‘The Book of Boba Fett’ Struggles to Find Itself

Disney+

This review contains spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett

The greenlighting of The Book of Boba Fett was no surprise considering its title character’s cult status in the Star Wars fandom. The series picks up where the finale of Mandalorian season 2 left Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) himself. After having vanquished Bib Fortuna and taken over Jabba the Hutt’s former domain, Fett must work to establish himself as Mos Espa’s new daimyo (or presiding crime lord responsible for keeping order in the region). With the help of his right-hand woman Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), Fett will have to prove himself as a worthy authority to people in the town and hold off others who seek his power. 

The series also uses flashbacks to answer some big questions many Star Wars fans may have on their minds: just how did Fett escape the Sarlacc pit? Where has he been all this time? The series shows his escape from the pit and his time spent living and aiding the Tusken sand people. Historically, the films have presented their tribe as purely antagonistic, but the series expands their culture and makes it more sympathetic. It also helps develop Fett’s connection to others and his desire to protect vulnerable people from outside threats. Fett’s unlikely escape and reintegration into the world are important to explain, but these flashbacks take up a major portion of run-time that could otherwise be spent building the stakes for the present storyline. It isn’t clear why Fett even wants to set himself up as the daimyo, and the series lacks clear antagonists for the majority of its run. The main storyline feels thin and uneventful for the first half of the series and only builds with the help of characters brought in toward the end.

For Boba Fett’s place as the protagonist, the biggest blow comes in episode 5 when the Mandalorian (aka Din Djarin or “Mando,” played by Pedro Pascal) not only makes a surprise appearance but steals the show from its lead. The whole episode, directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, belongs to Mando, packing a lot of exciting narratives in, including him wrapping up a bounty hunt, returning to his fellow Mandalorians to discuss his acquisition of the dark-sabre, and rebuilding a starfighter with the always-delightful mechanic Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris). Unlike Fett’s episodes which often drag and feature scattered narratives, episode 5 is streamlined while still offering a variety of action and characterization.

Disney+

In addition to being well-crafted, the episode is also just fun. When Mando takes to the air in his completed starfighter, I felt transported back to 5-years-old, sitting in the same spot in the living room watching my dad’s dollar-store original trilogy VHS tapes. The exhilaration of it just feels like the sweeping cinematic visuals we associate with Star Wars, and although it’s good to remix formulas and introduce new techniques, there was something about watching Mando’s new ship twist and glide through Beggar’s Canyon that feels so exciting and welcome. It’s the opposite of the drag the show has been up till this episode, and only works to highlight pacing issues with the first four episodes.

The series also swerves into heavy Mandalorian territory when it catches up with Grogu during his training with Luke Skywalker and even features the fan-favourite character Ahsoka. In terms of Grogu’s training, it isn’t clear why Luke gives Grogu an ultimatum to decide between his adoptive father and Jedi training. Luke himself did not seem set on severing ties with his own family at the end of Return of the Jedi, especially considering he trains his nephew, so it’s unclear why Grogu must leave Mando behind. Regardless of one’s reaction to Luke and Grogu’s return, it’s clear that the Star Wars creatives are committed to making The Book of Boba Fett matter not just for setting up the third season of The Mandalorian, but for expanding on the beloved original trilogy.

The Book of Boba Fett may not be the continuation of Fett’s story that many fans wanted, but it isn’t a total loss. Although Fett’s characterization and plot setup are weak, the final three episodes feature a lot to enjoy. The finale, sporting plenty of director Robert Rodriguez’s signature flourish, brings together a lot of compelling threads and engaging action sequences. While some of the pacings still feel awkward at times, the finale at least allows Boba Fett to step up and have agency in his own story. Plus, the episode has a rancor. You can never go wrong with including the rancor.

Overall, for die-hard Star Wars fans or anyone wishing to keep up with that universe, The Book of Boba Fett will be required viewing as it sets up the third season of The Mandalorian, and possibly other future projects set in the galaxy far, far away.

The Book of Boba Fett is streaming on Disney+

by Bishop V. Navarro

Bishop V. Navarro (they/she) is a poet, writer, and media studies scholar from Tampa, Florida. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida and currently pursues a PhD in Communication at USF. Her scholarly work examines boundary vulnerability in horror and science fiction media. You can find her on Twitter, Letterboxd, Instagram, and Tumblr @vnavarrowriter 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.