One of the most feared bounty hunters was brought into The Book of Boba Fett – and I’m not talking about Boba.
Cad Bane made his live-action debut in the final two episodes of the season, being revealed as the hired hand working to protect the Pyke Syndicate’s operations on Tatooine. But Bane also represented a formidable foe for Fett, as the two have a long history, including Bane training Boba for a period during the Clone Wars. Bane was the best in the business during that period, but when we encounter him in this series it’s over two decades removed from it – and we don’t know what he’s been up to since then.
His story comes to a conclusion in the season finale, however, as he faces off against Boba. Bane stands up to the Rancor and scares it off, and then he beats Boba to the draw, shooting him twice. He pins Fett down and removes his helmet, teaching him one last lesson as he prepares to kill him: only look out for yourself, and anything else is weakness. But Boba rallies his strength and defeats Bane with his gaffi stick, a fitting symbol of how Boba is actually stronger because of his tribe. Bane says that he knew Boba was a killer, and as Bane tries to surprise attack him with the flamethrower, Boba drives the gaffi stick into Bane’s chest, killing him.
Or, at least, we think Boba killed him.
As Fett leaves, the camera pans over Bane’s body lying on the ground one last time, and we see a blinking red light on his chest, and the sound of the blinking makes sure you don’t miss it. So what does this mean?
I think there are two clues in that scene that could be used as evidence that Bane might not be totally dead (only mostly dead). The first is, of course, the blinking light on his chest. Though we don’t know what it is, the ambiguity there could leave things open for interpretation. What is clear is that this red blinking light isn’t going off in Bane’s other moments during this series, so something different has happened (which, in my view, would seem to rule out it being a sign of life or something like that). It only begins blinking immediately after Bane is stabbed in the chest. So it could be an alert of his wounds, or it could be something else. One of the popular theories that I’ve seen that I actually think could work is that it’s a beacon summoning Todo 360, Bane’s droid (who appeared alongside the bounty hunter in The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch, but not in this series).
But there’s another aspect of this shot that I think can fly under the radar, but it’s that Bane’s hat flies off, revealing the metal plate on his head. Why bother to show that at all and have the hat off for that scene? Well, this metal plate on Bane’s head was first seen in The Bad Batch, and he very clearly did not have it in The Clone Wars. It’s a representation that his duel with Boba Fett near the end of the Clone Wars actually happened: an unfinished clip of The Clone Wars shows Bane and Boba dueling to a draw, with both getting shot in the head (that’s how Boba got his dent in his helmet). This metal plate suggests that Bane has survived getting shot in the head, so having it visible during this scene is a subtle reminder that he’s survived an apparent death before.
At the end of the day, I think Bane is dead. It’s a fitting conclusion to Boba’s story in this series, and it highlights how in the end Boba’s willingness to change and grow and find a family is what leads to him staying alive, while Bane’s selfishness and unwillingness to change is what leads to him dead in the desert. All along, Bane wanted to prove that he was better than the Fetts – in the Clone Wars he wanted to train Boba to be as good of a bounty hunter as Jango, so that Bane could prove he was better – but instead he winds up dying in the sand just like Jango Fett did. Furthermore, we’ve been quoting the Kenobi line to Maul from Rebels (“look what I have risen above”) as a good summary of Boba and Bane at this point too, and both Maul and Bane wound up dead on the sands of Tatooine at the hands of an old rival who, unlike them, had actually grown. All of this makes for a very fitting and satisfying conclusion for Bane’s character, as well as a very fitting and satisfying triumph for Boba that represents the major themes of this series. There’s already been several instances in Star Wars where the villain just doesn’t stay dead, and it’s a trope that I’m extremely hesitant to just keep seeing continue over and over again. There are tons more stories about Bane to tell, as there’s over 20 years in-between his appearances in The Bad Batch and The Book of Boba Fett to explore! I definitely want more stories about Cad Bane, but I want them to be set before these events, not after them.
In the end, we’re definitely supposed to assume that he’s dead and I think that’s probably indeed the case. But it’s undeniable that there are some subtle clues that perhaps he isn’t, and now we just wait and see whether the storytellers have planted them there for the purpose of future stories or not.