To use an oft-cited television criticism that first came to us by way of The Simpsons, Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett may be taking a little too long to get to the fireworks factory. I know I’ve championed its slow-burn approach to the story of how Boba Fett takes over the Mos Espa criminal underworld before, but I am starting to feel like there’s a lot more wheel-spinning going on than there probably needs to be. Case in point: both last week’s episode and the one that premiered today– “Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm”– end with Fett and his right-hand cyborg Fennec Shand declaring that they need to prepare for war against the Pyke Syndicate.
When the powers that be at Lucasfilm first announced that The Book of Boba Fett would only consist of seven episodes (as opposed to the eight we got in each season of The Mandalorian), I was worried that it would have felt like too few. But now I’m thinking it maybe could have been a tighter six.
“The Gathering Storm” (directed by Kevin Tancharoen of 2009’s Fame remake) kicks things off with another extended flashback– this time to Boba Fett’s efforts in retrieving his ship the Slave I from the bowels of Jabba’s Palace. And yes, to address the elephant in the room, Fett only refers to the vessel as his “Firespray gunship,” but that’s been the in-universe class of the Slave I for many years so it doesn’t bother me too much, though why Lucasfilm has suddenly decided that the word “slave” is too hot for Star Wars is beyond me. Alone in the desert on his trusty bantha, Fett spies the flares in the night sky from “The Gunslinger” episode of The Mandalorian and finds Fennec Shand left for dead by Din Djarin and Toro Calican, so he brings her to an underground cybernetics parlor on the outskirts of Mos Eisley to have her patched up. Together they infiltrate Bib Fortuna’s parking garage in an amusing heist sequence that features some prequel-style slapstick humor with the palace droids.
With the Slave I back in his possession, Boba Fett begins to settle some scores: first with the Kintam Riders biker gang– whom he simply blasts into smithereens from the Tatooine sky– then with the Sarlacc pit, where he thinks his beskar armor is still digesting years after the explosion of Jabba’s sail barge. Coming up empty on that particular fool’s errand, Boba and Fennec still decide to team up permanently because they like each other’s style. Plus they think it’s high time the bounty hunters of the galaxy have their day in the twin suns. From there it’s back to the “present,” where Fett decides to show his now fully healed face at the Sanctuary and ends up recruiting Black Krrsantan to the growing cause against the Pykes. We also get a Godfather-style “meeting of the five families” as Fett and Shand continue to rally the troops for the coming confrontation. But with three full episodes left, I can only hope at least two of those are not spent in preparation for something else to happen.
Overall I thought this episode was pretty goofy fun, but I have started to appreciate the criticism that The Book of Boba Fett hasn’t really found its “hook,” which is unfortunate considering we’re now more than halfway through the series. There’s also a lack of variety in the locations that has increasingly gnawed at me with each passing episode– aside from the cyborg den, I think we’d seen all the places visited in “The Gathering Storm” before. One thing I've never felt before with Star Wars is claustrophobia, but here I do kind of wish Boba Fett would take the occasional trip off-planet or at the very least explore more of Tatooine. The final scene’s tease of bringing in additional “muscle” (accompanied by a very familiar musical sting) is indeed a tantalizing one, so I’m hoping these final three upcoming installments up the ante in terms of genuine excitement and the giddy thrills that keep us coming back to A Galaxy Far, Far Away.
New episodes of Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett are released Wednesdays, exclusively on Disney+.