The Book of Boba Fett
Air dates: 12/29/2021 to 2/9/2022
Written by Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Steph Green, Kevin Tancharoen, Bryce Dallas Howard, Dave Filoni
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
February 6, 2023
Note: Spoilers for all episodes of The Book of Boba Fett follow.
The Book of Boba Fett is a series that was probably better in theory than it turned out to be in practice. Its biggest problem is that its main character, played ever-so-seriously by Temuera Morrison, ends up being one of the least engaging figures among a cast of colorful supporting players and guest stars who consistently upstage him, pull the focus away from him, and suggest that their stories are more important than his. The book may be named for Boba Fett, but there are entire chapters that aren't about him at all.
This isn't a problem per se, especially since those later chapters (five, six, seven) are devoted, in a rather compelling way, to following up the events of The Mandalorian's second season finale in a grand effort to undo its most significant final scenes. Indeed, episodes five through seven of this series are essentially season 2.5 of The Mandalorian and practically required viewing heading into its third season.
These supporting players orbit Boba Fett and steal the limelight amid an ostensible main plot that struggles mightily to justify its existence. Considering this story is about Boba Fett, we learn little about what actually makes him tick, other than the general idea that he's sick of being a hired gun for idiots that succeed only in nearly getting him killed.
The main plot here is easily the weakest thing about it. While it was fun seeing — in the closing tag of The Mandalorian's season — Boba Fett stroll into Jabba's former palace, shoot Bib Fortuna dead, and sit down on the throne, Jon Favreau and the Star Wars TV overlords seemingly had little idea of where to go from there. Boba Fett's main plot, as he tries to figure out how to move forward as a savvy and magnanimous crime boss in a city on Tatooine that has little desire for such ideas, proves mostly to be narrative quicksand.
Fett, along with consigliere Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), deal with the various figures in the city of Mos Espa, including the mayor who is conspiring with the off-world Pyke Crime Syndicate, but mostly his obsequious majordomo (David Pasquesi). There are various visits by figures to Fett's throne room, who make veiled threats or show signs of disrespect, testing the new boss. And a Wookiee assassin named Krrsantan (Carey Jones) who makes Chewbacca look like a wimp. Also, a conference table scene where Fett gathers the heads of all the crime families to negotiate a truce so they can deal with the real threat posed by the Pykes.
Little of this gains much steam other than being a low-rent Godfather Part III. Consider the entire business of the nightclub run by the character played by Jennifer Beals. It seems like it must be going somewhere ... but it doesn't. Instead, the writers suddenly blow it, and her, up. It's a head-scratcher and, in retrospect, a time-waster. Or consider the crew of modified humans ("the mods") with droid parts willingly installed in them like Borg, who represent some sort of younger-generation counterculture in the city and are recruited by Fett to be his (inadequate) muscle on the ground. There's a sequence, perhaps the low point of the series — where they chase down the majordomo on their hoverbikes — that feels like the ultimate in low-stakes obligatory action wheel-spinning.
Unexpectedly and fortunately, half of this show looks backward rather than forward, and explores how Boba Fett escaped the Sarlacc pit that seemed to be his demise in Return of the Jedi, and how he came to be imprisoned and later adopted by a tribe of Tusken Raiders. These scenes are intriguing and at times fascinating, as the show takes the time and effort to develop a culture around the sand people and show Fett being pulled into an entirely different way of life. The scene where he forges his Tusken staff as a rite of passage is a little masterpiece of fully imagined detail work and world building. The action sequences in these flashbacks are far more involving, because they seem to speak to a point in Fett's life where he was forced to reimagine himself and the causes he represented.
Which brings us to Mando. It's a testament to how much Favreau & Co. have built up the universe of The Mandalorian in two seasons that we practically want to cheer when he shows up here in episode five. But it's perhaps also an indictment on how little urgency there is with Fett trying to reimagine the role of crime boss on Tatooine. Mando's adventures are a thrilling continuation of what happened at the end of last season, starting with his bounty hunting escapade on that wonderfully imagined and visually arresting space station, and his attempts to start anew with the Mandalorian sect that fled Nevarro. We get some more information about Mandalore and the Darksaber, and we see what happens when a Mandalorian in this particular practice of "The Way" strays from the rules: The fanatical absolutists promptly expel him for admitting to having removed his helmet.
From here it's back to Tatooine, where Amy Sedaris shows up again and sells Mando a new ship to replace the destroyed Razor Crest. This new fighter starts out as a bunch of garbage but later becomes the fastest ship in the galaxy. These scenes are impressive in their scope of detail. One of the best things about the Star Wars universe is its tactile ability to make it feel like the things in it were built with real work, time, and patience. All of these scenes hum right along with a confidence and breeziness that's missing in Fett's main plot — which Mando, of course, is invited into for the big finale.
Episode six catches us up with young Grogu and Luke Skywalker on Ossus. The latter is trying to rebuild the Jedi cause. We see his droids building the Jedi temple (which will later be destroyed by Kylo Ren), and Grogu is slated to be his first student. Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) shows up to remind us she has her own spin-off series on the way. We see scenes of training, where now Luke is the master rather than the student. These scenes have a stillness that reflects the quiet introspection that is the Jedi. Perhaps too much so. Luke speaks in hushed tones of excessive formality. It's very Zen Jedi. And perhaps also a side effect of the deepfake technology used to create Mark Hammill as he was in the mid-1980s. The imagery is seamless, but the performance is wooden. (But, again, so were the Jedi of the prequels.) Here, Grogu's bond with the Mandalorian proves to be more powerful than his desire for training as a Jedi, which inevitably pushes him back to his friend so he can be available for Mandalorian season three.
All of this points to the big action climax in the finale, which first turns into the westernest of space westerns possible, with not only the return of Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant), but the appearance of Cad Bane (Dorian Kingi), who has a past with Boba Fett and strolls into town with a cowboy hat that overshadows all else. There's a full-scale assault by the Pykes and their allies, and then Boba Fett riding a rancor to battle two massive droids, which turns the action into a city-leveling juggernaut of mayhem.
All of this is fun, but it surrounds and overwhelms any opportunity to get to the heart of the title character himself, who becomes mostly a prop for all these action beats. And highly stylized characters like Bane only manage to show up the far more utilitarian and gritty performance that Morrison is giving. (Fett's past with Bane is loosely defined here only to be resolved moments later. Bane asks Fett, "What's your angle?" and it's a good question with a perfunctory response.) And, let's face it, Mando and Grogu do so much heavy lifting that they steal much of the show.
All of this is to say that The Book of Boba Fett, for all its shortcomings, is not half bad. It's far more fun than Obi-Wan Kenobi, and its faults are mostly embodied by the embarrassment of riches on display from all the ancillary parts and guests when compared against the show's alleged main goals. And, okay, yes, a main plot that functions mostly as an excuse to do all these other things. And a main character whose motives don't feel fully explored, for all the time spent on them. This series is a weirdly ambitious extension of all the Star Wars things of the past few years, but without a clear through-line to make it feel like it makes sense.
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26 comments on this post
Mon, Feb 6, 2023, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 7, 2023, 11:24am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 7, 2023, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 7, 2023, 8:37pm (UTC -5)
PS Jammer, you got a cool shout-out on tor.com today:
May "Fun With DNA (TM) never die!
Tue, Feb 7, 2023, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
Keith R.A. DeCandido has always been kind with the shout-outs for me, going back two decades when he put in a mention in his Andromeda novel. He pops into the comments here from time to time, too. Good guy.
@Josh, re Andor: (Garak voice) "That. Is a distinct. Possibility." (But no promises.)
Wed, Feb 8, 2023, 1:17am (UTC -5)
Just, if possible, please refrain from referring to the sequel trilogy as if it were canon. In fact, just don't mention them at all ;)
Wed, Feb 8, 2023, 1:19am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 8, 2023, 3:07am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 8, 2023, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Oh, and the sequels exist. And aren't bad. I don't get all the hate, but even if you hate them, they exist as part of the canon.
Wed, Feb 8, 2023, 11:11am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed it while I watched it but it is largely forgettable apart from the Mando/Grogu related stuff.
Wed, Feb 8, 2023, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
Obi-wan's cons, in my opinion, were inefficient use of plot points, excessive "un-killing", and the fact that the Inquisitors are so redundant as characters. Above all, however, the jittercam and terrible lighting really made parts physically painful to watch, especially the first, fourth and sixth episodes. It was the first Star Wars since the speeder chases in VI and I that actually cause me headaches, even on a small screen.
It did have pros- a phenomenal cast, with the best use we've yet seen of Ewan and Hayden, decent use of supporting characters, fantastic choreography undermined by the worst camera work in Star Wars history, and omg Moses Ingraham.
I didn't much care for the character of Reva because she seems so redundant, but she was played perfectly. Her interrogation of Leia chilled me. Not since the pre-disney novelverse return of Aurra Sing have I been this scared by a Star Wars villain. I also love the subtext of a Black actress playing a member of a persecuted group who joins the enforcers of that oppression for good reasons but ends up serving the violence against her own community just as well- a theme that is all too relevant in today's justified outrage over the police killing of Tyre Nichols.
Also, I cared about Owen and Beru for the first time, so that's cool. I also really appreciated little continuity nods like Obi-wan making Luke's model. I agree it could have been better, but honestly if it just had decent lighting I'd bump it up to a 3.5. Probably on the low end of a 3 star rating from me.
Back to Boba Fett though- slow, unimaginative, and apparently hampered by an unwillingness to show the crime lord crimeing. Rancor scenes were cool and tied well into pre-disney lore, and Cad Bane's new look may not have been true to the animation but it was frightening, which I liked. 2.5 seems fair
Wed, Feb 8, 2023, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
Book of Boba Fett was so uneven, strangely so. I loved the flashbacks to his time with the Tuskens, that was great. I loved Mando 2.5. But everything set in the "present" Tatooine was very weak, and towards the end, laughable. The episode towards the end directed by Rodriguez with the Mod Squad in full action was terrible in ways I couldn't understand. Like how was this a finished product? How did they think that would work?
But the whole "Boba was Crime Lord" plot was weak. Boba in a bacta tank, Boba getting nothing done. Heck, it was the Fennic who was the brains AND brawn behind their operation. It was like Boba was tagging along, yet somehow ostensibly in charge.
Overall, the weakest D+ Star Wars show to date IMO.
Thu, Feb 9, 2023, 12:57am (UTC -5)
Yeah I know the sequels exist. I was playin. Sort of.
I could go on for days talking about what I like and dislike about the sequels.. But ultimately they are more a fail than a success for me.
At this point, I just prefer to accept the events of Mandolorian and BOBF as roughly canon and the sequel trilogy as fan fiction.
It helps me sleep at night :D
Thu, Feb 9, 2023, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 10, 2023, 6:33am (UTC -5)
That difference of opinion aside, I agree with your rating of this and also think it doesn't really get good until it becomes Mando 2.5.
Fri, Feb 10, 2023, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 14, 2023, 3:28pm (UTC -5)
Especially when he's so bad at it.
Even the final battle with the Pikes doesn't exactly compute. I mean get that Fett, for whatever reason, wants to run the show on Tattooine and they are moving in on his territory. So that conflict makes is explainable. But truly as an audience, why should we care who wins this turf war? Why is Fett a better crime boss than the Pike or even Jabba? Did I mention Fett kind of sucks at crime?
Speaking of crime, for a crime boss Fett doesn't seem to engage in any of it. Is he running a prostitution ring? Numbers? Drugs? Cause we don't see any of that. Did he remember the point was to make money? From, you know, crime?
At a certain point I am not sure even Boba Fett remembers that he's supposed to be a mob boss and what that entails.
I guess the wholesome "mob boss with a heart of gold" storyline Disney wanted to tell wouldn't work well with Fett trafficking in underage prostitutes.
And by the way: how did Fennick string up those mob bosses at the end *inside their tent*? It looked like those ceilings were 8 feet tops and yet she's hanging them up like she's a hundred feet in the air.
Wed, Feb 15, 2023, 5:54am (UTC -5)
But yes, ANDOR please!
Wed, Feb 15, 2023, 7:45am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 16, 2023, 10:56pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 4, 2023, 6:09am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 4, 2023, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
And yeah... definitely sounded good on paper. "Cybernetic bikers on Tattooinne??? Shut up and take my money! Wait... why the (*!! are the cybernetic bikers the cleanest, most perfectly cosmetic'd people on this desert planet? And why are they riding primary colored space Vespas?"
Sat, Mar 4, 2023, 11:12pm (UTC -5)
NO IDEA what he'd do or why he'd do it. He doesn't do solo gigs, anymore? 8 hours of show and that's what I know?
Sun, Mar 5, 2023, 5:28am (UTC -5)
They remind me of the hipster Gen Z e-bikers from that Tom Hanks movie, Larry Crowne.
Fri, Mar 10, 2023, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 27, 2023, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
I also think BBF is kind of like DS9 in the Trek universe as it is based on Tatooine and about Fett establishing control of a territory as opposed to flying around like Mando did doing different things on different planets. Fett's gotta get his territory in order and ultimately there's a big battle on his home turf.
Some things bothered me a bit about BBF and MAND -- like how technological developments are very selective. People live in rudimentary stone structures but have they ever developed some serious weapons! And the cyber kids really look out of place here, riding around on their colorful bikes etc. There are other anachronisms, if you will...
Terrific production again for BBF just as with MAND and Temuera Morrison brings an air of seriousness and experience to the Fett character -- he really delivered as the lead character when given the chance. But the season pivoted in purpose with Chapter 5 to follow up on MAND S2 - so that undermined Fett as the main character.
As for the crossing of MAND and BBF, this was pretty cool in the grand scheme of things, although Chapter 5 was the weakest of the 7 chapters for me. But I think SW is doing itself a favor by tying these 2 stories together.
I really want to single out "Chapter 6: From the Desert Comes a Stranger" -- loved this chapter with all the Luke training Grogu parts, Mando's desire to see the foundling, and how Luke puts it to Grogu to make a choice. Some wonderful scenery, but also some tragedy as the Marshal is shot and the Pykes bomb the Sanctuary. This was a standout episode.
Chapter 1 - 3*
Chapter 2 - 3*
Chapter 3 - 2.5*
Chapter 4 - 2.5*
Chapter 5 - 2*
Chapter 6 - 3.5*
Chapter 7 - 3*
Ultimately, I don't know how much staying power BBF (or MAND) have as the stories are fairly simple and I think they rely on plots, production, and generating some basic emotional sentiments. There isn't much character development or some kind of thought-provoking "Trekkian values" analogies or analysis. But that's how I've always thought of SW when compared with Trek -- it's a similar but different product altogether.
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