The season premier offers up to the audience their finest Wookie Pelt, as we are welcomed back to the world of the Galaxy’s Greatest Assassin.
In a world, where every single side-character from the Disney Universe seems to get a Disney+ show. I couldn’t help but ask myself, does this one really need his own show? Is it better to see him disintegrating his targets or imagine why Vader told him not to? And is the mystique a vital part of the character or a thread waiting to be unravelled.
“Stranger in a Strange Land,” which was written by Jon Favreau and directed by Robert Rodriguez, is a satisfactory, if surprisingly low-key, start to the series that leaves most of those questions wide open. All things considered, definitely not worse than Polio.
In the finale of the second season of The Mandalorian, Koska Reeves taunts Fett by saying “You’ll be talking through the window of a bacta tank.” Perhaps she had gotten an early screener of this episode. Fett spends around half the episode is his personal Bacta Pod at Jabba’s Palace, albeit not talking, but dreaming about his past. After a few brief flashbacks to his pre-master assassin days, the show finally aims to answer one of the big questions regarding the character. How the hell did he escape the Sarlacc Pit?
Boba Fett was one of the biggest catfishes of the 20th century, hyped up to the 70s kids with his go go-gadget armour and jetpack, only to play a bit part role in this little film called The Empire Strikes Back. All of 4 lines and 6 minutes of screen time before his unceremonious fall into the Sarlacc Pit, a sandworm that digests what it eats for a thousand years.
The reveal of how he actually escapes the stomach of the sandworm was nearly 40 years in the making, but Favreau doesn’t draw it out. His escape has been alluded to a few times in old Legends stories, but the official version of events is as follows: Boba draws air from the supply of a Storm Trooper, and then proceeds to punch his way out of the Sarlacc’s stomach before burning it’s intestines with his flamethrower, and then burrows his way to the surface. All in a days work.
We are also introduced/re-introdcued to the Tusken Raiders, as they find Fett before dehydration could take him, drag him through the desert and force him into servitude. After a failed escape attempt (thanks to the Rodian), a duel with a Tusken guard dog, followed by a chance to fight for his freedom, Boba finds himself back in chains and digging for water for his masters. An encounter with what I can only describe as Machop the Pokemon follows, who Boba defeats to win over the tribe and that’s all we see from the various flashbacks throughout the episode.
The flashbacks have a similar Western feel to them like The Mandalorian does, however the real-time events are more like a Gangster flick. We see Fett and Fenec, collecting tribute from various guests, including one of Boba’s former employers, Dokk Strassi. This sequence serves the purpose to show us how most of Jabba (and Bib’s) former vassals are prepared to bend the knee to Fett.
All of them except, the Mayor of Mos Espa, who the audience and Fett do not see in this episode. He sends his Majordomo in his stead to Fett (strike #1), who then proceeds to ask for tribute from Fett (strike #2). Fett lets the Majordomo leave “unmolested”, and tells him to consider this kind gesture as his tribute to the Mayor. Later in the episode as Fett and Fenec leave the sanctuary, they are ambushed by assassins that look like Sable Agents with their shields and batons.
With a little help from the Gamorreans, Fett and Shand overpower them. But Fett needs to be rushed back to his Bacta Pod, presumably to recover from the exhaustion of battle. This is a reminder to us, that this isn’t the Boba Fett we knew. This one is older, beaten down, perhaps carrying wounds we haven’t even seen him incur yet.
He’s like LeBron in his 19th year having to be rushed to his cryo-bed after playing the Kings on a back-to-back. Fennec is the Anthony Davis here (the good version), she was shown more adept in battle, and agile enough to still chase down the parkouring assassins. This is a dynamic the show will probably explore as we get deeper into the series. As for the assassins that Fenec chased down and captured, we are still in the dark over their employer. Something that will probably be revealed next week.
The season premier underpromises in terms of the action (we only got one disintegration in this episode), but the Gangster flick dynamic of how Fett and Fenec’s rule over Mos Espa will be challenged by other parties is very promising and hopefully a far cry from the ‘Adventure of the Week’ aspect of the Mandalorian’s first season. Which isn’t to say it was bad, just that it’s good they are trying something new.