Well, it's about damn time. Episode 3 finally makes the pivot I had been waiting for, focusing more on the present storyline instead of the past one.
Unfortunately, there is one flashback, and it is irritating as heck. Which I will get to.
The main storyline shows Boba trying to get his crime "family" together. We open with the persnickety droid 8D8 (voiced by What We Do In the Shadows' Matt Berry) briefing Boba and Fennec about the three divisions of Mos Espa that used to make up Jabba the Hutt's territory. They are interrupted by a water merchant, Lortha Peel, complaining about "the streets turning to chaos" and a cyborg street gang stealing his inventory--"half man, half machine, modified bodies with droid parts." He also points out that nobody respects Boba and that respect would be gained (and Boba's tribute increased) if he took this gang out.
So Boba, Fennec and the Gamorrheans walk the streets of Mos Espa that night and come upon the "water thieves." They admit to stealing, but say the prices are too high and there's no work to pay for them. Boba believes them and offers to hire them. This causes Lortha Peel to come storming out of his shop, complaining about the biker gang's debt. Boba pays it off (at less than half of what Peel claimed was owed, but you know the guy inflated the amount anyway), and the gang climbs on their their shiny multi-colored speeders--which remind me of a bunch of bright floating M & M's--and follow Boba and Fennec back to Jabba's palace.
While Boba is in his tank having his obligatory flashback (said flashback is my biggest bone of contention with this episode, and again, I'll get to that in a bit) he is interrupted and hauled out of the bacta tank by none other than the big black snarling Wookiee we saw with the Hutts in the previous episode, Black Krrsantan. Krrsantan throws Boba, nearly naked and dripping, across the room several times, and is well on his way to breaking Fett's back when the M & M gang comes charging in. Even with the five of them, Boba, and the Gamorrheans, Black Krrsantan is still busting ass. Until Fennec shows up (and where the hell was she before?) and dumps the Wookiee into the rancor pit.
The Hutt twins show up the next morning, apologizing for sending the Wookiee after Boba and bringing him a gift--a muzzled young rancor. They're doing an about-face and are going to leave Tatooine, because they discovered the Mayor of Mos Espa, Mok Shaiz, lied to them about "this territory already being promised to another syndicate." Boba brings out Black Krrsantan and tries to give him back, but the Hutts refuse, telling Boba to "sell him back to the gladiators." After the Hutts leave, Boba releases Krrsantan, giving him some advice: "Don't work for scugholes. It's not worth it."
Now: what to do with the rancor? The next scene is the most interesting part of the episode, as far as I was concerned. The creature is put in the rancor pit, and the trainer gives Boba a capsule summary of the species: It's a calf, bred from champions for fighting. They form strong bonds with their owners, and the Witches of Dagomir rode them through forest and fens. Boba, who has become quite entranced with the huge ugly thing, tells the trainer he wants to learn to do that. So the trainer has Boba stand right in front of the rancor and removes the creature's blinders; apparently rancor will imprint on the first human they see. The calf sees and imprints on Boba, who steps forward and starts scratching it in a place right behind its eye that it apparently likes. This improbable moment of bonding is interrupted by 8D8, who tells Boba that the Mayor's office is completely unavailable for the next 20 days. Boba tells the droid to tell Fennec to suit up: "We're not waiting for an appointment."
Boba, Fennec and the M & M gang go back to see the Mayor. The slimy little sycopant Twilek who works for the Mayor tries to stall them, but after Fennec tells him he had best get them an audience if he wishes to keep breathing, the Twilek says he'll see what he can do. He hurries into the Mayor's office and locks the door behind him. Fennec busts it open and she and Boba charge into the chamber, but both the Mayor and the Twilek are gone. They charge to the front to see the Twilek take off in an unwieldy square box of a speeder that reminds me of an old Cadillac. Fennec yells to the M & M gang: "Get him!" and the chase is on.
This episode was directed by Robert Rodriguez, but the chase sequence through the narrow angular streets of Mos Espa was not....up to par, shall we say. At least I didn't think so. The best part about it was the various droids and aliens that manage to avoid getting run over and/or smashed along the way, including one droid who sees the Cadillac coming and mashes itself down to a Roomba, which is small and light enough to be knocked out of the way without injury. Finally, the leader of the M & M's glides her speeder up a ramp, across a roof, and jumps down on the Caddy, sending it screaming and whirling through a farmer's market, scattering fruits and veggies everywhere. The engine stalls and the Twilek can't escape, at which point Boba, who has obviously been following the chase from above, whooshes down and demands: "Where is he?"
"He's with the Pykes. The Mayor's gone. He's working with the Pykes."
The next scene shows a ship coming in, landing on the cliff overlooking the city, and discharging loads of Pykes (the same bunch guarding the smuggling train last episode). They're observed by one of the candy gang, the red one, who transmits the info back to Boba and Fennec.
"These are just a first wave," Fennec notes. "They're going to war."
Boba: "Then we will be ready."
Now: back to the ill-advised, dunderheaded flashback. This takes place not long after the events of the previous episode, showing Boba riding a Bantha into Mos Eisley to pick up the Tuskens' protection money. The Pykes refuse to pay because they're already paying the "Nikto sand riders," which is the bunch Boba stole the landspeeders from. They don't want to pay to two different groups. Boba says he'll resolve this and heads back to the tribe, only to discover (and everybody in the world should have seen this coming) that while he was gone the Niktos came and wiped the Tuskens out.
OMG, Jon Favreau (who wrote this episode), YOU DIDN'T JUST FUCKING FRIDGE THESE PEOPLE.
This is infuriating, and also fucking UNNECESSARY. I hereby propose that there should be a SCREENWRITER'S LAW AGAINST KILLING PEOPLE OFF, ESPECIALLY WOMEN, PEOPLE OF COLOR AND ALIENS WHO ARE STANDING IN FOR THE LATTER, TO MOTIVATE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER. I fully understand that Boba needed to be separated from the Tuskens for the storyline to move forward. I also understand that the Pyke syndicate would be pissed off and want revenge for the Tuskens taking their train, and I'll grant that they would have sent the Niktos to attack those responsible. What I will NOT grant is that the Tuskens all needed to die (especially since they had the weapons they took from the train, which Boba made a point of mentioning). There should have been a battle, yes, and perhaps a few of the Tuskens would be killed. The rest, however, would escape and retreat to a hiding place in the desert, a place Boba would also know about and where he would go to rendezvous with the survivors once he saw what happened.
THEN we could have had a scene which would not only make more fucking SENSE, but would also give the main character the motivation he needs to come to Mos Espa and take over Jabba the Hutt's operation in the first place: Boba would realize he has put the Tuskens in danger by standing up to the Pykes and he cannot stay with them any longer; BUT he also realizes if he wants to help them going forward, he needs a power base to take on the syndicate. The FIRST step in doing that is reclaiming his lost armor; and the SECOND is taking out Bib Fortuna and setting himself up as the heir to Jabba the Hutt, thus putting himself in a position to help the Tuskens.
You see how that works out? And if I could think of that, why the hell couldn't Jon Favreau? It also has the bonus of providing Boba Fett with some needed character development, showing the beginnings of his turning away from being a ruthless bounty hunter. As it stands right now, the character's motivation is muddled and we don't know why he came back to Tatooine at all.
Argh. This is just lazy scriptwriting. Maybe we'll see something like this in the episodes going forward, but I'm not holding my breath. Yes, I did get my wish for more of the present storyline to be shown, but I'm not sure if it was worth it.