It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since, as we recovered from the appearance of Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian and Grogu leaving Din Djarin, we were suddenly teased with a post-credits scene announcing The Book of Boba Fett. Well that show is now here, and as usual I will be walking us though each episode and giving my thoughts on the show. My reviews will follow my usual format: an overview of the plot (so be aware, there will be spoilers!), my review of the show, then a few “Moments in canon” – references that link to other media and the galaxy as a whole. Today, we’ll be looking at the series premiere, Chapter 1: “Stranger in a Strange Land”.
While receiving treatment in a bacta tank in what had previously been Jabba’s Palace, Boba Fett experiences flashback dreams: Tipoca City; cradling his father’s helmet in the Petranaki Arena; waking inside the Sarlacc; escaping the Sarlacc; having Jawas steal his armour as he struggles to retain consciousness; being found by a tribe of Tusken Raiders, who take him captive and take him back to their camp; trying to escape the camp, however being recaptured after a fellow prisoner—a Rodian—raises the alarm.
Fett is woken from his dreams by Fennec Shand, who tells him they have visitors. Leaving the tank and donning his armour, Fett makes his way to his new throne, where he receives a number of visitors, who have come with tributes to the new “daimyo”. One of the visitors is Mok Shaiz, majordomo to the Mayor of Mos Espa. Fennec notes that the Mayor not coming in person—and not sending any tribute beyond his greetings—is a slight that would have been punishable by execution under Jabba. Shaiz soon also makes clear that the Mayor expects tribute from Fett, the opposite to how the deal would have been under Jabba. Despite Fennec telling Fett that the majordomo should be killed, Fett allows him to leave as Fett’s “tribute” to the Mayor, though as Shaiz leaves, he suggests that they will receive another delegation in the future—which sounds like a threat. With Shaiz gone, 2 Gamorrean prisoners are brought before Fett and it is explained that they had served Jabba and then Bib Fortuna, refusing to surrender but eventually being taken alive. Rather than have them tortured as expected, Fett honours their loyalty to their previous lords by giving them the chance to swear fealty to him, which they do.
“Did you catch any of that?”
“Something about friendship?”
“We really need a protocol droid.”
Fett, Fennec and the Gamorreans travel to Mos Espa, as Fett does the rounds among his new vassals. As the do, Fennec discusses Fett’s approach, as he chooses not to use a litter, which would make him look powerful. Fett however notes his intention to not be carried around as if he is useless, and to rule by respect rather than fear.
The group make their way to a cantina called “The Sanctuary”, where Fett introduces himself to Madam Garsa Fwip. Fett explains that he has replaced Bib Fortuna and reassures her that her business will continue under his watchful eye. Garsa thanks him for traveling to The Sanctuary and says that he is always welcome, granting Fett ownership and providing him credits.
As they make their way though the streets of Mos Espa, Fett and Fennec are attacked by 6 figures with stun batons and energy shields, who surround them. The pair are trapped, but the Gamorreans attack the group from outside the ring, allowing the pair to fight back. 4 of the attackers are killed and Fennec chases after the 2 who flee, under orders from an injured Fett that he wants them captured alive. Fennec chases down the 2 survivors, throws one off of the rooftop they are on and captures the other.
The Gamorreans get Fett back to the palace and his bacta tank, allowing him to recover from the fight. While in the tank, Fett has more flashback dreams: He and the Rodin are led away from the camp by a young Tusken and their domesticated massif. As they make their way through the desert, they see a gang of Niktos on speeder bikes raid a homestead, spraying a marking onto the home before they leave. The Tusken eventually sets the 2 prisoners to digging for gourds, which hold water. Their digging eventually disturbs a creature, which attacks the group. The Rodian is killed and the creatures makes to attack the Tusken, but Fett manages to jump on its back and kill it by using his chains to asphyxiate it. The Tusken, Fett and the massiff return to the Tusken camp with the Tusken taking the creature’s head as a trophy and telling his people what happened. As the clan celebrate together the leader of the camp hands Fett a gourd of water to drink.
While I don’t feel that this episode reaches the heights of either season opener for The Mandalorian, I still really enjoyed this episode. I have seen some people say that they wish the episode had either been longer or that we had been given 2 episodes to start things off, and while part of me agrees (I always want more Star Wars!) I also think that this episode works really well narratively, with the flashbacks showing Boba go from a low—near death, captive and without his armour—to a point of relative success (my belief is that the camp leader giving Boba the gourd symbolised him being accepted as part of the clan), whereas in the present, he is at a high point as the new crime lord, but is struggling to fully exert his control. Remaining on the narrative decision for a moment, I think the use of the bacta tank was very clever, as it allows a clever way to bring in the flashbacks, while also providing a narrative excuse for Boba to be less scarred, reducing the amount of time Temuera Morrison would have to spend in the makeup chair.
“Even when a Trandoshan pays you a compliment, it sounds like a threat.”
What really impressed me was just how much this episode got across with the minimum amount of dialogue. There was very rarely any moment where it wasn’t clear what was going on, but it also then felt right for the character, as Fett has never come across as unnecessarily chatty—having himself talk through everything like John McClane in Die Hard for the sake of the audience would not have been right for the character. But what this then requires is a strong performance from your actors and we got exactly that from Morrison and Ming-Na Wen, while the supporting cast all played their roles well.
As for the visuals and score, they were top class as usual, and after just 1 episode, I think that this series will be a wonderful combination of George Lucas’ world, Jon Favreau’s writing, Robert Rodriguez’s directing, modern day technology and score, which is composed by Joseph Shirley, with Ludwig Göransson writing the themes.
The only issue I have right now is the decision to use Mos Espa, as it did not feel at all like the city we saw in the Prequel Trilogy. Granted we can see that not all of the city is in the canyon, with plenty on the top of the surrounding cliffs, but I never got the feeling in the Prequels that the city was on anything other than flat ground. The issue with Star Wars constantly returning to Tatooine is that we are often just going back tot he same couple of locations. We know of other cities on Tatooine, such as the capital Bestine, or the small settlement of Anchorhead, while it would be simple enough for a new location to be created for the series. I just hope that we do not find ourselves re-treading too much familiar ground during this series.
“Jabba ruled with fear. I intend to rule with respect.”
A few final thoughts on the episode:
- While some people may be disappointed by how little we saw of Boba’s escape from the Sarlacc, that is not the story this show is telling, and I imagine lots of cutting, flaming and punching through guts and sand would actually be quite tedious to watch. This episode showed us what we needed to see without sacrificing pacing or narrative to do so.
- It’s great to finally see Gamorrean guards actually doing something useful!
- The quick flashes of Kamino and Geonosis were a great way to establish that we are seeing flashbacks of real events, while also quickly reminding us of his history.
Moments in Canon
- This is the second time we have seen a bacta tank used in live action. Luke was shown spending time in one on Hoth following the Wampa attack in The Empire Strikes Back. IG-11 also used a bacta spray to help heal Din Djarin’s head injury in Chapter 8 of The Mandalorian
- Max Rebo is shown as one of the musicians in The Sanctuary, having survived the destruction of Jabba’s sail barge
- The droid holding court for Fett is 8D8, who can be seen torturing a gonk droid in Return of the Jedi
What did you think of the episode?
Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you….