It’s been just over a year since The Mandalorian’s second season premiered and we’ve certainly been itching for some more Star Wars goodness. The finale of that season was huge and full of iconic moments, which maybe set some expectations for the tone and scope of Lucasfilm’s second live-action television series. But The Book of Boba Fett defies expectations and offers an almost silent premiere from director Robert Rodriguez and writer Jon Favreau that maybe could have used a bit more story beats.
While there were no game-changing reveals in this episode, what was surprising was the tone and the emphasis on the past. The episode opens with almost ten minutes of silence, as Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) dreams in his bacta tank, which are healing away his scars. Most of his dreams center on his time after escaping the Sarlacc Pit (looking very 1983 might I add), where he was held captive by the Tusken Raiders. As Fett doesn’t know sign language, and the raiders can’t speak Basic, the show is very light on dialogue and story. At first, Fett is their prisoner and has no real authority or power, but after a throwdown with a truly bizarre creature (even by Star Wars standards, he looked like Goro from Mortal Kombat or the kraken from the 1981 Clash of the Titans), he’s eventually brought into the clan.
Those with a deeper knowledge of Star Wars will have recognized that Fett uses a gaffi stick in the sixth episode of Mandalorian’s second season, a weapon of the sand people, so it’s no surprise that he was adopted by their clan. But considering that the after-credit scene of Mando set up The Book of Boba Fett as a crime epic, with Fett and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) taking control over the Tatooine power vacuum, it is a little bizarre that the opener would devote so much of its runtime so Fett’s past, rather than his future. Fett disregards previous customs, forgoing any sort of pomp and pamper associated with the title of Lord, opting to walk himself around town and declaring he’ll rule with respect, rather than fear like Jabba did.
There’s not too much to theorize for the show going forward, other than Fett will likely be at odds with the mayor of Mos Espa, who refuses to pay Fett tribute and instead, wishes for the former bounty hunter to pay them instead. This will likely be the major conflict of the show, as the mayor’s representative informs Fett that he’ll likely be visited by some unsavoury characters in the near future. While prospecting his turf, Fett and Shand are ambushed by assailants, who more than likely work for this mayor. Could this be the beginning of a gang war? Too early to say, but with Fett being in a tank and being incapacitated in his first fight (relegating him back to the bacta tank and thus, more flashbacks), Fett doesn’t seem so imposing or menacing, especially when one considers how much of a beast he was in The Mandalorian.
That’s the biggest concern I think fans have with this show. Fans of the character, those who’ve read the comics and books of old, know Boba Fett as this man shrouded in mystery, but one who is a total badass bounty hunter. So far, this new Boba Fett feels quite different than he has before and one has to wonder if this new Fett will resonate with fans. Likewise, we want Fett to not be a traditional hero-he is vying to be a crime lord after all, but he feels a bit neutered so far and I have to wonder how far Disney will go in having a “villainous” protagonist, or will it be better business to have a show about a former villain turned hero to better fit their brand. Time will tell, but it’s a question worth posing.
Stranger in a Strange Land is a slow-burn of an episode that defies expectations and television norms. It’s nearly devoid of dialogue and might be too slow for some viewers. It’s perhaps not the best opener for a new series, as there wasn’t much setup or engagement, but it offers a look at how unprepared Boba Fett and Fennec Shand really are at being the new rulers of the criminal underworld of Tatooine while offering us a look into his past. Hopefully, future episodes tackle the present day storyline more and progress the narrative in a meaningful way.
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