Ever since The Book of Boba Fett began there’s been a niggling feeling that something has been missing from Fett’s story. But chapter four, “The Gathering Storm,” has finally delivered it: motivation.
By Hanna Ines Flint via IGN
Crumbs have certainly been left over the last three episodes hinting at Boba’s purpose for displacing Bib Fortuna and taking over as daimyo in Mos Espa via his sojourns to the past in his bacta tank. Now writer Jon Favreau has effectively pulled those loose threads together to give meaning to his present-day movements.
As with most Star Wars stories, there’s a strong colonial undercurrent to Boba’s mission to take back control of Tatooine from invading outsiders who are claiming ownership over the planet’s natural resources. The massacre of the native Sand People weighs heavily on Boba, and Temuera Morrison shrouds himself with this survivor’s guilt in every sorrowful glance. But Boba also uses that grief, and the lessons his dearly departed friends taught him about community strength, solidarity, and loyalty to drive his mission against the Pyke Syndicate’s stranglehold over spice production and commerce.
The origin story of his and Fennec Shand’s partnership has been a long-time coming, especially for this reviewer who has been eager to see more from the formidable Ming-Na Wen. It doesn’t disappoint. The cyberpunk is strong in one cool scene depicting the operation that gives Fennec the robotic modifications that saved her life. One of the great things about these Disney+ series is that the aesthetically-diverse cultures explored in the comics can be realised on screen, and so we get ‘00s Hacker-esque techno music pumping out the speakers as a dreadlocked mechanic gives Fennec a technological upgrade.
What’s really impressive about Wen’s performance is how little she gives away. Even as she agrees to help Boba with his plan to get his Firespray gunship back from Fortuna’s castle, her stern expression is unreadable. She’s somewhat like Batman in that regard, giving only the slightest indication of her mood; a nod here and a small smirk there, but mostly remaining guarded but neutral. This ambiguous demeanour only intensifies the notion that Fennec’s loyalty to Boba could be transient, and makes his trust in her all the more honourable.
Of course, when she’s in battle mode, there’s nothing but deadly determination in her gaze. The brilliantly executed, humorous and thrilling heist sequence shows off all the reasons why she’s one of the deadliest assassins around: a silent attack from behind, expert marksmanship, quick thinking to adapt to the changing offence, and the type of agile hand-to-hand combat that almost has you feeling the kinetic energy rippling off each blow she lands on a Gammorean guard.
Boba and Fennec make a good team but there are still so many questions hanging over who she is other than a killer. She is, of course, a rightly paranoid person — you’d have to be in her business — and has built walls around herself for protection. But when she tells Boba “people like us don’t get to decide when we’re finished,” it suggests what she is truly seeking is freedom and autonomy, and her lifesaver is offering some form of that.
This episode implies the rest of the season will be forward-facing now that Boba has fully healed from the Bacta tank, thus ending this flashback framing device. That’s no loss as plot progression is exactly what this show needs to make the weekly investment worthwhile. Looking back, the past events definitely could have been cut down to get to this point quicker, but several teases hint at some exciting things to come. Fennec’s suggestion that a Nikto speed biker gang couldn’t have taken out a Tusken tribe begs the question: who could? Was it the Pyke Syndicate as retribution? Is it another clue that Crimson Dawn is the true wielder of power on Tatooine under the leadership of Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra?
Now with Krrsantan on Team Boba, maybe a few of his comic book comrades like Doctor Aphra might turn up. And with the whistle of pan pipes from The Mandalorian theme tune heard in the final few seconds, the arrival of Din Djarin and other allies to join Boba’s tribe seems imminent.
“The Gathering Storm” is the episode we’ve been waiting for. Strong action is led by a formidable Ming-Na Wen, and Jon Favreau finally brings together the narrative threads of the previous three chapters to drive Boba’s revolutionary quest forward to entertaining and encouraging effect.