February 12, 2022

Streamin' Meemies: The Book of Boba Fett Season 1 Episode 7, "In the Name of Honor"


Well....that was a finale, I guess.

I will say this: it's the third-best episode of the season, and the best of the Boba-centric episodes. It was directed by Robert Rodriguez, and it shows: he seems to come around only to handle the fast-moving action scenes and big screaming fights, and smaller episodes with character-centric moments are either beyond him or uninteresting to him. (Though I would have loved to see what Bryce Dallas Howard could have done with this material, as she directed the best episode of the season.) And this episode certainly had both action and fights, I suppose he did a fair-to-middling job with it. 

However, this episode laid bare the show's glaring weakness, something I (and many other people) have been pointing out all along: this show is only marginally a show about Boba Fett. First and foremost, it exists to set up Season 3 of The Mandalorian, which was made clear by episode 5, "Return of..." well lookee here! Who'da thunk it? It also exists to dip into Empire and Jedi nostalgia, as seen in Episode 6, "From the Desert Comes a Stranger," and a second incarnation of CGI and deepfake Luke Skywalker (albeit a far better representation this time).  Finally, it reminded us there is still an Ahsoka Tano show on the way, while completely neglecting to show us the necessary conversation she and Luke should have had about his father and her history with Anakin. Episode 6 was not particularly fast-moving, and by God that should have been shown. 

This is irritating as all get out, and absolutely a squandered opportunity. I've never been a Boba Fett fangirl, but you must admit that for a character from 40 years ago, he was a near blank slate. (At least as far as the movies go--I know he was fleshed out more in the books and comics.) He could have been considered the same as a new character; they could have done anything with him, as they did with Din Djarin and Baby Yoda. Do the powers that be at Disney not comprehend that this is precisely the reason we like Mando so much, because he's not a flippin' Jedi and a bloody Skywalker, and through him we can watch fascinating stories about denizens of the Star Wars universe like the Mandalorians that are not bound up with the Force? Boba Fett could have been the same way. Indeed, the first four episodes made feeble stabs in that direction. 

Unfortunately, those efforts were incredibly clumsy and ham-handed, and only served to hopelessly muddle whatever characterization Boba possessed, which was not much to begin with. The best of those was probably Episode 2, "The Tribes of Tatooine," with the terrific train chase and Boba's making his gaffi stick. But then (and I will keep beating this drum until the end of time, I suspect) IN THE VERY NEXT EPISODE THE TUSKENS WERE KILLED OFF FOR NO GODDAMN REASON. This was another missed opportunity, as what happened in episode 2 was begging to be used as the motivation for Boba's entire character arc. 

Instead, we got such treacly nonsense as "I'm tired of working for idiots who are going to get me killed," and "I will rule with respect" (talking about taking over Jabba the Hutt's operation). This is okay, my dude, but still does not answer the question of WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? You could have taken your ship and jumped the hell off Tatooine, never to return (once you got your armor back, that is). But if the whole POINT of getting the armor back and taking over Jabba's operation was to RESTRUCTURE AND RUN THE TATOOINE UNDERWORLD FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE TUSKENS......well, right there is an actual SHOW, instead of the incoherent mess we received.   

So now we come to the finale, and Robert Rodriguez taking the reins for what is basically a forty-minute running battle between Boba's bunch and the Pykes. At the beginning, they get their asses kicked, but then the Freetowners come in to join them. This drives the Pykes away, and they think they're home free, until two huge Scorkenen battle droids come stalking down the streets of Mos Espa to take them on. This makes the group scatter and run, with Boba and Din Djarin trying to cover them (among other things, we see all the cool bombs, shots and other things built into Mandalorian armor). Boba jets away to get his last ace in the hole, which is of course the Rancor, and Mando is running through the streets trying to lure the battle droid away. In the middle of all this mayhem, he runs across Peli Motto and her droids, bearing him a gift--Baby Yoda, who had arrived earlier in Luke's X-Wing, piloted by R2. So now we know what choice Grogu made (and in addition he is wearing the beskar mail shirt). Their reunion is heartwarming, as Grogu uses the Force to launch himself into Mando's arms. 

In fact, Grogu apparently learned a substantial amount from Luke in the short time he was there, as there are two scenes where he uses the Force to protect Mando. He rips part of one leg off one of the Scorkenens, allowing the Rancor (which Boba has arrived on by this time) to tear the thing to pieces. After Boba and the Rancor destroy the second droid, Boba gets knocked off to have his showdown with Cad Bane and the Rancor goes on a rampage (climbing Mos Espa's tower in a deliberate homage to King Kong). Mando tries to ride it and calm it down, but the Rancor will accept only one Mandalorian, and Mando ain't it. In fact, the creature tries to nibble down on Mando's head, so it's a good thing beskar armor is well nigh indestructible. But as the Rancor flings Mando down in the street and prepares to charge him, the tiny Grogu waddles out to protect his Dad (and the Rancor pauses, obviously having no idea what to make of this miniscule being standing in front of it) and puts the Rancor to sleep. (This so drains him he curls up beside the prone monster for a nap himself.) 

This is all well and good, and most of this is fairly exciting. However, it also belongs in the third season of The Mandalorian, not this show. I'm thinking nearly all of this storyline could have been covered in two or three extra episodes of Season 3, which would have made for a tighter, more relevant story without wasting time on the muddled mess of attempting to flesh out Boba Fett's character. It was done in such a half-assed way that I'd almost rather not have the show at all. This is rather puzzling, as all of the episodes were written by Jon Favreau or Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni. I'm still thinking there must have been some sort of behind-the-scenes scuffle that would account for such a disjointed mid-season pivot, but I suppose we'll never know. 

At any rate, the bottom line is that the Boba Fett part of this show irritated and disappointed me, and I'm not too keen on The Book of Boba Fett Season 2, if there is one. Also, Bryce Dallas Howard should direct all of The Mandalorian Season 3. 

I have spoken. 

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