Star Wars is finally back to being Star Wars again. On Wednesday, Disney Plus released the sixth episode of the “Book of Boba Fett.” After the destructive Disney Star Wars Trilogy, fans weren’t sure Disney would ever get Star Wars. But in these stories, we finally see the House of Mouse understand how steer the ship that George Lucas built.
Until last week, most fans would have told you that the latest Star Wars spinoff, “Book of Boba Fett,” was a failure. With the caveat that episode two is decent, the other four episodes were scatterbrained, low-stakes stories with poor direction and acting to match. Sets were bare, and character design, especially the pastel-colored hipster gang, was utterly excruciating. Boba Fett, played by the now aged Temuera Morrison, came off as a wimp; even Morrison agreed with fans that Boba Fett here talks too much.
Editor’s note: Major spoilers ahead.
So colored me as surprised as a Jawa on Hoth when last week’s episode turned out to be a sleeper entry of “The Mandalorian.” Here we get to see the Darksaber in action, Mando using public transport, and the return of a Naboo Starfire. The story features everyone’s favorite loveable chrome bounty hunter, Din Djarin, as he tries to find his way back to Baby Yoda.
Here the acting is organic, and the quality of the direction by the talented Bryce Dallas Howard deserves that chef’s kiss emoji. If that were it, if the show then returned to the run-down storytelling of the previous episodes, then I would have chalked that story as a lucky one-off.
But then, in the next episode, things go even better.
The Return of Skywalker
If you found delight in the return of Skywalker at the end of season two of “The Mandalorian,” then you will see “Chapter 6: From the Desert Comes a Stranger” as the joyous rapture. The biggest ask, what fans have always ever wanted from Disney’s Star Wars, was to experience more adventures with old heroes. Disney refused, until now.
In this adventure, we get to see Luke Skywalker being a Jedi master again. He is not a jaded old man hiding from the world, but a young dreamer, leading his own Jedi temple, training a padawan, going through the actions and wisdom bestowed on him from his predecessors. Luke Skywalker is finally Skywalker again, and it isn’t just nostalgia talking. As an episode, everything here works.
The plot is strong and revolves around the dilemma between Djarik as he contemplated reconnecting with Baby Yoda. Here he travels to visit Grogu on the planet Luke Skywalker is living on to deliver a gift of Beskar armor. Under the Jedi code, attachments are forbidden, and thus their relationship runs counter to his new training.
Unlike the previous trilogy of Disney Star Wars films, where the tension never rose beyond Mary Sue’s dilemma (i.e., Rey is always right) which made up those films. Instead, the setup provides genuine drama, making the audience contemplate the right choice.
Is it better for our loveable duo to reunite, or is it better that Grogu stay with the Jedi and help restore that ancient order? An interesting angle tugs on the heartstrings and pulls against the nostalgia for the original films versus our affection for “The Mandalorian.”
Visually, the episode is gorgeous. The verdant greens and deep forests puckered with streams and strange fauna evoke the fantastic peaceful place that I always assumed would be the home Luke would choose for himself and his new order. Following Luke, he carries Grogu on his back, going through the same training steps he once did with Yoda. It beats to a visual rhythm that is quintessentially Star Wars.
So too is the music just as moving. The strong use of the original John Williams score, intermixed with subtle variations of the Mandalorian soundscape, adding tensions when there needs to be tension; allowing for nostalgia when there should be nostalgia, is the type of musical mastery the series has long been missing.
The tech used to bring back Skywalker is impressive and extremely lifelike. The only criticism is that the voice sometimes sounds emotionally distant. It might have been better to rely on Hammill’s voice work instead of a digital recreation.
Finally, Disney Gives Fans What They Want
Even the non-Jedi sections of the episode work. Suppose you are a fan of the “Clone Wars.” In that case, you will enjoy this week’s villain, which makes sense because the episode’s director is none other than Dave Filoni. He’s otherwise known as George Lucas’s hand-picked successor and the guy at Disney who understands Star Wars almost more than any other.
The last decade of Star Wars fandom has often been a confusing, disappointing, and sometimes downright painful experience, but with these episodes, fans’ complaints and prayers have finally been answered.
Disney seemed to believe following the purchase of Lucasfilm that they could release any old schlock with the accompanying mountain of merchandise, and those plebs would buy it up. What resulted was an accursed and boring trilogy of films.
The franchise faltered, interest waned, and financial revenue to Disney troughed. Instead of quality and respectful storytelling, creators at Lucasfilm were more obsessed with their sense of moral superiority and the glorious smell of their own farts. When fans said something about it, Disney sicked their woke creators and PR machine after them.
The messiness and declining interest in the brand could have been avoided if Disney had just done the thing fans wanted from the very start. As I correctly predicted last year, the economics of Disney having to earn its cash from fans is making it finally unabashedly cater to those very same fans. The result is a creation like these episodes of “The Book of Boba Fett,” something entirely wonderful and creative, making me more excited than I have been for Star Wars in a very long time.
Treat fans well, make money. This is the Way.