Warning: Spoilers ahead for “The Book of Boba Fett” Chapter 4
Like many recent contemporary science fiction shows, “The Book of Boba Fett” uses a number of different directors throughout a single season. This has perhaps been most noticeable in “Star Trek: Discovery” where the pace, tone and amount of time given to secondary plots has varied so much that it’s consistently inconsistent. Meanwhile, other recent sci-fi shows like “The Expanse, “Lost in Space” and even “The Orville” maintain regularity, harmony and cohesion, regardless of who is directing, so much so that without double-checking you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the same director throughout.
Until now, this inconsistency is not something that has plagued the “Star Wars” live-action shows. There were some hiccups, or teething troubles in the first season of “The Mandalorian” (Chapter 4 is a particularly good example), but for the most part the whole season flowed.
Last week’s escapade, the third episode of “The Book of Boba Fett” with the Mods from Mos Espa, felt a little bit out of place, but was still possible to move on from. This week’s episode, titled “Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm,” gets worse the more you watch it.
In order to provide the most well-informed opinion possible, it’s standard procedure here at Space.com to watch each new episode of “Star Trek” or “The Expanse” or whatever it might be, at least four or five times. And in most cases, one looks forward to being able to watch it all over again. But in this instance, remembering all the terrible bits that also have to be endured…it’s not so much fun anymore.
One minute “The Book of Boba Fett” feels like a gritty, entertaining sci-fi drama (i.e., Chapter 2: “The Tribes of Tatooine“), and the next minute the same show feels like it’s been aimed at kids with the added bonus of probably pushing a new toy line (that would be this week’s episode). Shifting from one style to another drastically different one, in successive installments, causes a clash that prevents the viewer from achieving a fully immersive experience.
The episode begins with Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) making plans to avenge the murder of his Tusken tribe by the Kintan Striders, and in order to do this he needs superior firepower, which means getting his ship back. And that’s been parked at Jabba’s palace since he delivered Han Solo, frozen in carbonite, in-between “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” and “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.” While he’s camped out and observing the patrol routines of the palace security guards, he spots flash charges illuminating the Tatooine night sky many miles away.
These are the flash charges that Din Djarin and the nice-but-dim wannabe bounty hunter Toro Calican use in their attempted assault on Fennec Shand’s (Ming-Na Wen) position we saw in the fifth chapter of “The Mandalorian,” titled “The Gunslinger.” By the time Fett arrives on the scene, Shand has been shot by Calican and left for dead. We even hear the soft, subtle sound of spurs jingling once again — just like we did that episode of “The Mandalorian” — even though we rarely hear Fett making this sound at any other time, it’s a nice, noted attempt at conformity.
And then comes the first of this installment’s cringeworthy set pieces. Fett takes Shand’s body to an Orange County chop shop back street modification parlor; so instead of getting say, a cool Maori arm tattoo, you could get a cool new arm. Hanging out at here are a bunch of characters resembling Biff’s gang from “Back to The Future II” and so much like the Mos Espa Mod Squad we saw last week. The whole thing would just about be tolerable if it wasn’t for the Swiss Army Knife-extension surgery scene that’s handled in such a hacked “Hackers” style. And we’re back to what Disney thinks kids think is cool.
Shand recovers breathtakingly quickly after having her entire lower abdomen replaced with a gleaming set of polished chrome shock absorbers and now she owes Fett a debt. Together they plan a stealthy infiltration into Jabba’s palace to retrieve Fett’s ship.
For 40 years, ever since the release of “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” Fett’s ship was called Slave 1. However, it has been officially renamed. On the new Lego sets, it’s simply called “Boba Fett’s Starship” but a press release accompanying the Marvel comic book release “Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters, Jabba the Hutt #1” (set after “Empire” and before “Return of the Jedi”) states that Fett’s ship is called the “Firespray.”
This more than likely originates from the canonical model and class of the ship: Kuat Systems Engineering Firespray-31-class patrol and attack craft. And interestingly, this potential over-sensitivity minefield is avoided altogether when Fett simply refers to his craft once and calls it “my Firespray gunship.” Well handled, director Kevin Tancharoen.
They sneak past the patrolling guards and end up in the palace kitchen where they must overcome a multi-limbed culinary droid and its sous-chef companion in a set piece that quickly descends into a “Tom & Jerry”-esque caper that’s more annoying than anything else. Battling their way through to the hanger, both Fett and Shand finally gain the upper hand with the palace guards although quite how they don’t seriously damage Fett’s ship in the process is anyone’s guess and they fly off into the early morning Tatooine sky.
It’s not long before the Firespray class ship comes across a number of Kintan Striders on speeders, racing through the open desert. They’re no match for the twin blaster canons mounted at the bottom of Fett’s ship and he quickly cuts them down. Considering how effective — and straightforward — this attack has been, it’s a wonder no one else really utilizes air superiority in the territories of Tatooine.
And now another bizarre set piece follows. Upon retrieving his ship, Fett soon finds out that his beskar armor isn’t on board and he’s still unaware Jawas stripped it from him while he was unconscious after having escaped from the stomach of the Sarlacc. (We know it winds up in the hands of Cobb Vanth in “The Mandalorian” episode “Chapter 5: The Marshall.”) So, he flies to the Great Pit of Carkoon to see if it’s still in the Sarlacc’s stomach.
We’ve joked in past reviews of “The Book of Boba Fett” how the show incorporates references to movies like “Quadrophenia,” “Back to the Future Part II” or “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Well, this week it went one further — “Fantastic Voyage.” Yes, that 1966 classic about a submarine with Raquel Welch on board that gets miniaturized and jabbed into Donald Pleasence. You see, Fett actually tries to fly his Firespray class ship into the mouth of Sarlacc.
Needless to say, this ridiculous endeavor results in the Sarlacc trying to eat said Firespray class ship — and to be fair, I really wanted to see that happen. But that’s not what happens, and despite a valiant attempt by the desert-dwelling, all-devouring Sarlacc, Fett finally releases a seismic charge that destroys it.
It’s interesting to note that Fett didn’t kill it when he used his arm-mounted flamethrower and basically ripped his way out of its stomach in Chapter 1, “Stranger in a Strange Land.” But after a search inside the carcass of the giant carnivore, Fett finds that his armor isn’t there. So his quest continues and will of course ultimately take him to the planet Tython and the ancient ruins of a temple that has a strong connection to the Force. And we’ve seen this encounter in “The Mandalorian” episode “Chapter 14: The Tragedy.”
Up until now, this has been a flashback and those have almost caught up with the present day. However, we return to Mos Espa and the popular Sanctuary cantina in Mos Espa operated by Garsa Fwip (Jennifer Beals). The Wookiee gladiator Black Krrsantan (Carey Jones) takes offense to a group of loud Trandoshans celebrating some success on a gambling table.
This hatred of the Trandoshans by the Wookies goes all the way back to “Legends” novels and comics. The reptile-like Trandoshans are hunters and their culture is built around rites of passage and trophies. Sadly they enjoy proving their worth against mighty Wookies on their home planet of Kashyyyk, bringing a pet home as a prize. Moreover, during the Clone Wars, the Wookies sided with the Rebel Alliance, but the Trandoshans had worked with Palpatine even before the rise of the Empire. So it’s no surprise Krrsantan felt like venting after a drink or two.
Having picked on one poor Trandoshan and ripping his arm off (a nod to “A New Hope”) Krrsantan is understandably asked to exit the establishment where Fett approaches him and recruits his services. Fett entertains the heads of the other big crime organizations and proposes a truce of sorts while he goes after the Pyke syndicate, an act that will ultimately benefit everyone since it will bring business back to Tatooine.
The end of this episode see Fett and Shand gaze out at the twin setting suns of Tatooine, and it teases the recruitment of the Mandalorian Din Djarin possibly in next week’s episode, but certainly soon. And there are only three chapters left. It’s also worth remembering that this show was originally supposed to be a limited series and Disney is really getting its money’s worth with those Tatooine sets, which will also almost certainly be used in the forthcoming “Obi-Wan Kenobi” live-action spinoff. Will Disney be able to resist making another season of “The Book of Boba Fett”?
There are certainly some nice elements to this week’s installment, including some long-overdue Bantha love, an arm being ripped from its socket by a Wookie and a hygienist’s perspective of the Sarlacc, but sadly, it’s necessary to go through too many awful bits to make this anywhere near an epic, edge-of-seat, rollercoaster ride like bulls-eyeing wamprats in your T-16.
In other “Star Wars” news, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is now joining “Ashoka” along with Ivanna Sakhno (Pacific Rim: Uprising) who “will play a newly created character” and Hayden Christensen who, we already knew, “will reprise his role of Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader.”
Seasons 1 and 2 of “The Mandalorian” are available to stream on Disney Plus in the US and so are the first three episodes of “The Book of Boba Fett” along with every episode and every movie in the “Star Wars” universe.
Disney Plus will launch in 42 countries and 11 territories this summer, including South Africa, Turkey, Poland and the United Arab Emirates, according to The Hollywood Reporter.