Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.
I know everyone credits Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni as the team who gave Star Wars new life on Disney+ after the cinematic sequels proved so divisive, but frankly, Favreau has overstayed his welcome. His approach to the franchise is almost as frustrating as J.J. Abrams’ lousy fan-fiction. There’s never a sense that Favreau connects with these characters as anything more than neat action figures to move from scenario to scenario with little emotional connective tissue. That makes for a big problem when he’s trying to tell a seven-hour story.
This series has been more disastrous for Boba Fett as a character than anything Abrams did to any of his characters, including making Han a complete failure. People shit on Rian Johnson trying to thoughtfully explore Abrams’ creative choices for Luke Skywalker, which I think he succeeded at doing; it was Abrams’ fault that Ghost Luke wasn’t an integral part of The Rise of Skywalker like he should’ve been. Still, Favreau, with zero creative constraints, has managed to remove any mystique or personality from Boba, one of the last remaining original-trilogy crown jewels on which Disney could cash in. What a feat.
“The Gathering Storm” finally answers some of the questions audiences had at the start of The Book of Boba Fett, but none of the answers are remotely satisfying. Why is Boba trying to become a crime lord now? “Why not?,” he says at first before elaborating that he’s tired of bounty hunters being used by idiot criminals. It’s time they teamed up and actually ran the joint. That’s fine, but … why did we need three episodes to get to the point where that’s stated outright, with another episode to go before he actually tries to bring more allies into the fold? Why did he let Black Krrsantan go in the last episode when he could’ve hired him on the spot (like he does in this episode)?
“I was taken in by a tribe of Tuskens, but I got them massacred by a band of Nikto Sand Riders.” I’m paraphrasing, but not only is the dialogue clunky, it’s an incredibly anticlimactic way of representing two episodes of character development. It’s really jarring to hear Boba tell his faithful steed to “go make Bantha babies,” but whatever.
This is the last episode of flashbacks, a device Favreau has never employed with any skill, and it depicts Boba’s rescue of Fennec from her near-death at the hands of Din Djarin during the course of The Mandalorian‘s first season. The twist is that Boba doesn’t actually save her. He just picks her up, takes her to a convenient cyberpunk “modshop” in the Tatooine desert and has them do it. Then, he brings her back to the spot where she almost died for some reason. I felt like the implication in last season’s Mandalorian episode “The Tragedy” was that Boba used some cool field surgery to save his friend, but it turns out he just relied on some random teenagers. How cool, Jon.
For what it’s worth: I don’t think a cyberpunk modshop is a bad addition to the Star Wars universe, a place where cybernetic enhancements have always played a role. It’s a little strange to see on Tatooine as depicted, though. It should be far grimier.
But seriously, does anyone vet this shit? Every single thing Favreau writes is an idea without follow-through. The second season of The Mandalorian had two great episodes, coincidentally neither written nor directed by Favreau. He had a hand, though, in some of its worst excesses, including the pandering return of Luke Skywalker in the shoddiest and least interesting way possible. He’s the writer who turned Boba Fett into a loser with boring motivations, the writer who won’t give a clear or compelling answer as to why the cloners want Grogu. Frankly, he’s the writer who is about to start a third season of The Mandalorian that may not even have Grogu play a major role. Talk about missing the mark.
I think my problems with Favreau’s writing are on perfect display in this episode. Boba and Fennec retrieve the starship formerly known as Slave 1 from impound in Jabba the Hutt’s palace. There’s no reason why the occupants kept it there all those years. The action sequence to retrieve the ship is pretty fun, and it’s always nice to see more of the palace. However, once they get the gunship, Boba says he has some business that needs attention. First, he swoops down to kill all of the Nikto Sand Riders, which is a fun bit of violent comeuppance that lets Boba be as brutal as he should be.
Then, however, they fly to the Sarlacc Pit to find his armor, which Boba still believes is inside. There’s no clear reason why he believes it’s in the Pit when Jawas took it off of him after he used it to escape the Pit, which surely he remembers. Instead of just bombing the Sarlacc and then entering it for a cool, grisly sequence, we have our heroes float over the stupid Sarlacc in their spaceship. Tentacles try to grab them, so they bomb it and then we cut to Boba climbing out after looking inside the dead creature for his armor.
There’s nothing tactile or interesting to this sequence. It’s contrived and unnatural. There is no reason for Boba to think his armor is in the Sarlacc. But even if we assume he doesn’t remember blasting out, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t just kill the thing to start with and then climb inside for a bit of strange horror.
We’re now halfway through this series, and it’s just been a random succession of nifty ideas Favreau had with disappointing follow-through. The actors are great but nothing feels motivated. This episode’s big cliffhanger implies we’ll see some old friends and faces team up with Boba to fight the Pykes, but who gives a fuck? Not even the gang lords Boba tries to entice into allegiance care. They basically spit in his face, and he does nothing about it besides shrug.
I have not purchased anything Star Wars this week because Hasbro has yet to properly distribute any of the Black Series figures I have pre-ordered or plan to purchase. There are quite a number of them, but less than in the past.
My son has started trying to play with my Lego Star Wars ships, and I let him even though he breaks them. After seeing a video of him identifying an X-Wing as “Boba Fett” (because Boba Fett is what he watches with us right now), my brother decided he needed a Lego Slave 1 … erm, “Boba Fett’s Ship.” Anyway, I’ve been building that, which has been a nice experience. Once upon a time, I came very close to buying the $250 UCS Slave 1. I’m glad I never did that, because I have no idea where I would put it. The new build is much smaller than Legos used to be (considerably smaller than my old Episode II Slave 1 from back in 2002), but it’s a reasonable size for a little kid to play with, tear apart and put back together.
I would still like a 6″ scale Bantha. Strangely, The Book of Boba Fett has yet to introduce very many interesting potential 6″ scale action figures over which I can salivate. I guess more aliens would be cool, but in terms of characters, it’s just dire.