Warning: Spoilers ahead for "The Book of Boba Fett" Episode 7
Everything that we've seen up to now in "The Book of Boba Fett" had been leading us to this moment, and it does not disappoint.
Episode 7 begins right where we left off last week as Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) and Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) pick their way through the burned out ruins of the Sanctuary bar that was destroyed by a bomb blast in a blatant act of war by the Pyke crime syndicate.
It's decided that the gang should hole up here in order to send a message to the people of Mos Espa that despite the imminent attack by the Pyke crime syndicate, Fett and his makeshift army will defend them and not retreat back to the safety of his somewhat impenetrable palace.
Cad Bane (voiced by Corey Burton, who provided the voice for the character in both "The Clone Wars" and "The Bad Batch") goes to see Mayor Mok Shaiz (voiced by Robert Rodriguez) who is with the boss of the Pyke syndicate (Phil LaMarr), since all three of them are in cahoots.
Meanwhile, back in Mos Eisley — in hangar bay 35 to be precise — an X-wing class T-65 starfighter arrives, and we assume Luke has flown to Tatooine to perhaps deliver Grogu to the Mandalorian. Has the little green critter made a decision already between Yoda's lightsaber and the Beskar vest he was presented with last week? Turns out he has. However, sending de-aged CGI Luke back to accompany Grogu probably would have cost Disney millions in additional visual effects, so he's been sent back with R2-D2 flying the ship. Regardless, Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) is delighted to see him.
It's safe to say that we expected the moment when Grogu made his choice to be the final moment of the last episode, if it wasn't carried over to the beginning of Season 3 of "The Mandalorian." So, to take the story beyond that previously expected finishing point within this episode is good to see. Back on the dusty, deserted streets of Mos Espa, Bane and Fett are at last face to face. And this isn't the first time they've met in "Star Wars" history.
In an unfinished scene from "The Clone Wars," it's revealed that the dent in Boba Fett's helmet was caused by a blaster shot from Bane in a standoff they had when Fett was a young bounty hunter working with a crew who went up against the legendary Bane. Now, once again, they are face to face. Bane tries to provoke Fett, but thankfully Shand is there to keep him grounded and a confrontation is avoided — for now.
Then the strategy of the Pyke attack becomes clear. Remember back in Chapter 4, "The Gathering Storm," when the heads of the other crime organizations in Mos Espa agreed to not take any side during the fight? Well, that clearly didn't last long and now the Mos Espa Mod Squad and Black Krrsantan are caught out in the open, exposed in the streets as a large number of the local population appear to be taking up arms against them, plus Pyke syndicate militia begin to surround the remains of the Sanctuary cantina where Fett, Shand and Djarin are sheltering.
In a predictable, but nonetheless thoroughly amusing set piece, they send Mok Shaiz's Majordomo (David Pasquesi) out to negotiate with the Pyke militia. Needless to say, they are about to shut him up permanently when Fett and Djarin appear in the sky above using their jetpacks and open fire on the Pyke militia. The fight's in full swing now and whatever your feelings might be regarding the rest of this episode, there's no denying that watching the two Mandalorians, Fett and Djarin, fight side by side is one of the best moments we've ever had in "Star Wars" so far.
For a full two minutes, these two battered, Beskar-wearing bounty hunters battle against overwhelming odds in a set piece that almost certainly took just a little bit of inspiration from epic Westerns like "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." In fact, I'm willing to wager that at some point early on in the scriptwriting stage, this gunfight was pitched as "what if Butch and Sundance run out to face the Bolivian army, but they have Beskar armor on…" Needless to say, it's pretty fantastic.
Despite the benefit of that armor though, the two are slowly hammered to the ground by blaster fire, when unexpectedly reinforcements arrive from
Mos Pelgo Freetown. Together with the Mos Espa Mod Squad and Black Krrsantan who have joined the fight, they defend their position and even begin to gain the upper hand. Until that is, a number of deadly Scorpenek annihilator droids start emerging from further up the street. Picture a Droideka that we were first introduced to onboard Nute Gunray's Trade Federation battleship in "The Phantom Menace" and now imagine something 10 times bigger and more heavily armed.
Basically a walking anti-aircraft battery, these droids haven't been seen in "Star Wars" before, but they're based on unused concept art for "Attack of the Clones" created by Executive Creative Director at Lucasfilm, Doug Chiang.
These present a very serious problem to our courageous band of townsfolk, and before long casualties begin to mount. Both Fett and Djarin exhaust all possibilities, including their rocket launchers, flamethrowers and even the Darksaber. Fett has an idea and flies off while Djarin attempts to hold the fort by distracting the droids, and while he's running about from street to street, who does he bump into? Motto and Grogu on a rickshaw pulled by a RIC-290.
The fighting intensifies until everyone slowly stops shooting and looks up, even the droids. Then — and in a nice nod to "Godzilla" walking through the streets of Tokyo — just a tiny bit of the Rancor's spine is visible for a second between the buildings and structures. Then each claw is seen (in a similar manner to the artwork for the 1988 TV show "War of the Worlds") as it climbs over the rooftops, and finally we Fett riding the beast as he exchanges fire with the nearest Scorpenek droid.
The Rancor goes full Hulk as it utterly decimates Mos Pelgo Freetown and all I could think of was the collateral damage to the city. It's going to take years to rebuild all that and it does raise the question of why Fett went all the way back to his palace and bought back the Rancor, when he could have brought back his Firespray class gunship. That would have finished off the opposition in no time at all.
The whole fight is thrilling to watch and everyone pitches in — including Grogu. If you listen closely to the Scorpenek annihilator droids you can hear some borrowed sound effects from the ED-209 staircase scene in "Robocop" (1987) and more importantly there's the first-ever Wilhelm scream in any of the live-action spinoff shows at 42:47, when the Rancor casually tosses a Pyke trooper over his shoulder and Fett uses his leg-mounted "whistling bird"-style mini rocket launchers for the first time.
Then Bane appears. He uses his own arm-mounted flamethrower to fend off the Rancor and then he and Fett finally have their showdown. Bane is indeed faster and Boba goes down, but as the mercenary from Duros steps over Fett to gloat, ripping his helmet off, Boba goes to his Tusken gaderffii stick that he's had all along. The tip of it looks a little bit like the explosive rocket on his jetpack, so you might not have noticed it before now.
There's a lot of style and not quite an equal amount of substance — but it's not far off. Director Robert Rodriguez uses the same multi-shot-fade technique after Fett wallops Bane as he did with George Clooney in "From Dusk Till Dawn," which he also directed. And it's very effective. Not to mention the multiple Rancor-Godzilla references.
Rodriguez has proved he can effectively handle large action set pieces as he did with the only episode of "The Mandalorian" he directed, which was chapter 14 "The Tragedy." Eventually the Rancor kills all the bad guys, and it takes Grogu to subdue it. Then the two curl up and go to sleep together in the middle of the street, which in its own very weird way is utterly adorable.
Shand finishes off the Pyke crime boss and the mayor and we see that thankfully none of the primary or supporting cast has been seriously injured and we close — we think — with another adorable moment with the proud, loving Mandalorian father and his little green son that we totally called last week, although we weren't expecting until Season 3 of "The Mandalorian." But, there's a mid-end credits scene that shows Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) on Fett's bacta tank and then that wannabe-punk modification surgeon prepping his Swiss Army-style range of tools, so who knows what brand new body parts Vanth is going to wake up to.
Is "The Book of Boba Fett" going to remain a limited series as was originally announced, or will its popularity result in another season? Who knows (or dares to dream).
Seasons 1 and 2 of "The Mandalorian" are available to stream on Disney Plus in the US and so are all the episodes of "The Book of Boba Fett" along with every episode and every movie in the "Star Wars" universe. Disney Plus will launch in 42 countries and 11 territories this summer, including South Africa, Turkey, Poland and the United Arab Emirates.