wars and continued through the Galactic Empire and into the New Republic era.

He was mentored by Jango Fett, who taught him the bounty hunting ropes. After Jango's death, he took in his young son Boba and began teaching him. Bane had no love for the Empire, and years later distanced himself from fellow Boba Fett for working with them.

He specialized in fighting Jedi Knights, and had run ins with both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.

Bane's preferred weapons are his twin blasters and wrist-mounted flamethrower. He's a skilled pilot as well, flying a ship called Xanadu Blood and later another called Justifier

Bane also wears twin breathing tubes, to prevent himself from being Force-choked by Jedi or Sith. He often chews on toothpicks, which are apparently a thing in the Star Wars Universe, and has a habit of killing people with hats he likes and taking them from their corpses. Charming!

• I love Cad Bane's bright white pointy teeth. Terrifying!

• During the standoff, Bane threatens Vanth by saying, "I'd be careful where I was sticking my nose if I was you." 

HAW! Ironic words from a character who doesn't even have a nose! Comedy Ahoy!

• Bane then tries to dissuade Vanth from joining Fett's little army, telling him, "Boba Fett is a cold blooded killer who worked for the Empire."

LWow, look who's talking! OK, so Bane never worked for the Empire, but over the years he worked for the Separatist Movement (who opposed the Galactic Republic), the Hutts and even Darth Sidious! So he's not exactly a Boy Scout himself!

Western Reference #5: As the standoff becomes more tense, several townspeople peek apprehensively out of their windows.

Western Reference #6: Right before the inevitable shootout, the Deputy's fingers begin twitching next to his sidearm.

• Thanks to the Deputy's stupidity, er, I mean inexperience, Vanth is distracted just long enough for Bane to draw and shoot him. He then turns and fires four times (or maybe five, it's hard to tell) at the Deputy, killing him.

I wouldn't mourn for Vanth just yet though, as Bane very obviously shot him in the shoulder. Plus he's a fan-favorite character played by a popular actor, so there's no doubt in my mind he'll be fine when he joins Fett's army next week.

• After Bane saunters off, the townspeople rush out to treat the Marshall's injuries. Note that even though he was clearly shot in the RIGHT shoulder, they place a hunk of gauze on his LEFT side! Whoops!

• Back in Mos Espa, two Pykes enter Garsa Fwip's Santuary, carrying an ice cream maker, er, I mean a camtono.

OK, this is some VERY Heavy Duty Nitpicking, but whatever. A droid toddles over and takes the Pykes' orders, then returns a few seconds later with a couple of drinks on a tray. Note that despite the droid's extremely jerky arm movements, the liquid inside the glasses never moves or sloshes around one bit!

Either they ordered something reeeeeeeally thick and viscous, or the inside of the glasses were painted red to simulate liquid so it would spill everywhere.

The Pykes ignore the droid and leave. Seconds later the entire place blows up real good! That was unexpected! So is that the end of Garsa Fwip? Eh, it's hard to say. She's appeared in four out of six episodes so far, so she's a fairly major character and they may not want to dispose of her just yet. On the other hand, the writers need to show the Pykes are a threat, and killing her off would be a good way to do so! RIP Garsa Fwip?

• We then cut back to Luke's stone beehive, which is now completed.

Inside, he meets with Baby Yoda. He unwraps the present Manny brought and presents it to the kid. As I predicted in last week's episode, it's a little chain mail shirt made of Mithril, er, I mean Beskar armor.

Eh, it's not like I'm some sage or seer or something. In The Return Of The Mandalorian, Manny told the Armorer to make something to keep Baby Yoda safe. We then saw the Armorer melt down Manny's Beskar spear and pound it into a pile of little metal links. What else COULD she have made from that other than chainmail?

Luke also shows the kid Yoda's old lightsaber, that he got from... somewhere, and owns because the script says so. He tells Baby Yoda to choose which he wants, but says he can only pick one. If he chooses the shirt, then he'll get to return to Manny. If he picks the lightsaber, then he'll be trained as a Jedi and have to forego all attachments and never see the Mandlalorian again.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger, as Baby Yoda thinks it over.

This is an old, old trope, going back all the way to 1972's Lone Wolf & Cub: Sword Of Vengeance

In that film, the samurai Ogami Itto is framed as a traitor, and lets his infant son Daigoro determine his fate. He presented the child with a ball and a sword and asked him to choose. If he picked the ball, Itto would ritually kill them both— but if he chose the sword they'd become ronin and wander the countryside seeking vengeance on those who wronged them. You can probably guess which the kid picked, since there's a whole series of films.

It should also not surprise you to learn that Manny & Baby Yoda's relationship in The Mandalorian was heavily influenced by Lone Wolf & Cub.

It's pretty clear which the kid's gonna choose. Baby Yoda's the breakout star of The Mandalorian series, as even non-Star Wars fans know and love him and squeal whenever they see him. Disney's made a metric crap ton of money off of Baby Yoda merch, and they're not gonna want to give up that gravy train anytime soon. 

To that end, there's no way they're gonna remove him from The Mandalorian equation, as they know the ratings would go straight down the toidy. So despite the artificial tension they're attempting to build in this so-called cliffhanger, I absolutely GUARANTEE he's gonna pick the shirt and go back to Manny. You heard it here first!

Of course the obvious solution here is for Baby Yoda to Force-choke Luke, take BOTH items and fly outta there!

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