To cut to the chase, The Book of Boba Fett is not a good television show. But that in itself is interesting. because even though the overall result is a horrible mess, almost every single scene, taken in isolation, is brilliant.
The overwhelming issue is one of the structure. And here we’re going deep into spoiler territory. There are seven episodes, each one varying in length but averaging at around forty minutes. Ostensibly, this is the show in which Boba Fett becomes the chief crime lord in the region once claimed by Jabba. Yet the first four epsiodes are largely concerned with flashbacks about how Fett escaped from the Sarlaac (he climbed out), searched for his armour (which we know he doesn’t find until his appearance in The Mandalorian), is captured by and then bonds with a Tusken community, who are then brutally murdered. In theory this sets up a conflict with the Pyke Syndicate. In practice, the show has little interest in building any sort of tension. In the present day sections of these first four episodes are largely centred around Fett competing side quests so he can recruit a biker gang, two Gamorreans, and a local nightclub owner to his cause. Whatever that cause actually is.
Then there’s episodes five and six, which are both very good in their own right, largely because they are not flashbacks. The issue with them is that Boba Fett appears in only a single scene of these, where he stands at a display table looking thoughtful. Why? Because these two episodes are essentially a teaser for season 3 of The Mandalorian. They are wholly focused on Din Djarin. Episode 5 is largely a montage based aroud building a new ship for him. Episode 6 sees the return of Grogu, Ahsoka, and a de-aged Luke Skywalker in all his uncanny valley glory. And while it’s great to see Skywalker’s Jedi academy under construction, it adds absolutely nothing to Fett’s storyline. These are moments that should have been reserved for The Mandalorian proper. Instead they’ve been wedged in here.
And really, this is terrifyingly indicative of where Star Wars is headed as a franchise. For now, we appear have turned away from cinema releases in favour of building a TV universe. I’m all for connections between parts of a universe. Who didn’t enjoy seeing Wedge return in The Rise of Skywalker? But we’ve only got two shows now, and watching each one already assumed you’ve seen the other. What about people who tune in for The Mandalorian alone, and miss out on key moments of Djarin’s life. You should not have top watch one show to understand the plot of another. That’s just bad storytelling. It’s the reason I’ve largely abandoned the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it looks like Disney is making the same mistakes again. Cad Bane is a great villain in the season finale, but the expectation is clear: Watch The Clone Wars or you won’t get the most out of this encounter. And you know what? No. No, I’m not going to watch 7+ seasons of animation just to understand what’s going on here. Just let it stand on its own, for pity’s sake.
Structural issues and franchise implications aside, there is good material in here. Ming-Na Wen steals every scene in which Fennec Shand appears, and it’s genuinely good to see Temuera Morrison fully take on the role of Boba Fett. Much as the over-indulgence of Easter Eggs irks me, the presence of Black Krrsantan hints at potential futures for Doctor Aphra in live-action. The acting is uniformly great, the action is well-directed, the whole show looks gorgeous. But at the end of the day, aesthetics alone cannot make a show work. And when you strip away the joy of Star Wars, The Book of Boba Fett has very little to offer.