Episode Six, and barely a sniff of Boba Fett, who seems to have downed tools and packed his Star Wars game in for now. After recording a complete no-show in episode 5, one might have expected the intergalactic bounty hunter to make up for it by firing on all cylinders on the penultimate episode, but the buckethead peacemaker frustratingly also decides to sit this one out too. Instead, all kind of other Star Wars characters return in the obtusely titled From the Desert Comes a Stranger, with varying results, and while this must all be gratifying for fans, anyone expecting a compelling story about Boba Fett, specifically one featuring him for more than a silent cameo, should look elsewhere.
Did you spot Boba? He was sitting listening to an endless exposition dump about halfway through the episode; he may not fire guns or fly jetpacks, but at least we can see that Boba is a polite and attentive listener; he looks like a BBC weatherman sitting through an HR presentation. And that’s all the talking points for this week’s Boba Fett rundown; instead examine the focus of a different tv show, the Mandolorian and his friendship with baby Yoda/Grogu, who is now being trained in monastic splendour by Luke Skywalker. This is Skywalker in the years immediately after Return of the Jedi, and however the digital de-aging was done, the result is far more successful than the ghoulish, dead-eyed video-game character versions of Peter Cushing or Carrie Fisher featured in the movies. Combining a returning Mark Hamill with a lookalike, this deep fake Luke Skywalker makes a convincing revival as he trains up his little pal in an inverted version of his mentor scenes with Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back.
Elsewhere, there’s a mixed bag of randos in Dave Filoni’s new episode, leaning heavily into the space-Western theme of the first film, and artlessly repurposing/stealing scenes from Once Upon a Time in the West (the arrival of bounty hunter Cad Bane on Tatooine) and The Untouchables (the bombing of a nightclub by the Pikes). Timothy Olyphant turns up as personable space cowboy Cobb Vance, Rosario Dawson plays po-faced adviser Asoka Tano and R2D2 returns for a short cameo. Episode Six certainly has its forced dramatic moments, but there’s no sign of any gathering momentum behind the story that the first four episodes detailed; instead, this just feels like non-stop tap-dancing, expending energy, looking busy but going absolutely nowhere in particular.
As determined as a half-digested bounty hunter pulling himself out of a Sarlacc pit, I’m determined to get to the end of The Book of Boba Fett, but it’s becoming a pyrrhic victory. Watching this expensive waffle reminds me why I gave up on Star Wars round about 1979, and I’ll be happy to sit out future series; future plans for Ashoka and Obi-Wan Kenobi can cheerfully be deemed as unessential viewing. There’s a huge gallery of Star Wars aficionados who will no-doubt receive this kind of nerdy noodling with rapturous applause, but for the casual viewer, it’s all backstory and no involving storyline. Will Boba Fett ever slay the Pikes and find true happiness? Probably, otherwise there’s been no point in him putting his gang together, but the struggle is likely to be short and sweet, with neither hero nor adversary getting much screen-time and only one episode left to explore it. For such a beloved IP, the Book of Boba Fett’s pages seem to have been glued together in the wrong order…