Mos Espa

The Erasure of a Huttlet

I suppose at the outset I should acknowledge two points that are necessary before proceeding. The first is that this piece contains spoilers from The Book of Boba Fett. Not a lot of spoilers, just a handful of details that help me explain my thought process. Secondly, the more significant point, is that as a Star Wars fan I am genuinely frustrated that I am sitting here writing this piece. This feeling being the motivating factor, rather than beating around the bush building to the big “reveal” about why I am frustrated I will just get right to the point:

The Book of Boba Fett never addresses the existence of Rotta the Huttlet, Jabba the Hutt’s son and the rightful heir to Jabba’s criminal empire.

Years ago, I wrote a piece in which I explained that Rotta – a character introduced in The Clone Wars movie in 2008 – should take over his father’s nefarious enterprise. In that piece I offered some ideas regarding how Rotta could be utilized, and while I was under no illusion (I never am) that the storytellers at Disney/Lucasfilm would ever come across my posts and use my ideas, I never-the-less was hopeful that Rotta would, eventually, make a future appearance in Star Wars. Or, at the very least, I held out hope that we would find out in some small way, even in a passing statement hidden in a book, where Rotta is or even if he is still alive.

When The Book of Boba Fett was teased in the end credits scene following the season two finale of The Mandalorian my hopes for Rotta’s return were raised. In this short teaser we watch Boba Fett, accompanied by the assasin Fennec Shand, enter Jabba’s throne room and kill Bib Fortuna, the Twi’lek who served as Jabba the Hutt’s majordomo. “Finally,” I thought to myself as I watched this short scene unfold, “Star Wars will address, in some way, what happened to Rotta the Huttlet!” My hope, unfortunately, was misplaced.

Boba Fett claims Jabba’s Throne after killing Bib Fortuna
Photo Credit: The Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 8 – The Rescue

I waited to write this post until I watched the finale of The Book of Boba Fett. I wanted to be fair to the show, to the storytellers who put their time and energy into telling Boba’s Fett’s tale once he establishes himself as the daimyo, the self-appointed ruler, of Jabba’s fiefdom. But it became apparent I would write this piece following a moment of exposition at the outset of the show’s third chapter.

Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa begins with Boba Fett seated on the throne listening as a droid describes the areas of Mos Espa, the local metropolis, which were under the protection of Jabba the Hutt. The droid explains that “after the sail barge disaster there was a power vacuum; Bib Fortuna assumed Jabba’s mantle.” The droid then goes on to offer how Fortuna ruled, acknowledging that the Twi’lek did not have the same power as his former Hutt employer.

Now, that Bib Fortuna placed himself on the throne following Jabba’s demise in Return of the Jedi is not entirely surprising even if it is odd that he somehow survived the destruction of the sail barge. It is reasonable enough to think that Jabba’s majordomo would step into the vacuum following the Hutt’s death, knowing as he would how the criminal empire was run. Yet, this only makes sense if we presume that Rotta the Huttlet is somehow out of the picture when Fortuna moves himself onto the throne. Basically, either Rotta needs to have died before the events of Return of the Jedi, he had to die in the sail barge explosion, or Fortuna would need to eliminate him from contention in some other way. Whatever the case may be, there has to be some accounting for Rotta’s absence.

I was hopeful The Book of Boba Fett would address this, that in acknowledging the obvious power vacuum after Jabba’s death there would be some type of explanation about what happened to Rotta. But when, in Chapter 3, the droid explains that Fortuna took over without mentioning Rotta I knew, right then, that this show would not account for Rotta the Huttlet. I wanted to be wrong but intuitively I knew I wouldn’t be. Never-the-less, as I said, I also felt that I needed to be fair to the creators of The Book of Boba Fett, allowing their story to play out, and doing so on the off-chance a reference to Rotta was dropped into the show.

I mentioned earlier in the piece that I have written about Rotta the Huttlet before and back then, just as now, I feel his absence from Star Wars is a massive problem. With a 7-part show dedicated to a new ruler on Jabba’s throne, The Book of Boba Fett was THE place for Star Wars to address, in some way, the fate of Rotta the Huttlet. But it didn’t, and as a result I am left to ask if the erasure of Rotta is intentional. I cannot help but wonder if the creative directors at Disney/Lucasfilm are choosing to ignore the Huttlet who helped introduce us to The Clone Wars animated series? Have they decided that he is just not worth consideration, that it is easier to skip over him because he is an inconvenience to the story they want to tell? Frankly, I don’t have the answer. At this point, I don’t know how to account for Rotta’s continued absence in Star Wars and to be entirely honest I am no longer hopeful his fate will ever be adequately addressed.

Rotta the Huttlet is returned to his father, Jabba the Hutt.
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars (movie)

I do not want to belabor the point regarding Rotta’s erasure any further. Instead, I will offer my own form of positivity, a hopeful idea to salvage Rotta that the Disney/Lucasfilm creators will neither see nor use. But I offer it anyway because, for my own sanity, I would like to settle the issue. So here is the idea:

Rotta the Huttlet is still alive. He survived the sail barge disaster because he was not on the sail barge. He was captured by a criminal gang known as the Red Key following his father’s death, although the Red Key was unaware they had Jabba’s son. In turn, the Red Key planned to install the Huttlet as their puppet ruler of Mos Pelgo, aka Freetown, but were ultimately thwarted by the town’s new lawman, Cobb Vanth. Placed in the care of Malakili, the former Rancor keeper in Jabba’s palace, the orphaned baby was given the name Borgo. Perhaps Malakili knew he was now the guardian of Jabba’s son, recognizing the child from their time in the palace, or perhaps not. It does not matter. Rotta the Huttlet, the true heir to Jabba’s criminal empire, is alive and he is waiting for the day he can reclaim his rightful throne from the imposter daimyo Boba Fett.

Fiction’s Fearless Females: Queen Amidala

Standing behind the doors leading into the royal hanger, the Queen of Naboo, surrounded by her loyal handmaidens and advisers, must make a choice. One path will keep the teenage monarch on Naboo, with her people, risking capture and death at the hands of the invading Trade Federation. The alternative path will take her off-world, traveling with the two Jedi escorting her, running the Trade Federation blockade above her world in the hopes of reaching Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, to plead for help directly to the Senate.

“Either choice presents great danger, to us all,” the Queen says as she turns her head and looks at the handmaiden standing next to her.

“We are brave, your Highness,” the handmaiden responds, calmly speaking for herself and the other handmaidens.

To be brave is to be fearless, to stand firm and unflinching when confronting danger. Either path the Queen takes includes the risk of death, to herself and her retinue, but these handmaidens will face the risk with fearless poise standing side-by-side with their monarch.

But there is something else at play here, another layer hidden in the dialogue between a Queen and her assistant. In this scene from The Phantom Menace, the Queen we see is not the real Queen. No, she is actually a handmaiden, a loyal bodyguard charged with protecting the Queen by serving as a decoy dressed in royal attire. And the real Queen, Padmé Amidala, she is the handmaiden who has spoken.

This truth will not be revealed until later in the film when standing before the Gungan Boss Nass this handmaiden, Padmé, will confidently step forward, risking her own safety, and declare that she is Queen Amidala. Even though this revelation takes place late in the movie the gravity of the revelation reverberates through the entire film. It is possible then to add an interpretation to the statement “We are brave” by considering that Padmé, as Queen-in-disguise, is using the royal “We” when she speaks. And by viewing the term through this lens one can easily believe that Padmé Amidala is not only affirming the bravery of the handmaidens, but she is subtly but confidently affirming, as the true sovereign of the Naboo, that she is fearless.

Amidala's Reveal
Stepping forward, Padmé reveals that she is Queen Amidala.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Again and again we see Amidala model her bravery, in word and deed, simultaneously as handmaiden/Queen throughout The Phantom Menace. This is obvious when she reveals her identity to Boss Nass. Begging for help as she gets down on her knees – an act of pragmatic and diplomatic submission – Queen Amidala places herself and her party at the grace the Gungans. It pays off as her act of fearless humility convinces Boss Nass that Gungans and the Naboo can be friends and allies.

The Queen’s courage is also obvious when she and her retinue travel to the planet Tatooine.

Their vessel damaged as it ran the Trade Federation blockade surrounding Naboo, the two Jedi accompanying the royal entourage must identify a location that is free from Federation control to perform repairs. Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi chooses a locale: the desert planet Tatooine. The head of the Queen’s guard, Captain Panaka, inquires how the Jedi know their Federation enemy is not present on the world to which Qui-Gon Jinn answers, “It’s controlled by the Hutts.” “You can’t take her royal Highness there! The Hutts are gangsters,” Panaka declares, immediately raising his concerns. Never-the-less, Tatooine, a lawless world on the fringe of the galaxy, remains their destination.

Upon landing in the desert Qui-Gon Jinn, accompanied by the astromech droid R2-D2 and the Gungan Jar Jar Binks, will head towards Mos Espa to seek out the parts they need to repair the damaged vessel. But as they head off Captain Panaka will stop them. With him is the handmaiden Padmé who remains silent as Qui-Gon and Panaka speak:

“Her Highness commands you to take her handmaiden with you,” the Captain explains.

“No more commands from her Highness today, Captain,” Qui-Gon responds, “the spaceport is not going to be pleasant.”

“The Queen wishes it. She is curious about the planet,” Panaka retorts.

“This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon warns. “Stay close to me,” he tells the handmaiden as the group continues towards Mos Espa.

Padme joins the Group
The “handmaiden” remains silent while Captain Panaka and Qui-Gon Jinn discuss whether she should join the group.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The exchange may not seem like much but it serves a clear purpose: to account for Padmé being part of the group heading into Mos Espa. Fair enough, but narratively this should not be necessary. If the handmaiden was part of the group to begin with we would think nothing of it. She would just be someone else who is seeking the parts for the damaged hyperdrive. So why bother briefly pausing the plot to account for the handmaiden tagging along with the party? Because Padmé is no ordinary handmaiden. Armed with the knowledge that “her Highness” IS the handmaiden, this exchange is no longer a narrative curiosity but a narrative necessity, a way of demonstrating, and reinforcing, that behind the veil of “handmaiden” resides a formidable monarch who is exercising her power and displaying her strengths.

Captain Panaka, as noted, expressed his reservation to the Jedi about taking “her royal Highness” to Hutt-controlled Tatooine. While we do not see it, we can presume he shared these reservations with the Queen herself. But now, in a surprising twist, the Captain has escorted the Queen, dressed as a commoner, into the hot desert to join the repair party. Why does he do this? Because “Her Highness” has issued a “command.” She has used her authority and given an order which the Captain is duty-bound to follow.

The command she has given – for a handmaiden to join the party – is a clever trick on the part of Amidala, a way to insert herself while maintaining anonymity. This does not come without risk. Captain Panaka is not wrong that Tatooine, being controlled by galactic gangsters, is a dangerous world. Qui-Gon Jinn acknowledges this as well, admitting that “the spaceport is not going be pleasant.” The Queen does not flinch. Instead, she is putting words into action, showing “We are brave” by placing herself in an unpredictable and potentially precarious situation.

Granted, this decision does seem ill-advised. Being fearless is laudable, but it is difficult to justify being reckless. “This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon explains, a clear indication that he does not want anyone else to be put in danger, even a young handmaiden (although, for the record, I believe he knows Padmé is the Queen but that is a conversation for another time). Were something to happen to Amidala in Mos Espa – a run in with the Hutts, for example – the consequences could imperil not only her safety but the safety of the planet Naboo. So how can one justify her decision to join?

For starters, we can think about why she is joining the group. As Captain Panaka explains, the Queen “wishes” for the handmaiden to go with Qui-Gon Jinn because “she is curious about the planet.” Thus, we are explicitly told that the Queen is inquisitive, a quality which demonstrates her desire to lead effectively, gaining new insights and perspectives which will inform future decisions. Stuck on Tatooine for the time being, Queen Amidala chooses to step out of the comfort of her royal yacht so she might gain firsthand knowledge about her galaxy. Notably, this is exactly what happens when she meets Anakin Skywalker, a precocious 9-year-old boy, and is shocked by the revelation that he is a slave. The Queen was clearly under the impression that the abominable institution did not exist. In turn, after meeting Anakin’s mother Shmi, the Amidala learns that the Republic’s anti-slavery laws do not extend to every planet. A sobering truth that challenges her understanding of the Galactic Republic’s legal and moral reach, this discovery foreshadows the truth she learns a short time later about the ineffectiveness of the Senate and the Supreme Chancellor.

Padme and Anakin
Padmé meets Anakin Skywalker and learns a harsh truth: he is a slave.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Like her fearlessness, Amidala’s inquisitiveness is laudable. Yet, it does not entirely justify her decision to risk danger in the spaceport. Except, it does if we view it not solely as a pursuit for galactic knowledge. Rather, it should be interpreted as an example of the Queen’s strategic thinking. While Mos Espa is “not pleasant” and dangerous, given the situation it is also the safest place Queen Amidala can possibly be, a fact she must be aware of since she has given the command to “take her handmaiden.” Think of it like this: if the Trade Federation does track them down, discovering the royal yacht on the outskirts of Mos Espa, Amidala will not be there. Instead, the enemy will find the decoy Queen, along with the other handmaidens, the captain of the royal guard, and even a Jedi protector.

Meanwhile, Queen Amidala will be blending into the crowded streets of the unpleasant spaceport as the handmaiden Padmé. She will be fearlessly hiding in plain sight, as she does throughout The Phantom Menace, with no one the wiser.


Fiction’s Fearless Females is in it’s second year!  Yay!  The series runs for the month of March and along with myself will feature posts by Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, and Mike of My Comic Relief.  Be sure to follow each of these blogs (as if you don’t already!) and to check out all of the Fearless Females in the series. Just follow these links:

The Doctor

Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle)

Dani from Midsommar

Sarah Connor

5 Fearless Cartoon Females of the 80s