Contains spoilers for Season One.
Well, after seven short weeks, The Book of Boba Fett is over, and to paraphrase Yoda in one of the best recent pieces of Star Wars media, The Last Jedi, a page-turner it was not. The interest was certainly there, with Boba Fett one of the most beloved characters in a galaxy far, far away despite never really doing anything, and especially with its connection to the successful The Mandalorian. And while there were a lot of interesting elements within, the eventual soup was somewhat thin and unsatisfying, even as a fan of George Lucas’ world of space opera.
Let’s start off first with the title character. Ever since his film debut in The Empire Strikes Back, fans had been obsessed with the enigmatic bounty hunter whose appearance was designed to emulate the feel of Clint Eastwood’s “man with no name”. There was a touch of cool to him, especially when he talked back to Darth Vader, something very few people had previously done without subsequently being violently choked to death, but this was stripped away when he unceremoniously “died” in Return of the Jedi after a blind Han Solo accidentally activated his infamous jet pack. Slapstick 1, Boba Fett 0.
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Of course, we then met up with him as a child in Attack of the Clones, which was then built upon in episodes of the animated show The Clone Wars, and it wasn’t until the second season of The Mandalorian that we once again met the adult Boba Fett as he chased his armour that had been stolen from him by scavaging jawas after he made it out of the Pit of Carkoon and the stomach of the all-powerful Sarlacc, where he was destined to be digested over a thousand years. The Book of Boba Fett showed us his escape from that nightmare in graphic detail and this set up a formula for the show where we would learn about how he got to where he currently was through flashbacks while he was recovering from his wounds in a bacta tank, similar to what we saw Luke Skywalker in at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.
The conceit of the show is that Boba Fett has decided to forego bounty hunting and working for other people and become his own boss, or more accurately a crime boss. As we saw in the preview of the show at the end of The Mandalorian, he decided to take up the power vacuum that had been created on Tatooine with the death of Jabba the Hutt. From this, the show was a mix of seeing him negotiating the various sharp corners of that business together with his right-hand Fennec Shand, who we met in the first season of The Mandalorian, and the flashbacks showing us how he became this new person.
The problem is that the flashbacks were more often than not more interesting than the main story. We learned of how Boba was captured by the infamous sand people but eventually earned their trust and became a surrogate member of their tribe, and it was fascinating to see the way the tribe operated and how different they seemed to the more aggressive Tusken raiders we had previously seen in the franchise. This also applied to the train heist scene where Boba and the Tuskens stopped the spice train that the criminal Pyke gang regularly ran through the sand people’s territory, which was the most exciting and well-directed action sequence of the series.
A problematic byproduct of this, however, was that it made Boba seem fairly stupid. After stopping the spice, it was obvious that it would be the Pykes who massacred the sand people instead of the Nikto gang they made it out to be, and Boba only finding this out in the final episode made him look like an idiot. He also regularly disregarded the much more sensible advice from Fennec, which made him look fairly ignorant. But it was also the case that this storyline didn’t feel like it was sketched out enough, and when it needed to be ramped up, we instead spent two episodes with the Mandalorian pining over Grogu and meeting Luke Skywalker at his new Jedi temple. Who’s book is this again? This all meant that the final episode felt rushed, and as a result was fairly hollow, even with the rancor running around Mos Espa like King Kong and Boba and the Mandalorian fighting back to back like ’80s action heroes.
The worse thing was that the episodes that saw the Mandalorian return were far more interesting than anything else in the series. The details of the lore with the rest of the Mandalore tribe and his subsequent exile, the issues he had using the darksaber, and then seeing Luke Skywalker in training mode, as well as him getting a new ship and testing that out, these felt like they were from a different, more interesting show. It all felt very lopsided, and that hurt the series a lot.
It also didn’t help that the quality of the episodes’ direction varied depending on who was behind the show. Bryce Dallas Howard’s episode was the best of the series, and on the other end of the scale, Robert Rodriguez’s episodes were fairly pedestrian, with the action really boring and lacking in impact. However, the acting was fine across the board, with Temuera Morrison as Boba and Ming-Na Wen as Fennec both bringing a lot to their roles, as well as fine performances from Jennifer Beals and Carey Jones as the awesome wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan.
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I probably make it sound like I disliked the show a lot more than I did. I liked a lot of it really, including how it made connections to Return of the Jedi and Attack of the Clones, I liked the wonderful personalities given to the various droids, including Matt Berry as 8D8, who seemed a lot less torture-inclined than the last time we saw him, and I loved the Tusken raider scenes, and the return to the Sarlacc, and deep fake Luke Skywalker.
On the whole, though, it felt very uneven and that it had not been sketched out especially well. It felt like it had trouble nailing down who they wanted Boba Fett to be, even though this was balanced out by the usual mix of droids and monsters, including welcome returns by Cad Bane and Cobb Vanth. I just hope if there is a second season, which I imagine there will be, they put a little more thought into it, and help establish the title character as someone a little more rounded and more interesting. And keep the Mandalorian in his own show, it’s like being at a car dealership where you’re being shown a Mini when someone comes along and asks if you want to check out a Ferrari.
The Book of Boba Fett is streaming on Disney+.