Disney+’s “The Book of Boba Fett” soared, then crashed.
This essay contains spoilers for the first three episodes of “The Book of Boba Fett”.
I feel a huge debt to Disney+. Even though the first season of his universally acclaimed TV series “The Mandalorian” was released in November and December 2019, months before the pandemic swept its claws into our existence, the series was so incredibly good and populated by so many characters in small groups, most notably everyone’s favorite little green Force user, he provided a constant source of distraction from the nightmare that engulfed us.
It then managed to top its own initial achievement with the reintroduction of fan-favorite character Boba Fett, the live-action introduction of ‘Clone Wars’ star Ahsoka Tano, and the jaw-dropping finale reveal of none other than Luke. Skywalker showing himself to save the day and take Baby Yoda away. It would still be months before most of us had the opportunity to be vaccinated, but the gift of that finale seemed like a perfect expression of the hope we all had at the time that things were finally going well. arrange.
Where Boba Fett was initially cast as a very dangerous and amoral bounty hunter, the new series now imagines him to be older and wiser.
The year since the final has been, if not worse than the year before, certainly more complicated. But again, just when a new variant emerged that was able to penetrate our sleek cloth masks like Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton through the front lines of opponents, Disney+ was there with a new series. , this time about the witty and stylish predecessor to “The Mandalorian,” Boba Fett.
So far, this new series seems to be a lot messier, too. The show features two overlapping storylines: In the past, we follow Fett as he escapes from the massive underground starfish monster, the sarlacc, that swallowed him in “Return of the Jedi ” (in a sequence that hilarious follows comedian Patton Oswalt’s “Parks and Rec” riff on how to bring Boba Fett back), only to be immediately captured by Tusken Raiders. And in the present, we continue the storyline that began in “The Mandalorian” post-credit scene, in which Fett and his assassin partner Fennec Shand take over Jabba the Hutt’s criminal empire on Tatooine.
I’m not a fan of shows that rely on weekly flashbacks. They tend to drain momentum from the current storyline we came to see in the first place. But in the first two episodes, writer Jon Favreau and directors Robert Rodriguez and Steph Green crafted a story so emotionally powerful and downright awesome in Fett’s relationship with the Tusken Raiders that it literally stole the show.
As I wrote here Before, “Star Wars” is a series deeply invested in the concept that no one is beyond redemption and that one person’s redemption can save the entire universe. Luke’s love for his father prevents the Emperor from destroying the Rebellion; Leia’s love for her son finally allows her to overcome the darkness within him and help Rey defeat the Clone Emperor Thingy that JJ Abrams apparently thought was a good way to make a “Star Wars” thing.
“Star Wars” is a series deeply invested in the concept that no one is beyond recovery.
“Boba Fett” is clearly invested in this same project. Where Boba Fett was originally cast as a very dangerous, mostly amoral and silent bounty hunter who has no trouble carbon freezing Han Solo for credits, the new series now imagines him as older. and wiser, trying to turn the criminal empire he “inherited” into one based on justice and respect rather than fear. While those around him continue to insist that he must engage in public displays of cruelty or pomp to establish credibility on the street, Boba seems more comfortable removing his helmet and to have a little chat. (Yes, it’s a little weird.)
Far more compelling was the series’ exploration of the Tusken Raiders, the spooky nomadic tribe that lives in the desert and never shows its face. In the past, this community has always been presented as a pack of savage murderers who will either shoot you from afar or come looking for you in the night. Although they’ve appeared more than once in the movies and are actually responsible for the death of Anakin’s mother, we’ve never had any idea what exactly their case is. Are they some kind of human cult like the Mandalorians, or something else? Why does it seem like everything they do is murder? To misquote another franchise, why so much anger?
In “Fett”, Favreau reveals that the Raiders are actually the indigenous people of Tatooine, with their own rich culture and spirituality and also a sad history with colonization. In a way, the first two episodes suggest that all previous “Star Wars” movies were “written by the victors,” meaning the people who only see the Raiders as savage monsters. In “Fett”, we see them rather terrorized by the other species that have long since taken over the world, and as a proud community that comes to respect and even mentor Fett. The second episode, in which Fett is slowly adopted by the tribe, will go on to become one of the greatest “Star Wars” stories of all time, and it’s entirely because of how it humanizes the Tusken.
After being extremely excited for the first two episodes, I have to admit that I suddenly have a bad feeling about it.
Along the way, the series uses some of the tricks it learned from “Mandalorian.” There’s a Tusken kid who steals the stage and becomes Boba’s kind of sidekick. Tusken culture echoes that of the Mandalorians in many ways, with their shared emphasis on combat as a spiritual practice and their refusal to show their faces. Where the scenes of the present-day Boba wandering around Mos Espa trying to convince its malevolent inhabitants to respect him seem to drag on, the scenes in Tusken were never less than fresh and compelling.
Then Episode 3 begins with Boba returning from a trip to town to find all the Tuskens murdered by a gang of humans we know nothing about, and now honestly don’t know what to think of this show. Did he really spend two episodes transforming a dehumanized community of natives into a rich and vital culture only to kill it off-screen in order to motivate his hero? It sure looks like that right now. The fact that the series also seems determined to make this Fett’s Luke-Loses-His-Aunt-and-Uncle moment, with similar moments of Fett discovering the dead as Luke did and then burning their bodies, compounds the insulted.
Part of the magic of “Star Wars” is that it allows everyone to be the subject of their own story rather than just being part of someone else’s. Even characters we only briefly glimpse – like Boba Fett himself in the original trilogy – seem to have their own thing. This is what makes his universe so infinitely interesting, but also so spiritually significant. Every character is a real person on a journey, even those who appear to be the most monstrous of villains. (Well, except the Emperor. He’s actually the most monstrous of villains.)
To have given the Tusken Raiders that same opportunity only to then turn them into just a means to an end for Fett would be shocking and disappointing. The fact that they were reimagined here as indigenous people makes the situation much worse, although perhaps also much more predictable.
Four more episodes are yet to come. So there are many possibilities to solve this problem, and also to finally launch the current scenario. (The appearance of a huge evil Wookiee bounty hunter is certainly a step in the right direction. The introduction of a gang of wealthy street kids with fancy multicolored bikes is less so.) been extremely excited about the first two episodes, right now I have to admit I suddenly have a bad feeling about it.