When Disney acquired Lucasfilm we were promised that all Star Wars, not matter what medium it was in, would be connected. For a long time it felt like this was just an excuse to help market the the books and comics to fans and convince them that their investment into the deeper fandom would be worth it, both in time and cost. Up until now there have been a few crossovers from other medias to live action, Ahsoka and Saw Gerrera have moved from animation to live action and Cobb Vanth came across from the novels. But things change with this episode, with some deep Star Wars cuts that validate hardcore Star Wars fandom without alienating the casual viewers. If you know the back stories to what is presented on screen you get a deeper experience but it is done is such a way that the enjoyment for more casual fans is not impacted.
This weeks episode, written once again by Jon Favreau and directed by first time Star Wars helmer Steph Green, follows a similar structure to what was established in the first by having two narratives but it is simplified here by splitting it neatly in two. The first shorter part is set in the present timeline and deals with the gangster part of the story. Following on from the attempt on his life, Boba (Temuera Morrison) is interrogating the surviving assassin, who is refusing to give up who hired him. Fennec (Ming-Na Wen) triggers a trap door and drops the assassin into the Rancor pit. We, the viewer, know exactly what happens in this pit and quite clearly so does the assassin. He gives up the person who hired him as soon as door to the pit starts to raise to reveal that there is nothing down there.
The person behind the attack was, as we all expected, the mayor of Mos Espa and Boba and Fennec go to pay him a visit. The mayor is an Ithorian, the hammer head alien from the cantina in ‘A New Hope’. The effects on this character are great, you can’t tell if it’s a physical puppet, CGI, or a blending of both but one thing is for sure, the mayor is a proper gangster. When asked if hired the killer, he straight up denies it and then has his guards kill the assassin. To rub salt into Boba’s wounds, he then pays Boba the reward for then bringing the assassin in. The mayor tells Boba that running a family is harder than being a bounty hunter and suggests that he visits The Sanctuary, the local club run by Garsa Twip (Jennifer Beals), for answers.
When Boba and Fennec confront Garsa and she is surprised that they don’t know who is in town. Garsa says that the twins, Jabba’s cousins, are in town and at that moment drums are heard in the street and everything stops. Boba and Fennec go back outside and the two Hutts are revealed as they carried around the corner on a litter. They lay their claim to Jabba’s business but Boba says he took it from Bib Fortuna, who had taken control after Jabba’s death. The female Hutt wants to kill Fett and forward steps a black Wookiee, Black Krrsantan from the comics, as a show of might. Boba wants to get it on there and then and fight it out in the street but the male twin says that violence would be bad for business and that they should resolve the matter later. Fennec says that they should kill the twins but would have to get permission first. This is the one big question asked in the episode, who is in overall control of all crime in the Star Wars universe?
The second half of the episode is the flashback to Fett’s time with the Tuskens and, where as the first half of the episode heavily referenced classic Star Wars, this draws on classic cinema for its inspirations. This is very much the story of a foreigner being accepted by and then learning from the natives. There are shades of ‘Dances With Wolves’ and ‘The Last Samurai’ but the main sequence is very ‘Lawrence Of Arabia’. The Tuskens teach Boba how to fight with a Gaffi stick, the weapon of their culture, and in exchange he teaches them to ride speeder bikes to counter a problem that they are facing.
That problem is a train that runs through their territory that take pot shots at them, killing them and their banthas. First, Boba gets them the speeders they need and with this we get one of the deepest cuts Star Wars has ever delivered. We finally visit Tosche Station, a place only mentioned once in Star Wars, and meet Cami and Fixer, two characters who only appear in a deleted scene from the original film. They are being attacked by the Nikto gang from the first episode and Boba comes, beats the Niktos, and takes their bikes.
After a quick training montage, Fett and the Tuskens are ready to take on the train. It’s this part that is straight out of ‘Lawrence Of Arabia’. In a great action sequence, directed by Sam Hargrave (Extraction), the moving train is boarded and Fett fights his way along the rooftop towards the engine. When it looks like his passage is blocked, the main tusked warrior saves the day by taking out all the opposition allowing Fett to stop the train. It turns out that the train is run by the Pyke syndicate to run spice and Fett warns them that they will have to pay protection if they want to travel across Tusken land again.
That night, back at the Tusken camp, Fett is gifted a small lizard by the chief. H e is told the lizard is a guide and it zips up his nose, sending him on a vision quest. We get flashes of his younger self as he stumbles through the desert until he arrives at a tree. The next morning he returns to the camp with a branch that is them turned into a gaffi stick. Boba is then dressed in Tusken robes and is now truly part of the tribe.
The delight of this episode is that it delivers some of the most Star Wars Star Wars in a long time. It is both accessible to newcomers but has the depth that the hardcore fans want without being hit over the head with winking references. All the connection to other stories make logical sense and add to the story being told. Black Krrsantan appearance feels natural and will create excitement for people who have never seen him before but will also delight comic readers who know the character’s backstory and what he is capable of. If you know about the Pykes, who featured in ‘The Clone Wars’ and ‘Solo’, then of course they are behind the spice trade, something that has been a part of Star Wars since the beginning. If this is the first time you have seen them then they are just the local drug dealers but the story still works.
But, most importantly, both parts of the story complement each other. In the present the mayor tells Fett that being the head of a family is different to being a bounty hunter and the flashback shows Fett learning to be part of a family, something he has never really had. This is the rebirth of the character and not a portrait of a ruthless killer, which is butting up against some of the fans expectations. The whole things is heightened by Morrison who is clearly enjoying himself playing the role and having a lot of influence, adding elements of Maori culture and New Zealand colloquialisms.
This chapter sets a standard that will hopefully continue.