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Boba is back, and he is determined to break the cycle. As we saw at the end of Season 2 of The Mandalorian, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) has left his days as a bounty hunter behind him. He gunned down Bib Fortuna and took control of what was left of Jabba the Hutt’s crime syndicate; he is now a crime lord. The new Star Wars streaming series, The Book of Boba Fett, will focus on how he handles this transition.
He will go about securing his new empire (“his new empire..?”) with the help of master assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). The premiere of the new series definitely deals with events in the “present” timeline of the series, which (like The Mandalorian) takes place five years after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The premiere includes major flashbacks, though, and no time is wasted in answering the most pressing Boba question of all.
How exactly did he escape his gruesome Sarlacc fate all those movies ago? We finally know.
***WARNING: From this point on, there will be spoilers for the premiere of The Book of Boba Fett. If you have not watched the episode yet, walk away... but pay tribute first.***
In what was formerly Jabba’s Palace, Boba has dreams while he heals in a horizontal bacta tank. We see flashbacks to both Kamino and the Geonosis arena (from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones) before we see Boba inside the slimy insides of the Sarlacc. A stormtrooper is inside of the beastie with him, and Boba manages to disconnect the dead trooper’s air supply to stay alive. He shoots off his wrist-mounted flame thrower at the side of the Sarlacc itself.
In the desert next to the Sarlacc and the remains of Jabba’s sail barge, Boba emerges from the Tatooine sand. He’s alive, and he’s free! Well, he’s alive. He collapses in the sand and is soon relieved of his armor thanks to some marauding Jawas; he is too weak to fight them off. Those Jawas, as we know, would go on to sell that armor to Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), who we met in The Mandalorian Season 2.
The Jawas aren’t the only Tatooine mainstays to visit Boba, who is now stripped down to a jumpsuit. Tusken Raiders come along and capture him, and he is dragged behind their bantha caravan which, yes, proceeds in single file. He’s tied up in their camp and Tusken kids hit him with sticks. He knocks out a Massif and escapes his bonds, only to do the right thing and offer to help a captured Rodian. The Rodian lets the other Tuskens know he’s escaping, so that’s what Boba gets for being nice. He tries to take one of the Tuskens on, but they have a gaffi stick (gaderffi) and Boba’s got… a regular stick. He doesn’t last long.
A second flashback later on in the episode shows how Boba began to get some respect from the Tuskens. After witnessing the sacking of a moisture farm by a speeder gang that will surely be seen again, Boba and the Rodian have to dig in the sand to find water fruit. They end up finding a huge sand-alligator-monster-man who has six arms (or legs, unclear) and looks like they were taken directly out of a Ray Harryhausen movie.
The Rodian is toast but Boba kills the beast and saves the Tusken kid that was bullying them around. The kid runs back to the settlement with the beast’s head, and one of the Tusken elders offers Boba water.
He is slowly earning their respect. This is likely why Boba is using Tusken weaponry when we catch up with him in The Mandalorian, but also it is likely the reason why he is determined to use respect (and not fear) as a crime lord. You catch more credits with respect than you do with fear. That's a famous saying.
In the present, Boba goes about doing crime lord things with Fennec; collecting tributes, visiting vassals, and being attacked. Fennec continually points out how he is not doing things the way that Jabba would, and that everything would be easier if he just continued that cycle. “Lord Fett” is not going to do that. He’s not like poetry, he will not rhyme with what came before. He’s going to reinvent the crime wheel, even if that is the harder path.
“In difficult times, fear is a surer bet,” Fennec says. She’s not wrong, but like a former prisoner of his, Boba doesn’t seem to care about the odds.
-The premiere is titled "Stranger in a Strange Land" and that fits perfectly for Boba's present as well as his flashbacks. It was directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Jon Favreau.
-We imagine that we’re not done with the flashbacks. Boba seems to need regular bacta treatments, and now that the “dreams are back” (as he tells Fennec), we hope that we get them in every episode.
-The absence of a protocol droid is acutely felt at court, but the torture droid 8D8 (last seen grilling a gonk droid’s feet in Return of the Jedi) tries to fill the void. He is played by Matt Berry (What We Do in the Shadows), and wow are we happy to have him on this series.
-Max Rebo also survived! The musical blue elephant guy was on Jabba’s sail barge in Return of the Jedi, but he must have gotten away just like Bib Fortuna did. He’s playing in the cantina that Boba and Fennec visit, alongside a Bith who may or may not be one of the Modal Nodes. The drummer is a droid; neither Sy Snootles or Droopy McCool are seen. They may have burned up in the barge.
-Fennec refers to Jabba having a “menagerie.” We know that he had a rancor named Pateesa, but this line makes us think that he had more creatures around. Might we see the smaller rancor, Muchi, from Star Wars: The Bad Batch?
-Boba is anti-torture. When 8D8 recommends the tactic, Boba refuses: “I do not torture.” Jabba definitely did torture everyone, including droids, so Lord Fett is changing things up once again.
-Jennifer Beals appears as the twi’lek vassal Garsa Fwip. Surely we'll see her again.
-We also expect to see the slippery major domo of the Mayor of Mos Espa again. There’s no way that he makes it out of this series alive.
-Speaking of Mos Espa, it is more or less clear from this episode that the structure formerly known as Jabba’s Palace is closer in both connection and distance to that settlement, and not Mos Eisley. This makes sense, as both the pod racing and the slaves all seemed to be based there.
-Boba’s way of changing things up has already paid off; the two Gamorreans he spares in this episode save both him and Fennec when they are attacked.
-One of the assailants was taken alive. Who are they and who sent them? The mysterious mayor, perhaps?Surely we’ll find out soon.
-By the end of this series, we (kind of) want to see Boba being carried around on a litter for one reason or another. He’ll hate it. We’ll love it.
-Ming-Na Wen is predictably fantastic, and Morrison absolutely nails what is certainly his biggest showcase as the character yet, especially the almost dialogue-free flashback sequences. Furthermore, this bears repeating; both Jennifer Beals and Matt Berry are on the show.
-Welcome to our regular coverage of The Book of Boba Fett. We’ll be here every week, covering the series not with fear, but with respect.
The Book of Boba Fett streams on Disney+ every Wednesday.