After two episodes of lighthearted action and adventure, The Book of Boba Fett takes an unnecessary dark turn.
Last week on The Book of Boba Fett, Boba and Fennec (Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen) met with the unhelpful mayor of Mos Espa, faced off with a pair of Hutt twins, and in flashback, we saw Boba acclimate further to his life with the Tuskens; training them to fight back against the Pyke Syndicate and being accepted into their tribe. It was a moving episode with emphasis on past and future and family and culture.
This week’s episode, “The Streets of Mos Espa” takes that goodwill and burns it to the ground. In a reversal of our usual practice, this week’s recap will start with the present and wrap up with the flashback. As a warning, this episode features a trope that I deeply dislike. I asked so nicely, Jon Favreau, I did.
Fennec and Boba are listening to 8D8 (Matt Berry) give a lengthy briefing about the state of Mos Espa when they’re interrupted by an actual vassal there to make a petition! Hey, maybe they’ll finally start getting some work done! Said vassal is Lortha Peel (Stephen Root), a water-seller who is there to firstly let Boba know that no one respects him and primarily to file a complaint about a gang of cybernetically-enhanced youths who have been stealing his water. Boba and the Gang head out to handle said youths (Boba, you have got to outsource some of this fieldwork), only to find them a ragtag group of young people led by Drash (Sophie Thatcher) and Skad (Jordan Bolger) who are stealing water from Peel because there’s no work to be had and his prices are exorbitant. Boba offers them jobs on the spot and gives Peel half of the stolen water’s worth, warning him to lower his prices. Peel doesn’t seem too pleased about this turn of events.
Despite having just hired four new bodies to have around the Palace, Boba gets pulled from his bacta tank (and his flashback) by none other than Black Krrsantan, the gladiator (and internet darling) Wookiee hired by the Twins. The fight isn’t going too well for Boba until his new squad (and their various cyborg enhancements) finally show up; the fight moves downstairs into the throne room where Tim and Tad join in, and finally Fennec appears to work the trapdoor and catch Krrsantan in the rancor pit. Over breakfast, Boba and Fennec try to hash out a plan but are once again interrupted by the arrival of the Twins, who are there with a gift–a young rancor! They openly admit to sending in Black Krrsantan to kill Boba, but they’re giving up their claim and heading off-world–seems the mayor already promised the territory to another syndicate and they’re not interested in a war. They advise Boba to cut his losses and leave as well, tell him he can do whatever he wants with Krrsantan, and they’re off. Boba releases Krrsantan (Hire him too, Boba, come on!) and goes inside to meet his new rancor and its keeper (Danny Trejo).
Learning from the Keeper that the rancor will imprint on the first human it sees (it’s worn blinders up until now) and that the “witches of Dathomir” used to ride them, Boba decides to be the human the rancor will imprint upon and learn to ride it. “I’ve ridden beasts ten times its size”, he boasts. Boba’s time with the rancor is cut short by 8D8 showing up to let him know that the mayor isn’t available; this is Boba’s cue to make him available by heading back into town with Fennec and the Squad, where they threaten the Majordomo (David Pasquesi), who promptly makes a run for it. Boba sends the youths after him, and following a somehow slow chase through the titular streets, the Majordomo admits that the mayor has made an agreement with the Pyke Syndicate (the operators of the train from the last episode) and is gone. Skad reports in after watching several Pykes arrive on the planet, and Boba and Fennec prepare for war.
The new gang of young people is already dividing viewers (as is seemingly inevitable in Star Wars), with some enjoying their candy-colored speeder bikes and can-do attitudes, while others are wary of yet another Star Wars White Brunette Woman and her somewhat cheesy gang of pals. Sophie Thatcher (who is doing impeccable work over on Showtime’s Yellowjackets) is burdened here with the official Star Wars British accent and possibly the galaxy’s first shag haircut. It’s early days for Drash, but the initial impression is so painfully “cool girl character” that it overwhelms both Thatcher and the rest of the crew, none of whom save Bolger’s Skad are given any identifying characteristics beyond bike color. The speeder chase through Mos Espa bears a lot of the bright colors and manic energy of director Robert Rodriguez’s kids movies, but never entirely gels. It’ll be interesting to see how these characters fare under a different director.
This week’s episode takes that goodwill and burns it to the ground.
And now, for the flashback. After another look at young Boba watching his father Jango leave him on Kamino, we’re once again with the Tuskens, watching Boba bid them farewell as he heads into Mos Eisley on a bantha to meet with the Pyke Syndicate and collect the protection money he negotiated for the Tuskens in the last episode. The Pyke representative is more than happy to work with the Tuskens, however, his people have already been pressed for protection money by the Kintan Striders (the Nikto gang) and they’re not paying it twice. Boba says he’ll handle the situation and heads home. Home, to find the Tusken village in ashes and the people dead, with a big piece of Kintan Striders graffiti to claim ownership over the deed. A stoic Boba burns the bodies of his found family, making sure to save the Tusken child’s little stick for last, just to drive it home.
That’s right, after two episodes of “humanizing” the Tuskens, introducing their culture, and having them accept Boba and he acknowledges them as the true people of Tatooine, the entire village is destroyed off-screen to what? Give Boba a reason to take out the Kintan Striders, something he was going to do anyway? Give the character who has already lost one family and was healing from that loss a fresh dose of pain, just in case he needed more motivation? How deeply disappointing to develop an indigenous culture not to widen the horizons of your fictional universe but to use them as fodder for a protagonist’s journey. It’s a lazy use of a lazy trope and one which episode writer Jon Favreau could have just as easily not utilized. This plot revelation comes mid-episode just before the fight with Black Krrsantan and casts a pall over the remaining story. Speeder chases and rancor bonding don’t make up for yet another Tusken genocide.
- The creepy spider-robot seen in the opening is a B’omarr monk, an order which places their brains into jars so as to remove themselves from physical sensation. The spider droids carry the brains.
- During 8D8’s briefing, he explains that under Bib Fortuna, Mos Espa was split into three main factors: the Trandoshans (these folks), the Aqualish (them), and the Klatoonians (over here).
- The words being chanted over Boba discovering the Tuskens were “Aliit Ori’shya Tal’din”, which is Mando’a (the Mandalorian language) for “Family is more than blood”.
- As Boba rides through Mos Eisley we get a little visual cameo of Peli Motto and her droids. Always a pleasure, Peli.
- Tusken Tween Watch: Don’t talk to me.