Boba’s bid to rule Tatooine gets thrown a couple of new, blubbery obstacles, while we see how he fully integrated himself into Tusken culture.
“I… I killed them. I killed them all. They’re dead… every single one of them. And not just the men. But the women… and the children, too. They’re like animals, and I slaughtered them like animals! I HATE THEM!” Anakin Skywalker says this in Attack of the Clones about the village of Tuskens who have abducted his mother; used as his first big dip into the Dark Side, the act that begins to show us the darkness of which he is capable. Less focused on, perhaps, is the fact that the Jedi’s Chosen One just committed a complete act of genocide and we just sort of…move along? Anakin’s actions are (rightly) judged more harshly amongst fans these days, but it’s been the work of The Mandalorian and now The Book of Boba Fett to show a different side to the Tuskens, to underline the fact that the Tuskens are not only people, but the ones who were there first.
“The Tribes of Tatooine”, written by Jon Favreau and directed by Steph Green, comes on the heels of a surprisingly controversial first episode and seeks to fill out more of the missing time between Boba Fett’s (Temuera Morrison) seeming demise in the Sarlacc and his reemergence five years later. Chapter 2 is a treasure trove of Easter eggs and cameos that blend more seamlessly than some other shows have managed (yes, I’m still salty about Deus ex Luke Skywalker), but it’s the continuing look at the culture of the Tuskens that makes it sing.
Once again, the episode is split between the present and bacta pod flashbacks, but this week we’ll cover the present first. The Palace Gang (Boba, Fennec (Ming-Na Wen), the Gamorrean guards, and 8D8) are all here to interrogate the surviving assassin, revealed to be a member of the Order of the Night Wind (“overpriced”, mutters Fennec). 8D8 (Matt Berry) insists that the assassin is too highly trained to ever reveal his employer, and he seems to be right until Fennec drops the assassin into the empty rancor pit, declining to reveal that it’s empty until the assassin gives up the name: the Mayor.
The Gang heads out to confront the mayor, meeting some predictable clerical red tape, but are ultimately brought before Moz Shaiz, the Ithorian in charge of Mos Espa (and voiced, sorry internet theorists, by Robert Rodriguez, not Pedro Pascal). Moz Shaiz, smooth as silk, thanks Boba for bringing this dangerous criminal forward and has the assassin killed, tossing Fennec some money for their trouble. Moz Shaiz directs Boba to go and see Madam Garsa (Jennifer Beals), so the Gang heads over to find a frazzled Garsa who tells them that “The Twins” have declared their intention to take over their relative’s palace and crime syndicate. The Twins, it turns out, are a pair of fraternal Hutts who arrive just as Boba learns about them, carried on a litter (this show loves litters) worked within an inch of its life. Brother Hutt (the one with a hamster he’s using as a sweat rag) notes that they’re here to take over from the late Jabba and that his sister (the Hutt with a little hand fan) just thinks they should kill Boba for it. They’ve even brought an enforcer along; a very tall and very menacing Wookiee (“Black Krrsantan!!” millions of voices cry out), but Boba remains unmoved. The Hutts decide it’s not worth the effort for the day, and take their leave. Fennec, just desperate to kill somebody already, notes that they’ll have to get permission to kill the Hutts.
Boba and Fennec’s stumbling efforts to establish themselves as crimelord and partner are thrown into sharp contrast by Boba’s flashback plotline, which is entirely about Boba’s capability to learn and teach and formulate a plan that works. It’s frustrating but understandable that leading a crime syndicate is different than working as a freelance bounty hunter/assassin, but it’s time that Boba and Fennec begin to pull things together. True, we don’t spend that much time with them this week, but we need to see these two smart, capable characters start to be as smart and capable as we know them to be.
Boba returns to the bacta pod and drifts into his continuing memories of his time with the Tuskens (it’s becoming more important that we learn Boba left because he felt it was time and not because anything happened to this village, do you hear me, Jon Favreau?). Boba and the second-in-command (Joanna Bennett) train with gaffi sticks and let’s just say it’s a learning curve for Boba. Maybe Jango should have splurged on a little bit of the clone enhancements? Jokes aside, it’s always refreshing to see a character, particularly the main character, not instantly be good at any sort of task. Boba is a warrior, true, but not with gaffi sticks, and not in this style, plus he just crawled his way out of a vat of goo and stomach acid. The appearance of a high-speed train full of armed attackers who shoot and kill several Tuskens interrupts the training. That night, Boba watches as a group of speeders head by in the darkness and promises the Tusken leader that he’ll be back in the morning with a way to stop the train.
The speeders belong to a passel of Nikto miners, who have stopped over at Tosche Station to be a menace. They steal food and drinks from other patrons, they have loud, likely uncouth conversations, and they’ve just started physically harassing one of the other patrons when Boba enters. He makes short work of them with his gun and gaffi stick and returns to the Tusken village with the miner’s speeders. One cheerful training montage later, Boba has taught several of the Tuskens to drive the speeders, gotten more skill with the gaffi stick, and has concocted a whole plan for attacking and stopping the train. It will be made clearer later on, but the train is smugglers crossing Tusken land, and killing the inhabitants as they pass.
The train attack goes off without…many hitches, and a triumphant Boba confronts the smugglers (the Pyke Syndicate, upping the number of individuals and groups who have met his sister Omega), telling them that the land belongs to the Tuskens and anyone who wants to cross it will pay tolls to do so. That night, the Tusken leader explains that there are many tribes of Tuskens on Tatooine, some more violent than others, but all live mainly in hiding since Offworlders have machines and larger weapons. Boba notes that they have machines now and that they know the planet better than anyone, and should no longer have to hide.
In gratitude for his guidance that day, the Tusken leader gives Boba a gift. It’s a lizard in a basket who promptly goes up Boba’s nose because The Book of Boba Fett is body horror Star Wars writ large. The lizard leads Boba on a vision quest of sorts, where he has a flashback to his childhood on Kamino, watching his father fly away on a mission; then he finds himself at a giant tree full of red-eyed creatures who watch as the tree envelopes him, becoming the Sarlacc. He returns to the village in the morning, shaken (the lizard fully wriggles back out of his nose because he hasn’t had a hard enough night) and bearing a tree branch. The second takes the branch while Boba is dressed in the traditional Tusken robes we met him in during The Mandalorian. Under the second’s eye, Boba and another Tusken craft his own gaffi stick out of the branch and he joins the Tuskens in a ritual dance around the campfire that night.
“The Tribes of Tatooine” is a touching look at a man finding a new family – a common Star Wars thread to be sure, but seldom one we get to see from this side. Boba’s frequent flashbacks to Kamino and Jango underscore his desire for belonging, to be a useful, needed part of a greater whole. What he lost that day on Geonosis he’s fighting his way back to finding again, both with the Tuskens and with Fennec (and the boys, let’s give them that). The episode is also a stark reminder that the titular Star Wars are happening around the regular people and that there are multiple little battles to be won at all levels. The Dune Sea belongs to the Tuskens, and Boba Fett is going to help them reclaim it.
- The couple that Boba saves at Tosche Station is none other than Luke Skywalker’s childhood friends Camie and Fixer! If you don’t recognize those names, it’s not too surprising, given that their scenes in A New Hope were deleted and were mostly known from various photos and comic book appearances. Always nice to see some old friends.
- Tusken Tween Watch: He’s alive and well and helping out with Boba’s train plan, signaling to the Tuskens hidden in the dunes. He also gleefully greets Boba when the latter returns from his vision quest.
- The gourds that the Tuskens had Boba digging for in the last episode are black melons, and their milk is what provides the Tuskens with most of their hydration.
- If the show won’t name the Gamorrean guards, then I will. Their names are Tim and Tad and they like using swords and eating pizza.
- At least one of the miners’ speeders had the same symbol that we saw painted on the side of the homestead.