Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Book Of Boba Fett, Season 1, Episode 4: The Gathering Storm

OK now, that's more like it!

This week on The Book Of Boba Fett, we get an episode that's a major improvement over last week's embarrassment. Although to be fair, it would have been tough to come up with something worse than The Streets Of Mos Espa.

In this episode we see the origin story of Fett's partnership with Fennec Shand, and learn how he got his ship back as well. We even see a tiny glimpse of the old Boba Fett as he meets with the other crime lords of Mos Espa, and prepares for war with the Pyke Syndicate.

Best of all, there was no appearance from the Mods (Fett's gang of Dickensian street urchins). Although they did get a brief mention. Oy.

This episode also features numerous references to Attack Of The Clones. For some reason that film's become the dud of the series, as most fans consider it the worst of the Prequel Trilogy. I never understood that, as I found it the least objectionable of the three films. It's definitely better than the execrable The Phantom Menace!

There are also quite a few shoutouts to Return Of The Jedi this week as well. Eh, it wouldn't be Disney Star Wars without fan service callbacks!

Although I liked this episode quite a bit, I'm still questioning whether we actually NEED to see all this backstory. When Futt showed up over on The Mandalorian, he had Fennec Shand with him. At the time I thought, "Oh, he must have found her nearly dead body, took her to someone who installed plumbing in her gut and then she became his partner to pay off her debt." 

And lo and behold, that's EXACTLY what happened, as we saw here. Right down to the stage directions!

It doesn't exactly make for compelling viewing when a plot plays out PRECISELY as one predicted. I dunno, I just feel like big shot Hollywood writers should be able to come up with a more imaginative script than some schlub in Southern Indiana!


The Plot:
We kick right off with another flashback— the lengthiest one yet.

After the death of his Tusken tribe, Fett rides through the desert on his trusty Bantha. He sneaks up behind Jabba's Palace, which has now been taken over by the Hutt's former right hand man, Big Fortuna. He peers through his rifle scope, and sees dozens of guards milling around the rear entrance. Inside he can see his ship, the Slave-1, er, I mean Firespray. He decides there are too many guards to attempt taking it back.

That night Fett camps out under the stars. He sees a couple of flares in the distance, and rides off to investigate. He finds bounty hunter Fennec Shand lying in the sand, left for dead— an event we saw at the end of The Gunslinger episode of The Mandalorian.

Fett loads Fennec onto his Bantha and takes her to a mod parlor near Mos Eisley. He tosses the Modifier a bag of coins and tells him to fix her up. The Modifier goes to work, replacing Fennec's intestines with what appears to be galvanized plumbing. 

Later that night, Fett camps out again while Fennec recovers. She wakes, and he hands her a black melon to drink. She notices her shiny new cybernetic guts, and asks what the hell he did to her. He tells her he saved her life the best he could.

When she asks why, he says he recognized her as Fennec Shand of the Mid Rim. She assumes he saved her because she's worth more alive than dead, but Fett says he's not interested in money. She asks who he is, and when he tells her she says Boba Fett's dead. He says he was, but that the Tuskens rescued him and made them one of their own tribe— until he inadvertently got them all killed. 

Fett asks Fennec to help him get his ship from Bib Fortuna's Palace. She wonders why he doesn't just ask for it back (good question!), and he says he might not like the answer. She says she'll help him, but once she does her debt to him's paid.

The two check out the Palace, and Fennec asks how many guards there are. Fett says he can't tell for sure. Fennec sends a small drone inside the Palace to scope it out. While it's gone, Fett sends his Bantha away. Fennec asks if it's a good idea to get rid of his ride before he has his ship back. Fett says he'll either recover the ship or die trying.

Fennec asks what's next for Fett, and he says once he has his ship back he'll recover his armor, then go after the "bloated pig" who double-crossed him and take his throne. Not sure how Bib Fortuna betrayed him, but whatever. Fett says he's tired of working for others and wants to leave bounty hunting behind.

The drone returns and displays a holographic map of the Palace. Fett says there are too many guards, and Fennec says they'll just have to go in quietly then.

The two sneak in through a drainage culvert, and emerge through a grate in the kitchen. Two cooking droids hear them, assume it's vermin and alert the Rat Catcher Droid. Fett & Fennec disable the two droids, but just as they're about the exit, the Rat Catcher arrives. 

We then get a lengthy, over-the-top cartoony sequence as Fett tries to catch the tiny droid. He finally manages to grab it, and when it finds out who he is it commits electronic suicide by shutting itself off (!). 

Fett and Fennec eventually reach the hangar, where the Firespray's parked. Just then an alarm sounds. Fennec tells Fett to make sure the ship can still fly, so he rushes inside while she picks off a squad of guards that appear.

Fett powers up the ship and tries to take off, but thanks to its impractical design he can't see where he's going. He tells Fennec they need to open the hangar door. She jumps onto the ship's ramp and shoots the counterweight holding the door shut. It snaps open, and she closes the ramp just as Fett flies out of the hangar and into the sky.

Fennec joins Fett in the cockpit. He tells her she's repaid her debt, and asks where she wants to be dropped off. For some reason she tells him she'll go long for the ride.

Sometime later, the Nikto Biker Gang's zooming across the desert on their speeder bikes. The Firespray comes up from behind and Fett blasts them all into oblivion. So much for that story arc!

Fett then flies back to the Sarlacc pit, as he mistakenly thinks his armor's down inside it. For some reason he tries jamming the ship down the creature's throat, hoping to catch a glimpse of his armor.

To absolutely no one's surprise, the Sarlacc isn't dead yet, and lunges at the ship. It then grabs it with its tentacles and starts dragging it in even further. While Fett's trying to free the ship, Fennec launches a seismic charge, which falls into the creature's beak. A second later it detonates underground, finally killing the beast and releasing the ship.

Fett then lands the ship and lowers himself into the pit fo find his amor. After a while he climbs back out, reporting it's not inside (no surprise there!). Fennec says his armor served its purpose and saved him from being absorbed by the creature. 

That evening they camp out again, and Fett says he's tired of working for idiots and wants to form his own house. He tells Fennec she has both brains and muscle, and asks her to join him. She declines, saying she's an independent contractor. He says if she agrees, he'll share the wealth and power with her. She says living with the Tuskens has made him soft, and he replies that one can only get so far without a tribe.

Fett then wakes in the "present" and climbs out of his bacta tank. His droid servant congratulates him, and says he's now fully healed (even though his body is clearly still scarred). Fett asks Fennec how the Mayor's Majordomo is doing after they captured him last week. She says he's fully cooperating, but there's been no sign of the Mayor yet. She says the "Mods" (Fett's gang of Dickensian street youths) are out searching for him. 

Meanwhile at the Sancturay, a drunken Black Krrsantan seethes with anger as he watches a group of Trandoshans gambling and whooping it up. He takes it as long as he can and then attacks them. He grabs one and prepares to pull his arms out of their sockets, as Wookiees are known to do.

Just then Fett enters for no good reason. He watches as Garsa Fwip, owner of the Sanctuary, tries to calm Krrsantan and defuse the situation. In the end she's partly successful, as he only pulls off one of the Trandoshan's arms. Krrsantan pays Fwip and leaves. Fett follows him and offers him a job on his team.

Later at the Palace, Fett meets with the three local "families" that control Mos Espa— the Aqualish, the Trandoshans and the Klatoonians. Fennec reminds them that after Jabba died, Bib Fortuna took over his throne. He was a terrible leader, who tried to screw them over and take their wealth. She says with Fett now on the throne, they can once again be prosperous and powerful— IF they listen to him. 

Fett says the Pyke Syndicate is mustering troops in Mos Espa, and is planning on taking over the planet. The Trandoshan Leader says they're already making plenty of money buying and selling Spice from the Pykes. The Head Klatoonian wonders what's to stop them all from killing Fett.

With an amazing sense of timing, Fett's pet Rancor roars and sticks its claws through a grate in the floor. The visiting family heads realize they've been seated over the trapdoor to Fett's dungeon all along. This stops any talk about assassination.

The Aqualish Dignitary says so far the Pykes are only attacking Fett, and questions why they should get involved. Fett vows to rid the planet of the Pykes by himself, but asks that the other families remain neutral in the fight. They confer with one another and agree.

Later Fett & Fennec watch as the families leave. She asks if he trusts them, and he says of course not. He says his deal is better than what the Pykes are offering though, and they'll stick to their promise. Fett says they'll need more muscle if they're to defeat the Pykes in the coming war. Fennec says she knows just where to find it, as a snippet of The Mandalorian theme plays on the soundtrack.

• Jaysis, this was one of the darkest episodes of the series so far— and I don't mean in tone. The lighting was so dim I had to brighten most of the screencaps just so I could see what was going on.

• Appropos of nothing, "The Gathering Storm" may be one of the most generic titles I've ever heard. What is this, a Churchill documentary? And I thought "The Phantom Menace" was bland!

• As the episode opens, we see Fett scoping out the back of Jabba's/Bib's Palace, which apparently has a back door.

Although this is the first time we've seen this in live action, it's not without precedent. The door's featured in the Star Wars: Battlefront videogame, which I guess just became canon!

• Apparently Tatooine has three moons to go along with its two suns. Although this is news to me (and most people, I'd bet), it's been a part of the lore for years now. The three moons are called Ghomrassen, Guermessa and Chenini. Sure, why not.

• Pretty sure this episode marks the first time we've ever seen a Bantha's tongue too. Hopefully it'll be the last!

By the way, I brought this up last week, but it's worth a repeat. Why the hell would anyone ever bother riding a Bantha? They lumber along so slowly you could outpace one by lightly strolling along.

• While camping under the stars, Fett sees several flares off in the distance. These are the same lights seen in The Gunslinger episode in Season 1 of The Mandalorian. In it, Fennec Shand was trying to kill Manny and his new 
bounty hunting pal Toro Calican, and they set off the flares in an effort to blind her.

• Curious, Fett decides to check out the lights. He sees a body left for dead in the sand, which turns out to be Fennec Shand.

This shot is a repeat of the final scene of The Gunslinger, in which we saw a "Mystery Man" approach Fennec's motionless body. 

Note that this scene features a MAJOR and very obvious retcon. In the original version seen in The Gunslinger, there was a loud "jingling spur" sound effect every time the Mystery Man took a step— as if he was a cowboy who'd walked straight out of a Western.

The sound effect is noticeably absent when we see the scene again in this episode, as Fett most definitely isn't wearing spurs on his heels. What the hell?

Is it possible they really didn't know who the Mystery Man was when they shot The Gunslinger, and decided to figure it out later? Or did they know it was Fett, but hadn't nailed down his backstory yet, and inexplicably thought he'd be wearing spurs?

• For some reason, Fett picks up Fennec's body, throws her on the back of his Bantha and slowwwwwly takes her to a Mod Shop. Outside the shop we see an array of space millennials with very elaborate cybernetic enhancements.

This odd, voluntary Borgification is apparently a recent fad in the Star Wars Universe, because we've never seen it in any of the movies or other media till now. 

Even odder is the fact that these cyborg enthusiasts don't try to hide their new parts. That's definitely a new wrinkle, because in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke got a robot hand covered in artificial skin, indistinguishable from the real thing. 

Now just a few years later (in Star Wars time), there's a new wave of people who're deliberately altering themselves and proudly displaying their upgrades. I guess it's not impossible, but it's definitely strange. Changing tastes and all that, I guess!

• When Fett enters the Mod Shop, we hear techno music blaring in the background. So is this music playing in the actual shop, or is it just part of the show's soundtrack and only the audience can hear it? If it's being played "in universe," we've never heard anything remotely like it before in the Star Wars property.

• Based on the way he was filmed and the amount of screentime he got, it was obvious the Modifier here was a celebrity cameo. I'd never seen the guy before, so I had to look him up. Turns out he's played by "Thundercat," who I assume is some sort of rapper. That didn't help! I still don't know who the hell he is!

• The Modifier has a big clamp-like hand he can swap out for other models.

This grabby appendage appears to have come from a Super Battle Droid from the Attack Of The Clones era (one of this episode's many shoutouts to that film).

• The Modifier replaces Fennec's damaged guts with what appears to be an array of galvanized plumbing. I love how simplified surgery is in the Star Wars Universe. Huge chunks of skin & tissue can be removed without even a drop of blood, and there's no need for oxygen, plasma, sterile fields or even anesthesia! Convenient!

• After the operation, Fett takes Fennec back to his camp in the desert. She wakes sometime later, and he breaks open a black melon for her to drink. As he does so, some sort of gas or vapor pours out the top. Has that happened before? I don't remember seeing that in any previous episodes.

Fett tells her the liquid inside is bitter, which I don't think has been mentioned, and that after a while one starts to crave it. So black melon milk is addictive?

Nice Attention To Detail: All through this scene, Fett leans against his trusty Bantha, whose side is moving up and down as it breathes! Well done! It really does seem like a real creature!

• Fennec seems to accept the fact that she's now a cyborg verrrrry quickly. She looks down, gasps slightly at the pipes that've replaced her guts, and asks what the hell Fett did to her. He tells her he saved her life, and that's the end of it! That was easy! I guess she's not upset that she'll never be able to wear a bikini again.

• I was beginning to wonder just why Fett would give two hoots about Fennec and whether she lived or died, as well as why he'd go to so much trouble to save her life.

Apparently the script sensed my puzzlement, because it helpfully explained it in the campfire scene. Turns out Fett recognized Fennec, and realized she could help him recover his ship. OK, so that makes a certain amount of sense! It also proves there's still a bit of the old Fett in him, as he's not quite as altruistic as he first appeared!

• Fett tells Fennec how he was rescued by the Tuskens, and that they took him in and made him part of their tribe. He says, "I tried to help them. Instead I got them massacred by Nikto speed bikers." Fennec replies, "Speed bikers defeated Tuskens? That's highly unlikely."

So was that just a throwaway line to illustrate that the Niktos are a major threat? Or was it a setup for a future subplot? DID the Niktos really slaughter the Tuskens? Or did someone else do it to.... I dunno, punish Fett or something? The evidence definitely pointed to the Niktos, but it did happen offscreen after all. Stay tuned to find out.

• Fennec then asks Fett what's next for him. He replies, "I'm gonna find my armor. Then I'm gonna kill that bloated pig who double crossed me. Take his throne." A couple things here:

The "bloated pig" he's referring to here is Bib Fortuna, and Fett did indeed kill him and take his throne at the end of The Rescue over on The Mandalorian.

But how the heck did Fortuna betray him? As near as I can tell, Fett fell into the Sarlacc pit in the first act of Return Of The Jedi. Jabba's Sail Barge was then blowed up real good by Luke Skywalker, but Fortuna somehow survived the explosion. Fett managed to crawl out of the Sarlacc a couple hours later. He was then rescued by the Tuskens, and spent a couple years with them. In the meantime, Fortuna moved into Jabba's vacant Palace and took over his crime syndicate. 

I don't see any opportunity in all that for Fortuna to have betrayed Fett. The only way this line makes any sense is if there was an as-yet unseen incident before the events of Return Of The Jedi.

Oh, and by the way... in addition to rats, apparently there are now pigs in the Star Wars Universe as well! What the hell?

• Fennec asks Fett to help him recover his Firespray gunship. Sigh...

I brought this up last week, but it's worth a repeat. For decades now, Fett's trusty ship has been known as the Slave-1. I'm not sure if that name was ever uttered onscreen or not, but fans all knew it and it was used in all the toys, novels and comics.

But recently Disney announced that after forty plus years the name Slave-1 could not stand, because it has the troublesome "S" word in it. A word which gave SJWs icky bad feelings. So the name of the ship was changed to the Firespray.

Actually that's not quite true. According to Disney it's now a Firespray-31-Class Patrol And Attack Craft. Firespray is just the class of the ship. We actually don't know if it's still called Slave-1 or not. It's like Fett's calling the ship a Ford or Chevy.

Thing is, Firespray ain't any better than Slave-1, as it sounds like some sort of horrible space STD to me!

It would not surprise me if at some point in the season he re-christens the ship and gives it a new name— maybe even one that honors his late Tusken family.

As stupid as this all is, it's nothing new. Way back in the 1980s Kenner produced a Star Wars playset based on Darth Vader's ship The Executor. Company executives balked at using such a word as the name of a child's toy, and changed it to Darth Vader's Star Destroyer instead. So bullsh*t like this has been going on for over four decades now.

• Fennec then asks Fett the question that's on the audience's mind— Why he doesn't just march up to Fortuna's Palace, knock on the door and politely ask for his ship back? 

That's a damn good question! Fett tells her he considered it, but he might not like the answer, and without his armor he's not as persuasive as he once was.

Eh, nice try, writers, but we ain't buyin' it. We all know the real reason he doesn't just ask for the ship is so the episode can happen, and include an elaborate thirty minute heist sequence.

• In order to scope out the Palace, Fennec releases a little space drone that takes a peek inside. As my pal Ted Parsnips pointed out, it was nice of the designers of this piece of stealth tech to equip it with an array of bright red LEDs, to prevent it from being seen.

• When the drone returns to Fennec, it displays a holographic map of the Palace. Just as it should, it only shows the areas that it flew through! Well done!

• Hmm. It looks like the door to Jabba's Palace has grown again.

I covered this back in The Tribes Of Tatooine, but here goes again— when Return Of The Jedi came out in 1983, the door to Jabba's Palace was large, but not overly so. Maybe a hundred feet wide.

Then George Lucas began endlessly tinkering with the Original Trilogy, making pointless and baffling changes. In the 2011 blu ray release of Jedi, he inexplicably enlarged the door to truly ridiculous proportions, making it a good thousand feet wide.

In The Tribes Of Tatooine though, I noted that it looked like the door had shrunk back down to its 1983 proportions. Based on this scene, it looks like it's been embiggened again! Make up your mind, guys!

• Inside the Palace kitchen, we see a couple of familiar-looking droid models.

One's an EV unit, as seen in Return Of The Jedi. It's unclear if this is supposed to be EV-9D9 or not, as he (it?) was a torture droid. I guess he could have been reprogrammed for kitchen duty.

The other one's a cooking droid.

We saw this model back in Attack Of The Clones (one of this episode's many references to that film). It was on the transport ship when Anakin escorted Padme from Coruscant to Naboo.

By the way, I love that a lot of the droids in this series are actual practical robots, and not people in suits or CGI.

• Back in The Tribes Of Tatooine I said it straight up looked like an Earth rat in Fett's dungeon. This week that's confirmed, as one of the droids says he'll inform the Rat Catcher that the kitchen is infested.

Eh, I dunno guys... I don't think I like this sudden infestation of Earth animals in the Star Wars Universe. Up to now whenever they mentioned an animal it's always been "gundarks," "nerfs" and the like. Finding out they have terrestrial rats and pigs in this world makes it seem less alien and special.

• The Rat Catcher Droid chase went on far too long and was wayyyyy too cartoony for my tastes. In fact it strayed dangerously close to Looney Tunes territory. I get that little kids like Star Wars though, so... I'll allow it.

• Fett finally catches the Rat Catcher Droid, and when he tells it who he is, it's so terrified it reaches up and shuts itself off! Did... did that droid just kill itself rather than face his wrath? Jaysis! I think this is the first case of robot suicide we've ever seen in the franchise!

Note that this is a LEP Series Service Droid, a model which first appeared on The Clone Wars animated series. This is its first live action appearance.

• Fett & Fennec sneak into a hangar under the Palace, where the Firespray's being stored.

Note that this hangar, and much of the Palace interior, matches the version seen in the Star Wars: Battlefront videogame. Which again makes it canon!

• Once again we see that while the Slave-1, er, I mean the Firespray certainly looks cool, it's one of the most ridiculous and impractical spaceship designs in the Star Wars Universe. Since the ship flies vertically, it has to land in a horizontal position. This means the pilot has to awkwardly crawl into the cockpit and lie down on his back as well, till the thing takes off and is airborne.

In fact it's so impractical that once Fett's inside, he barks at Fennec to get the back gate open because he can't see a thing up in the cockpit! Who the hell designs a ship so that the pilot can only look straight up into the sky when it's in landing position?

• Fennec spots a "double wide" Gonk droid with four legs trundling through the hanger. She shoots it and it explodes, killing several Palace guards. This actually makes sense, since these models are also called Power Droids, and are basically walking batteries. Well done, guys!

• Fennec jumps onto the Firespray and shoots at several Palace guards. It's hard to tell due to the inky black cinematography, but it looks like the third guard gets hit by a non-existent blaster bolt to me!

• As Fett turns his ship around, he knocks over a desert skiff– the same kind we saw in the first act of Return Of The Jedi. I guess it makes sense that Jabba (and now Fortuna) would have had a few spares.

• Once he has his ship back, Fett tracks down the Nikto Biker Gang and blasts them all into oblivion.

I love this shot of the ship emerging from the clouds and coming up behind them!

Also, it struck me funny that one of the Nikto gang's "riding bitch" behind the driver. He's even got his hands on his shoulders! Not that there's anything wrong with that!

I wonder if Fett will feel bad about this incident if it turns out the Niktos are actually innocent, and someone else really did wipe out the Tuskens?

Annnnd then we come to the absolute dumbest part of this episode— one which almost rivals last week's Space Vespa chase. The whole scene's a goldmine of stupidity, poor choices and worse writing.

First of all, Fett approaches the Sarlacc pit in the Firespray. Once again we see what an impractical design this is, as he has to tilt the ship down onto its "stomach" in order to peer into the pit.

Second, for some reason Fett mistakenly thinks his Mandalorian armor is still down inside the Sarlacc's throat. We know that's not true though, as he was wearing it when he escaped the beast, and was stripped of it by a tribe of Jawas shortly after.

I can kind of understand Fett not remembering any of that, as he was likely a little groggy after his harrowing escape. But what does he think happened to the armor? Does he believe it fell off while he was inside the beast? Or that he slithered out of it by accident? I don't really get his reasoning here.

Then, unable to see anything, he tries jamming the entire ship down the creature's gullet. What the hell? Who would do such a thing?

Of course we then get the least-effective jump scare ever, as the Sarlaac's somehow still alive and its beak pops out at the ship wedged in its throat! Wow, who didn't see that coming? 

The creature then wraps its tentacles around the ship and drags it down into the pit. Fett throws the ship into reverse, but the creature holds fast. Seriously? The Sarlacc's really stronger than a goddamned spaceship?

While Fett's struggling with the controls, Fennec manages to climb out of her seat and smash a button that releases a seismic charge— the kind seen in Attack Of The Clones, that explode with a sound similar to a Pete Townshend power chord.

Not sure how Fennec knew the ship came armed with such weapons, but whatever. The charge falls into the Sarlacc's mouth and finally blows it up for good.

Luckily Fennec's improvised plan actually worked! Take a look at how slowly the charge is ejected, and the way it casually rolls off the bottom of the ship and drops into the creature's gullet. Good thing it didn't get stuck on a piece of machinery before it detonated!

And she's also lucky the charge didn't obliterate everything in a thousand foot radius. If you'll think back to Attack Of The Clones, a seismic charge destroyed several massive asteroids that were the size of office buildings! Here though it results in a muffled shockwave. I guess the Sarlacc absorbed most of the blast?

• OK, I ain't ashamed to admit it— I'm officially VERY confused about Fett's scars, and how he got them. 

When he first appeared in Season 2 of The Manadlorian, he sported an array of scars all over his bald head. Most fans— myself included— assumed they were caused by being swallowed up by the Sarlacc.

But then in Stranger In A Strange Land, we saw that his helmet was inexplicably airtight— meaning there's no way the creature's stomach acid could have seeped in and burned his head. So where'd he get the scars then?

In this episode, he lowers himself back down into the now-dead Sarlaac's throat, looking for his armor. When he climbs back out, he's covered in its digestive fluid. Fennec notes that it's burning him, and pours a bottle of water over his head to rinse it off. 

From this it seems clear that Fett didn't get his scars in glorious battle, but by sticking his head in a sand worm's mouth.

There's just one problem with all this. A few minutes before the Sarlacc reentry scene, Fett's tooling along in the Firespray, and we can clearly see his face and head are covered in a network of scars!

What the hell? 

So did he get the scars from the Sarlacc or not? Apparently not, since he had them BEFORE he went back into it.

Then to further confuse the matter, when Fett wakes from his lengthy flashback, his helper droid says, "Congratulations, Master Fett. You are completely healed." Guess what? He STILL has visible scars on his forehead and upper chest!

I give up trying to figure it out. I'm getting one of my sick headaches, and need to go lie down in a dark room.

• Back in the "present," Fett asks Fennec if the Mayor's Majordomo— who they apparently captured and imprisoned last week after the world's slowest and most ridiculous chase scene— is cooperating. She says he's "singing like a Yuzzum."

We've seen that race before, specifically in the Return Of The Jedi Special Edition. The cartoonish, Joe Cocker-esque alien who sang an unintelligible number in Jabba's Palace was a Yuzzum.

• Last week Fett recruited a team of teenagers with attitudes, er, I mean his very own gang of Dickensian street urchins to help him bring order to Mos Eisley. Definitely not the series' finest hour.

In this episode Fennec tells him the Mods are combing the city looking for the Mayor. Yeah! She actually called them "Mods"– just like the teen subculture in 1960s London!

Turns out that's a pretty apt name for 'em! Look at this shot of actual 1960s Mods. They're tooling around on bikes that are virtually identical to the Space Vespas seen in the previous episode! I had no idea the kids and vehicles on the show were so close to the real thing! Of all the things to draw inspiration from...

• Back in Garsa Fwip's Sanctuary, Black Krrsantan visibly seethes with hate as he watches a group of Trandoshans gambling.

This makes perfect sense, as the two races traditionally don't get along. In fact Trandoshans have even been known to hunt Wookiees for sport! If you'll recall, back in Stranger In A Strange Land we saw a Trandoshan dignitary offer a Wookiee pelt to Fett as a tribute!

Also, I never thought about it before, but the idea of a Wookiee who's a mean drunk is downright terrifying!

• Eventually Krrsantan's had enough and grabs one of the Transoshans and starts to pull his arms off— as Wookiees are wont to do. Fwip tries her best to talk Krrsantan out of it, appealing to his sense of pride and dignity. In the end it works— sort of— as he only pulls one arm off the Trandoshan.

Of course since this is Disney Star Wars, there's absolutely ZERO blood from this grievous injury. Oh, and don't feel too bad for the unlucky Trandoshan— as a lizard man, he'll no doubt be able to grow a new arm in a couple months.

• To absolutely no one's surprise, Fett asks Krrsantan if he's interested in working for him. Of course he did! Why else give this character so much screen time over the past two episodes if they weren't intending on making him a regular!

• Last week Skad (one of the Mods) called Fett "mate." In this episode, Fett says the same to Krrsantan. As I said last week, I don't care for that. People in the Star Wars Universe have traditionally spoken somewhat formally and tend to avoid Earthly slang— which makes sense, since these stories are taking place in another galaxy!

Using the term "mate" undermines that, making the series seem too contemporary and modern. Feh.

• Fett meets with the three "families" controlling Mos Espa, in a scene ripped straight out of a Mafia movie. To emphasize this, during this scene the musical score sounds very reminiscent of The Godfather theme.

• Among the three "Families" are the spider-like Aqualish...

Along with the Trandoshans and the dog-faced Klatoonians. 

Note that the Transdoshan sounds a lot like actor Peter Lorre, which is kind of funny. The Klatoonian dignitary's voiced by actor Phil Lamarr. Once you know it's him, it's easy to hear his voice in the character.

• Back in Stranger In A Strange Land, an Aqualish dignitary paid tribute to Fett, who couldn't understand a word it said. Fett even leaned over to Fennec and said they really needed to get an interpreter droid. 

At the time I asked why they couldn't just have 8D8 translate for them. Even if the droid wasn't built for that function, how hard would it be to upload a language app into his head?

Welp, it looks like Fett took my advice, because this week 8D8 does indeed translate for another Aqualish. Maybe they bought some sort of Space Rosetta Stone software.

• When the three families ask what's to prevent them from just killing Fett and moving on with their lives, his pet Rancor suddenly grabs at the grate they're all unknowingly sitting on, causing many garments to be soiled.

So not only do Rancors have "surpassingly complex emotions," they apparently possess perfect timing too! Its attack came at the exact right moment, perfectly punctuating the families' question.

• At the end of the episode, Fett says they're gonna need more muscle in the coming war with the Pykes. Fennec says credits can buy muscle, in you know where to look. We then hear a snippet of the reedy score of The Mandalorian series.

I'm assuming that means it's a sure bet we're gonna get a guest appearance from Pedro Pascal on the series. Or most likely a stunt double wearing his costume, while he records his lines in a soundstage miles away. Either way, his presence will be a welcome addition, and a shot in the arm to this show that's still trying to find its way.

The question is, just when will Manny show up? Most likely next week, but I could also see them waiting till the season finale. Time will tell!

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, We're Canceled Dontcha Know!

This week actor Peter Dinklage went on an ill-advised rant, slamming Disney over their upcoming live-action Snow White remake. 

Unlike most rational adults, he didn't object on the grounds that the world doesn't need yet another subpar version of a beloved classic. Instead, his beef was with the subject matter— specifically the fact that it features dwarfs.

Said Dinklage:

"Take a step back and look at what you're doing there. It makes no sense to me. You're progressive in one way and you're still making that fucking backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together (?), what the fuck are you doing, man? Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soapbox? I guess I'm not loud enough."

Oh, trust me, Pete, you're loud enough alright. 

And what's with the "living in a cave" comment? Do you mean mines? Because the Seven Dwarfs worked in a mine, but they lived in a cottage. The same cottage Snow White found after the Huntsman left her in the woods when he didn't have the heart to kill her. Did you even watch the goddamn movie?

As for Disney, they capitulated in record time. Just a day after Dinklage's diatribe, they released this doozy of a press statement:

"To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community. We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period."

According to inside sources, Disney's now going to replace the traditional Seven Dwarfs with a group of "magical creatures."

Jesus wept.

OK, maybe this is just my "height privilege" showing through, but Dinklage is WAYYYY off base here. Snow White's a fantasy story, set in a world of witches and magic apples. The Dwarfs in it aren't humans with achondroplasia like him— they're a race of people who are all naturally small. Just like Gimli and his folk in Tolkien's stories. And in a hundred other fantasy tales. 

Why the hell is that so hard to figure out? Is he so sensitive about his height that he can't see that?

You watch— today it's the dwarfs in Snow White. Are Hobbits next? How long before Dinklage and the SJW Posse come after The Lord Of The Rings? 

Friday, January 21, 2022

The Book Of Boba Fett, Season 1, Episode 3: The Streets Of Mos Espa

This week on The Book Of Boba Fett, we get the absolute worst episode (so far) of an already mediocre series, as the titular character becomes sad that his subjects don't respect him, he teams up with a gang of street kids (!) and gets a cuddly new pet to boot. Yeah, that all happens.

I had high hopes for this series when it premiered, as I've been a fan of Boba Fett since 1980. Unfortunately the show's been a huge disappointment so far, as it stumbled out of the gate and is lagging far behind its sister series, The Mandalorian.

The main problem with it so far is the main character is definitely not Boba Fett. At least not the Boba Fett I know and love. That Boba Fett was described as the best bounty hunter in the galaxy, and was portrayed as cool, sleek and deadly. The kind of assassin who was always two or three steps ahead of his prey and seemed unbeatable.

The one seen in this series though... yikes. This one's a doughy old man who sleeps in an aquarium, worries about his image and needs a team of younger, better assassins to constantly save his ass. 

In fact, unless something changes soon I'm no longer gonna call him Boba Fett in these reviews. From this point on he's Borba Futt— the real Fett's wimpier, touchy-feely cousin that the rest of the family doesn't talk about.

I could almost understand this new kindler, gentler Boba Fett if the series was attempting to portray him as a man who'd grown weary of killing and longed for peace and solitude, but couldn't escape his violent past. That might have actually been an interesting take on the character. If that's series creator Jon Favreau's intention, then he fumbled it badly, as that's not coming across. At all.

I think the issue is that Boba Fett works best as a supporting character. He's basically a plot device— someone created for the express purpose of chasing after Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. Once he fulfilled that function, there was nothing more for him to do, and no reason for him to exist. He was never meant to be the lead in a series, and should have been retired long ago.

But don't take my word for it. Even series star Temuera Morrison is unhappy with the way Fett's being written on the show! In a recent interview with NME, Morrison said he thinks Fett's talking wayyy too much, and taking off his helmet far too often. He reportedly tried to give the bulk of his dialogue to actress Ming-Na Wen, who plays Fett's partner Fennec Shand. Unfortunately series creator Jon Favreau nixed that idea, and ordered Morrison to say the lines as directed.

See? It's not just me? Even the guy who plays him thinks this isn't the real Boba Fett!

It didn't help matters any that this episode saddled Fett with an ill-advised gaggle of teen street urchins, straight out of a Dickens novel. Jaysis. What is this, The Book Of Boba Fett or Full House?

We're also treated to one of the worst and slowest chase scenes in cinematic history, in a bizarre sequence that went horribly and laughably wrong.

And then the unfortunate Disneyfication® extends all the way down to the Rancor, as in this episode we find out they're not mindless predators, but gentle, intelligent creatures with "surprisingly complex emotions." I wish I was making all that up.

Ah well. At least Stephen Root & Danny Trejo got a paycheck out of this episode.


The Plot:
Inside Futt's Palace, his steward droid 8D8 explains that after Jabba The Hutt died, his servant Bib Fortuna took over his empire. Unfortunately Fortuna was weak, and as a result Mos Espa is now ruled by three factions— the Trandoshans, the Aqualish and the Klatoonians. 8D8 says the city's now waiting to see what Futt does next.

Futt wonders who sent the assassin after him last week, and assumes it was the Hutt Twins. His partner Fennec Shand says she'll ask around, but for some reason Futt tells her to wait.

Lortha Peel, a local water merchant, then requests an audience with Futt. He says ever since Bib Fortuna's death, the streets of Mos Espa have devolved into chaos, and that the people don't respect Futt.

Peel then complains that he's regularly being robbed by a gang of street urchins, who've augmented themselves with cybernetic implants. He promises to double his tribute if Futt will rid the streets of the heinous scourge of... delinquent teens.

That night, Futt takes a stroll through the streets with Fennec and his Gamorrean Guards. He sees the young gang members hanging out, drinking water (?). He asks where they got it, and a female named Drash says they stole it. Futt says theft's a crime, and another member named Skad says they can't afford Peel's exorbitant prices because they have no money or jobs.

Futt points out they're in the worker's district, so they should be working. Drash tells Futt to look around, as there's no work. He says she has guts, and hires the gang to work for him. What the hell's happening on this show?

Just then Peel appears, upset that Futt's not murdering the youths, as they owe him 1,500 credits. Futt pays him 500 and tells him to consider the matter closed. He also orders Peel to lower his water prices. Thrilling!

Later that night, Futt lies in his bacta tank. Time for another flashback!

Futt leaves his Tusken tribe on the back of a Bantha. He rides into Mos Eisley, where he meets with the leader of the Pyke Syndicate. He's there to collect the protection money for letting the Pykes transport good across the Tusken's territory.

The Pyke Leader says they've already paid the Kintan Striders (the Nikto biker gang seen in the first two episodes), and aren't about to be extorted for even more cash. Futt says the money belongs to the Tuskens, and vows to resolve the matter. He tells the Pyke he wont hear from the Niktos again.

Futt returns to the Tusken camp, only to find it's been destroyed— complete with burned bodies strewn on the sand. He spots the symbol of the Nikto bikers on the remains of a tent. Futt burns the bodies of his tribe on a pyre and rides off on his Bantha.

Suddenly Futt wakes as he's dragged from the tank by Black Krrsantan, the Wookiee assassin we met last week. A strangely bloodless battle ensues, as Futt gets his ass handed to him. Just as Krrsantan's about to kill him, Drash and the other youths appear and attack him.

The fight spills out into the throne room, where the Gamorrean Guards join in. Krrsantan seriously injures the two of them. Fortunately Fennec Shand shows up and opens the trapdoor, dropping the Wookiee into the dungeon.

Sometime later, Futt tells Fennec he needs to respond to the assassination attempt, because the entire city's waiting for him to make the next move. He says he needs to send a message. Fennec says he already has, as Krrsantan is locked up in the dungeon.

Just then 8D8 announces that the Twins have arrived with a gift. Futt and Fennec walk through the front gate to meet them. The Sister Twin admits they sent Krrsantan to kill him, and the Brother apologizes. They offer Futt a gift to make up for it— a young Rancor.

Futt says he'll consider a truce if the Twins vacate the planet immediately. They agree to leave but the Sisters says there's something he should know— Jabba's territory was promised to another syndicate by Mok Shaiz, the Mayor of Mos Espa.

Futt then presents Krrsantan to them, saying they can have him back if they renounce all claims to Jabba's throne. The Twins don't want the Wookiee, and advise Futt to leave Tatooine. The two of them are then hauled away on their litter.

Futt releases Krrsantan, saying there're no hard feelings. The Wookiee then runs offscreen and out of the episode. Fennec asks if letting him go is a good idea. Futt says it was either that or kill him (!). He tells Fennec to make an appointment with the Mayor, to find out if the Hutts were telling the truth.

Futt visits the dungeon to see his new Rancor. Unfortunately it's just lying there, and he asks the Rancor Keeper what's wrong with it. The 
Keeper says it's depressed, as Rancors are surprisingly emotional creatures (!!). Futt asks why it's wearing blinders, and the Keeper says it'll imprint on the first human it sees. Futt pets the creature, which responds positively to him.

The Keeper says Rancors form strong bonds with their owners, and that the Witches Of Dathomir used to ride them into battle. Futt asks the Keeper to teach him how to ride this one.

The Keeper tells Futt to stand in front of the Rancor while he takes off its blinders. He removes them, and it sees Futt for the first time. He strokes the creatures chin, as it purrs at him.

What the hell did I just watch?

8D8 enters and informs Futt that the Mayor won't be available for the next twenty days. He tells Fennec to suit up, as they're gonna visit him anyway.

Futt and his entourage arrive at City Hall. The Majordomo tells them the Mayor's too busy to see them. Fennec displays her blaster, causing him to change his tune. He says he'll rearrange some appointments, and disappears into the Mayor's office. They hear the door lock.

Fennec blasts the door open and they go inside, only to find the office empty. Just then they hear the Majordomo take off in a speeder. Futt nods to his new gang of street urchins, and they all jump on their colorful shiny Space Vespas and speed off after him.

We're then treated to one of the slowest and silliest chase scenes in movie/TV history, as the Space Vespas slowly trundle after the speeder. After a lengthy pursuit that goes on way too long, the Majordomo crashes it into a fruit stand (of course) and they catch up to him.

The Majordomo tells Futt that the Mayor's working with the Pykes, and is gone. Just then Skad calls Futt from the local spaceport. He says he just saw a dozen Pykes exit one of the ships.

Fennec says this group of Pykes is just the first wave, and they're going to war. Futt says they'll be ready.

• The episode opens with a spider-like droid skittering across the sand in front of the Palace.

This is the same type of droid (or maybe even the exact specimen) we saw when C-3PO entered the place back in Return Of The Jedi.

Back in 1983, the Jedi FX crew designed and built this thing solely to populate the background of the dungeon. I guarantee they put absolutely zero thought into what it was supposed to be.

It didn't take long for the fans to come up with a complicated and completely unnecessary backstory for it though. This spider droid is actually a B'Omarr Monk, part of an ancient religious sect who built and occupied a monastery on Tatooine. At some point they all decided to place their brains inside robotic spiders, so they could contemplate the universe without the distraction of a physical body. 

Sometime later Jabba swooped in and took over their monastery, turning it into his own personal palace.

• Remember back in 1999, when everyone and their dog was giddy with anticipation for the premiere of The Phantom Menace? And then remember the intense wave of disappointment that swept the nation when a good part of that film was devoted to senators arguing over trade route disputes in Space Congress?

Welp, welcome to The Phantom Menace 2, as we get to watch Borba Futt stare at a map of the various factions controlling Mos Espa. Thrilling!

I didn't notice it till the second time I watched the episode, but the holographic map is being projected by an R5 droid who's standing behind 8D8. Isn't it amazing how every droid in this universe has one and only one function?

How hard would it be to build a hologram projector into 8D8's head or chest? Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to own ONE multi-function droid instead of ten dedicated ones?

• For some reason 8D8 pronounces Jabba as "JABB-a" instead of "JAHH-ba" like everyone else.

This is a long-standing Star Wars tradition, as the franchise is full of characters who mispronounce names. Think of all the times Princess Leia was called "LEE-a," or how Lando consistently called Han Solo "HAHHHN."

• Futt gets a visit from Lortha Peel, a local water-monger.

It took me a minute to realize that Peel's played by Stephen Root— aka Milton Waddams of Office Space fame!

• Peel complains to Futt that the streets of Mos Espa are being overrun by street gangs. As he describes them, he seems downright disturbed and disgusted that these urchins have augmented their bodies with cybernetic parts. 

But why? As we saw in The Empire Strikes Back, this is a society with advanced medical technology that can replace missing limbs and organs with mechanical versions. So why does Peel act like the idea's something smelly that he stepped in?

• Futt goes out to investigate Peel's street gang claim. He locates them, and instead of gunning them down in the street like Boba Fett would do, he offers them all jobs!

So Borba Futt has now become Space Fagin, in charge of his own gang of Dickensian street urchins— complete with authentic Cockney accents! 

What the hell is even happening on this show?

I'm puzzled by these cyborg youts, er, I mean youths. They tell Futt they've no jobs or money, causing them to resort to petty theft. But they've all extensively modified their bodies with cybernetic parts, which likely aren't cheap. And look at their clothes! Everyone else on Tatooine walks around in dull, dingy robes. This group's sporting the latest fashions direct from Courascant, like they just stepped off the runway. Those threads probably cost a pretty penny, er, Republic Credit as well.

And in a little bit we'll see they're all riding around on bright, shiny customized Space Vespas. Again, not something that unemployed homeless youths would be likely to own. Did they steal all these trappings too? 

• Back in Return Of The Jedi, there was an establishing shot of Jabba's Palace which featured a Wort in front of it, eating a smaller creature and then belching for "comedic" effect.

We get a near-exact repeat of the scene in this episode as well. I think it's State Law that it has to happen every time we see the Palace. And any time there's an alien creature, it has to belch immediately after it eats something.

• While in his bacta tank, Futt has another dream of his early life on Kamino, as he watches his "father" Jango fly off in the Slave-1. Sorry, sorry, I meant the Firespray!

They've shown this scene at least twice now, so I assume it's setup for something in a later episode.

And yes, according to Disney, Futt's ship is now called the Firespray. That's because the old name (which has been around since 1980) had the "S" word in it, which gave SJWs icky bad feelings. So it had to be changed. 

This is nothing new, as back in the 1980s Kenner produced a Star Wars playset based on Darth Vader's ship The Executor. Company executives balked at using such a word as the name of a child's toy, and changed it to Darth Vader's Star Destroyer instead. So bullsh*t like this has been going on for over four decades now.

Thing is, Firespray ain't any better than Slave-1, as it sounds like some sort of horrible STD to me!

• Futt leaves the Tusken camp on his trusty Bantha. As he rides into nearby (I guess?) Mos Eisley, he passes a cluster of Stormtrooper helmets on pikes.

If that seems familiar to you, it's because we saw the same thing in The Gunslinger over on The Mandalorian. Both shows are set about eight years after Return Of The Jedi and the fall of the Empire, so this is presumably the locals' way of letting remnant Troopers know they're not welcome.

Based on this scene, this episode must take place around the same time as The Gunslinger. I'm honestly surprised that Disney restrained themselves and didn't stick Manny The Mandalorian in the background as well!

• Speaking of cameos— we then get a reverse angle of the piked helmets, as a familiar figure walks by with three pit droids in tow.

It's Peli Motto, the quirky ship mechanic who also made her debut in The Gunslinger. She was played by actress Amy Sedaris over on The Mandalorian. That clearly isn't her in the background in this scene, but it's obviously meant to be.

• Futt meets with the head of the Tatooine branch of the Pyke Syndicate to discuss protection money.

The Star Wars franchise has never been very subtle when it comes to names. For example, there's an evil space wizard named Darth Sideous, an overweight X-Wing pilot named Porkins and a race of squid people called the Mon Calamari. CALAMARI!!!

The Pykes are equally, if not more on the nose. I mean, come on— they have fish heads and they're called "Pykes?"

By the way, the Pyke Chief here's voiced by actor Phil LaMarr.

• Why the hell do the Tuskens bother riding Banthas? The giant beasts lumber along so slowly it seems like it'd be faster to just walk.

This is confirmed when Futt returns from Mos Eisley and sees smoke coming from the Tusken camp, and actually jumps off his Bantha and runs across the dunes to see what happened!

By the way, about the Bantha seen here... Back in A New Hope, the Banthas were played by Asian elephants in furry costumes, who'd been trained to hold their trunks in their mouths!

Welp, we can't have something like that here in the more "enlightened" 2020s. The Banthas are now massive puppets! I don't quite understand how it works, but supposedly there are four people inside (one operating each leg?), and another four outside handling the animatronic eyes, mouth and tongue.

• At the end of The Tribes Of Tatooine, Futt became a fully-fledged member of the Tusken tribe, considering himself one of them.

In last week's review I said we know he eventually leaves them at some point, and I wondered why he'd do so after finally finding a "family" of his own. I said I had a bad feeling that something really terrible was gonna happen to the Tuskens that would force Futt to leave them, team up with Fennec Shand and search for his armor.

WELP, I TOTALLY CALLED IT! This week Futt returns to the Tusken camp, only to find it and his new family have been totally wiped out. He wanders stoically around the camp a bit, then disposes of their bodies on a funeral pyre.

And that's the end of the Tuskens! What the hell?

Since the first episode, the Tuskens have played a HUGE role in Futt's life— so much so that I assumed they'd be a regular fixture of the series from this point on. I guess not! Apparently they were nothing more than a plot device to explain where Futt got his new fighting prowess. 

Once that was established there was evidently nothing else for them to do, so they were written out— in the most casual, callous and off-handed way possible. Jesus, they didn't even get an heroic death scene, as they were all killed off-camera! 

Even worse, their deaths were given all the gravitas of someone burning the toast at breakfast. In fact this episode devotes more time to 8D8 explaining his map than it does to the fate of the Tuskens. I feel like the characters deserved better than that. And Futt definitely should have been a little more upset about the incident.

• It's hard to tell for certain, but this appears to be Fett's Tusken Lady friend— the one who taught him how to fight. No sign of the kid he befriended though. Don't be surprised if he somehow survived the holocaust and pops up later, as I can't imagine Disney killing a kid in a show— even offscreen.

• Futt sees the Double J/White Sox logo— the calling card of the Nikto Biker Gang— painted on the side of a Tusken tent.

I think we could have figured out for ourselves that they're the ones who did this, but whatever.

• Black Krrsantan rudely interrupts Futt's flashback, ripping him out of the bacta tank for a strangely subdued and bloodless battle.

Seriously! At one point Krrsantan even powers up his electrified SPIKED brass knuckles and punches Futt in the face with them— and doesn't leave so much as a scratch on his mug! What the hell?

Where's that infamous Wookiee savagery we've been hearing about since 1977? He doesn't even attempt to rip Futt's arms out of their sockets!

• Fortunately for Futt, he's saved by the timely intervention of his street urchins. Jesus wept. Once again, this is NOT the Boba Fett I know and love. The REAL Fett wouldn't need help from a gang of freakin' teenagers to save him from a Wookiee. Even without his armor!

• I brought this up last week, but it applies here too. It bothers me greatly that Krrsantan doesn't sound like a Wookiee. He spends 99% of this episode roaring like a lion or Kong. There's only one brief second in this episode in which he sounds somewhat similar to Chewbacca.

Why? Did the sound FX guy forget what Wookiees are supposed to sound like? Did he lose the Chewie files?

• Looks like Futt needs to reprogram his chef droid. It cooked up this massive banquet for just two people!

• Based on what we've seen in the movies and the previous episode, Jabba's/Futt's Palace is miles away from the nearest settlement, accessible only by this long, winding dirt path.

Did the Twins REALLY make their litter carriers haul their fat asses all that way? They bring in the Rancor on a large repulsor sled, so why can't they ride on one as well? Seems like it'd be a lot quicker than having a squad carry them ten miles.

• For the second week in a row, the Brother Twin mops the sweat from his brow with a little furry rodent thing. It was kinda funny the first time we saw it, but he needs a new schtick. I guess they don't have handkerchiefs in the Star Wars Universe.

• The second I saw the guy hauling the Rancor, I thought, "Hey, that looks a lot like Danny Trejo!"

Turns out it was him! Thank the Maker! Trejo's not the best actor in the world, but he has a natural charm and likability that's somehow able to elevate anything he's in.

• Futt tries to turn Black Krrsantan over to the Twins, but they refuse to take him. Futt then lets the Wookiee assassin go. Fennec asks if that was a good idea, and Futt replies, "It was either that or kill him."

SO KILL HIM THEN! YOU'RE BOBA FREAKIN' FETT!!! Or at least you used to be! You know, the most feared bounty hunter in all the galaxy and all that? What the hell happened to that guy?

• This touchy-feely nonsense reaches a fever pitch when Futt visits his new pet Rancor. 

Futt: "
Why does it just lie there?"
Rancor Keeper: "It's depressed."
Futt: "This beast can feel such things?"
Keeper: "Rancor are emotionally complex creatures."

Futt: (wanting to pet the Rancor) "Can I?"
Keeper: "Yes, go ahead. They are quite peaceful unless threatened."
Futt: "Whoa, easy.
(Futt scratches the beast behind the ear.)
Futt: "Easy, boy. That's it. I think it likes this."
Keeper: "It does."
Futt: "I will spend more time with it."
Keeper: "You should. They can become very loving."
Futt: "I thought they were bred just to fight."
Keeper: "They're powerful fighters, so that is what most know. But they form strong bonds with their owners."

Jesus Hoverboarding Kee-rist On A Cracker!

It wasn't enough that Borba Futt's testicles were apparently dissolved by the Sarcacc's stomach acid. Now the show's coming after the Rancor species as well, neutering them into domesticated beasts of burden!

• The Keeper tells Futt that the Witches Of Dathomir used to ride Rancors through the forests and fens. Futt says he's ridden creatures ten times this size, and asks the Keeper to teach him. A couple things here:

As you might expect, the Keeper's reference is a whole thing in the Star Wars Universe. To try and make a verrrrry long story short— hundreds of years ago a Jedi Knight named Allya was exiled to the planet Dathomir, which was used as a penal colony. The inhabitants were regularly hunted and eaten by roving packs of Rancors. 

Allya tamed the Rancors with the Force, and trained the inhabitants in the ways of the Jedi. She also weeded out most of the males on the planet, transforming the society into a matriarchy known as the Daughters Of Allya. Most of this was spelled out in The Clone Wars animated series.

Secondly, I assume Futt's claim that he's ridden giant beasts before is a reference to the Star Wars Holiday Special— which was technically his first-ever appearance. In an animated segment we saw him riding some kind of alien dinosaur— which retroactively makes the Special canon!

By the way, all this talk about riding Rancors is setup if I ever heard it. I GUARANTEE that at some point— most likely in the season finale— we'll see Futt riding his Rancor into battle against the Pykes.

• Futt marches through the streets with his gang of street urchins in tow.

Is this display of "power" supposed to intimidate the locals? If so, it ain't working. They might laugh themselves unconscious, but they sure as hell ain't gonna be scared by these skinny kids on their shiny Space Vespas.

• Futt & his crew go to see the Mayor, but the Majordomo says he isn't in. He then locks himself in the Mayor's office, runs out the backdoor and flees in his speeder sedan.

I'm puzzled by the Majordomo's behavior here, as none of it makes a lick of sense. First of all he lies about the Mayor being in his office, but too busy to see anyone. Why not just say he's out? Surely the Mayor occasionally has duties that take him outside City Hall. As my pal Ted Parsnips quipped, why didn't the Majordomo just say, "Okay, he's not in now. He's out cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of a new moisture farm, but I'll tell him you dropped by."

And why'd he make a run for it instead of just telling them "Good day!" and going back to his office? I guess Fennec's threat must have scared him really badly!

• As the Majordomo zooms away, he's pursued through the streets of Mos Espa by Futt's gang, as we're treated to what has to be the slowest chase scene in history.

Seriously! Normally whenever we see a speeder bike on these shows they're little more than a blur. These customized Space Vespas certainly look like they should be fast, but they creep along like mobility scooters.

I dunno what went wrong with this scene, as the FX on this show and The Mandalorian have all been top notch and very impressive— especially for TV. They definitely dropped the ball here though.

• The strangely creaky chase scene pulls out all the cliched stops, as the Majordomo drives through fruit stands, knocks over water towers and roars past flummoxed pedestrians. The only thing missing is one of the Space Vespas driving through a large expensive mirror or a priceless painting carried by two movers.

Oh, wait. That happened. At one point the Yellow Ranger, er, I mean the Yellow Urchin is shoved off course and crashes through a large painting of Jabba, being hauled by a couple of men.

Note that this painting is based on production art of Jabba's throne room by the late, great Ralph McQuarrie. For some reason it looks like the version on the show edited out the image of Luke Skywalker. Oddly enough they left Boba Fett in though, at the right of Jabba!

• Based on the rickshaw droid's reaction here, I'm assuming director Robert Rodriguez is a big fan of Roadrunner cartoons.

• Go-Go Gadget Ankle!

If this ridiculous scene didn't dredge up memories of Inspector Gadget in your brain, then you're not even trying.

So what would be the advantage of having cybernetic extendable ankles? Is it so Skad can hop around town, on his very own built-in pogo sticks? To better peer over construction fences? Or so he can appear taller when his Space Tinder crush says she won't date anyone under six feet tall?

• The incredibly silly chase ends when the Majordomo smashes his speeder into a vendor's cart and ends up covered in pounds of fruit. I assume this is an homage to Biff's similar crash in Back To The Future, except with fruit instead of manure.

Note that when the Majordomo desperately tries to start his stalled speeder, we hear the same "malfunction" sound effect the Millennium Falcon made in The Empire Strikes Back.

• At the end of the chase, Futt uses his jetpack to land right next to the Majordomo. Wait, what?

He has a freakin' working jetpack! WHY THE FRAK DIDN'T HE JUST FLY AFTER THE MAJORDOMO IN THE FIRST PLACE, INSTEAD OF SENDING HIS POWER RANGER GANG AFTER HIM?!?!? He could have easily caught up to him and landed in the seat next to him, or flown ahead and dropped down in front of the speeder. Jaysis!

Of course if he'd done that then we wouldn't have been treated to the lethargic chase scene, which ate up ten minutes of runtime.

• There's an interesting scene right after the chase, as Skad's scoping out the local spaceport. He spots an army of Pykes exiting a ship, then drives his Space Vespa several blocks away till he sees a console on a wall. This is apparently the Star Wars equivalent of a pay phone (remember those, kids?), which he uses to contact Futt.

Holy crap! So I guess this answers the question, "Do Cell Phones Exist In The Star Wars Universe?" Looks like the answer's a big nope! 

So WHY don't they? This is a society that features faster-than-light travel, sentient droids and cybernetic body parts. Are you telling me no one ever thought to invent a portable phone in this world? How weird and unlikely.

• After Skad makes his report, Futt says, "Good work. Keep your eye on them." Then because this is Borba Futt and not Boba Fett, he realizes Skad has a Borg-like cybernetic eye and says, "Sorry. It's an expression." 

Jesus wept! This once deadly bounty hunter is now APOLOGIZING FOR POSSIBLY OFFENDING someone. I... I just don't know anymore, guys.

Also, note that Skad consistently calls Futt, "Mate." Eh, I don't like that. For the most part, people in the Star Wars Universe have always spoken somewhat stiffly and formally, and tend to avoid modern slang in an effort to sell the idea that these stories aren't taking place on Earth. 

Calling everyone "Mate" undermines that notion, and makes the series seem much more contemporary and familiar. I half expected him to say, "Oi, fam, that dodgy git like to fried me bollocks, innit?"
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