Warning: Spoilers ahead for "The Book of Boba Fett" chapter 3
Expectations were dangerously high after the incredible episode 2 of "The Book of Boba Fett" on Disney Plus (opens in new tab) and it's safe to say, nothing that happened this week could've possibly been predicted — in both good and bad ways, but we'll get to that. Last week we said imagine "The Godfather: Part II" meets "Dances With Wolves" who brings his friend "Lawrence of Arabia"… Well, now suddenly "Quadrophenia" and "Back to The Future II" get inadvertently added to the mix.
Chapter 3, entitled "The Streets of Mos Espa," it's a slightly shorter installment, running at the seemingly more regular time of 38 minutes. It's mostly of the same high quality that we saw in Chapter 2, but with the inclusion of one element that has had the "Star Wars" fan community arguing for days.
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We pick up almost immediately from where we left off last week, after the entertaining incident involving the non-existence of the Rancor, which the story will circle back to within this episode. So far — and as we've mentioned before — the fan service has been well measured, is nicely placed, evenly distributed and doesn't devalue our viewing experience. And that's undoubtedly been a highlight of "The Book of Boba Fett" thus far. In this episode alone, there are discrete references to the B'omarr Order (opens in new tab), BT-16 droids (opens in new tab), Trandoshans (opens in new tab), the Aqualish and Klatooine.
Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) ponder their next move in the underworld following last week's assignation attempt when an unexpected guest arrives, Lortha Peel (Stephen Root), a water-monger from the Worker's District. He complains about a gang stealing his inventory and as a gesture to keep law and order on the streets of Mos Espa, Fett agrees to investigate. They stand up to Fett when he confronts them, informing him for the first time just how bad things are on the streets.
Upon first viewing of this episode, the way this gang are described by the water-monger as "half-man, half-machine," "their bodies modified with droid parts" and you'd be forgiven for expecting something out of "The Terminator" or "RoboCop II" or even "Alita: Battle Angel" — but no, not quite. And this has been the story element that has had both fans of "Star Wars" and sci-fi aficionados arguing about all week.
In essence, the four primary gang members all ride, brightly-colored, metallic blue, red, gold and green, moped-inspired hover bikes. And while this is all good fun, kinda, it does clash just a little bit with everything we've come to expect from the desert planet of Tatooine; from Mos Eisley to Mos Espa and more rural settings like Tosche Station, Mos Pelgo and moisture farms.
"Both the bikes and the riders' outfits looked waaay too clean and out of place" was one comment on Twitter. "The main problem with those cycles is that they don´t match the environment. In such a dusty backwater world like Tatooine, they are just too tidy and pristine," was another. "A terrible decision… It destroyed all attempts at world building. If those bikes had been patched up with replacement parts after numerous repair jobs, fine. Tatooine is not Coruscant," was one more.
And there was just as much comment representing the other side of the issue. "Motorcycles are no problem in an episode that has plenty of them. It's in the spirit of George Lucas and makes sense for a band of young people on a backwater planet," was one remark and "Great worldbuilding. You know exactly who they are only with their bikes, that's neat," was another.
To conclude, the idea was nice, but perhaps the execution was a little over the top. You don't have to practice "Star Wars" asceticism by monastic living to respect and appreciate consistency in cinema. That's why quality and cohesive world building is so essential and things like canon and lore contribute in such an important way. To achieve "total immersion" in anything you're watching requires believable, well-filmed TV or cinema.
Any scene that can draw you in and make you forget your surroundings is a credit to the writer, director, director of photography and others. But just like day-to-day life on Earth must be consistent with basic rules, so should life on a fictional planet. If everything starts exhibiting properties that are utterly random, we won't be able to follow or understand it and thus won't enjoy what we're watching. When something breaks the rules that have so far been established, it stands out, to say the least.
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There are plenty of potential explanations as to why this seemingly out-of-place biker gang looked the way they did, but the fact remains…it looked out of place. Perhaps everyone in the writer's room was riding the creative wave of coming up with the Rancor part of the story (more on that later) that someone at the party shouted, "Hey, those speeders could be brightly-colored, post-retro-50s, Mod-style Vespas…!" And everyone cheered, perhaps not fully realizing what they were cheering for. And so, in the cold light of the next morning, a hungover assistant in the Art Department knocked out some early drafts.
The look and feel has been influenced by Mod culture, which peaked in the UK during the 60s. This was a counter-culture movement where young adults embraced the evolving music of bands like "The Who," "The Kinks" and "The Small Faces." It embraced the changing scene in London of both fashion, music and sub-culture and people who identified as Mods often wore army surplus clothing and typically rode around on customized motor scooters, usually a Vespa or Lambretta. The 1979 movie "Quadrophenia" starring Phil Daniels and a very young Sting, is a classic period drama set at the height of this chapter in history, which was extremely important for the growth of music, art and even literature around the world and especially in the UK.
The fact that they refer to themselves as "Mods" is no coincidence and it's a nice move to add a different — albeit fairly obvious — definition to the name. However, maybe adding that many rearview mirrors to a speeder on Tatooine — a planet with two suns — isn't such a good idea, 'cause when the suns hit them, it's going to be like the Death Star's superlaser. Regardless of how you feel about this somewhat out-of-place addition to Tatooine culture, it got the entire internet talking about it…and Disney is a business at the end of the day.
Interestingly, according to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), Sophie Thatcher (who starred in the indie sci-fi flick "Prospect" along with Pedro Pascal before he was cast in "The Mandalorian") who plays the gang leader Drash, was told her character was comparable to "a sci-fi Joan Jett" which more closely resembles a "Rocker" — the Mods principle advisories in the 60s (in addition to general authority, parents, the establishment and so on). Perhaps her speeder is a trophy of victory in combat. Who knows.
So, once you've got past the (opens in new tab) chase sequence that's basically "Back to the Future Part II" meets "Solo: A Star Wars Story" and Locutus of Tatooine giving chase on a Lambretta, you can enjoy the rest of the episode. With the Mos Espa Mods now working for him, Fett returns to his bacta tank and we see the primary flashback portion of this episode. He leaves the Tusken encampment and heads into town on business. However, the Pyke crime syndicate has double-crossed him. Instead of having made a deal, Fett returns to the encampment and finds it utterly destroyed in a pre-emptive attack by a rival gang, the Kintan Striders.
It's a sad, somber scene, Fett walks slowly through the burning tents and around the bodies of the tribe that took him in. Aside from the obvious tragedy, this is an interesting scene that not only bears a slight resemblance to Luke finding his Uncle and Aunt murdered in "Episode IV: A New Hope," but also feels like a deliberate move to realign our opinions of the Tuskens from the savages we saw in "Episode II: Attack of the Clones" that kidnapped Shmi Skywalker, for no adequately explored reason.
We're still reeling from the shock of all of this when Fett is unceremoniously dragged from his bacta tank by none other than the Black Krrsantan, a legendary bounty hunter that has appeared in a number of Marvel's "Star Wars" comics and we saw for the first time in a live-action spin-off last week. Thankfully, Fett's entourage has grown in number following the recruitment of the Scooter Squad and between just about everyone, they are able to capture mighty Wookiee.
The incestuous Hutt twins appear at Fett's doorstep and apologize for the assignation attempt. They also advise him that the mayor of Mos Espa, an Ithorian named Mok Shaiz (voiced by Robert Rodriguez) is secretly responsible and as a gift, they present Fett with a new Rancor…and this is without a doubt the best part of this episode. Fett learns about Rancor behavior from its keeper, played by Danny Trejo in an example of utterly perfect casting.
You may recall Jabba's Rancor, named Pateesa (oh yes) was killed by Luke Skywalker in Episode VI: Return of The Jedi" — in self-defense, naturally — when he threw a broken human skull that was lying near his feet in the Rancor pit against a lock that forced the door to close on poor Pateesa, who was about to eat him. (And it should come as no surprise that the skull has a backstory.) All of this now lands a little more depth to Pateesa's keeper's reaction when all of this unfolded, which is nice.
Fett insists that he is trained to be the Rancor's master and that one day he will ride him. And we can't wait for that.
This episode was directed by Robert Rodriguez, a frequent collaborator on "The Mandalorian" and it's been confirmed (opens in new tab) that Dave Filoni will be credited as a co-writer on Chapter 6 of "The Book of Boba Fett." He has already written two episodes of "The Mandalorian" — Chapter 5 and Chapter 13 and he directed both of them, so it's not unreasonable to assume he will be directing the series finale as well.
Rating: 7 /10
Seasons 1 and 2 of "The Mandalorian" are available to stream on Disney+ and so are the first three episodes of "The Book of Boba Fett" along with every episode and every movie in the "Star Wars" universe.