A 'Book of Boba Fett' Cameo Solved a Big 'Return of the Jedi' Mystery

·5 min read
Photo credit: Disney+
Photo credit: Disney+


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The Book of Boba Fett episode 3 spoilers follow.

The Book of Boba Fett may have got off to a slower start than Anakin Skywalker’s faulty Podracer, but after three episodes, the Disney+ series is finally starting to connect some dots within the Star Wars universe.

First, we discovered exactly how Boba survived his encounter with the Sarlacc (torching your way through an acid-filled belly and crawling out of several metres of sand is easier than you might expect). Then we were introduced to Jabba the Hutt’s two beautiful cousins, fulfilling our ever-present desire for space-slug representation.

Now, thanks to a significant celebrity cameo, the Mandalorian spin-off has developed its world even further, while also giving some retrospective significance to a throwaway moment from Return of the Jedi.

In 'The Streets of Mos Espa', all-round screen legend Danny Trejo makes a surprise appearance as a rancor handler. Emerging slowly on a hovercraft like the absolute don he is, Danny brings with him a brand-new and yet-to-be-killed bull rancor, a gift given to Boba Fett by the Hutt twins as an apology for trying to have him assassinated in his undies by the ruggedly handsome Wookiee Black Krrsantan.

Naturally, as we can’t really rely on anyone from the Hutt family to make a kind gesture – unless we’re talking about Rotta the Hutt (Jabba’s son) from the Clone Wars animated series, because he might have turned out to be a nice chap – we’re meant to assume that this 'gift' will come back to bite Boba in his armor-plated backside. Or will it?

This is where Trejo’s character explains to the former bounty hunter that rancors are actually peaceful creatures unless threatened, and that they’re mostly forced into combat by trainers who breed them for fighting. He also explains that they "imprint" on the first person they see and "form a strong bond" with their owner. If it really loves you, it’ll even let you ride it.

Upon learning this, Boba completes his transformation from cold-blooded bounty hunter to sympathetic softy when he, rather outrageously, proceeds to pet the snoozing beast like a slightly oversized house cat. "I think he likes it," he utters on more than one occasion while stroking behind its ear. Or the area where you’d expect its ear to be.

As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, this scene involving Trejo helps to explain a rather peculiar moment in Return of the Jedi, in which Luke Skywalker kills Jabba’s rancor with a well-thrown rock and a pointy door. Who needs the Force when you can just lob stuff?

At the end of this scene, the rancor’s shirtless handler is inconsolable over the creature’s death. At the time, this was obviously just a throwaway gag: the idea of someone mourning such a horrible creature’s death was mildly amusing, albeit a bit odd.

But given what we’ve learnt about rancors and their tendency to form an emotional bond with their owner, we can now fully appreciate why the monster’s keeper was so distraught. Wouldn’t you cry if you’d just witnessed your beloved pet get crushed to death by a door?

The Book of Boba Fett viewers have since been sharing their reactions to Trejo’s eye-opening scene, with many now viewing that moment from Jedi in a completely new and devastating light.

"I will say, THIS now hits a lot harder after Danny Trejo's explanation of rancor personalities and 'imprinting'," tweeted one fan, alongside an image of the tearful rancor keeper.

"An open letter to Malakili the rancor keeper from Return of the Jedi: We are sorry for your loss," wrote another viewer, about 40 years too late.

Whether Trejo’s character is secretly working for the Hutts and plans to use the rancor on Boba when he least expects it remains to be seen. Although it’s a reasonable assumption to make that the keeper was actually the first person the creature saw, meaning it’s already imprinted on him.

But even if the rancor’s loyalties do currently lie with its handler, something tells us we won’t be deprived of a scene in which Boba Fett mounts its back and goes for a jolly old ride around Tatooine. After all, this is the sort of stuff the Star Wars Expanded Universe was made for.

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