With a reliance on flashbacks and fan service, The Book of Boba Fett has struggled to engage me in any meaningful way. That said, it has done one thing I never expected a Star Wars TV series to do; it’s made me question just how noble Star Wars characters Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi really were.
How? Well, The Book of Boba Fett has done one thing right, it’s fleshed out some of the Star Wars galaxy’s more forgettable villains and monsters, specifically the Tusken Raiders. Now I’ve complained bitterly about the way The Book of Boba Fett has structured its plot; I think the choice to tell Boba’s story non-sequentially was a mistake.
When it’s done right, like Pulp Fiction or Memento, structuring a plot like this can blindside the audience, surprising them with reveals they never saw coming. We already know where they’re heading in Fett’s series because we learned everything we needed to know about Boba in The Mandalorian season 2. That said, the one thing telling the story of Boba’s time with the Sand People of Tatooine has done is flesh out the culture of the Tuskens in new and intriguing ways.
In the Original Trilogy, we saw them through the eyes of Luke and Ben Kenobi, who seemed wary of the Tatooinian natives. With their honking language and savage appearance, we were led to believe that the people of the Great Dune Sea were a nuisance at best and downright dangerous at worst.
But how fair was this? Well, I’d argue not at all. In The Book of Boba Fett, we see that the Tuskens are much more than just howling monsters. They’re the native people of Tatooine with a rich culture who’ve been ostracised by settlers, forced into the desert where they’re treated like vermin.
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In Book of Boba, we see the indignities the Tuskens are forced to endure at the hands of the criminals who call the Outer Rim home. Most notably, the Pykes who show no respect for the Tusken’s ancestral claims to the dunes of Tatooine, even opening fire on an unarmed group farming black melons.
You’d expect then that the guardians of peace, the Jedi who are supposed to have respect for all life, might have some objection to the treatment of the Tuskens. Well, you’d think wrong. We know the Jedi aren’t the best Star Wars characters for spotting things right under their nose (Count Dooku literally told Obi-Wan about Sidious’s plan), but Luke and Ben treat the Tuskens exactly like everyone else. Now perhaps we can forgive Luke, who had only just discovered his Force potential, but what about Ben Kenobi?
Did Ben, during his long exile, never try to reach out to the raiders? Did he just sit in his shack with his binoculars trained on Luke’s farmstead? Why is it that Boba Fett, who’s all the emotional depth of a saucer with intimacy issues, managed to connect with them? Surely The Force, that magical energy which binds all living things, would make connecting with them easier? Apparently not.
Let’s not get into the fact that Ben and the Jedi, like the Tuskens, have been the victims of persecution. The Jedi were forced out of their temple by the machinations of the Emperor and nearly wiped out by Order 66. Surely this experience would give Kenobi some level of empathy for the Tusken Raiders? Again it doesn’t seem that way.
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Now the obvious excuse for Kenobi’s disdain for the Tuskens is that he remembers what one tribe did to Anakin’s mother, Shmi, and blames them for his padawan’s start of darkness. Raiders captured and brutalised Shmi. This led to Anakin infamously killing not just the men who kidnapped his mother but the women and children as well.
It adds an interesting and perhaps unintentional wrinkle into Obi-Wan’s characterisation. We know he was far from the most pious Jedi. After all, he considered quitting the order to be with the woman he loved, but does the former Jedi master still hold a grudge against the people of Tatooine? Well, you can definitely read it that way. There’s something quite ironic that in using the Tuskens to sanitise Boba Fett, they’ve inadvertently made Kenobi look worse.
Of course, Kenobi’s definitely been the victim of an expanding narrative rather than being an out and out xenophobic character, but if everything we see onscreen is canon, then I quite like that Kenobi dislikes the Tuskens. It gives Luke’s mentor a flaw, and characters who are nothing but virtuous are dull to watch. It’s good to give characters failings, as it presents storytelling opportunities.
Maybe we’ll see more of Kenobi and the Tuskens in his upcoming Disney Plus show? I certainly hope so.