The premiere episode for The Book of Boba Fett has arrived, bringing us some interesting answers, while teasing what lies ahead for the icon.
Live-action Star Wars is back today with The Book of Boba Fett – Chapter One: Stranger in a Strange Land, on Disney Plus. As I did for The Mandalorian I’ll be handling the show breakdowns/reviews for the site and sharing my overall on thoughts, theories, and Easter eggs as it goes along. As always, I’ll be diving well into spoiler territory, so if you haven’t watched yet, here’s your warning… Now, let’s get to it!
Back to the Past
Chapter 1, titled “Stranger in a Strange Land,” essentially picks up the story were fans were left off in The Mandalorian Season 2 end-credits sequence. We’re not rehashing Boba’s take over from Bib Fortuna, but get to see him more as he establishes himself.
Before we get there, however, the show gives fans something they’ve been waiting to see since 1983: how Boba escaped from the Sarlacc. Well, even here I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. The first thing we see, is a quick flashback to Tipoca City on Kamino, where Boba was born. It’s a quick shot, but cool to see this place in live-action once again for the first time in almost 20 years.
On top of that, we get another Attack of the Clones flashback, with a shot of young Boba on Geonosis holding up his father’s helmet. Now, at first glance, this looks like footage pulled straight from the film. If you look closely, however, things are a bit different. The composition of the shot is slightly different (note the absence of the Reek’s body in the background), shows Boba running up to the helmet, and also gives a new angle not seen in the movie.
Sure looks like they actually re-shot this moment for the show; likely using a body double and overlaying Daniel Logan’s face. Now, if they went through the trouble of redoing this moment, I’m wondering if it’s a flashback we’ll come back to later, possibly with even more expanded/new footage to show this defining moment.
Anyway, next we jump right into the belly of the Sarlacc. We see Boba manage to burn his way out of the creature’s stomach, but his escape onto the sands is far from the end of his troubles. Jawa’s roll by, stealing the armor from his body (where Cobb Vanth will eventually be able to pick it up from them), before a band of Tusken Raiders come by to “rescue” him.
Surprisingly the various flashbacks in the episode (coming when he’s inside his personal Bacta healing tank), make up the bulk of the debut episode. As such, I’m going to discuss those first as a whole, even though the episode spreads them out a bit more.
We come to learn pretty quickly that Fett’s time with the Tuskens is not an easy one. He’s their captive, forced to work, and even tortured by the children of the small tribe. After a botched escape attempt, Fett eventually earns himself some respect by helping to save a youngling from a viscious new monster who lives on the sands.
We’ve never seen this creature before, but I absolutely love how the newer Star Wars stuff has done more to showcase how dangerous Tatooine can be, aside from the people who reside there. That and I’m always down with new Star Wars monsters, especially ones with a clear Ray Harryhausen influence.
By and large, I loved how the episode opened with these flashbacks (leading all the way up to his attempt to escape, before diving into the “current” story timeline). I was impressed at how it managed to convey a good chunk of backstory/emotion despite the fact we don’t get any dialog until almost 10 minutes into the whole episode.
We see Fett as humbled, and vulnerable. He’s no longer the cocksure Bounty Hunter flirting with women in Jabba’s Palace. Rather he’s near death, and in a position he hasn’t been in, in a very long time. His fight against this particular Tusken tribe (who are markedly different from other Tuskens we’ve seen/encountered) shows that the badass still has plenty to learn.
It’s an opening that goes a long way towards humanizing the overall character who’s sole purpose beforehand was to look cool. It was probably my favorite aspect of this particular episode, made all the more impressive as it’s relies entirely on visuals to tell the story.
The show’s ending, as the Tusken Chieftain hands Boba a drink of water out of respect, makes it clear we’re not done with these flashbacks. I suspect we’ll be getting them throughout the series as a way to show how/why his overall perspective on things (he’s much more about respect and honor these days) have shifted.
The brief glimpse of the swoop gang we saw during the flashback also seem like a plot thread we’ll be getting more of. Since he still needs regular bacta treatments, I’m also interested to see if there’s more reason, beyond the Sarlacc, we’re waiting to learn. So yeah, we’ll be seeing plenty more of his experiences before Din Djarin met him.
Heavy Sits the Crown
In the current timeline of events (which take place following The Mandalorian’s second season), Boba is settling into life as Tatooine’s newest top crime lord. Fennec serves as his main advisor and enforcer, sitting as his side as he takes “tributes” from the minor crime bosses throughout Mos Espa…all except one.
The current Mayor of Mos Espa, Mok Shaiz, isn’t so impressed with the newcomer. Instead of sending tribute like the others, he sends his Twi’lek Majordomo (played by David Pasquesi) in an attempt to solicit FETT for a tribute. It’s a notable change from how Jabba, and likely Bib Fortuna, ran things that Boba doesn’t immediately kill the Majordomo.
The scene is short, but sets the tone for what’s to come, and I suspect what future episodes will deal with. It’s clear not everyone is ready to bend the knee when it comes to Fett taking over which will inevitably bring conflict.
Next we see Boba and Fennec walking the city of Mos Espa, which as grown significantly since we saw it during the Prequel films. Boba is continuing to make his presence known and visiting the different “establishments” which now fall under his control/protection. Namely, he heads into “Sanctuary,” a spa/casino/cantina/general service club, run by Garsa Fwip (played by Jennifer Beals).
It’s a pretty sweet looking place, at once giving the scum and villainy vibes we’ve come to associate with Tatooine, while also feeling more upscale. Even better, we get some MAX REBO action! Good to know he’s still around and making a living for himself making incredible music.
We don’t spend much time here, just long enough to get a feel for another side of Tatooine’s underworld, before Boba and Fennec are ambushed as they’re leaving Sanctuary. A group of assassin’s, who could have easily jumped over from Mortal Kombat, quickly surround the duo resulting in a brawl right on the street.
Thankfully, the Gamorreans aren’t as useless as they initially looked and manage to help Boba and Fennec out of the tough situation. Boba is rushed off to the bacta pod, while Fennec races after their assailants. I thought the overall fight between the two groups was…”okay,” the rooftop chase was quite a bit of fun. It’s a sequence that allowed Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand another chance to shine/showcase her skills.
Fennec is able to capture one of the would-be assassin’s alive (as ordered), but we’ll have to keep waiting to learn more about them. I would argue it’s a fairly safe bet to say Mayor Mok Shaiz is the one who sent them against Fett. It would line up perfectly with the not-so-subtle threat the Majordomo left the palace with.
The real question, however, is whether or not the Mayor is working alone or for someone even bigger. Jabba’s empire extended beyond just Tatooine, so I would imagine anyone willing to actively push against the person claiming the throne would have the backing of a larger organization. That said, we don’t know how things went, or shrank, under Bib Fortuna’s tenure. Either way, I have a hunch the Mayor isn’t the top of the food chain in Boba’s encounters…
As for what the rest of the series holds in store, it’s tough to say. While I enjoyed the episode overall, and it serves as a pretty solid “pilot,” Stranger in a Strange Land still doesn’t offer much insight into the overall story of the series. There are hints and teases of bigger conflicts to come as Boba cements his rule, but not much. The heavier focus on flashbacks in the episode leaves audiences to wonder which storyline is the main focus.
This isn’t necessarily bad, and I think this episode shows a TON of potential for how great the series can be. It just feels like it was all “setting the table” without even giving a glimpse of the meal we’re waiting for. Honestly, there’s nothing here to give us an indication of the story even beyond what the small trailers showcased.
As such, it makes speculating on the rest of the show difficult…but I’m going to do some anyway. It seems clear the little Tusken child (who I suspect is directly related to the Chief) will continue to play an important role in Boba’s story. And with almost zero evidence to go on, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to find out she is actually Sophie Thatcher’s character we glimpsed in one of the more recent commercials for The Book of Boba Fett.
After all, we see the Tusken youngling watching the swoop gang with noted interest, and from the scant footage we have of Thatcher, she’s riding along with that same gang at some point. Again, it’s weak evidence, but would make for an interesting connection for Boba to reconcile with later on. As for the rest of the series, I suspect things will get significantly bigger, with Boba eventually going off planet and engaging with some of the larger crime syndicates Star Wars fans know all too well.
As expected, the first episode for The Book of Boba Fett feature a number of Easter eggs and callbacks for fans to enjoy. Beyond Max Rebo, here are a few of the things I noticed:
Dokk Strassi – The Trandoshan crime boss who pays tribute to Boba is played by none other than director Robert Rodriguez himself! Even better, you can see the tribute he offers is a Wookiee pelt. Boba is known to have adorned Wookiee scalps on his armor in the past, so it makes sense as a gift, but also harkens back to the Trandoshans’ a long history of enslaving/hunting Wookiees.
Another Familiar Helmet – As the camera pans down on the streets of Mos Espa while Boba and Fennec are walking to the Sanctuary, you can clearly see the Constable Zuvio style helmet in the foreground. It’s a design that also popped up in The Mandalorian.
HURID-327 – One of the droids walking around in Mos Espa bears a striking resemblance to HURID-327, the droid who maintains the grounds at Maz’s castle in The Force Awakens.
Aliens – I’m not going to list them all here, but take a look around the interior of Garsa’s Sanctuary and you’ll find a number of familiar aliens/droids; including plenty of Sequel Trilogy aliens as well.
Sarlacc Escape – It was cool to see how Boba got out of the Sarlacc, and even cooler to see how the filmmakers paid homage to the old Expanded Universe explanation. His survival in the Legends material was a bit more complicated, but distinctly featured him using his flame-throwing to burn up the monster’s insides. Seeing that utilized here as well is just kinda neat!
I have no doubt I missed plenty of cool things in the background, but these were the things that stood out to me most. Be sure to clue me into any others!
Overall, I enjoyed this first episode. I think I enjoyed it even more the second time I watched it, though I wasn’t as blown away as I wanted to be.While the action is a bit light, and I was hoping to get a better idea of the story (it’s only seven episodes after all), it nails the tone/vibes.
The dynamic between Fennec and Boba feels genuine, allowing both actors a chance to shine in different ways. It’s also the most I’ve ever cared about Boba Fett as an actual character. Now, let’s see what the rest of the series does with all the potential shown…