The Book of Boba Fett was a bit of a mess.
SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT SEASON 1 FOLLOW
Even the messiest of messes, however, have their shining moments. This show was, let’s not forget, a Mandalorian spin-off, and there’s plenty of good stuff hiding (sometimes very, very deep) in the mix. Many of the faults in this wildly inconsistent season seem to lie at the feet of Robert Rodriguez, who kept his excesses in check for his wonderful stint as director in season two of The Mandalorian.
Here, however, he appears to have taken creative control to some degree. Gone is the restraint and cohesion of Dave Filoni; the excessive CGI, terrible design, technicolour jank, and baffling editing and scripting choices of Rodriguez’s Alita are at the core of The Book of Boba Fett’s frequent dips in quality.
The Rodriguez episodes suffer from an almost amateurish air – the pacing never feels quite right, the performances feel drained of verve, and nothing seems to cohere quite as it should.
Quite a few things need to be addressed after watching the finale, a seventh episode in what feels like a weirdly truncated body of work.
The Book of Boba Fett Finale Recap
First; what the hell happened to the sand people?
After the second episode, a staggering fusion of Lawrence of Arabia and Fury Road, we were left with some incredible toys on the table for the makers of the show to play with. A Tusken child who’d taken to the irascible Boba. A mystical leader offering his hard-earned respect. A mysterious gaffi-stick expert whose almost Batman-level skills had her clearing Syndicate goons from a moving train with lightning speed and deftness.
Then, in the very next episode, Rodriguez kills them all. Off-camera, no less. We see the dead kid, and we see lots of other bodies, but what of Boba’s Tusken trainer? Did she survive? How did this group of trained killers, capable of taking down a train-full of syndicate killers, get completely wiped out? From an in-universe perspective, this thread deserved more closure – certainly more anger from Boba, who really ought to have verbalized things better.
“This is for my Tusken family”, or something to that effect, delivered to Cobb would have worked.
From a production perspective, building up such a terrific and fertile direction for the show only to fridge these fantastic characters in favour of the insufferable “Mods” is creative suicide.
Not since Dex’s Diner has there been such a whiplash-inducingly anachronistic addition to the Star Wars universe. The moody pouting, the gaudy, shitty, slow space Vespas. The fact that these “street urchins”, meant to humanize the people of Mos Espa for Boba thanks to their ongoing struggle to survive, are in perpetually clean, immaculately tailored and clearly pricey clothes, covered with undoubtedly exorbitant tech augments. These kids are doing fine. Putting aside for a moment the fact that they’re a piss-poor trade-in for the Tuskens, they’re also supremely unlikeable, yet Rodriguez relishes placing them right at the heart of the action in this finale.
And what, pray-tell, was our heroes cunning plan?
Place a handful of sentries in a New York-sized city, and, what? Wait? Yep. That’s the plan. My wife, Tegan, barreled me after the episode and almost yelled “why didn’t they go to Jabba’s Palace for the big showdown?”
Good question. No. GREAT QUESTION!
One of the most iconic locations in Star Wars, and one eminently more defensible than a bombed-out casino; sure, those plucky, infuriating Mods insisted that to stay in town was to stay there for the people of Mos Espa. But who are the people of Mos Espa? The Book of Boba Fett has entirely neglected to give them a face, beyond watching generically attired extras huddle mawkishly behind fruit stands.
Mos Espa’s entire alien population seems to be broken up into neat quadrants, and all of them seem on the take, meaning what the mods really mean is “save the human background actors”. It might have a modicum of appeal from their point of view, but why should Boba give a shit?
Because Mando is there.
Mando’s episodes are the best thing about this season. It’s awkward but true – episodes five and six of The Book of Boba Fett rank among the best Mando episodes ever, pulling focus away from the mess of the main plot and taking us on two adventures: Mando’s quest to forge his own unique identity, perhaps one free of the dogma of his creed, and Grogu’s quest to find out whether or not he’s up to becoming Luke Skywalker’s first Jedi student. The season finale yanks us out of the almost stratospheric, dreamlike heights of this two-part story, and dumps us squarely back in the dusty backlot that is Boba’s Tatooine, and in the process, robs Mando and Grogu of the development they seemed to be building towards.
Grogu doesn’t display anything he learned from Luke. God knows he had ample opportunity. Perhaps the reveal that Luke gave him both the vest and the saber, thereby showing that he, too, has moved beyond the binary of the Jedi’s old ways. And Mando tells Boba he still believes in the creed, before failing to put any of his Darksaber training to any real use. Our boys are, however, mercifully unscathed by the episode’s end, jetting off adorably in Boba’s objectively wonderful new ship.
There’s a whole bunch of other stuff left unresolved here; was a bunch of eight or so villagers rocking up really the cavalry they were banking on? Why let Boba be the one to get closure killing Cad Bane? Why not Mando, who actually knew and was friends with Cobb Vanth? And why does Thudercat’s completely unnecessary mod artist need to augment the gloriously unadorned and vulnerable Vanth at all?
He got blasted in the shoulder. We all saw it; everyone sprinted over and popped bandages on his shoulder. I’m wary of Rodriguez; his perpetual raging roboticisation boner could lead us to Vanth having his whole arm replaced. Who knows.
In the end, we got three exceptional episodes of TV our of seven – Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine, Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian, and Chapter 6: From the Desert Comes a Stranger. Two of those were devoid of Boba Fett, and all three were devoid of Robert Rodriguez. I truly hope that moving forward we get something closer to what could have been.
Maybe Obi-Wan, which drops mid-2022, will make good on the potential of a Lawrence of Arabia style story which doesn’t fridge the complex, fascinating Tusken raiders in favour of… this.
The Book of Boba Fett steams exclusively on Disney+.