Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.
I once again went to bed early on the couch last night with my alarm set for 3 a.m. EST — the moment The Book of Boba Fett dropped. It’s a fun tradition that intend on upholding when Obi-Wan Kenobi drops later this year (and maybe, maybe Moon Knight).
I get to watch it alone with just my fellow obsessives online. It’s like a virtual sleepover. It also means my notes are much less distracted … and that I get to sleep on an episode before writing about it, which generally helps my thinking.
And just what is my thinking on the finale of The Book of Boba Fett? Sloppy. Stupid, in ways mostly bad. Dissatisfying on a character level. Then again, it features Boba Fett riding a Rancor around Mos Espa like his own personal kaiju, with direct homages to both Godzilla and King Kong. I liked that bit a lot. It really clicked my buttons.
Even that, though, was a cool concept brought to life in the least-satisfying narrative possible.
Let’s talk about why this episode was so unsatisfying despite some great moments.
Last week was a second hour-long detour about Din Djarin and Grogu, with just one scene of Boba Fett. It was the best episode of the season. In his single scene, Boba asked Djarin to help recruit Cobb Vanth’s rural desert village to operate as a militia against the Pyke Syndicate. This is because Boba Fett is incapable of taking the lead on anything despite ostensibly wanting to be a leader.
The cliffhanger of last week was whether or not Grogu would choose to return to his daddy, which wasn’t really a cliffhanger because there is no third season of The Mandalorian without the two of them together going on adventures. Grogu’s decision is obvious. Still, it was a great episode, because Din Djarin is an awesome character — decisive, cool-looking and emotionally driven by the complicated motivations of belonging and fatherhood.
However, this isn’t Din Djarin’s show. This is Boba Fett’s show. And Fett isn’t driven by anything at all.
There are plenty of attempts during In the Name of Honor where writer Jon Favreau deperately tries to graft some kind of point to this misshapen wreck of a series. There are nods to an arc for Boba about relying more on his new heritage than the armor of his father, but none of those emotions are explored in any depth. Even the characters openly question Boba’s desire to become a crime lord. Nobody inside of the show understands it — not even Boba! In his final scene, he remarks to Fennec Shand that he’s not sure the role of leader even suits him. It feels like this is something they should’ve established in the first episode.
Equally absurd is the entire setup of Boba’s war against the Pykes. Rather than using his palace as a staging ground, Boba just happily takes the advice to stage his counterattack from the burnt-out husk of the bar Sanctuary, the only place that took him seriously in all of Mos Espa. Cornering yourself in a wreck with very little cover seems incredibly stupid, but so does “going to war” with:
- A group of angry teenagers on colorful mopeds
- A Wookiee bounty hunter who just tried to kill you
- Two Gammoreans who allowed said Wookiee to walk into your bedroom unabated
- A pickup truck of rednecks
- A Mandalorian
OK, that last one is the silver bullet in literally any instance, and the best gunfighting in this episode is when Boba and Mando fight together as pals.
But Boba’s plans are terrible. He has his Rio Bravo moment, but only because he’s too stupid to wage a war effectively. He’s constantly slipping on banana peels, essentially, and never acting like he understands where he went wrong. His actions never shape the progression on the plot in any meaningful way. Even the big moment, where he and Din decide to go out in a blaze of glory, is defined by Din saying “In the name of honor,” not Boba Fett. Why? Isn’t this the moment where Boba should emphasize the new code by which he lives?
Speaking of botched character moments: Let’s talk about Boba’s big showdown with Cad Bane, which is perhaps the most underwhelming moment of the entire series, underscoring how underwritten everything is here. For fans of The Clone Wars, this is a matchup years in the making. It was supposed to happen in the canceled eighth season of that show. I do not mind the fact that their final duel is now set decades later within the fictional canon, when both Boba and Bane are old men. Conceptually, it’s great to have Bane represent the cutthroat world Boba has chosen to leave behind … but why, in god’s name, wasn’t Cad Bane just the primary antagonist from the start of the show? He brought so much to the show with so little screen time, and his presence actually fits Boba’s character arc.
True to form for this show, Favreau has Bane literally ask Boba what his motivations are because even he’s confused. Boba’s answer isn’t particularly satisfying. Of everyone in the show, only Cad acknowledges that our hero used to be evil; it’s barely addressed anywhere in the series itself. Supposedly the story in this show is that he was bad but then found family with the Tuskens, lost it, and wants to become a crime lord because living with nomads made him want strength in numbers. Previously, I thought he wanted to become a crime lord to exact revenge on the Pykes who killed his tribe, but it’s revealed in this episode that Boba didn’t even know the Pykes were behind the massacre of his Tusken pals, which is ridiculous unless you just accept the fact that this version of Boba Fett is a total dumbass.
Anyway, Cad Bane dies here, which is only meaningful if you already love The Clone Wars and wanted to see their eventual standoff. Those who have no connection to Bane probably don’t care. It’s a shame we won’t get more of him, but then again, nobody stays dead in Star Wars.
I just don’t see why this series wasn’t structured differently. Set up Fett versus Bane from the first episode, and establish Fett is winning over the hearts and minds of the people of Mos Espa from the very start of the show. Doing good deeds, fighting the ruling crime families … who cares what it is, just make him a proactive character.
Maybe have him lose a duel to Bane early on, forcing him into the Bacta Tank, where we get two episodes of flashbacks explaining how he escaped the Sarlacc Pit and became an honorary Tusken. Don’t bother showing him meeting Fennec, just let that stay a story for later.
Establish that Fett survived the Sarlacc a changed man and that part of his reason for becoming a leader is protecting the people of Mos Espa and his Tusken family from further outsider intrusion. Reveal not all of them were killed by the Pykes, and he wants a safe place for them.
Then, in the present day, have him recruit Din to help him against Cad Bane and a crew of other bounty hunters the Pykes have hired to take him out. You don’t need to talk about “going to war.” Make it a straightforward battle between hired guns that proves Boba has changed. Include more classic bounty-hunter types.
The finale can remain basically the same, with the Pykes sending in some backup to their hired guns and Boba rampaging around with a Rancor to stop them — except in this case, leave the damn Rancor a surprise (instead of introducing it several episodes earlier to ruin the inevitable moment) and let Boba be the one to calm it down in a show of strength and humanity.
We don’t need Grogu at all. This could be the adventure Din experiences without him.
This way, you get a Boba Fett who is truly changed in an interesting way, without avoiding how gnarly he was before Return of the Jedi. It sets up a clear new status quo for the character, features some neat callbacks and builds the lore going forward. If The Book of Boba Fett was good enough to stand on his own, then the material featured in episodes five and six could just be the premiere of a third season of The Mandalorian, where they actually belong.
Anyway, rewriting what we wish bad Star Wars had actually been is a traditional pastime for fans of the series. Nothing new.
Then again, something strikes me as a little different about The Book of Boba Fett. It’s not that I’m disappointed they ruined a character I liked. I think I’m just shocked by how poor it was given the fact that Boba remained one of the franchise’s last golden eggs yet untouched by Disney. The sequels gave us controversial returns for Han, Luke and Leia (terrible, great and without enough time to be what she could’ve been), as well as Lando and Palpatine, but also introduced a lot of cool new characters who have become fan favorites. There was real love and effort behind those. We got a Solo prequel movie that was better than it could’ve been even if it never reached an audience. Rogue One gave fans the Darth Vader fan service they wanted and a unique approach to the franchise. The Mandalorian is usually awesome. All of these stories feel like they were made by people who love Star Wars and are putting their best faces forward, even if they fall short.
This just doesn’t. It all feels like Favreau had to fill a slot in the Disney+ schedule and threw a few scripts together. There are cool ideas that just never go anywhere, and for some reason, every dramatic beat is given to the wrong characters — and never to Boba himself. Boba should’ve recruited Vanth’s people, having met them when he was searching for his armor. Boba should’ve brought his Tusken armies to bear. Boba should’ve recruited Mando. Boba should’ve calmed the Rancor. He does absolutely nothing in this series. It’s just inexplicable.
Imagine telling someone in the 1990s that this is what would come of a Robert Rodriguez take on Boba Fett — unfocused and completely disinterested in telling a compelling story with the baddest motherfucker in the galaxy. Here, he’s just a complete goober, an old man incapable in fights and completely disinterested in strategy. He relies on the graces of strangers and other crime lords he knows he shouldn’t trust and is shocked when he’s betrayed time and again. He has no cool lines of dialogue, no mystique at all. What a complete waste of potential.
Besides the Rancor. I like the Rancor.
- Pretending Cobb Vanth was dead was stupid and made for a really underwhelming post-credits sequence for the finale.
- The Vespa Gang was lame — just full of dumb kids to whom Boba should not have listened.
- I really love Droidekas. Especially big ones.
- I did cry a little when Grogu jumped into Din’s arms because that’s what my son does when I pick him up from daycare.
- I’m glad they actually acknowledged Bane and Boba have known each other for 30+ years.
- I’m honestly confused by Boba’s resolution with Bane. He’s shown mercy to hired guns who attacked him multiple times this season, to hilarious degree. Bane is taunting him by calling him a merciless killer, and Boba’s ultimate victory is because he moved beyond being a merciless killer and embraced family, but then he just kills Bane anyway? Isn’t the big moment supposed to be him showing mercy as a new man? Am I missing something here?
- Bane’s probably not dead, judging by the beeping monitor on his chest.
- The sheer number of cuts and slow-motion spins during action scenes … please keep Robert Rodriguez away from this stuff.
- “This is my city!” Is it, Boba? What have you actually done for the people who live there besides blow it to pieces?
- Why not have Fennec just assassinate all of Boba’s rivals to begin with if it was this easy?
- The “Boba … Boba … Fett!” version of the theme is very funny and reminds me of Nick’s take on the music of Solo. I love this for him.
- All this being said, I still had a lot of fun with portions of this episode, as mentioned earlier. I’m just really sad it wasn’t as good as it should’ve been.
The definition of “bought” in this hobby is odd now. I pre-ordered a few 6” Dark Troopers from Amazon, which will arrive anywhere between May and next February. I also pre-ordered Boba Fett circa The Tragedy because his grungy re-armored look is still my favorite post-ROTJ appearance. That figure is supposed to ship out in Feburary … 2023. I have several pre-orders I made as far back as last April that have yet to ship: Red ARC Trooper, Cobb Vanth, Cassian Andor, Boba Fett (re-painted armor), Republic Commando, Jet Trooper, Holiday Special Boba Fett. Part of me doesn’t even want these figures anymore, but I also ordered them so long ago that it seems a shame not to follow through on them.
So really, nothing new. Still waiting on Hasbro to ship their stuff. The first Star Wars-themed livestream is coming up, but it’s unlikely the event amounts to much: They’ll probably announce preorders for figures we knew about months ago that are already sporadically showing up at Target stores and not acknowledge the wave of figures featuring Fennec and Boba that never got any real release. I do question my commitment to buying so many figures now that I’ve been given a lapse in doses. It’s a fun hobby, but half the fun is hunting for figures on a day off with my friends, or my brother calling me at 3 a.m. to say he found something at a random rural Walmart when he was driving around.
That just doesn’t happen anymore, and it seems like these days, the entire hobby is ordering something a year in advance and hoping the retailer doesn’t cancel your order out from under you. I am pretty meticulous in how I budget my hobbies so that I can continue them without feeling guilty about it, but I’d like to actually get the dopamine hit that comes with opening a new figure on a consistent basis.
I miss the entire ritual. The excitement of finding the figure on a shelf and putting it in the basket … buying it … taking it home … waiting (if I can manage it) for my son to go to bed so I can open it without sharing … the smell of the fresh plastic … posing the figure and taking photos to show my friends … adding it and re-arranging the other figures to make sure it’s in its proper section of the overall shelf, only to take it down when watching a new episode featuring the characters.
When I know a figure is going to come out, I often make sure there is room. I have a spot for Fennec right now that is woefully unfilled among my The Mandalorian characters. Or should I shelve her with my Bad Batch? Do I need a section for The Book of Boba Fett if most of the best figures are likely just re-paints from The Mandalorian? These are the no-stakes considerations that I find incredibly meaningful when I have so much else going on. I find organizing my figures relaxing.
I’m really bummed out that Hasbro’s dogshit distribution has impeded my ability to spend idiotic amounts of money on their product. I guess I could quit the hobby, but I don’t want to quit the hobby.
On the comics side of things, my Omnibus edition of Rise of the Sith should be shipping soon. The outlook for Star Wars-related printings is fairly positive, with another Omnibus and Epic Collection scheduled for next month and more to come this spring. My comic-collecting priorities this spring are basically Moon Knight, X-Men and Star Wars, and I’m well-served by offerings in the next few months.
Man … I wish I could’ve gotten that $400 Rancor now.
I’d love some Droidekas.
It looks like we’re slated for a big break in Disney+ content until Moon Knight shows up at the end of March. I’ve never covered the live-action Marvel Universe shows week to week, but if they give me a screener for the first hour or two, I’ll definitely do what I’ve done for the rest and at least write a preview of it. We know Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Bad Batch S2 and Andor are all supposed to premiere sometime this year. I definitely plan to cover those.