Wednesday, January 5, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Book of Boba Fett' - Boba Grows Closer with the Tribe of Tusken Raiders in 'Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine'

Disney+'s The Book of Boba Fett - Episode 1.02 "Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine"

Boba Fett faces new challenges on Tatooine.

"Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine" was written by Jon Favreau and directed by Steph Green

The creative team has stymied itself a little bit thanks to The Mandalorian teaser that first set up The Book of Boba Fett. In that moment, it was exciting to learn that Boba Fett was finally getting a series himself. It offered a further expansion of this world as well as a nod of confidence in Jon Favreau's creative vision. And yet, the present day story of Boba and Fennec Shand trying to take over Jabba's criminal underworld on Tatooine is not as engaging as Boba's solo journey with the Tusken raiders in the past. The series feels compelled to detail what life was like for the former bounty hunter following his encounter with Han Solo. He reappeared to help the Mandalorian on his journey to rescue the Child from the evil forces of Moff Gideon. And now, he sets out on his own journey and the series is choosing to be very coy about what all of this potentially means. It's not in a rush to explain anything or allow something consequential to occur. It's vaguely inferred based on Boba and Fennec being targeted by assassins. It's also a nice bit of dark humor when they use the fear of the rancor pit to get the answers they want even though the cell remains empty. That brief moment also indicates the actual hollowness of this world Boba now wants to rule. Sure, he interacts with more power players. He meets with the Mayor of Mos Espa after being told he hired the assassins. He then learns that the Twins - family members of Jabba - wish to make their own claim to the throne of the criminal empire. It's a conflict without an easy solution as Boba needs permission before being able to kill these royalties. But again, that mostly feels like stalling tactics meant to delay the story. It seems as if each episode must delicately balance both of these distinct timelines. At least once each week, Boba is required to be in the bacta tank in order to dream about these former experiences. It's a formula that has been quickly established. It creates the seamless transition between the two stories the audience must pay attention to. And yet, the more meaningful action occurs in the past. Yes, those may be the sequences with fewer dialogue. But that also allows the emotion to be more searing. Sure, it's not completely original. It still provides value because it plays into Western tropes while still telling stories of meaning. In the present day, the Twins arrive with claims that this land belongs to them. That plays in contrast to the past where Boba is advocating for the indigenous Tusken raiders who were the first on this land and have been abused by the invaders seeking to colonize the universe. Boba learns their ways. He teaches them how to use technology to fight back as well. That makes for a thrilling sequence where he leads a unit to derail a train that has been plaguing their community for a long time. He sees firsthand the devastation that comes from those who seek to shoot at these people not knowing the honor they bring to this world and conduct themselves with. Sure, Boba started as a prisoner fighting for just a sip of water. But now, he too is an honorable member of the tribe. He understands their practices. His journey ultimately takes him far away. That's already present when he goes on his hallucinogenic trip to procure the branch that will be forged into his own distinct weapon. For the moment though, it's rousing to witness him become one with the tribe. The ceremony around the fire that concludes the episode is just as thrilling as the train sequence and the training that led up to it. Those payoffs are emotional and work. It's just disappointing that it only functions in one corner of the narrative at the moment. That's distracting and truly creates an erratic effect overall. Of course, the viewer should appreciate that the story in the past takes up the bulk of the running time in both the premiere and the second episode. That's mostly being done in service to Boba's backstory - which has never truly been fleshed out previously. The present-day story has the makings of being the most consequential though. That requires some investment that remains lacking. Focus will surely come eventually. People need to have that hope because the creative team has earned the trust in handling this universe with care. It's simply striking to see one element work so well while the other falters despite a number of talented actors involved in that particular corner.