At the end of The Book of Boba Fett Chapter 6, a stranger comes wandering into Freetown from the desert: Cad Bane.
He’s working with the Pyke Syndicate, and he shoots Cobb Vanth and kills his deputy while threatening them to not work with Boba Fett or interfere with the spice shipments. Bane’s name is never mentioned in this episode, and even if you don’t know who he is all that matters is he’s a terrifying and formidable threat, but his appearance is a massive deal to many Star Wars fans. He appeared in The Clone Wars and was regarded as the best bounty hunter in the galaxy in the wake of Jango Fett’s death, and he just recently appeared in The Bad Batch as well. And one of the things that makes him an especially compelling foe to bring into The Book of Boba Fett is that he has a history with both Boba Fett and Fennec Shand!
Cad Bane began working as a bounty hunter sometime before The Phantom Menace, including having a brief working relationship with Jango Fett as a mentor figure, as well as working a job with the Sith apprentice Darth Maul. Later, when Boba Fett went on a job with his father, he asked why they couldn’t work with someone he knew like Bane or Aurra Sing – making it clear that the Fetts were well aware of Cad Bane as a bounty hunter. Though Jango was widely regarded as the best in the business during the era, his death in Attack of the Clones left the power vacuum for Cad Bane to step right into. He worked several high-profile jobs during the Clone Wars, including for Darth Sidious, Count Dooku, and the Hutts. His jobs included freeing Ziro the Hutt from a Republic prison, stealing a Jedi holocron from the Jedi Temple, bringing Force sensitive younglings to Mustafar for Sidious, and helping to lead a kidnapping attempt on Chancellor Palpatine, among others.
In order for the latter to happen, Bane and his companion, Moralo Eval, needed to escape the Republic prison (with an undercover Obi-Wan Kenobi joining them). In order to make this happen, Bane paid Boba Fett to stage a fight, creating the distraction that allowed Bane to flee. At some point later in the war, Bane actually served as a mentor of sorts to Fett.
The most significant interaction between Bane and Fett is something we haven’t seen, however, and though it’s technically not all considered canon, I think there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it’s being treated as such by storytellers. One of the arcs for The Clone Wars that was never finished was a bounty hunters story, which was discussed at a later Star Wars Celebration, with an unfinished clip being shown as well. The arc was going to feature Bane and Boba teaming up to rescue a child who had been kidnapped by Tusken Raiders on Tatooine, with Bane training Boba as a bounty hunter. But Bane had a more sinister motive to it, as he wanted to train the young Fett in order to prove that he was better than Jango, something he never got a chance to do before the legendary bounty hunter’s death. This was going to culminate in a duel between Cad Bane and Boba Fett, during which they would both shoot the other – which is how Boba Fett received the dent in his helmet.
Though that isn’t officially considered canon, there’s hints that it happened – most notably the fact that when Bane showed up last year in The Bad Batch, he had a brand new metallic plate on his head, in the same spot where he was shot by Boba Fett in the unfinished story. That isn’t addressed in the show, but the implication seems to be that the duel with Boba Fett did actually happen, but that Bane survived it. Additionally, Bane’s ship in The Bad Batch was one that was supposed to originally appear in that unfinished arc, which is another aspect of it that they pulled in.
So with Boba Fett, I think a couple of things are at play with Cad Bane now entering the scene in The Book of Boba Fett. Bane has a history with both Boba and Jango, and Bane was actually one of the people who helped Boba Fett become the bounty hunter he did, at least in some small way. And presumably, Bane and Boba had a duel at one point near the end of the Clone Wars, and it seems that Boba emerged in better shape. I fully expect them to re-create that duel in this show, only in the recent timeline – a do-over, if you will, and one that gives us fans a chance to actually see it happen this time. The show brilliantly set all of this up by first showing Cobb Vanth’s quick-draw ability, only to show that Cad Bane was even faster. Next up, I’d guess, is Boba Fett.
But there’s also a more thematic element to Bane’s appearance that I think is important as well. It could well be said that Cad Bane and Boba Fett both had their run as the most feared and notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy, but they have since taken far different paths. Bane references Boba’s past by mentioning him as working with the Empire, and it’s true that Boba did some horrible things during his years as a bounty hunter. But he’s changed; his encounter with the sarlacc and the Tusken Raiders made sure of that. One of the main themes of this show has been how Boba Fett no longer wants to be a bounty hunter and is forging a new path. And that’s why Din Djarin’s appearance isn’t just a teaser for The Mandalorian but thematically connected, because that’s precisely what he’s struggling to do! He went back to his bounty hunting ways, but it’s clear that he needs to embrace a new destiny – even his flying a N1 starfighter rather than a Razor Crest is symbolic of that. And then in wanders a stranger from the desert, straight from Boba Fett’s past, representing someone who is still doing the same old thing as a bounty hunter. Even in his old age, Cad Bane hasn’t changed. In many ways, he and Boba Fett aren’t much different – but Boba is moving ahead with a new identity and forsaking his bounty hunting ways. Cad Bane is not. And so Boba Fett defeating Bane would serve as far more than a fulfilling moment, but would represent his success in becoming a better person.
It reminds me of when an older Maul confronts Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Tatooine desert in Star Wars Rebels: Kenobi has changed, but Maul is exactly the same as he’s ever been. And Maul taunts Kenobi for it, saying “look what has become of you. A rat in the desert.” To this, Kenobi beautifully responds, “Look what I have risen above.” In many ways, Kenobi and Maul are more alike than they realize: they have both lost everything, but Kenobi has risen above it. And in The Book of Boba Fett, Cad Bane is a perfect example of what Boba Fett has now risen above.
But it’s not just Boba Fett with whom Bane has a history; he’s also encountered Fennec Shand before. In The Bad Batch, Bane is hired by the Kaminoans to capture Omega, the only other unaltered clone besides Boba. Bane successfully does so, but Fennec Shand was also hired, secretly, to protect Omega instead. She tracks Bane to one of the Kaminoans’ abandoned cloning facilities and faces off with him. The two engage in quite a fight, all the while Omega is able to escape. Shand gets the upper hand in the fight, literally kicking Bane off the platform and then sabotaging his ship to prevent him pursuing her.
There aren’t the same level of emotional stakes for Shand with Bane as compared with Boba Fett, but it’s still notable and significant that they have met – and fought – before. While Bane versus Boba was a classic western duel, Bane versus Fennec was a lot more involved, mostly taking place in hand-to-hand combat while utilizing various weapons and tools at their disposal. But I do think that it’s worth pointing out the context of their two encounters, presuming she and Bane meet in the season finale: the first was while protecting Omega, and the second would be while working with Boba. Those are the two unaltered clones of Jango Fett’s DNA, which again ties it all back into a link with the Fetts and Cad Bane’s complicated history with them.
So in all of this, Cad Bane’s appearance in The Book of Boba Fett fits perfectly. For the more casual viewer who isn’t caught up on these other shows, he’s just a terrifying bounty hunter who poses a real threat – and that’s all we really need to know! But for those of us who keep up with all of the other shows, it becomes all the more meaningful – not just because it’s a character we’ve seen before, and not just because he’s one of the great bounty hunters, but because he’s got a history with this show’s two main characters – and combined with that, it actually can tie in thematically quite well.