Essentially, a critic is left to react sometimes to very few developments. The nature of episodic storytelling is that some installments feel a bit more like filler between better hours. Getting from Point A to Point B takes a catalyst, and the stuffing of lesser moments, secondary reveals, and narrative exposition can leave one with little to ruminate over … and such is the case with Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm. In fact, the name alone implies that this might just be the calm before the storm, an assessment not all that far off the mark.
What Storm did have was a flashback exploring just how Fett and Fennec Shand found themselves in their unlikely partnership.
As had been previously seen on The Mandalorian, Shand herself was left seriously injured on the sands of Tatooine. Indeed, it looked very much like the mercenary had shaken off her mortal coil, an ending somewhat surprising when she showed up episodes later in the same show. The Book Of Boba Fett picked up with Fett’s discovery of her fallen body. Discovering that she hadn’t expired, he took her to a ‘modification clinic’ where the somewhat Borgified tech mended her wounds – essentially rebuilding her destroyed abdomen with bionics. Once she had awakened, Fett then solicited her cooperation in raiding Jabba’s palace to recover his signature spacecraft (no longer named Slave I thanks to our modern age’s political sensibilities), and a new partnership was born.
As far as plot points, there’s a bit more than happens. Fett extracts a revenge on behalf of his slain Tusken Raiders, and the new partners go in pursuit of the bounty hunter’s lost armor. But still most of Storm felt like a bit of this and a bit of that thrown together to help position the season’s central arc – Fett’s establishment of a ruling criminal dynasty on Tatooine – get from the aforementioned Point A to Point B. The biggest scene in this regard comes at the end when they confront the heads of the modern crime families at a meal within Jabba’s Palace, wherein these leaders come face-to-face with the reality that Fett has acquired another Rancor … perhaps no greater indication that, as a ruler, this hunter means business. It was a great reveal, handled with a bit of humor, and thankfully the episode felt like scribe Jon Favreau was trying to right the course (just a bit) away from last episode’s Power Rangers-like additions. (FYI: they were entirely absent from this adventure. Good choice.)
Because the chapter really was a series of chess moves meant to set-up where we’re likely heading, there isn’t much associated commentary. As a character, Fett is further established as a character who’s through his crossroads, and now – like the Mandalorian – perhaps he’s seen just as a man trying to man his way across the galaxy. The significant difference here Fett’s only one step further along in his journey with a deliberate destination whereas no one quite knows where Mando will end up next. This bounty hunter turned leader has a vision for his future, one that involves management skills he’s only beginning to grasp, so the conflict continues to evolve. By contrast, Shand looks more like a mover and shaker willing to truly get her hands dirty in their quest to establish their own law and order; though she’s not much with motivating others, she’s willing to use the business end of a blaster to see her respective objectives achieved. Their clash of styles might be leading us somewhere dark, but we’ll have to wait and watch.
In perhaps the best sequence of the new series so far, the audience is treated to old school Fett: in a brilliant scene, the hunter flies his gunship down over the Tatooine landscape in pursuit of the speed bikers who executed his tribe of Sandpeople, and he razes the flock with blaster fire. One-by-one, they’re shot down in the tracks; the obvious carnage isn’t shown – this is Disney, after all – but it’s hard to imagine any of these malcontents escaped with their lives fully intact … and, dare I say, that’s the Boba Fett most of us have been waiting to see from a show that even bears his name in the credits. While I get that the character may need to grow and change a bit for a serial drama, it’s still nice to enjoy a side of red meat with a meal this delicious.