Mos Espa is different in Boba Fett than in the prequels
Boba Fett’s book returns to the town of Mos Espa, last seen in the Star Wars prequels. Much has changed, it seems.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Boba Fett’s Book “Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land”, now available on Disney +.
Until now, Mos Espa has been widely known as the “other” city of Tatooine: the one that is not Mos Eisley. Alec Guinness’ famous judgment of this latter spaceport as “a miserable hive of scum and wickedness” has stuck in the public mind and has helped define the Star wars franchise in its first game-changer. Mos Espa, on the other hand, simply served as a convenient location change for the franchise’s prequels: giving George Lucas a place to put the film’s signature pod race that wouldn’t clash with previous information.
Boba Fett’s book focused on the city during Season 1, Episode 1, “Stranger in a Strange Land”, and in the process gave Star wars a chance to explore the city again. It is a strong exercise in world building as well as a demonstration of how the new Star wars projects work to integrate seamlessly with the old one. In brief moments, it also provides clues as to how the city has changed dramatically in the decades between its appearances.
Mos Espa first appeared onscreen in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, as Queen Amidala’s group of Naboo seek shelter and a way to repair their ship. At first glance, it bears little resemblance to Mos Eisley: laid out along a flat expanse of desert with little geographic variation. The pod racing scene adds more topography to it, as runners spin along the canyon walls and through underground tunnels. Some of the race establishment plans show dwellings built into the side of a cliff, which is presumably also part of Mos Espa.
Boba Fett’s book probably chose him because of his canonical proximity to the Hutts. Jabba oversaw the pod race there during his lifetime, and as Shand notes in “Stranger,” locals are used to seeing slug-like crime lords being carried around town on litters. And yet, starting from the very basics of previous incarnations, they display a city that looks like different worlds. Most of the canyons and large pits have been filled in with buildings, which stretch out and connect to the flat desert spaces above.
The question of where Jabba’s podracing track – officially known as Mos Espa Grand Arena – is located has not yet been resolved, although its location may shed more light on the geography of the city. According to Edge of the galaxy: Black arrow, a canon novel by Delilah S. Dawson published in 2019, the New Republic banned racing when it regained control of the government. The sport continued, however, to worlds far from the Outer Rim, which could easily include Tatooine. The presence of the Sanctuary in Mos Espa suggests that gambling is still a large part of the city’s economy, and this could include the Arena.
Indeed, the Sanctuary itself provides many clues to the development of Mos Espa since The phantom menace. He looks a lot taller and more developed than before, which suggests times have been relatively good for him. (This contrasts with Mos Eisley’s appearance in The Mandalorian, where he appears as a shadow of himself.) More tellingly, a number of Twi’leks hold positions of power. From Garsa Fwip in the sanctuary to the mayor’s unnamed butler, the sprawling aliens seem to be all over town. Whereas Bib Fortuna controlled the Jabba Empire in the years between Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi and Boba Fett’s book, their obvious strength and influence are remarkable.
The developments help explain why the city bears little resemblance to the one that first appeared in the prequels. A closer look reveals a more polished build, suggesting that Mos Espa will remain one of the main locations on the show, at least for the first season. If so, then visual development should pay off, allowing Boba Fett’s book to continue the stellar attention to detail that helps make the Star wars work of the universe.
Created by Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett stars Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen. New episodes are available on Disney + every Wednesday.
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