Everyone knows that in Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker had to kill giant rancor to save his life, but what The Book of Boba Fett presupposes is, maybe he didn't? Thanks to a brilliant cameo, the third episode of Boba Fett — “The Streets of Mos Espa” — puts a new twist on rancors, and makes us realize that yes, Luke killed an emotionally complex creature.
Spoilers ahead for The Book of Boba Fett Episode 3, “The Streets of Mos Espa.”
Danny Trejo’s surprise Star Wars cameo
The actor famous for Breaking Bad, Machete, Machete, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a frequent collaborator of Boba Fett showrunner and director Robert Rodriquez, so it makes perfect sense for him to show up here. In his scenes with Temuera Morrison, Trejo brings his signature wit, combined with a lurking sense of menace. As always, Trejo subverts our expectations. He’s both a badass and a sweetheart all at once.
Appropriately, Trejo’s new rancor keeper character is both subversive and kind. His presence is both a callback to Return of the Jedi which leads to a critique of Luke’s killing of that rancor.
Witches of Dathomir and Rancors ridden by Fett
After the Hutt “Twins” bring Boba Fett a new rancor as a “gift” to apologize for sending the Wookiee Black Krrsantan to kill him, we get to meet this little beast, along with the keeper (Trejo). The keeper explains that this rancor is a “calf” and that it will imprint on the first human he sees. This leads to a surprisingly touching moment in which Boba Fett becomes the first person the rancor calf lays eyes on.
Fett tells the keeper he wants to learn how to ride the rancor, which the keeper suggests was something legends told of “the Witches of Dathomir.” This refers to the Nightsisters, Force-users who lived on Dathomir, the planet where Darth Maul originally came from. The Witches of Dathomir first appeared in the non-canon novel The Courtship of Princess Leia, however, Charal, the witch from the film Ewoks: Battle For Endor, was later retconned to be a Witch of Dathomir.
Neither of these two stories is exactly real canon, but rancors being from Dathomir is current canon and thanks to Boba Fett, the idea of the Witches of Dathomir riding rancors is a bigger deal again. Boba Fett also mentions that he’s “ridden beasts ten times its size,” which could reference Paar's ichthyodont, a giant dinosaur-like creature Boba Fett rode in his very first appearance in the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.
How Boba Fett changes Return of the Jedi
Throughout all of this, the biggest revelation is what the rancor keeper tells Boba Fett about the rancor. Turns out “Rancor are emotionally complex creatures.” Because they’re known as fighters, that’s how most people think of them. But, just as we saw with the tiny rancor “Muchi,” in The Bad Batch, rancors can be nice creatures, too.
Tellingly, Fett and the keeper’s warmth toward this new rancor also echoes a scene that was mostly played for laughs in Return of the Jedi. After Luke killed the rancor, we infamously got a scene where that rancor keeper, Malakili, was hysterically crying with grief.
It’s still a funny scene within the context of Return of the Jedi. But now, within the wider context of Star Wars canon as a whole, The Book of Boba Fett has made it clear that the rancor Luke battled wasn’t an evil creature at all. Malakili’s attachment to that rancor was probably very real, and we should all feel a little bit bad for laughing at him. We already know that Boba Fett is a better person than Anakin Skywalker when it comes to the Tusken Raiders, but now he’s proving he’s more sensitive than Luke when it comes to rancors. Had Luke been a little bit less panicked, maybe he could have reached out through the Force and figured out that the rancor had feelings too.
Boba Fett doesn’t need the Force to know this, however. And if Fett keeps this up, it’s going to be strange if he doesn’t just end up becoming the King of Tatooine. He clearly gets the politics here better than anyone, and if there’s one person to unite all of this chaos, it’s obviously the guy who comes riding in on a rancor.
The Book of Boba Fett streams on Disney+.