I had such a great time watching the Book of Boba Fett – not only did I have the best company but I also adore spending time in that galaxy far, far away. Six hours of high-quality visuals certainly didn’t hurt my fondness for the ol’ Mouse money cow. That said, much as I wish I could uncritically celebrate this latest series, I struggled with some of the choices made behind the scenes, in tonal. Prepare, dear Reader: Spoilers and grumbling aplenty beyond this point!
The most natural point to start from is Boba Fett himself: all the characteristics that made him a fan favourite back in the Original Trilogy have become a part of our lad Din Djarin, Mando himself. The writers for The Book were forced to redefine Boba Fett in some ways to avoid copying their own work from the two very successful seasons of the Mandalorian. The need to differentiate from the character who stole Boba’s whole schtick in live-action is pretty evident–think of his defining characteristics in Empire Strikes Back: quiet and threatening, not picky where his employers are concerned, willing to disintegrate – it’s literally the Mandalorian before he takes the job that’ll introduce him to Grogu. So the problem of identity is central in this series, and I’m not sure Boba was given a great one. They tried to make him an honourable ronin turned aristocrat, if you’ll allow me this crutch by way of explanation. The man whose whole life has revolved around coin now wishes to foster a community, is not against all crime but has hard limits to some of it…but why is that, again? A throw-away line to Shand shouldn’t quite cut it – give him motivation to hate the spice.
Killing the Tuskans was a mistake – if they’d been left alive, this could’ve been part of Fett’s claim to the throne. He would be both daimyo and allied with the people of the sand – sand power, very much based on Dune’s conception. This could’ve made the promise of “Boba as crime lord” come true in a way the show never delivers. And that, by the by, is not great. When a writing team sets up a certain premise, then fails completely to deliver on that premise–that breaks a certain amount of faith between showrunners and audience.
The dual timelines served little point, breaking the cohesion of the story in a way that seems too gimmicky. I love a good dual timeline in my SFF shows (take the Witcher’s first season, which juggles not two but three different time periods, to great effect) but this conceit is wasted on The Book of Boba Fett. The story of the present, of Fett embracing the role of daimyo of Mos Espa as he cements his rule, comes to a standstill whenever his escape from the Sarlaac Pit and life with the Sand People take over. The solution to this would’ve been simple: have the first two episodes be exclusively in that time period, then cut to the moment Boba discovers and saves Shand, and all the other events that took place in the second season of the Mandalorian.
What’s next, what’s next? Everyone’s mentioned how strange it is that the title character of the show disappears for the better part of two episodes as the audience is reunited with the Mandalorian – that’s a legitimate criticism but I don’t feel strongly enough about it to reiterate it.
I’m insanely creeped out by the continual use of the Luke Skywalker CGI monstrosity. It looks better and better, but it also gives me the jitters–and the face is very clearly animated in certain moments. I’m torn between admiration and confusion at all those who seem untroubled by his continued appearances; I also find the computer-generated voice to be devoid of any but the most surface-level (imitation of) feeling. Please, Corporate Mouse Overlords…recast Luke Skywalker and be done with it (use Sebastian Stan, if you have to).
Next up, I, too, had issue with the Mods – not because I don’t think they belong in Star Wars so much as I don’t think they make sense on Tatooine, not the way they are portrayed. My issue is the following: everyone and everything on Tatooine is weathered by the sand; look at the clothes of Freetown’s denizens, look at any character on Tatooine over the past thirty years of Star Wars. They all show signs of the wear and tear that would come with living in a constant desert clime, always, forever.
Not so with the Mods. Everything they own is shiny, their clothes, their modifications, their Vespas. Even this could be explained away if they were set up as, say, children of the privileged elite but that is not the case, is it? No, they’re instead portrayed as street riff-raff who steal water for their community. I can’t begin to imagine how much water would be necessary to keep all that equipment and those pretty, youthful faces moisturized enough in the arid climate of Tatooine.
Which brings me to a final point – please, no more Tatooine, for all that’s holy in the Jedi Order. I am sick of this bloody desert planet.
Now, onto what I loved:
- The chemistry between Fett and Fennec Shand was phenomenal; Ming Na-Wen and Temuera Morrison carry the show’s first few episodes as far as they can, purely because they click together so well.
- When this show turned into The Mandalorian Season 2.5, things weren’t great for Boba Fett but all the most visually interesting elements of the ENTIRE SERIES were to be found in those two episodes, environment-wise. What we saw in those episodes is a big part of why I’m excited about the Star Wars universe as much as I am – new vistas, promising brand new adventure with new characters.
- Cobb Vanth’s appearance was great – Nando V Movies made a compelling argument as to why it should’ve been Vanth this show revolved around, and not Boba. See it here. Timothy Olyphant needs something to do, give him a show, Lucasfilm.
- Cad Bane’s first (and last?) live-action appearance made for a memorable shoot-out or two. I wish they had employed him a little earlier, though, the show needed a proper antagonistic presence. Cad Bane cut the bill.
- That sweet starfighter fixer upper.
- Danny Trejo is a Star War now.
- Fennec Shand is the coolest ever, isn’t she?
- Black Krrsantan, a Kieron Gillen original, made his live debut! That’s brilliant, that is – and he was proper daunting, nothing at all like Chewbacca.
- The final episode clicked for me, for the most part. Droids, rancors, jetpack fights and Grogu(!!!)
Remember that most part bit? Yeah, I remembered one more issue I have: fighting in Mos Espa rather than in Boba’s Palace. What was up with that? And wherever did Danny Trejo go, anyway? I miss him already.
Welcome back to Sunday Star Wars! Been awhile, happy to have you back, what Star Wars works would you like to read about next? Let me know in the comments below!