Warning: The following contains spoilers about episode 1 of Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett, “Stranger in a Strange Land”
After 38 years, Star Wars fans finally learned how Boba Fett escaped the mouth of The Return of the Jedi‘s Sarlacc Pit.
And as intriguing as the scene was, Book of Boba Fett scribe Jon Favreau and episode 1 director Robert Rodriguez could have taken more time with it. This bounty hunter certainly has grit and smarts when it comes to surviving the worst and near-death of circumstances, and his breakout from the Sarlacc Pit is just one of many instances in “Stranger in a Strange Land”. More time is devoted toward the middle of the episode to an electro-spear and fist fight which occurs after Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and his No. 2 Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) have with some mysterious assassins after they’ve been jumped in pure daylight in the Mos Espa streets. More on that in a bit.
However, Boba Fett’s survival of the Sarlacc Pit has been a scene many Star Wars fans have been dying to see for quite some time. Some have theorized that his jetpack blasted him out. Anyway, it would have been fun to see him go through his gadgets, Sergio-Leone style, until he discovered that his hand torch was his ultimate savior.
While in the stomach of the Sarlacc, Boba is hanging by its sticky guts alongside a dead stormtrooper. He makes his way over through the guts and uses the stormtrooper’s oxygen to resuscitate. Boba then uses his torch blower to cut through the guts, eventually digging his way up from the sand next to the Sarlacc’s mouth. So, that’s how he did it after all these years.
By the way, these are all fragments of Boba’s memories which he’s having as he recuperates in a bacta tank (the water-filled hospital tube which we first saw Luke recoup in during Empire Strikes Back after Han Solo rescued him from hypothermia on Hoth). Boba makes his way in the Tatooine desert after the pit, and passes out. He’s found by Tusken Raiders/sandpeople and taken prisoner; dragged through the desert by Bantha like some image out of a Leone western. Boba is tied up next to a red-headed Rodian. Boba is attacked in the middle of the night by a four-legged beast, which we ultimately learn is a pet of the sandpeople. Boba is able to subdue it, unties himself, runs, but is ultimately caught and beaten by the Tusken Raiders.
It’s at this point that Fennec wakes Boba up from the bacta tank. Having toppled Bib Fortuna, Jabba’s former assistant and the previous crime lord of Mos Espa, it’s time for Boba and Fennec to receive the respects of the thugs and thieves that once worked and tithed to Jabba and Bib.
First impressions of Boba’s reign? He is no where near as cruel or brutish as Jabba was, especially to those who come to metaphorically kiss his ring. As he says in the trailer for the series, which is repeated again here, “Jabba ruled with fear, I intend to rule with respect” says the bounty hunter. Fennec’s response to this, her title in the court being Master Assassin, “In difficult times, fear is a surer bet.”
Of those who visit them, the only future problem seems to be with the Mayor of Mos Espa. While the Mayor is a no-show at Boba’s court, an offensive gesture from the onset, he sends one of his delegates who asks Boba to pay the Mayor. “What? I’m the crime lord, he’s supposed to pay me,” says Boba. Fennec tells the Mayor’s delegate, “Lord Fett offers the gift of your leave unmolested.”
Boba and Fennec make their way to a posh cantina-casino, to meet Madam Garsa Fwip (Jennifer Beals). They let her know that they’re in charge now and her business will continue to thrive under their watchful eye. Madam’s assistants see to it that Boba and Fennec’s helmets are polished, and when they’re returned, Boba’s is filled with coins, indicating he’s been paid for his cut. They’re off to a good start with Madam, it appears.
It’s soon after that Boba and Fennec are jumped by elite guards with red digital shields and glowing battle poles. Who sent them? The Mayor? Madam Garsa? (seems too soon) or another mysterious enemy on Mos Espa? Boba and Fennec are able to take care of most of them, but two escape. Fennec pursues them, leaving one alive which we’ll learn more about, hopefully in the next episode. The fight leaves Boba achy, and he’s dragged by his two Gamorrean guards (now loyal to him) back to his bacta tank. We’re dealing with a much older Boba Fett here in The Book of Boba Fett, a warrior riddled with battle scar tissue and tragic thoughts of his father, Jango Fett, dying before his eyes in battle.
The episode winds down with Boba continuing to remember his time as a prisoner on the sandpeople camp. He’s taken out to the desert with the Rodian, and ordered to dig for water by a junior Tusken Raider. A four-armed sand-beast, who appears to have previously starred in a Godzilla movie, pops up from the sand to attack them. In a nod to Luke Skywalker’s killing of the Rancor beast in Jabba’s palace, Boba chokes the monster with his foot chain. During this melee the red-headed Rodian is killed. The junior Tusken Raider gleefully skips back to camp with the head of the sand beast. Telling his elders about how the beast was toppled, it appears as though he’s taking credit for slaying it. The older shaman/head of the Tusken Raiders looks on as the boy is surrounded by others, knowing wiser, and offering Boba a drink of water.
Similar to previous Mandalorian episodes, the first of The Book of Boba Fett is indeed action-filled, however, questions remain. Where are the Hutts? Does Jabba have any kin? Why didn’t they rule instead of Bib Fortuna? Is the Imperial’s Moff Gideon coming back? Does Han Solo, Luke, Lando or Princess Leia make a cameo? Will the plots of Mandalorian with the black saber and Book of Boba Fett become more intertwined?