Warning: The following review contains spoilers!!!
As of February 9, 2022, Season 1 of Star Wars’ latest installment, The Book of Boba Fett, became completely available for streaming on Disney+. Having finished the show myself, I’ve looked at some of the criticisms from Star Wars fans across Social Media. They are accusing showrunners of making Boba Fett “soft” and they have called the final episode from Director Robert Rodriguez “underwhelming” among other things.
I liked the show. It does the job of filling in the holes in the timeline and allowing for more growth to happen between seasons of The Mandalorian and the other post-“Jedi” shows to come. And as for Boba Fett himself, I can only come to the conclusion that the old adage remains true: “Don’t meet your heroes. It’s always disappointing.”
If fans are disappointed, it is only because reality–as it unfolds–does not meet their expectations. Instead of seeing our cold-blooded bounty hunter doing crazy things like his peers would do in Clone Wars and Rebels, we see something different. We see an anti-hero trying to build something for himself while also starting to think about others besides himself. Oh, and it honorably expands Star Wars further away from the linear Skywalker Saga.
Lucasfilm gives Disney+ subscribers a thrilling western adventure with a plot that rhymes many times with some of the pillars of western cinema, like Dances with Wolves, Tombstone, Deadwood, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly while adding another layer of depth and diversity to the ever-expanding Star Wars Universe. We see Temuera Morrison’s Boba Fett cheat death countless times–first by climbing out of the Sarlac Pit–, become a slave of the Sandpeople only to earn their trust and respect, and defend a city and planet against a powerful drug syndicate. And so much more!
Boba Fett was nothing short of a brilliant space western, and it aged Jango Fett’s son as realistically as one can on a fictional planet in a galaxy far, far away. Fans who didn’t like it just weren’t on board for the kid of stories being told by Dave Filoni, Jon Favreau, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Robert Rodriguez. Or, they just didn’t like the fact that Boba was now a changed man who was looking to make peace, go straight, and stake his claim.
But if the Book of Boba Fett showrunners had any real problems with the script, it was balancing backstory, and fan demands while telling a new story.
Background Time: Choosing the Battles
Okay, after George Lucas gave us Boba Fett in Empire Strikes Back, The Star Wars Holiday Special, and Return of the Jedi, the bounty hunter’s story was somewhat shrouded in mystery. Sure, we got to see him as a kid and learn that his father Jango Fett was a bounty hunter and it was his father’s ship and beskar armor that he inherited, and how he became a bounty hunter as a kid after Mace Windu killed his father. But there was very little introspection. And there was still a large time gap between “Jedi” and when he meets Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) in Season 2 of The Mandalorian.
So, that’s why the “flashback” is a thing. In somewhat of a healing, meditative/therapeutic way, we learn how he escaped the Sarlac Pit, how he “goes native” among the Sandpeople, and the son of a Mandalorian becomes a Tusken Raider in his own right. Flashbacks allow us to jump ahead so we also see how he saves Fennec Shand and gets his ship back from Jabba’s Palace then occupied by Bib Fortuna.
But there are some points and characters that needed no introduction. Showrunners didn’t have to go back and explain who the Pyke Syndicate was, save for their relationship with Boba Fett on Tattooine, and they didn’t have to explain who Cad Bane was. All the director had to do was show Cad Bane taking down western icon Timothy Olyphant (Cobb Vanth) in a standoff and movie fans in general who had not seen Clone Wars would understand. (Seriously, they almost broke an unspoken rule of cinema when that happened.)
As far as the plotline itself, I think it is a rather seamless continuation of Tattooine after “Jedi.” Jabba’s dead, Bib Fortuna reigns and divides up most of Mos Espa–NOT Mos Eisley–and Boba usurps Fortuna, only to have his claim disputed over and over again.
Like The Mandalorian and Solo, Book of Boba Fett shows fans how little grip the New Republic, or the Galactic Empire really has on individual planets. As they say “Power hates a vacuum,” and, after all, it pokes fun by showing the mighty X-Wing fighter as nothing more than a glorified police cruiser.
The Book of Boba Fett doesn’t just recycle. It is able to build new stories while still playing with all of the toys in the proverbial toy box. But it looks like it is to fans’ disappointment.
Balancing Fan Fodder
Let me start this section off by saying anybody still using written pre-Disney “canon” to back their disappointment should be used to the changes by now. They’re giving us something new now, and I’m sorry all of those years investing in reading aren’t paying the dividends you hoped.
Now, moving on.
Like parents taking little kids to a new restaurant in the hopes of expanding their little palates, The Book of Boba Fett showrunners needed to feed Star Wars fans something sweet and familiar to help them endure the strange new stuff. So, we got two extra Mandalorian episodes.
We got to see Din Djarin start to learn how to use his darksaber, we saw Grogu (AKA Baby Yoda) training with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and we saw Ahsoka Tano and R2-D2 again.
We also saw fun prequel trilogy references as Din Djarin rebuilds a Naboo Starfighter and takes it around Tattooine quite like Anakin Skywalker did in pod racing. And, Let’s be honest, who didn’t giggle with glee when Ahsoka made the Darth Vader reference and said, “I’m a friend of the family”?
The two episodes clearly served to set up The Mandalorian Season 3, and clearly, Mando was going to reunite with Boba and Fennec for the big finale. But, honestly, I don’t think we needed them to completely tell this Outer Rim story. If anything, I think the success of Boba Fett Episode 5 and Episode 6 proves once again that the Skywalker Saga remains a crutch and a limp for any director looking to explore the Star Wars universe.
But regardless, The Book of Boba Fett–even with these two Mandalorian Episodes–does its job very well.
The Book of Boba Fett Does Its Job
Looking back on this 7-episode series, I cannot think of a better way Lucasfilm and its team could answer so many questions, and push through so much character development to set up the shows that are about to unfold.
Perhaps we needed Boba Fett’s Dancing with Wolves phase to learn what we need to know about the Sandpeople and his run with city politics before the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi–which takes place on Tattooine. Perhaps we needed to develop Boba Fett’s character and Mos Espa in preparation for Mandalorian Season 3. Perhaps we needed to see Ahsoka Tano with Luke Skywalker in anticipation of her own upcoming show. Perhaps we needed Boba Fett to kill Cad Bane to demonstrate his enduring ferocity and make room for an even worse bounty hunter to emerge.
Then again, perhaps I am wrong on all of this. If I am, I still wouldn’t mind. I’m a sucker for a good western and this team did a wonderful job.
To those who are still disappointed, I’m sorry the mysteriousness was unveiled and your hero didn’t turn out like you thought he’d be.