Wednesday, January 19, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Book of Boba Fett' - Boba and Fennec Prepare for War with the Pyke Syndicate in 'Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm'

Disney+'s The Book of Boba Fett - Episode 1.04 "Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm"

Boba Fett partners with Fennec Shand.

"Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm" was written by Jon Favreau and directed by Kevin Tancharoen

How did Boba Fett survive the sarlacc pit? How did Boba save Fennec Shand's life exactly? How did Boba retrieve his ship? The show is providing answers to these very basic questions. It also comes across as the show needing to over-explain every single detail about his life. Nothing can be left to ambiguity. That's done with the somewhat false suggestion that audiences can't handle anything less than abundant clarity. That is true in some instances. A story needs to be able to rationalize its developments. The audience needs to trust that all the hard work put into the narrative is done with purpose and meaning. That can present itself in many different ways. It doesn't need to be all about plot all the time. Spending time with characters is just as vital. In this instance though, the show is filling in details for things that don't need any more explanation. This episode sets out to provide a better examination into why Fennec has become loyal to Boba no matter what. The initial answer of her owing her life to him was already enough though. And now, the show is suggesting that decision was much more complicated to convince her to join his crusade. Now is the time for the bounty hunters to strike out on their own. They can maintain independence while also being unified as a tribe. That's the lesson he learned from his time with the Tusken raiders. He has to convince Fennec to believe in that idea as well. He needs her in order to retrieve his ship. That piece of technology is the only way he can exact vengeance on those responsible for killing the tribe that rescued him. It also highlights how Boba idolizes his time with the Tuskens. He attributes them for his rescue from the pit. That undercuts the image that started the series of his hand punching out of the sand and returning to safety. He knows that his armor kept him safe from the acidic poison. But he believes his armor is still down there because, for some reason, the Tuskens didn't want to save that part of him despite how much they value protective clothing covering their skin at all times. It's pure chaos when it doesn't need to be. It actually indicates trepidation from the creative team. So much of this episode is devoted to the past. It also calls into question how much time has actually passed for Boba. It seems as if he found Fennec shortly after the Tusken tribe was killed. How much time did he spend with them? How long was he in the pit? Those previously seemed brief. They could be transformational experiences for him even if they didn't ultimately last long. But that doesn't seem to line up with the timeline that was previously set by the story from The Mandalorian. Furthermore, the episode plays into Boba's quest to retrieve his armor when it's already understood how he gained that symbol of power once more. That's glossed over entirely. Again, it's because no greater explanation is necessary. Boba and Fennec had agency when they appeared on The Mandalorian. Now though, it's just a bland quest for power in a shifting world. Boba asks the other crime lords to remain neutral in his coming war with the Pyke syndicate. Fennec suggests they need to hire an army in order to stand a chance at surviving. It's all happening so slowly. That shouldn't necessarily be seen as a bad thing. In this case though, it's disrupting any true sense of momentum because the time spent with the characters is offering nothing new. It's simply a show in search of purpose. It hopes to ride high on callbacks to past events in the grand Star Wars mythology without trying to break out with something on its own. That's crippling. Sure, it can be exciting to see the various action sequences. Boba and Fennec remain up for the challenges. They have the skills to survive in battles both big and small. The scale and purpose of the events remain ambiguous. Nothing is coming into focus even though the show suggests a culmination is building for an inevitable confrontation. The stakes are wonky. That's before Garsa Fwip strolls in to try to calm down Krrsantan to no avail. The time spent with her suggests something more important than a scenic character Boba frequents. But it's hard to trust that anything is being done with purpose to ultimately surprise or reward the audience at the end of this journey. That's what has essentially been lost in trying to mine the details of plot points that don't require much meaning in the first place.