The acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise by Disney has led to solid TV series on Disney+. The Mandalorian set a standard that would be difficult for future series, such as Ahsoka and Kenobi to reach. The Book of Boba Fett was the first to face that challenge.
Boba Fett, the character, was first meant to appear in A New Hope as Jabba’s bodyguard, but the scene was cut for the initial 1977 release. The scene did get restored for the enhanced release, with a CGI Jabba superiposed over the human version. Fett’s first appearance was in the Star Wars Holiday Special in an animated segment. The bounty hunter’s first non-disavowed appearance was in The Empire Strikes Back, with Jeremy Bulloch playing the role. Fett didn’t have many speaking lines, but was a presence on screen. Fett returned in Return of the Jedi and met his match in the first Jedi trained since the end of the Clone Wars and his allies. Fett wound up rocketing into the belly of the Sarlacc, where he would be digested for a thousand years.
The prequel movies introduced Fett’s father, Jango. Jango Fett made his initial appearance in Attack of the Clones, being the base that the Kamoans used to create the Republic’s Clone Army. Jango and the clones were all portrayed by Temeura Morrison, with young Boba being played by Daniel Logan. Jango is able to fight a lone Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to a draw, but gets his head cut off by Mace Windu. Young Boba inherits Jango’s armour and gains a hatred against the Jedi.
The Book of Boba Fett begins with a flashback as Fett escapes the belly of the Sarlacc, an unknown amount of time after the end of Return of the Jedi. Exhausted after digging his way out of the Sarlacc and the sands of Tatooine, he is easy prey for Jawas who scavenge his armour. Left to die, Fett is discovered by Tuskan Raiders and taken prisoner, where he is held. In his present, Fett has his armour, as per the second season of The Mandalorian, and has taken over Jabba’s palace. His move to become the daimyo of the criminal syndicates in Mos Espa is opposed but three gangs that Jabba had under control. Worse, the mayor of the city, Mok Shaiz, is under the control of one of the gangs, the Pykes.
The series unfolds splitting screen time between Fett’s recovery and acceptance by the Tuskan Raiders and his moves to become the sole crime boss. He makes a deal with two Hutts, the Twins, to keep them away from Jabba’s former territory, and starts building up his own team. He already has Fennec Shand, former assassin, and through some deal making, recruits the Mos Espa street gang, the Mods, so called because they are into replacing body parts with cybernetics. Fett’s goal is to go straight, stop putting his life on the line for a fistful of credits. That puts him up against the other syndicates.
Fett’s main problem is that he is a bounty hunter, not a crime lord. He has contacts, but not the experience. He is more direct than his rivals and willing to give up a source of income, like spice, if it gets what he wants. While Shand questions the approach, Fett’s experiences, including his time with the Sand People, have shown him the benefits of working with others. It’s how the clones were trained during the Clone Wars, but Fett learned it naturally instead of through learning programs.
The series is part space western, part crime drama. Temeura Morrison returns to play Boba Fett. He has spent years portraying different versions of Jango Fett since Attack of the Clones. During the run of The Clone Wars, he played all the clones, giving them each a different feel. The audience could tell the difference between Rex, Commander Cody, and Fives. The only clone of Jango he hasn’t played is Boba. In each role, clone and Boba Fett alike, he brings out the humanity of the character. The Fett of the series turns out to be good with animals, which comes to play in the final episode of the season.
Casting, as always, is key. While Morrison carries the series as the title character, the supporting cast build the setting, giving it a sense of realism. David Pasquesi as Shaiz’s majordomo is fun to watch and Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand represents what Fett was. Bringing back characters from The Mandalorian who live on Tatooine made sense; they add to the idea that the Galaxy Far Far Away is larger with multiple stories happening all at once.
One drawback from the series is the potential for continuity lockout, a term normally applied to comics from Marvel and DC. Continuity lockout occurs when there is a reference to an event in another title from some time before, with the audience potentially not able to catch up. There were a couple of episodes focused more on the Mandalorian than on Fett which allowed for audiences to catch up on popular characters but may cause issues in a future season of the Mando’s series. There are some surprising casting decisions, too, though not unwelcome. Jennifer Beals plays Gars Fwip, owner of Sanctuary, a casino. Danny Trejo plays the Rancor keeper, who cares for his charge.
Part of the drawback comes from Dave Filoni’s love of continuity and characters from previous works in the franchise. Some appearances are just Easter eggs, little things for longer term fans to realize, like having Camie and Fixer, Luke’s friends from an earlier draft of A New Hope who appeared in the radio drama, appear in a seedy bar with speeder bike gangers. Some, like Cad Bane, a recurring bounty hunter character from The Clone Wars series, bring a history that is implied but not explained. For now, this isn’t a problem as The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars are both available on Disney+. The potential for continuity lockout to exist in the future is there.
Overall, the series invites audiences to keep watching. Between the flashbacks with Fett recovering amongst the Tusken Raiders and finding a new sense of purpose to his attempts to go straight and be a productive member of society on a planet where everything is fighting against him doing so, the series presents a story that engages the audience, drawing them in and rooting for a bounty hunter who was previously an antagonist for the heroes of the movies. Temuera Morrison’s Boba Fett is a complicated character, fighting his old desires and reputation to be accepted.