When director Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn) stepped in to helm the antepenultimate episode of The Mandalorian’s second season– entitled “The Tragedy”— his fate seemingly became sealed. That installment of the smash hit live-action Disney+ original series served as the grand reintroduction of the iconic bounty hunter Boba Fett into the Star Wars mythos (after being teased with two tantalizing cameo appearances in previous episodes), so it only makes sense that Rodriguez is now part of the team bringing the highly anticipated Mandalorian spinoff The Book of Boba Fett to the small screen.
Besides serving as the show’s executive producer, Rodriguez also directs the first episode of Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett– “Stranger In a Strange Land”– which picks up where The Mandalorian’s second-season finale post-credits scene left our titular antihero. Fett (played again by Temuera Morrison, who costarred in Episode II: Attack of the Clones as Boba’s “father” Jango) has taken over Jabba the Hutt’s criminal empire, left to rot in the hands of his majordomo Bib Fortuna by the enormous slug after the events of Return of the Jedi left him strangled to death by Princess Leia.
We see Boba Fett throwing his weight around Mos Espa (who knew this settlement first seen in The Phantom Menace was located inside a giant crater?) with the help of his new right-hand cyborg assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen, reprising the role from The Mandalorian and Star Wars: The Bad Batch). We also pretty much immediately get some satisfying flashbacks to Fett’s tooth-and-nail survival of the Sarlacc Pit post-Jedi, thanks to bacta tank-induced nightmares. And the remainder of the episode follows that pattern that I’m guessing we’ll see more of in the weeks to come: filling in the gaps in Boba’s life between Episode VI and his appearance in The Mandalorian, while intermittently furthering the “present day” story. After meeting up with a Twi’lek entrepreneur (Jennifer Beals of Flashdance fame), Fett and Shand are jumped by a group of highly coordinated warriors– there have been plenty of theories floating around about these guys since they appeared in The Book of Boba Fett’s trailer, but we don’t get too much information about them just yet.
What I liked the most about this jumping-off-point episode is the world-building going on around the planet Tatooine, a place where we’ve already spent a good deal of time in various Star Wars media. There are a number of interesting players in the local underworld game, both old and new, that are sure to continue being thorns in Boba Fett’s side as the series goes on. The time Fett spends with the Tusken Raiders is also fairly illuminating, expanding our understanding of how that culture operates, even after we got to know them a bit better in The Mandalorian’s second season. I loved the relationship between Boba and his Gamorrean underlings (I never thought I’d see a pig monster playing nursemaid to a fearsome bounty hunter, but I’m not opposed to it) and I adored some of the more colorful characters encountered here, like the Twi’lek assistant to the Mayor of Mos Espa (Veep’s David Pasquesi) and a familiar-looking 8D8 droid (Matt Berry of What We Do In the Shadows) forced to act as an interpreter. The back half of the episode also features a fearsome creature that– as far as I know– may be new to the Star Wars universe, but fits right in just the same, and I’m not ashamed to admit it might also give me some nightmares.
Overall, I’d say this was a really solid start for The Book of Boba Fett. The episode has a lot of exciting action, some gasp-worthy moments, and plenty of Star Wars Easter Eggs for fans like me to point at like they’re Leonardo DiCaprio in that one meme– did any of you Disney Parks fans out there spot the RX-series pilot droid acting as a casino dealer? And while some fans’ interpretation of Robert Rodriguez’s recent comments about the trailer may not have been entire accurate (we still haven’t seen all the shots from the various ads for the show, though I think we may have seen most of them), I’m still super psyched that by and large we don’t really have a very good grasp on what’s coming down the line. I expect Boba will have further difficulties dealing with the mayor and Fennec will get at least some useful information out of that captured thug. We’ll have to wait until next week for more, but for now I can at least check a few things off my list.
Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett Episode 1 – “Stranger In a Strange Land” is now available to stream, exclusively on Disney+.