In 150 words or less, the plot of “The Book of Boba Fett” Episode 6 “From the Desert Comes a Stranger” or “The Mandalorian” Season 3 Episode 2 “Think It Through” goes like this:
Cobb Vanth confronts Pykes selling
exclusive Boba Fett collectiblesspice in his territory and sends them packing. Din Djarin visits Grogu at college/daycare, but R2-D2 sends him to Ahsoka instead. Ahsoka convinces Din not to interfere, so he leaves behind an infant-sized mithril t-shirt for Grogu. Luke trains Grogu. Montage! Din goes to Jabba’s Palace, sees how unprepared Boba is, and then asks Cobb to forge an alliance with Fett’s “crew.” When Din leaves, soon-to-be-a-Walmart-Exclusive-Star-Wars 6” Black Series Cad Bane offers to pay Freetown not to aid Boba Fett, but Deputy Idiot starts a shootout. Bane takes down Vanth and Deputy Idiot. Back at Miyagi-do Dojo, Luke tells Grogu he can pick the mithril shirt and go live with daddy or inherit Yoda’s lightsaber and stay with mommyLuke to become a great Jedi. The End.
“There’s a mighty wind a-blowin’…”
The opening shot of this week’s episode is a steadily spinning anemometer on the top of a Tatooine moisture vaporator. As the camera pans down, we see some more vaporators in the distance… as well as the Pykes moving some spice and currency on top of a parked speeder. The vaporators embody the tone of this episode.
They are static–immobile.
But their wind meters show there is something moving.
These Fett-less episodes carry the same mood. We aren’t making much progress. We can’t even see Fett for the most part (he’s an invisible force, if you will). But we’re seeing what he has set in motion by his choice to assume the mantle of daimyo.
From what I’ve seen on social media and on the BFFC spoiler threads, a lot of fans are upset that Boba Fett has been upstaged in his own show. A lot of this disappointment might be especially due to the fact that we haven’t really gotten to see Boba Fett do anything as cool or as exciting as he did in his “Mandalorian” episodes.
But to play devil’s advocate, there’s actually some solid precedent for this kind of thing. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is killed halfway through his play, and I’ve always thought that Macbeth becomes conspicuously absent in the last leg of his tragedy, until coming back with a vengeance for his final showdown.
So Boba Fett is not center stage, which is a bummer, but this is a world Boba Fett has shaped… he’s still writing the pages of this book even if we can’t see his hands.
And we’re also seeing a competing force of change — the Pykes, as they try to assert their own dominance over the planet.
Somehow, the Pykes have completely missed Cobb Vanth walking towards them. Was he hiding behind one of the vaporators, playing peek-a-boo? Are they just so greedy and/or incompetent? Or is it just another one of these convenient entrances and exits this series has been doing?
The scene plays along traditional Wild West tropes, culminating in Vanth showing off his gunslinging skills; but perhaps the most important moment of this scene is Vanth’s catch-phrase: “Think it through.” (Gee, these Star Wars characters love their catch-phrases… I can already see the Cobb Vanth memes and t-shirts and coffee mugs.)
Vanth says the line when he sees the lead Pyke reaching for his gun. It’s a warning. But it’s a motto for this episode of people thinking, if not overthinking, through choices they are about to make.
It’s a bit different than a typical “filler” episode. Rather than just delaying the main plot with a sidequest, it’s forcing the characters to be a little more contemplative about their actions. That makes it a bit unusual in the world of Star Wars entertainment.
Seriously, there’s a lot of thinking. We get about four seconds of Cobb looking at the Pykes’ spice box before he kicks it open to look at what’s inside…and maybe another seven seconds of him looking at it before he decides to kick it over.
“I could contemplate this box all day.”
And then the wind starts to blow it away. There’s that wind again. Blowing.
In particular, this episode revolves around five choices. Thematically, they all deal with whether to take action or to leave something be (thinking through whether to do something). Each choice also aligns the chooser with one group or another.
Pykes: Kill Marshall Cobb Vanth, or leave his territory in peace?
Three out of four Pykes make the wrong choice to kill the Marshall… or, at least, to try to, and end up dead. The fourth decides to leave things alone… for now at least.
By trying to kill Vanth, the Pykes are making a statement about power and control. They aren’t interested in respecting the local authorities, they aren’t interested in being intimidated, and they aren’t interested in ruling Tatooine so much as exploiting it.
Vanth draws a line in the sand, and they cross it.
Vanth himself might make a mistake in demanding the Pyke leave behind the spice, which Vanth kicks over in disgust. Even though the Pyke tells him it is worth more than all of Freetown, Vanth isn’t having any of that. But given how Pyke’s react to rivals, it might have been better just to let the Pyke scurry off with the spice.
It’s similar to the mistake Boba Fett makes during his Lawrence of Arabia phase. It was one thing for the Tuskens to defend themselves against random violence as the Pyke hover train rolled through. It’s another thing for Boba Fett to take the Pykes’ stuff and then demand they pay tribute.
Machiavelli argues that a tyrant can kill whomever he wants when he seizes power. It breeds fear in the subjects, and it’s not like the dead can do anything about it. But Machiavelli does advise never to harm women or steal people’s possessions. While dead men can’t avenge themselves, living men will try to avenge their wives, daughters, and wealth.
Would the Pykes’ have left Vanth alone if he just killed some of their own? Maybe. Maybe not. But they will definitely not take kindly to have a small fortune stolen from them. (We learned this from the last episodes of The Clone Wars.)
The Pykes make a choice that they will not work with Vanth. It’s a choice that makes Vanth strike back, and risks pushing Vanth towards TeamFett.
Din Djarin’s dilemma: Disrupt Grogu’s training by staying in touch or help Grogu overcome attachments by steering clear?
I’ll admit, I was moved seeing R2-D2 again… and being all R2-D2ey, that little rascal.
As Din arrives on the lush, bamboo-rich planet (a very Kurosawa-esque setting if there ever was one), R2 takes Din to what is to become Luke’s new school for Jedi… at the moment, a half-built stone structure being assembled by an army of ant droids, which looked like they walked out of one of those Boston Dynamics videos.
“Product placement for Pier 1’s line of ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ bamboo-couch beds.”
One of the droids builds Din a little bench or bed, while R2 shuts down. (At this point, I started to wonder if we’re seeing the beginning of R2’s long shutdown from the sequels… but maybe he just needs a nap.) It’s going to be a long wait, evidently. But when Din awakes, he finds Ahsoka waiting for him, not Luke or Grogu. Why is she there? I don’t know. I bet we’ll see her version of this episode when she gets her own show.
Ahsoka doesn’t try to stop Din from seeing Grogu. Or, if she does, it’s in a passive-aggressive way. She doesn’t make demands, but asks Din to contemplate the consequences of carrying out his wish for some Baby Yoda time.
In her own way, she echoes Cobb Vanth’s “Think it through.” (I now need someone to write and record a parody of “Let It Go” with Vanth’s catch-phrase. Get on that, Internet!)
But to help his thought process, she explains that the bond between the Mandalorian and foundling is strong. It creates an impediment for Grogu to embrace the philosophy of detachment that the Jedi path demands. As the recap reminds us, the Mandalorian Way is the inverse of this philosophy: invested deeply in loyalty and clans.
I guess we need to make a Dungeons & Dragons-style alignment grid for Star Wars to map out these different philosophies.
Din seems to use the Mandalorian Way to mask some of his feelings or desires. He excuses his arrival as being duty bound — he has to fulfill Grogu’s rights as a foundling to have a piece of beskar. Is this some kind of machismo rising up on Din’s part (me no have squishy feelings when me see babies), or is he just trying to find some loophole (surrendering weapons violates the free expression of my religion)?
Either way, this logic seems spurious — is Grogu even really a Mandalorian foundling now that he is back with “his kind?”
We see that the Jedi path has ramifications for more than just the Jedi. Detachment from others means putting others in the position where they have to detach from you as well.
Ahsoka frames the dilemma in terms of what is best for Grogu — a path of isolation and detachment that could lead him to be able to do great things in the galaxy or a path of family and loyalty that might lead him to a life in the shadows.
Din chooses to avoid the path of helicopter parent and let Grogu go… but not entirely. He still leaves the beskar chain mail behind. If you’re familiar with the tao symbol, you know there is always a little dot with the opposing color on each side. Din might accept detachment for Grogu, but the armor is like the little dot.
Do Jedi accept that little spot inside them, or do they neurotically try to scrub it out?
A last thought on the scene of Din’s choice. Ahsoka works well in this scene because she can connect to Din in ways that other characters can’t.
They are both characters who have been separated from their tribes, but still feel attached to those tribes. Ahsoka forsook the Jedi Order similar to how Din forsook his sect. And, yet, in many ways Ahsoka adheres even more closely to the Jedi path than any Jedi — she was so removed from attachment that she detached herself from the rigid Order. And yet she still fights alongside Jedi, helps promote the Light Side, and is a guardian of justice.
Din removed his helmet twice, but still submits to “The Way”… and doesn’t take his helmet off again even after being banished. And he is more loyal to the culvert than they are to him. He is more Mandalorian than the Mandalorians — with that little exception of removing his helmet, that one little dot on his record.
Luke Skywalker’s dilemma: What to do about Grogu?
“You know, when I was in your shoes it was student who carried the teacher in the backpack…”
When Luke asks Ahsoka what he should do about Grogu, Ahsoka says to “trust your instincts,” which is “thinking it through” only with less thinking.
She also says he reminds her of his father — which is clearly meant as a compliment, but it brings to mind the exchange between Beru and Owen:
He has too much of his father in him.
That’s what I’m afraid of.
Ultimately, Luke’s choice is to leave it up to Grogu what to do.
What’s probably nagging most fans is that Luke makes these mutually exclusive options: You can choose to be a Jedi and forsake family, or you can choose to have a family and forsake being a Jedi.
I’m not quite sure whether this is intentionally bad philosophy or not.
The Jedi claim they have no attachments, but they are obviously attached to their code. Luke claims you can’t be attached and follow the Jedi path… as if attachment is a terrible thing.
Obi-wan told Anakin that he loved him like a brother.
Obviously, Palpatine exploited Anakin’s familial attachments to turn him into a Sith. His attachment to his mother led him to slaughter the Tuskens. His attachment to Padme led him to slaughter the Jedi.
But his attachment to Luke led him to kill Palpatine, earning him the right to dress in Jedi robes in Jedi Ghost World. Family bonds were the only thing strong enough to destroy the Sith.
We know Luke can’t bring himself to strike down his nephew despite his Force visions — it’s attachment that kept him from being a murderer. And what leads him to intervene in The Last Jedi is a vision of his sister.
Is Ahsoka’s reference to Anakin a hint for Luke? What feelings does it stir in Luke to hear her say that? Does he feel family pride? She says it smilingly, it doesn’t seem like a bad thing. (She’s not a Jedi, so she doesn’t have to fear attachment.) What does Luke think about his own feelings towards his own family? Is he weaker in the Force because of them, or stronger?
I said these choices determine character’s allegiances. Is Luke’s allegiance to the Jedi path, or is it to Grogu?
Is he willing to compromise the Jedi philosophy and waive Grogu’s general education requirements, or should he start playing hardball with Grogu and whip him into shape for the sake of the Order’s future? Or is he willing to ask whether or not becoming a Jedi is the right thing for Grogu?
Skipping ahead, Luke ultimately decides to transfer the dilemma onto Grogu and let him choose for himself.
Nitpick Alert: Luke wasn’t always 100% convincing. Maybe I’m imagining things, but the voice is maybe a little too monotone. The mouth sometimes seemed not entirely in sync. Maybe it’s the technology needed to create young-Luke. Maybe it’s part of the performance — Luke’s trying too hard to be some kind of grand, serious teacher (even though every Jedi he’s ever met was fine with levity).
Cobb Vanth’s dilemma: Side with Boba’s group to repel the Pykes or take the Pykes’ bribe to stay out of it?
“Well, no one’s going to question who shot first…”
Okay, I had to make sure to acknowledge that.
Nitpick Alert: Actually, let me also get my biggest nitpick off of my Boba Fett t-shirt-wearing chest. Cad Bane’s hat apparently suffered the same fate as Ahsoka Tano’s crest (called montrals, according to the Internet). Reducing the brim on his hat makes him look just a little less Cad Baney and a little more like a jazz aficionado. But it’s a minor point.
The opening scene is now repeated, but the script is flipped. It’s Cad Bane essentially telling Cobb Vanth to “think it through.”
Or, rather, it’s now the townsfolk who have to think it through. At first, the Weequay barkeep wants nothing to do with the Fett/Pyke “war.” But the look he gives as Cad Bane… uhm… walks away… through the desert… how far is this place by foot?… what? Oh, the Weequay. Yeah, he looks like he’s thinking through options.
Aaaand… nobody bothered to rush to Deputy Idiot to see if he was dead or alive.
Grogu’s dilemma: Choose the beskar armor or the Jedi lightsaber?
When you promised your kid they could pick ONE toy during the Target run…
On the surface, this is about Grogu choosing an allegiance — to side with the Jedi or to side with the Mandalorian. The choice has ramifications for plot, as well as Disney merchandising.
But this moment dives right back into the heart of Star Wars with Joseph Campbell-esque mythmaking and deep psychology.
The choice between the objects is ripe for symbolism: the sword vs. armor.
Luke tells Grogu that he will teach him how to defend himself —how to take care of himself.
Essentially, how to grow up.
This is striking because, for the longest time, Grogu has been the Child. It even says so on his early action figure labels. And Din Djarin continues to look at him as the Child or “the kid.”
At 50 years of age, maybe Grogu is the ultimate stereotype of the Star Wars man-child.
Din Djarin wants to protect Grogu, to guard him, to wrap him up in little chainmail pajamas and keep him safe the way all dads do. Right? I mean, doesn’t everyone do that? Isn’t wearing chain mail is good for infant muscle formation?*
For Grogu to claim the armor isn’t just about attachment to someone he loves.
To choose the armor is to cling to the larger than life, idealized father-protector.
To claim the sword is to assume the role of protector for oneself.
To me, the props of the lightsaber hilt and the chainmail reinforced the differences between them.
The chain mail is Grogu-sized, as if he will always be the little tiny Baby Yoda. he can probably wear it right now, but I’m not sure what’s supposed to happen when he gets bigger.
Yoda’s lightsaber, as tiny as it is, looks absurdly big for Grogu. He’ll have to grow up before he can wield effectively.
To tell someone that they remind you of their father is (in a healthy family) to acknowledge how adult they have become. It is to congratulate someone for achieving the seemingly unreachable goal of becoming the equal of the ideal prototype for independence. As students of Joseph Campbell would argue, the mythic underpinnings of Star Wars often hinge on precisely this issue — stepping out of the father’s shadow to become the protector, the wise person, and the warrior — and to overcome the fears of childhood and the challenges of a dangerous world.
It parallels with the story of Din Djarin — who is challenged to rise above the Armorer’s paternal role.
It parallels the story of Boba Fett &dfash; who tries to become the chief rather than just the very expensive, overpowered pawn.
The last line of the episode is “Which do you choose?”
And the show ends as it began, with Grogu having to “think it through.”
Grogu will choose the lightsaber, but then have a vision of Din Djarin in peril–causing him to abandon Luke the way Luke abandoned Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back.
It will turn out that the Pykes didn’t actually hire Cad Bane to bribe and/or terrorize Freetown. Cad Bane was hired as a double-bluff in order to inspire Freetown to resist the Pykes.
Likewise, the two Pykes in Paradise will turn out to be Boba Fett’s troops in disguise, if not Boba and Fennec Shand themselves. You never hear them speak — they merely shake their heads “No” to refuse the offer of the helmet cleaning (although they somehow managed to order drinks… maybe they got a Number 1). I mean, the build on these two could totally be our lead actors. I mean the leads for the series… not necessarily this episode.
When you try to sneak your own ice-cream maker into the restaurant…
The explosion in Paradise looks like it is to send a message that Boba can’t protect his lieges. Attacking Freetown is meant to make the people cower. (And let’s just hope Max Rebo called out that night!) But, as Boba predicted, the denizens of Tatooine are too smart not to realize the threat that the Pykes pose.
I’d like to think that maybe we skipped out on Boba for the last two episodes because Boba finally wised up and started playing the power game — but the show wants to surprise us by revealing these bad guys were actually part of his clever plan. They had to keep Boba Fett out of the picture and distract us with “The Mandalorian” Season 3, like a magician who uses a beautiful assistant to distract the audience. And then, in the last episode, we’ll get some big reveal that it was Agatha All Along.
And if not Boba’s plot, it might actually make more sense for Fennec Shand to have engineered them. Maybe she thinks Boba is too honorable to do what needs to be done, so she’s been interfering.
And, who knows, when all is said and done, maybe it will be Fennec sitting on the throne.
If Boba Fett has been playing the games, he will have a falling out with Din Djarin, duel him, and claim the Darksaber. Maybe this is the crisis that will cause Grogu to abandon his training. But getting the Darksaber in Fett’s hands makes him (and his shoulder patch) the Mythosaur of Episode 5’s prophecy.
If Boba Fett hasn’t been playing games, then he will be mortally wounded and bequeath his armor to Din Djarin, who will become the Mythosaur who unites the Mandalorians.
* I have never put an infant in chain mail.
As a piece of Star Wars entertainment judged on its own merits, I’m giving this 5 out of 5 stars. While I, too, was disappointed that we saw so little of Boba Fett himself, this was good Star Wars, if you think it through.