As already third chapter of The Book of Boba Fett, “The Streets of Mos Espa” gave very good hints about what is to come in the future as well as it explained the past. A bridge is finally being created between the “old Boba” and the new, “leader-type” Boba. We are slowly uncovering his motivation for getting involved in the high-stakes game for Tatooine. Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, it all seems to have started with the Sand People. At the same time, it may be unexpected but understandable: Boba found the respect for the warrior culture, as we saw in the previous episode.
“The Women, and Children Too!”
This time, the flashback sequence showed the tragedy that (presumably) pushed Boba into action: the slaughter of the Sand People by the Kintan Striders. There is probably nobody who would not have noticed the similarity of the scene to two major scenes from the films: Luke finding the burned-down homestead of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in A New Hope, and Anakin visiting the Tusken camp in Attack of the Clones. The gangsters have killed “not just the men, but the women and children too”, but they also crucified some in the same manner Shmi Skywalker was in Attack of the Clones.
Overall however “The Streets of Mos Espa” focused proportionately much more on the present timeline than the previous episodes. Boba’s quest of consolidating his power progresses, albeit via unusual means.
The start of this chapter more than anything else resembled a quest from some roleplaying game. “You, Boba, get approached by a watermonger asking you to get rid of a gang on his turf. Then you get the option to either kill the gangsters or broker a deal with them.” The latter is what Boba chooses. The way he deals with things continues to show the trend of “ruling with respect”. Just like he acquired the loyalty of his Gamorrean bodyguards, he now got himself a capable gang of youths.
The Cute Beast
Their cybernetics-enhanced skill was proved subsequently when Black Krrsantan attempted to assassinate Boba. The scene was once again a well-choreographed action scene. All the participants were also showed to be strong without making either of the big names (Boba, Krrsantan, Fennec) look weak. At the same time it was a good way to show Boba’s vulnerability. He IS the epic hunter, but he is also old and has some lasting wounds. This allows for others to help out, filling exactly the niche that is needed.
And Boba got his own rancor – storywise something that will undoubtedly fill a similar niche to “baby Yoda”: even though somewhat differently, a pet rancor is also “cute”. This portrayal has a good basis in the Star Wars tradition. It has been also sufficiently hinted that Boba is going to ride it one day. (The remark that he has “ridden beasts ten times its size” is almost certainly a tongue-in-cheek reference to the old cartoon that came as part of the Star Wars Holiday Special, which was also Boba’s first appearance ever.) Choosing Danny Trejo to play the rancor keeper further indicates that the producers wanted to make this scene stand out.
Bike Chase vs. “Animated” Acting
The episode ended with a speeder chase which was a nice callback to Anakin’s podracing. But one thing has to be said: the speeder chase was remarkably slow, even slower than a “normal” car chase would be in today’s film, which… which was great! It was really easy to follow what was happening (helped by the gangsters’ ridiculously coloured-bikes) and it felt somewhat “retro”. In my opinion, it was one of the best parts of the episode.
But there are not only positives. One thing to remark on is that the acting in The Book of Boba Fett in general seems somewhat stylised. I won’t say that it is bad, but the characters do not act realistically. Not in terms of what they do, but in terms of portrayal. A normal dialogue between two living humans would not look like the audience between Boba and the watermonger. The twi’lek majordomo was another striking example. The sentences, the gestures, the expression. One could very imagine them acting that way if they were animated characters, and perhaps this is where the problem comes from. Perhaps the writers/directors are mentally operating with the vision of The Clone Wars in their minds. Sometimes the acting in TBoBF looks like it was written for animated characters and not for live people. (It is okay with the likes of Boba’s droid or the Hutts, but not with anybody more human-like and “realistic”.)
Nevertheless, “The Streets of Mos Espa” was a good episode in terms of plot development, and we can only wait how Boba is going to deal with the Pykes (and in the flashback, with the Kintan Striders).