THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS
Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm
A Sign For Action
Meandering on a bantha, alone through the Dune Sea, garbed in the robes of his lost tribe, Boba Fett quietly approaches what was once Jabba’s palace scouting out the number of guards. “Not today, old girl. Still too many guards.” This isn’t the first time he’s scouted the palace.
Under the three moons of Tatooine, Boba makes camp with his lone bantha and shares his meal with her. It’s clear he’s grown fond of the beast. A quiet night under the stars on the Dune Sea gets interrupted by a sudden flash of a flare. Cue the Mandalorian trill. Fett is not alone out here. Who are the intruders?
He doesn’t hesitate. He jumps into action and heads straight for the disturbance in the night and finds a dying Fennec. Toro Calican, an amateur bounty hunter, shot Fennec in the stomach to go after a better score in The Mandalorian. He left her for dead. Fett seems to recognize the dying woman even in the early morning light. Fennec Shand has made quite the reputation for herself. When you’re in high demand in a specialized industry, you tend to know the competition.
“She needs modification.”
Boba knows the lay of the land and, with an unconscious Fennec draped over the back of his bantha, heads toward the closest source of help: a mod-parlor on the outskirts of Mos Eisley. He mosies up on his Bantha, draped in the robes of a Tusken with an unconscious master assassin. The modified youths give him the odd looks. “Aren’t you a little old to be here?” the mod artist, played by Stephen Lee Bruner, aka Thundercat, greets him. “No walk-ins. Appointment only.” Fett is not going to take no for an answer. He lays a large bag of credits down, “This woman is about to die” he understands that money talks and paves the way to getting what he needs done. “You should have started with that,” the mod artist changed his tune.
The Modifier goes to work. It’s clear he’s a bit of a mad scientist in the genius of how he melds intricate vital body parts of flesh with machines to ‘enhance’ his clients to their specs. As he finishes his work, Fett asks, “Aren’t you going to close her up?” “And cover all this beautiful machinery?” the artist smiles. Fett looks briefly perturbed. He seems to know Fennec will not be okay with her new aesthetic.
Familiar Faces In Strange Places
Fett returns Fennec to where he discovered her. When she awakens, he offers her a black melon, “Drink.” She seems slightly dazed, trying to put the pieces back together, wondering who this man is. Boba explains, “You were dying of a gutshot. I saved your life.” Fennec discovers her new upgrade. “What did you do to me?!” She is clearly shocked at her modification. Fett explains about the mod parlor, “It’s the best I could do under the circumstances.” She reluctantly drinks from the black melon.
“You are master assassin Fennec Shand of the Mid Rim?” Boba recognizes her face knows her name and where she’s from. She’s skilled enough for him to respect her so that she was on his radar. “I take I’m worth more alive, huh?” she counters. “You are,” Fett confirms. He’s not thinking in the traditional sense of worth, but his tone could be interpreted as menacing. She offers to pay him twice her bounty. “I don’t want money.” “Who are you?” exasperated Fennec asks. Without his armor, he’s unrecognizable. All of these years, he’s hidden behind the mask, rarely removing the helmet so others would never know who he truly is.
He identifies himself, “I am Boba Fett.”. Fennec pauses, unsure, hesitant, weighing her next words. “Boba is dead.” “I was. Left for dead on the sands of Tatooine. Like you.” He goes on to explain about the Tuskens taking him in and how they were massacred when he intervened. “I want you to help me recover my Firespray gunship.” He explains it’s still in Jabba’s palace. Bib Fortuna was currently holding the throne, but by this statement, even Fett shows he didn’t respect the Twi’lek. Fennec states he could easily go ask the Twi’lek for his ship. “I might not like the answer. I’m less persuasive without my armor.” That armor is his identity, and it carries weight wherever he wears it. “If I help you, my debt is paid.” “If that is what you wish.” What a great throwback to one of Boba Fett’s original lines, “As you wish.”
Fett and Fennec make their way across the desert on bantha back. They find their way to Fett’s previous scouting location of the palace. “Any idea how many guards there are?” “I can’t tell. The gate opens. Some go out, some go in.” Fennec unleashes a miniature seeker droid reminiscent of Darth Maul’s droids in Episode I. The droid goes to work scouting the palace and numbering the guards.
“Time to say goodbye. You served me well, my friend. I’m going to miss you too, old girl. Go find other banthas and make baby banthas. You’re free to roam the Dune Sea.” Boba has spent a number of years with this bantha. Five years have elapsed since he crawled out of the sarlacc pit, the Tuskens adopted him as one of their own, were massacred by bandits, and then he was forced to wander the sands alone. He is very fond of this creature and is saying goodbye to a beloved pet.
“Shouldn’t you wait until you get your ship back?” Fennec questions, watching this openly emotional display. “Why? I either get it, or I die.” Fett knows it’s time to act, and there is no turning back. He has reliable help, and this is his best chance of retrieving what’s his. Fennec is curious, “What’s next for you?” “I’m going to go find my armor and kill that bloated pig who double-crossed me.” “You wanna head a Gotra? You’re a hunter,” she states.
“I’m tired of working for idiots who are going to get me killed,” Boba explains about the Tuskens taking him in and making him a part of their tribe. “I was ready to leave hunting behind.” “People like us don’t get to decide when we’re finished,” Fennec reminds him. The seeker droid returns with a thoroughly impressive layout of the palace along with an accurate number of guards. “There are too many guards.” “Then we time the patrol,” says Fennec, ever the problem solver.
Reclaiming What’s His
Fett and Fennec make their move. There is an entrance to the palace via the sewers. Fennec cuts open the grate with a handy dandy cutting torch. They find themselves in the kitchen. EV-9D9, the feisty droid R2-D2 and C-3PO met to accept their assignments on Jabba’s sail barge in the Return of the Jedi, makes an appearance as a sous chef. The other droid present is a COO-cook droid which was first seen in Attack of the Clones right before Anakin admitted to dreaming about Padme on their secret excursion to Naboo.
Fett and Fennec get discovered by the droids, but they are quick to silence them before they sound the alarm. COO-cook pulls some General Grievous inspired moves wielding a sharp knife in each hand. Fennec beheads the droid with her torch cutter. A LEP rat catcher service droid interrupts the intruders. After a quick squirmish, Boba grabs the droid by the neck, telling the droid his name. The droid opts to shut itself off in response.
They find their way to the hanger. Boba gets his first up-close look at his ship in five years. He pauses for a moment, tears welling in his eyes. There she is, the Firespray.
Fett and Fennec must have slipped up on the timing of the guards. They are discovered, and a fight breaks out. “Make sure that thing can still fly,” Fennec calls out during the skirmish. Fett makes his way up the ramp to dust off the controls. Fennec holds off the guards in a display of diverse finesse of different combat styles as she juggles hand to hand with her long-range weapon. There is a reason she is a master assassin.
Fett struggles with the controls and the tightness of the hanger space. The guns are jammed, and the gate is still closed. Fennec tells him to raise the ramp, takes a finely aimed shot, and shoots the weight keeping the hangar bay doors closed. They are free.
“Next time, we stick to the plan,” Fennec says. “ Next time?” questions Fett. It seems this unlikely alliance may not be over just yet. Fennec asks about the condition of the ship. “She’s in good shape. A little rusty.” She’s been sitting for five years as Fortuna’s unwarranted trophy. Fett states he’ll do the maintenance to the ship himself. “There is an advantage to people thinking you are dead.”
Debts Paid & Scores to Settle
Fett is good on his word and asks where Fennec would like to be dropped. Their deal is done. “Where are you headed,” she asks. “I have some scores to settle,” Fett explains. “I’ll go along for the ride,” she seems intrigued by him and curious as to what he is really up to. Boba seems genuinely surprised at this new partner in crime.
Seeing the Firespray take flight in Fett’s possession is something incredibly special. He’s been ‘dead’ for five years, lost to the sands of the desert, content with trying a new way of life very different from his previous one. Now he’s back at the helm of his own destiny, no longer being buffeted by the ebb and flow of the sandy sea flying off into the dawning horizon of a new day.
Fett goes back on the hunt. He scours the desert and catches up with the Kintan Striders, the swoop gang that killed the tribe of Tuskens. His tribe. The Firespray looms into view, and he unleashes a torrent of fiery fury. He decimates the gang and leaves their wreckage for the Jawas. No survivors. No mercy. He remembers he is not alone. He checks Fennec’s reaction to the display of unbridled homicide. She gives him a nod of approval. She understands and will not pass judgment on the brutality he unleashed.
Into the Belly of the Beast
The Firespray is a ship whose design carries a deliberate sense of purpose. Its pilot’s intent translates well as it slowly approaches the Sarlacc pit. “That’s where I was trapped all those years ago. That’s where I will find my armor,” he explains to Fennec. He hovers over the Sarlacc, darkening the pit like an unnatural eclipse. Even with the ship’s spotlight, he can’t see anything. Fennec is clearly unsettled by the proximity. The sarlacc attacks the ship, trying to sink it into the sands.
Fennec unstraps her safety harness and drops to the windshield, right over the Sarlacc's mouth. She scurries up to where she can reach the controls to release a seismic charge. “Fire in the hole,” she declares as she pushes the button, and the charge falls straight into the beast’s maw. A large familiar explosion reverberates through the sands. I love the sound effect this makes. “Next time, don’t touch my buttons,” Fett clearly wanted to have this kill on his list.
Fett is determined to find his armor. He climbs back down into the Sarlacc pit. He digs around for a while, the stomach acid once again burning away his exterior. Finally, surrendering to defeat, he returns to the surface. He’s perturbed by his armor's absence. “It served its purpose. It saved you from the acid. What you need to find is a bacta tank,” Fennec seems genuinely worried and exasperated by this quest of his.
Idiocy of Others
They camp for the night next to the remains of Jabba’s sail barge and the Sarlacc carcass buried deep in the pit with the beautiful Firespray in the background. Fennec asks if Fett is serious about starting his own house. “How many times have you been hired to do a job that was avoidable? If they only took the time to think, how much money could have been made? How many lives could have been saved? I’m tired of our kind dying because of the idiocy of others. We’re smarter than them. It’s time we took our shot.”
Events have been set in motion, Fett has a plan, and he will need help in its execution. “If I start my own house, I need brains and muscle. You have both.” Fennec values her freedom and doesn’t want to make any lasting commitments. “I can offer you what no client has: loyalty. I will cut you in on the success and pledge my life to protect yours.” “Living with the Tuskens has made you soft,” she counters. “No. It’s made me strong. You can only get so far without a tribe.”
“Power Hates a Vacuum”
Transitioning back to the present as he floats in his Bacta tank, we see Fett dream of his moment of usurping Bib Fortuna’s reign. Blasting the Twi’lek, he takes the throne with Fennec at his side as his right hand. He wakes from the regenerative bath and is greeted by a droid, “Congratulations, Master Fett, you are completely healed.” “What about the scars on the inside?” Fennec playfully inquires. “Those take longer,” the Daimyo replies in a somber tone of good humor. It’s clear Fett and Fennec have developed a familiar working relationship, and they’re comfortable with one another. Fennec relays the rundown of their current situation: the mayor’s majordomo is “singing like a Yuzzum” (remember the big-mouthed singer Joh Yowza in the Max Rebo Band from Return of the Jedi?), but there is still no sign of the mayor even though the Mods, (the gang of modified youths), have been combing the streets. Fett decides he should show his face in town. Fennec questions the decision, but the new Daimyo is positive this is the right move, “Power hates a vacuum.”
Betting An Arm & A Leg On Unlikely Allies
There is a festive atmosphere in The Sanctuary tonight. Max Rebo is laying down some great tunes to keep the party lively. The patrons are thoroughly enjoying themselves. With beings laughing, drinking, and gambling their worries away, the money flowing freely: Garsa Fwip is going to make quite the profit tonight.
There is one dark and stormy cloud overshadowing the merrymaking. Krrsantan, played by Carey Jones, sits in his own booth downing yet another drink. A table of gambling Trandoshans catches his eye. Trandoshans, as a species, are known hunters. The Trandoshans and the Wookiees have a turbulent history. Trandoshans were known to hunt Wookiees for the Empire. As time passes, Krrsantan’s glare gets more hostile. Every nuance of joy from the Trandoshan’s table seems to irk him further as he grips his electrified brass knuckles.
Krrsantan starts throwing Trandoshans around. He assaults the other table in a grand display of gladiatorial power. Fett walks in on the chaos, almost getting hit by one of the flying Trandoshans. The final remaining Trandoshan hit Krrsantan on the back with a drink. The Wookiee slowly turns around, calm rage focused on his last victim. He growls and lifts the Trandoshan up.
Garsa Fwip sternly intervenes, “I think you’ve made your point.” As she approaches the two, she softens her demeanor. She starts a diplomatic speech to diffuse the situation, trying to talk Krrsantan down from his rage. She recalls his impressive displays of martial prowess in the gladiatorial pit. “You’ve met every challenge. You’ve won every trophy. Is it not beneath you to disarm this unfortunate Trandoshan?” The Trandoshan nervously looks back and forth, gauging whether Garsa’s plea is making any difference in the Wookiee’s demeanor.
“Thousands once cheered such a display, but those days have passed. In this more civilized place and in these more civilized times, what was once celebrated in the bloodlust of the arena is now seen as horror and cruelty.” These last words seem to strike home for Krrsantan because he starts to reconsider the Trandoshan's fate.
However, Garsa misjudges the change of heart, “There, there now isn’t that better? You have nothing left to prove. You are a champion. You are above such pettiness.” She jumps the gun. She mentions how he’s run up an extensive bar tab. “Let's say you release this customer and let these fine folk get back to their fun, and in return, I will wipe your debt off the books.” She's trying to do him a favor.
There’s a pregnant pause throughout the Sanctuary. Everyone is silently waiting to see what will happen next. Krrsantan bellows a mighty Wookiee growl and rips off the Trandoshan’s arm. There is a collective gasp of shock and horror. Garsa is disgusted by the act. Krrsantan turns to the yellow Twi’lek server and drops a pouch of credits into her hands. It’s clear he doesn’t want anyone’s pity or charity. He cares about his reputation.
On the way out, he turns and growls at Fett. “It was worth a shot,” the Daimyo commends Garsa. She is exasperated and gestures as if to say, “I tried.” She turns to the band, “Hit it, Max.” The Daimyo follows Krrsantan back into the streets of Mos Espa. “Hey, mate. It looks like you could use a job.”
The Families Gather For Dinner
The heads of the three families of Mos Espa are invited to dine with the Daimyo. The Trandoshans, the Klatoonians, and the Aqualish listen to Fennec as she walks around the dinner table situated in the throne room, giving a rundown of the events that have led us here. Recounting the end of Jabba’s reign and Bib Fortuna’s attempt at power, she says, “ It took this man, Boba Fett, to remove him. You all accrued wealth and riches under Jabba the Hutt. You can again if you listen to Boba Fett.” She takes her seat at Fett’s right hand at the dinner table.
Fett assures the families he has no interest in disrupting their territories but would like to make a proposal that would be mutually beneficial. “As I am sure you all know, the Pyke Syndicate are mustering troops in Mos Espa. They’ve slowly absorbed our planet as part of their spice trade. They’ve bribed the mayor and are slowly draining Tatooonie of its wealth.”
A Trandoshan captain, Dokk Strassi, states they profit from the spice trade. One Klatooinian captain reasons, “What prevents us all from killing you and taking what we want?” They all turn and look at the Daimyo just as the Daimyo’s new pet rancor makes his presence known just below them. The family heads scatter and back away from the table. “Please sit,” requests the Daimyo. The family heads hesitantly sit back down, not wanting to back down from the challenge.
“Why speak of conflict when cooperation can make us all rich? I am proposing all the families of Mos Espa join in an alliance until the Pyke Syndicate is vanquished,” the Daimyo says. ”They have only challenged your territory. Why spill the blood of our ranks for a feud waged between you and the Pykes?” reasons the Klatooinian.
Fett stands, “Then I will fight these battles alone. I will vanquish these interlopers that threaten our planet. I will make the streets of Mos Espa safe again so all in this room can prosper. All I ask is you remain neutral if the Pykes approach you to betray me.” The families discuss the request among themselves, “ This will be acceptable.” Around the table, everyone raises their glasses in agreement.
Fett and Fennec stand on the balcony overlooking the road to Mos Espa as they watch their guests leave. “Do you trust them?” she asks. “I trust them to work in their own self-interests. My deal is a lot better than what the Syndicate would offer. They may be stubborn, but they're not foolish enough to see that the Pykes would eventually take over the entire planet. Either way, we must prepare for war.”
Fennec asks about the amount of treasure they have on hand. “I have plenty of credits,” Fett is completely unworried about money. “What I’m short on is muscle.” “Credits can buy muscle,” Fennec offers. As the camera pans away, the Mandalorian theme starts playing. It tentatively builds, perhaps foreshadowing a previous friendly alliance once again established?
There was a lot to unpack in this chapter. This chapter was by far the most dialogue-heavy yet in this series. As much as I enjoy the less is more approach when it comes to dialogue, leaving room for acting and character development through subtleties, everything expounded upon was necessary for setting up the next installation of the story.
The gap was bridged between Boba’s recent past to his present. Shortly after being reborn with a new focus on a simpler life, he experienced the great loss of his tribe, his family. He found a new unlikely but loyal friend in Fennec Shand as he shared his newfound aspirations of heading a new Gotra with the aim of keeping focused on the bigger picture of keeping the other families at peace so they could all make a profit without making war. Fennec helped Fett acquire a piece of his old life, the Firespray, a much-needed tool, so he could settle some outstanding scores before taking the throne that was once Jabba’s to set in motion his grand vision.
Boba had been attempting to retrieve his ship for some time. Finally, seeing the Firespray up close for the first time in five years. It made me incredibly happy to see Boba reunited with her. Time and again, we have seen this hardened hunter show a more tender emotional side signifying he’s much more than just a basic two-dimensional background character. He deserves his story told and expounded on.
I loved the transition from the present to the past and back again to tell Boba’s unlikely story of survival while he heals in the bacta tank. With the acknowledgment that Boba is now fully healed in the present, will we no longer get flashbacks of what led him here? Will his time in the desert be ebbed away like the fading memories within the sands of time? From here on out, will we see just where we are currently in the Star Wars timeline?
Fett keeps showing his complexity as we see little by little more of who he really is. He values loyalty, honor, and respect but keeps in mind what drives his kind in this business: profit and freedom. He’s diverse in that he can assimilate to his surroundings, making them his own, yet can transition right back to what he is familiar with. He doesn’t forget those who have wronged him and sets to correct those misdeeds. Even being changed, sometimes resorting to the old ways is the best way to get the job done. He’s proven to earn respect and loyalty of those he acquires in his service. His bonds of friendship are strong and unyielding. Trusting his instincts that the deals he offers others are in their best overall interests, he is attempting to play a strategic game of business that doesn’t compromise the well-being of the people he intends to look out for. Will his newfound allies agree with the Daimyo’s new vision for the future?
Let me know what you thought of Chapter 4 in the comments!