A year after The Book of Boba Fett’s surprise, mid-credits announcement during the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian, this Disney+ Star Wars spin-off has finally arrived. The first episode, “Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land”, aired last Wednesday and left fans with plenty to mull over, but let’s be real: the biggest mystery in the show so far – the literal space elephant in the room – is how Max Rebo is still alive.
Who is Max Rebo and when did he supposedly die?
If you’re a more casual Star Wars fan, right now, you’re probably wondering just who the heck Max Rebo is. The answer is suitably niche trivia: Rebo is an Ortolan keyboardist – a blue-skinned, elephant-like humanoid who plays space jazz on his futuristic piano. He debuted in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, where along with the rest of the Max Rebo Band – which includes the likes of lead vocalist Sy Snootles and fellow instrumentalist Droopy McCool – he served as the in-house entertainment for iconic crime boss Jabba the Hutt.
The last time we see Max and the band in Return of the Jedi, they’re performing on Jabba’s floating sail barge – and, since original Star Wars trilogy protagonist Luke Skywalker blows up said barge moments later, things looked grim for ol’ Max. Tie-in material published later established that the Max Rebo Band miraculously escaped the destruction of the sail barge unscathed, however, these accounts were all scrubbed from the official continuity by Disney when it acquired Lucasfilm (and Star Wars) from George Lucas.
This put Max Rebo’s survival back in question – was this beloved background character now doomed to suffer the on-screen death he’d previously avoided?
How did Max Rebo survive his apparent death?
Happily, we now know the answer is “no”. When Boba Fett and his right-hand woman Fennec Shand enter Garsa Fwip’s cantina in The Book of Fett Episode 1, they walk past none other than Max Rebo himself, jamming away with an alien guitarist (who might be from Star Wars’ other legendary musical act, the Model Nodes). Whether the rest of the band also survived isn’t clear, but there’s no doubt that Rebo is alive and well, at least.
Which begs another question: how? The sail barge explosion in Return of the Jedi was pretty spectacular, and what we see of the wreckage in “Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land” confirms that anyone still onboard would have been blown to smithereens. So, the only way that Rebo could’ve made it out alive is if he bailed long before the explosion, just like in the original, non-canon “Legends” continuity. He wouldn’t be alone in re-enacting events depicted in Legends, either; that’s more or less how Boba Fett survived his own Return of the Jedi fate, too!
And think about it: Max is a musician, not a fighter. The minute people started swinging lightsabers around and firing blasters, he probably figured it was a good time to abandon ship, even if he was in the middle of Tatooine’s inhospitable Dune Sea; you can totally see him making this choice. True, making it back to civilisation without dying from dehydration first would’ve been a tall order, but dude is an alien, so who knows how much water he needs to survive. There’s also the chance Max somehow hitched a ride back into town, considering that (as Fett can attest) the Dune Sea isn’t exactly uninhabited…
So, while we don’t yet know all the details of how Max Rebo turned up alive in The Book of Boba Fett, the broad strokes of what happened are pretty easy to figure out. And really, who wants to sweat the small stuff when it gets in the way of granting a second chance to the greatest alien-elephant space jazz keyboardist to ever grace a galaxy far, far away?