Wednesday, December 29, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Book of Boba Fett' - Boba Aspires to Rule Tatooine in a New Way in 'Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land'

Disney+'s The Book of Boba Fett - Episode 1.01 "Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land"

Boba Fett holds court.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Disney+'s The Book of Boba Fett.

"Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land" was written by Jon Favreau and directed by Robert Rodriguez

Boba Fett has built up a lot of fame and adoration in the Star Wars lore simply for being cool. He initially presented as an efficient and daunting bounty hunter targeting Han Solo. He was an antagonist who complicated the hero's journey in the original trilogy films. And yet, he was never central enough to have much depth or importance to the overall story. Fans quickly embraced the character and yearned for more stories. As such, his backstory was given more complexity in the prequel trilogies as well as the subsequent animated series. And then, the character returned in live-action during the second season of The Mandalorian. Those episodes actually did a solid job in remarking on the fame of the character while presenting him as a clean slate to aid the hero on his own unique mission. With this new drama, fans are finally given what they have always craved. It's a show entirely about Boba Fett. In producing this series, the expectations for success may be set too high. It's clear the creative team is still informed by the style of The Mandalorian and the various clash of genres. Will that be satisfying for fans who have long ascribed much more depth and meaning onto Boba Fett than he initially had? That will remain an open question across this 7-episode season. This premiere sets out to tell two distinct stories in different times. One is a continuation of the mid-credits tease from the end of The Mandalorian's second season. Boba and Fennec Shand have returned to Tatooine to take over what was once Jabba the Hutt's criminal empire. Not much explanation is given as to why Boba would want to embark on this new career path. He states how he wishes to rule with respect instead of fear. That may prove his own naivety in this situation. Everyone questions the decisions he is making. And yet, he is the new lord of this underworld. As such, he is given the respect to make those decisions until new assassins arrive to potentially take him out. It's all fairly standard action and storytelling about an antihero embracing crime while trying to do it in a more honorable way than his predecessors. Again, those storytelling elements are familiar. That's potentially why they feel more like filler than setting out to tell a new, vastly important story. Of course, the same can be said for the another story that takes the action back to Boba's days after escaping the sarlacc pit. That action also has been built up to the point that would seemingly ascribe some magical ability onto Boba for surviving that impossible danger. In reality, he simply had the tools in his armor to cut his way back to safety. It was still an exhausting journey. It's hardly the point the creative team is trying to tell with this corner of his life. Instead, his armor is stripped from him by Jawas and he is taken prisoner by Tusken raiders. He always has the skills to fight and potentially escape. But he's also at the mercy of people who have their own ways and unique views on the world around them. Boba can possibly be an ally for them. That too fits into the honor the new extension of the Star Wars series brings to its stand-ins for Native representation. Mando viewed the raiders with respect when others only saw vicious savages. Boba is a prisoner being deprived of dignity and basic tools for survival. In the heat of battle though, he saves the young raider charged with lording over him when they are attacked by another sand creature. The sands of this planet bury some truly dangerous threats that can unearth at any moment. That remains a constant in this world. It's where Boba seeks to call home though. That absolutely needs more explanation moving forward. It continues to be cool seeing Boba and Fennec banter as they gain their bearings. Boba is clearly haunted by this place. That's why he is still dreaming about his past experiences. Those were transformational to his life. It's now time for the audience to understand that journey and how it informed his character. It just makes for a premiere without a ton of urgency to it. That too can be understandable in the grand scheme of things. It just also has the effect of the audience not knowing what exactly to care about beyond being excited over seeing the various fights. Even then, the battle with the sand creature is more thrilling and imaginative than the present-day story when Boba and Fennec come under attack while surveying their new fiefdom.