Boba Fett is back!
When last we saw him he was falling to his presumed death in the sarlacc pit in Return of the Jedi – that is, until his appearance in The Mandalorian revealed that he survived it. What they didn’t reveal, however, was how.
We first saw that he survived in Chapter 9, when we saw him in a cameo at the very end of the episode watching Din Djarin ride off with his old armor. But then he showed up again in Chapter 14, this time far more substantially. All he said was, “[Fennec Shand] was left for dead on the sands of Tatooine. As was I. But fate sometimes steps in to rescue the wretched.”
So how did he escape? Well, here’s the reality: we don’t know. BUT, there have been some hints of his survival over the past few years in canon, and I think we can answer at least a few questions about his survival, while raising a few more. Let me put it this way: we know what happened to the sarlacc; we don’t know what happened to Boba Fett.
We are told what happened to the sarlacc in Chuck Wendig’s novel Aftermath: Life Debt, in one of the interlude chapters:
“[Malakili] thought maybe to tame the glorious monstrosity at the bottom of the Great Pit of Carkoon (and, failing that, to throw himself into its maw), but the mighty Sarlacc was injured. Burning wreckage from the sail barge had rained upon it. Already its body – considerably more massive than the mouth exposed from the sliding sands – had been partially unburied, its stoma-tubes slit open, its digesting innards pillaged by industrious Jawas. They pulled out weapons and armor, droids and tools. And skeletons, of course. The creature of Carkoon had a pure purpose, to wait and to eat, and now it was left to thrash and wail in the grip of pillagers. Malakili wept at another life without purpose.”
So what happened to the sarlacc is actually quite reasonable and understandable, yet in a way tragic. We saw in Return of the Jedi that Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge was destroyed in a pretty large explosion, and so it makes tons of sense that the explosion – which happened literally right above the sarlacc – would have wounded the creature. Debris rained down upon it and left it exposed. It’s kinda disgusting, but the sarlacc was uncovered by the explosion and was split open. This allowed Jawas to move into the beast and pillage it.
Like, say, pillage Boba Fett’s armor.
In both accounts of the story, both in Aftermath and in The Mandalorian, we learn that the Jawas came in possession of Boba Fett’s armor, which then eventually made it to the possession of Cobb Vanth. So it seems that the Jawas pillaged the beast, found the armor, and took it.
This answers a couple of really significant questions; most notably, how Fett could have survived the sarlacc. We know that the sarlacc doesn’t instantly kill its victims, so Fett wasn’t killed when he was eaten. This meant that he remained alive (obvious, I know) when the explosion happened, and therefore he would have been alive to either make his own way out of the creature OR be found by Jawas. That’s what we don’t know. But we do know how it could have happened.
One other note is that it’s implied in The Mandalorian that the Krayt Dragon actually ate a sarlacc, so it might be the same one. In other words, it’s possible that sometime in the five years since Return of the Jedi (and thus since the sarlacc was damaged), that the sarlacc itself was eaten.
Anyway, back to Fett, here’s the one big question we don’t know: how’d he come to part with his armor?
If it means so much to him (and it does), then it’s unlikely he would willingly part with it. Thus here’s my guess (we don’t know for sure, but I’m just speculating): when the Jawas went to pillage the sarlacc’s innards, they found Fett in his armor, unconscious, and removed it. That seems to me to be the easiest and most logical answer. But we simply don’t know for sure.
If that’s the case, though, then it raises another question: why would he wait five years before he tried to get the armor back? He seemingly stayed on Tatooine (though given the fact that he still has Slave I, that’s not guaranteed), and it seems that he knew Cobb Vanth had it, since he mentioned him by name in The Mandalorian. So why would it take Fett five years for him to try to get his armor back? I’m not sure, but I’m confident we’ll get further answers at some point.
So yeah, there you go. I leave you with just as many questions as answers, but I think we at least know how it was possible for Fett to escape the sarlacc. The beast was badly wounded in the explosion, leaving it exposed. It’s therefore very reasonable to see how Fett could have made it out.