The Book of Boba Fett: Chapter 1 review!

Boba Fett is back!

Today is the premiere of the newest Star Wars live-action series, The Book of Boba Fett, which explores the return of the iconic bounty hunter as he seeks to claim the throne of Jabba the Hutt and rule Tatooine as a crime lord. It stars Temuera Morrison in his return to the role, alongside Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand, both of whom previously appeared in The Mandalorian.

This first episode was directed by showrunner Robert Rodriguez and written by creator Jon Favreau, so the two of them jumped right in with the series. And though the first episode isn’t what I was expecting, it was really good and really intriguing. Let’s jump in to our review, but be warned that full spoilers are ahead for Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land!


SUMMARY:

The episode opens with empty shots of a quiet Jabba’s Palace, and we find Boba Fett in the bacta tank. As he’s in there healing, he has a series of flashbacks through dreams. There’s a brief glimpse of Kamino, and then a brief glimpse of him holding his father’s head on Geonosis. Then we see Fett inside the sarlaac pit, waking up and taking in his surroundings. He spies a nearby stormtrooper and steals his breathing device, giving Fett enough air to escape the beast using his flamethrower and willpower. Fett emerges from the sands of the desert nearby, but collapses in exhaustion. Later a Jawa sandcrawler approaches and Jawas pry the armor off of Fett’s body, leaving him for dead – only to be found by a band of Tusken Raiders. They capture Fett and take him back to camp. One night he tries to escape but is sold out by a fellow prisoner and soon caught in the desert once more.

At this point Fennec approaches and wakes him up, and Boba prepares to meet with a string of guests coming to pay their tribute to the new crime lord. An Aqualish brings money, then a Trandoshan brings wookiee pelts. That’s followed by a Twi’lek representing the Mayor of Mos Espa coming, but it goes awry from the start, and the Twi’lek actually expects Fett to pay tribute. Fennec says the tribute is allowing him to leave with his life. Then two Gamorreans are brought in as prisoners, having served both Jabba and Bib Fortuna. Rather than killing them, however, Fett lets them live if they pledge loyalty to him.

With their two Gamorrean guards, Fett and Fennec make their way to Mos Espa, where they visit a casino owned by the Mayor – a place where Max Rebo and his band plays while the guests party. They meet with another Twi’lek and Fett passes on his regards to the Mayor. As they leave, they are ambushed by a series of heavily-armed thugs, whose defenses Fett and Fennec can’t overcome – that is, until the Gamorrean guards arrive and distract the men just long enough. This allows Fett and Fennec to spring into action and fight them, taking out several of them. But Fett is wounded and is dragged back to Jabba’s Palace by the Gamorreans and placed in the bacta tank, while Fennec tracks down the remaining two guards and captures one alive.

Back in the bacta tank, Fett’s dreams continue. We see flashbacks to him as a prisoner of the tuskens, and he and the other prisoner are taken by a youngling to dig for water. As they do so, a terrifying beast emerges from the sand, killing the other prisoner. As it nears in on the youngling, Fett springs on it from behind, killing it with his chains. The youngling takes the head of the beast back to camp, followed by a victorious Fett, who is then given a drink of water.


REVIEW:

This episode wasn’t what I was expecting, but that isn’t a bad thing. The majority of the episode was told in flashbacks, with only a few scenes taking place in the ‘present day’ of the story’s timeline. And the majority of the storytelling was done through visual mediums rather than with words, as there were only a few scenes that relied around dialogue (and even one of those included a joke about how they needed a protocol droid to be able to understand it).

Doing it this way demonstrates a remarkable confidence in the show and its audience. Often a premiere episode like this might include a key reveal or exciting setup or intriguing cliffhanger or something like that to hook interest, but this show did none of that. That’s what I mean when I say I was surprised, as we actually don’t really know any more about what this show will really be about after the first episode than we did after the trailers – and in other words, it’s still not a lot. And though showrunner Robert Rodriguez said that we only saw footage from the first half of the first season because of how spoilerly the rest was, that obviously wasn’t entirely true either.

What we all did conclude from the trailers was that there would be flashbacks in the show, but I don’t think anyone expected the first episode to be made up mostly of them. And the way they were handled works really well, as it happens through the narrative device of Boba healing in the bacta tank, plus this gives a very distinctive look to the same character in these different time periods. This makes the flashbacks work both visually and narratively, which are often the two hardest challenges in doing storytelling this way (and I’ll say, just in case, and for future reference, that the changes in his armor should be unique enough to differentiate in flashbacks still). I loved seeing a few glimpses of the prequel trilogy, of both Kamino and Geonosis! It’s cool that they’re acknowledging that part of his story. And I’m really happy to be learning about what happened to him after Return of the Jedi! I hoped they would explain some of this, but I didn’t expect to actually see him inside the sarlacc pit and see him escaping! That was really cool. So the episode explains how he escaped (he fought his way out using his flamethrower), how he lost his armor (the Jawas took it), and what happened to him after that (the Tusken Raiders “saved” him).

Much of the flashbacks centered around his time with the Tusken Raiders, and he’s held captive – including in captivity to a youngling. It’s another daring choice by this show to make the feared bounty hunter one held captive by a kid, but it works because we can imagine the indignity that Fett feels in the process. This also is a twist from what I expected, as I thought the Tuskens were going to rescue Fett rather than imprison him. But it seems that he’s now earned their respect by defeating the creature, and so I wonder if he’ll be welcomed into the tribe? Speaking of the creature, that sequence was orchestrated well, but the creature was a bit odd and didn’t feel like it fully fit. We’ve never seen it in Star Wars before, and I like that, but I’m still unsure how I feel about it’s design. Seeing Fett take it down to save the youngling’s life, though, was great.

There’s not as much to talk about from the present day of the story, since most of it we did actually see in the trailers. But there are a few notes I want to make. First, the dynamic between Fett and Fennec is great; we don’t get a ton of their interactions together, but what we do get is great, as their comments and remarks to each other are fantastic. Second, after taking out several of the thugs, Fett is then wounded and has to be rushed back to the bacta tank. That’s very interesting, and it makes me think that he’s still suffering from some side effects from his time in the sarlacc that we don’t know about. I wonder if we’ll learn more about that in episodes to come, and I think it would be a very interesting dynamic that would give more credibility to the danger of the sarlacc. After all, you would think he’d have some lingering effects, right?

And third, of course, is what you’ve all been waiting for: MAX REBO! He survived the explosion of Jabba’s Sail Barge at the Great Pit of Carkoon! We last saw him playing aboard the Sail Barge in Return of the Jedi, but it’s revealed here that he’s playing in the cantina owned by the Mayor, in Mos Espa. It’s a subtle cameo, but it’s one that long-time Star Wars fans will surely appreciate. I loved it.

Overall this was a really solid episode. It wasn’t fantastic, but it was a really good start to the series, one that is content on taking its time to tell the story slowly over the course of the season, and though I think that could make the week-to-week dynamic a bit more interesting, I think it’ll be better for it in the long run. This is truly telling the story of Boba Fett, and Temuera Morrison is fantastic. The theme by Ludwig Goransson is great (the rest of the score is composed by Goransson’s longtime composing partner Joseph Shirley), and the visual storytelling medium is utilized greatly. The flashbacks work well also, creating (and filling in details) about Fett’s backstory. But what we don’t know yet is much of anything about the present-day story of the series, so there’s plenty more to come.

Most of all, though, it’s just great to have live-action Star Wars back!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s