The Book of Boba Fett

2 out of 5

Created by: Jon Favreau

covers season 1

The Book of Boba Fett is a slog. It was almost a slog from its announcement, with a fun cameo in The Mandalorian getting a nigh-immediate spin-off notice, adding to a pile of Star Wars overkill sentiment, but with Jon Favreau again in the creator / writer spot and the promise of more Ming Na-Wen, who knows? Perhaps the forever fetishization of this once-mysterious bounty hunter badass would result in some quality character explorations and cool fight scenes.

But no: it’s a slog. A slog despite interesting scripting elements from Favreau, and all-star directors like Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Tancharoen behind the scenes. Its first episode is a slog; its second episode is a slog; and so on. That its first non-slog episode is, essentially, a backdoor ep of a wholly different show is very telling.

And while some of this is due to that fetishization, giving a character that maybe doesn’t need a long, drawn out backstory and notable role in the world both of those things, a larger chunk is due to the Disneyfication of the whole affair, that can’t let bounty hunters be bounty hunters, and instead has to turn Fett into a goody two-shoes. But I kinda sorta feel like the largest chunk is, unfortunately, due to casting: Temuera Morrison’s dead-faced representation of Fett was cute in Mandalorian as a callback to Temuera representing Fett’s father in Attack of the Clones, and I accept that the dude has had some celebrated roles, but his approach to the character in the show attempts for a reserved, calculating coldness… and it instead comes across as someone both emotionally and physically inept. A feared killer, rendered completely unconvincing; he appears to bumble his way through scuffles, and his “thoughtful” face when put into dire situations instead gives the impression that Fett is trying to remember the alphabet, or when he ate breakfast. And his slow-roll style is then adapted by the directors, who have to pitch everything to that pace and level, dragging conversations down to an unintelligible back-of-napkin nature, and fights to a casual practice sparring session; it’s almost impressive to have made Robert Rodriguez’s action sequences boring.

That the premise of Fett, in taking over mob operations on Tatooine after having offed Mos Eisley and becomes something of a magnanimous leader – anyone he’s battled before is welcomed to join him – is kind of a generic redemption-ish arc isn’t an issue, necessarily, but the removal of any stakes in the story due to that aforementioned Disneyness and nostalgia both making Fett, essentially, untouchable is; it sucks a lot of the momentum out of both the flashbacks that fill in some SW character lore, and the present day Tatooine bits. Subtracting Fett himself from these sequences, I think there’s some valuable work there – again, good ideas from Favreau – and when the show’s allowed to function with some momentum, particularly as it concludes, the concept holds together much better. And that back-door other-show ep is all-around excellent.

But centering us on a sluggish representation of the lead character, and putting us through four sloggy episodes to get to a better point is definitely a tall, generally unappealing order.