The Book of Boba Fett is the latest Star Wars TV show and is streaming on Disney+. It serves as a spinoff of the popular TV show, The Mandalorian, and a sequel of sorts to previous Star Wars films, but in this case focusing on the mysterious bounty hunter, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison).
Boba Fett was supposedly killed by a giant sarlaac in the film Return of the Jedi, but being that he was a fan favorite, he had to come back, as he did in various books and stories. In Star Wars canon, he officially returned in the second season of The Mandalorian and the post-credits scene of that show’s season finale showed Boba Fett taking over the criminal underworld in the planet Tattooine with his partner, the assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen).
The series is in some ways part Western, part gangster drama as flashbacks reveal how the bounty hunter survived from being eaten by the sarlaac and his emotional transformation from a cold-blooded killer to someone who is more empathic and honorable. At the same time, the episodes chronicled his ordeal of being a crime lord and dealing with deadly competitors, namely the Pyke gang – intergalactic spice dealers who want to take over Boba’s turf.
There have been many complaints about The Book of Boba Fett, many of them are valid, but overall, the series is fine. It’s just that it should have been better and could have been if it had a better narrative flow and its scripts were more fine tuned. This is surprising considering the episodes are written by Jon Favreau (he shared a co-writing byline with Dave Filoni in the sixth episode), who was the mastermind behind The Mandalorian. What gives? Interference from the top execs at Disney? Maybe one day, we’ll learn the full story behind the scenes.
The narrrative flow of the series was quite jarring at times and also infuriating. The best example of this are with the fifth and sixth episodes. For some reason, the show stopped being about Boba Fett and became a mini-season for The Mandalorian as the story abruptly shifts to Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and we see what he and Grogu have been up to since the second season of their show ended. Boba Fett only appears once in the sixth episode in what is basically a cameo, while he is completely absent in the fifth episode. It did not make sense to do this, especially being that The Book of Boba Fett only has seven episodes. At least, these two episodes were well done.
The impression we are given is that the showrunners or Disney did not like where the main story was going or ran out of ideas and panicked by going back to what excited viewers. This was not fair to Boba Fett’s story and associated characters. Those two episodes could have been used to further develop these characters. We could have learned more about Boba and is time before The Empire Strikes Back. They should have shown more of how he was before his spiritual transformation so that his metamorphosis would have more impact. Maybe they wanted to perserve some of his mystery. Who knows?
Fennec’s back story could have been explored, or Boba’s old rival, Cad Bane (voiced by Corey Burton) could have appeared sooner and being more directly tied to the tragedy that Boba underwent during his recovery. Or even the minor characters of Tatooine could have been fleshed out more. Even the dumb cyborg biker gang, who were poorly conceived and executed.
There are many plot holes that are undeniably irritating and make the characters look stupid. Here’s an example, in the final episode during the big showdown with the Pyke gang, why didn’t Boba or Din get into their spaceships and just lay waste to the criminals as they attacked the town of Mos Espa? Boba Fett kept bragging about how much money he had and could afford to hire extra muscle, yet his army only consisted of the silly biker gang, two Gamorrean pig guards, Din and Fennec, and later some townspeople from nearby Freetown. Did Boba Fett actually expect to defeat an entire army of Pykes and their allies with what he had? Also, it would have made more sense and been more satisfying if the townspeople that helped him where actually residents of Mos Espa. You know, seeing that Boba is fighting for their town, the people could have decided to help him. Why did he hire the biker gang when he first met them? Nothing they did gave the impression they were qualified to be formidable fighters. Then in one flashback scene, Boba takes his spaceship and has it hover directly over the mouth of the sarlaac to look for his armor. Guess what happens? The tentacled monster attacked his ship and nearly killed him. Wouldn’t that ship have sensors to scan the animal from afar? Maybe his time fermenting in the sarlaac’s stomach damaged his brain more than we know.
This does not mean The Book of Boba Fett is a bad TV show. There are so many great things about it. Take Temuera Morrison, who delivers a fine performance as the grizzled former bounty hunter trying to find a purpose in his life. Boba’s spiritual journey when he is first a captive then a valued member of the Tusken Raiders was inspiring as he built relationships with the clan and we learned more about their culture. That is why it was so devastating when later in the flashbacks Boba finds his adopted clan massacred.
The present day scenes of Boba figuring out his way as a local crime lord were intriguing for the most part. We could not help but root for him as he dealt with corrupt politicians, devious characters and others. It was interesting that Boba chose to be a more benevolent figure in the town of Mos Espa and was set to rule through respect. This meant that he had to earn the respect even if it was easier to rule through fear or money.
As flawed as the final episode was in terms of logistics and narrative, it was quite exciting with brilliant special effects. The showdown between Boba Fett and his people against the Pykes was full of action with plenty of fist pumping moments and iconic imagery. Come on, who is not highly anticipating buying an action figure of Boba riding his rancor? Or Din wielding his darksaber? Or the ginormous annihilator droids?
Then there is Cad Bane. He has such an initimidating presence and was very unsetlling. His entrance coming from the desert to Freetown at the end of the fifth episode so perfectly evoked a classic Western motif. Completing the classic Western trope was a tense showdown between the Freetown marshal, Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) and Bane. It is a shame we did not see more of Bane and built up his rivalry with Boba, it would have made their final battle more satisfying, although that battle was quite intense.
Even though, the episodes of Din and Grogu did not belong in The Book of Boba Fett, they were excellent. It is a shame that they are some of the stronger episodes and should have been saved for the third season of The Mandalorian. We are given fascinating insights into the two characters. Din finds himself outcast from his tribe and with a new purpose to reclaim his home planet.
Meanwhile, Grogu during his Jedi training with Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (the effects used to de-age Mark Hamill are a vast improvement from his last appearance in The Mandalorian), becomes conflicted over choosing to continue his Jedi training or abandoning the Jedi way and re-joining his surrogate father Din. By the way, the training scenes were a nice callback to The Empire Strikes Back and a nice use of role reversal. It was such a great fan service to see Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) with Luke being that she mentored under his father. If only there was more interplay between the two. But all of this should have been used for another show.
On the whole, The Book of Boba Fett is an enjoyable if uneven Star Wars TV show that is worth watching. It could have and should have been better, but hopefully if there is a second season, the show will improve. One thing they could do is to just change its title to Tales of Tatooine to allow the TV show to further explore the fascinating alien world and its denizens, while still featuring Boba Fett. Despite its flaws, The Book of Boba Fett is an entertaining look at the galaxy’s most formidable former bounty hunter.