Over the past month and a half, I constantly kept wondering why I was devoting so much time to watching The Book of Boba Fett. While I didn’t really have any expectations going in, the show continually kept disappointing at every turn with seemingly pointless diversions and incredibly hollow storytelling that barely developed its central figure. Hell, the best episode of the series didn’t even include the titular helmeted bounty hunter. Then the finale happened.
I thought I’d be writing about how big of a failure this expansion of the Star Wars universe was. I thought I’d be discussing the various pratfalls of shifting tones and non-existent character arcs that were contained in each episode. I thought that nothing would ultimately change my mind about the fate of this series. Then the finale happened.
I wouldn’t call The Book of Boba Fett a classic or even a masterpiece, but it’s interesting how a slow burn of a show with many mediocre episodes can result in a conclusion that just cuts loose and delivers on all fronts. There’s still far too much reliance on fan service and connections to seemingly inconsequential animated series, but at least we got one hell of a spectacle to cap things off.
The Book of Boba Fett (Season One)
Finale Release Date: February 9, 2022 (Disney+)
Following on from the conclusion of The Mandalorian – Season Two, The Book of Boba Fett is a series that explores fan-favorite bounty hunter Boba Fett’s (Temuera Morrison) rise to power as daimyo of Mos Espa on the sand planet Tatooine. Peppered throughout the seven episodes are flashbacks to Boba’s escape from the Sarlacc pit at the end of Return of the Jedi, his Dances With Wolves moment with some Tusken Raiders prior to The Mandalorian, and even Fennec Shand’s (Ming Na-Wen) recovery thanks to the intervention of Fett during The Mandalorian – Season One. If you thought you’d be able to understand things without having watched the last few years of Star Wars programming, you’d be incredibly mistaken.
The first episode keeps things at least somewhat simple by sticking to the present for the majority of its runtime. We learn that Boba has seized control of Jabba the Hutt’s palace for his own and is looking to run the town of Mos Espa as a benevolent dictator. After making some treks out to a local cantina and chatting up the locals, a group of assassins comes for Fett and his crew and nearly bests the man. He gets thrust into his recovery pod and our first extended flashback happens.
Many were confused by the tone of the first episode and it’s not hard to see why. It bounces all over the place from quiet conversation to bombastic action with little in between. There is no build-up or even a clear motivation for why anything is happening. Assassins want Boba dead because..? Boba wants to be daimyo because..?
It doesn’t help that the second episode forgoes detailing more of the present to give us a pseudo-remake of Dances With Wolves where Boba trains with the Tusken Raiders in the desert. After helping the group defeat some large monster in the previous episode, he trains the Raiders in more modern combat by stealing a speeder bike and planning a heist for some syndicate-operated train. The Raiders take back their territory from the Pyke Syndicate and Fett becomes something of an ambassador to the Raiders. As for the present, Fett gets his ass whooped by a Wookie warrior and has to sit out most of the episode.
It’s this kind of pacing that creates such an indifferent vibe to the show. You’re never quite sure if you should be thinking critically about Boba’s state of mind or just accepting that the writers couldn’t quite nail how to organically integrate flashbacks into the wider picture. Quick cuts of Boba’s dead father and his sadness over the loss of the Raiders don’t actually build to anything, making the dual timelines feel futile.
It also doesn’t help that in the third episode, we finally see Boba actually interacting with some of the locals of Mos Espa and the action sequence is completely amateurish. There was some moronic explosion of hatred on social media for the 1960’s greaser vibe that the bike gang had (which is actually 1,000% something George Lucas would do), but I was more confused by how a show in the Star Wars universe could have seemingly no budget dedicated to it. Choppy editing is expected of any modern series, but the special effects were on a level that would make even the original trilogy look outstanding.
The fourth episode was a bit more focused and at least put effort into a struggle only Boba would have, but it was clear that The Book of Boba Fett wasn’t sure what to do with the character. The specific story here didn’t personally relate to anything Boba was doing in the present. He wanted to take over Mos Espa because..? He wanted revenge for the death of the Tusken’s is fine enough, but why did he even fall into their clan? Was he trying to create a family he never had? How does retrieving his ship factor into all of that?
By this point, I was pretty sure nothing would become of this series. It felt more like filler to bide time until The Mandalorian – Season Three would premiere. As I turned on episode five, I was blown away by how prophetic that thought was. In an attempt to bridge the gap between The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian, the fifth episode followed Mando (Pedro Pascal) exclusively. Here was something of a backdoor premiere for a show we already had and would much rather be watching.
It was really good, too, but had nothing to do with Boba’s struggles on Tatooine. If you had to know the very specific what and how of why Mando would show up to help Boba, you got nearly an hour of explanation for it. It also made me realize how intricate the plotting of The Mandalorian was because the bits of lore dropped in this episode did a lot to expand on the whole Mandalorian creed. A solid diversion, but one that didn’t need to exist within a Boba Fett show.
Episode six is similar. Instead of pushing Boba’s plot forward or giving us any kind of character development for him, we get even more Mando with a surprise dash of Grogu and damn Luke Skywalker. Once again, instead of relating back to Boba’s plight or doing anything that would inform viewers of why Mando was so gung-ho to join Boba’s cause, we got an explanation for Grogu’s struggles with the force and Luke’s reconciling with being unable to teach him. It didn’t help that the awkward use of deep fake and voice modulation left Luke sounding and acting robotic.
So, I just want to stress how fed up I had gotten at this point. Nothing about The Book of Boba Fett was inherently bad for me to say it was a travesty. The acting was all solid (apart from Robo-Luke), the visual design was interesting, and the music was top-notch. It was great to see Mando again and I guess fans of Star Wars Rebels could rejoice in seeing Cad Bane get a live-action portrayal…even though his reveal falls completely flat for everyone else. Despite all of that, the show had done very little to justify being about the iconic bounty hunter.
For weeks, the badass that took out a legion of stormtroopers on The Mandalorian was constantly getting his shit kicked in. For weeks, the once ruthless hunter was uttering clumsy dialogue while letting every other character upstage him. For weeks, Boba felt like a cameo appearance in his own series. Then the finale happened.
The final episode does a lot to bring together the disparate pieces of the previous episodes. Boba’s training with the Tuskens? He puts that martial arts prowess to work. Boba’s acquisition of a Rancor? We get something of a mini-Kaiju film here. Mando’s diversion to give a gift to Grogu? Grogu actually returns and uses the force to save the day. Even the damn Wookie warrior gets an action sequence dedicated to him.
That’s not to say the show is somehow redeemed. It’s ludicrous that Luke Skywalker is still a central figure in Star Wars media that isn’t even related to him. I also mentioned Cad Bane earlier, but his inclusion hinges on viewers being familiar with the history between him and Boba from two previous shows. His introduction is fine enough, but the final bout falls flat when you’ve only seen him for a total of 10 minutes. This insistence on linking together literally every bit of material, no matter how minuscule, is suffocating the storytelling of Star Wars.
You also have the needless fan-service Easter Eggs that do nothing to enhance the plot or surroundings. Jabba the Hutt is dead, but since everyone knows Hutts, two more are introduced in the second episode. They then disappear without having done anything substantial apart from bequeathing Boba a rancor, another icon from the past that exists here because..? Most of my complaints from The Mandalorian were centered around how much lip service was paid to the past and The Book of Boba Fett is chock full of that.
Now, I can accept Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) showing up because he does exist on Tatooine. He has more of a connection to Mando than Boba, but it’s not unthinkable about he would cross paths with the legendary bounty hunter. The problem is that his inclusion, once again, hinges on viewers being familiar with another show. It’s unlikely anyone watching The Book of Boba wouldn’t have seen The Mandalorian, but it’s still odd to have the plot focus on characters established in previous shows without expanding on their personality. Vanth is just here as a McGuffin to get Cad Bane in and shove even more fan service down our throats.
It’s stuff like this that makes me so conflicted about the fate of The Book of Boba. A lot of things came together in the end, but the ride there was awkward, drawn-out, and often puzzling. For a show where you can sum up episodes in a single sentence (Boba gets his ship, Mando gets a car, etc.), I question the need for all kinds of exposition. Wouldn’t it be better to simply skip the pleasantries and get straight to brass taxes?
Then again, the whole point of this show could be to set up future possibilities for Star Wars media. Maybe in The Mandalorian – Season Three, Mando will be able to call on Boba for backup. Maybe in that Ahsoka show, Boba’s rule of Mos Espa will be a central plot point. Hell, there could be unannounced shows that factor in Boba’s presence in the universe. We could also see retcons to the sequel trilogy where Boba is still feared.
Many years from now, I do believe The Book of Boba Fett will retroactively become something greater. Clearly, showrunners Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have big plans for their little pocket of this universe. In the present, however, Boba Fett’s big return is mostly okay. It’s interesting to see the writers shy away from presenting the character as fan service while simultaneously indulging in fan service out the wazoo. It certainly would have been nice if every episode could have been a hit, though.