‘The Book of Boba Fett’: A dismal example of wasted potential

Jack Muscatello, Staff Writer

Illustration by (Shavonne Chin)

The finale of “The Book of Boba Fett” was released on Feb. 9 on Disney+ after a tumultuous seven-part journey. But the final episode wraps up what has become a fundamentally broken return to glory for the beloved “Star Wars” icon.

Disney captured lightning in a bottle three years ago with the first season of “The Mandalorian.” The divisive movie sequel trilogy had erased much of the excitement surrounding the intellectual property and hopes for a healthy rivalry with Marvel collapsed following the disappointing box office returns for “Rise of Skywalker.” The jump to online streaming in November 2019 proved to be a fitting extension for the Star Wars canon, as the relaxed pace of weekly episodes allowed a smaller story to take shape gradually.

The streaming giant followed up their initial success with a look at the life of Boba Fett after his death in “Return of the Jedi.” For the uninitiated, the famed bounty hunter comically fell into the jaws of an old space worm, named the “sarlacc,” during the opening act of the 1983 film. The

collective dismay from fans kickstarted the idea that he actually survived his infamous demise, and several novels and comic books explored this possibility in great detail.

With Fett’s surprise appearance in the second season of “The Mandalorian,” however, Disney rightfully followed up with an official backstory for the character. The first episode provided a visually striking look at his dramatic escape from the creature, complete with a race against time and a use of his signature flamethrower.

But the positive attributes of this concept largely end after this sequence. The show explores several facets of his life beyond this point, but does so in the most frustrating way possible.

The series initially splits its storyline between flashbacks and the present day. The opening episodes juggled Fett’s early efforts to heal himself, as well as his pursuit to become a leader on the planet Tatooine, but the editing fails this back-and-forth flow. Both sections are not layered evenly throughout each chapter, and this hopscotch between timelines creates a confusing disconnect.

However, a dramatic shift in “Chapter Five” further complicates everything. A blaring musical cue in the final moments of “Chapter Four” gives way to a violent return for the Mandalorian himself, also known as Din Djarin. But if the intense opening isn’t enough, the entire fifth installment plays like the beginning of the familiar hero’s third season.

Djarin receives a lesson about the strict tradition of Mandalorian culture, travels to Tatooine and makes a plan to visit his old friend “Baby Yoda,” now referred to as Grogu. Some impressive action beats and camera tricks from director Bryce Dallas Howard complement this new storyline nicely, and the thrills throughout the episode mark the first moments of genuine excitement in the show.

But this is a bizarre deviation for an already convoluted season of blockbuster television, and the random pivots only grow more intense.

“Chapter Six” quickly ushers in a surprising array of cameos and familiar faces, along with a completely new location. This is abundantly satisfying as a devoted fan of the franchise. The developments throughout this entire hour are completely devoted to scratching the nostalgia itch, and all of the technical achievements on display are truly a sight to behold.

But it is nearly impossible to appreciate all this episode has to offer when Fett is given little more than a glimpse in the opening scene. By this point, the show is less engaging and fundamentally boring when he is directly involved in the story. The stakes surrounding him are low, his villains are weak and his central plotline is stretched to its absolute limits. This is a complete failure on behalf of the screenwriting throughout, and an unwelcome reminder of Disney’s botched work on the sequels.

As the finale begins, all of the clutter begins to boil over. Director Robert Rodriguez’s outlandish vision culminates in a mess of plastic CGI, choppy action and jumbled character resolutions. Though the performances are all solid, the dialogue resorts to tired cliches and meaningless quips, reducing much of the emotional payoff to a glorified shrug.

As is the unfortunate theme with this series, Djarin receives a far more resounding send-off than Fett. The Mandalorian is actually the last character we see before Ludwig Goransson’s theme erupts over the credits. This supersedes Fett’s final accomplishments, which would be much stronger if given more time. For a show supposedly devoted to analyzing the bounty hunter’s psyche, the audience is given almost nothing to latch onto, either emotionally or thematically.

These faults cripple Fett’s ability to exist outside of his historic archetype. His first appearances decades ago were short and quiet. His lack of dialogue was enticing and his refined behavior made him a respected nemesis. Possibilities for him to grow as a three-dimensional person during this series were virtually endless, especially given the boundless universe of “Star Wars.”

Now, the show has reduced him to just another old man. Any potential for him to become a nuanced anti-hero, underground criminal or wise mentor has been mangled, which makes it feel like the show has accomplished nothing.

“The Book of Boba Fett” is a hulking missed opportunity. The series tries its best to satisfy as many fans as possible, but manages only to corrupt the appeal of a classic figure. Though the outcome of the finale is tiny when compared to the galactic adventures of Luke Skywalker, the promise of a small-scale, character-driven adventure has been failed by a creative team blinded by the past glory of this timeless fantasy saga.