The divisiveness of new Star Wars has been a problem the franchise has had since 1980 when ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was released and has been a factor of each new release since. Parts of the Star Wars fanbase, with it being so large, suffers from the very human problem of not being able to handle change or accept something new. ‘The Mandalorian’, while hugely popular, experienced this in a small way but ‘The Book Of Boba Fett’ is being hit by this like a proton torpedo up an exhaust pipe and this third episode is the most divisive yet.
The torch and pitchfork brigade are storming the castle with cries of “Not my Boba Fett” but that’s the point, the Boba Fett we knew died in the Sarlaac pit. Favreau is reshaping the character but not erasing the pre-‘Return Of The Jedi’ bounty hunter. Fett was reborn when he dragged himself out of the pit and was stripped of everything that made him who he was. During his time with the Tuskens he has rebuilt himself from the ground up and learnt that more can be achieved through respect than fear. This new outlook on life that has been learnt in the flashbacks is now shaping how he operates in the present. There are complaints that nothing is happening but, while the episodes are not wall to wall action, there is a lot of character development on display. Also, a lot does actually happen but if it’s not what people want to see it is just ignored.
Unlike the previous two episodes, this chapter shifts the focus to the present day storyline. 8D8 (Matt Berry) drops the exposition of who controls what areas of Mos Epsa following the “great sail barge disaster”. He doesn’t dare utter Jabba’s name for fear of upsetting Fett (Temuera Morrison) but does say that everyone is waiting to see how Fett rules. The local water trader (Stephen Root) meets with Fett to say that people don’t respect him as he hasn’t done anything to earn it. He is having a problem with a local gang stealing his water and offers to pay Fett double if he goes into town and sorts it out.
That night, Boba, Fennec (Ming-Na Wen), and his two Gamorrean guards head into Mos Espa to confront the problem. They confront the cybernetically enhanced youth gang, lead by Drash (Sophie Thatcher), but Boba flips the situation on the water trader and hires them instead of punishing them. Fett is making a statement, he is no longer a gun for hire and can’t be bought. He is now the boss, his own man, and he is the one that controls the situation. The gang were disenfranchised but he has now earned their respect and loyalty. Fett is growing his family, first Fennec, then the Gamorreans, and now a gang.
This cuts to the bacta tank flashback where Boba is riding a bantha into Mos Eisley. He is alone, having left the Tuskens back at the camp, and is there to collect the protection money owed by the Pykes for their right to travel across Tusken land. The Pyke leader refuses to pay, even though this had already be agreed, as he is already paying protection to the Nikto speeder gang for the same rights. Boba tells him that the gang are not his concern and all payments will go to the Tuskens in the future but when he returns to camp he finds them all slaughtered and the gang’s logo sprayed on the tents. A broken Fett ceremonially burns the remains along with the gaffi sticks.
Back in the present, Fett is violently woken from his bacta induced slumber by Black Krrsantan. The Hutt’s had warned him that they would come for him in his sleep and it didn’t take long for this to come to pass. Boba is not saved by his Mandalorian armour or skills but by what he has gained since his rebirth. He fights Krrsantan off with his gaffi stick and skills taught by the Tusken warrior. He is then aided by everyone whose’s loyalty he has gained, the gang (to the best fighters), the two Gamorreans, and Fennec, who final traps Krrsantan in the empty Rancor pit. The fight is brutal and, although it is shot without blood, probably one of the most violent seen in Star Wars.
Later, the still unnamed Hutt twins arrive at the palace to apologise for the attempted assassination and say they are leaving Tatooine because it is worthless and the mayor has already promised control to another syndicate. As a peace offering they gift Boba a young rancor, who comes with a keeper played by Danny Trejo, and they decline Boba’s offer of returning Krrsantan so Boba frees him. This act of freedom is another display of Boba winning someones respect and is clearly a set up for later events.
Boba is excited to have a rancor but questions their violent nature with the keeper. The keeper explains that they are an emotionally complex creatures who are peacefully by nature and will imprint on the first person they see but have been bred to kill and have a reputation for doing so. The rancor is clearly a metaphor for Fett and his relationship with his father.
Fett, Fennec, and the youth gang head into to town to confront the mayor but discover he has already left. The mayor’s majordomo flees the scene in land speeder but is chased down by they gang on colourful Vespa-esque speeder bikes in a very slow, old fashioned style sequences. Fett questions him and finds out the mayor has given Tatooine to the Pykes. The episode closes with the Pykes arriving on Tatooine, ready to go to war.
So now we have the setup for the rest of the series with the Pykes taking they place as the villains in both timelines. After three episodes of people whinging about Fett’s behaviours, it is now possible that everything that he has done is to lure the Pykes out so he can extract revenge. I could be reading it wrong and there might not be a connection but this is why creators should be allowed to tell their full story before the complaints start. The whole point of serialised storytelling is to gradually reveal what is going on, if everything is laid out upfront then there would be no point coming back week after week.
The other bone of contention in the episode is the youth gang and the fact that they stand out from the rest of the citizens of Tatooine for being too clean and colourful. They are a subculture based off the Mods, which is clear from the bikes that they ride, and the reason something is called a subculture is because it is considered different from normal society. If you were to run into a group of Mods in real life they would stand out from the crowd so why is everything in Star Wars meant to blend in? I’m betting if Boba had encountered them in a cantina, rather than in the street, that there would have been less uproar. As for the argument that they are to clean, it is made very clear that they were stealing water and at no point was it said it was for drinking.
The main problem with this episode is not the content but the execution of a major scene. The bike chase suggests the creators have reach the current limits of the filming process that is used for the show. The director of this episode, Robert Rodriguez, made his name for the kinetic and cool way he shot action on a tight budget so it came as a surprise that the big action scene felt slow and stale especially after the great train sequence in the previous instalment. That being said, the gang and the chase sequence are only a small portion of the episode and they haven’t destroyed anyones childhood or killed Star Wars.
A good episode that was let down by its action, which is a strange thing to say about Star Wars.