A little over a year ago, Star Wars: The Mandalorian capped off its superb second season with an incredible finale. In case you didn’t stick around after the credits (which you should really know to do by now), we also got to witness the fuse being lit for today’s much anticipated premiere, The Book of Boba Fett.
When we last saw Fett, he’d just executed Bib Fortuna, the former consigliere/majordomo of the late Jabba the Hutt (who appeared to be greatly enjoying his former employer’s meal plan). After shoving the Twi’lek’s body aside, he officially took the crime boss’ throne with the assassin Fennec Shand at his side.
While this act certainly put Fett on the path to being Tatooine‘s top powerful crime lord (known in this setting as a daiymo), it doesn’t take an extensive knowledge of gangster/mob stories to know that there’s going to be a lot of conflict and bloodshed before the matter is settled.
Before diving into The Book of Boba Fett, there a few things you should know about Fett’s history. This won’t cover everything, but it should help you be aware of a few things to look for as the series progresses:
- During the Clone Wars, bounty hunter/assassin Jango Fett was hired by the Kaminoans to be used as a template for the clone troopers. As part of his payment, Jango requested that they make him a child clone whose DNA was not altered like the other soldiers (ensuring that the kid didn’t age at an accelerated rate).
- Although Jango named this clone Boba, the Kaminoans referred to him as Alpha. Unbeknownst (?) to Jango, they also created another unaltered/child clone from his DNA and dubbed her Omega. Last time we saw her, she was with Clone Force 99 in Star Wars: Bad Batch (which takes place almost 30 years before the events in The Book of Boba Fett).
- During the first Battle of Geonosis, Boba watched his father get his head chopped off by Jedi Mace Windu. As you might imagine, this soured his opinion of the Jedi Order quite a bit.
- After failing to avenge his father, a young Boba Fett eventually formed a bounty hunter syndicate dubbed the Krayt’s Claw, which operated out of Tatooine and Coruscant.
- During the Clone Wars, one of Boba Fett’s mentors was the notorious bounty hunter Cad Bane. Although it has yet to be officially confirmed as canon, an animatic from an unfinished episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars shows that Fett and Bane eventually ran afoul of each other. This resulted in a duel that gave Fett’s helmet its trademark blaster scar.
Now we get to the stuff even the most casual Star Wars will likely know, albeit with a few added wrinkles:
- Before his days as a Rebel Alliance scoundrel with a heart of gold, Han Solo ran into some trouble with the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. Unbeknownst to him at the time, his ex-girlfriend Qi’ra was one of Crimson Dawn’s top lieutenants.
- During the Galactic Civil War (i.e. the Original Trilogy), Qi’ra eventually worked her way up to become the syndicate’s leader. Meanwhile, Han Solo began doing jobs for the gangster Jabba the Hutt. At some point, he royally screwed one of them up, costing Jabba a large sum of money.
- During Episode V (The Empire Strikes Back), Fett was hired by Darth Vader to capture and bring him Han Solo, who the Sith Lord intended to use as bait to lure Luke Skywalker into a trap. After successfully capturing and delivering the target, Fett was allowed by Vader to bring Solo to Jabba the Hutt, who’d put a large bounty on the smuggler’s head.
- After delivering Solo to Jabba, Fett decided to stick around and make some extra cash by continuing to work for the crime lord. This turned out to be a poor decision, which resulted in him going out like a total spaz and falling into the Great Pit of Carkoon (i.e. the sarlacc pit) during the mission to rescue Han Solo.
- Although there was once an official explanation for how Fett escaped the sarlacc pit, that story is now considered part of Legends continuity, meaning certain events may or may not have happened as previously described.
Got all of that? Good. Now let’s see what Fett and Shand have been up to since taking Jabba’s old throne. As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers along with some brief explorations of Star Wars lore.
Out of Darkness
After some shots of Jabba’s palace, we see Boba Fett submerged inside of a bacta tank. We then go inside his mind, which takes us from the storm lashed Tipoca City (where he was born and raised on Kamino) to a flashback of him holding his decapitated father’s head on Geonosis.
We then flash forward in time to Fett being digested inside of the sarlacc. He spots a dead stormtrooper and pushes through the slimy flesh surrounding him to the corpse’s location. After pulling the oxygen cable from the soldier’s armor, he takes a badly needed hit of air before punching a hole through the sarlacc’s belly and firing up the flamethrower unit on his wrist.
We then cut to a shot of Boba Fett bursting through the sand next to the dead sarlacc and the ruins of Jabba’s sail barge. He tries to crawl away, but is too worn down and passes out.
That evening, a group of Jawas find Fett and begin stealing/scavenging his armor (which they will later sell to Cobb Vanth as seen in the second season premiere of The Mandalorian). Fett wakes up and tries to stop them, but gets knocked out. The Jawas laugh at their victim’s misfortune and depart in their sandcrawler, leaving Fett for dead.
*Side Note: Jawas are assholes.
The next day, Fett is discovered by a group of Tusken Raiders. They provide him with a small bit of hydration, but that’s where their kindness ends. Fett has his hands bound and is tied to one of the Tusken’s banthas, forcing him to walk in his weakened state through blowing sand and extreme heat.
When he inevitably passes out, the Tuskens drag Fett to their camp. He eventually wakes up to find himself tied to a post and surrounded by Tusken children. The kids begin mercilessly beating him while the Tusken Chief sips some water and watches.
*Side Note: Apparently Tuskens are assholes, too.
That evening, Fett awakens to find himself accompanied by a Rodian prisoner bound to a nearby post. He is also being guarded by a massiff, which becomes angry/aggressive when he starts trying to untie the ropes binding his hands together.
Instead of backing down, Fett continues drawing the creature toward him. When the massiff attacks, Fett manages to knock the beast out. He then uses the unconscious creature’s teeth to cut his ropes loose before asking his fellow prisoner if he wants to freed. Instead of accepting this generous offer, the Rodian totally narcs on him.
The first Tusken on the scene is one of the kids who’d beaten the crap out of Fett earlier. Fett easily takes the youngling down, but decides to spare him. As he takes off into the desert with other Tuskens in pursuit (along with the recently awakened/recovered massiff), the child watches with a mix of curiosity and disbelief.
Despite getting a good head start, Fett is quickly caught and taken down by the massiff. He’s then confronted by the Tusken Chief and a group of adults. The chief recalls the massiff and nods to one of his subjects, who proceeds to beat the absolute hell out of Fett with a very familiar looking Gaderffii stick.
The Bureaucracy of Crime
Fett awakens from his flashback to the voice of Fennec Shand announcing that he has visitors waiting to pay their respects. After exiting the bacta tank and telling her that “the dreams are back,” we’re treated to a cool montage of them both getting prepped/dressed in their armor.
*Side Note: Ming-Na Wen is 58 and Temuera Morrison is 61. Seeing how amazing they both look makes me realize how badly my 42-year old self needs to get back in the gym.
Upon taking his throne, Fett and Shand sit through a cue of leaders and business owners offering tributes to their new local crime lord. The cue is managed and announced by 8D8, one of the original droids from Jabba’s palace.
*Side Note: 8D8 was originally designed for mining/smelting, but was reprogrammed to torture other droids who got too rambunctious or independent. You may remember seeing him torture a Gronk droid when R2D2 and C-3P0 showed up at Jabba’s Palace in ‘Return of the Jedi.’
First up is an Aqualish, who presents them with a box of credits along with an offer of friendship in a language neither of them completely understand. After thanking/dismissing him (and remarking on their need for a protocol droid for translation purposes), they meet with Dokk Strassi, the leader of the Trandoshan family on Tatooine. He also runs the protection racket in the nearby city of Mos Espa, making his cooperation with Fett and Shand extremely important.
Things feel awkward at first since Fett used to work for him, but Strassi graciously offers the new daiymo a wookie pelt/rug before departing.
The tension unexpectedly ratchets up when Mok Shaiz, the majordomo of the mayor of Mos Espra, arrives. Despite his humble and polite manner, Shaiz offers no tribute aside from the mayor’s welcome. He then implies that it should actually be Fett paying tribute to the mayor. Shand asks if she should kill him, but Fett decides it wouldn’t be prudent to kill the nearby mayor’s assistant so early into his reign and tells her to stand down. She instead offers Shaiz the “gift” of leaving alive, which he accepts.
Fett and Shand’s final visit is from two captured Gamorrean guards, both of whom served Jabba and Bib Fortuna and refused to surrender during Fett’s takeover. 8D8 is eager to begin torturing them, but Fett has other ideas. After declaring that he doesn’t torture, Fett asks the Gamorreans if they would show the same loyalty to him now that he’s the one in charge. The guards provide their answer by kneeling in front of him immediately.
Shand warns Fett that hiring guards who worked for the man he killed to usurp the throne might be a bad idea.
Later that day, Fett, Shand, and the two Gamorrean guards head into Mos Espra. Shand chastises Fett for not allowing himself to be carried on a litter, which the Hutts did as a show of power. When Fett replies that he’s not a useless noble, Shand counters that things will go more smoothly if he accepts the ways of his new people.
The quartet enters a cantina (dubbed The Sanctuary) to the sounds of a Bith musician (possibly Figrin D’an) and Max Rebo (!!) playing an awesome version of the classic Cantina Band song. They’re also greeted by pair of Twi’lek servants, who ask if they’d like their helmets cleaned. Shand declines, but Fett accepts on behalf of both of them before pointedly repeating her line about accepting the ways of his new people.
They’re greeted next by the cantina’s Twi’lek proprietor, Garsa Fwip. After declining her offers of hospitality, Fett introduces himself as the new daimyo. He also assures Fwip that her business will continue to thrive under his rule. She thanks Fett for his gracious introduction and reminds him that he’s always welcome — especially since The Sanctuary now essentially belongs to him.
As she departs, the Twi’lek servants return with Fett and Shand’s helmets, both newly shined and filled with credit coins.
As the pair departs the cantina, Shand reminds Fett that Jabba rarely left his palace and offers to make contact with his previous associates on her own. Fett responds that while Jabba ruled with fear, he intends to rule with respect. Shand counters that when the poodoo hits the fan, fear is the safer bet.
As if to prove her point, the pair are attacked and surrounded by six warriors wielding stun batons and energy shields.
*Side Note: It might not mean anything, but it should also be noted that Fett and Shand’s attackers are decked out in crimson colored uniforms.
The attackers box Fett and Shand in with their shields and begin wailing on them. Just when it appears they’re going to be killed, the Gamorrean guards race in and join the fight on their new master’s behalf. They’re able to take down three of the attackers, but not before Fett is badly injured.
The remaining three attackers try to escape by climbing up a nearby building. Despite being in an immense amount of pain, Fett manages to blow one of them up one with a wrist rocket. He then sends Shand after the other two, insisting that the assassin bring them back alive before telling the guards to get him back to his bacta/recovery tank.
Shand pursues the attackers across the rooftops of Mos Espra. She’s able to quickly catch up and flank them, no doubt aided by their completely unnecessary use of parkour.
*Side Note: I really hope someone dubs the opening seconds of this clip from ‘The Office’ with the attackers fleeing from Shand.
She tosses one of the men off the roof, but follows Fett’s orders and takes the other alive. Meanwhile, Fett is put into the bacta tank by the guards. As he begins to recover, we return to the flashback that started the episode.
Earned Without Credit
Once again, Fett finds himself tied to a post inside the Tusken camp. He’s eventually poked awake by the Tusken Kid who he spared before. The child unties him, but leaves his hands bound. He does the same for the Rodian before leading both prisoners on a chain (along with the same massiff from before) into the desert to an unknown location.
Along the way, the group spots smoke rising from a nearby settlement. They take cover and watch as a group of men beat someone up, tag his house with a symbol, and take off on speeder bikes.
Later, Tusken Kid makes Fett and the Rodian stop in the middle of the desert and begin digging for gourds filled with water. Fett finds one and tries to drink from it, but is stopped by the child, who lazily pours its contents out for the massiff.
As the day wears on, Tusken Kid and the massiff fall asleep, allowing Fett to chastise the Rodian for ratting him out before. If he hadn’t, they both could’ve escaped. After exchanging some insults, the Rodian uncovers a giant scaly claw. The claw suddenly reaches up and grabs the Rodian. It then reveals itself to be attached to a six-legged monster that looks like a cross between the Kraken from the original Clash of the Titans and Goro from Mortal Kombat.
An awesome fight scene ensues.
The monster manages to kill the Rodian, but is eventually slain when Fett chokes it to death with his chain (much like Princess Leia took down Jabba in Return of the Jedi), saving Tusken Kid and his pet massiff in the process.
The trio returns to the Tusken camp with the creature’s head as a trophy. Tusken Kid appears to take credit for the kill, receiving praise from children and adults alike. The Tusken Chief, on the other hand, isn’t so easily fooled. As his people celebrate their tiny new hero, he quietly hands Fett a well-deserved drink.
After one episode, The Book of Boba Fett appears to have all the ingredients necessary to be great. The production values are superb (as expected) and the series’ leads work extremely well together. We already knew Ming-Na Wen was awesome, but Temuera Morrison appears up to the task of carrying a show. There’s also so much delicious fan service that old school Star Wars fans like me are sure to be grinning from ear to ear.
Now the show just needs to make sure it tells a story that actually goes somewhere.
As wonderfully produced as the flashback sequences were, the “captive becoming accepted by his captors” story has been told a million times before. There’s plenty opportunity for this narrative to develop into something uniquely entertaining, but it’s starting from very well worn ground.
As for the present storyline, we don’t know much aside from the Mayor of Espra being predictably unhappy about Fett’s presence and some random people attacking him. The parts with him and Shand dealing with the inner workings of a crime empire are well done (and a lot of fun to watch), but it still needs to lead somewhere.
The most interesting thing to happen thus far came from the flashback when Boba escaped the sarlacc pit.
Based on those criticism, it would be easy to think I didn’t like The Book of Boba Fett‘s opening chapter when I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. But I’m also a huge Star Wars fan — drop some delicious nostalgia nuggets (like Max Rebo or the aforementioned sarlacc pit) in the midst of a gorgeously produced episode and I’m hooked.
To keep me and everyone else on board (including those who aren’t obsessed with Star Wars), we’ll need both storylines to produce a good narrative independent of the mythology its tied to.
Do I think John Favreau, Dave Filoni, and the rest of the Book of Boba Fett crew can do it? Absolutely. We’ll get a much better idea of whether they will or not after next week’s episode.
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