After an emotional, flashback-heavy outing with “The Tribes of Tatooine,” this week, The Book of Boba Fett keeps it largely to the present day and the unrest under Boba’s new reign with the action-packed third chapter “The Streets of Mos Espa.”
In a nifty—and needed—bit of exposition, the episode begins with 8D8 laying out the distribution and leadership of Mos Espa under Bib Fortuna’s rule. Rather than being a unified territory under Jabba the Hutt, the city has been split into three domains. Before Boba and Fennec can determine their approach, they receive word that a petitioner from town has arrived.
The man, Lortha Peel, is a water-monger and brings Boba two bits of information. The first is that despite having taken over for Bib Fortuna, he alleges that no one in town actually respects the new Daimyo. The second and more crucial point is that a gang of cybernetically-enhanced youths has been stealing his wares.
Curious, Boba and Fennec investigate and find that Peel was only telling half the truth. According to the gang, led by Drash (Sophie Thatcher) and Skad (Jordan Bolger), Peel has been upcharging them for water, knowing they barely have the means to pay, so they took matters into their own hands.
Indicative of the man he’s become and well-aware he needs friends in the pressure cooker that is Mos Espa, Boba offers the group a job working for him and settles things with Peel, though the water-monger looks far from satisfied at the outcome.
The episode’s lone and relatively short flashback sets into motion the present-day conflict. After trying and failing to secure protection payments from the Pykes on behalf of the Tuskens, Boba returns to the village to find it completely decimated by the same speeder gang who have been terrorizing the locals. This was something that had been speculated about heavily last week and was heartbreaking to see come to fruition so quickly.
Before long, the flashback/dream is abruptly interrupted by Black Krrsantan, the Wookiee assassin in service to the Hutts, who has arrived to kill Boba. Still disoriented from the treatment, Boba struggles to find his footing but is saved by his newest recruits, who herd the Wookiee to the empty rancor pit and trap him with Fennec’s help.
Before Black Krrsantan can become the newest terrifying feature of the palace, the Twins show up to both accept responsibility and relinquish their claim to the throne. This isn’t borne of some newfound respect for Boba but rather fear of going to war with the other syndicate currently laying claim to Mos Espa. Before departing, they gift Boba with a baby Rancor, accompanied by its trainer (frequent Robert Rodriguez collaborator Danny Trejo) as a sign of good faith.
Boba releases Black Krrsantan after he, too, is left in his custody and bonds with his new pet before he, Fennec, and their well-dressed biker gang head into town to confront Mayor Mok Shaiz about the syndicate he supposedly answers to. On arrival, the mayor is nowhere to be found, and his majordomo makes a break for it, only to be chased and caught by Drash and her friends.
This doesn’t leave Boba and Fennec without answers, however. Skad heads out to the port to investigate the potential involvement of any syndicates and finds that at least a dozen Pykes have arrived in Mos Espa. The war that the Twins wanted to avoid, it seems, has arrived in Mos Espa.
Ultimately, the most heartbreaking, if unsurprising, part of the episode was the most disappointing. It’s difficult to reconcile personal feelings on the total elimination of the Tusken village because it’s not as though it wasn’t foreshadowed. But even expecting it, it felt almost callous to lose an entire group that many POC saw themselves in so abruptly.
A group pretty explicitly POC-coded at that. As great as writer Jon Favreau is at digging out the Star Wars Easter eggs, this is somewhere where he really could have benefitted from another writer in the room, or perhaps handing the episode to another writer altogether, if this plot point were truly so inevitable.
The strongest points of this show continue to be the dynamic between Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen. It’s clear that Temuera’s Boba has a deeply-held need to help those who are more vulnerable or who are being taken advantage of by those in power. He has a personal code and seems inclined to believe the best of those life has been forced into undesirable circumstances.
This is what makes Fennec such a wonderful foil for him. Her approach is far more skeptical and direct, likely due to her own past. She knows where her loyalties lie but has no issue making her disagreements known. As the syndicates of Mos Espa prepare to go to war, it will be interesting to watch how Fennec and Boba’s bond is tested or perhaps strengthened.
Director Robert Rodriguez — who also directed The Mandalorian’s second season episode “The Tragedy” — managed to pack a ton of plot into the episode while also setting up potential emotional beats for later on in the series.
The result is an episode that feels much longer than its 34-minute runtime, though that certainly isn’t a bad thing. Rather, it’s indicative of efficient, layered storytelling that manages to hit several beats at once and effectively prepare the audience for the roller coaster ride that the back half of the season is sure to be.
The Book of Boba Fett airs new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.