Last week’s episode of The Book of Boba Fett turned out to be a bit controversial, both for good and bad reasons.
In the past, Fett’s adopted Tusken tribe was slaughtered by the Kintan Striders while he was in Mos Eisley negotiating protection fees with the Pyke Syndicate. This horrifying tragedy reaches its tendrils into the present when Fett learns that Mayor Mok Shaiz of Mos Espa (his territory) has been working with Pykes, who have arrived en masse to make his life exponentially more difficult.
Meanwhile, the Hutt Twins sent Black Krrsantan to assassinate Fett. When that failed, they offered him a pet rancor as an apology gift before fleeing back to Nal Hutta. They advised him that he would be wise to depart Tatooine before the Pykes turn his short time as a daimyo into a death sentence.
As cool as all that sounds, the episode also introduced us to the world’s slowest biker gang, who appear to spend more time waxing and polishing their vehicles than tuning them up. Since Fett decided to employ the group, however, it looks like we’re stuck with them for better or worse.
This week, our bacta-soaked trip into the past (which takes up the majority of the episode’s run time) reveals the beginning of Fett and Shand’s partnership. In the present, the pair start to make preparations for the coming war with the Pykes.
As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers along with some brief explorations of Star Wars lore.
You Can Never Go Home Again
The episode opens with a flashback during one of Boba Fett’s bacta recovery sessions. Once again, it’s conveniently set just after the last flashback we saw.
Still angry and depressed over the loss of his adopted family, Fett rides his bantha to Jabba’s old palace (currently ruled by Biba Fortuna) on a mission to retrieve his ship. After doing some reconnaissance, however, he realizes that the building is too well guarded for him to enter alone.
That evening, Fett and his bantha are enjoying some dinner when they see a series of flares being shot off in the distance. Unbeknownst to them, the disturbance is being caused by Din Djarin and Toro in an effort to overtake Fennec Shand. By the time Fett arrives, Toro has already shot Shand in the gut, leading to the final scene of Chapter 5 from The Mandalorian‘s first season.
Fett picks up the defeated assassin and carries her to a small shop on the outskirts of Mos Eisley. As luck would have it, the shop just happens to specialize in cybernetic modifications, which is exactly what Shand will need if she’s going to stay alive. The shop’s proprietor isn’t receptive to putting this job at the front of the line, but changes his mind when Fett gives him a heavy sack of credits.
Following some complicated surgery (and the worst EDM music you’ll probably ever hear), Shand’s ruined torso is rebuilt with the cybernetics she revealed back in Chapter 14 of The Mandalorian‘s second season.
Later, Shand awakens to find herself sitting next to a fire and being offered a black melon to drink. She then notices the cybernetics pumping inside her torso, becomes understandably confused/agitated, and demands to know what was done to her. After explaining that it was the only way to keep her alive, Fett convinces her to sit back down and drink the black melon milk.
Things quickly become tense again when Fett reveals that he knows who Shand is. She assumes his efforts to save her were to collect a live capture reward, but he claims to have no interest in money before identifying himself as Boba Fett. Shand is immediately skeptical, believing that the infamous bounty hunter died along with nearly everyone else on Jabba’s sail barge. Fett replies that like her, he improbably survived after being left for dead on the sands of Tatooine.
He then tells her how he was taken in by Tusken Raiders and became a member of their tribe…and how he blames himself for them being slaughtered by a Nikto biker gang. Shand scoffs, declaring it highly unlikely that a group of speed bikers could defeat a tribe of Tuskens.
Instead of considering Shand’s opinion on the matter, he changes the subject and requests her help breaking into Jabba/Bib’s palace to retrieve his ship. Shand responds with a perfectly reasonable question: Why not just walk in and ask?
Fett replies that he “might not like the answer” and that he’s not as persuasive without his missing armor.
*Side Note: This answer is definitely weird, but also not nearly as lame as it sounds…maybe. We’ll address it in a little bit.
Shand says she’ll help, but only if doing so means that her debt for him saving her life would be considered paid. Fett agrees.
The next evening, Shand joins Fett for another palace reconnaissance mission. She quickly proves her usefulness by sending a whisper drone over to scout the entire building and its guard totals/locations.
While the drone does its work (and Fett bids a sad farewell to his faithful bantha), Shand asks what’s next for the galaxy’s most notorious bounty hunter. Fett responds that he’s going retrieve his armor (apparently forgetting that it was stolen by Jawas), “kill that bloated pig who double crossed me,” and take his throne.
*Side Note: This is going to be a long diversion, so feel free to skip down to the picture of Fennec Shand if you already know why Fett likely felt justified in killing Bib Fortuna.
Unless you read the current Star Wars comics, then you probably aren’t aware that Boba Fett and Bib Fortuna weren’t on great terms with each other. The friction between them began during a story called ‘War of the Bounty Hunters,’ which took place between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
While traveling to deliver Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt, Fett ran into a bit of trouble (as one does) and had his bounty stolen from him by Crimson Dawn, a criminal syndicate we’ve mentioned quite a bit during these reviews. This resulted in Fett having a bounty put on his head while he was frantically working to reacquire Solo.
At the start of these deadly shenanigans, Fortuna became impatient with Fett when he wouldn’t disclose why the delivery of Jabba’s coveted prize had been unexpectedly delayed.
It’s worth noting, however, that Jabba was the one who put the bounty on Fett’s head after receiving an invitation from Crimson Dawn (along with many of the galaxy’s other major crime lords) to see that they had Solo. As you might imagine, this pissed Fett off quite a bit.
After kicking a bit of ass, he traveled to Jabba’s palace only to find that the Hutt was offworld and Bib Fortuna was temporarily in charge. A massive standoff ensued that put the pair at each other’s throats. To be fair, Boba Fett kicked things off by incinerating two Gamorrean guards and sticking his flame thrower in Fortuna’s face.
Fortuna managed to deescalate things (in his own slimy way) by explaining that Jabba thought Fett had sold Solo to another bidder instead of honoring his original contract. He came to this conclusion via the invitation from Crimson Dawn, which Fett demanded to see. Fortuna obliged, but not before attempting to rally the denizens of the palace against him.
Fett got out of that pickle by guaranteeing that a lot of them would die…and that dying for Bib Fortuna was totally lame.
Despite all that, Fortuna still showed him Jabba’s invitation to Crimson Dawn’s shindig (which pointed Fee in the right direction to retrieve Han Solo) and even obeyed his demand to have his ship fixed. You’ll have to read the rest of the story on your own to find out what happens after that (and you should because it’s really good), but yeah…the two definitely have history.
Does that interaction justify a such a murderous grudge, though?
You could say that Fett considered Fortuna partially at fault for the bounty on his head since the majordomo was so close to Jabba, but that feels like a stretch–especially since Fett still kept working for the Hutt after retrieving and delivering Solo.
It could also be argued that he was mad at Fortuna for not attempting to rescue him from the sarlacc pit, but once again, that feels like a major stretch. Fett knew as well as anybody that falling into the Great Pit of Carkoon was an assumed death sentence. Why would he expected anyone–especially a coward like Fortuna–to come looking for him?
The “double cross” could also be referencing a story or revelation we haven’t seen yet. Whether that’s the case or not, however, folks who don’t read Star Wars comics aren’t going to completely understand Fett’s malice toward Fortuna. Fett also referred to Fortuna as a “bloated pig” despite not seeing him in his rotund post-Jabba phase. I suppose they could have crossed paths before then, but that wouldn’t make much sense in the chronology of the narrative.
Shand can’t believe that a top level bounty hunter would want to leave their life/profession to become crime lord. Fett explains that his time with the Tuskens changed his priorities.
Before things can become any more introspective, the drone returns with a map of the palace and its patrols. The pair use this knowledge to enter the building via an underground tunnel. After arriving in the kitchen and defeating three droids in a slapstick fight, they locate Slave 1 in one of the palace hangers.
Guards quickly begin to arrive, but the elite assassins are able to hold their own. After boarding the ship, Fett struggles to get it out of the hanger, knocking out part of the wall as reinforcements continue to pour in. Thankfully, Shand comes through with a sniper shot on the door’s controls, allowing them to soar into Tatooine airspace.
As the pair fly away from the palace, Shand tells Fett that there are good mechanics in Mos Eisley who can make sure his ship is space-worthy. Fett replies that he’d rather do the maintenance himself since “there’s an advantage to people thinking you’re dead.”
He then tells Shand that her debt is paid and asks where she’d like to be dropped off. Instead of providing him with a location, she decides to stick around while Fett settles a few scores.
First up is the biker gang that Shand said would not have been able to take out an entire Tusken tribe. After slaughtering them anyway, he goes to the Great Pit of Carkoon to retrieve his armor.
*Side Note: …which once again, he really should remember it being stolen by Jawas — especially since their grubby little mitts pulling it off is what woke him up after escaping the pit and passing out.
Despite Fett blasting a hole through its guts with a flamethrower, the sarlacc is still very much alive and hungry. Predictably, this leads to the creature snapping at the Slave-1 with its beak/tongue and attempting to pull the ship down with its tendrils.
*Side Note: If you’ve never seen any of the re-released versions of the Original Trilogy, then you may be surprised to learn that sarlacc has been digitally modified quite a bit over the years. The beak (which is actually its tongue) is the change that obviously sticks out the most.
Things appear pretty grim until Shand pushes a button (on a ship she’s never been in before) that releases a seismic charge, killing the beast. Fett shows his gratitude for saving them by telling her not to mess with his controls.
Instead of smacking him upside the head, she helps Fett repel down into the dead creature’s stomach to look for his armor. This proves to be a fruitless endeavor that results in Fett’s skin getting burned even more by the sarlacc’s residual acid.
That evening, Shand asks Fett if he’s serious about forming a house (i.e. crime family). Fett responds that he’s tired of people in their profession dying because they’re hired by idiots. He wants to be the one in control of his destiny from now on.
He then asks Shand to join him, explaining that she has both the brains and muscle/skill to help him establish something truly great. Instead of the usual freelance pay, however, he offers her something more — loyalty and a share of whatever riches they acquire.
This seems like the point in their history where you’d think things took a turn toward the bonded pair we see in the present. Instead, Shand scoffs and replies that living with the Tuskens has made him weak. Fett counters that it actually made him stronger. It also helped him to understand that one can only get so far without a tribe.
In the present, Fett emerges from his bacta bath to a droid congratulating him on being completely healed from his acid scars. Shand arrives moments later and informs him that their brightly colored biker gang has been unable to locate the mayor.
As a war with the Pykes looms over them, Fett decides to make an appearance in town as a show of strength. He arrives at the Sanctuary just in time to see Black Krrsantan beating the hell out of some Trandoshans who’d been unknowingly getting on his nerves.
*Side Note: Wookies and Trandoshans absolutely hate each other.
Garsa Fwip makes a solid attempt at deescalating the situation, but is unable to keep Black Krrsantan from ripping one of the Trandoshan’s arms off (!!!).
While the rest look on in abject horror, Fett decides to offer the wookie who attempted to assassinate him as job as one of his enforcers.
Later that evening, Fett hosts a meal/meeting with the other three crime families in Mos Espa. Under the watchful eye of Krrsantan and the Gamorreans, Shand starts things off by explaining how Fett will make them all prosperous again like they were under when Jabba was in charge. All they have to do is fall in line.
Fett also assures his guests that despite sitting on Jabba’s old throne, he has no desire to take over their respective territories.
He then requests each of their help in the upcoming turf war with the Pykes, a battle whose outcome will end up affecting all of them. Instead of pledging their assistance, one of the crime lords asks what’s keeping them from killing Fett and taking his territory for themselves. Their response comes when it’s revealed that the dinner table has been set directly over the rancor pit, which rattles as the daimyo’s pet thrusts his claws up through the vent.
Now properly humbled and attentive, the crime lords cease to make any more threats against Fett’s rule. Unfortunately, they also see no point in joining a feud between him and the Pykes despite the massive impact it will have on all of their operations. Despite this setback, he’s still able to secure a pledge from all of them to remain neutral, allowing him to focus on (and defeat) a singular enemy.
As the crime lords leave, Fett observes that his house will require more muscle if they’re going to beat the entire Pyke Syndicate. Shand suggests that they use their considerable wealth to purchase the help they’ll need as Din Djarin’s theme begins to play.
I wanted to like this episode a lot more than I did, especially with all the cool visuals and Easter eggs.
The scenes with Boba Fett’s ship were about as good as you could ask for. I’ve never been a fan of the sarlacc beak, but that was by far the best (and scariest) the creature has ever looked. The practical effects on all the aliens were fantastic, especially Black Krrsantan.
From an acting/character standpoint, it was great to see Fennec Shand finally have some meaningful dialogue. I still don’t 100% buy her wanting to stick around to watch Boba Fett’s haphazard revenge/retrieval mission, but she did a fantastic job bridging the character we first met vs. the one we know now. Hopefully we’ll get to see the last missing link in her journey toward having complete loyalty to Fett.
And how could you not love getting to see Black Krrsantan rip a Trandoshan’s arm off? It makes the fact that he got beaten up by the Jolly Rancher Gang even more frustrating, but still…good stuff.
Unfortunately, these great moments were overshadowed by a very bumpy narrative. Unless there’s a major chapter of this story that we’re missing, then the actions Fett has taken against Fortuna don’t make much sense. There could be a revelation in the future that helps solidify things (like Fortuna being aligned with the Kintan Striders), but that still wouldn’t explain his rage at being “double crossed” to most folks.
Look, I love Star Wars comics as much as the next guy. I love it even more when they are referenced and integrated into screen iterations of the mythology. But they shouldn’t be required reading for someone to understand a crucial aspect of this episode.
But even if you ignore Fett’s suspect motivations for murdering Fortuna, you’re still left with plenty of other narrative issues — like him completely forgetting that his armor was stolen by Jawas. I guess you could make the argument that the memory was erased when he got knocked out, but that doesn’t hold much water when the dude’s having HD dreams every night inside the bacta tank.
Or what about Shand specifically pointing out that a biker gang wouldn’t be able to take out an entire Tusken tribe? That’s probably going to pay off later at some point, but it makes what’s supposed to be a cathartic scene of him blasting them to smithereens just feel weird — especially when Shand responds with a “nice work, bro” head nod.
And don’t even get me started on the droid fight.
This episode wasn’t bad by any means, but it has me a bit concerned by how things with The Book of Boba Fett are trending. Let’s hope the conflict with the Pykes and a foreshadowed appearance by Din Djarin can help kick things back into high gear.
Next Episode: ‘Return of the Mandalorian’
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