The Book Of Boba Fett Wants To Change The Conversation Around Rancors

In "Return of the Jedi," "Star Wars" fans were introduced to a rancor, then known as "the" rancor, a jagged-toothed, hungry monster who eats poor Oola (Femi Taylor), the Twi'lek dancing girl under orders from Jabba the Hutt. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) ended up killing the beast in a moment that's intended to be heroic, but always sat wrong with me as a child. The rancor's handler, Malakili (Paul Brooke), openly weeps as he holds his dying pet, which led me to believe that maybe he wasn't just a mindless murdering machine, but something more like a giant guard dog. 

One thing the "Star Wars" shows on Disney+ have been doing well is offering new perspectives on old characters, showing that things aren't as black and white as they seemed. On "The Book of Boba Fett," the Tusken raiders were finally given their due, and now another formerly villainous alien is getting a chance to show its softer side. 

Spoilers for "The Book of Boba Fett" follow.

More Than Meets the Eye

In Chapter 3 of "The Book of Boba Fett," the Hutt Twins return to give Fett (Temuera Morrison) a parting gift before they head back to their home planet, tired of dealing with the situation on Tatooine. Their gift is a young rancor, and its beastmaster, played by "Machete" star Danny Trejo, is part of the package. Trejo's guest role is a lot of fun, and not too surprising given his frequent collaborations with series executive producer Robert Rodriguez. When the rancor is first brought down to the pit, it lies still and Fett asks what's wrong with it. "It's depressed," Trejo's character replies. Fett begins questioning him about the creature and the handler explains that rancors are actually pretty docile unless they feel threatened, and that they're much more emotionally complex than they're given credit for. The one given to Fett is young, and has been blindfolded because rancors apparently imprint on the first person they see. Since Fett is supposed to be the creature's master, he ends up being the first person it lays eyes on. Fett even gives the rancor a little pet, though he seems slightly nervous about the whole thing. And who could blame him? He was there when the whole Oola thing happened, after all. 

Like a Really Big Bulldog

If you think of rancors as being like the types of dogs who were bred to fight in our world, you can see quite a few corollaries. Guard dogs and fighting dog breeds like pit bulls, mastiffs, bulldogs, and more get a bad reputation when many of them can be very sweet. They are emotionally complex creatures with wants, needs, and fears, just like us, and just because they're not capable of speech doesn't make them mindless beasts. Fett himself is kind of like a rancor, with a terrifying reputation that belies his surprisingly gentle nature. 

I hope that nothing bad happens to this rancor, whom I have taken to calling Spike. Maybe one day we'll even get to see Fett take him out for some fetch, though I have no idea where they'll find a stick big enough on Tatooine. 

New episodes of "The Book of Boba Fett" debut Wednesdays on Disney+.