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The Book of Boba Fett

The Mandalorian. With its super stylish imagery, phenomenal visual effects, compelling characterizations, and moments that would put many of the non-Original Trilogy entries of the franchise to shame, The Mandalorian became a trailblazer when it first streamed on Disney+. It was a smash hit in its first season already. But when its second season came forth, it pushed itself even further with more focus on Boba Fett, Ashoka’s live-action debut, and even the appearance of Original Trilogy-aged Luke Skywalker in its finale.


So, with this show being a smash hit, Disney+ saw fit to give the go-ahead for a spin-off show focusing on Boba Fett’s adventures to be made, called The Book of Boba Fett. And I think it was a given; Temuera Morrison did a terrific job portraying Boba Fett whenever he was out of his suit, just as much as whenever he was in his suit.


For what we got, however? Well…



Allow me to lay out the storyline for you first.


After the events of The Mandalorian’s second season, the show centered on Boba Fett as he recently claimed the throne on Mos Espa, the former refuge of Jabba the Hut when he was still alive in Return of the Jedi. In the post-credit scene of The Mandalorian’s second season finale, he and his right-hand woman, Fennec, invaded the late Hutt’s palace and gunned down its leader, freeing a group of enslaved aliens. Now, Boba and Fennec had bigger fish to fry. For example, Boba had to face the possibilities of other leaders and head organizations going after the throne where Boba Fett sat. Such people who were after his throne ranged from the Pyke Syndicate to Jabba the Hut’s twin cousins and, later in the show, even Cad Bane from Star Wars: The Clone Wars in his live-action debut. And the rest of the battles lay in Boba finding the strength necessary, no matter who he rallied up for his cause, to ward off the intruding forces intending to encroach upon his territory and the new town he called his refuge and his kingdom.


While Boba went through those struggles, the show also divulged flashbacks centered on him, as shown through Boba’s water chambers. They showed what happened to Boba in-between the events of Return of the Jedi and the beginning of The Mandalorian. Among them was — well, this helps! — Boba living long enough inside the Sarlacc to dig his way out and into freedom through the desert. Unfortunately, after he escaped, he passed out and was stripped of his suit by incoming Jawas, who hightailed it with his suit until Mando found it in Season 2. The rest of his adventures chronicled his wandering throughout Tattooine, including intertwining with a group of Tuskens who kidnapped him but then accepted him as one of their own. But then, after running into a group of bikers and vandals who laid waste to the lands around them, called the Kintan Striders Gang, Boba Fett once again found himself on his own when the Tusken tribe was slaughtered. He thought it was the gang he ran into earlier that massacred his tribe, but once he caught on to who was responsible, Boba soon found himself into a complicated web of spice trades and elite conquests. Soon enough, his wanderings led him to the site of Fennec as Mando left her, and from then on, their alliance and partnership were born.


But those weren’t the only things going on in the show. Believe it or not, the show was also generous enough to rope in Mando for the ride, too. Though maybe it was being a little too generous.



Mando resumed his duties as the gunslinging bounty hunter who traveled through space to hunt down criminals. Only this time, he felt like he continued his duties with a hole in his heart after parting ways with Grogu in his show’s Season 2 finale. What was even scarier to him was that Mandalorians were never supposed to express too much connection with other people, and he had broken his creed of never showing his face by showing it to Grogu before they parted ways and Grogu left with Luke. Mando knew he was in a pickle for this reason, and one thing he had to do, as granted by his leader, The Armorer, was to leave Grogu with a gift made as only Mandalorians could have made them. So, Mando departed to give his gift to Grogu, who was still away training with Luke. While accompanied by Ahsoka, Mando was advised not to interfere with Grogu, for it may have thrown Grogu for a loop concerning his sense of dedication. Would Grogu have wanted to continue training with Luke to be a Jedi, or did he want to stick with Mando on his pursuits almost as a sidekick? In the middle of his quest, Mando was approached by Fennec, who told him of Boba’s plans to hire more muscle to aid him against the Pyke Syndicate. Mando responded by saying it was on the house, accepting her offer before seeing Grogu and leaving him with his gift.


When I first heard of this show, I was compelled to see how well it would have done. The Mandalorian is one the all-time greatest shows ever to have premiered on Disney+, and Boba Fett was one of the most iconic, well-loved characters from the entire Star Wars franchise. Not only that, but as I said, Temuera Morrison did a fantastic job with his character in The Mandalorian, so this show was bound to do right by Boba Fett and tell a story fit for him.


Right?


Well, it seemed like it was almost there, but instead, it fumbled halfway through.


As far as I know, the first four episodes did a terrific job of laying out both Boba’s present as he warded off invading forces from his fortress and Boba’s past as he reemerged a wanderer before meeting Fennec. At first, these episodes’ way of telling Boba’s story was setting up for a sort of character study centered around him. For example, had Boba learned anything ever since he worked for the Empire and after he was left for dead in the Sarlacc’s jaws? And how would he have applied what he picked up from those experiences to his combat strategies as the new ruler of Mos Espa? All those questions seemed to be in place as these four episodes continued.


This does remind me. There are plenty of things this show did as remarkably well as the other entries of Star Wars. The show ensured further exploration into new lands, territories, cities, and planets that housed some unique and fascinating alien communities. For instance, there’s a cantina in Mos Espa that looked like it was part cantina and part casino with gambling slots throughout the facility. It looked inviting, was elegant in structure, and looked like quite a lively place to drink and gamble. And, though misdirected, the setting that Luke and Grogu settled in as Luke had Grogu undergo training looked heavenly, serene, and peaceful. It carried the same essence of feeling like you’re in a haven where good things are promised to you if you stick to your end of the bargain. I can tell that this may have been shot in parts of Asia because I saw plenty of bamboo trees throughout the area. Yet, being that this was set in Star Wars, maybe there were planets like this one that just happened to grow bamboo trees. Who knows? Anything’s possible.


Even Boba Fett’s palace had some excellent elements to it. It looked massive and dreary, while plenty of rooms applied some attractively intimidating touch-ups, like at the dinner table or even with Boba’s headquarters. They all carried varying elements of grandeur, size, and a rusty exterior. For a palace that used to be owned by Jabba the Hut, I can see it gradually reflecting Boba Fett’s character, too, especially when it’s given nice little modifications to match such characteristics.



The aliens? The designs of these creatures were as diverse and otherworldly as you’d want from Star Wars. Though some looked a little generic, they still generally carried an unusual design aesthetic and biological status to help them stand out. Some of them were familiar, like the aliens with the upward heads we’ve seen in A New Hope. But the show still did a terrific job introducing new characters who happened to be the same species as the aliens we’re most acquainted with from previous Star Wars entries, on top of, again, introducing new aliens and alien species into the mix.


Let’s start with one such character, the majordomo of Mos Espa, who was the same species as Hera from Star Wars Rebels. He was unnamed, but he always put up with Boba Fett and Fennec’s repeated demands with somewhat eloquent retorts while trying to sway them away from their intended goals. Now, this character, I’ll admit, I was not very impressed with. Some of his mannerisms were cute, and the acting of this guy by David Pasquesi was not too shabby. But his characterization was generally too helter-skelter, and his lengthy speeches were sometimes grating. It’s like he had C-3PO’s sense of etiquette and some of Jar-Jar’s deliveries. It wasn’t the most fruitful mixture, and it made him feel a bit intolerable on rare occasions.


Another part of the show that hit its mark was the action scenes. Despite some of the show’s problems — I’ll explain more about that soon — the action scenes surprisingly conveyed a slight quietness to its otherwise more severe and massive circumstances. It’s like it’s a bit subdued while letting the more serious parts of the action seep through. The fights between Boba Fett, or Mando, and the criminals were all choreographed with a sense of style and conveyed them in the same vein as we would generally view any major action scene throughout Star Wars.


And before I forget: the visual effects. What can I say? They’re fantastic. Just like The Mandalorian, they did an excellent job of taking the alien worlds, the aliens themselves, and the countless environments and translating them with the utmost believability and flesh-and-blood-esque appearances. So, once you see the characters in action, you can feel the movement, like the aliens really were there and the characters really were fighting enemy forces. And, of course, Grogu was still perfectly animated through puppetry. He was still portrayed with a more genuine essence, thus letting him leave his mark in typically adorable Grogu-y fashion. In the scenes with Luke Skywalker present…who are we kidding? Mark Hamill continued to do justice with this character as he was again de-aged to match his late-1970s-early-1980s self, and thus, Luke Skywalker himself. Luke looked nice, he talked very elegantly, and his general complexion still carried the same nobleness we recognize so well from the Luke of the Original Trilogy.



The characters all carried the same cool stylishness that made them so recognizable, but they may not have been established with as much complexity or intrigue with them as you’d think. Boba Fett, obviously enough, had enough characterizations going on with him to keep him engaging during his adventures either after the Return of the Jedi or in the present when he took over Jabba’s palace. For one thing, there’s a part of him who felt like he wanted to be his own ruler, not someone else’s plaything or minion. It tied into his unpredictable nature as a bounty hunter; as Rick Blaine from Casablanca would’ve said, he “stuck his neck out for nobody.” Instead, whatever task he had to uphold, he had done so that he could’ve collected the promised bounty. But other times, Boba started wondering if some of the events he endured were beginning to reach personal waters for him, starting with the death of his father, Jango, in Attack of the Clones, or even the slaughtering of his fellow Tusken tribe. All these challenges tested him on where his loyalties lay and if he had any to benefit from. So, I guess his partnership with Fenneck was the first big step into forging allies with whom he shared a common goal.


Now Fennec herself? I don’t know, she usually just stood around with her intimidating looks and complexion, standing by Boba Fett whether he was on his throne or wandering throughout town. And every time she engaged in battle, she flew in her suit with her space pistols at the ready. I don’t remember that much out of her character, frankly. The scenes where she talked with Boba about his troubles before and during his reign at Jabba’s palace were intriguing because they invited some exposition from both characters. However, as far as I can recall, I still can’t say it was enough to elevate Fennec to a level of intrigue that would’ve benefitted her in the long run.


The Tusken tribe had some exciting things going on with them. These people were Tattooine natives, and for the most part, they didn’t even verbally communicate very much with one another or with Boba, I don’t think. I think three things would’ve helped these characters become more engaging. One is if more time was devoted to these characters. The other is how they got some more exposition about how they did their thing on Tattooine, besides mingling with the ongoing spice trades. And the third is what kind of connection they may have established with Boba. Maybe then they might have been more exciting characters when delved into the right way.


Now, there’s one character who I thought looked very compelling. This character was a Wookie, just like Chewbacca, only he had black fur and felt much gnarlier. His name was Krrsantan, and for my money, his arc in this show was far more admirable. He started as a spy sent in by Jabba the Hutt’s twin cousins to hunt down and kill Boba Fett. But after he was taken hostage and captured as a prisoner of war, soon, Boba Fett let him go free. Then, after some consideration, he allied himself with Boba Fett to help him in his raid against the Pyke Syndicate. A part of me wished that, without any dialogue, he expressed more about his sense of alliance and why he would’ve wanted to fight against whoever he was requested to kill. However, the dilemmas he went through in the show already, and still without dialogue from him, were compelling enough. He was almost like the opposite of Mos Espa’s majordomo.



The next band of characters seemed a little too gimmicky and roguish, but they were still somewhat intriguing additions to the show. They happened to be a band of teenage troublemakers who started as pranksters and thieves before being confronted and then taken in by Boba Fett. They didn’t display much personality outside of being city urchins first. After Boba Fett took them all in, they did their duties as followers and potential gunslingers. The girl, Drash, seemed to feel like the group’s leader since she always concocted their methods of attack against the Pyke Syndicate and coordinated them with her friends. Now, this was an interesting angle to explore with her character. Much like with the Tusken tribe, these characters could’ve become more interesting if they had the screen time and exposition necessary to display them as worthy additions to Boba Fett’s growing army of loyal affiliates and warriors. Come to think of it, they might’ve served as the next band of followers for Boba to have looked after, like they could’ve been his Tusken Tribe 2.0.


The following case I must make here might be the most jarring part of the whole series. And that is the arrival and participation of Mando and Grogu in Boba’s personal affairs.


The first four episodes chronicled Boba Fett’s settlement and uprising in his newly occupied palace from Jabba the Hut as he prepared to face off any foe who wanted to usurp him, seize the throne and claim rulership of Mos Espa. Even the flashbacks I spoke of, with Boba’s background with the Tuskens, were spliced in-between his present ongoing battles. But then, Episodes 5 and 6 mostly centered on Mando and his troubles after his show’s second season finale. On their own, the episodes were nicely written, nicely shot, well-characterized, and did a terrific job of continuing Mando’s story with as much engagement as possible. But while these were all nice on their own as far as Mando was concerned, when we must judge them as episodes of The Book of Boba Fett, suddenly this becomes a huge problem. Because then, this assessment makes these episodes feel out of place and out of focus. Rather than continuing the plot and dilemmas of Boba Fett and his affiliates, which was the center of attention from the get-go, the show decided to shift the attention to Mando and his struggles after he left Grogu. And once that was all settled, only then did the show revert to Boba Fett’s dilemmas, but not without balancing it out with Mando and his struggles.


And the finale, though delivering on the action, felt more bombastic than it was action-packed and gripping. Because everyone who had the remotest connection to Boba Fett and his ongoing issues was involved, the heroes just went all out, firing their guns at everyone who lunged after Boba Fett and his associates, with all the innocent onlookers fleeing for safety. And, once the bad guys were all defeated, the last five or eight minutes of the battle centered on an overgrown beast Boba Fett befriended earlier in the show, a Rancor, who was in a frenzy and had to be calmed down before he was mistaken for too long as a threat and put down.


The commitment apparent not just in the season finale but also in the show was just all over the place. And I think the biggest reason for that lied more with the show’s directing and pacing.


The directing part was shocking because one of the show’s producers and directors was Robert Rodriguez. Though I haven’t seen many of his films, I understood that he was more of a style-over-substance kind of guy, which was apparent primarily here in the show. The show felt guaranteed to benefit from eye-opening character exposition and fruitful storytelling to be done with its characters, but it made the occasional mistake of emphasizing the stylish essence of the scenes and character interactions than the story and characterizations themselves. Even the actors, like Temuera Morrison and Ming Na Wen, all felt like they had so much to carry out for their roles and wanted to give their characters and the show more than they dished out. But the directing was such that it all muddled their potential. Even that was apparent in the first four episodes, despite the four episodes’ storytelling being nothing but compelling.



Now, I thought the acting itself was very nicely done. As I said, the actors felt a bit restrained in their capabilities to bring more to the table than they were asked to. But in the limited time that they were allowed to hone their characters and have them do what they were meant to do, they still made them at least feel slightly interesting. Not that that was enough to carry on throughout the show — although it was sometimes — but it is still worth mentioning, regardless.


The movements, dialogue, and performances with Mando’s side of the story felt very nicely delivered, as he honed my investments in his character’s arc and dilemmas. But once again, this was a massive disservice to The Book of Boba Fett since this show was supposed to focus on Boba Fett, and Mando may potentially have meant to be a side character tagging along with Boba Fett and his quests. The episodes in which Mando starred belong more in The Mandalorian than they do in The Book of Boba Fett. In fact, they could easily have been classified as “The Mandalorian: Season 2.5.”


And as for the general energy from Boba Fett’s side of the story, there just wasn’t enough investment from the actors or the directors to help this show stand out as a worthy spin-off of The Mandalorian. It just laid out the story of Boba Fett at Mos Espa for the first four episodes and then decided to revert to Mandalorian ethics and throw Mando and Grogu into the mix, focusing on them in a way that took time away from Boba Fett when it was required. So, when it came time for the season finale, the focus was so scattered that I wasn’t sure whether Boba should’ve been the focus or if that honor belonged to Mando.


It’s not like Lightyear, where it sometimes tried a little too hard to separate itself from its originating franchise. By contrast, The Book of Boba Fett didn’t try hard enough to set itself apart from The Mandalorian. Instead, it relied too much on the originating show’s cool factors rather than relying on its own creative instincts.


The pacing was problematic, too, because the first four episodes did a neat job of laying out the background and ongoing circumstances with Boba Fett and his slowly-building crew. And yet, I didn’t feel like there was enough time devoted to the characters or the ongoing events to reel us into Boba’s dilemmas and have us feel the same investment out of his endeavors that we felt with those of Mando. So rather than seven episodes in its first season, perhaps it could’ve benefitted from ten episodes and softened Mando’s involvement in the show a little. Then you would’ve had a more promising first season of a show centered around Boba Fett and his endeavors.


And finally, the story. Just like the characters and performances, it had so much potential that it could’ve been exploited to extraordinary measures if given the time and focus necessary to benefit Boba’s development and that of his newfound friends. Boba Fett trying to maintain control in the last place he was active while trying to be his own boss? Boba reliving scarring memories that challenged him before and after his times with Jabba the Hut? Boba starting to grow into a potentially cleverer and more threatening, if not more humane, bounty hunter? Boba requesting the help of Mando to aid him in his battles against the oppressive forces? Those all sounded like it could’ve guaranteed an epic first season of a show that Boba fans would’ve paid top dollar to see.


Instead, for what we got and what the show started with, I feel like it was nothing but squandered. What could’ve been a genuinely epic setup for Boba’s story arc had its moments, but it also fell short because of not delivering on everything promised of it and the last half of the show redirecting its focus where it shouldn’t have. The actors were as terrific as they could’ve been, the storytelling in place was beyond promising, the characters all looked fabulous, engaging, and begging for more character exposition, and the visual effects, battles, and worldbuilding still seemed on par with The Mandalorian and the movies before it. But, in the end, it was numbed by its narrative focus being all over the map, topped off with insufficient directing, improper pacing, and an overabundance of Mando and his dilemmas when it should’ve focused on those of Boba Fett.


As of this writing, there’s no word yet whether The Book of Boba Fett will even get a second season, though some signs indicate that it will. Not only that but The Mandalorian’s third season is just getting started in its production. So, if The Book of Boba Fett ever receives a second season, I only have four words to say to that:


Less Mando, more Boba.


My Rating

B



Additional Thoughts


The conversation between Ahsoka and Luke felt incredible, but for more reasons than just roping in many Star Wars icons in one scene. When I watched Ahsoka talk with Luke over Grogu’s potential as a possible Jedi-to-be, I felt touched knowing that Ahsoka was speaking to the son of her late master from back in the Clone Wars. I can’t explain it. There’s just something about it that felt so tender as it went on.

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