The Book of Boba Fett shines in its flashbacks but needs more to do in its present day storyline

Temuera Morrison is Boba Fett in Lucasfilm's THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT, exclusively on Disney+. © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
Temuera Morrison is Boba Fett in Lucasfilm's THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT, exclusively on Disney+. © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

Major spoilers ahead of The Book of Boba Fett episode 2

The Book of Boba Fett episode 2, “The Tribes of Tatooine,” was another strong showing for the series. The seeds planted in “Stranger in a Strange Land” bear fruit as Fennec brings the assassin she captured before Boba for an interrogation.

Unsurprisingly, the assassin keeps quiet about his employer until Fennec drops him into the Rancor’s dwellings. Terrified, the assassin bleats that it was Mayor Mok Shaiz who sent him and his fellow assassins.

Leaning into a bit of dramatic, threatening comedy, it’s then revealed to the assassin that Boba Fett doesn’t actually have the Rancor, the cage is empty. It was a solid laugh from a scene primarily set-up to introduce the audience to the order of the night wind.

They’re considered to be highly skilled killers for hire though Fennec scoffs at the reputation they carry and states that they’re overpaid. Still, both she and Boba felt last episode that they should keep an eye on the mayor and, at first, it seems they were right to suspect more than irreverence from him.

In yet another comedic scene, this one dabbling in some workplace humor, Boba, Fennec, and their Gamorrean guards bring their captive assassin to the mayor. They’re waylaid by the receptionist who informs them that they need to have an appointment in order to see Mok Shaiz.

Cue the appearance of the mayor’s majordomo who also attempts to waylay them and you can see why Boba pulls the classic move of going in anyway because they’re wasting his time.

The mayor, who is highly untrustworthy but may be telling the truth in this instance, says he didn’t send the assassins after Boba. In fact, he thanks the former bounty hunter for bringing him in and attempts to pay him. It, however, is a slight meant to remind Boba of his past and how the mayor truly sees him.

Mok Shaiz doesn’t recognize Boba as the new daimyo. While Boba asserts his place and flips the conversation by turning the mayor’s payment for a bounty into the tribute that he’s due as the lord of these lands, the mayor’s disrespect is clearly still going to be an issue moving forward.

Before Boba leaves, however, Mok Shaiz warns the daimyo that running a family is harder than bounty hunting. He also tells him that he should go see Garsa for answers on who sent the night wind assassins.

So, it’s back to the Sanctuary for Boba and crew to meet up with a cagey looking Garsa who clearly knows something that they don’t. What is that something? Jabba’s cousins are in town and they’re looking to take back his territory.

It’s here that I have a bone to pick with The Book of Boba Fett.

The Book of Boba Fett’s present day storyline needs work

I’m going to preface this criticism by stating that the exchange with the Hutt twins is fine. It has the pomp and circumstance of the litter which everyone of note in Mos Espa has told Boba he needs to use. It also shows why Boba doesn’t want to be carried by a litter, it looks ridiculous and doesn’t become him.

There’s a suitable back-and-forth of threats and the appearance of Black Krrsantan which comics fans were likely delighted by. We even get a plot point about Boba needing to receive permission to kill a Hutt which left me wondering who the Star Wars equivalent of a shogun is in this universe that would grant such permission.

But it’s also anti-climatic. The Hutts turn away, deciding to contend with Boba another time, and while it’s a good show of strength for the daimyo in front of on-lookers, it once again undercuts the present day scenes which feel like they’re treading water in comparison to the flashback sequences that are truly what bring this show to life.

If the present day in The Book of Boba Fett is a slow burn, pseudo crime drama then its flashback storyline is what qualifies as prestige television in a genre setting. Here’s what I mean.

We are once again dropped into the past while Boba is in his Bacta pod. Picking up sometime after the events of the series premiere, the bounty hunter is shown learning how to fight by a Tusken warrior. It’s a skill he’ll need in a conflict with train travelers who shoot at the Tuskens as they pass.

However, this flashback storyline isn’t solely about Boba learning from the Tuskens. It’s also about them learning from him. They’re exchanging knowledge. Boba knows that the warriors aren’t in a position to keep the train’s shooters from picking off their members when it passes through, so when he sees bikers ride through the desert he comes up with a plan.

After he receives permission to leave from the Tusken leader, he follows the bikers to Tosche Station. They’re holding fort, being rowdy and rude to Camie Marstrap and Laze “Fixer” Loneozner (according to the Wookieepedia).

This is a cameo moment that comes with a fight scene where Boba gets to flex his Tusken fighting skills as well as steal the bikers’ cycles for the Tuskens to use. It’s a win on all counts.

So far The Book of Boba Fett has done an exceptional job establishing Boba’s growing relationship with the Tuskens. There’s a friendly rapport and respect between them that’s supported by his deference to their way of doing things whilst also opening the door to them learning from him.

You can see this as he’s continuing his training in fighting with a gaderffii and teaching the Tuskens on how to properly use a speeder bike and make it an effective tool in combat. All of this builds up to a stunning train battle where Boba and the Tuskens put their learned skills to use.

Lives are lost on both sides but, in the end, our protagonists prevail against the Pykes, and Boba asserts his dominance. As the Tuskens pick through the cargo the Pykes were carrying, Boba makes it clear that the warriors have an ancestral claim to the Dune Sea that is to be respected. He establishes that a toll must be paid to them and that they aren’t to be harmed.

If the Pykes continue to kill Tuskens on their way through the Dune Sea, then they’ll have to contend with a loss ten times as great. It’s an assertion that the Pyke leader nearly doesn’t agree to as he hand waves their past behavior by stating they’d believed the Tuskens to be uncivilized and were protecting themselves.

His excuse speaks to how little Tusken life is valued. Boba, however, values the Tuskens and their way of life. He sends the Pykes on foot back to the syndicate to pass along his message, providing only a black melon to them each to stay hydrated but assuring them that the Tuskens will escort them safely home.

Boba making good on his promise to stop the train not only raises his status among the Tuskens, it also commands a type of respect that sees him fully joining their community. But first, he must go on a dream journey that’s initiated by a lizard.

Typically, when a tribe of any culture sends someone on a “guided” journey a hallucinogenic of some kind is used whether through smoke or substance. The Book of Boba Fett chose a lizard that goes up the person’s nose to settle in their brain. It was…a choice. Still, the effect is the same.

Through a blend of flashbacks to his youth, his time in the Sarlaac Pits, his capture by the Tuskens, and his current fight with a tree (why is there always a tree?), Boba achieves the next stage in his welcome into the Tuskens’ fold.

When he returns to camp, he’s got a branch in hand and it’s revealed to him that he didn’t hallucinate the lizard entering his brain, that definitely happened. No one was fazed when it exited his nose and hopped back in its carrier, but I definitely was.

Anyway, the branch Boba is carrying is meant to be his gaderffii. After he’s kitted out in Tusken garb, in a parallel to when he was helped into his armor in the premiere, the warrior who taught Boba leads him to the weapons carver who assists the bounty hunter with carving his own gaderffii.

In a particularly moving scene, Boba, with his gaderffii , begins to dance around the fire with his teacher as one by one the rest of the Tuskens join in. He has found a community among them, and they have found a fellow Tusken in him. Reader, when I tell you I teared up!

Hopefully, in episode 3 of The Book of Boba Fett, the present day storyline will rise to the caliber of the flashback plot. Right now the latter is what’s making this series. The former could be what breaks it, if it doesn’t pick up.

Next. The Book of Boba Fett episode 1 review: Survival and naivety. dark

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