The Book of Boba Fett is not the show I thought it’d be. That statement goes for better and for worse. Read on for my thoughts on this new Star Wars series…
DISCLAIMER: This series is not a jumping-on point for new Star Wars fans, and this article won’t be either. Both I and the show assume you have some passing familiarity with the setting and main character. So, sorry in advance if you’re brand new to the SW fandom. But welcome nonetheless!
The Book of Boba Fett begins with a healthy dose of fan-service as the titled character pulls his way out of the Sarlaac pit (following his apparent demise in Return of the Jedi). His personal timeline soon splits in half. One story tracks Boba’s years alongside a Tusken tribe of Tatooine; the other follows Boba’s attempt to grow a criminal empire in Mos Espa.
Boba Fett fans expected this series to be The Godfather of Star Wars‘ universe– a sprawling crime epic focused on the Tatooine underworld. But what we received was decidedly… not that. The Book of Boba Fett is a narrative mess which never seemed sure what it wanted to be. The building-blocks to something great were all present but they never coalesced correctly!
The series’ first red flag was its abundance of Tusken-focused flashback scenes. I happened to think these were more compelling than the gangster stuff but that’s besides the point. These scenes of intense spirituality and tribal community were entirely at odds with the show’s marketing. People expecting a gangster story got burned because the “Daimyo” (crimelord) plotline accounted for a third of the total season and it was easily the weakest part.
But I DID get Godfather vibes at certain points. So I’ll give BoBF credit there. The whole split timeline setup felt very GF2, showing Boba’s humble beginnings alongside his gangster reign. And one one cool sequence in the season finale strongly called to mind the original GF.
The Book of Boba Fett‘s main story features Fett building support for himself in Mos Espa. His ultimate gangster crew ranges in coolness. Some characters were so badass they could carry a series entirely on their own (and all but carry this show) while others are strange additions for this Star Wars series. Nobody was outright bad but those “strange additions” would have felt more at home on Coruscant or Nar Shadda or Canto Bight than Tatooine.
It’s cool how Boba rules Tatooine’s underworld differently than Jabba. The first few episodes give clear examples of Fett’s unique leadership style. Some of these include: his refusal to be carried through the streets like a noble, his shows of mercy, his patience (to a fault), and his desire to rule with “respect” rather than fear.
The Book of Boba Fett goes to show that, even in crime-infested areas, the quality of criminals makes a difference in communities. Those who get ahead by law-breaking may either hoard their gains or use them to benefit a greater good. Boba intends to use his power for good (mostly).
I was surprised how relatively “decent” Boba Fett appeared in this series. This version of Fett feels at odds with the character we’ve always known (AKA the guy Vader had to specifically request not to disintegrate people). He’s not so ruthless as you might expect. Or at least, he’s working to move away from that image. But the series fails to adequately trace this character-arc, if such a story was ever even intended.
Fett was rarely presented as anything but virtuous. Yet the series finale blatantly references his dark past, insisting he was always a cold-blooded killer– as if we’re supposed to have seen his change play out from past to present. It felt like the writer (Jon Favreau) tried to pay off a redemption arc he never set up in the first place! Seriously: Boba Fett as a “gangster” felt like playing through a fully “light side” campaign of some Star Wars RPG.
Seemed to me The Book of Boba Fett viewed Fett as a good guy who just picked a violent career path and happened to be good at it. Boba Fett had potential for compelling internal conflict, where he could dwell on these seeming contradictions. Yet the series ignores that conflict at every turn and shoots itself in the foot for doing so!
But how were Fett’s motivations which Favreau DID present? Somewhat vague… We don’t even find out why Fett wants to be Daimyo till episode 4! I understand slow-burn stories work by parceling out mystery, but information like this should have been revealed from the start. That would have given some stakes to the plot. As it stands: we mostly watch Boba Fett do mundane gangster things without knowing why. Boba’s character isn’t terrible by any means but the way they wrote him didn’t make his story easy to invest in.
I think Favreau (and crew) knew they were dropping the ball with Fett. Maybe that’s why they committed to their fumble and dropped Fett’s story halfway through the season. There’s two whole episodes where Boba doesn’t speak a word! He’s fails to appear in one of those episodes entirely! That’s pretty bad when his name is in the freaking title and there’s only seven episodes in the season. I desperately wanted to like BoBF, though I’m increasingly disappointed with the series as I type this review.
One of my biggest gripes with BoBF: it lacked an engaging big-bad. Yeah, they subtly built-up a group to antagonize Fett and crew. But said group was a corporation. I couldn’t emotionally invest in their villainy because they were more of a parasite than a threat with compelling goals. Thing is: there was ONE character who would have made a fantastic big-bad this year. But they didn’t bother including them in earnest till the last episode! Felt like a missed opportunity.
At least Temuera Morrison gave it his all, despite his average material. He’s a bright spot in this series, turning in a great performance! One of the most interesting aspects of his portrayal comes with the combat scenes. Boba is usually a stoic person with subtle emotional cues, but he comes alive when he’s fighting! You never see Boba more expressive than during a life or death action sequence. And I think that says a lot about the character without saying anything at all. I’d love to see Morrison return for a second season– or at least a Star Wars project which gives him better material.
Ming-na Wen continues to compel me as Fennec Shand– Boba’s stoic advisor and enforcer. She’s a fun character who gets some good action scenes… and that’s about all. It’s annoying that this is the most I can say for the series’ main supporting character! The Bad Batch used her better in a few episodes than the entirety of this show. I say she deserves better treatment.
I knew early on this series wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a slower, more methodically paced Star Wars adventure. They don’t travel much further than Tatooine (which I actually enjoyed, because it offered a deep dive into Mos Espa culture), and most episodes are light on action. What action there was ranged from decent to barely passable. Yet I was willing to accept all these things if the story was good– and it was mediocre if I’m being generous.
Yet The Book of Boba Fett is a series of contradictions because Episodes 5 and 6 are some of the best Star Wars of all time! I would gleefully re-watch those. But it speaks volumes that these two episodes had almost nothing to do with the main plot. And even these episodes won’t be immune from criticism by the fanbase.
Episodes 5-6 offer enough fan-service to rub lots of people the wrong way (if you weren’t already mad they took Boba Fett’s show out from under him). I tend to enjoy “fanservice” so long as it feels earned within the story’s context. I’m mixed with how BoBF handled theirs… All the fan-service technically makes for the story they chose to tell. I’d buy that certain characters appeared, or had roles in the plot, or do certain things we may not expect them to do. But a large part of me dislikes that Favreau bothered to include these plotlines at all! Book of Boba Fett could just as easily worked without them and, perhaps, been better off in the process.
I feel like Favreau was strong-armed by Disney though. They probably demanded he include certain elements to BoBF for merchandise purposes, or to set up their next few years of Star Wars shows. It wouldn’t surprise me if Favreau and crew had to work around strict executive orders.
I’ve got to list some good things about the show now because I hate to complain:
-Tusken culture is given a show of respect. They are now a complex tribal society instead of savage raiders. And their sequences were some of my favourite in the series.
-David Pasquesi’s Twi’lek character was good comic relief. He added an often-required spark to his scenes.
-Episode 6 contains one of the best visual effects I’ve ever seen.
-Episode 2’s train heist. Awesome!
-One sweet emotional payoff in the finale.
-Boba Fett’s physical vulnerability added stakes.
-The villain I WANTED to be the main villain is intimidating, enticing to watch, and one of Star Wars’ coolest characters.
Truth be told: I’ve got more thoughts on this series than I can discuss in this article without spoilers. I’m already being vague about most of the plot-lines. But if you want more of my thoughts after you’ve finished the series, check out the first episode of my new podcast: Close Up with Ryan and Joe. That’ll release the middle of this week on TPM’s Youtube channel.
BoBF’s biggest misstep was its focus on plot over character. All the worse that said plot couldn’t keep me invested. The characters were intriguing but thinly sketched. And the action wasn’t fantastic either. But this series wasn’t outright bad. Two of its episodes are also exceptional installments of the franchise as a whole! I also liked the story more on paper than in execution. So I can’t draw a line in the sand (Tatooine joke intended) and declare the show a failure. For all its faults I was still entertained.
The Book of Boba Fett is frustrating yet still Worth a Watch for Star Wars fans (if only for Episodes 5-6).
How are you enjoying Disney+ Star Wars content thus far (animation included)? What did you think of The Book of Boba Fett? Please share your thoughts in the comments (no spoilers please). If you have any ideas for future articles, or any questions, let me know. Also be sure to Like this article on Facebook and share if you enjoyed!
Till next time,