Review: Book of Boba Fett is a seismic blast of a good time

NOTE: This review contains spoilers for Book of Boba Fett

“Cool” is the first word that comes to mind when the name of the infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett is mentioned. Fett was the Darth Maul before Darth Maul, a silent killer whose mere presence spoke volumes. His vertically flying spacecraft, Slave II, is one of the saga’s stealthiest and greatest vehicles. What he lacked in original trilogy lines, Fett made up for in his iconic status and impeccable reputation, up until he was consumed by the Sarlacc in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Fett’s return to the Star Wars universe, teased out brilliantly in season two of The Mandalorian, built on this epic foundation and culminated in what was by all accounts a successful and satisfying reintroduction for a seemingly dead character (more believable than Darth Maul’s return, for sure). And The Mandalorian knew how to use him, recreating this elder version of Boba as a more-than-capable fighter but one who also stuck to his moral code. Best of all, Temuera Morrison, the actor behind Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones and the rest of the clone army, made the leap to the silver screen to play Boba. The success of The Mandalorian opened an avenue for Lucasfilm to pursue a failed film idea and instead turn Boba’s story into a spinoff show, which became Book of Boba Fett

Seven episodes later, the Tatooine dust has yet to settle on the Book of Boba Fett. The critical consensus focused on the series’ relative lack of direction as compared to The Mandalorian and on Boba as a less-than-compelling protagonist. In the Disney era Star Wars hierarchy, BOBF seems to have slotted in ahead of Rise of Skywalker, much of the sequel trilogy and immediate predecessor The Bad Batch, but behind the beloved The Mandalorian and Rogue One projects. 

I can get behind that assessment, but my personal take on the show has an extra layer of nuance. The Mandalorian, the best direct comparison, had higher peaks than Book of Boba Fett — specifically the finales of Seasons 1 and 2 — but Book of Boba Fett was more consistently interesting and great, delivering every single week. While flawed, Book of Boba Fett engaged established characters and locales in ways that celebrated Star Wars and guaranteed a rollicking adventure each Wednesday night. 

I’ll start with the good first, since my opinion of this show can definitely be described as glowing. Boba Fett’s backstory, between the Kamino flashbacks and post-Sarlacc tales, executed its aim exactly, with the most backstory-heavy episode, “Chapter Two,” ranking on the top tier of the show’s episodes. Fennec Shand worked well as a sidekick in Fett’s rise to power on Tatooine, and every action sequence the two shared shined. I also loved a couple of the side characters that are relatively recent Star Wars creations that made appearances: sheriff Cobb Vanth along with two Clone Wars regulars in bounty hunter Cad Bane and Ahsoka Tano. And I can’t neglect to mention Danny Trejo’s cameo as a rancor tamer character, or the literal rancor itself. I also can’t forget the recurring use of the bacta tank, my favorite non-lightsaber Star Wars invention. The public anticipation and reception in real time certainly factored into a sense of importance and weight that amplified the viewing experience.

Of course, I’m obligated to touch on the appearances of Disney’s new star Mandalorian, Din Djarin, as well as Baby Yoda/Grogu and Luke Skywalker. A common and worthy gripe is that the first two, already the stars of their own show, stole Boba’s thunder in a couple episodes. The first Mando-only episode ranks as my least favorite in the seven-part series, but overall all three added to the overall show, and Luke especially. Disney needs to capitalize on prime Luke as much as it can, because leaving Luke Skywalker off at the end of Return of the Jedi and not coming back until (really) The Last Jedi misses out on the potential to explore the keynote character of the franchise. The CGI was so on-point in this that Luke was doing flips with the full illusion of deaging still intact — that episode blew my mind and also makes my top tier. Grogu’s Order 66 flashback may have been the most emotionally jarring and visually perfect 15 seconds of television I have ever seen.

So, to recap, there are significant gripes, but for me they did not diminish from my enjoyment of the show. Good Star Wars is good Star Wars, and I just can’t justify having the superficial factors of expectations or the simple title of a show be the reason a show “flops” while the action and characters are so doggone fun. Book of Boba Fett lived up to how good it should have been as a spinoff of an existing show and gave me something to look forward to every week, and that’s good enough to satisfy my TV tastes.

But half the fun of assessing Star Wars content nowadays is picking it apart (sequel trilogy demolitions are one of my irresistible YouTube rabbit holes), so I’ll also play fixer-upper and offer my insights into what could have improved this show. The problems, as I saw them both in real-time and afterward, are concentrated in Boba’s attempt to be a crime boss ruling with respect. Boba Fett is taking over the throne previously occupied by Bib Fortuna and the Hutt clan, but aims to rule over his territories with respect. True, the backstory explains why this cold-hearted killer changed into a good guy with a conscience, but this is a criminal empire we’re talking about. Tatooine in Star Wars is a more barren version of the New York of The Godfather, and I can guarantee that the Tattaglias and Corleones wouldn’t have let Fett off the hook if he was a benevolent ruler.

Both the Boba Fett rebirth and crime empire concepts are potent ideas within the Star Wars universe, but the marriage is a bit curious. Sheriff Cobb Vanth is exactly what Boba Fett wants to be, but on a smaller scale and with less expectation. Every scene with him in this show and Mando had a distinct Western feel, and his compassion for his town shined through and made him a standout character. On a larger scale, the criminal empires run by Darth Maul in the late seasons of the Clone Wars and Crimson Dawn in Solo gave Star Wars exciting room for expansion beyond the Jedi-Sith binary, and having a no-holds-barred character like Cad Bane in this type of a role in this section of the Star Wars timeline would have made a ton of sense (that guy is scary!). Or maybe — hear me out on this — Book of Jango Fett, a show set in the prequel era with Morrison just goin crazy on the galaxy.

Boba’s just too Disney-fied of a protagonist at this point to help me fully wrap my head around him as a ruler — there’s just not all that much separating him from Din Djarin by the final episode. My other gripes are Tatooine overload (especially before the real good stuff, Kenobi, arrives in May), a rather predictable final episode in relation to the rest of the season’s content and the ruthless destruction of a perfectly capable Gonk droid in one of the battle sequences (rest in power, king). 

Dwelling on those near misses could take me all the way until Kenobi’s release, but I’m pretty happy with the series that we got here. For every flaw, there’s twice as many awesome character reveals and battles, and Lucasfilm just gets better and better at the technical aspects of these shows. Translation: we’re in a good place as Star Wars fans, and I’m fully ready for the next adventure.

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