Much of the recent Disney Star Wars decisions have me asking myself asking: “What was the plan here? What was the point of all this?” In my view, The Book of Boba Fett is a show that never really needed to be made, but after watching it chronologically through a second time I appreciated it a bit more I suppose, or at least more than the messy sequel film series. Boba Fett is a mildly entertaining coda to The Mandalorian or perhaps at least a bit of nostalgia-bait as an epilogue to Return of the Jedi. However, with the inclusion of a colorful scooter-riding millennial gang and the entire disappearance of Boba Fett for a portion of the show, as well as its disappointing ending, I hesitate to say this show had some solid potential on the front-end but ultimately it fell victim to the flawed inconsistencies and complete lack of planning which plagued Disney’s extraordinary mishandling of the Star Wars franchise. In addition, it was also disappointing for me to learn that Boba Fett, once a ruthless assassin in the original trilogy, has now transformed into a compassionate defender of the downtrodden. This really was an unfortunate direction to take one of the more mysterious and alluring characters from the original trilogy. At least for the time being there were some engaging moments, particularly those concerning Din Djarin, the Mandalorian.
The Book of Boba Fett begins by acknowledging a fact which many fans have now accepted as lore –that Boba Fett (reprised by Temuera Morrison) managed to escape from the Sarlacc Pit into which he was cast in Return of the Jedi. However, now Boba Fett seems like a wholly different character. He is tired and old, and much of his outrageous fight choreography is entirely unbelievable. On the plus-side, there are a few terrific nods to Samurai, Gangster, and Western films in the series, but on the whole it suffers from a wandering narrative which is mostly uninteresting and entirely subordinate to the far superior Mandalorian program.
Much of the show is told in a series of flashbacks explaining how Boba Fett and fellow assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) have become the new rulers of Jabba the Hutt’s criminal syndicate on Tatooine. In “Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land” (directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Jon Favreau) Boba Fett escapes an assassination attempt on Tatooine. While recovering in a bacta tank, the show flashes back to his escape from the Sarlacc Pit where he is left for dead in the desert by Jawas who steal his beskar armor, and he is then taken prisoner by Tusken Raiders. However, when a large sand creature attacks the Raiders, Boba Fett saves them by killing the creature thus earning their respect. This backstory continues for a couple episodes in which Boba Fett’s change of character is examined through the trials of the nomadic Tusken Raiders.
In “Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine” (directed by Steph Green and written by Jon Favreau) Boba Fett and Fennec Shand hunt down the assassins who attempted to kill them in the first episode. The Mayor of Mos Espa leads Fett to believe “the twins,” or Jabba the Hutt’s cousins, were the ones who placed the hit along with their bounty hunter Wookie Krrsantan. While lying in his bacta tank, Boba Fett flashes back to his time among the Tuskens as they stage an elaborate and compelling train robbery akin to the many tropes of old Westerns as it hovers across the Dune Sea. The train is operated by a rival gang known as the Pyke syndicate who will now have to pay a tribute to the Tuskens for passing through this region. Fett is further welcomed into the Tusken clan when he takes a strange religious pilgrimage which grants him his prized gaffi staff.
“Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa” (directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Jon Favreau) begins with a compelling premise in which a flashback reveals that Fett’s band of Tusken Raiders were all brutally murdered, presumably by the Pyke Syndicate. However, the flashback is short-lived when the Wookie Krrsantan suddenly appears and tries to assassinate Fett. When “the twins” come to apologize for the hit they offer a Rancor beast as tribute. Fett releases Krrsantan (an act of benevolence which is strange coming from a bounty hunter) and he becomes the Rancor’s master. Sadly this episode goes completely off the rails when a colorful scooter bike gang suddenly becomes friendly with Fett and begins working for him (the episode ends with a ridiculously awful chase scene involving the scooter bikes).
“Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm” (directed by Kevin Tancharoen and written by Jon Favreau) concerns a flashback to Fett’s attempt to break into Jabba’s Palace now ruled by Bib Fortuna and retrieve his ship in order to take his armor which is apparently still resting inside the Sarlacc Pit (I thought it was confiscated by Jawas?) Of course, in The Mandalorian series we learn that Boba Fett later kills Bib Fortuna and claims Jabba’s vassals, but he intends to rule Mos Espa as a benevolent dictator of sorts. Just as audiences were starting to lose interest in this show, the next episode takes an entirely different turn.
In what is by far the best episode in the series, “Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian” (appropriately directed by Bryce Dallas Howard and written by Jon Favreau) we are offered an introduction to the forthcoming third season of The Mandalorian. The entire episode pays almost no attention to Boba Fett. Din Djarin collects a bounty and then travels to a ringed city reminiscent of Niven’s Ringworld or the Halo series. He delivers the dark saber he won from Moff Gideon in Season 2 of The Mandalorian to the last remaining Mandalorians in his clan. He is then outfitted with an old N-1 spacecraft reminiscent of those first seen in The Phantom Menace. Fennec Shand approaches Din Djarin for help in the growing battle of crime bosses on Tatooine, to which he agrees but first he decides to pay a visit to an old friend.
The last two episodes of Boba Fett are “Chapter 6: From the Desert Comes a Stranger” (directed by Dave Filoni and jointly written by Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau) and “Chapter 7: In the Name of Honor” (directed by Robert Rodriguez and Jon Favreau). They are two parts leading up to a rather anti-climactic battle royale as Din Djarin comes to the aid of Boba Fett, and after an extended interlude with a CGI Luke Skywalker and Grogu, and a return of the minor characters from The Book of Boba Fett, a random appearance of Cad Bane (a character from The Clone Wars series) Boba Fett mounts the Rancor and storms through the streets of Mos Espa killing all of his enemies.
Some things I found compelling about this show included: the world-building on Tatooine (meeting a water farmer, the busy marketplace, the hustle-bustle cantina, the elevated “twin” Hutts), as well as expanded backgrounds for the Tusken Raiders and the Rancor. However, there was also a great deal of disappointment (the colorful scooter bike gang, the meandering narrative arc, the age of Boba Fett, and so on). Generally speaking I’d say this was a mediocre program, or at best a mildly entertaining glimpse of Boba Fett’s story post-Return of the Jedi. My guess is this series was in process with several wonderful ideas from Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, but Disney’s corporate demands hastily pushed through the show before it was fully realized. At any rate, following the success of The Mandalorian, Disney now intends to launch many new spin-off shows including an Obi-Wan Kenobi show starring reprisals from Ewan McGregor and also Hayden Christensen as Anakin/Darth Vader; a Rangers of the New Republic show, an Ahsoka show, a Rogue One prequel show called Andor, a female-centric show called The Acolyte, and even a Lando spin-off.
Ranking My Favorite Book of Boba Fett Episodes:
- “Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian”
- “Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine”
- “Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land”
- “Chapter 6: From the Desert Comes a Stranger“
- “Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm”
- “Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa”
- “Chapter 7: In the Name of Honor”