The Second Season of “Young Royals” Should be a Blueprint for Other Teenage Dramas

by Camryn Myrla, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — The second season of the Swedish drama “Young Royals” aired Nov. 1 and was met with global attention. In its first week of streaming, it was the fourth most-streamed Netflix show worldwide, according to FlixPatrol, and it’s clear why. “Young Royals” almost perfectly summarizes the modern lives of teenagers while also exploring what it means to be queer in an unaccepting environment.

Compared to its previous season, the second season of “Young Royals” can be more taxing to watch for its realistic depiction of mental illnesses. As the story continues merely weeks after season one, Wilhelm is still dealing with grief over a loved one on top of the stress of royalty. Photo obtained from Netflix.

The show follows Wilhelm, the Prince of Sweden (Edvin Ryding), who is sent to a prestigious boarding school. He meets Simon Eriksson (Omar Rudberg) — an openly-gay student — and begins a journey of self-discovery after the two develop feelings for each other.

Throughout both of its seasons, “Young Royals” struggles with relying on cliches to advance storylines. An unfortunate example is the use of an unnecessary love triangle in season two between Simon and Marcus (Tommy Wättring). Marcus was introduced for the sole reason of being Simon’s love interest, despite the two lacking chemistry.

Both the cast and crew comprise members of the LGBTQ+ community. Though it’s never announced in the show, the actor pictured above who plays Alexander (Xiao-Long Rathje Zhao) is transgender. Photo by Camryn Myrla, staff writer.

Because of these archetypes, the story can often feel rushed. However, the show’s writers make up for this with its beautifully-written characters. In particular, Wilhelm’s royalty is flawlessly used as a metaphor for internalized homophobia; he struggles with choosing between being who others want him to be and living his truth.

Additionally, Ryding provides a chilling portrayal of Wilhelm’s anxiety in season two when his character begins attending therapy.

In addition to Wilhelm’s anxiety, viewers also learn more about the hardships of his second-cousin, August (Malte Gårdinger). After establishing himself as an antagonist in season one, August begins to truly embrace the role, going to new lengths to gain power and status. However, he continues to struggle with substance abuse. This complexity in its characters makes “Young Royals” captivatingly realistic.

Though it’s about fictional royalty and nobility, the show provides a more believable snapshot of a teenager’s life than many other modern programs.

Problems often arise when adults well-above the age of 18 are cast to play high schoolers. Viewers are almost always pulled away from the story, because the actors’ ages are so starkly off. Hypersexualization also becomes an issue, as having older actors may distract from the fact that the characters are minors. Fortunately, this is not an issue for the drama; the oldest actor of a main teenage character is currently 24.

What also sets “Young Royals” apart from other shows is its inclusivity and representation of the LGBTQ+ community. An important feature regarding representation in media is that showrunners should not expect a “pat on the back” for including it; many shows simply contain a token LGBTQ+ character to seem progressive. Meanwhile, “Young Royals” is made by and for queer people.

While at face value, “Young Royals” seems like the typical romance drama, the show teaches countless lessons regarding relationships, mental health, substance abuse, and much more. From its breath-taking opening to its frustrating cliffhanger, season two keeps viewers entranced for the entire watch and eager to learn what will happen in season three.

Arts & Culture Opinion Review

“Blonde”s Attempt to Tell Monroe’s Story Results in an Exploitation of Women in The Film

by Alexandra Levy, staff writer

— The Marilyn Monroe biopic “Blonde” debuted Sept. 28 and sparked controversy in the genre’s fictionalization of Monroe’s life. A biopic is a biographical film that dramatizes the life of a non-fictional or historical figure. Biopics are a recent trend, with more than 50 biopics released within the past five years, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Blonde” has been accused of being an inaccurate portrayal of Monroe, because Joyce Carol Oates’ fictional book inspired the movie.  

Pictured above is Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in “Blonde.” The film alternates between a black and white filter and vibrant colors in an allusion to Monroe’s films, which would also change between black and white and colorful because of the filming equipment available at the time.

Oates’ story is based loosely on Monroe’s life and fictionalizes her life events. Since this novel is fictional, “Blonde” has many historical inaccuracies. For example, the book details Monroe’s alleged affair with President John F. Kennedy as though it were true.

The historical inaccuracies would not be an issue, as Netflix marked “Blonde” as a fiction film; however, the creators and stars of the movie repeatedly said that they were telling the truth about Monroe’s life, opening the film to backlash from critics and historians about the depiction of Monroe.

Ana de Armas, who played Monroe in “Blonde,” defended the movie to AnOther magazine.

“We were asking for permission in a way. Everyone felt a huge responsibility, and we were very aware of the side of the story we were going to tell—the story of Norma Jeane, the person behind this character, Marilyn Monroe. Who was she really?” said de Armas in the interview.

Ana de Aramas as Marilyn Monroe in “Blonde” is pictured streaming on a laptop. “Blonde” is the first Netflix movie to have an NC-17 rating. Photo by Alexandra Levy, staff writer.

“Blonde” writer and director Andrew Dominik expressed in the press release that this movie was his attempt to tell Monroe’s real story.

Dominik explained why he believes the film is a more accurate version of fiction on his website, stating, “I think ‘Blonde’ is a work of fiction and it’s got just as much Joyce in it as it does Marilyn. But having said that, I think it is probably closer to the truth than what other networks are pushing to sell Marilyn stuff.”

While the film attempts to tell an accurate and engaging story, it fails to tell a story of Monroe outside the male gaze with scenes of graphic rape and abuse. Monroe is depicted as a victim in almost every situation she finds herself in. She always resorts to abusive relationships, whether with a man or with the abuse she received from Hollywood.

While the film’s creators claimed to be subverting the usual sexualization of Monroe’s life that the pop culture icon is usually associated with, the movie continues to sexualize and torment her in a way that makes the movie nearly impossible to watch.

The movie could be considered to show Monroe’s side of the story by addressing her viewpoint of sexual exploitation. However, it does little to criticize these negative connotations around her life. It even reinforces them by having numerous explicit scenes that do little to do anything but sexualizing her — the very thing the creators said this movie would not be doing.

Before the release of “Blonde,” de Armas said that it was a feminist telling of her story and that the sex scenes were powerful. The alleged rape and sexual assault scenes were excessive and felt exploitative to Monroe as a person.

It is not just the historical inaccuracies and sex scenes that make “Blonde” a hard-to-watch movie, but rather the almost embarrassing portrayal of a person’s life.

The film made Monroe a caricature of a sexual bombshell rather than showing the multidimensional woman who described herself as shy and insecure outside her career.

To compare “Blonde” to another biopic released in 2022, “Elvis” details the life of Elvis Presley and has been praised for its portrayal of actual life events. Presley is historically viewed as a sex symbol, and the movie explains his sexualization from his agent’s point of view.

While “Elvis” is not told from the perspective of the main character’s point of view like “Blonde,” it can still feel as though it is more respectful to the actual person behind the character.

A full movie theater with the trailer for the “Elvis” movie is displayed. “Elvis” is the second highest grossing biographical film of all time; the first highest grossing film is “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Photo obtained from Roger Moore.

“Elvis” addresses being taken advantage of for money, fame, and sex in a less formal manner than “Blonde,” but the movie makes the viewer feel there is a complete person on the screen. It shows Elvis outside work and struggling with his relationships and drug addictions while not making that his only trait. It displays tragedy without the need to exploit every tragic event in the main character’s life, as “Blonde” does.

The difference in treatment of the main characters could be because “Elvis” is based on a male historical figure rather than a female historical figure. It gave Presley privacy in a movie about his lack of privacy in real life, whereas it felt like “Blonde” exploits the sexuality it claims to criticize.

The tone difference could be because of the variety in narration in biopics. Since the 2018 release of the Queen biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” biopics have gained popularity, and with that, more diversity in storytelling is present.

The problem with the biopic genre is that it too heavily walks the line between being a story of a fictional character and a historical biography. The movies struggle to satisfy a large group of people: movie fans, historians, and fans of the person the biopic is centered around.

It is easy for a biopic to feel cheap, as it is just trying to appeal to the name recognition of the main character. At the same time, the movie lacksan engaging plot with too much fictionalization for historical accuracy.

“Blonde” is a film that genuinely displays the misuse of the biopic movie. It could have easily been about a fictional character with a different name and been considered an engaging look at sexuality for famous women in history; however, the movie tortures and sucks dry the already-exploited Monroe. If anything, its actual display of Monroe’s ongoing tragedy and abuse was the movie’s creation.

Arts & Culture Review

Breaking the Mold: The Fourth Season of “Stranger Things” Brings the Show to the Next Level

By Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief

This review is spoiler-free

SEPTEMBER 2022 — The penultimate season of the Duffer Brothers’ “Stranger Things” surpassed one billion views on Netflix, solidifying it as the second most-viewed piece of content on the platform — and there’s a reason why. Season four of “Stranger Things” is captivating. It breaks the mold of the previous seasons, elevating the show with a darker and more compelling plot.

Immediately after the show first aired in 2016, “Stranger Things” became a huge success. As the show progressed, its fan base greatly expanded. However, it seemed as though since the first season was so popular, ideas for the plot were simply recycled.

The fourth season of “Stranger Things” was released in two parts, with the first airing May 27 and the last two episodes airing July 1. After its release, season four of “Stranger Things” became a huge success, earning itself the number one spot in Top TV show releases in the U.S. The show became the second show to surpass one billion views, with “Squid Game” being first. “Squid Game” still holds the record with a total of 1.65 billion hours viewed. Photo by Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief.

While the first three seasons were enjoyable, they became repetitive. They each followed the same formula: the threat of the Upside Down looms over the small town Hawkins, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) has a connection with the villain of the season, a new character is unsurprisingly killed off, and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) magically saves the day.

As the show progressed, it felt predictable, to the point where it felt like there were few surprises and even fewer stakes.

The newest season brought the static nature of the show to an abrupt stop.

Season four portrays a thrilling and suspenseful story for its viewers. For the audience, it feels like a breath of fresh air compared to its predecessors. The season explores the idea of maturity through the setting, characters, and plot.

The fourth season adds a distance barrier that distinguishes the season. Instead of the plot being isolated in one location, the conflict spreads itself throughout Hawkins, California, and Russia.

After the events of season three, Will, Eleven, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) have moved out of Hawkins, while Jim Hopper (David Harbor) is missing. The events of season four take place over the course of Hawkins High’s spring break. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) begins the break by visiting Eleven and the Byers family.

As supernatural murders unfold in Hawkins, Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink), Lucas SinClair (Caleb McLaughlin), Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer), and Robin Buckley (Maya Hawke), are forced to navigate their way through this mystery without the usual help of the other characters.

By removing half of the cast from Hawkins, the overarching mystery becomes more challenging to solve. Things that were once easy, like accessing the Upside Down, police records, or magical powers, have all vanished.

The separation also forces all of the characters to become more independent.

In past seasons, Eleven’s very presence in Hawkins made the stakes feel dull. She was an easy solution to the supernatural mystery. Any plothole in the antagonist’s defeat could be justified by Eleven’s supernatural powers. No matter how high the stakes were, there was always an easy solution.

Having that easy solution be ripped away is what makes this season so unique. Seeing characters in Hawkins struggle for any possible clue and utilize all their available resources created a compelling and suspenseful mystery.

Though Eleven is not in Hawkins, the plotline with her in California is still wonderfully done and adds to the overall story. For the first few episodes, it provides a refreshing contrast to the dark nature of the Hawkins mystery. Instead of focusing on the supernatural side of things, the characters in California deal with “normal” teenage issues, like bullying and relationship drama.

Part of what elevates the plotline in California, as well as in Hawkins, is the absence of adults. Though Joyce originally starts out in California, she is sooned joined by Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) to investigate a mystery relating to Jim Hopper in Russia.

Season four portrays a thrilling and suspenseful story for its viewers. For the audience, it feels like a breath of fresh air compared to its predecessors.

Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief

Their absence allows the children in both Hawkins and California to demonstrate their growth as soon-to-be/young adults.

Though it was incredibly entertaining to watch the children make independent decisions and navigate their way through this dark mystery, it came with a price: the show sidelined Joyce and Murray.

While the stories in Hawkins and California quickly become intertwined, the relevance of the Russia plotline was unclear until the last episode. When the connection of the plotline was revealed, it was far too late for the viewer to care.

After eight long episodes of prison break-ins and screencaps of snow, it is easy to lose interest. Compared to the rest of the story, the plot feels stale.

The plotline in Russia succumbed to the same failure of the first three seasons: it was predictable. The plotline should have been suspenseful and nerve wracking, but it simply wasn’t presented that way. There was an obvious character shield, meaning that the protagonists were able to survive deadly situations where, realistically, their chances of survival would be near impossible. This made the plot feel even more dull, unsatisfying, and predictable.

In the final battle, the contribution of the characters in Hawkins and California felt natural and logical. Each character gave it their all to pitch in. The growth of the children especially was showcased wonderfully, and it felt rewarding to watch.

Meanwhile, nothing really felt rewarding about the Russia plotline. The relevance to the overall plot felt far-fetched and unrealistic, even for a show relating to supernatural elements. Still, there were heartwarming moments in the plotline that made it tolerable.

Though not all of the plotlines were as engaging as they could have been, another huge success of the season is due to the antagonist.

Vecna, the newest villain in ‘Stranger Things,’ is the most horrific creature from the Upside Down to date.

Pictured above is Vecna, the main antagonist of season four of “Stranger Things.” Photo by Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief.

Instantly setting himself apart from the Demogorgon, Demodogs, or the Mindflayer, Vecna is able to speak. Instead of a dog-like creature with thousands of teeth, or a giant spider-like cloud in the sky, Vecna has a humanoid appearance. This instantly makes him more unsettling and realistic.

His overall design elevates the season and taps into the recurring theme of maturity.

Just like the separation of characters, the addition of Vecna creates a more realistic feel to the season. As the characters are exploring a sense of maturity and independence, the antagonist and plot are more gruesome as well.

For many shows, as more seasons are added, the writing becomes sloppier. With “Stranger Things,” the opposite is certainly true.

Opinion Review

The Batman: An Incredible Reminder of What Comic Book Movies Can Be

by C.J. Delaney, staff writer

Editorial Note: This review is spoiler-free

May 2022 — After 10 years since his last solo film, the Caped Crusader has returned to the spotlight in a reboot directed by Matt Reeves. Portrayed by Robert Pattinson, Bruce Wayne is two years into his career as the masked vigilante cleaning up the streets of Gotham City by striking fear into thugs and criminals. During his tenure protecting the city, he’s developed the persona of “The Batman,” calling himself “Vengeance.”

Official poster for “The Batman” (2022), with Paul Dano as the Riddler (left), Colin Farrell as The Penguin, (center), Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle (right), and Robert Pattinson as Batman/Bruce Wayne. (top and bottom).

With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), he sets out to halt the killing spree of the masked criminal known as The Riddler (Paul Dano), who unveils the truth about Gotham City’s corrupted leaders. All of the moving pieces of this film culminate in what might be the best live-action Batman movie ever made.

Setting this two years into the start of Batman’s journey allows the viewers to jump directly into the action. Origin stories are often the standard for comic book movies, but it’s something we’ve seen with Batman many times before. It also would have been incredibly difficult to beat Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” in that regard. By skipping the origin, a story risks missing out on a meaningful portion of the character’s personal journey, but seeing Batman at this stage presents the opportunity for a different type of character arc.

This version of Batman is young, reclusive, and vengeful. He’s so completely consumed by his life of crime fighting that he hasn’t developed the party animal playboy persona traditionally seen by Gotham’s public eye in other outings.

This lack of separation between Bruce and Batman has been the center of debate among fans as it can be considered an integral element of the character, but for this movie, in particular, there isn’t a need for it.

Part of what makes this movie so enjoyable is that Batman, suit and all, is in nearly every scene. One of the most significant drawbacks of other Batman films, such as “Batman Returns” and “The Dark Knight,” is that they opt to focus so heavily on the villains that the “main character” ends up being sidelined.

“The Batman,” however, is truly a Batman-focused film, and all the better for it.

Many moments would not have held up as well if it wasn’t for Robert Pattinson’s amazing performance in this gritty and violent role. Many remember Pattinson from films such as “Twilight” or “Harry Potter,” so seeing him put on such a drastically different performance to such high success is incredibly entertaining.  The amount of subtlety conveyed through movements and expressions, even with a mask, completely sells Pattinson as a candidate for best live-action Batman.

A great hero must also be matched with a great villain, and Paul Dano’s Riddler is not only enjoyable to watch but also terrifying at the same time. This version of the character is a far cry from the goofy green spandex-clad menace from Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever.” Dano’s Riddler proves that it’s possible to reinvent a character to fit the style of a new piece of media while still retaining the core characteristics of what made them great.

Here, the Riddler is genuinely intimidating from his voice to his mannerisms, and especially in the way he disposes of his victims. The giddy confidence emanating from Dano is as infectious as it is frightening.

There are a few scenes where the Riddler loses his temper and begins to scream as he speaks, and when villains do this, they often come off as childish and unthreatening, (see General Hux from “Star Wars” for reference) but here it made him even more unnerving. That type of over-the-top is perfect for The Riddler.

The zodiac killer was a key inspiration for “The Batman’s” Riddler, and as such, he leaves clues and ciphers behind after every murder to direct Batman and the Gotham P.D. to move his plan forward.  

The Batman sets itself apart in the vast sea of superhero movies by ditching the traditional formula in favor of a detective noir style of storytelling. Unlike its contemporaries, “The Batman” doesn’t have an overreliance on jokes, one-liners, or bombastic CGI action scenes every 15 minutes. Instead, the film is very content to have slower and more intimate scenes dissecting clues and discussing evidence.

Jim Gordon partners with Batman on the hunt for the criminals of Gotham, and the scenes of them together picking apart crime scenes are major highlights of the film. The friendship between these two characters feels so natural. The ease they feel and the way they speak when the two of them are alone make it very clear that they know and trust each other more than any of the corrupt officials around them.

While Gary Oldman left big shoes to fill after “The Dark Knight” trilogy, Jeffrey Wright’s take on Gordon feels very authentic and at home for this story. He also actively takes part in the narrative far more than Oldman’s Gordan did in the first two Nolan Batman films, which is a plus. It’s hard to imagine “The Batman” without him.

One of the issues with this film, however, is that Batman and Gordon are always playing by the Riddler’s rules. Batman is supposed to be “the world’s greatest detective” yet is always a few steps behind his enemies. For a character like The Riddler to work, this is understandable, but Batman should have also been looking beyond the intentional clues given to him and instead for unintentional ones to neutralize the threat. This way, he could trail the Riddler while still exploiting his mistakes, making the chase more exciting.

Instead, we have Batman following the path made for him by the Riddler and not stopping to think that he might be playing into his hands. While it doesn’t drag the film down, it would have made for a more engaging mystery if Batman kept getting closer using his own methods.

“While it has its flaws, ‘The Batman’ excels at what it sets out to do. It proves that comic books and superhero films don’t need to follow the checklist created by its contemporaries.”

C.J. Delaney, staff writer

Selina Kyle, or Catwoman, plays a supporting role as opposed to an antagonistic one. Kravitz plays a much more down-to-earth version of this iconic character with a very convincing performance. What’s particularly notable is the dynamic between her and Bruce on their views of justice, making for standout character moments for each of them.

The romance subplot, however, is incredibly half-baked. It’s not that they don’t have chemistry, but they didn’t explore it from a romantic standpoint until it just happens out of nowhere. The direction they took is understandable, as it’s based on source material, but after it’s all said and done, the romance doesn’t feel authentic.

Whenever he appears on screen, Colin Farrell completely steals the show as The Penguin. In looks and voice, he’s unrecognizable. The crime boss’s carefree gangster attitude contrasts heavily with Batman’s serious demeanor.

Unfortunately, The Penguin does not have as much plot relevance as he should have. He still has a large presence in the film, but only impacts the overall narrative in a few key scenes. It works, but it could have been more.

There’s one action scene that includes The Penguin, which has been praised almost universally, but it’s hard to enjoy as it results in many civilian casualties that no character cares to acknowledge in any way. This is hard to believe as Batman has a strict no-killing rule and values human life. The fact that he would ignore and not try to prevent such collateral damage is out of character, dragging the otherwise great scene down.

The action overall is fantastic. The hand-to-hand combat choreography is a very noticeable upgrade from “The Dark Knight” trilogy. Instead of a close up camera quickly cutting between actors flailing their arms. giving the illusion of a fight, “The Batman” brings the camera back and shows everything.

Watching Batman pumble thugs with his fists and other objects around him is endlessly entertaining as the viewer can really feel the impact of each punch thrown. Even though most fights don’t last long, they feel like they do because of how much is going on during them. It’s fast paced, brutal, and riveting.

As expected, the score by Michael Giacchino ties everything together perfectly. The music elevates every scene with goosebump-inducing tracks making the already dark and imposing city even more immersive. The inclusion of Nirvana’s “Something In The Way” was a strangely good decision as it fits the mood of the hopeless city and has already become synonymous with the film.

While it has its flaws, “The Batman” excels at what it sets out to do. It proves that comic books and superhero films don’t need to follow the checklist created by its contemporaries. It proves that a slow paced character driven noir style can work to great success. It’s grounded while still retaining the feeling of a graphic novel. Thanks to the fantastic acting, writing, cinematography, and choreography, this is the best superhero movie in years and will send a loud and clear message to those in its genre.

Opinion Review

Review: The Book of Boba Fett — A Messy Missed Shot

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.

Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand (Left) and Temura Morrison as Boba Fett (Right) in “The Book of Boba Fett”

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 charactersThe 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 didthey 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.

General Interest Opinion Review