This post contains spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett “The Streets of Mos Espa.”
The Book of Boba Fett‘s third episode, “The Streets of Mos Espa,” was a mixed bag for Tatooine’s new Daimyo. He hired a cool biker gang, survived an attack by Black Krrsantan, got a pet rancor, and the Hutt twins abandoned their claim to Jabba’s old domain. Unfortunately for Boba they only did so because Mayor Mok Shaiz promised the planet to the Pyke syndicate. The powerful criminal organization is a far more dangerous threat to Boba Fett’s reign. Who are they though? And will they be the last enemy to challenge the former bounty hunter’s rule? What we know about the past of Star Wars’ criminal underworld—and what we know about its future—could reveal what to expect from The Book of Boba Fett‘s coming showdown.
It’s a battle that might involve the return of a major underworld figure.
Fall of the Galactic Republic and Rise of the Five Syndicates
During the Clone Wars, in 20 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope), Darth Maul organized and led the Shadow Collective. The group consisted of both powerful crime syndicates (the Pykes, Hutts, and Black Sun) and dangerous organizations (Death Watch, the Nightbrothers). The alliance meant to serve in opposition to Maul’s former Sith Lord, Darth Sidious. It also had plans to overthrow both factions of the war, the Republic and the Separatists. The group didn’t last long though. It broke up for good in 19 BBY after Maul briefly assumed control of Mandalore. Sidious then defeated Maul and killed Maul’s brother.
The Galactic Empire replaced the Republic that same year. Five powerful syndicates then took control of the criminal underworld during Palpatine’s reign. The Pykes’, Hutts’, and Black Sun’s positions grew more powerful. The new Crimson Dawn, led by Darth Maul, and the Crymorah syndicate rounded out the group. (The smaller Son-tuul Pride organization stood as the de facto sixth member.)
The Pyke Syndicate
The Pykes of the planet Oba Diah existed before the Clone Wars. But at the time of the Shadow Collective Darth Maul let the group know he could easily replace them. The Pykes did not become a truly powerful organization on its own until the Galactic Empire. During Palpatine’s reign, the Pykes controlled Kessel’s spice mines and almost the entire spice market—one of the most lucrative underground businesses in the entire galaxy. Fans saw their original operation at work throughout The Clone Wars animated series. And its elevated status in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Han Solo’s famed Kessel Run took place in Pyke territory. The Book of Boba Fett shows the group survived the (first) death of Palpatine and the rise of the New Republic.
How much of the spice trade they still control in 9 ABY, during the time of The Book of Boba Fett and the New Republic, remains unclear. But Mos Espa Mayor Mok Shaiz promised them Tatooine, an important planet in the haven of crime that is the Outer Rim. The Pykes must still maintain a powerful place in the galaxy to have received such an offer. Boba Fett’s reaction to their arrival confirmed that.
The Hutt Clan
Princess Leia killed Jabba in 4 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin). It marked a major turning point for the Hutts of Nal Hutta. The family had been a formidable force before the Clone Wars and remained one through the Galactic Empire. Star Wars fans know well the full scope of the Hutt Clan’s reputation and influence. The family, once led by a Grand Council of Hutts as seen on The Clone Wars series, amassed a great fortune through its many illegal dealings. Its control of the Outer Rim’s hyperspace lanes also contributed to its lofty position among the syndicates. Both sides of the Clone Wars made overtures to the Hutts for access to the lanes.
The Book of Boba Fett shows how much Jabba’s death contributed to the Clan’s weakened position during the New Republic. Bib Fortuna assumed his former master’s position until Boba Fett dispatched him. The Hutt Twins didn’t arrive on Tatooine to take their cousin’s old throne until 9 ABY, five years after Jabba’s death. And they quickly retreated from the planet when learning of the Pykes’ arrival. The Hutts would have been a much easier foe for Boba Fett to handle. Their criminal empire is a mere shadow of its former glory.
Black Sun rose in stature during the Clone Wars, as the Jedi Order could no longer monitor the Outer Rim. The group’s position as a major crime family then strengthened during the Galactic Empire. Led by a Falleen noble cabal, it maintained control of the region for the Emperor. That relationship, which included having a base on Mustafar, allowed the group to expand its operations throughout the galaxy. And thanks to its many layers of operations, the syndicate often managed to hide its true position in a cloud of secrecy—often even from its own operatives. But it still had a reputation for sentient-trafficking, which even other crime syndicates frowned upon.
The group’s hold on power diminished after the Battle of Jakku in 5 ABY. That ended the Civil War that followed the Empire’s demise.
The Crymorah Syndicate
The Crymorah syndicate has not played a major role in any Star Wars movie or series. And that might be to its credit. The group, made up of multiple crime families, existed for hundreds of years before the Clone Wars. It was also responsible for getting Jabba his role on the Grand Hutt Council. The syndicate’s power greatly elevated during the Galactic Empire, until it crossed Darth Vader. Shortly after the events of A New Hope, the group fell victim to the Empire’s de facto war on the underworld. However, the (hilariously named) Crymorah syndicate reformed by 4 ABY. How much of its former strength it regained by the time of Boba Fett’s ascension on Tatooine is unknown. But that might not be a good sign for a group that has operated out of the limelight.
Darth Maul used Dryden Vos to serve as the public face of Maul’s own powerful crime syndicate, Crimson Dawn. Maul ruled over the group from his home planet of Dathomir. Noted for being ruthless in a world defined by it, the organization stood as a menacing force during the Empire’s rule. As seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story, Vos’s own trusted lieutenant Qi’ra killed Vos around 10 BBY. Maul then elevated Qi’ra to Vos’ position in the group. She worked “much more closely” with the former Sith Lord in her new role.
Thanks to Vos we know Crimson Dawn maintained “a fragile alliance with the Pykes.” Maul’s group did not want to “jeopardize” that relationship and risk “an all-out war with the Syndicates.” As the Hutt Twins said, bloodshed is bad for business.
Maul became separated from his organization in 3 BBY. Obi-Wan then (finally and truly) killed Maul the following year. But the group did not dissolve. The “Lady” Qi’ra took control of Crimson Dawn. And it was she who sold Han Solo’s frozen carbonite body to Jabba during an auction in 4 ABY after she stole it from Boba Fett. During the sale she also announced the reformation of Crimson Dawn. However, Qi’ra was always working with an eye towards destroying the Empire. And she also schemed to create a Syndicate War, pitting the five groups against one another in hopes they’d destroy each other.
The Future of Star Wars Crime Syndicates
The Book of Boba Fett is exploring what followed the power vacuum created both by Jabba the Hutt’s death and the demise of the Empire. The impact of that void will reach well beyond Tatooine and even the Outer Rim. The Mandalorian showed in its second season—set during 9 ABY just like The Book of Boba Fett—that the New Republic struggled to maintain control of the Outer Rim. It’s within those crime-infested worlds where the remnants of the Empire began to regroup and become the First Order. It was/is a vital location in the resurrection of Palpatine himself.
But even though Palpatine will “somehow” return to prominence in 35 ABY, the future looks bleak for the five syndicates that rose to power during the Galactic Empire. None of them will last that long.
Sometime after Snoke assumes control of the First Order (roughly 29 ABY), the Master Codebreaker updates The Smuggler’s Guide. He finds the book to be outdated by decades. At some point all new syndicates will stand as the galaxy’s most powerful. Droid Gotra replaces Crymorah. The formerly outside sixth syndicate Son-tuul Pride and the Guavian Death Gang (seen in The Force Awakens) take the place of Crimson Dawn. Meanwhile Kanjiklub (also seen in The Force Awakens) and Red Key Raiders assume the positions formerly held by the Pykes and Hutts. And Black Sun no longer exists as an organization.
Will Boba Fett Destroy the Old Syndicates?
The Hutts’ decline is already in effect by the time of The Book of Boba Fett. The Pykes are formidable now, but have no future. And neither do the other groups those two syndicates operated alongside during the Empire. But the Pykes remained a significant threat to Boba Fett when he started his own criminal organization. Will he be the cause of the Pykes’ eradication? Could he ultimately be responsible for the destruction of the other syndicates still holding on to power in the New Republic? Is that why all of them will be replaced in the coming decades?
It’s possible, but with such a small force it seems unlikely Boba Fett could do it alone. We’ve seen he can’t rely on the New Republic. Even if it wanted to make an alliance with Outer Rim crime organizations it doesn’t have the resources. He might need to turn to someone who knows the underworld better than anyone. Someone who has been a major player in it for a long time. Someone who also wants to see those syndicates destroyed.
Unfortunately for him that someone might also want to see him and his budding empire squashed before it can bloom.
Could Qi’ra Return on The Book of Boba Fett?
Solo might never get the sequel(s) it set up. But that doesn’t mean the on-screen story of Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra is over. Clarke is already working with Disney again. She’ll soon join the MCU in the upcoming Disney+ series Secret Invasion. Her relationship with the Mouse House is obviously in good standing. And now Star Wars is telling a story highly relevant to her character’s life.
Might she make a surprise return on The Book of Boba Fett? She has multiple reasons to do so. Qi’ra has plenty of beef, both old and new, with Boba Fett. The bounty hunter helped locked Han Solo in carbonite and challenged the legitimacy of her auction. Boba also served Jabba the Hutt countless times. And now he’s trying to lay claim to Tatooine’s underworld crown when it could be destroyed or at least taken by her. Of course, the Pykes might take it first. At least for a little while.
Because someone will ultimately destroy the Pykes. Along with the other syndicates they once shared power with. Is it possible that Qi’ra and a less rash Boba Fett could ultimately make a truce in the name of destroying their common enemies? If Boba can make friends with a rancor, getting along with Qi’ra should at least be possible.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.