I was all kinds of excited when this was being teased. And grew less excited, then less interested, every time I saw a new commercial. And it never ended, so I didn’t bother watching. After all, Boba Fett was always a problem – he was the living epitome of someone considered cool for no real reason. Ok, I get the reason, but still, he really didn’t do much in the films, did he?
I suppose that is some form of inverse foreshadowing. He really doesn’t do much in the series either. I has been said many times before, but somehow they managed to get the character who should be traveling the galaxy to have no interest in it, while the character who should be staying put romps around the galaxy. It is fairly silly.
So, The Book of Boba Fett begins in the end of season two of the Mandelorian, when he kills Bibb Fortuna and has a seat on the throne in what we last saw as Jabba’s palace. The show proper opens with him chilling in a bacta tank, remembering his past. These memories include how he got out of the sarlacc, only to have is armor stolen by Jawas, be enslaved by the Sandpeople, and become an honorary member of the tribe after showing them the way to defend against a syndicate hovertrain. These fjashbacks also include him getting his adopted tribe wiped out in revenge for them taking out the train, meeting Fennic Shand, stealing his ship back from Fortuna, and becoming a ‘daimyo’ on Tatooine. Of course, he has angered the syndicate, and has to defend his new home.
There are so many issues here, but mostly it comes down to what I feel is a lack of understanding that this isn’t 1977. Back then, the target Star Wars audience likely hadn’t seen Hidden Fortress, didn’t speak Dutch, and hadn’t read Joseph Campbell. And there was no public internet. This allowed Lucas to get away with, well, all of it. This isn’t then. Daimyo just feels wrong here, mostly because it would be akin to the crime lord title being viscount or marquess. It just doesn’t feel right.
What Went Wrong
Well, that is a very subjective list. In my opinion is is highlighted by the following scenes:
Chapter 1: Stranger In A Strange Land
Great title (they all are, really), but the first ‘what is this’ moment was in this episode. It’s the ambush by the ‘ninja’ group. Or, as Pops Racer might put it, ‘nonja’. This might be the least kinetic fight scene ever filmed. At no point did it seem like any of the actors were in the least bit engaged. In fact, the action was so…not active that I feel I could easily have defeated the assassins. And I am not in any shape for that nonsense. The fight was slow, awkward, telegraphed, and felt like an homage to the Saturday Night Live ‘Ninja Pep Talk’ from 1994. It just doesn’t work. I do get that Boba Fett was still recovering, and not 100%. That doesn’t excuse the assassins taking it so easy on him.
Also not working in this are the two Gamorrean guards. In Return of the Jedi, the Gamorreans looked, well, real. Like people in green paint, so there wasn’t the look of bunched fabric at the back of the knee. In Book of Boba Fett, it is the opposite – the actors are clearly in green tights.
Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine
Where, in the desert of Tatooine, does Boba Fett get a large tree branch? Is it from the vision, if so, how? I love the scene, the idea, and the result, but this is a desert…not a forest. Twin Hutts is also not great. This was pretty decent, with nothing standing out as truly bad.
Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa
Oh good. The mods. Literally, in two ways. Mods as in the actual 60s trend seen in the Who movie Quadrophenia, and mods as in cyborgs. While the concept isn’t bad, I guess, the execution is horrible. The cybernetics are weak, and the speeders are…well…look, DC can’t hoard all the bad SFX, right? The speeders are awful. The ‘chase’ scene is less interesting than OJ in a white Bronco, and the visual effects of the speeder bikes serve only to appear as kids on stationary props pretending to bank and turn. Luke’s landspeeder in 1977 was more realistic. This was another episode that had me questioning not only who this was being made for, but why it was being made at all. Boba Fett is once again a side character in his own show. Yes, he is in many of the scenes, but I never saw him as the focal point in the episode.
And gee, we get a rancor back. because of course we do. It comes with another nod to the expanded universe novels, specifically The Courtship of Princess Leia by the late Dave Wolverton. Can we either stop with the fan baiting for older fans who read these books, or just return them to canon already. It’s annoying to be constantly teased with aspects of a richly worked universe that the mouse destroyed out of hand.
Also, the cyborgs suck.
Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm
So little happens here. But we managed to not mention that Boba Fett’s ship is ‘Slave 1’. He just calls it by it’s model. Look, let’s not read too much into that. We all know that the real reason was to not use the word slave. But at the same time, when you are trying to convince a new partner to help, maybe you don’t call it Slave 1. Meh. Nothing really sucked here, it was just a 48 minute long cut scene.
Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian
Well, it seems to get better here. And the fact that Boba Fett is not even in the episode says a lot. No Boba Fett, better episode? Not a good episode, but a better one. The problem I have here is, again, too much tell, not enough show. I am also personally offended by the suggestion that the New Republic has X-Wings as some kind of speed trap. No, just no. The highlight for me was the N1 Naboo starfighter…so much cool in that design. While I don’t love the blister dome for Grogu, I love the N1 design enough to cover the gap.
Chapter 6: From the Desert Comes a Stranger
Another epic title. Another subpar episode. The best parts are the Grogu flashbacks, and the live-action debut of Cad Bane. I never could deal with the animation on Clone Wars, etc., so this character is less important to me than others. I am, however, fully aware of who it is, and the look was excellent.
Chapter 7: In the Name of Honor
Finally, it ends. With the obligatory big fight. And, of course, everyone plays. The rancor, the new N1 fighter, Grogu, those lame cyborgs, and all the bit players from the earlier episodes. So here is the final insult, this episode fails as a western (see High Plains Drifter, or even, I swear, Blazing Saddles, for how this is done right), and fails as Star Wars. It tries to be both, and can’t commit enough to either to be good.
Grogu and the ‘go fast’ button is pure joy. So it ends on a high note.
So What Went Wrong?
In a word? Boba Fett only works as a mystery. He isn’t meant to be developed, he is supposed to just be this enigma who had to be warned against fucking disintegrating people. Boba Fett almost had too much backstory in the prequel trilogy. Seriously.
Boba Fett is a supporting character in his own series. That is harsh perhaps, but seriously, he is constantly overshadowed by literally everyone. It is the Book of Boba Fett, not the Book of Fennic Shand. For fuck sake, the owner of the bar (played by Jennifer Beals) is billed above Boba Fett.
If there is a second season of Boba Fett, I hope that he is the main character, and that we get something that feels more appropriate for the character.