Everything about this episode just felt a little off. The plot points were questionable, the chase sequence was positively geriatric, and the shuffling around of antagonists felt less like a cunning exploration of criminal power structures and more like a show that only three episodes in is spinning its wheels. And while Stephen Root as a conniving, but loveable water monger; Danny Trejo as a gruff, but loveable Rancor trainer; and Yellowjackets’ Sophie Thatcher as a tough, but loveable gang leader were all very welcome additions to the episode, none were enough to overcome the bigger issues that affected this episode. This week had a lot of needless shuffling around and place setting, but hopefully in service of assuring the remaining four episodes go more smoothly.
“The Streets Of Mos Espa” looks to explore the main urban center of Boba Fett’s ostensible criminal empire. When Bib Fortuna took over Jabba’s throne, his weakened position forced him to rely on an alliance of entrenched powers, even though doing so fractured the city into three semi-autonomous boroughs. This is information for a future episode, however. More pressing is those damn kids stealing Stephen Root’s water! The beloved character actor and good-natured weirdo arrives to ask for help dealing with a group of cybernetic street-thugs harassing the local merchants. Just like last week’s Hell’s Angels Nikto biker gang, the kids here are all heavily visually inspired by a real world analog. In this instance, it’s straight out of the Mod scene, with each member riding a candy-colored hover scooter decked out with multiple rear-view mirrors. One kid is even rocking a suit and fishtail parka. It turns out these toughs aren’t so tough after all, and just want a chance to make an honest wage working for an upstart crime lord. Fett’s entourage just got four people bigger.
At night Boba Fett dreams of water. At least until a giant Wookiee yanks him out of his sleeping tank and starts pounding the bacta out of him. I don’t quite understand using electrified brass knuckles when you’re a species renowned for de-limbing people with ease, beyond the obvious reason of the show not actually wanting Fett dead. Just as it was with the Night Wind assassins, this fight scene still feels stilted and overly staged; though it is improved by having a very large creature toss a smaller creature around the room. The trap door to the Rancor chamber continues to pay for itself, however, as the Wookiee happens to stand on the exact 3x3 square necessary to send him into the dungeon. Somehow, the act of Fennic using her throwing knife to dislodge the Wookiee into the pit just seems to highlight how underutilized she has been in this series. Ming-Na Wen is exceptional with a quip or an observation, and she has had the occasional opportunity to kick some ass, but she’s mostly relegated to walking alongside Fett and agreeing with him. That said, the titular character doesn’t fare much better. There’s just a whole lot of standing around on this show. Hopefully she’ll get some solo missions in future episodes.
The show decided it absolutely needed a Rancor and it doesn’t care how it gets one. It’s only under that kind of ends-justify-the-means narrative approach that I can imagine why a departing enemy would gift something so large and ostentatious. After failing to kill Fett, the Twins arrive, apologize for their assassination attempt and inform Fett an opponent is arriving that’s scary enough for the Hutts to relinquish their claim on the Outer Rim. If it were me, I’d just go ahead and quietly depart the planet I no longer wanted to rule, and not worry about repercussions from the obviously over-extended bounty hunter I had just tried to kill. But nature abhors a Rancor vacuum, and that empty chamber was just too sad. So now the show has a Rancor.
Could they have introduced a new monster or monsters to go in there? Of course, but it’s not that kind of show. But if we do indeed get to see Fett riding one as a war steed by the end of the series, I’ll be at least somewhat mollified. Also, the aforementioned Danny Trejo gets to be the guy delivering exposition on the temperament of this giant reptile pit bull, and that’s pretty good too. The departure of the twins speaks to an ongoing problem afflicting The Book Of Boba Fett. While I did say last week that introducing Jabba 2.0 was an uninspired decision, it feels equally befuddling that they would be introduced one episode and depart the next. There’s a lot of build-up and mystery they place around whoever Fett is supposed to be up again, but it’s deflating how they all end up as misdirection or weird interludes.
As for this week’s climactic set piece, What should have been a bracing breakneck chase scene through the streets of Mos Espa instead felt like watching a bunch of teenagers grabbing the mobility carts from a grocery store and videotaping themselves as they idly screw around in the aisles. It was an ambitious effects sequence for the show to plot, no question; with lots of characters interacting in a busy environment. But it all felt so stilted. While Solo should have been a Disney+ show (if it should have been anything at all), this did make me think back fondly to the well-paced speeder chase at the beginning of that film, which only theatrical budgets can buy.
Fett’s time with the Tusken Raiders came to a surprisingly abrupt end this episode. There’s been a lot of speculation about how big of a part they were going to play going forward, even as far as Fett wanting to become Daimyo in order to gift the fruits of his power to the tribe. But they were unceremoniously killed off-screen in a raid by the speeder bike gang Fett tousled with last week. While Fett was away dealing with the Pyke Syndicate, who claims they pay protection money to the gang, it wouldn’t be surprising if they were sent out on the Syndicate’s behalf to take revenge on the Raiders for the train robbery. That scene, together with the reveal it’s the Pykes returning to Tatooine at the end of the episode points to the Syndicate as the ultimate bad guys bridging the two timelines. But given how this show seems to add and discard villains, I’m sure next week we’ll discover they’re actually at the mercy of an Ewok who grafted their head onto a Wampa’s body.
- Notably absent from the dead Tuskens was the tribe champion. I really hope she shows up again. Because she is very cool.
- I’m generally the type of viewer who is happy to overlook questionable technical or structural questions in a scene if it results in a compelling mood or enjoyable sequence. But watching as Fett comes gently gliding down on his jet pack after the majordomo crashes, I just don’t understand how the airborne guy with a clear line of sight and a long range weapon had to wait on his pubescent lackeys to half-assedly do the job for him. Maybe I’ve been living in this country too long to be surprised at someone in a position of power not willingly firing into a crowd.
- I was not familiar with the Wookiee bounty hunter before last week’s episode. His name is Black Krrsantan, and he debuted in Marvel’s Darth Vader #1 in 2015. Folks like him, but seem more enthusiastic that his presence may lead to introducing Doctor Aphra, an amoral archeologist who also premiered in a Darth Vader comic.
- I’m not expecting this show to go heavy on the blood and viscera, but if you get knocked around the room by a massive Wookiee half a dozen times, I’d like to see at least an artful trickle of blood from Fett’s nose, or a bruised cheek, or something.
- Fett lets Black Krrsantan go instead of inviting him to join his crew, but I’m sure that’s just delaying his inevitable addition to the roster.
- The Book Of Boba Fett continues its mission of humanizing otherwise unsympathetic creatures with a more in-depth understanding of the Rancor. They’re not the mindless killing machines we were led to believe. They are in fact, very mindful killing machines.
- In a larger sense, what does a Daimyo of the Outer Rim do? What vices, trade, and criminal enterprises does he oversee? So much of the show’s attention is spent on Fett trying to wrestle control of his domain with a threadbare crew, there’s no attention to the mechanics of overseeing an empire. It’s a good business to be in if you can afford to delegate so much of your job to the underlings.
- The show featured an exterior shot of the palace with a creature grabbing up a small lizard with its tongue. It’s not even an easter egg, just redoing the exact same thing from Return Of The Jedi with an extra flying creature.
- Gangs of New York-style final showdown between the warring factions in the Moss Espa city center, please.
- Are you watching Yellowjackets? It’s fun stuff. No show should be able to handle the obligations to so many genres at this does so gracefully. It’s every kind of delightful pulp nonsense.