I’ll never forget the first time I watched the finale of The Mandalorian season 2. Seeing Luke Skywalker show up to fight with his lightsaber was already a huge geek-out moment for me, but I just about fell off the sofa with geeky glee at the post-credits sequence, which featured Boba Fett taking over Jabba’s old throne and the announcement that a spin-off series The Book of Boba Fett would be arriving soon.
Boba Fett’s appearance in The Mandalorian was a wonderful surprise, and I was delighted to see Temuera Morrison return to Star Wars. I had high hopes for the Boba Fett solo series, although what we received was more of a mixed bag than I’d been anticipating.
There’s been a lot of discourse online about The Book of Boba Fett and how well it does (or doesn’t) add to the lore surrounding this popular character. Personally, I find myself somewhere in the middle. There’s some really, really good stuff in there, and also some aspects that left me underwhelmed.
Since The Book of Boba Fett is both aesthetically and thematically inspired by the classic Western genre, I’m going to break this review down into three sections called (you guessed it!): The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
As I said before, I was so happy to see Temuera Morrison return to Star Wars and I have absolutely no complaints about his performance. He looks great in the armor, and I loved seeing him in a Star Wars story that leaned heavily into its Western influences.
I also really appreciated how this story continued the Star Wars franchise’s recent trend of adding more nuance to the Tusken Raiders. One of my favorite parts of this show was the two episode arc showing Boba being taken in by the Tuskens and then becoming a member of their tribe. I thought this subplot also highlighted Boba’s desire for belonging, after the loss of his father years ago and the fact that he’s one of the last surviving Jango Fett clones. The Tuskens give him a sense of family and purpose, and he becomes more than just a bounty hunter serving whoever tosses him the biggest paycheck.
I loved seeing Pedro Pascal return as the Mandalorian, and it was great fun to watch him restore an old Naboo starfighter and take it for a spin in a montage that was clearly meant to pay homage to the podracing in Episode I. Also, I was NOT expecting Luke Skywalker to show up, or to feature so prominently in an episode.
I know there’s been considerable debate online and a variety of feelings regarding the digital appearance of Luke. I think there’s some in-depth discussions to be had about the ethics of CGI created performances (more on this later). Still, seeing Luke made me happy and I thought the CGI was breathtaking.
I really enjoyed watching Mando and Boba fight together in the finale, as well as seeing both Grogu and the rancor join the action. Cad Bane in live action was actually pretty terrifying, and the Wild West style gunfight was a fitting end for his character.
I have to get this out of the way – I know the cyborg gang of Mos Espa have their fans but I really didn’t care for these characters. For one, those “space Vespas” looked really out of place in a dusty desert environment like Tatooine, and a gang of rebel youths who modify themselves into cyborgs didn’t feel very Star Wars-y to me. In the end, I felt they took away too much screen time that could have been devoted to something else (also, there were other ways the showrunners could have explained how Boba saved Fennec Shand).
Also, for a show that’s titled The Book of Boba Fett, I really felt the character’s absence in the two Mando-focused episodes. Was it great to see Mando again? Absolutely. Those were actually my two favorite episodes of the series…and that kinda feels like a problem, because this story arc had very little to do with the show’s title character.
This show didn’t do nearly enough to get inside Boba’s head, and as the supposedly triumphant return of a fan favorite character, it should have given us more. In The Empire Strikes Back, we see Boba as a stoic, badass bounty hunter – a sort of Mandalorian Clint Eastwood. Boba has a different persona in this TV show; he doesn’t seem particularly ruthless, and he has a more merciful style of leadership than I would have expected.
It’s important to note that none of that is a bad thing per se – when I watch a TV show, I want to see character development. I’m not interested in a mindless show that’s so packed with action it’s just Boba punching and blasting stuff for 45 minutes each week. However, Boba’s personality shift seems abrupt. The show needed to give us more on how his time with the Tuskens transformed him, and to provide justification for why he’s changed. The Mandalorian turns from a hardened man of action into a compassionate person who loves Grogu like a son, yet that transformation feels earned in a way that Boba’s transformation doesn’t.
In a show with just seven episodes, it felt like there was definitely some filler content – and you can’t afford filler.
I know that earlier I was talking about how much I liked seeing Luke Skywalker in The Book of Boba Fett, and I truly did. At the same time, I don’t want this to become the norm for Lucasfilm or other studios who are trying to capitalize on nostalgia.
No matter how good a CGI recreation is, you just can’t replace real actors giving real performances (animated stories are, of course, a different topic, and I’m totally fine with seeing animated shows that feature classic Star Wars characters from the original trilogy).
The best Star Wars (at least for me) is a balance of both the nostalgic and the new, which is why I loved the sequel trilogy so much. As much as I adore the original trilogy, Lucasfilm’s storytelling is going to be hampered if they go back to that same well too often, especially if the nostalgia is served by CGI performances. CGI Luke did take away screen time from Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen, two fine actors playing characters who haven’t received anywhere near the same amount of screentime in the franchise as Luke.
Anyway, these thoughts/opinions are a little bit disorganized, because I both loved the appearance of Luke and have concerns about it. Ultimately, I feel like I’ll enjoy the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Rogue One/Cassian Andor series more than The Book of Boba Fett, and they (hopefully!) won’t have the same types of issues.