We’re back with threats! The mayor! A train job! Let’s get to it.
Fennec Shand drags the assassin back to the palace for questioning. They learn that he’s a member of the Order of the Night Wind assassin group (which she claims is overpriced for the work they do because she’s very salty and good). When he won’t answer their questions about who hired him, Fennec drops him into the rancor pit. The fear of death-by-rancor is enough to get the man shouting that the mayor hired him. Boba and Fennec take the man into Mos Espa and demand to speak to the mayor, Mok Shaiz. When they’re brushed off, they force their way into his office.
Mok Shaiz has the assassin killed instantly because Night Wind are not permitted to operate outside “Hutt space.” He offers a reward for turning him in, which Boba says he will accept as the tribute they never offered. Shaiz insists that he didn’t try to have Fett killed, and that this is more complicated than they realize, suggesting that they head back to the Sanctuary and ask Garsa about it. Fett takes the advice and asks her what’s going on. She admits that “the twins” have arrived to dispute his claim as Daimyo of Tatooine. There’s a drum beat and two hutts are brought through the streets on a litter. Fett walks out to meet them and stakes his claim. They insist that this is still Jabba’s territory and threaten him with a Wookiee enforcer. Fett tells them that he is the Daimyo, and that if they want Jabba’s territory back, they’ll have to kill him. The brother says that bloodshed is bad for business and they can settle this later, advising Boba to “sleep light.”
Fett goes back into his tank and another flashback begins: He is being trained to fight by the Tusken’s best warrior, and she shows him how to properly hold his gaderffii. As they’re training, a train comes through the Dune Sea and begins shooting indiscriminately at the group. Many are killed. Fett sees some speeders go by in the night, and tells the leader of the Tuskens that he can help them stop the train for good. He goes to a remote cantina where the owners of said speeders are abusing local folks. Fett battles them out, then ties the speeders together and brings them back to the Tuskens, explaining that this is how they will stop the train.
Boba shows the group how to use the speeders, and gives them instruction on how they will handle the next train passage. When the next one comes through, they attack the train and manage to stop it. The route is being managed by the Pyke Syndicate, who are using it to transport many goods, including spice. Boba explains that these are the ancestral lands of the Tuskens, and in order to pass through, they will now need to pay a toll. They leave the Pykes alive and let them walk back to Anchorhead to let people know.
That night, the leader of the Tuskens explains how the different tribes operate on Tatooine; when the “oceans dried up,” his people took to hiding, but some tribes kill to survive. Boba doesn’t believe they should have to hide, and promises that the new machines (weapons) they have taken from the Pykes will help to that end. The leader gives him a lizard as a gift, which jumps down his nose—it’s meant to guide him. Boba has a vision of his past, and of a great tree in a desert. He breaks off a branch from that tree to get free of its grip. The next morning, he comes back with that branch, and they outfit him as one of their own. The tribe’s warrior brings him to a forge where he carves and outfits that branch into his own gaderffii. The tribe sit around their fire and Boba and the warrior begin to dance with their weapons. Soon, the rest of the tribe joins in.
Didn’t I say we were gonna do flashback for every episode?
And not just a little, they’re basically taking up the majority share every episode—this was over two-thirds of plot. Which is sad because I want more of Boba and Fennec together and they keep cutting things off right when they’re getting good. Just her snark about Night Wind alone, or tricking that guy into thinking he was going to get eaten by the rancor? Give us more, this isn’t fair, she’s too good to only get ten minutes an episode.
Still not sure how I feel about how the Tuskens are being used in all this. There’s a weird tension at play because the use of Temuera Morrison eases some of the issues here—it means something different for him to tell the Pykes that they’re passing through Tusken ancestral land because Morrison is Maori. Ancestral land, and the ways in which colonizing forces disrespect it, is something he’s intimately familiar with. This helpfully sidesteps the oft-employed white savior trope in his partnership with the Tuskens; via his own Maori heritage, and the Mandalorian clan affiliations on the fictional level, he’s put on even footing with these people. He is offering aid, not marking himself as their salvation.
But this cannot change the fact that science fiction and fantasy love to create cultures and races out of the trappings of real-life ones, and typically without any input from or deference to cultures being cannibalized. The Tuskens are not Native American or Bedouin, but they wind up being framed as both and neither, and there’s no way to stop that from being awkward. It means a lot that they’re being treated with respect in this narrative, but that doesn’t make the othering of indigenous cultures any less evident here. (If you want a more detailed look at how Native American cultures are embedded throughout Star Wars, I recommend checking out this piece.) It may be a hard thing for Star Wars to get away from, given how the franchise has always taken elements from around the world and blended them into something else, but part of the problem comes from the fact that it’s… nearly always a white guy writing it.
I’ve also got some plot irritation by way of gee, Boba was sure lucky that the guys on those speeder bikes turned out to be jerks. It’s just the most transparent set up when he sees those speeders and goes after them, but then the next scene is all the guys who own those speeders harassing a poor couple and sticking their hands in everyone’s drinks and probably not tipping the bartender. So we know that Boba Fett should absolutely beat the shit out of them and take their stuff. What would he have done if they were one of those nice biker gangs? What if these guys rode for charity?
Also, the mayor was like “go back to Garsa’s to see what’s going on,” and literally all she does is say “go outside to see who’s coming” like, why did we come back to the Sanctuary, did they just want to prove to me that Max Rebo wrote some new space music (since I complained about it) because, I appreciate that, but that seemed like an entirely unnecessary aside.
I’ve got some practical questions about the Hutt twins as well because they clearly took their sweet time coming to lay claim over Jabba’s territory. Maybe they just figured they could step in whenever Bib’s operation got too annoying? And then he had to go die and ruin everything. On the upside, they keep great company; when that Wookiee stepped up to glower, I blurted at the screen “Who’s this handsome fellow?”
Thankfully, my partner cackled in agreement, so that wasn’t too weird.
And then we get a very standard “train job” Western sequence, which is fun, if a little confusing when it comes to the train’s mechanics. (Props to the train-driver droid for jumping ship when it did, though.) As usual, there’s one (1!) emergency break that can totally stop this high speed chase, if only you can pull it with your heroic strength of will. The aliens they’re fighting should be familiar to anyone who has watched The Clone Wars or Solo: This is the Pyke Syndicate, who deal primarily in spice, and hail from the planet of Oba Diah (yes, really—it’s Star Wars, you know the answer to that by now). I think this might be the first time we’ve seen one with their masks off? But I could be forgetting on that.
By the way, the Pykes are responsible for the death of Sifo-Dyas, the Jedi Master who Palpatine used to further confuse the Jedi into starting up the Clone War. They are a genuinely dangerous group, even if they look a little bit like armored Goa’uld crossed with Miyazaki’s reject pile.
And then we get a “vision quest” section, which is, again, mostly just memories! To my personal (and obviously very deep) psychological understanding, dreams and visions are usually not just you flipping through your rolodex of home brain movies. What’s going on, show.
Aside from getting to watch Boba Fett apologize for nose-swallowing a lizard, which did genuinely make my day.
Bits and Beskar:
- Okay, but I’ve got a question about Tusken sign language, which is… Is this their own sign language, or was it brought to them? Because Din Djarin knew how to use it, and it occurred to me that perhaps this was the only feasible way they could communicate with colonizers on Tatooine because their language is kind of impossible for most alien vocal cords and vice versa? Maybe Din knew it because it’s a sort of “galactic standard” for sign language—sort of like Galactic Basic for spoken language.
- How much did the whole galaxy fear that rancor pit that people are still worried about it, and have no idea that Luke killed the poor thing? (That rancor was very loved, fyi.)
- No idea what the “death pits of Duur” are, but they sure sound like a good time.
- Max Rebo’s new band has a droid drummer, and I just need to know if they’re using said droid like a drum machine, or if that droid truly wants to be a drummer. I need it to be the latter.
- The brother of the Hutt twins is mopping his sweat up with a live rodent? That’s… a new kind of gross. Their facial tattoos harken back to Ziro the Hutt’s full body tattoos, though. *sniff* I miss Ziro.
- We now have a name for the cactus fruit liquid pals (which, it’s still wild that they’re just all over the place under a few inches of sand, but I guess I’ve gotta let that one go). Boba calls them “black melon.” Which is probably not what they’re called by the Tuskens, but you know, he’s doing his best.
- I’m just saying that those Tuskens opened a giant trunk of sansanna spice and it went everywhere, so they were high as the ISS for the remainder of the day, I’m guessing.
Next week! Maybe more stuff will happen in the present!