The Book of Boba Fett
Four episodes in, it’s clear that The Book of Boba Fett has a pacing problem. The series has set the action on two different timelines — a present in which Boba Fett struggles to keep a foothold in the Tatooine underworld and a past that chronicles Fett’s adventures when he found his way out of the belly of the Sarlacc — but the two have never really spoken to each other all that significantly. The show doesn’t have to be The Godfather: Part II, finding meaningful and heartbreaking connections between past and present. But, apart from this week’s suggestion that Fett’s time with the Tuskens made him want to settle down, the two parts don’t connect thematically or develop much of a rhythm. This happened then. This is happening now.
Maybe the home stretch of the seven-episode miniseries will tie them together satisfyingly, but for now, it feels like we’re watching two shows at once, and on any given week one is a bit more eventful and exciting than the others. This week that honor belongs to the flashback scenes, which “Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm” wastes no time getting to, opening on a dreaming Fett as he continues to recuperate inside the medical tank.
We find Fett recalling his days wandering the desert with his favorite bantha as he schemes to retrieve his ship from what used to be Jabba’s palace. It looks like an impossible task and might have been if Fett hadn’t rescued Fennec Shand — soon to be his sidekick and later his aide-de-camp — from certain death by taking her to a body modification parlor. Though its purpose is primarily for the elective modifications favored by the scooter-riding youth, it can double as an emergency medical facility — for the right price. (A side note: it was obvious that the scooter punks were modeled after the Mods, but in this episode, we learn they’re called “Mods,” presumably because of their love of altered bodies.)
Shand is grateful, in her terse way, and soon makes herself indispensable to Fett. After suggesting it’s unlikely Nikto bikers wiped out his Tusken friends (hmm…) she aids him in planning a raid on Jabba’s Palace. (Or Bib Fortuna’s but, come on. He lived there but never really owned it.) Using a nifty drone, Shand creates a 3D hologram of the place, then, after determining when the palace is most vulnerable, they make their way in through the kitchen. As intimidating as the knife-wielding Chef Droid looks at first, they don’t run into much trouble, at least at first. (One droid even shuts down, presumably for good, rather than deal with the bounty hunter whose fearsome reputation precedes him.) A shoot-out ensues, but Fett and Shand ultimately prevail, then waste little time putting the ship to the test by wiping out the hated bikers. Then Fett does waste time trying to retrieve his armor from the Sarlacc only to find it’s disappeared (though he probably takes some satisfaction in exacting revenge on the creature in the process).
At this point, Shand could be on her way. Instead, she and Fett become partners. Maybe she knows a good thing when she sees it. Maybe it’s Fett’s talk of settling down that gets her thinking she might want to do the same, relatively speaking. Whether or not she’ll stay with him forever remains to be seen, but Shand’s still around in the present day when Fett emerges, “completely healed,” his medical droid tells us. But if he’s going to stay well, he’ll have to consolidate his power and make a stand against the Pykes.
And who better to help him than Krrsantan, the gladiator-turned bounty hunter-turned mean drunk? How mean is he? So mean that the calming Garsa Fwip can’t talk him down from killing his foes in her club. “In this more civilized place in these more civilized times,” she tells him, “what was once celebrated in the bloodlust of the arena is now seen as horror and cruelty.” (The lines seem to echo Fett’s own thinking as he tries to create a more refined approach to gangsterism.) It’s a good speech. It doesn’t work. But Krrsantan leaves Sanctuary with a new job as Fett’s enforcer.
It looks like he’ll need them. At the gathering of Tatooine’s underworld bosses in the final scene, he can’t get them to agree to help, but he can get them to agree not to stand in the way of his upcoming battle with the Pykes. (The rancor helps them make a decision.) Maybe. We’ll see. As Shand and Fett gather on the balcony, both agree that there’s a war to come, one that they’re not yet prepared to fight.
• This week, we learn a bit more about the banthas, those desert-traversing pack animals. They’re actually quite affectionate, it turns out, even capable of wagging their tails in pleasure. They’re also apparently carnivorous, which is unexpected, but we already knew the Tatooine ecosystem was weird.
• Watch with the captions on, and you’ll learn that the food in Jabba’s Palace is made by “Chef Droid” and “Sous-Chef Droid.”
• With Fett fully healed, have we seen the last of the flashbacks? And will we ever return to the Tuskens, or have they served their purpose? Also, how long was Fett with the Tuskens? It doesn’t seem like he was in the desert that long, but he references being in the Sarlacc pit “all those years ago.” It does make sense, though. The Mandalorian is set about five years after Return of the Jedi, putting this in the same timeframe.