*Warning: This article contains spoilers for episode 3 of The Book of Boba Fett*
Finally, The Book of Boba Fett is starting to get going. The flashbacks have served absolutely nothing to deepen the character of Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) when the story itself is supposedly set in the present. After a pretty exciting opening, where acting legend Stephen Root cameos as Lortha Peel, we’re back in yet another bacta tank flashback. The framing of the bacta tank/flashback transitions is so tedious I’d hope Robert Rodriguez et al. will freshen it up in future episodes if there will be more unnecessary flashbacks.
The problem that I have with flashbacks isn’t the flashbacks themselves (a backstory is always welcome to “fill in the gaps” with any character), but the way the flashbacks are used. We always have to see Boba sleeping in the bacta tank before we suddenly learn more (but not really) about his past with the Tusken Raiders. This time around, the Pyke Syndicate has killed the Raiders and burned their camping site, which leads Boba into a quasi-exile until he’s–gasp (!)–suddenly awakened by BLACK KRRSANTAN! HELL YEAH!
The emotional shift I had while watching the episode went from “Oh no…” when a lingering shot of the bacta tank appeared, to OHHH YEAAAAH (!) when Black Krrsantan showed up out of nowhere. If there’s one thing Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have always excelled at, with their Mandalorian shows, is how they pluck out obscure characters from the [decanonized, but] expanded universe of Star Wars books and comics and know when to use them to get a kick out of fans who spent their time reading and exploring the expanded universe. Black Krrsantan is simply awesome. He doesn’t need to do anything, just show up and dominate the entire screen away from Morrison and any actor on a frame.
Black Krrsantan isn’t teased here, but straight-up becomes part of the action when he awakens Boba Fett and straight-up fights him in what I’d consider being the greatest fan-service matchup in live-action Star Wars history? Either way, the fight is pretty damn impressive, with Krrsantan easily knocking out Fett, even if the bounty hunter puts up one heck of a fight, and a group of youngsters (led by Sophie Thatcher) aid Fett in rescuing him while trapping Krrsantan in a Rancor pit. Did this really happen? Yes, and it ruled hard, even if the editing was a tad choppy, but not as choppy as action sequences in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The centerpiece of the episode, however, is a fun popsicle-colored space motorcycle chase between the youngsters and Mok Shaiz’s majordomo (David Pasquesi), highly reminiscent of the race sequence in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. This is the first time where I felt Robert Rodriguez at his most playful since the release of Game Over, and genuine affection for the way the sequence is framed and staged. It legitimately feels like a bonus level of the aforementioned game in that Spy Kids movie, and the space cycles add to that childhood playfulness. It’s fun, which is the core ELEMENT of what Star Wars should be. Kids should be having fun watching highly imaginative action sequences take their breath away, while adults should be enjoying the more “political” side of the franchise. That’s how it’s always been, and Rodriguez finally takes the franchise back to its roots through a highly exhilarating (and breezy) chase sequence that’s not only insanely playful but finally shows us that the show can be great when it wants to. Danny Trejo, a longtime Rodriguez collaborator, makes a fun cameo as a Rancor trainer, and one definitely knows that he’ll be back in some capacity.
The addition of Sophie Thatcher and Jordan Bolger in the show does bring some levity into the series, but Rodriguez doesn’t much seem interested in developing the characters further than them being “youngsters” who like to get themselves into trouble and magically accept to work with Boba. Sure, they can’t find employment in Mos Espa, but their motivations are still unclear. They only seem to be in it for themselves, but the focus on Boba’s flashbacks reduces critical character development in favor of filler. Filler should be a last resort, not the biggest trope you’re going to use over and over and over again.
That being said, the third chapter of The Book of Boba Fett finally pulls back the curtain on what the show will be about in a much better fashion than the first two episodes did. We didn’t need so much filler to understand that Boba’s reign as Daimyo of Mos Espa will be challenged by the Pyke Syndicate and other “colorful” (borrowing a term from Temuera Morrison here) [but unclear] villains. There are many rumors that some legacy characters will show up in subsequent episodes, but these are rumors (and I don’t dwell in overzealous fan theories after WandaVision “leaks” promised that everyone including your mom would be in it). If this series will focus on the underground “war” between Boba/Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), the Pyke Syndicate, and the eventually introduced antagonists, it can be a good series. If it’ll keep flashing back as the series is slowly getting good, my (and others)’ investment will certainly dwell. Let’s see what this series will offer us next week, which will be critical for its extended success (or failure).
Episode three of The Book of Boba Fett is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.