“Let the wookiee win,” C3-PO famously advised R2-D2 as the latter threatened to beat Chewbacca at a game of holochess. Though Chewbacca’s anger didn’t look like it should be taken lightly, he never really seemed like the sort of wookiee who would tear the arms out of the sockets of his opponents. Half-collie, half oversize teddy bear, Chewbacca looked cuddly even in the midst of battle. The same can’t be said of Krrsantan, the wookiee assassin who tears Boba Fett out of the tank where he sleeps (and dreams a series of flashbacks that fill in his backstory), nearly kills him, then fights off seemingly everyone who lives in what used to be Jabba’s palace before getting dropped in the vacant (for now) rancor pit. Wookiees: Don’t take them lightly, especially when they’re getting paid to kill you.
It’s not much of a mystery who sent Krrsantan — the Hutt twins fess up to it in a later scene — or why. That’s made clear by an opening scene that doubles as a reminder that Boba Fett might have successfully seized Jabba’s throne, but seizing power and maintaining power aren’t the same thing. In the episode-opening briefing / info dump, 8D8 recounts that Fett’s immediate successor, Bib Fortuna, learned this quickly. Incapable of Jabba’s iron-fist approach, he relied on “uneasy alliances” between three families, each allotted a portion of Mos Espa to call their own. This obviously didn’t work out for him. That’s what kind of leader Bib was, and now 8D8 tells Fett, “Everyone is waiting to see what kind of leader you are.”
Good question. Apparently, he’s the sort of leader who doesn’t mind following up on the complaints of price-gouging water merchant Lortha Peel (Stephen Root), who opens his meeting with the daimyo by telling Fett, “With apologies, sir, no one respects you.” Negged into action, Fett shows up outside Peel’s place of business to personally chase off the “urchins,” a “street gang of insolent youths” Peel describes as “half-man, half-machine.” But really, they’re mostly mods. From the dapper costumes to the rebellious attitudes to the colorful scooters equipped with a multitude of mirrors, the ruffians plaguing Peel look like they’ve been pulled into Tatooine straight from Quadrophenia. Do they dance to Motown B-sides and the Who? Do they battle Tatooine’s equivalent of rockers?
Those answers, if we get them at all, will have to wait, though it looks like the insolent youths will be with Fett for a while. Rather than running them off, he gives them jobs. (After the Gamorrean Guards, it’s becoming a pattern.) And rather than take Peel’s side, he admonishes him to cut his water prices. Really, what choice do they have but to steal at those rates? (True, they can afford those scooters and seemingly expensive body modifications, but Peel’s rates are crazy.)
Bedtime means flashback time for Fett, and this episode’s vision of the past finds him remembering what happened after the great train robbery of the previous episode. Triumphant and looking sharp in his Tusken robes, Fett takes a bantha to town to meet with the Pyke Syndicate, whose representative seems reasonable enough but refuses to pay tribute to Fett and the Tuskens because he’s already paying the Kintan Striders, the biker gang with whom Fett clashed in the previous episode. Vowing to take care of the Striders, Fett returns home only to find that his whole adopted Tusken tribe has been slain, with Kintan Strider graffiti left behind at the crime scene. Looks like this just got personal.
But that will have to wait. Ripped from his reminiscence, Fett suddenly finds himself wet, mostly naked, and fighting a wookiee. The battle moves throughout the palace until, with the help of Shand, the urchins, and the Gamorreans, Krrsantan is contained. It’s such an upsetting situation that Fett can’t bring himself to eat much of his breakfast feast before he’s interrupted by some unexpected visitors: the Hutt twins.
They’re very sorry for trying to kill Fett and bring a gift appropriate for the occasion: a new rancor (as well as a new rancor keeper played by Danny Trejo). After informing Fett that Mayor Mok Shaiz has made an arrangement with another syndicate, they tell Fett they’re peacing out back to Hutta, that he should consider leaving, too, and that he can do with Krrsantan what he likes. What he likes, it turns out, is to let him go with the “from one bounty hunter to another” understanding that the murder attempt was strictly business. Fett’s really not interested in exacting revenge or committing any acts of violence he doesn’t have to, is he?
Clearly, Fett needs to look into what’s up with Mok Shaiz and his competition. Before that, though, he wants to spend some time with the rancor, which, its keeper informs Fett, is depressed. Rancors, it turns out, are naturally peaceful, emotionally complex creatures capable of bonding with humans (which would explain the tears in Return of the Jedi). Fett’s quite taken with the rancor and, in what might be a bit of foreshadowing, announces he’d like to ride the rancor as the witches of Dathomir are said to have done. It’s going to take some work, but it looks like Fett’s willing to put in the time.
But first, it’s off to see Mayor Mok Shaiz, who’s apparently too busy to meet with Fett, per his assistant. In fact, the mayor isn’t there at all, and the assistant takes the opportunity to flee the scene before it gets too intense. This leads to a chase through the streets of Mos Espa, one that director Robert Rodriguez uses as an opportunity to throw in every city-chase scene cliché ever put to film, from fruit stands to falling scaffolding to delivery men carrying fragile objects through the street. It’s fun, but it doesn’t end well for the mayor’s assistant. And the episode ends on an ominous note for Fett and his growing circle of friends. It turns out the mayor’s meeting is with a syndicate Fett already knows: the Pykes.
• When Fett sees the stormtrooper helmets on pikes, is this the first time he’s made aware that the Empire has fallen (or at least doesn’t exert the iron grip it once did)?
• We get two references to Tatooine once being covered in water. Is this trivia, or will it play a role in the story?
• So after spending all that time getting to know this Tusken tribe and their ways, it looks like The Book of Boba Fett is just fridging them to give Fett a more personal stake in the fight to come. They seemed more than just plot devices, but perhaps not?
• That said, there’s a mystery here: Yes, the scene of slaughter bears is the tag of the Kintan Striders, but could it be someone else? Maybe the Pykes? They have everything to gain by pitting the Tuskens against the bikers, and it would echo the Empire’s habit of trying to pin crime scenes on the Tuskens, as seen in the first Star Wars movie.
• Nice to see Root and Trejo (whose arrival was probably inevitable given Rodriguez’s involvement with the series).
• Fett puts a lot of trust in her, but are we sure about Shand? She’s a tough customer and has always seemed more invested in power than friendship. It might be worth keeping an eye on her.
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