- Episode 3 (of 7), ‘Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa’
- Written by Jon Favreau
- Directed by Robert Rodriguez
When the female Hutt Twin tells Boba Fett that “Tatooine is a worthless rock,” she clearly hasn’t been paying attention.
Yes, the Outer Rim world is a desolate, crime-ridden place, full of coarse, rough, irritating sand that gets everywhere. But, having appeared in six out of 11 live-action Star Wars movies, and numerous TV episodes, it’s arguably the most important location in that galaxy far, far away.
‘The Streets of Mos Espa’ serves as a reminder of why Star Wars can’t keep away. Because this is the episode where The Book of Boba Fett starts to deliver on its ‘Star Wars with gangsters’ promise; where moving the mythology forward belatedly takes priority over world-building and looking back.
Whether or not you’re wearing Mandalorian armor, the successful running of a criminal empire requires staff. Boba Fett’s ever-expanding entourage proves he means business – even if the extra bodies could spell bad news for Fennec Shand, who’s still looking for something significant to do beyond delivering the occasional threat or nugget of advice.
That's not the only point of aggravation, either. Both in and out of universe, it’s bizarre that makeshift majordomo 8D8 has waited quite so long to tell his boss how Mos Espa is split between various mob bosses. For viewers, this information would have been helpful earlier on – it’s hardly a colossal spoiler – but it’s even weirder that Fett himself is only just learning about the town’s organisational structures. Did he not do his due diligence before marching into Jabba’s Palace in The Mandalorian season 2 finale?
The oversight certainly doesn’t ring true with the former bounty hunter’s sensitive, self-aware approach to management. Where the pre-Sarlacc Fett might have disintegrated the water monger who dares to suggest that no one respects him, he’s now willing to play the long game – first listening to Lortha Peel’s complaints about a street gang stealing his inventory, then turning the tables by telling the broker he’s overcharging, and recruiting the offending gang as youthful hired muscle.
Most importantly, ‘The Streets of Mos Espa’ cuts down massively on the flashbacks, with the new-found emphasis on Fett’s present giving the story some overdue momentum after last week’s past-heavy instalment.
That said, the seven minutes of Fett’s backstory are particularly relevant and poignant, hinting at his history with the Pykes and revealing the horrific deaths of his Tusken friends. After episode 2’s admirable efforts to turn the Sand People into sympathetic characters, wiping them out in such a brutal manner feels incredibly cruel. Tuskens simply can’t get a break in Star Wars, and their fate will surely have shaped the Boba Fett we've encountered since.
Fett’s regular dunk in the Bacta tank also gives the series its best shock moment so far. Having established his recuperative sessions at the gateway to the show’s many flashbacks, the episode plays with our expectations when Fett’s calm contemplation is interrupted a visit from a murderous Black Krrsantan.
What follows is a brilliant fight, a defenseless Boba doing his best to counter the bone-crunching moves of a towering Wookiee, only surviving thanks to the intervention of his new biker gang friends. It’s arguably the first time we’ve ever seen a Wookiee in full-on rage mode – despite Han Solo’s claim that they have a tendency to pull people’s arms off when they lose – and it’s a moment precision-engineered to keep fans happy.
Which, to be fair, seems to be the main reason for The Book of Boba Fett’s existence. In this episode alone, barely a scene goes by without a sighting or reference to a moment, creature or character from Star Wars past, whether they’re star names (the Rancor) or obscure residents of Tatooine (the B’omarr monks and Bubo).
Although the show constantly runs the risk of becoming bogged down in its in-jokes, mythology and fan service – if the season doesn’t finish with Boba Fett riding his new pet Rancor to vanquish some rival crime lord, we’ll be very surprised – it’s less problematic in ‘The Streets of Mos Espa’. And that's because the story has shifted up a gear, with crucial pieces falling into place, like Kintan Striders on a djarik board.
It seems likely, though, that the most powerful players in The Book of Boba Fett are yet to show their hands. Because while the Pyke Syndicate have proved themselves to be dangerous operators in The Clone Wars, we’ve seen nothing to suggest they’re the sort of A-list villains who could prompt a pair of Hutts to turn their tails and (metaphorically) run away.
War is clearly coming – but will Boba Fett and Fennec Shand be ready for who or what they’ll be facing?
In an episode where you can’t move for nods to existing Star Wars lore, The Book of Boba Fett also finds time to establish its own gangster movie credentials. The criminal backwaters of Tatooine, first established in the original trilogy, remains the show’s big selling point, and ‘The Streets of Mos Espa’ does plenty to improve our understanding of Mos Espa’s underworld – and the scale of the challenge facing Boba Fett if he’s going to become a successful daimyo.
This outing also features some brilliant action sequences – from Fett’s impromptu scrap with a Wookiee assailant to an electrifying speeder chase through the mean streets of Mos Espa – and hints at the existence of a criminal mastermind more powerful than anything we’ve seen in the show so far. Surely no one still believes that elusive Mos Espa mayor Mayor Mok Shaiz is the one pulling the strings…
- The episode’s tile, ‘The Streets of Mos Espa’, alludes to several screen crime dramas, including 1939 movie Streets of New York and ’70s TV series The Streets of San Francisco – the show that gave Michael Douglas his big break.
- The robot spider wandering around outside Jabba’s Palace is one of the weirdest creations in the Star Wars galaxy. The B’omarr monks are a devout religious order who believe that true spiritual enlightenment can only come from detaching themselves from physical sensation. To achieve this, they transplant their brains into jars of nutrients carried around by droids.
- 8D8’s briefing explains that Mos Espa is now divided between three families – all of them representing familiar Star Wars species, which we explain in the next few bullet points.
- The city center belongs to the Trandoshans, the reptilian species to which Bossk the bounty hunter belongs.
- The worker’s district is the domain of the Aqualish, who made their first appearance in A New Hope, when Obi-Wan Kenobi cut off Pondo Baba’s arm in the Cantina bar. He was originally listed as “Walrus Man” in the Kenner action figure range.
- The Klatooinians are in control of the starport and upper sprawl, meanwhile, and are a reptilian humanoid species who made their first appearance in Return of the Jedi’s first act.
- Like fellow Star Wars species the Nikto (who’ve already appeared in The Book of Boba Fett as the troublemaking biker gang), the Klatooinians got their name from classic 1951 sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. A Return of the Jedi in-joke, the names are lifted from alien visitor Klaatu’s classic line, “Gort, Klaatu barada nikto”. Completing the gag, one of Jabba’s Klatooinian henchmen was named Barada.
- The astromech droid helping 8D8’s presentation is an R5 unit. It’s much like R5-D4, the unit whose bad motivator led to Luke Skywalker and his Uncle Owen purchasing R2-D2 from the Jawas in A New Hope.
- Lortha Peel, the water monger, is played by Stephen Root. One of US TV’s most in-demand guest actors, he’s cropped up in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Succession, Pushing Daisies, The Big Bang Theory and many more. He’s perhaps most famous for playing Milton Waddams in cult comedy Office Space.
- Assuming Lortha Peel isn’t new to the water-brokering game, there’s a possibility that (Uncle) Owen Lars was one of the vapor farmers he worked for – before Owen was executed by Stormtroopers, of course.
- Tatooine’s history as a verdant world covered in oceans and rainforests has been referenced before in print (notably the Ultimate Star Wars reference book), but we’re pretty sure this is the first time it’s been confirmed on screen.
- Humans or aliens with cybernetic enhancements have a long history in Star Wars. The most famous, of course, is Darth Vader, but there’s also General Grievous, Luke Skywalker (after he gets his robot hand), and Fennec Shand.
- The lead cyborg bikers are played by Sophie Thatcher (the one with the robot arm) and Jordan Bolger (the one with the robot eye). Thatcher is one of the stars of Showtime drama Yellowjackets, and also played the young Regan in The Exorcist TV show. Bolger, meanwhile, has taken recurring roles in The 100 and Peaky Blinders.
- The cyborgs have clearly taken some style tips from perennial Star Trek baddies in the Borg.
- The look of the cyborgs’ speeders owes a lot to Vespa scooters – it’s like Quadrophenia on the Outer Rim.
- The frog-like creature sighted outside Jabba’s Palace is Buboicullaar (aka Bubo), a Frog-Dog who worked as Jabba’s bodyguard. He makes a similar cameo in Return of the Jedi. The rodent-like creature next to him is a Scurrier, and we think the winged creature that swoops in – and ends up as Bubo’s dinner – is a Sand Bat.
- In the flashback, Boba Fett visits the Tatooine town of Mos Eisley, famously described as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy” by Obi-Wan Kenobi.
- Those Stormtrooper helmets on spikes are presumably a leftover of the celebrations we see at the end of Return of the Jedi.
- Peli Motto, the Mos Eisley-based mechanic played by Amy Sedaris in The Mandalorian, appears briefly in the background behind the helmets, accompanied by some of her trusty pit droids.
- The Pyke boss is voiced by top voice actor Phil Lamarr. He’s possibly most famous for his work on Futurama, where he played Hermes Conrad and numerous other characters.
- Oba Diah is the homeworld of the Pykes. It made its first screen appearance in season six of The Clone Wars.
- The Nikto speeder bike gang are called the Kintan Striders. They take their name from a gorilla-like species that featured as one of the holographic creatures in dejarik, the game Chewbacca plays on the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope.
- The slaughter of the Tuskens has brutal echoes of both Anakin Skywalker’s Sand People-massacre in Attack of the Clones, and the deaths of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in A New Hope.
- Boba Fett and bounty hunter Black Krrsantan worked together in Star Wars comics, which may explain Fett’s decision to let the Wookiee live – he understands their altercation was just business.
- The man inside the furry Black Krrsantan suit is Carey Jones. He previously played a Predator in Predators (produced by ‘The Streets of Mos Espa’ director, Robert Rodriguez), and is also a successful make-up effects supervisor – his credits include The Walking Dead, Lovecraft Country and Watchmen.
- The Twins turning up at Jabba’s Palace with a gift is a neat parallel with Luke Skywalker handing over R2-D2 and C-3PO as a goodwill gesture in Return of the Jedi.
- Rancors are a species of reptilian carnivores native to Dathomir, the homeworld of Darth Maul.
- The most famous Rancor in the Star Wars galaxy was Pateesa, whom Jabba the Hutt kept as a pet/tool for executing those who displeased him. The special pit the beast called home has been empty since Luke Skywalker killed him in Return of the Jedi, leaving his keeper, Malakili, heartbroken.
- The troopers of Clone Force 99 also captured a juvenile Rancor (named Muchi) in The Bad Batch, though it’s not the same calf we see in ‘The Streets of Mos Espa’. Not only does The Book of Boba Fett take place a couple of decades later, but Muchi was female while Boba’s new pet is male.
- This Rancor’s keeper is played by perennial Robert Rodriguez collaborator Danny Trejo. Trejo’s most notable screen appearances include From Dusk Till Dawn, Machete and Con Air.
- Boba Fett’s claim that he’s ridden creatures 10 times the size of the Rancor is a nod to his debut appearance in ‘The Story of the Faithful Wookiee‘. In the 1978 animated short (available on Disney Plus), he can be seen on the back of a Paar’s ichthyodont, a giant, dinosaur-like creature.
- Fellow Rancor-riders the Witches of Dathomir are also known as the Nightsisters. Members of this Force-sensitive sect include Dark Jedi assassin Asajj Ventress and her mentor, Mother Talzin.
- Boba Fett suggests feeding a Ronto carcass to the young Rancor. A Ronto is a common beast of burden on Tatooine, widely used by Jawas – one can be seen causing chaos on the streets of Mos Eisley in the A New Hope: Special Edition.
- “Dank farrik” is a Star Wars expletive, commonly used in the Mandalorian. (This episode shows that “Dank” can also be used on its own.)
- There are plenty of familiar-looking Star Wars robots in the Mos Eisley chase sequence, including Mouse (MSE) droids, pit droids and a C-3PO-like protocol droid.
- The portrait of Jabba the Hutt features the late crime boss in his prime, surrounded by old friends Bib Fortuna, Salacious B Crumb, Max Rebo (clearly this show’s breakout star) and even Boba Fett himself. Driving or running through precious artworks has been a Hollywood trope since, well, forever.
New episodes of The Book of Boba Fett debut on Disney Plus every Wednesday.