“The Gathering Storm” returns to Boba’s flashbacks as he checks out Jabba’s palace, deciding there are too many guards to engage. Fennec Shand pursues him silently. That night at camp, Boba sees what happens to Fennec in “The Gunslinger” and takes her to the body modifiers to save her life. Fennec agrees to help Boba steal his ship back from the palace to pay her debt. Boba frees his bantha despite its reluctance. He tells Fennec about his desire to take over Bib Fortuna’s empire. The two infiltrate the fortress and take out various droids on the way to the ship. After a scuffle with the guards, Boba and Fennec abscond with the craft. Fennec decides to stick around as Boba finds vengeance, first destroying the biker gang that took out the Tuskens. Next, they go inside the Sarlacc in search of Boba’s armor. The creature is still alive and initially fights back, but one of the ship’s charges kills it. The armor isn’t there, proving all the effort was for nothing. Boba asks Fennec to join his latent criminal empire. In the present, Black Krrsantan picks a fight with some Trandoshans at Garza’s. She asks him to spare his latest opponent, but Krrsantan rips his arm off in front of everyone. Impressed by the display, Fett offers him a job. At the fortress, Boba Fett proposes an alliance against the Pykes, but nobody bites, agreeing only to remain neutral.
I think we should get the elephant in the room out of the way first; I can’t believe they were actually stupid enough to re-name Slave 1 in canon. I know Boba Fett’s ship was re-named on products prior to this, and I remember some videos about it at the time. Personally, though, I can pretty easily ignore Lego sets and the like. They can re-brand a product all they want, but it still is what it is. This is really, really dumb. The name Slave 1 isn’t an endorsement of slavery; on the contrary, naming a fictional ship in a fictional story doesn’t tie it to the real-world meaning and context of the word. I know why they did this, but it’s really just absurd. George Lucas made a whole trilogy and animated series about a former slave who is very much traumatized by his former bondage. Nothing about Star Wars was ever pro-slavery, and this is just more embarrassment from the heads of Lucasfilm. “Firespray” doesn’t sound as cool or mysterious as Slave 1, and it’s beyond distracting to have a character in a show acknowledge the new name. I’m not all that attached to Boba Fett as a character, let alone his ship or any of his other trappings. But a lot of people are, and I don’t think this was a good idea no matter how you look at it.
Regarding the story of the episode, it seems a little thin. After “The Streets of Mos Espa,” I thought we would mostly be done with the flashbacks, save for maybe one more to catch us up with the current timeline. However, that is not the case, given that just over half of “The Gathering Storm” consists of flashbacks. At this point, I’m pretty sure every single episode will have some flashback material. I don’t think this was a good creative choice. The Mandalorian gave brief glimpses into Din Djarin’s past throughout season 1, but the key word is “brief.” In an episode about Mando’s current exploits or his bond with Grogu, we would see one or maybe two flashes of the child he once was. I wonder if they wanted to do that here but had an entire backstory they had to flesh out this season. Unlike Din, we already know Boba Fett, and most people expect certain things to be explained after he resurfaced in season 2 of The Mandalorian. I can see how quick cut-ins of Boba’s adventures over the past five years probably wouldn’t work under these circumstances. But I don’t think balancing the current timeline with the flashbacks in this way is working well, either. The entire first half of “The Gathering Storm” is a flashback, and this was rather distracting. What’s happening in the present is more interesting and mysterious at this point, and I think that’s a problem. I think the flashbacks could (and maybe should?) have been the first two episodes, at which point Boba “wakes up” from the bacta tank, and we pick up in the present. I’m not entirely sure of how they should have handled the two stories, but the fact that we’re midway through the season and still getting flashback exposition dumps isn’t ideal. Plenty of shows integrate flashbacks and background information more naturally than this. I haven’t made a big deal about this because I thought they were wrapping them up. But it’s a shame when they show us more of Boba’s introduction to Fennec than their relationship now. We already knew he saved her, and I don’t think there were any big questions about it. Why was this even included as a flashback? Did anyone really want to know more about how they met after the explanation in The Mandalorian?
It’s also frustrating that this is the longest episode we’ve gotten thus far and it didn’t use the time very well. This felt like an awfully thin story stretched over a 45-minute episode that could have been better used elsewhere. We need to know more about the current situation with the crime families, and I’d love to learn more about the mod bikers. They were such a big part of episode 3, but they go unseen and unmentioned here. Why? Black Krrsantan joins Boba’s ranks, just as I expected in “The Gathering Storm,” but if it was going to be this soon and under such boring circumstances, it may as well have happened last week. The scene at Garza’s adds nothing to the characters or stakes. It’s just another example of how this episode was slightly longer for no real reason. I know I said this show could do with a little more time to develop the characters and story, but showing Black Krrsantan as a capable fighter when we already know this isn’t what I had in mind.
I’m not saying “The Gathering Storm” is bad, but it’s definitely the weakest episode yet. It lacks the exciting moments of “The Tribes of Tattooine,” the plot development of “The Streets of Mos Espa,” and any meaningful development of Boba’s character. The scenes showing Boba and Fennec’s early days together are decent for building their relationship, but I would have rather seen more of how they are together now. Despite being the show’s leads, we surprisingly haven’t seen much of that, and it’s a shame.