Way too early complaints about ‘The Book of Boba Fett’.
Cue incoming rant about the latest piece of Star Wars content.
You are, perhaps, aware of my misgivings with the critically successful show The Mandalorian. Lucasfilm’s (and for all intents and purposes, Disney’s) flagship streaming series launched a new era for the Star Wars Universe, one that aimed to capture the same mass of audience appeal albeit on a smaller screen. After the unmitigated failure of Sequel Trilogy, Disney and Lucasfilm pivoted drastically, halting production on a number of projects, including several planned films and trilogies slated to be helmed by heavyweight writers and/or directors. The rhetoric, since then, has been a streamlined focus on stories that can breathe and develop over time, capturing the zeitgeist much in the way that Baby Yoda did. The Disney+ platform appears to afford creators ample space to do just that. However, for all the Lucasfilm execs’ efforts to not saturate the market with Stars Wars content, the market still feels overly saturated with Star Wars content, what with an Obi-Wan show and a Cassian Andor show and an Ahsoka show all on the horizon — not to mention the recent fervor surrounding the much anticipated series featuring the one and only Boba Fett, entitled, The Book of Boba Fett.
After being teased in the finale of The Mandalorian, Boba Fett’s first solo venture (if you don’t count the animated short in the much maligned 1978 Christmas Special) is now in full swing. Even still, though, the specter of The Mandalorian’s success hangs over this show in way that was nonexistent in its predecessor. Whereas Din Djarin’s serialized adventures often felt fresh and investing (though interminably unbalanced), The Book of Boba Fett has not at all captivated audiences in the same way. Despite only having two episodes under its belt, and five more to come, meaning there is much more plot to come for the galaxy’s fiercest bounty hunter, it still feels as though Boba Fett’s story has gotten off to a crawling pace, a la Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.
Episode 1, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” mixes a series of flashbacks with unexciting action, making for a very mediocre revival of one of most revered characters in Star Wars lore. The second episode, “The Tribes of Tatooine,” improves on this, slightly, dividing the runtime in half between narratives in the past and the present. It begins by “introducing” a minor amount of tension, with some of Jabba the Hutt’s relatives staking their claim to the crime-boss-throne of Tatooine. “Introduce” is being generous, as, again, there’s very little to go on, and even less to root for (I’ll come back to that). The second half of episode 2 is genuinely thrilling, though, featuring Fett getting acclimated to life in a Tusken Raider village and assisting them in a good old fashioned train heist. The Western vibes are thick during this sequence, with the blocking very clearly paying homage to any classic stagecoach robbery from Hollywood’s simpler days.
But despite how thrilling the second episode was, for the most part, there’s an overriding thought that’s been driving me bonkers since I started watching The Book of Boba Fett. And it boils down to the show’s fundamental premise: that you, the viewer, are supposed to just accept the fact that a cutthroat bounty hunter the likes of Boba Fett, who wakes up in the Sarlacc Pit (via Return of the Jedi), after being put there (albeit by happenstance) by his archnemesis Han Solo, only to escape said pit and find himself stranded in the wastelands of Tatooine, and he is just okay with these new circumstances? In Episode 1, a group of Jawas scavenge Fett’s armor, leaving him to die. He is eventually found by a tribe of Tuskens and taken back to their village. After some back-and-forth attempts to escape, Fett eventually earns the trust of the Tuskens by defeating a very strange looking desert creature that looks like it was pulled straight out of The Clash of the Titans circa 1981. This leads to episode 2’s blatant allusion to The Last Samurai, with Fett’s captors training him and, ultimately, trusting him with their village’s safety.
But what led him to that decision? What inspired Fett to be okay with making a life on Tatooine? Shouldn’t he be doing everything in his power to get off-world and find Han Solo and exact revenge on him? Why is he suddenly okay with this new life with the Tusken Raiders? The same bounty hunter who has been commissioned to hunt down Han Solo since Empire Strikes Back is now suddenly okay with an entirely new way of life, seemingly overnight?
Sure, I know Boba Fett eventually gets off-world since we see him chase down Din Djarin in season two of The Mandalorian. And I know his storied escape from the Sarlacc Pit is featured in the Star Wars Legends books. But if the Legends aren’t canon — and Lucasfilm has said consistently that they are not — then there exists a massive storytelling gap that must be accounted for somewhere.
If you were to sandwich the events of Return of the Jedi with episode 1 of The Book of Boba Fett, there’s a huge disconnect. What motivation is there to root for Boba Fett at this point? There is none, really, other than, “Look, there’s the cool guy from the original trilogy! I like him!” There’s nothing nearly as captivating about Fett’s story as there was with Mando’s journey, who, having found “The Child,” immediately became captivated by ensuring its safety. Gaming for the crime lord throne of Tatooine isn’t even close to evoking the same type of emotional thrills as seen in The Mandalorian. Here’s hoping episodes 3–7 show us something more impactful and dynamic.
Okay, Star Wars rant over. Back to regular programming.