Warning: This review contains spoilers of The Book of Boba Fett: Season 1 Episode 1
“It is good to restore the natural order of things after a period of such disarray, don’t you agree?” – Werner Herzog as The Client.
I know, I know, this is a review about Season 1 Episode 1 of The Book of Boba Fett, not The Mandalorian. But that quote felt so right for this. We haven’t had any live-action Star Wars since the end of The Mandalorian Season 3 and I couldn’t have been more excited for the latest Star Wars adventure.
As a whole, it was a solid episode. It left me wanting more, which I guess is the point since this was only the first episode of a seven part series, though part of me wonders if that was more down the the lack of real substance and content than a whetting of the appetite for the following episodes. The very first scene pans through Jabba’s deserted palace, showing us that the crime empire Jabba ruled is not what it once was; with it’s deserted halls and abandoned throne room indicating how much things have changed in the 5 years since the great Hutt’s death and the lengths to which Boba and Fennec will have to go to in order to establish their rule on Tatooine. We get a brief glimpse of Fett in a Bacta Tank, then, the long awaited story of how our hero escapes the sarlacc pit. I loved this scene! When I pressed play for this episode for the first time, I thought to myself, “I really hope they show us how he escaped the sarlacc.” Then as if Jon Favreau himself heard my very desires, we were granted the short, but epic tale.
Boba emerges from the sand, alive, but barely. He passes out from exhaustion and is discovered by Jawas that evening who promptly take his precious Beskar armor. The following morning, he is discovered by Tusken Raiders who take him captive back to their camp. I feel like they do a great job of visually showing us as viewers the hostility of living on a planet like Tatooine; the twin suns that glare through Boba’s visor, the sand storm, Boba’s skin is damaged and pale from the innards of the sarlacc.
At the sand people’s camp, he is tied to a post and chained to a fellow prisoner, a Rodian voiced by the one and only Sam Witwer, voice actor of Darth Maul in the Clone Wars and Rebels. For reasons currently unknown, the Rodian shouts to raise the attention of the Raiders when Fett attempts to escape the encampment, resulting in Boba’s immediate recapture and subsequent beating. The episode then proceeds to swap between the present and the past; Boba’s efforts to re-establish a crime empire on Tatooine interspliced with flashbacks to his escape from the Salaac pit and run in with the local tribe of Tusken Raiders.
As you would expect, the episode featured the series’ first fight scene, where Boba and his ally Fennec Shand are set upon by a group of well equipped henchmen looking to dispatch the new usurper to Jabba’s throne on behalf of an as yet unknown individual. Personally, I felt like the fight was a bit slow for a seasoned combatant like Boba. Yes, he was surrounded, but the man had his blaster, his jet pack, knee blasters and all his other gadgets holstered the entire time and he didn’t use any of them to get himself out of that sticky situation. So that really bothered me as a viewer waiting for him to use his gadgetry that surely could have ended the fight in a few short moments. However, eventually he and Shand do overpower their foes with the assistance of Boba’s two newly acquired Gamorian guards. I will add that it was satisfying when he does eventually fire a wrist rocket and annihilates one of them as they try to flee. So there were some good aspects of this fight, but like I said, there are some parts that I take issue with, especially after seeing the absolute monster that Boba was in the Mandalorian. It isn’t clear even by the end of the episode if these assailants were sent by, although I’m sure we will find out soon.
However it wasn’t all fighting and scene setting from the series opener, we got a glimpse into the morality of our protagonist towards the end of the episode. In a flashback a Tusken Raider child leads the imprisoned Rodian and Fett through the desert with a pet massiff to dig for water. After finding a few buried plant pods containing the liquid so scarce on Tatooine, the Rodian mistakenly digs up the arm of a six limbed beast which promptly emerges from the sand, slaughtering the Rodian and attacking Boba and the child. Having been distracted with the child, Boba jumps onto it’s back and strangles it with the very chain that has been preventing his escape from his captors. I liked this scene because it showed us Boba’s true nature. He had a golden opportunity to escape but instead he chose to save the life of the boy who had treated him so poorly. The two of them return holding the beast’s head victoriously to the camp, with the child evidently telling the rest of the tribe of the heroics of Boba in saving his life. This earns Boba the respect of the chief who simply hands him a pod full of that precious Tatooine water, though visually a small gesture, on a planet as hostile as Tatooine, this seems to be a great show of appreciation. The episode ends there so we were left with most of our questions answered; why he wore Tusken Raider garb in The Mandalorian, how he lost his armor to Jawas, how he escaped the sarlacc and what he’s up to now.
The soundtrack welcomes the return of one of The Mandalorian’s breakout stars, soundtrack composer Ludwig Göransson. Heard throughout the episode, the use of a male choir added to that feeling of the same old western vibe that the visual design and set pieces gave the episode. I really enjoyed that they brought this element back from The Mandalorian. It adds grit to the story and develops the viewers perception of the story into something more tangible and down to earth than the epic space battles and lightsaber duels we normally associate with the franchise. I think Jon Favreau saw what worked before and started the series off with something safe and familiar. Ludwig Göransson’s score being another element brought in from successes of The Mandalorian.
The trailer for the show showed Boba entering the same casino we saw in this episode, only this time with his helmet on and his blaster drawn, clearly he is looking for the one responsible for an earlier attack on his life and isn’t going to be as amiable as he was the first time, so I look forward to that encounter in a later episode. The episode re-establishes a fact that the galaxy may have forgotten in the preceding five years, that Boba Fett is not a guy you want to mess with. And it shows; five henchmen against Boba proved to be no great challenge for the bounty hunter, especially with all his newly reacquired Beskar plate armor. So let’s be honest, who ever we find out sent those fighters, whatever Boba does to you, you probably deserve what’s coming.
The bottom line is, in my opinion, that it wasn’t a particularly shocking episode, or an episode that had me on the edge of my seat, but it was definitely a good one and worth the watch. I’ve always enjoy Jon Favreau’s work and I’ve said it before, as I’m sure you have, that this man and Dave Filoni are the best things to have happened to Star Wars since Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas. I look forward to episode two on January 5th!