Now that’s more like it. After a somewhat uneven first episode last week, The Book of Boba Fett seems much more confident with its second offering, titled The Tribes of Tatooine. It’s still not quite there in terms of being on-par with the quality given to us from The Mandalorian overall, but this episode had an interesting setup in the present day while offering a tale in the past that reminded me heavily of Lawrence of Arabia.
The modern-day part of the show opens up the episode and we pick up with Fennec Shand delivering one of the assassins from last week’s assault back to the Palace. After threatening to feed him to the fake rancor, Boba learns that the mysterious mayor of Mos Espa apparently hired the assassin. The mayor, an Ithorian by the name of Mok Shaiz, denied the allegation but suggested Boba and his entourage revisit the Sanctuary cantina. It’s there that we learn that Jabba’s twin cousins are back in town and seek to claim the throne for themselves by right of family blood.
The CGI on the Hutt twins was a little wonky, but nothing as bad as Jabba in A New Hope or Phantom Menace. But the whole thing felt very mafioso, with crime lords and rival families all vying for the seat of power, but not opting to cause open bloodshed because it’s bad for business. But the Hutts also aren’t afraid of violence, as evidenced by their protector, who is none other than Black Krrsantan, a fan favourite from the comics. Expect him and Boba to battle before this show is over. But this part of the episode only took up around the first ten minutes or so, which is a bit of a shame as the tension mounting in the criminal underworld is fascinating. No one wants a turf war, but it feels like one is coming.
Most of the episode is dedicated to the flashback of Boba’s time with the Tusken Raiders. Unlike last week’s episode, which was devoid of dialogue and character development, this week doubled down on both fronts. Boba has since assimilated into the tribe and is learning the ways of the people. This includes learning sign language to communicate with the sand people, as well as learning their customs, including but not limited to, the use of the gaffi stick. Because Boba can communicate with them, the scenes have far more substance in them as see Boba grow into a Tusken Raider himself. The current era of Star Wars is going through great strides to make the Raiders misunderstood nomads, rather than heartless monsters from the desert. This, in turn, makes Anakin’s slaughter of a tribe in Attack of the Clones feel much more poignant.
But the sand people aren’t safe in their isolated corner of the Dune Sea. The Tusken Raiders are continuously attacked by a fearsome train and Boba, being one with the tribe, isn’t having it. He steals some swoop bikes from a local gang and teaches the raiders how to use more modern technology to take down the train. The attack on the train is an action highlight, perhaps one of the best in the live-action shows to date. It reminded me of Fury Road even in some aspects. The droid conductor of the train was also shot with stop-motion animation, a real treat to see in 2022.
The train, operated by the Pykes (last seen in Solo), is eventually taken over and Boba informs the syndicate that the desert belongs to the Tuskens. For helping their people, the sand people give Boba a hallucinogenic lizard, who brings him to a tree, which provides him with the wood to make his own gaffi stick and thus, become fully integrated into the tribe.
A lot of this episode reminded me of the 1962 Oscar-winning movie Lawrence of Arabia. The idea of a man with proficient combat skills turning to a nomadic desert tribe, becoming one with said tribe and overtaking a superior enemy is lifted straight from that movie. Most notably is the train sequence, in which Boba (T.E. Lawrence) has helped the desert people master the art of advanced warfare to take out a train that’s been a threat to the tribe. When Boba/Lawrence have fully earned the trust of the tribe, they bring him in and dress him in their garbs, making him one of their own in the eyes of their culture.
The Tribes of Tatooine can’t seem to balance its two stories well enough at this point and I wonder if the show would have benefitted by being linear as opposed to having flashbacks. If all the Tusken scenes shown in the first two episodes made up one episode and the modern story took up the last three episodes (with three episodes out of the seven total to be allocated for either story or for a story beyond the Tusken narrative), then the show may have resulted in better pacing. As it stands, the episode was much more interesting but disjointed narratively. But this was a vastly superior episode to what we got last week and hopefully, the show can continue on this path of criminal intrigue and nuanced character growth.