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‘The Book of Boba Fett’ was worth the wait

The character Boba Fett has fascinated Star Wars fans for years since his relatively minor role in the original trilogy, his expanded origins in the prequels and recurring appearances in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Forty-four years after his first-ever appearance in the otherwise maligned 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special—and yes, that is where Fett first appeared to audiences—the Star Wars galaxy’s most infamous bounty hunter has finally gotten a solo series. But was it worth the wait?

“The Book of Boba Fett” starts on a high note, but its first episode is ultimately bogged down by a split narrative between Boba Fett’s past and present. The story takes place right after the teaser for the show at the end of the first season of “The Mandalorian.” At this point, Boba Fett has reclaimed his iconic armor and killed Jabba’s majordomo Bibb Fortuna, in doing so taking over Jabba’s criminal empire. The first episode involves Boba Fett’s attempt to maintain control over his new criminal empire in the Tatooine city of Mos Espa. He has to learn how to act like a crime lord rather than a bounty hunter and deal with the cloak and dagger politics of the galactic underworld. A secondary plot line takes place in flashbacks to when Boba Fett first escapes the Sarlacc pit and is captured by the Tuskens, also known as the Sand People.

Taken separately, these flashbacks are as interesting as the main storyline. For example, the show opens with Fett in a bacta tank recalling his traumatic experience escaping the Sarlacc Pit. In all my years as a Star Wars fan, I never thought I would actually get to see the inside of the Sarlacc, not to mention Boba Fett’s gauntlet bursting out of the sand. This scene was great, but the subsequent flashbacks that intercut the story take away from the narrative as a whole. These flashbacks show Boba Fett’s time as a prisoner of the Tuskens as he slowly earns the respect of the tribe. These scenes provide some answers as to where Boba Fett has been prior to appearing in “The Mandalorian,” but the two plotlines of past and present don’t really intersect. Usually, a flashback provides depth to a character’s motives, providing the audience with information about the past that recontextualizes the events of the present. However, in this case, Boba’s adventures with the Tuskens ends the episode leaving both storylines unresolved. The flashbacks do not advance the main plot, but rather appear to be separate narratives altogether, leaving the episode feeling like two halves of different stories stapled together.

Despite this minor issue, the show has a lot of potential, thanks in large part to the performance of Temuera Morrison reprising his role as Boba Fett. First seen as Boba’s father Jango Fett in the prequel trilogy and then later heard as the re-dubbed voice of Boba in the original trilogy, Morrison gives his all in this performance and really embodies the legendary bounty hunter in a way we haven’t seen him before. Boba Fett was always a mysterious figure, his face always obscured by his iconic helmet. Even the young Boba Fett we see in the prequels, played by Daniel Logan, doesn’t give us a full sense of the man behind the T-shaped visor. Morrison plays Fett as a man who has seen the worst the galaxy has to offer and survived. His grizzled voice and weathered appearance manifests as a hardened battle-scarred warrior giving life to the man in Mandalorian armor.

As such, Fett lives up to his legendary reputation as a deadly bounty hunter. We get to see Fett fight both in full armor in the present day and without his iconic weapons during the flashbacks. Fett’s fight with a six-limbed creature is exhilarating to watch as he manages to strangle the beast with nothing but his chains. The fight earns him the respect of the Tuskens, but also highlights his lethality outside of his armor. In the present timeline, Fett fights off a group of assassins alongside Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) and Jabba’s old Gamorrean guards. What makes the fight interesting is that Boba is actually injured. Unlike the many seemingly unkillable Force users in the Star Wars galaxy, Fett can actually be hurt. It may take away from some of his overall badassitude, but it also gives the danger more weight if the audience knows he can be hurt. 

 In addition to the excellent action and performances, world-building is also done very well. Some people may be tired of returning to Tatooine for what seems like the millionth time, but the show avoids rehashing what has already been done by further exploring what we already know about the planet and its people. The show does return to iconic locations like Jabba’s palace, but generally focuses more on new locations and people like the vast city of Mos Espa. It adds to the lore of the world by highlighting the different criminal and political factions within the city and focusing the plot on a specific area rather than the entire planet. The show also explores the culture of the Tuskens, making them more than just monstrous raiders. Tatooine feels like a living, breathing world rather than just a backdrop or starting point for a larger story.

“The Book of Boba Fett” does a lot of things right, in both its world-building and action. While the flashbacks seem separated from the main plot, it doesn’t make the show unwatchable. At the end of the day, we still finally get to see a Boba Fett show. It is by no means perfect, but it does live up to a lot of my expectations. It’s well worth a watch for both hardcore and casual Star Wars fans and was definitely worth the wait.

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