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The Book of Boba Fett Chapter One: Stranger in a Strange Land

"Jabba ruled with fear. I intend to rule with respect."

In the first episode of his Book, Boba Fett, with Master Assassin Fennec Shand, tries to fill a power vacuum on Tatooine. Instead of tribute, they get trouble.

Boba Fett is one of the most interesting characters in Star Wars history. He started in the original trilogy in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, working for the Empire and Jabba the Hutt. The same actor plays his own father, Jango Fett, in the prequel movies, and Jango and Boba are both in Attack of the Clones. Boba's journey after that is in the animated Clone Wars series, which I cannot recommend enough, and continues in The Mandalorian series. This series is, sequentially, a spin-off of Mandalorian, and occurs at about the same time as that series.

Who is this series for?

One of the challenges for any series embedded in such a complex mythology as Star Wars is how to handle telling a story versus satisfying the burning questions bothering the fans. This can make the difference between a series being accessible to a new viewer or being for fans.

For The Book of Boba Fett my review is mixed in that regard. This series is a spin off of The Mandalorian and is founded in events that happened in Season Two of that series. If you are willing to be somewhat confused and let the story unfold, with the explanation coming over time, Temuera Morrison's great acting throughout is probably going to make for a great experience. If not, check out the reference list above, and stop here to avoid spoilers.

Back to the Cantina.

When the episode opens, we see a man – Boba Fett – inside of a Sarlacc. He winds up blasting his way out and getting trapped by Tusken raiders. In this time frame, we're right after Return of the Jedi.

Back in the present, our story so far is revealed to be a troubling dream – and this episode picks up right where The Mandalorian left off. Boba Fett and Fennec Shand are now crime lords in charge of Tatooine, and the focus is on how Boba continues and refines his rise to power as a mercenary with a heart of gold who wants to rule and maintain certain moral standards. He now occupies the position his father once served – Jabba's position – and wants to be a completely different kind of leader. And, as a quick series of tributes – and not-so-tributes – show, we realize Boba still has a long way to go before his rule as Benevolent Crime Lord is fully realized. And there's the strange matter of those dreams...

From there, the story goes on to include a fun Cantina, some truly nice fights – both in present-day Mos Espa and in the past on Tatooine – and showcase the inexorability that's Boba Fett as he wades through assassins and indigenous terrors; I felt we needed to see and learn more about Fennec Shand, if only because I never tire of Ming-na Wen.

I only got into Star Wars after the pandemic began. I watched the entire series from the first movies to the Bad Batch. What's exciting for me is that an initial exploration of simple light and dark – the Jedi versus the Sith – evolved, through the second and third series and the cartoons, into a much more nuanced view of good and evil. So, this is a really cool concept – how the child of a mercenary, both touched by the ways of the force, are evolving their own vision of morality and what is right in this universe, and a story about the same character at two different temporal views of the same timeline – one just before the end of the Empire, and one about five to six years later or so (in the same time as The Mandalorian, and giving this series a little bit of an Arrow-in-Star Wars feel.)

What did I love?

The Gammorean Guards. These guys have also had some longevity in the Star Wars Universe.

The Mayor's Majordomo. He reminded me of the Vorta from Deep Space Nine, and kind of helped me set Boba's power. It took six assassins to try to down him, and he was holding back – they both want these criminals alive and wanted Boba to keep his word. They were aiming to kill.

The band!!!! Yay!!!!

The image of Boba standing at the end.

What made me erp?

Honestly, the opening sequence, while enlightening was kind of yucky. I'm glad they roasted right into the next scene.

The brutality of the Tuskens. I get that this is part of their culture, it's still ech.

I felt this episode was fairly linear. They rebuked the Mayor. The Mayor sent assassins. The episode does its job as a pilot and sets up a story that can introduce us to Boba Fett as a character, but for me it felt somewhat predictable. On the other hand, we aren't sure exactly who sent the assassins, so maybe that part will get more interesting.

The creature at the end was great! Reminded me of the Gorn from Star Trek for some reason.

Great quotes

Majordomo: Actually, there is one other matter, if I may.
Boba Fett: What is it?
Majordomo: The matter of tribute.
Boba Fett: I'm confused.
Fennec Shand: He wants you to pay him.
Boba Fett: What? I'm the crime lord. He's supposed to pay me.
Fennec Shand: Shall I kill him?

Boba Fett: I'm Boba Fett. I have replaced Bib Fortuna.
Garsa Fwip: Apologies. I didn't see your litter.
Boba Fett: I wasn't carried on a litter. I walk on my own two feet.

Overall

This is going to be a fun new series. It'll definitely pack more punch if you know the backstory, though, and I'm looking forward to getting into the meat and maybe see some connections to the wider Star Wars universe. Four out of five shiny coins ;)

3 comments:

  1. I like the simplicity of the story structure that the Mandalorian and now Boba Fett are employing. It may be predictable but personally it reminds me of old school 70s and 80s shows like The bionic Man/Woman, Wonder Woman, V and so on.
    And yes..More Fennec. Ming na Wen has not aged since she played Chun Li in one of my fave terrible movies Street Fighter (1994).

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  2. I haven't really watched any of the Mandelorian, but I didn't feel too lost. Boba Fett is taking over for some crime lord. It's not going well. Simple enough premise to follow and understand. I wasn't expecting the past/dream timeline, but I like it. I'm always happy to see the Tusken Raiders expanded upon. Curious about who the gang was that was briefly saw. That should be interesting.

    Loved all of the different aliens. The practical effects looked fabulous. And the inside of a sarlaac was very icky and also very cool to actually see. Guess you have to make sure that whoever you toss in there doesn't have any weapons. Also loved seeing everyone parkour around the town. That was very cool.

    I didn't realize that the Mayor was the one who sent the assassins, but that's the logical conclusion, isn't it? I just never made the connection.

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  3. Anonymous, you're right Mandalorian also had a simple storytelling structure - the presence of the Child elevated that in my thinking, there was so much unknown about Grogu (and still is!)

    Fangirl, it was definitely implied that the Mayor sent the assassins - but I'm also wondering if that was a red herring. We'll find out!

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