The Book of Boba Fett has finally arrived.
After The Mandalorian‘s indisputable success, many fans have been anticipating the new TV show eagerly. And the first episode wasted no time in dropping the fan-bombs: literally starting with the flashbacks to Boba’s earlier years. Using scenes well-known to all Star Wars fans, including Kamino and the famous scene with little Boba picking up his father’s helmet (with Jango’s head still in it), it refreshed the memory of the less-invested fans as well as evoked the sense of nostalgia in the rest. A calculated move? Perhaps, but a logical one and one that definitely worked.
This also provided the setup for the rest of the story. The flashbacks seamlessly continue into the recent past which shows us what happened before Boba took over Jabba’s vacated seat. An unfamiliar story unfolds in front of our eyes. And there The Book of Boba Fett falls into the pattern we have already seen in The Mandalorian or other recent TV shows, especially those with Dave Filoni at the helm. Show the audience first something or someone familiar in order to introduce them to the new and unfamiliar characters and stories. It works.
Back To The Familiar
The Book of Boba Fett, or at least its first episode, interweaves the familiar with the unfamiliar in a way that non-forcibly tells a new story. It works even just on the level of visuals. The well-known images stimulate the mind of a fan mistrustful of Disney after the sequel trilogy’s shortcomings. The atmosphere feels familiar and safe (as much as Tatooine can be called safe). The twin suns. The pit of Sarlacc. Twi’leks and Jawas (incidentally, does Jon Favreau have something against Jawas? In The Mandalorian, they also were portrayed as “the bad guys” who steal honest hunters’ assets). Tatooinian towns with their recognisable architecture. Tusken Raider dogs, just like those Anakin killed in Episode II. Is it a sort of kitsch? Nearly, but I believe that The Book of Boba Fett manages to tread the narrow ledge above it just without tripping over.
Speaking of ledges – another of the aspects the filmmakers clearly took their time with is the choreography of the action scenes. One can clearly read the message: we do not need lightsabers to show epic hand-to-hand combat. Starting from the use of hands and sticks instead of blasters, and emphasised with the use of shields (something that has been waiting for more use ever since Episode I). It is also not a coincidence that the main characters use the combat styles with choreographic elements their actors have background in. While Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand chases enemies across the rooftops in a manner reminiscent of classic kung-fu films, Temuera Morrison swishes his stick in a way recognisable for anyone who has ever seen a Maori haka. The filmmakers are making sure that the actors can “show off”, and that is a great thing!
Epic Characters Are Not Invulnerable
One has to say however that so far, for the legends Boba and Fennec are, the first episode portrays them in a strikingly non-epic manner. Meaning: they are not invincible superheroes as some might have expected them to be. Boba is clearly older and suffering from his injuries (that we are surely still going to learn about). And the chief danger for them now rests in their rivals’ belief that the duo isn’t invincible – which is correct.
The story itself has barely started and in the broad strokes, it is rather simple. Boba and Fennec (yes, not just Boba – it is nice to see the dynamic and the fact that while Fennec calls Boba “boss”, they are clearly partners rather than a boss and an underling) are taking over Jabba’s crime empire, but starting from zero. By the end of the first episode, their only actually loyal and reliable servants are two Gamorrean guards. But they ARE loyal which illustrates the idea put forth by Boba: that he intends to rule not by fear, but through respect. The trust with the Gamorreans is mutual. We can only expect that through various bumps, the story will continue along these lines.
And at the same time we are going to learn how Boba, the lone hunter, arrived at this spot and mindset via his flashbacks. The show, perhaps, did not start with a super-flashy, super-epic pilot episode. Just like in The Mandalorian, this is a “quiet”, backwater setting. But it has its own distinct atmosphere and makes the audience invested in the characters’ story. We can only look forward to the next episode.