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Attempting to Understand a Cuddlier Boba Fett in ‘The Book of Boba Fett’

We dig into Chapter 3 and examine why our favorite bounty hunter has gone so soft for Tatooine.
The Book Of Boba Fett Chapter
By  · Published on January 12th, 2022

Star Wars Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry explores Episode 3 of Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett (Chapter 3: “The Streets of Mos Espa”) and the titular Daiymo’s growing benevolence. Yes, prepare for SPOILERS.

The further we push into Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett, the less comfortable everyone around Lord Fett (Temuera Morrison) appears. His enemies are ready to pounce; his aids seem permanently locked in side-eye. Fett’s sidekick, Fennec Shand (MingNa Wen), is practically screaming her frustration through micro shifts in her body language. Her questions, quietly rhetorical.

“You sure that was a good idea?”

Fett never answers. He understands her concern, but he might not recognize how much that concern weighs on her. For a killer who grew up along the fringes of the Clone Wars, where every day you fought for your next, attempting a big swing like what Boba Fett is doing on Jabba the Hutt’s throne could appear reckless. And if you are going to do it, from Shand’s perspective, ruling through respect rather than violence could be too big of an ask.

The Book of Boba Fett Episode 3 (“The Streets of Mos Espa”) delivers several cutaways to Shand, and with each one, her faith in Fett seems to slip. And you can’t really blame her, because Fett is not giving her or us anything on which to hang our confidence. We still don’t understand why he’s making this play on Tatooine. The series refuses to let us in on his motivations.

A Connection Between Kamino and Tatooine

We’re shown the same few flashback shots featuring kiddie Fett on Kamino for the third week in a row. When asleep in his Bacta tank, Boba Fett’s dreams always return him to the watery planet, where his father frequently left him to cosmically galavant. Fett barely knew his dad before Mace Windu lobbed off his head. The loss tears at the man who grew to an age Jango Fett never did.

Chapter 3 goes out of its way to remind audiences that Tatooine’s surface used to flow with oceans before its twin suns dried them. Maybe the desert planet represents Fett’s youth turned to dust. If he can bring harmony to Tatooine and rid its shores of bandits and their bosses, Fett could reclaim a piece of that youth he lost on Kamino.

Throughout the Clone Wars animated series, we saw how Jango’s death transformed Boba Fett into a galactic scourge. Hate soured his heart and propelled him into bounty hunter legend. He lived only for the gig, and somewhere along the line, he lost himself.

In The Mandalorian Chapter 14, Fett proudly displayed his Mandalorian chain code to Din Djarin. For the first time in Star Wars canon, Boba Fett aligned himself and his father with the people of Mandalore. He no longer seeks a solitary existence. He is a part of something larger, and while The Book of Boba Fett is not ready to spell out the details regarding why he feels this way, we can infer enough from the flashbacks.

The Book of Boba Fett’s Deadly Kindness

Reborn from the guts of the Sarlacc, Boba Fett was taken in by the Tusken tribes. They nursed him back to health and revealed Tatooine’s beauty to him. And, this week, we learned that the Nikto Speeder gang, under Pyke Syndicate protection, murdered Fett’s clan. While Fett never worked for these particular Pykes (as far as we know), he did operate as a bounty hunter, a cog in the underworld system. Having profited from their machine, Fett must exorcise that culpability.

The Book of Boba Fett hero is a much cuddlier figure than his wanted poster (and action figure) would have you believe. And it’s uncomfortable for those around him. In Episode 3, Lortha Peel (Stephen Root) tests Fett’s might with a problem. A group of droid-enhanced youths, led by Drash (Sophie Thatcher) and Skad (Jordan Bolger), have robbed his water stash, the most valuable commodity on Tatooine.

Rather than busting them to pieces and reclaiming the water for Peel, Fett recruits the gang as henchmen and pays the water merchant a pittance of what he was charging. After all, Fett deemed the pricetag tyrannically exorbitant. Peel takes the money, but it’s easy to imagine him running to Jabba’s twin cousins for retribution.

But the Twins will not be there to answer. They’ve gotten word that the Pykes have claimed Tatooine as their turf, and they’re not ready for war. They offer Fett a new Rancor (complete with a Danny Trejo Rancor Keeper) as tribute and then skedaddle. While they don’t ask for anything in return, Fett does relinquish the Wookiee Black Krrsantan from his dungeon prison.

Why It’s Not Worth Working for Scugholes

It’s that act of kindness that sparks Fennec Shand’s question from earlier. He’s not willing to open his heart to her, and he might very well regret it later. Just like he might regret releasing Black Krrsantan. But what’s one more target on his head?

The most telling line in The Book of Boba Fett Episode 3 comes right before they uncuff the Wookiee. “Take it from an ex-bounty hunter,” says Fett. “Don’t work for scugholes. It’s not worth it.”

During the flashback, Fett walks through the Tuskens’ smoldering corpses. It’s the second time he’s ever slowly considered the loss of life. Once again, he’s that child on Geonosis, holding the helmet that once covered his father’s head. Jango’s death sent him down a dark path, and the Tuskens pulled him off it. He will no longer be the man he was before.

As we’ve learned from countless gangster films, walking away from the profession is no easy task. As Fett attempts redemption on Tatooine, a massive Pyke committee arrives via Starliner. They’re bringing the war the Twins promised, a war we’re still betting is backed by Crimson Dawn, last seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Boba Fett needs to open up with Fennec Shand and probably a few other reliable agents like Drash and Skag. Their loyalty only comes with reason. Fett wants to rule with respect, but to get that, you gotta offer trust. Shand doesn’t share Fett’s trauma or his Sarlacc revelation. She has a debt to Fett, for reasons we still don’t totally understand, but that bond will only take them so far.

Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett Chapter 3 is now streaming on Disney+.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)