The first season of The Book of Boba Fett has concluded, and while we don’t know if there will be another one, we do know that there will be more stories to come with these characters. I reviewed each episode week-by-week as they aired, but I thought it would be fun to take a step back and consider the season as a whole.
In short, I felt like this was a series where the parts were a lot stronger than the whole. I’ll spend my review explaining what I mean by that, as essentially I thought the individual episodes were mostly fantastic and interesting, but their connection to a larger storyline was a bit more sporadic and curious.
One of the main themes of the season was the rebirth of Boba Fett, seeing the iconic and familiar character grow into something new. He’s given up the ways of bounty hunting and is seeking to re-invent himself and find a family to belong to. Through the first four episodes a lot of the story is told via flashback, exploring what happened to Fett after his near-death experience with the sarlacc pit. But even that is significant, as we also see glimpses in flashbacks of Fett as a child on Kamino watching his father leave, as well as glimpses in flashbacks of Boba as a kid cradling his dead father’s helmet on Geonosis. It makes me think of the line from Finn in The Force Awakens, saying “I was raised to do one thing.” Ever since birth Finn had known nothing but being a stormtrooper, and here Boba Fett had known nothing but being a bounty hunter since his birth. He was raised by his father Jango, literally an unaltered clone of him, to become the best bounty hunter in the galaxy, and in the process Boba was left all alone (both watching his father leave, and later watching his father die). And where did all of that lead him? All alone, left to die in the sarlacc. But he finds a family in the Tuskens, who take him in and train him, and he learns to embrace these relationships and to stop only living for himself. His experience with the lizard in Chapter 2, with the vision of the waves and the tree, is representative of his change: Boba sees himself literally entangled by his former life, struggling to survive, and he finally breaks those ties and emerges a new person, having experienced a new birth of sorts.
He’s giving up bounty hunting, and as he changes, the accusation from those in the show – as well as some fans watching – is that he went soft. In Chapter 4, for instance, Fennec Shand tells him, “living with the Tuskens has made you soft.” In Chapter 7, the same sentiment is articulated by Cad Bane, who says, “you’re going soft in your old age.” Some fans watching the series, expecting the exact same Boba Fett without any growth or change, thought the same thing. But it’s Fett’s response to Fennec that is a helpful summary of his growth in the series: “No. “[Living with the Tuskens]’s made me strong. You can only get so far without a tribe.” That’s the point: Boba has realized the importance of having others around him, something he’s never really had before. And that’s why, as Cad Bane moves in for the kill in the season finale, he says, “Consider this my final lesson. Look out for yourself. Anything else is weakness.” But how does Boba defeat Bane? By using the gaffi stick that he got with the Tuskens, a clear example that Boba is stronger for looking out for more than just himself, not weaker.
Because we’ve seen where being a bounty hunter leads. The series showed multiple times Boba holding Jango’s helmet on Geonosis, after his father was left dead in the sand. The series showed Boba in the sarlacc pit and escaping from it, after he was left for dead in the sand. And the series at the end showed Cad Bane’s defeat, as he was left for dead in the sand. Being a bounty hunter, this show is telling us, leads to you being left alone to die in the sand. Boba got a second chance after surviving this, and he realized he needed to change. In Chapter 4, he asks Fennec, “How many times have you been hired to do a job that was avoidable? If they only took the time to think. How much money could have been made? How many lives could have been saved? … I’m tired of our kind dying because of the idiocy of others. We’re smarter than them. It’s time we took our shot.”
All of this is also why the inclusion of some other bounty hunters in this series makes a lot of sense thematically. (1) First, consider Black Krrsantan. He’s hired to kill Boba Fett, but he winds up captured – and his employer, the Hutt twins, don’t stand by him. Boba spares his life and lets him go free, telling him, “Take it from an ex-bounty hunter. Don’t work for scugholes. It’s not worth it.” Krrsantan winds up working for Fett, and whereas the Hutts turned him over like he was nothing, Boba actually risks his own safety to save him in the finale. (2) Second, consider Din Djarin. His appearance actually does fit well in to the story’s narrative, because when we first meet him he has returned to bounty hunting… and it’s not exactly going great for him. He’s trying to return to his former way of life after giving up Grogu, as if he hadn’t been permanently changed. What he needs is the convincing that it’s ok to give up bounty hunting, and an example of what that looks like. It’s why, as he continually wants another Razor Crest, Peli Motto gives him a ship that’s not great for collecting bounties. He’s a different person than when we first met him at the beginning of The Mandalorian, no matter how much he tries to avoid that reality, and he needs to embrace his new destiny with the darksaber. In Boba, there’s an example of a bounty hunter who has given up his ways and embraced change for the better. Boba Fett is the example Djarin needs, and the example the audience needs to believe it. (3) And third, consider Cad Bane. He shows up and hasn’t changed. He’s still the same ruthless bounty hunter he’s always been, looking out only for himself. He can’t understand what’s motivating Fett – thus him asking Fett what’s his angle – and doesn’t believe that Boba Fett can actually change and grow better. Bane represents what Boba Fett could become, if not for the events covered in this series. And, again, how does Bane’s story end? Dead in the desert. It’s like poetry; it rhymes.
So I think I’m accurately tracking the larger narrative themes of the season, and I love it. I think this is a significant story that’s worth telling, and it was done well, particularly with the moments with the Tusken Raiders. The overall narrative of the series is one I loved. Furthermore, I (mostly) loved the individual episodes. Though some were stronger than others (I thought Chapter 3 was definitely the weakest of the series), I thought week-by-week there were enjoyable stories that were told! For example, regardless of how well they fit in with the overall story, Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 are some of my very favorite episodes of Star Wars ever. There was so much amazing stuff that happened in them, so even though Boba Fett appeared in just one scene (with no lines) between the two episodes, I absolutely loved them! That’s what I mean by saying the individual episodes were great; the parts were even stronger than the whole.
Because if there’s one main issue that I have with the series, it’s the overall structure of it. The series felt more disjointed and like it was trying to do more than it needed to, and I think it led to the season not feeling as coherent as it could have been. Like I said, that’s not me saying I didn’t enjoy it, because I thought the episodes were mostly a lot of fun, and the main themes of Boba’s story were great – but how it all fit together over the course of the season was just strange.
Chapters 1-4 were really all about Boba Fett and his journey. That’s where pretty much all of the growth for his character happened (aside from a few things that were set up for a payoff in the finale). These four episodes were told using a ton of flashbacks, and the way they did so worked really well (having Boba in his bacta tank), but it made it feel like we didn’t get as much momentum going in the present day. What happened is that right when the flashbacks for Boba ended, we shifted gears away from Boba. So the flashback stories with the Tuskens and with Boba’s re-invention were great, but it never felt like the story in the present day was given enough room to develop fully because of that. There were really two aspects of this that I felt were short-changed and deserved more attention. (1) First, I felt like we needed more time to see Boba and the people of Mos Espa, so that when he defiantly declares that he’s not leaving his people in the final episode, it holds more weight. We knew that the Tuskens were Boba’s family, but why is he so adamant about the people of Mos Espa being his family? Does he just feel an obligation toward them because he’s trying to rule as the daimyo? I felt like this needed more time to develop in order for it to carry the fullest weight in the finale.
(2) A second, and bigger, aspect that I felt deserved more attention was bringing clarity to the “villain” of the show. I thought this was one of the biggest things holding back some of the larger storyline. In the first episode, Boba and Fennec are attacked by assassins, though we don’t know who sent them. That’s fine, as the first episode should leave us with questions! In the second episode, we encounter the Mayor (who supposedly sent the assassins), are introduced to the twin Hutts who are laying claim to the planet, and then in flashbacks see that the Pyke Syndicate was operating on Tatooine. In episode three, then, the Mayor is reduced to little more than a pawn for the Pykes, and the Hutts leave because the Pykes have laid claim to the territory. It all begins growing a little confusing (why introduce the Hutts at all then? And why are they so easily dissuaded?). I never really felt like the Pykes were the most convincing of bad guys in this series at conveying a major threat – that is, until Chapter 6, when Cad Bane strolls onto the scene. It is only in the final two episodes that this series really had a compelling villain who could hold his weight and be a formidable opponent for Fett. I’m not a big fan of evaluating stories on what I think should have happened, as we should instead review them on the basis of what actually did, but I feel like introducing Cad Bane earlier in the series and giving more attention to him and his rivalry with Fett could have helped things.
But just when it seemed we were beginning to move forward in the present storyline, we’re diverted away from Fett’s story almost entirely for two episodes. Chapters 5-6 placed the focus squarely on Din Djarin, and Grogu too. And I want to be clear, again, that these were my two favorite episodes from the season, and I think we should be extremely hesitant to say that they actually distracted from the story, because I think what we’re seeing is that this is all their story first and foremost. The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and the other shows that will be connected with them is the story of Din Djarin. We’ll see other stories told about other characters in this period, but it will all be connected with the larger story about Djarin and Grogu and their adventures. Much like The Clone Wars is Ahsoka’s story, yet we get plenty of episodes focusing on other characters, I think these shows will focus on other characters but always under the larger narrative focus of Din Djarin’s story. So you won’t really hear me talking about how this stories took away from the other one, as I think we should be reminded that these stories are actually connected and about him in the first place.
So my pushback here is mainly this: I felt like both stories deserved more time to unfold. The story about Boba Fett, as I mentioned in the previous point about Chapters 1-4, could have used a bit more attention in the present day. But the story about Din Djarin and Grogu most definitely could and should have been given more time to unfold. We had an entire season of The Mandalorian devoted to Djarin’s quest to return Grogu to the Jedi, and that was undone in two or three episodes of a different series. I’m ok with Djarin and Grogu being in The Book of Boba Fett. I’m ok with Grogu choosing to return to be with Djarin instead of staying with Luke. And I really love the stories that we got about both Djarin and Grogu in these episodes. But I feel like it was more rushed than it should have been. I feel like we should have had longer with Luke Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and Grogu. I feel like we should have had longer seeing Djarin adjust to life without the Child. So in the end, I felt like this storyline – a massively significant one, it seems, in the larger narrative – was too rushed to be able to fit in to this series. The final scene of The Mandalorian season two was Djarin watching Grogu taken away by Luke. The start of The Mandalorian season three will see Grogu back with Djarin. I’m cool with that decision, but I wish they’d have taken a bit more time to get there.
But with all of that considered, I thought Chapter 7 had a difficult task of trying to tie together the plot threads that had been introduced – and not really resolved – in the prior six episodes, and it did so well and in a satisfying way, which is no small task.
In short, then, I guess a way to say it is that I felt like this show tried to tackle a bit too much, but managed to do so in a way that mostly delivered. I thoroughly enjoyed the series and some of the moments are among my favorites in any show, which in my view more than makes up for some curious directional decisions. In the end, I thought this series told a very good and compelling story about Boba Fett’s growth, connected into the larger storyline across this era in some really key ways, had some amazing moments and epic characters, and was fun and entertaining. That makes it a win and a success, and I can’t wait to see the next chapter in this era.