This review is spoiler free
by C.J. Delaney, staff writer
FEBRUARY 2022 —“Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett” debuted on Disney+ in December of 2021 as a spinoff of “The Mandalorian.” Jon Favreau returned to write all seven episodes, with the sixth being co-written by Dave Filoni. As the title suggests, the show centers around the legendary bounty hunter turned “crime lord,” Boba Fett (Temura Morrison), and his attempt to protect the city of Mos Espa from the Pyke Syndicate.
During its short run, “The Book of Boba Fett” not only failed to create a compelling story, but also failed to live up to the expectations created by the second season of “The Mandalorian.” It was also unsuccessful in delivering interesting characters. The plot is messy, confused, and forgets what it wants to be or what it’s truly about after a few episodes.
A sizable portion of the first half of the show consists of flashback sequences to fill in the gaps between the events of “The Return of the Jedi” and “The Mandalorian.” This provided much needed context to Fett’s rivalry with the Pyke Syndicate but ultimately distracts from the current plotline, which, for several episodes, tells a completely separate story. While this isn’t inherently bad, the present narrative suffers by comparison as the flashback scenes tell a much more interesting story.
The present time episodes do very little to progress the plot in substantial ways and don’t convey any urgency in the supposed conflict in which Fett finds himself. Fett’s motivations are incredibly simple and he doesn’t have much to lose, resulting in a story that doesn’t make the audience feel invested. At no point does there ever feel like there is an active threat or obstacle the viewers want our main characters to overcome. There’s no reason we want them to succeed because it’s never effectively communicated why they want to achieve their goals or what it means to them.
“The Book of Boba Fett” falls victim to ignoring the rule of “show, don’t tell.” Throughout the entire show, we are told that the Pyke Syndicate is growing stronger and will soon take over the planet, but we are never shown any of this until the second to last episode.
Whenever the antagonists of a story are an army of goons, it usually helps if there is some leader or individual that represents this faction and personifies their collective personality, goals, and juxtaposition to the protagonist. An example of this would be Darth Vader for the empire. “The Book of Boba Fett” eventually does introduce a character that could have filled this role, yet they are not introduced until the penultimate episode.
Ultimately, there isn’t enough time to develop this antagonist as a proper adversary to Fett and there isn’t enough reason to truly fear or hate him, unless the viewer had preexisting knowledge of this character. This is a major problem. It would have been far more effective to introduce this character properly in episode three, an episode that was very divisive among fans.
With a strong antagonist, the protagonist could have been given a proper challenge to overcome and add more depth to the story. Without this, it’s just another reason why Fett’s portrayal left many unsatisfied.
While he only had six and a half minutes of screen time in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, and only spoke four lines of dialogue, Boba Fett quickly became a fan-favorite character due to his unique design, intimidating mannerisms, and mysterious aura. Over the past 40 years, it’s been established that he is one of, if not the most famous and feared bounty hunters in the galaxy’s underworld. This was reinforced by his inclusion in “The Mandalorian” season two, where he disposes of a group of Imperial stormtroopers with ease. That season concludes with Fett gunning down Bib Fortuna, who had assumed the position of the late crime lord Jabba the Hutt in order to take the throne. These scenes are completely at odds with the tone and direction of “The Book of Boba Fett” and the way Boba’s character was written.
It’s hard to believe that the writers managed to ruin a character that was barely a character to begin with. The Boba Fett seen in “The Mandalorian” season two is gone. Besides the rather fantastic second episode, Fett has completely regressed from an experienced mercenary into a civil local politician.
Fett was originally introduced as a minor antagonist in the “Empire Strikes Back” and has since been considered to be a morally gray character. However, this has been completely thrown out the window as he’s far more kind hearted and tame than Din Djarin from “The Mandalorian” ever was, a character who was actually meant to be “good.” From the legacy this character has built up, the post credits scene in “The Mandalorian” season two, and all of the marketing, everything pointed to Boba Fett returning in the hardened and gritty manor fans have been waiting for over the past several decades. Instead, we got a pathetic pushover that is only a shadow of what could have been.
This is a fundamental rewrite of this character. It could be defended under the banner of “character development,” but it’s done in such a poor way that it’s very hard to view this as the same character. Character development should show a character going from “point A” to their eventual “point B,” changing due to experiences. “The Book of Boba Fett” immediately introduces us to “point B” without ever showing us “point A.” Its flashback scenes supposedly show how he reached this point, but we never see him during his time before the change begins. During the flashbacks, he’s immediately pushed into the journey between the two points, and even then it still makes no sense how none of “point A” Boba Fett remained.
Multiple characters throughout the show mention to Fett how he’s “gone soft” so this was clearly an intentional decision. If a show is going to have a character “go soft” to the point where in-universe characters go out of their way to mention it, they can’t make the mistake of not showing us what he was like before he went soft. It would have been incredibly beneficial to show Boba Fett in action before the events of “Return of the Jedi,” even if it was only for a few scenes just to show how far the character has come. A character recounts that Boba once was a “cold blooded killer,” but, once again, the “show, don’t tell” rule is completely ignored.
Without seeing the old Fett to make comparisons, this new version seems completely out of place, as if they’ve essentially constructed a brand new character and just called him “Boba Fett.” This is terrible character development because the audience doesn’t know what this character developed from. The final destination means nothing if we don’t know where the journey began.
We see Fett at every turn, incompetent and pushed around by everyone in his way. Everyone around him treats him as if he’s some sort of joke, which he is.. At no point during this show does Fett live up to his reputation. It’s as if his reputation was completely wiped from the minds of everyone on Tatooine. He’s constantly shrugged off or not recognized, which makes it completely unbelievable that this character is the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy. For calling himself a “crime lord,” there’s an alarming lack of crime being committed. If the writers wanted to change this character as drastically as they did, they needed to include something to remind us that this is indeed the same character.
This unfortunate portrayal of Boba Fett could be forgiven if he was surrounded by strong supporting characters. Unfortunately, he is not surrounded by strong supporting characters. Fennec Shand, played by Ming-Na Wen, stands at Fett’s side as his personal assassin and right-hand woman. During her time in “The Mandalorian,” there wasn’t much to Shand’s character. She served her purpose as a temporary antagonist and as Fett’s partner. There wasn’t much depth to her character and that was fine as she was nowhere near the main focus.
Even after being put at the forefront of a new series, the writers made no effort to make her a remotely interesting or unique character. Barely anything new is revealed about her and she has nothing to her beyond being a “cool assassin.” Her motives are never explored beyond a surface level and her personality traits can be counted on fewer than three fingers. By the end, she was incredibly forgettable.
Wen has established herself as a very talented actor, her lines are hard to take seriously due to how overdramatic and corny the delivery is. Even with that, she’s still somehow a more threatening character than Boba Fett.
Severely underdeveloping characters is something this show suffers from as a whole. The other allies Fett gathers and the enemies he faces (including the leader of the Pyke Syndicate) never really get their moment to shine. It felt like any of them could be replaced with anyone else and the narrative would remain largely the same. This lack of depth with essentially every character makes it hard to get attached to or root against anyone.
There are two recurring characters in particular who were not only poorly written, but also completely insufferable to watch. Both “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett” contain characters who talk in a very nonchalant way that makes them sound like your everyday Joe. This is almost always played for comedy. For some reason, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni must think that these characters are just the absolute funniest. They are not funny. The mayor’s assistant and the mechanic fall into this category and are annoying to the point where muting the TV is preferable. If they only showed up in a few scenes, then this wouldn’t be a problem, but they’re given far too much screen time despite how unbearable their presences are.
During the latter half of the show, a familiar and beloved character joins the cast: Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) from “The Mandalorian.” Djarin’s presence was a breath of fresh air, but it also highlighted the problems plaguing “The Book of Boba Fett.” He completely steals the show with the best action scenes and most solid writing. The writers even found the need to dedicate two entire episodes to him in a show that’s not about him. While these episodes are great, they have absolutely nothing to do with Boba Fett and the conflict surrounding him. No matter how well made episodes five and six are, they grind the plot to a screeching halt to show us where the real effort went toward.
While Din Djarin is a pleasure to watch, he’s not what this series is about. It could be said that he’s not what fans are coming for, but in reality, he is what fans came for. The previous four episodes (besides episode two) featuring Boba Fett were incredibly dull and lacked substance and plot progression, so when an interesting and established character entered the fray with awesome action and writing, the ratings skyrocketed. It is astounding that “The Book of Boba Fett” peaked when it wasn’t even trying to be “The Book of Boba Fett.”
Using returning established characters can be a great way to excite the audience and reward them for having expanded knowledge of a story. “The Book of Boba Fett” tries to do this but ends up never using these characters (besides Din Djarin) in substantial ways. When the story doesn’t interest the audience, cameos aren’t going to save it. These characters need to be somehow established in this series so new viewers won’t feel as if they need to go do homework to gain basic context. They need to stand on their own.
“The Book of Boba Fett” is, at best, mediocre and at worst, egregiously eye rolling. As this might be the only live action stand-alone Boba Fett project Star Wars makes for the foreseeable future, it’s incredibly disappointing to see it stumble as hard as this show did. The plot is slow and unintriging, the characters are shallow and lacking fleshed out motivations, and the character assassination of Boba Fett is frustrating to watch. There’s not much to get excited about, no one to root against, and not a moment when viewers are on the edge of their seats. A second season needs to happen, addressing the criticisms of the fans, because this is not how Boba Fett should be remembered.