Disney+ has recently released the season finale to its second live action Star Wars series with The Book of Boba Fett. The show follows the exploits of the famed bounty hunter turned honorable crime lord, Boba Fett. With his right-hand assassin Fennec Shand by his side, the duo patrol the desert planet of Tatooine, righting the wrongs done to the planet’s inhabitants as they look to create a more fair and just society to rule over. At least, that’s the story I *think* The Book of Boba Fett was trying to tell me. Because even after watching through Boba’s seven episodes, I’m not really sure of the story it wanted to tell.
With this show acting as a spin-off to one of the streaming service’s biggest successes, The Mandalorian, it’s fair to say that Boba Fett had big shoes to fill. Many of The Mandalorian’s crew returned for the project. Creative leads John Favreau and Dave Filoni were accompanied by returning directors Robert Rodriguez and Bryce Dallas Howard. However, with so much of The Mandalorian crew returning to the show, The Book of Boba is hindered by the feeling that it is something that we have seen before. It robbed The Book of Boba Fett the chance of being able to find its own soul, leaving it to be nothing more than a less polished version of The Mandalorian.
In the case of Robert Rodriguez, he has been given more responsibility with the handling of this series. Since he had helmed The Mandalorian episode that helped to reintroduce Boba Fett back into the galaxy, it would only make sense for him to return for the spin-off. With him not only receiving a producer credit, he is being given the lion’s share of the directorial duties, directing the most episodes for the season. Sadly, the episodes that he directed (eps. 1, 3, & 7) were some of the worst the season had offered.
A big problem I find with some of his action sequences is that they lack a lot of continuity to them. For Rodriguez’s fight scenes, the placement of background characters and what they’re doing changes from shot to shot. It’s a little thing, but when his scenes cut around as much as they do, it’s hard to get a good sense of what’s happening on the screen. It turns his action scenes into the equivalency of white noise, as they have no proper flow or pacing to them. The third episode in particular has a ridiculous chase scene that is way too slow to ever be considered thrilling. The only thing I could think about while watching it was, “Yeah…this is definitely the guy who did Spy Kids.”
This contributes to what I find to be The Book of Boba Fett’s greatest issue: inconsistency. From its action to its story, Boba never really seems to hit its stride where the series really feels like its own. The story especially struggles with this as the first half of the season is plagued by flashback scenes. While it is interesting to see how Boba Fett escaped death and him adapting to a new culture, we spend so much time looking back at Boba’s past, that it becomes hard to get an understanding of the present time’s politics. At some points it’s hard to even say what the reasons our lead is even fighting for. Once the flashbacks subside, it’s implied the show will start to focus on the crime drama elements more. With a now fully healed Boba Fett, we’ll be able to see a return of the bounty hunter at his full potential… but we don’t.
That is because midway through the season, the show gets hijacked to focus on the story of The Mandalorian. For two whole episodes, Boba Fett takes a backseat (not uttering a single line for both episodes) so that the show can expand upon plotlines set up in season 2 of The Mandalorian. Characters who have not appeared until this point in the season, characters that you would have had to watch The Mandalorian to know about, are treated as people that you SHOULD know. Not to say these episodes are bad; they’re some of the season’s best. It just muddies the waters a bit on what’s being shown to the point where you’ll forget that you’re even watching a show titled The Book of Boba Fett.
The thing is, I do know the characters that show up in these scenes. Personally, I find it fun to see characters like Ashoka Tano or Luke Skywalker showing up in a live action series again. I just can’t help but think about the perspective of someone picking up The Book of Boba who doesn’t know the history behind them. Should a viewer going into what is considered a standalone show, need knowledge of what happens in other shows?
The main antagonist of the show is Cad Bane, a character who made his debut in the Clone Wars animated show ten years ago. His transition into live-action is great to see, especially with how menacing the costume that brings him to life is. His introduction helps to bring a real sense of danger to the series that it was really lacking up until that point. But when it comes to how he really impacts the show’s story, he definitely highlights the show’s lack of any meaningful storytelling.
In The Book of Boba Fett Cad Bane talks about his past with Boba Fett and how he trained him as a boy. This has never really been a thing except for a cut storyline from the seventh season from the Clone Wars, which delved into the training of a young Boba Fett, and eventually ends with a duel between Boba and Bane. But, is it fair to just expect the general public to know about a deleted storyline from a decade-old show? I don’t think that this should be the new norm for storytelling. That “fun facts” will be the replacement for some much needed context that the show doesn’t provide.
Sadly, when it comes to telling stories in long running franchises, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore though. If there’s something in it that doesn’t make sense, it’s simply the watcher’s fault for not knowing. Then they can just look up a Youtube video or Wikipedia article that can explain it all for them. Maybe it helps at making people more invested, but sometimes it feels more like an excuse to make something new. That’s another flaw of the show: sometimes it feels like there’s more cameos than characters. [For more in depth analysis on Star Wars & Fan Service, I recommend checking out Matt Berrian’s article]
Regardless of all this, I can still say that I did have a good time with the show. Book of Boba gives you all the things that you’d want to see when going into a Star Wars TV show. The visual elements, the aliens, spaceships and lightsabers all look as great as they have before. When directors outside of Rodriguez control an episode, the action can be really entertaining and fun to follow. To give Rodriguez credit though, watching Boba Fett ride a rancor and tear through a city really tickles that kaiju loving part of my brain.
An element I will absolutely gush about for the show is the costuming. The majority of the cast consists of alien species, so a lot of work is needed for them to feel real for the viewer. While some have CGI helping them, most of the weight being pulled to bring these creatures to life is definitely from the practical effects, with all of the suits the cast wear having great little details on them. Along with some really excellent set work of sand covered cities with rusted machinery that contrasts well with Jedi temples in bamboo covered forests, which feel like they came right out of the samurai films that inspired the franchise, Book of Boba definitely does capture the feeling of “watching a lived in galaxy” that the franchise is known for.
I can say that those elements allowed me to enjoy my time with The Book of Boba Fett. I believe that a lot of people can get some fun out of it on an episode to episode basis. It’s just now that it is all finished, I look back on it with a feeling of just wanting more. Especially in the story department, I wish I could’ve seen more depth to the newer characters that the show presents. It isn’t a good sign that there is a scene in the finale where Boba Fett is asked, “What’s your angle?” and my instant thought is, “Yeah, what is his angle?” There is definitely enough potential for this show to improve with a second season. With a more focused plot it can start to feel like its own standalone show. As of right now, The Book of Boba Fett just feels like a The Mandalorian fan film.