Monday, January 17, 2022

The Book Of Boba Fett, Season 1, Episode 2: The Tribes Of Tatooine

This week on The Book Of Boba Fett, we finally get the all-important answer to the question the nation's been demanding to know— Where Did Fett His Stick?"

But I kid. The Tribes Of Tatooine was actually quite a step up from the previous episode. In fact I'd go so far to say it was actually... OK.

That doesn't mean it was perfect though— far from in in fact. I still have some major issues with this series, as so far it hasn't been anywhere near as good as sister show The Mandalorian

My main beef with it mainly in the way the titular character's portrayed. This is most definitely NOT your father's Boba Fett— this is a new, touchy-feely, kinder and gentler Boba— one who'd rather talk things over rather than blast his opponents.

As I said last week, this wussification of the character was no doubt based on merchandising. Disney can't in good conscience sell lunchboxes and bedspreads featuring the face of a cold blooded killer, so they had to soften Boba Fett quite a bit, to make him safer for the kiddies. Feh.

But back to this week's episode. If Stranger In A Strange Land was an homage to Dances With Wolves, then The Tribes Of Tatooine was most definitely inspired by Lawrence Of Arabia. Virtually every frame of this episode is a love letter to that film— from Fett going native and becoming a full-fledged member of the Tusken tribe, right down to the attack on the hovertrain. 

Elsewhere in the episode, this week we were introduced to the Twins, a pair of Hutts who were no doubt created as this season's big bad. Obviously they're here because the audience loved Jabba back in Return Of The Jedi. It's unlikely they'll ever be able to bring him back, so they did the next best thing and dredged up his cousins. After all, if one Hutt's good, then two of 'em are even better, right?

When Boba Fett showed up in Season 2 of The Mandalorian, it was clear he'd escaped from the Sarlacc pit, was taken in by Tuskens and learned their ways and fighting skills. In last week's review, I said these things were all glaringly evident, and I didn't need a series of flashbacks to depict them in excruciating detail.

I may need to amend that statement. This week the Tusken flashbacks were FAR more interesting and compelling than the "present day" plotline. In fact I'd fo so far as to say the Mos Espa scenes have been pretty damn dull so far— to the point where I feel like fast forwarding through them. Hopefully that'll change soon.

This episode was written by series creator Jon Favreau, and was directed by Steph Green. I've never heard of Ms. Green, but she did an amazing job here— especially with the train robbing sequence. She's directed episodes of dozens of recent high profile TV series, including American Gothic, Bates Motel, The Americans, Preacher, Luke Cage and Watchmen.

Dean Cundey was listed as cinematographer for this episode, which explains why it looks so good. Cundey's an absolute film legend, as he worked on some of the biggest films of the past forty years, including The Fog, The Thing (1982), Romancing The Stone, all three Back To The Future movies, Big Trouble In Little China (obviously Cundey's a favorite of John Carpenter) and even Jurassic Park!

Cundey's magic touch is evident here, and I think we can all agree that even if the storyline isn't perfect, the episode definitely looks amazing!


The Plot:
Fennec Shand brings the assassin she captured last week back to Fett's palace. Fett demands to know who hired him, but the assassin refuses to speak.

8D8, Fett's steward droid, says the man is from the Order Of The Night Wind, a group of assassins for hire. He says members of the Order fear no one and the man will never talk.

Fennec gets fed up and presses a hidden button on Fett's throne, dropping the assassin through a trap door in the floor. He falls into an underground chamber (the same one Luke Skywalker dropped into back in Return Of The Jedi) and a nearby door opens up. Fearing he's about to be eaten by a Rancor, the assassin panics and screams that he was send by the Mayor of Mos Espa. He's then stunned when he sees there's no Rancor— only a small rat-like creature that scurries through the door. Wa-wahhhhhhh.

Fett & Shand walk the assassin through the streets of Mos Espa to the City Hall. They barge into the office of the Mayor, an Ithorian named Mok Shaiz. He says he's a busy person, and demands to know why Fett's there. Fett reminds him he's the town's new "Daimyo," and says he's returning the Mayor's "pet," wondering if he sent the man to kill him. The Mayor says the assassin's from the Order Of The Night Wind, and Fett asks if that's a confirmation. The Mayor nods to one of his guards, who shoots the assassin dead.

The Mayor says the Order's forbidden to operate outside Hutt Space, and thanks Fett for turning him in. He then gives Fett a reward. Fett says he's not a bounty hunter anymore, but the Mayor points out he sits on the throne of his former employer.

Fett says he'll accept the payment as a "delayed tribute." He then ominously says the Mayor should remember that he serves as long as he sees fit. The Mayor says he has no reason to kill Fett, and tells him to consider who would. He says he'll find the answer at Garsa Fwip's Sanctuary.

Intrigued, Fett visits Garsa's place and asks what's going on. She nervously says the "Twins" have laid claim to Mos Espa. He says he heard the Twins were too preoccupied with matters on their homeworld to bother with Tatooine.

Just then Fett hears drums, and goes outside to check out the commotion. He sees a procession carrying two massive Hutts on a litter. The two inform him they're laying claim to Jabba's empire. He points out that he's now the Daimyo of Mos Espa.

The Twins laugh and the brother makes a gesture. Instantly a large, scarred Wookiee known as Black Krrsantan appears and growls at Fett. Fett isn't intimidated, and explains that after Jabba was killed, his majordomo Bib Fortuna laid claim to his empire. Fett then killed Fortuna, meaning it all belongs to him now. He tells the Twins to go back to Nal Hutta.

The Brother says Fett's upset his Sister, and that they'll discuss the matter later. As they're hauled away, he warns Fett to sleep lightly. Fennec tells Fett they'll have to get permission to kill the Twins since they're Hutts (???)

Later on, Fett's recuperating in his bacta tank. Time for a flashback!

Fett's living in the Tusken Raider camp, having been accepted by the tribe. A Tusken warrior trains him in how to use a gaderffii stick. Suddenly they hear an ominous roar in the distance, as blaster fire takes out several Tuskens.

Fett hides behind a rock and sees an armed hovertrain zooming by. Once it's gone, he watches with sadness at the Tuskens tend to their dead.

Later on the Tuskens burn their dead on a funeral pyre. Fett sees several speeder bikes go by in the distance, and gets an idea. He meets with the Chief and vows to stop the train. The Chief allows him to leave.

Fett follows the speeders to Tosche Station (!). Inside, a Nikto biker gang (the same one we saw last week) terrorizes the patrons— including Camie and Fixer, who were in a deleted scene from A New Hope. The Niktos begin beating Laze for fun.

Suddenly Fett bursts in. The Niktos attack, but he takes them all out with his stick and his rifle. Fett then takes their speeder bikes.

Fett returns to the camp with the speeders and presents them to the Tuskens. They begin dismantling them, till he stops them and says they can use them to stop the train.

We're then treated to a montage of the Tuskens learning to ride the bikes, as well as to leap from one to another. Fett also continues practicing with his stick.

Suddenly they hear the train and Fett & the Tuskens jump on their speeder bikes. There's a big action setpiece battle as they attack the train for a good fifteen minutes of runtime. A few of the Tuskens are shot off their bikes by alien Pyke gunners, but Fett and a few others manage to jump onto the train.

The Tuskens enter the train and take out the Pykes. Fett makes his way to the cab, where the driver droid leaps out the window. Fett tries to stop the out of control train, but the brake controls are jammed. Eventually he's able to use his gaderffii stick as a lever to free the control and stop the train.

The Tuskens begin looting the train, while Fett sits on a box before the surviving Pyke prisoners. He asks who's the leader, and one of them stands and removes his mask. He asks if they're carrying spice, but the Pyke plays dumb. Just then two Tuskens unload an entire crate of spice.

The Pyke says they were just trying to protect their route from the "savage" Tuskens. Fett says they'll now have to pay a toll to pass through the Dune Seas, as it's Tusken territory. He warns the Pykes that any death dealt to them will be met ten-fold.

He then tells the Pykes he's sparing their lives as a gesture of "civility," and orders them to walk toward the suns. He says with luck they should reach Anchorhead by nightfall.

That night, Fett sits with the Tusken Chief. He explains that ever since Tatooine's oceans dried up, the many different Tusken tribes have stayed hidden from off-worlders who have machines. Fett says they now have machines of their own, and no longer need to hide.

The Chief then gives Fett a small box as a gift. He opens it, and a lizard jumps out and squirms up his nose. His eyesight becomes blurry, as he goes on a vision quest.

Fett walks through the desert as he sees fleeting images of his past. He comes upon a tree, filled with dozens of red eyes. He grabs a branch from the tree and breaks it off.

The next day, Fett returns to the Tusken camp. The Chief greets him, and the lizard slithers out of Fett's nose and back into the box. The Tuskens take him into a tent, where they clothe him in the black robes we saw him wearing in Season 2 of The Mandalorian.

Another Tusken takes the branch from him, and shows Fett how to fashion it into a gaderffii stick. Fett carves it, adds metal braces and hardens it in an oven.

That night, Fett displays his new stick to the tribe. He's now officially become one of them, as they dance around the fire.

• The episode opens with an overhead shot of Fett's Palace, as we zoom in on Fennec dragging her prisoner across the sand.

I assume this is an homage to the opening of The Empire Strikes Back, since the two shots are virtually identical— right down to the camera moves!

• Back in 1983's Return Of The Jedi, the door to Jabba's Palace was impressively large. Based on the curve of the arch, I'd say it was probably a hundred feet wide.

Then in the late 1990s, George Lucas lost his mind and began endlessly tinkering with the Original Trilogy, filling it with pointless and baffling changes. In the 2011 blu ray release, he inexplicably increased the size of Jabba's door to truly ridiculous proportions, making it a good seven to eight hundred feet wide!

Oddly enough, in this episode the door looks like its shrunk back down to its 1983 proportions. Thank the Maker!

• I love that the 8D8 droid is a real robot, and not a person in a suit. At least I think he's a practical effect, and not CGI. His movements seem too awkward and jerky to be a digital rendering.

• Fennec presents her captured assassin to Fett, who demands he speak. The assassin's only reply is "E chu tah."

We've heard this particular curse before, most notably in The Empire Strikes Back when a silver protocol droid says it to C-3PO. It's never been definitively translated, but it's pretty clear it means "F*ck you" or something similar. It was also said in the pilot episode of The Mandalorian.

• Fennec gets fed up with the assassin and drops him down into the Rancor pit. In another nod to Return Of The Jedi, he tumbles down the exact same chute as Luke Skywalker, and Fett and Fennec watch through the same grate from that Jabba did. Once again, even the camera angles are the same!

Once the assassin's in the pit, he hears what he thinks it a Rancor lumbering toward him. He then freaks the hell out and spills his guts.

So wait... he was absolutely fearless when the Gamorrean Guard had a knife to his neck, threatening to decapitate him. But then instantly sings like a bird when he thinks he hears a Rancor. Got it.

To be fair though, I'd probably wet myself too if I saw a giant, twenty foot tall monster coming at me, so maybe it's not such an overreaction.

• Of course there's no Rancor in the pit, just a rodent. So apparently they straight up have Earth rats in the Star Wars Universe. Got it.

• Fett decides to pay a visit to the Mayor of Mos Espa. I assumed he probably lived and worked in the tall spire in the middle of the city— especially since the camera zooms right in on it.

Nope! Instead he occupies this much less impressive building. I guess this must be City Hall?

• When I first saw this City Hall receptionist, I thought it was The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal! He certainly looks like him! He's actually actor Galen Howard, who has an astonishing 121 credits on IMDB— none of which I've ever seen. 

He gets a lot of screentime here, which makes me wonder if he's another of Jon Favreau's pals making a cameo.

• Turns out the Mayor of Mos Espa's an Ithorian. We've seen his species before, most notably in the Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope.

Oddly enough, the Mayor uses an electronic device to translate his murmurs and gurgles into English. Wait, what?

If such translators exist in this universe, THEN WHY THE FRAK DOESN'T EVERYONE WEAR ONE??!?!?!? Instead this society thought it's be much more practical to build dedicated humanoid protocol droids and have them follow everyone around to translate what they're saying. Cause, you know, that's WAY easier than wearing a little translator box around your neck.

• Fett tells the Mayor he's the new Daimyo of Mos Espa. 

In Japanese culture, a Daimyo was a feudal lord or a holder of land. I assume it means something similar here.

• Fett returns to Garsa Fwip's Sancuary Cantina for info. In the crowd we see this card-dealer droid (he was in the previous episode as well).

I'm told this dealer droid is based on R-3X, from the Star Tours ride in Disneyland. Which I guess makes that attraction canon!

• The Hutt Twins arrive in Mos Espa to dispute Fett's claim to their cousin Jabba's throne.

I love how their immense weight causes their litter to sag in the center. Plus as the scene wears on, the men carrying it become visibly tired and start shifting back and forth as they struggle with their burden. Now that's an awesome detail!

• The Twins look OK, I guess, but I dunno... I miss the days of giant rubber PRACTICAL Hutts. CGI's advanced a lot in the past forty years, but they've still never been able to create a Hutt who looked as good and as real as Jabba did in Return Of The JediHe had a tangible presence to him, as it was obvious he was an actual construct with mass and weight, and wasn't just a bunch of pixels.

• At one point the Male Twin (no names yet, please) uses some kind of live rodent to mop the sweat from his brow! If you look closely it actually bites his finger right before he tosses it away.

Deep Cut Alert #1: The Twins try to intimidate Fett by marching out Black Krrsantan, a Wookiee bounty hunter on their payroll.

Black Krrsantan comes from the world of Star Wars comics. There he was captured from his homeworld of Kashyyyk and trained as a gladiator. Sometime later he became a bounty hunter and began working for Jabba on Tatooine. At one point he captured Luke's uncle Owen Lars for reasons, and began torturing him. Lars was saved by the intervention of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who defeated Krrsantan.

The Wookiee then worked for Darth Vader— alongside Boba Fett! He's now apparently employed by the Twins.

Based on his appearance here, it looks like the comics he was in just became official canon! Or at least some of them did. Fett seems to recognize Krrsantan, but doesn't mention working with him, so maybe the show's ignoring some of the comic issues.

By the way, why does Black Krrsantan growl like a standard wolf here, instead of hooting and howling like Chewbacca always did? Does he speak a different language? Have a thick accent?

• In this week's obligatory flashback (which takes up a good three-fourths of the episode), we see there's a deadly hovertrain invading the Tusken's territory.

So apparently they use trains to transport goods and cargo on Tatooine. Hmm. That's fine, I guess, but... these people realize they live in a society where spaceships are common modes of transportation, right? Ships that could easily lift off and set back down anywhere on the planet? But no, trains that have to zoom across hundreds of miles of terrain and take days to reach their destination are fine too.

• If the hover train has a set route (which the Pykes confirm late in the episode) and it's so damned deadly, then maybe the Tuskens should give the thing a wide berth and think about settling somewhere else.

Yes, I get that the Dune Sea's their ancestral territory and all that, but if a train went down my street and shot at my house every single day, it wouldn't take me long to call a realtor.

• Since they first appeared in 1977, it's been obvious that the "HURRRRR URK URK URK" sound that the Tuskens always make is actually just processed donkey brays. Unfortunately once you realize that, it's impossible to hear anything else when they do it.

• After the train attack, Fett helps the Tuskens throw their dead onto a funeral pyre.

Since the Tuskens live on an arid desert planet with no rain, one would think they'd have figured out a way to extract every available ounce of water from a body before disposing of it— like the Fremen did in Dune. They had just such a process, which helped provide life-giving water to their tribe. 

Star Wars cribbed pretty much everything else from that book, so I was surprised they didn't cop that one as well.

REEEEEEEALLY Deep Cut Alert #2: In fact this may be one of the all-time deepest cuts in Star Wars history. This scene doesn't just reference an obscure comic or little-known novel— it's based on a freakin' deleted scene from A New Hope!

See, in the original version of the film (which was simply called Star Wars back then), George Lucas was concerned that Luke Skywalker— the hero of the film— didn't show up till around the seventeen minute mark.

In order to remedy that, he wrote a scene in which Luke's introduced much earlier in the film. He sees the battle between the Star Destroyer and the Rebel Blockade Runner, and rushes to local watering hole Tosche Station to tell his friends.

At the Station, Luke meets his childhood friend Biggs Darklighter, who's gone off and secretly joined the Rebellion against the Empire. Biggs tries to get Luke to follow him, but he's reluctant to leave his Uncle Owen's moisture farm.

Ultimately Lucas decided this scene slowed the pacing of the film too much, and ended up cutting it.

Then along came The Book Of Boba Fett, which decided to resurrect this scene from the cutting room floor and heavily reference it!

In order to stop the train, Fett realizes he'll need weapons and vehicles. He then crosses the desert to find some... at Tosche Station! It's kind of hard to recognize it here, as it's shot from a different angle...

But trust me, this is the very same Tosche Station shown in the deleted scene. The crew ofThe Book Of Boba Fett painstakingly recreated the exterior of the building.

They even recreated the interior as well! Inside the Station we see two patrons playing some sort of retro-futuristic videogame.

The exact same one in fact that's behind Luke and Biggs in the deleted scene.

We then see this lovely young couple, enjoying a drink inside the Station.

It's tough to see them in the screecap, so here's a better look at the two of them in a better-lit production still.

Believe it or not they were in the deleted scene as well. The girl's Cammie, and her make friend is Fixer. Both were acquaintances of Luke and Biggs.

Nice to see the two of them literally haven't moved an inch in the eight years since A New Hope took place!

Wow. As I said, it's one thing to reference and obscure novel or a comic, but a deleted scene? That's an entirely new level of nerddom!

Of course rabid Star Wars fans have known about this deleted scene for decades now, and it'll be a fun and surprising little bonus for them. For non-fans though, all this is likely to sail FAR over their heads!

• Inside the Station, we see it's being terrorized by a gang of Niktos. They're wearing the same "Double J" (or perhaps dirty socks) symbol on their clothes that we saw a group of marauders paint on the side of a homestead last week— meaning this is that same gang.

• Note how Fett's shadow appears on the wall when he first enters the station. I assume this is an homage to Indiana Jones, and how he was usually revealed in each movie.

• During the bar fight, Fett hits one of the Niktos in the crotch with his stick, knocking it out. So... I guess Niktos have scrotums just like humans!

• I don't know why, but I love this shot of Fett and his "gang" zooming across the desert floor on their speeders.

This shot reminds me of something that's always bothered me about scenes set on Tatooine... the place orbits twin suns, right? So shouldn't everything be casting TWO shadows?

I suppose we're to believe the suns are so close together that they cast one combined shadow. I dunno... based on this shot from A New Hope, they look pretty far apart to me!

Dollars to donuts there's some fan site out there that explains why everything on Tatooine only has one shadow. Like one of the suns emits light in some wavelength the human eye can't see or something.

• As I said in the intro, Jon Favreau's apparently a huge fan of the classic film Lawrence Of Arabia. Nowhere is that more evident than in this episode's train attack scene, which is practically a shot-for-shot recreation of a corresponding setpiece in Lawrence.

For example, Fett & his Tusken biker gang speed after the Pyke hovertrain.

Much like the characters do in Lawrence Of Arabia.

Granted, the train battle seen in The Book Of Boba Fett is much more prolonged and action-packed, but it's still not hard to see the similarities.

Fett and his pals cause the hovertrain to crash into the desert sand.

Exactly as Lawrence and his tribe do to the train in the film.

After the train crashes, the Tuskens begin looting it of anything of value.

Same thing happens in Lawrence Of Arabia!

Note that I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this, as Star Wars has freely borrowed inspiration from numerous sources since the very beginning. I just thought the parallels were worth pointing out.

• The train returns, and Fett & his crew attack it. His Tusken sparring partner— who I think is a lady, but it's hard to tell with the layers and layers of robes— is quite the badass!

First she disables the train by deliberately crashing her speeder into it. Then she reenacts the corridor fight scene from Oldboy as she jumps into the train and starts slashing her way through the Pykes!

• I kind of wish they'd used a different race besides the Pykes in this episode. You've got the masked, black robed Tuskens fighting the masked, black robed Pykes, which makes it tough to tell who's who in the battle scenes.

• Although the bulk of this episode was inspired by Lawrence Of Arabia, its Western roots show through a bit as well. Especially in this scene of the train speeding past a herd of buffalo, er, I mean Banthas!

On the other hand, Lawrence features a virtually identical scene of a herd of camels crossing a similar desert landscape, so never mind!

• The Conductor Droid was just a little too silly for me. Not to mention out of place! The Pykes are brutally murdering Tuskens left and right, but then we get several scenes of this comedy relief robot doing schtick. It's a bit jarring.

• The Pykes are an aquatic species native to the planet Oba Diah (how Biblical!). They run the Pyke Syndicate, which supplies the galaxy with the narcotic Spice, which comes from the Spice Mines Of Kessel.

They first appeared in the comics, but were then a big part of The Clone Wars animated series. Their first live-action appearance was in Solo: A Star Wars Story (if you could see them through that film's murky cinematography, that is).

• Water's probably worth more than gold on a desert planet like Tatooine. Which made this scene all the more shocking. After the train's been "derailed," the Tuskens begin looting it. At one point they knock a cap off the side of one of the freight cars, and thousands of gallons of precious water spill out onto the sand! Jesus Christ! 

Why the hell would a desert-dwelling race do something idiotic like that? Why not leave the water in the car till they could rig up a way to drain and store it in their camp?

Deep Cut Alert #3: The Chief tells Fett that the various Tusken tribes have stayed hidden since Tatooine's oceans dried up. Wait, what? Oceans? On Tatooine?

Apparently this is another bit of lore that began in the comics. Twenty six thousand years ago Tatooine was a lush, forested planet, complete with blue oceans, and was home to the Kumumgah race.

Then the planet was invaded by the evil Rakatan Empire, whose machines of war and industry destabilized the environment. The Kumumgah people fought back, which caused the Rakatan to bombard the planet from space, destroying the oceans and turning it into a desert world.

This event also caused the Kumumgah to evolve into two separate races— the Jawas and the Ghorfas, who eventually became the Tuskens.

As I said, this was all laid out in the comics, and according to Disney isn't "official." This episode would seem to change that, and make the comic backstory canon!

• The Tuskens send Fett on a vision quest to find his own personal gaderffii stick. He staggers into the deep desert, where he sees a tree— or does he? He tries climbing it, but it wraps itself around him till he snaps off one of its branches.

I'm very confused by this scene. ARE there still trees on Tatooine? If so, this is the first time we've ever seen one. Was the tree in his vision real, or just an hallucination? I'm guessing it has to be real, since he came back with a branch from it!

• More Lawrence Of Arabia homages! At one point Fett returns from his vision quest, appearing as a faint figure barely visible across the sand.

This shot's virtually identical to one in Lawrence, in which the titular character spends a good ten minutes of screen time watching his friend Sherif Ali approaching from out of the deep desert.

A bit later the Tuskens dress Fett in a version of their robes, as he becomes a full-fledged member of their tribe.

Much the same thing happens in Lawrence, as the British WWI soldier is taken in by an Arab tribe and begins sympathizing with them and adopting their ways.

Note that in this scene, Fett's now dressed as he was the first time we saw him back in The Tragedy in Season 2 of The Mandalorian.

Deep Cut Alert #4: Fett's sparring partner leads him to a weapon smith, whose workshop is in the middle of the desert, in the shade of a derelict spaceship. The second I saw this scene, I immediately recognized that section of spaceship...

It's identical to the background of this Star Wars production painting, done back in 1976 by the ever-awesome Ralph McQuarrie.

I assume Favreau's a big fan of McQuarrie (as everyone should be), and decided to recreate one of his paintings here. I'm even more impressed that I recognized it for what it was!

• With the help of a Tusken weapons smith Fett crafts his very own gaderffii stick from the tree branch he found from... somewhere.

For years I assumed these sticks came from the mind of a Star Wars production designer back in 1977. Nope! They were actually based on a real world weapon called a totokia, used by tribes in Fiji! Because Knowing Is Half The Battle!

• At the end of the episode, the Tuskens stage an elaborate ritual in which they welcome Fett into their tribe. At this point he's most definitely become one of them.

After all these years, he's finally found a home with his new "family." So why'd he leave them then? He seems pretty happy right where he is, so why'd he travel to the planet Tython and meet up with Manny in Season 2 of The Mandalorian?

I have a theory, and it doesn't bode well for Fett's tribe. In fact I wouldn't get too awfully attached to any of them if I was you. I have a bad feeling (heh) that something really terrible's gonna happen to them. Something so traumatic it's gonna cause Fett to leave Tatooine, team of with Fennec and go searching for his armor.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter