Riding off the tails of last week’s excellent episode, where we learned a great deal about Boba’s time with the Tuskens, we pick off in the throne room with Boba and Fennec receiving a debrief from 8D8.
We learn following the destruction of Jabba and most of his entourage on the sail barge, Mos Espa was divided among three families by Bib Fortuna: the Trandoshans, the Aqualish, and the Klatoonians. It seems Bib struggled with ruling in Jabba’s stead, leaning on unsteady alliances in lieu of presiding over Mos Espa’s crime syndicates directly. Despite this, Bib managed to line the pockets of Mayor Mok Shaiz. This gives us more insider knowledge as to why the Mayor would give Boba such a cold reception – the Mayor’s governance was lucrative with Bib, and his removal disrupted a steady flow of capital.
Enter a water-monger named Lortha Peel. He tells Boba that the streets of Mos Espa have turned to chaos; a band of hooligans, with machine-augmented body parts, stole from his inventory. This never happened under other Daimyos, apparently. Peel petitions that if Boba handles the gang, he will double his tribute to him.
Boba seeks out the gang that evening. Apparently, what Peel says is true: the thieves are enjoying the water they stole around a fire. Not only that, they’re boldly broadcasting what they’ve done, almost in defiance. A young woman from the group confirms Boba’s suspicions. As she boldly confronts Boba, we get a closer look at their appearances – the gang members are dressed in the fashion of ‘60s Mod vibe meets cyberpunk grunge. While interesting, I’m not convinced their aesthetics felt particularly “Star Wars-y.”
Boba tells the woman, named Drash, that what they’ve done is a crime. This line, in particular, feels odd. Boba is a ‘crime lord’ – from what we understand, he’s the highest ranking member of the crime families of Tatooine. Isn’t this statement basically the pot calling the kettle black? And yet, he tells Drash he wants to bring order. Is Boba a lord of criminals or a sheriff? As I’m watching this season, it’s not clear to me what Boba wants to achieve in place of Jabba, and this dialogue exchange doesn’t exactly help clarify things.
Boba learns the water-monger Peel charges a month’s wages for a week’s worth of water. We, as an audience, are learning that the inequality on Mos Espa is huge. These aren’t a group of hooligan’s plundering for the sake of anarchy and chaos – it’s to survive. We’re learning not much has likely changed in Mos Espa since Anakin’s time as a slave. Perhaps that’s why, when Drash remarks there is no work, Fett senses an opportunity and says the gang will work for him.
Boba being an orphan himself, I’m into him adopting a ragtag team of misfits. However, the scene suddenly feels awkward when Peel, in a suspiciously convenient fashion, reveals himself from a nearby building to protest. This is where the episode lost my suspension of disbelief. Boba Fett is a former bounty hunter, yet Peel’s sudden arrival doesn’t send any red flags? I’m not sure if the show’s creative team are simply hoping viewers aren’t paying attention to these details, but it almost felt comical when Peel popped out of the building to demand that they pay him 1,300 credits for his stolen wares. Fett says he will pay 500 credits, and Peel can take it or leave it. Honestly, I would really have liked to have seen Fett shoot or even kill Peel for his insolence, but Fett disappointingly spares him after Peel grudgingly concedes.
After the title card, we once more return to Fett’s dreams and are treated with the beautiful visual of young Boba awakening in the middle of a stormy night to the view of Jango’s Firespray starship departing Kamino. The repetition of this scene is striking, and it’s an interesting creative decision that we continue to see brief snippets from Boba’s youth. Importantly, these flashbacks are often accompanied by Jango’s helmet or spaceship, but never Jango himself. Jango is both present and absent in these scenes. Being both son and copy of Jango, he is always both present in Boba (in his physical appearance, in memories) but absent (he is long dead). I appreciate that the show is reminding us that Boba is Jango’s legacy, and that relationship ended traumatically. However, I’m hoping by the end of the finale, we are treated to an expansion on this theme in a more significant way.
For the duration of the flashback, we return to “Tusken” Fett, who gives the Pykes a visit in Mos Espa. They deny his request for protection pay on behalf of the Tuskens. When Fett returns to the Tusken camp, it’s been decimated and no one has survived the attack. The somber score playing as Fett walks amongst the wreckage and fallen Tuskens is incredibly moving. As Tusken Fett burns the bodies, we see the same stick that Tusken Kid used to hit him with. Although their alliance was initially uneasy, it’s clear that Boba grew to be fond of the Tusken people.
Back to the present, Boba is awoken abruptly by the Wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan. Boba manages to deal some damage with his Gaffi stick, but is almost crushed to death until his new allies from the cyberpunk gang rescue him. It all happens so fast that you barely have time to even ask yourself just how a Wookiee of Krrsantan’s size sneaks into a palace undetected. It’s small, but it’s another moment in the episode that just feels off.
As an audience, we’re also seeing a pattern with Boba being in a vulnerable state, where he is leaning on others significantly for back up. Because this is a departure from past iterations of the character (in Legends and in some of the recent comics), it would be interesting for Boba himself to acknowledge this.
Boba’s entourage manages to redeem themselves by encircling Krrsantan, and it seems almost too convenient that he’s standing in the exact spot of a trap door when he falls through it. For fans of the comics, where Krrsantan was introduced, his depiction on screen might be lacking. What is particularly strange is that both Boba and Krrsantan worked a job together in a Darth Vader comic, but that former relationship isn’t acknowledged in the episode.
Later, the Hutt Twins arrive. They fess up to sending Krrsantan after Boba and, as restitution, they offer a rancor (the sight of it chained down is pitiful). Boba accepts but demands they leave. The Hutts agree, but not because he demands it. Jabba’s territory, they explain, belongs to another crime syndicate, as promised by the mayor Mok Shaiz. This leads us to suspect that the Pykes have a claim with the mayor’s blessing.
They return to Nal Hutta and let Fett keep Krrsantan as their tribute. The sight of Krrsantan running off into the desert seems comically surreal. We barely got to know Krrsantan, and with that, he’s gone.
Back in the Rancor pit, Boba gets to know his new pet. We learn from the Rancor trainer (portrayed by Danny Trejo) that Rancors are emotionally complex creatures; Boba’s Rancor is depressed. Like the Tuskens, we’re learning there is more substance than what comes across in their brief but violent appearances in the original trilogy.
After Boba promises to spend more time with it, the Rancor trainer mentions that the Witches of Dathomir would ride Rancor through the forests. It’s a fascinating story, and when Boba remarks he wants to learn how to ride it, our imaginations are invited to conjure up the image of Boba as a beastmaster subjugating his foes. It’s hard to deny that’s an exciting prospect, and for hardcore fans, the imagery might mirror the Basilisk war droid that the Mandalorians of Legends rode into combat.
Of note, it’s interesting that the Rancor imprints on Boba after they remove it’s blinders. I can’t help but wonder how the trainer will handle a Rancor who is more attached to another human. But hey, I’m not a Rancor expert, am I?
Boba gently strokes the Rancor and uses words approaching baby speak with the creature, which is somehow both cute and awkward. When 8D8 interrupts, Boba is possibly the most irritated we’ve seen him the entire season – which says a lot.
8D8 reports that the Mayor is unavailable for nearly a month, but Boba decides he’s going immediately with backup. I like it when Boba’s a decisive man of action, yet, when we return to the city hall it feels like we’re revisiting where Boba was in Episode 1: Stranger in a Strange Land. The Mayor’s assistant brushes them off and manages to escape under the ruse of being helpful. Again, it leaves us wondering why Boba has yet to introduce this Twi’lek or even the Mayor, for that matter, to the business end of his blaster rifle.
The cyberpunk gang readily chases after the Twi’lek majordomo (he certainly made it easy enough for them by using a bulky speeder as his escape vehicle). A speeder chase through the streets of Mos Espa ensues, but unfortunately the scene comes across as slow and low stakes. We already know Boba Fett and company are going to get this fool. Aside from seeing the bionic gang use some of their cool augmented features to damage the speeder, this scene offered little entertainment.
When the chase ends, the Twi’lek majordomo anxiously admits to Boba that the Mayor is indeed working with the Pykes. The revelation isn’t earth-shattering if you’ve been paying attention.
In the final scene, we learn more Pykes are arriving on Tatooine from a starliner. Fennec warns they’re going to war, and Boba counters they’ll be ready for them. As an audience, it’s a great cliff hanger to end on. It leaves us wanting more immediately; on the other hand, it’s likely establishing high expectations for what comes next among hardcore fans and even casual viewers.
In this episode, it struck me that both Lortha Peel and Drash insult Boba Fett. Peel indignantly mentions that no one respects him; Drash boldly calls him an old man. Yet, to these comments, Boba doesn’t bristle or become irritated. On both occasions, he proceeds calmly with a civil conversation. Honestly, I expected a little more sass from the bounty hunter who once told Darth Vader “he’s no good to me dead” in Empire, but, for now, I’m willing to accept Boba’s time in the Sarlacc and with the Tuskens has humbled him. However, it’s clear from fan chatter on Twitter and the BFFC message boards that some fans would prefer if Boba shot (or used non-lethal force) and asked questions later, as he’s often done in Legends or even some of the recent canon comics. And I understand why – three episodes in, and I still feel Boba’s motivation to transition from bounty hunter to fully fledged ‘crime lord’ remains unclear.
The destruction of the Tusken tribe, which we might assume came at the request of the Pykes, may be the catalyst for Boba to pursue his current path. Indeed, in the previous episode, we watched Boba’s rise from desert chattel to full blown leader among the Tuskens. He stood by the Tuskens when the Pyke’s were murdering them while passing through their territory to smuggle spice. His interests, thus far, have seemed more aligned with the people of Tatooine over those of the criminal underworlds.
But if that’s the case, why lean into the role of a crime lord? Certainly there are other ways to dismantle a crime syndicate. He also constantly talks about establishing order. But how can order be achieved among syndicates that thrive off backstabbing and subterfuge? At the end of the day, does Boba really want to be a crime lord, or a legitimate ruler? Thus far, there are more questions than answers regarding Boba’s motivations and plans.
It certainly doesn’t help when we consider this episode’s events in the context of the first two. In the second episode, we are introduced to the Hutt Twins, who have a legitimate stake in Jabba’s empire. This shook up Boba’s world and left us guessing as an audience how he would handle them. This episode almost feels like a step backward; the Hutts have already turned tail, and we learned the most pressing threat is Mok Shaiz and his Pyke allies, afterall. Why go through all the trouble of introducing the Hutts, only to write them out so soon? This decision only makes the events transpiring in the ‘present’ seem meandering and slow.
I can’t help but think that the Boba Fett I know so fondly from Legends would have gotten to the truth much faster by shooting first.
Recall the beginning of this episode, where Boba and Fennec received their status report from 8D8. It’s during this briefing that 8D8 mentions that everyone is waiting to see what kind of ruler Boba Fett will be – remarking, perhaps, exactly what the audience has been wondering during these initial slow burn episodes.
I remain hopeful The Book of Boba Fett will deliver on this by season’s end.