*Warning: This article may contain spoilers for episode two of The Book of Boba Fett*
Let the spice flow?
It’s no secret that George Lucas was heavily inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune as he was writing Star Wars, and episode two of The Book of Boba Fett doesn’t seem to hide from that fact. We spend most of the episode’s time inside an elongated (and pointless) flashback in which Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) aids the Tusken Raiders in stopping a Pyke Syndicate train carrying spice [melange] from the mines of Kessel, and establishing a rule for the Raiders inside the Dune sea. What does this have to do with the plot of the show? Nothing. Does it establish the direction in which the series will go from now on? Nope, but it’s a Dune tribute!
Director Steph Green, writer Jon Favreau, and A-list cinematographer Dean Cundey aren’t doing subtle visual callbacks at all, but are straight-up ripping off from Herbert’s book to recontextualize it inside the Star Wars universe. Boba can’t trip balls on the Water of Life, since the Tatooine desert barely has any water left, so he’ll trip on spice and some kind of lizard entering his nose. What does that have to do with the character? Absolutely nothing. It’s a scene that only serves as a callback to Dune, without developing Boba’s arc in the process.
Boba then becomes the “Lisan al Gaib” of the Freme—I mean the Tusken Raiders, and will lead them to victory in a battle we may see in a future episode? It’s a big question mark here because I have no idea what this show wants to say or talk about. It’s as if Lucasfilm fast-tracked a Boba Fett spinoff for the sake of a Boba Fett spinoff without establishing anything. As such, we’re stuck watching flashbacks that serve little to no purpose in legitimately deepening the character of Boba Fett and a present-day storyline that’s far more interesting than anything going on in the past, even if we’re currently spending about 80% of the series through dull and seemingly pointless flashbacks.
When The Book of Boba Fett is set in the present and expands on the Star Wars universe by introducing the coolest, and I mean, the coolest-looking characters, which include the cryptic Mayor Mok Shaiz (voiced by Robert Rodriguez) and the cinematic debut of BLACK KRRSANTAN (!), this is where the show is at its best. We’re pulled into an underground world that the franchise hasn’t really explored until today. There were attempts of it in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but not like it’s being represented here in The Book of Boba Fett. This should be the show’s main focus, expanding on Star Wars’ underground crime world, more than trying to develop an arc that doesn’t need to be developed.
Boba wants to establish himself as the Daimyo of Mos Espa, whilst Hutt twins explain to him that it’s their territory, and not Boba since it previously belonged to Jabba the Hutt. This is exciting, and what the show should solely focus on! The backstory isn’t necessarily important to understand the Boba Fett of the present, and we should only have access to sparse moments of his past instead of showing it all. This results in a tonally inconsistent and wholly unengaging series that has no idea what it wants to say on anything it presents, and only engages its fans when they recognize things from past Star Wars movies or the expanded canon. If you’ve read the comics, you know that Black Krrsantan is awesome, and he looks so damn cool in live-action. But if the only exciting moments of The Book of Boba Fett are when we point our fingers at the screen and recognize things because we’ve read books, comics, and/or have seen other TV series, then the experience itself is still unfulfilling because the story did not engage us, but cameos did.
The series does its visually exciting action setpieces, with a terrific train chase scene, with action beats that are far more surprising than the train scene in Solo. Favreau et al. know how to write and direct action, which has been the strongest element of The Mandalorian universe so far. Hiring Dean Cundey to shoot the sequence was a stroke of genius since there’s never a dull visual moment in the scene. There are actual moments when you may think Boba and the Tusken Raiders may not make it alive, even if it’s a flashback, and that’s partly due to the train getting faster and faster, with the robot piloting it growing more concerned as Boba and the Tuskens are on top of it.
So far, it’s action sequences like these that are keeping me sort of invested in The Book of Boba Fett. The show has never given us a reason to care about anyone, or anything, even if Temuera Morrison gives an impeccable performance as the Bounty Hunter and is surrounded by a great cast. It’s all filler and pure fan service with cameos being the only moment where you want to be invested in the series since you can recognize the coolest things, but if Star Wars will solely become a cameo factory, why bother continuing on with endless spinoffs? The Dune parallels are obvious, and poorly written, and only serve us as a distraction for the fact that there seems to be no plot and no direction. Star Wars is better than this, and I hope subsequent episodes of The Book of Boba Fett will finally start exploring the crime world, instead of Boba’s past.
Episode Two of The Book of Boba Fett is now streaming on Disney+.