He Who Controls The Spice: Breaking Down Episode 2 Of The Book Of Boba Fett

If you were dissatisfied by how tight, and compact last weeks season premier was, this puppy comes in at a much chunkier 53 minutes. And yet, breezy and joyful is how I would describe “The Tribes Of Tatooine”.

The episode in itself felt way more balanced as a whole. The plot progression was heavily weighted towards the flashbacks(flash-bacta’s if you will) of Boba’s time with the Tusken Raiders, but the lack of cross-cutting across the 2 timelines allowed each aspect of the story to breathe a little more.

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The episode starts off with a shot of Fennec escorting the assassin, back to Boba’s palace. Boba, now back on his throne, questions the captive assassin about the identity of his employer. The only response he gets, is a set of Huttese curses, which may be a clue to who employed the assassin. 8D8 explains that the assassin is part of the Order of the Night Wind and that “There is no way he will talk”. Fennec left unimpressed remarks that their clients are “paying for the name”, and proceeds to drop him into the Rancor pit. The pit of course, did not have a fresh Rancor available for torture after the previous one was crushed under a door by Luke Skywalker. The assassin, unaware of this and much like his agency, pays for the name, and reveals all scared by the mere mention of the creature’s name. The employer was disclosed to be Mayor Mok Shaiz, the reveal we all saw coming after the season premier.

Fett and Fenec proceed to pay the Mayor a personal visit, and after pushing past his gesticulating majordomo come face-to-face with Mayor himself. Mom Shaiz is revealed to be an Ithorian, the same race as Momaw Nadon who first appeared in A New Hope. Ithorian’s hail from the expansive jungles of Ithor, which is a far cry from the double-sun baked sands of Tattooine. We can confidently assume, that much like Momaw Nadow, Mok Shaiz was also exiled from his planet for his presumably because of his violent tendencies.

Shaiz, no longer doing the dirty work himself, gets one of his guards to gun down the assassin, saying that order is not permitted to operate outside of Hutt territory, which Tatooine no longer falls under. Shaiz offers Boba a reward for turning in the assassin, Fett remarks that he is no longer a bounty hunter, but accepts the reward as the Mayors’ tribute to the daimyo.

It’s left unclear whether the mayor sent the assassin or not, perhaps he is simply an interested party deferring to the real power broker, waiting to see which way the wind blows. “Running a family is more complicated than bounty hunting,” he warns. The cryptic comment followed by a piece of advice, “Go to Garsa’s Sanctuary”, where the true threat to Fett’s throne might become clearer.

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Shortly after Fett and his entourage arrive at the sanctuary, a distant drum draws him back outside. Here he meets the two true adversaries to his throne, the cousins of Jabba the Hutt. The brother-sister Hutt combo knows as “the twins”, arrive on their litter which is barely hanging on under the weight of the duo. They lay claim to their cousin’s old territory—belatedly, given that Jabba has been dead for five years. Perhaps they were quite sanguine over Jabba’s direct successor, Bib Fortuna, knowing they can easily dispose of him or it just took them a very very very long time to make their way to Tatooine from Nap Hutta (who’d blame ’em looking at the size of that litter). Either way, they’re here now and are clearly threatened enough by Boba Fett to try and retake their cousins’ territory at the earliest.

Fett, armed with some knowledge of Huttese, doesn’t back down despite some of the imposing muscle deployed by the twins. Their main enforcer is a black Wookie, called Black Krrsantan, a fan favourite first introduced in the Darth Vader comics back in 2015. He was already rumoured to be appearing in season 3 of the Mandalorian, but his appearance all but confirms it (unless he’s disintegrated by Boba in episode 3).

Fett and Krrsantan have history together. Both worked for Jabba, and when Darth Vader traveled to Tatooine after the Battle of Yavin to negotiate with the Hutt for supplies, he requested the Hutt’s two best bounty hunters for his personal use. Jabba offered him Fett and Black Krrsantan. While the former looked for Luke Skywalker, the latter was tasked with tracking down an agent of the Emperor.

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Black Krrsantan’s appearance is a cameo of the best kind. It’s an apt nod to the dedicated fans who are ingrained with all that is canonical to the extended Star Wars universe, but to those who are not, he’s a badass Black Wookie who looks a good match for Fett and Fenec. The best of both worlds. For now, at least, we won’t get to see Black Krrsantan in action. After a Western-style standoff in the street, the Hutts turn tail, observing that “Bloodshed is bad for business.”

It’s slowly unravelled through the post-Mandalorian segment of this episode, that the threat to Fett’s rule as daimyo might not come from a single party such as the Mayor, or the twins, but might be a revolving door of those looking plead their allegiance either way. We see those that seemingly bowed to him in the first episode, look at him suspiciously as he travels the streets of Tatooine. Perhaps, they were never really bowing to him in the first place, just showing enough respect to not find themselves as his clear nemesis, waiting to see which way the wind blows when the true challengers to Fett’s dominion arrive.

After his run-in with the twins, Boba goes back to his Palace to take a well deserved rest in the Bacta pod, and back to the past we go. This is also where the bulk of the episode takes place, as we see Boba Fett who is now much more acclimated with the Tusken Tribe. We see him train with a Tusken duelist, as he brushes up on the finer points of gaderffii fighting. The training montage is abruptly interrupted as a distant figure is fast approaching, bearing a resemblance to the sandworms in the dunes of Arrakis. As the huge, hazy shape draws closer, its revealed to be a hover train, gliding on the surface of the sand. It impiously opens fire on the tribe, and a few Tuskens are killed from the long-range fire as they vainly attempt to defend themselves and their camp.

As the tribe holds a body-bonfire at night, Fett sees a swoop gang pass by. Feeling a sense of duty, given his new standing with the Tuskens, Fett convinces the leaders to let him leave with a rifle and gaderffii stick, on a mission to stop the “long speeder”. He follows the Nikto miners to Tosche Station, where one young Luke Skywalker whined about wanting to pick up power converters.

At the Tosche Station cantina, the Niktos are menacing a couple first mentioned in the novelization of The Last Jedi. Camie Marstrap and Laze Loneozner were childhood friends of Luke. Camie and Fixer appear in a deleted scene from Episode IV, but The Book of Boba Fett gives them their first uncut closeup. Fett puts his new gaderffii moves to good use, saves Camie and Laze, and goes back to camp with the Niktos bikes.

The levity of this weeks episode came in the form of a drivers lesson. A highly enjoyable montage of Fett teaching the Tusken Raiders how to ride the bikes effectively and in a coordinated manner. The tribe taught Fett the art of gaderffii fighting, and he returns the favor by teaching the tribe to ride.

This sequence begs the question of which is easier to learn in Disney+ universe, riding hover-bikes at high speeds or flicking quarters to defeat the Kingpin.

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What follows is perhaps the best sequence of Disney+ television till date. At the very least, it’s up there with Morbius driving around in the penultimate episode of Loki. A high-speed robbery, executed masterfully by the characters and creators alike. We see Fett and the Raiders put to use some of the set-plays they practiced in the training montage earlier, as they board the train and work their way through the roofs of the carriages to bring it to a halt. Blaster battles, and gaderffii combat follow as they finally managed to stop the “long-speeder”.

The entire sequence bears striking resemblance to one of the finest pieces of Western entertainment, the train heist in Red Dead Redemption 2. From cross-carriage action to the sudden halt, train heists in all Westerns tend to follow a similar script but given the futuristic yet somewhat primal nature of the equipment used in the Book Of Boba Fett, it captured the essence of a train heist very well.

Despite the best efforts of a resourceful, many-limbed conductor droid, the train falls to the Tusken (Raiders), we discover the identity of its owners: the Pykes. The Pykes are best known as the galaxy’s leading spice dealers, though during the Clone Wars they also participated in the invasion of Mandalore orchestrated by the Shadow Collective, the criminal mashup of other orders and syndicates led by Darth Maul. In the span of a single episode, then, Fett’s operations in the past and present have put him on the wrong side of two of the galaxy’s most dangerous criminal entities.

Fett lets the Pyke survivors walk away, with a melon of milk apiece and a message for the syndicate: “These sands are no longer free for you to pass. These people lay ancestral claim to the Dune Sea, and if you are to pass, a toll is to be paid to them.” To drive the message home, the Tuskens spring a leak in the Pykes’ water car and, while basking in the stream, let most of the precious fluid spill onto the sand.

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In a demonstration of strength, Fett tells the Tusken Raiders that they don’t have to hide, and that they can use the outlanders’ tools and weapons against them, like the Ewoks on Endor. In return, the tribe honors Fett with a lizard that leaps onto his face and crawls up his nose. Some reward.

The lizard leads Fett on a hallucinatory vision quest that takes him to two trees. As the bigger tree wraps its branches around him, he flashes back to his time in the sarlacc pit and his dad departing Tipoca City, and his appearance flickers from old armor to new Tatooine garb, symbolizing his transition to a new life and purpose. The trees seem to be standing simultaneously in seas of sand and water, reflecting the polar-opposite environments of Fett’s old and new homes. Finally, Fett frees himself from the tree—and the burdens of his old life—by snapping off a branch, which ignites a gush of water that fades into the next day’s desert sky.

The morning after snorting the good Gekko stuff, Boba returns to the Tusken camp, branch in hand. Out of this branch he crafts his own metal-infused gaderffii stick. He receives the robe, we see him wearing in season 2 of the Mandalorian (minus the facemask), and this plays like an official induction into this tribe of the Tusken Raiders, at an apparently senior level no less.

Although “The Tribes of Tatooine” runs a lot longer than the premiere, it feels shorter, a testament to the tightness and tension of its storytelling and the quality of its action.

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