Published on February 18th, 2022 | by Craig Silliphant0
The Pamphlet of Boba Fett
The Book of Boba Fett wrapped up its first season on Disney+. Craig and Kim look back to see if the results matched the hype.
Kim Kurtenbach: I was 8-years-old when Boba was tossed into the Sarlac pit in Return of the Jedi. After just four lines of dialogue and 6 minutes 32 seconds of screen time in two movies, I thought he was one of the coolest characters I’d ever seen. Like a lot of fans, I spent years wondering what the rest of his story might be. Flash forward to 2005 and a little more of his background is revealed in Attack of the Clones, although it was more about his father, Jango Fett. Then, finally, this year we got to see an entire show dedicated to the enigmatic bounty hunter. After all this waiting and time to prepare, the series should have been as hot as the two suns of Tatooine. But it was kind of cold and sad, like being frozen in carbonite. Is it fair to say that the seven-episode season was really two different shows – one that largely succeeded and one that basically failed?
Craig Silliphant: I think you could make that argument. The internet seemed to hate some of the flashbacks, especially his escape from the pit. I didn’t mind it as much, but I also wasn’t blown away or anything.
Kim: We started with episodes about Boba Fett escaping the Sarlac pit, wandering Tatooine, losing his armour, regaining his armour and making a play to take over Jabba the Hutt’s operations. Then, suddenly, it became The Mandalorian – Season 2.5, and we realize that the first four episodes were not all that satisfying, with the exception of a few scenes and characters. The Mandalorian is everyone’s new favourite bounty hunter and has a much more exciting story to tell than Boba Fett.
Craig: Totally. Now that we’ve seen the big picture, the whole thing was a mess. I’d also argue that while I liked the two Mando episodes in the season, losing your main character for two of only seven episodes is a problem, especially when no one seems to care. But they could have spent that time digging more into Fett’s motivations and especially into some of the side characters. Who are these goofy cyberpunks on rainbow vespas? Who is Krrsantan, besides a giant awesome wookie bounty hunter/gladiator?
That final battle didn’t really have huge stakes since we don’t know these characters well, including Boba. (And not to jump ahead, but what kind of battle strategy is, ‘Let’s all run to huddle in one spot instead of flanking the attackers,’ etc?). While I’m complaining, I’d even go as far as to say, I like the Mandalorian, but it isn’t really that great. It’s just the first thing that was safe and mediocre that enough fans could agree on it not being a garbage fire. But it’s a lot of repetition story-wise and all of these shows are scrambling to cram as much cloying fan service in there as they can. Sure, I’m not made of oak. I respond to seeing Luke Skywalker on screen. But just tell me a goddamn story.
Kim: Lots of good points here, but I’m going to start with Krrsantan. The second I saw him I thought he was like the B.A. Baracus of the group. I pity the fool who messes with that wookie, haha. But yes, I do want to know why he’s on his own. Where are his brothers and sisters? Maybe he’s stuck on Tatooine because he’s scared of flying! I don’t much care for creating a band of warriors who have no back-story. The audience needs anchors of character development so that as the stories continue, we feel like we understand why they are doing what they’re doing and we are invested in the results. When Boba Fett was in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), his mysterious nature was perfect because he was just one small piece in a giant puzzle. Now that he’s got his own his own show, he is the entire puzzle, but we haven’t learned much about who he was. We are only learning what he is becoming, and I think for most fans it’s a pretty big disappointment. As for the cyberpunks you mentioned, not only are their Vespa Euro-bikes soft, their weapons were puny and weak. Did you see those little toddler pistols?
Craig: Pew pew! I agree with you, though finding out who Boba was is less interesting to me. I hate it when they take a cool, enigmatic character and then kill him with a big origin. Wolverine, Hannibal Lector, and Darth Vader all got this treatment to some degree, as did Boba in the prequels. In 1980 (and ’83), he was riffing on Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, a mysterious gunslinger in a poncho. Heck, that’s basically what The Mandalorian is (by way of Lone Wolf and Cub, obviously). In fact, aren’t Boba Fett and The Mandalorian basically the same fucking thing? They are both as talkative as the ‘strong but silent’ kid on the French fry commercials, they’re both mysterious bounty hunters, they even wear the same bloody armour.
I actually don’t mind that they are exploring a new chapter in terms of who Boba is becoming. I just wish they’d actually tell that story. You could have a Star Wars version of Scarface or Goodfellas, but he basically hangs out in his bacta tank until it’s time to stroll like a dandy around Mos Espa. Or do we call it Mos Vespa now? (And as you mentioned to me the other day; why does everything have to happen on Tatoonine? It’s supposed to be “the planet furthest from the bright spot in the universe,” to paraphrase Luke, but it seems like all things Star Wars happen on that godforsaken pile of sand).
Kim: I can tell you’re not hating on the show, but still sound frustratingly disappointed with the lack of forward storytelling.
Craig: We have been friends for over 30 years and you know me well enough to read into my soul, buddy. You’re exactly right.
Kim: I also feel a little claustrophobic being stuck in the same places all the time. Your suggestions that it could be a great gangster movie is exciting, but that would require – like the movie examples you used – great dialogue, something Star Wars doesn’t have a lot of. I wonder if the lack of momentum in storytelling is because it’s television, and there are no guarantees how long you will be on the air. Three seasons or eight seasons makes big changes to story arcs and planning, so you get a guy who is, what did you say? Strolling the walk like a dandy? Haha! Just winking at aliens and telling them he’s their huckleberry. Get back to work, Boba! Do something!
Craig: Exactly, haha. I think they could at least plan one season at a time and maybe an overall arc that they can plot out as they go. You don’t want to make it up as you go like Lost or The X-Files because you paint yourself into a corner quickly. Just write one season at a time. And make it worth our time. Life is short. Make your TV show worth those sands through the hourglass. If they don’t have the skills to write good dialogue or plan out a season, they should just hang it up.
Wildly veering into a new topic, I wanted to ask you, what did you think of CGI Luke’s second appearance?
Kim: CGI Luke is the best work I’ve seen in anything to date but those dead eyes take me out of the mood if I let them. We’re on an interesting path in film making as the de-aging/deep-fake, voice altering software effects evolve exponentially with each passing year. It must seem like the Holy Grail to the money-men of Hollywood who will gladly churn out sentimental, nostalgic tripe to put asses in seats. But isn’t anything that gets dusted off after twenty years or more nostalgia? CGI is just a trick of the trade. For some, it just doesn’t look right and they aren’t buying it. Your reference to the kid on the French fry commercial made me think of other popular foods from my childhood, and how this cereal or that chocolate milk doesn’t taste like it used to for some people. Nostalgia and memory and expectation are funny that way. This is why your point about moving the story forward is critical to the success – and survival – of these Star Wars shows. The world needs to keep expanding. Lucas was good at that, creating new worlds and new creatures in each installment. I’m not saying bring the crazy old man back to show you how it’s done, I’m just saying have a look at what he did well.
Craig: Good point. Very good point. For as much as the prequels have some serious issues (well, for anyone of a certain vintage, anyway), Lucas knew how to world-build. I love Feloni and Favreau, but they seem to be world-occupiers.
And I’d agree with you on CGI Luke. It’s still not there yet. Though it’s leagues ahead of Uncanny Valley Tarkin and his Uncanny Valley bride, Leia. Not to mention the original Mandalorian Luke. And even with the new deep fake, they still shoot and cut around his fakeness in incredibly obvious ways, which doesn’t help. But wasn’t it Lucas who wanted to do away with actors because they got in the way of his storytelling? His Star Wars progeny may get there some day. That said, while I do think there is some merit in the idea of recasting Skywalker like they did young Solo, it was fun to see a young Mark Hamill again. Of course, that’s feeding my nostalgia, so I have as much shame as I do joy over it.
At any rate, I think that’s a good place to end things! But I know both of us are on the edge of our seats waiting for Obi-wan. Perhaps we’ll do this again when it comes out.