We’re running a recap of The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+. There are spoilers, duh! You’ve been warned.
It’s been a year since we last stepped foot in a live-action galaxy far, far away. A year since Boba Fett joined forces with Din Djarin during The Mandalorian’s penultimate second season episode to save Grogu from the Empire in exchange for the return of Fett’s armor. Then, after we wiped the tears from our eyes with the exit of Baby Yoda under the safe protection of Luke Skywalker, The Mandalorian left us with a tease for The Book of Boba Fett, as Fett and his right hand friend, Fennec Shand, liberated Jabba the Hutts’s criminal empire from Bib Fortuna by liberating Bib Fortuna’s life from his body.
So now that Fett occupies Jabba’s throne, maybe you’ve been asking yourself, how did we get here? And what happens now?
The Book of Boba Fett answers these questions by splitting the timeline in two (you know, like LOST), with one as the “contemporary” timeline running directly after the events of The Mandalorian, and the other as a series of flashbacks to Fett’s hours and days after his (surprise!) fake-demise in the Sarlacc pit from Return of the Jedi.
I must say, however, that Boba Fett as the scrappy up-and-coming startup crime lord, the guy who intends to “rule with respect” may well be the trajectory for this character, but the jury is out if it makes for a compelling story.
And by jury, I mean me.
And that’s because any guy who comes into town and thinks he’ll get it right where everyone else got it wrong tends to either fail miserably or become a weird, psycho cult leader. Whatever the outcome, this isn’t the type of person onto whom I want to project my hopes and cares as I’m munching down Little Caesars on the couch with the rest of the Poppe fam.
I tweeted out my hesitation a few days back, with fellow CAPC staff writer K.B. Hoyle observing in response what I think sums up the problem: “They took a Man of Mystery and made him, like, just a Boss Man.” Exactly. We didn’t ask to see Fett reduced to a boss and lose his intrigue.
I’m reminded of watching The Good Lord Bird a few months ago, a miniseries ostensibly about John Brown, but told through the eyes of Onion, an enslaved teen rescued by Brown’s abolitionist army. I loved it, and part of why I loved it is because while Brown is the force that drives every story, the presence hanging over every conflict, he is only accessible through the eyes of everyone around him. Onion stands in for the audience, an audience caught in a hurricane named Old Man Brown. Few can relate to the mind of a hurricane, but many can relate to the allure of wild, charismatic leaders catching us in their tempest.
I’d also argue that with few exceptions, none of us are all that interested in a show about a boss. Michael Scott was the draw for The Office, sure, but something like that works only as an ensemble. I contend The Michael Scott Show would have been a turrrrible idea, because no one cares or wants to see a boss being a boss, doing boss things, achieving the boss goals of a boss.
Hear me. Don’t confuse that with a story about someone wanting to be the boss or being forced into the position of a boss. That works! It’s got a clear goal, with challenges and strife and victories and losses. In Breaking Bad, when Walter White takes over Gus Fring’s drug empire, the showrunner Vince Gilligan knew White had to lose the empire before the show lost the plot. Likewise, we watch The Return of the King to see Aragorn ascend to his place on the throne of Gondor and Arnor. Once he’s there, the movie (sorry, book) is over. We’re good now! (It also helps that The Lord of the Rings also passes the aforementioned “ensemble” test.)
I could be wrong. After all, these guys are far more experienced than I ever will be, and Jon Favreau has got good record, not only as the man who directed and helped launch the MCU with Iron Man, he, along with Dave Filoni, was the driving force behind The Mandalorian too, tapping into something like magic (no, like the Force!) by teaming Mando up with Baby Yoda. And in the process, he breathed some life into Lucasfilm which, let’s face it, had a somewhat rocky patch after Solo and The Rise of Skywalker. This is Star Wars and I love Star Wars enough that even when it’s bad, it’s still an enjoyable romp, albeit a messy one.
After the Sarlacc pit, Fett was near dead and stripped of his armor by the Jawas. And whereas The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett have both gone to some lengths to humanize the Tusken Raiders (Sand People), that can’t be said of the Jawas. These cute little guys are awful.
The Tuskens, on the other hand, take this beaten, burned, and bruised Fett, and in a moment of true compassion, rescue him from certain death. And by rescue, I mean technically they make him their slave. But hey! He’s alive long enough to rescue a Tusken child by killing a monster that looked an awful lot like Goro from Mortal Kombat, and in exchange for saving the kid, the Tuskens graft Fett into the Sand People community.
What happens next is a tad too close to an Avatar / Dune rigmarole, where the outsider Fett trains the native Na’vi / Fremen / Tuskens to rise up against their colonizers (with what was admittedly, a pretty thrilling train heist sequence), thus becoming the Ultimate Native himself and bestowing his adopted community with the gift of their own agency. That tired white savior trope is slightly less cringe-inducing here, given Fett is portrayed by Temuera Morrison with some nod to Morrison’s Māori descent in both Fett’s and the Tusken’s rituals and fighting styles.
Meanwhile, back in the contemporary timeline, Fett is now the ruler of Jabba’s former crime ring, but what exactly he’s ruling, it’s not very clear. The palace is mostly empty after Luke Skywalker blew up Jabba’s crew in Return of the Jedi, and Fett spends much of his day in a bacta tank, presumably recovering from being dead in the Sarlacc pit.
As for where this is going, my best guess is that just as Fett was grafted into the Tusken mold, there’s plenty of room around the Boba Fett table now too. This is the start of Fett’s own fledgling empire, sure, but perhaps his found family too. So maybe the ensemble problem will be solved soon enough, with Fennec and a Tusken or two given greater billing, and probably Garsa Fwip, the lady from the Mos Espa cantina, too. She’s definitely part of it. Either way, welcome back, Star Wars. I missed you. I can’t quit you. Maybe this boss in a galaxy far, far away will actually get it right where others got it wrong. Probably not. But I love you all the same.