The first episode of Disney+’s Book of Boba Fett opens where we ended with the teaser at the end of The Mandalorian’s finale: Jabba’s Palace. Great, Jabba’s Palace. What a fantastic palace. More accurately, it’s a trio of grain silos where, in 1983, about thirty people hung out and most of them seemed to be employees or slaves. What an exciting place to start this grandiose, self-proclaimed tome.
Boba is asleep, nestled in an at-home coffin version of that recovery tank Luke was in in The Empire Strikes Back. Someone’s been to Brookstone! He dreams of the previous time we gave his cool, anonymous bounty hunter way too much pathos: when Boba saw his dad get his head lopped off by Sam Jackson in whichever prequel that happened in.
Then it’s straight into even worse instincts with what to do with this non-character.
In Boba’s next flashback to the trauma of his past, he’s back inside the sarlacc that gobbled him up in Return of the Jedi. Guess that would be traumatic if not deadly, huh?
That he somehow survived that eating to return in The Mandalorian is a bit of un-swallowing the willing Star Wars fans have already swallowed at this point, but sure. Now we get the half-assed explanation for that. Boba Fett simply burned through the side of the ass-mouthed monster and climbed up through twenty yards of sand. That all tracks, so this series is definitely rationalized.
This whole sequence started as a dream, but at this point, it’s lazily devolved into full-on flashback. Boba isn’t even conscious for a lot of it. Here, it is revealed that the sarlacc’s spit is what made Boba paunchy and old. It’s not that star Temuera Morrison is a sexagenearian. That’s just what sarlacc insides do and explains why he is paunchy and old five years after his retconned non-death.
Anyway, after he gets out, some Jawas steal all his armor, and adding insult to injury, then some Tuskens wake him up with some worm cum or something. It’s such a greatest hits of Tatooine-dwellers in the first five minutes that it’s a shock CGI Alec Guinness doesn’t cruise past on a speeder with a casual “Hello there.”
The Tuskens drag Boba back to their camp as a captive, and it’s annoying because it’s vaguely implied these cretins have, like, a tribal leader, and that the Tuskens must have some kind of social structure. As if it’s not bad enough this show is further humanizing Boba Fett, now it’s humanizing these assholes? The Tusken raiders are and should always be Just a Bunch of Fuckers. What next, are they going to pop their masks off for a little one-on-one chat instead of just screaming like baboons? Get a grip.
Boba gets loosely tied to a stump, but with the help of a CGI dog-thing that’s way too modernly over-designed for being set beside a dumbass-looking Greedo guy—the Tusken’s other captive—he frees himself from his bonds. He tries to escape, but Greedo Guy is a snitch, so he’s caught and forced to face off against this badass Tusken fighter—because of course there’s one of those. Tuskens have an entire society going on and some of them are really awesome. That’s what the fans wanted and finally they’ve got it: a Tusken idiot that kicks ass.
Boba Fett gets the shit beat out of him—the latest reminder that this guy has never actually been as cool as his outfit—and that’s the end of the convenient flashback mechanism. Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand rouses Boba from his scuba-dreamchamber, but you can bet this will be a noxious well The Book of Boba Fett will be returning to drink from. We surely must learn how Boba Fett was brought to this exact position of not particularly interesting circumstances.
At the moment, that particular position is standing there like a paper doll while some robots put his clothes on over a background of ridiculously melodramatic music. This is maybe the saddest “suit up!” sequence ever laid to digital video.
His armor tenderly laid upon him, Boba Fett is all dressed up with no place to go. His first appointment for day one of being self-appointed Tatooine Crime Lord? Just sit upon the throne of this piece-of-shit, generously-labeled “palace” and receive the greetings of some apparent criminal underlings.
Here, the episode finally leans into what has been the best inclination of the post-Lucas Star Wars era: casting non-American comedy ringers as droids. Solo had Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37; The Mandalorian had Richard Ayoade’s Q9-0 and Taika Waititi’s IG-11; and now we get Matt fuckin’ Berry as torture droid 8D8. Berry is criminally underused as a voice actor—he should be in just about everything, honestly—and it’s insane it took this long to get him doing something like this. Time to start placing bets on whether the next droid is Michaela Coel, Stephen Merchant, Sharon Horgan, or David Mitchell.
It’s a belated Christmas giving of gifts as the subservient crime bosses pay their respects to the inexplicable new Godfather of Tatooine. The first dude brings cash—impersonal but always appreciated. The next guy brings what may be Chewbacca’s skin—a great collectible that would also go for a hell of a lot on eBay. But the third guy (Tatooine mayor’s crony) tops them all by coming as… a Stranger with Candy.
The Mandalorian gave us the wonderfully unexpected Amy Sedaris, and look who it is now but “Meat Man” Stew, David Pasquesi. For as stupid as The Mandalorian turned out, and for as needless as this spin-off remains, there is a hell of a lot of great casting going on (amid several Stormtrooper-level utter misfires).
Almost halfway through the first episode and finally the Meat Man comes bearing the meat of what will surely be season-length conflict. Turns out, the mayor is not paying tribute but demanding it himself.
Fennec suggests killing the messenger, and Boba responds with basically the saying about how you shouldn’t do that. We will see Stew again.
Next, hauled in as prisoners, are a couple of Jabba’s boar-faced guards—and they are literally just that. In Jedi, they were freakishly proportioned, but now they are just a couple nearly-nude, beefy dudes in pig masks. Episode director Robert Rodriguez is known for shooting on the cheap, but come on. These are just aging ‘80s wrestlers who would be called The Pork Council.
The pair are meant to be killed off for supporting the prior administrations of questionable crime lords, but Boba again wishes to show mercy, and it’s like, ugh, we get it, alright? He’s a great guy! He’s not a faceless bounty hunter with a cool costume who was in like five minutes of the Original Trilogy. This guy is layered. The next dream flashback is going to be him delivering Han Solo to Jabba and asking, “So I’m giving him to you in carbonite for convenience’s sake, but he will be freed and allowed to repay his debt through reasonable service, right?”
For now, though, Boba instead asks, “You were loyal to both your bosses—would you be loyal to me if I were to spare you?”
Matt Berry-bot and Ming-Nassassin both think it’s a bad idea to do this, but again, Boba Fett is just a really chill, cool, exceedingly-moral guy, and that’s why fans love him, so he follows his all-too-prominent gut.
Soon after, Boba, Fennec, and their harem of pigs/”bears” strut their stuff into Tatooine’s city proper. Fennec tells Boba how he should be carried around like a spoiled prince, he refuses, and, again, we get it. This guy plays by his own rules. He’s down to earth! He is not playing by the old crime lord ways, to the degree that it’s not even clear why or how he is a crime lord.
Where is the crew headed? Where else but somewhere exceedingly nostalgia-tickling familiar: a Tatooine cantina!
Blue elephant guy Max Rebo works there, and it’s sort of depressing. The series should be The Book of Blue Elephant Guy, and we should see how he’s spent decades chasing fame and record contracts, only to lose his job performing for Jabba and end up playing with these weird guys at a shit bar where no one even knows his name; they just call him the blue elephant guy.
Anyway, a couple super-hot Twi’leks come up to Boba and Fennec and ask if they “would like [their] helmets serviced and cleaned.” You’d swear it was going to be the closest Star Wars has come to a crude and very bad sex joke, with Fennec going into Joss Whedon mode to explain, “Uh, yeah… that’s not what you think it means,” but it ends up being an even lamer euphemism about the helmets being “shined” with money. Such an ever-neutered galaxy far, far away.
The proprietress (Flashdance star Jennifer Beals; again, fun casting!) of this cantina—a place dubbed The Sanctuary—keeps up Fennec’s whole arbitrary thing about how crime lords are always carried around on a litter. She can’t believe Boba Fett wouldn’t be carted around. It is so bizarre what a sticking point this is. We’ve all seen A New Hope: Special Edition. We know Jabba just slurmed around in rotten CGI. No one was carrying that guy anywhere. Can we drop this already?
For better and worse, they do drop it. Boba Fett is just like, “Yeah, I don’t do that, and also I’m the crime lord now,” and this lady is like, “Great, fine.” It turns out, you can basically just go around saying this in Tatooine. One old guy and his friend can just go bar to bar saying the old guy is in charge of things now, and everyone is more or less fine with that.
“Oh, you took over that shit structure no one would ever call a palace? The three sort of abandoned silos? Great, you’re top dog then. Want some space doubloons in your hat?”
Boba and Fennec leave, and Boba spells out how they have to keep going place-to-place to sort this all out about him being the Official Crime Lord. As if this is a designated system! Just keep showing up places and saying you’re the boss. That’s how it works and it’s fine.
“Jabba ruled with fear. I intend to rule with respect,” Boba adds. And what does that even mean? Why would anyone respect Boba Fett as boss? Because he killed the pink hentai-headed man who just sort of loosely inherited Jabba’s throne? Boba is just this guy with this one other lady! What is this claim!? Where is this sense of respect coming from!? Sure, the respect you’ve earned from walking door to door like a fucking Jehovah’s Witness cosplayer. What a helluva guy you are. Respect, king.
But suddenly! Cyber-ninjas with energy shields and electro-batons! Those are here now!
For as much as the world of The Mandalorian felt like a pleasant throwback to the lovely designs of the OT, this is some proper prequel trash. May as well have them come in rolling on one of the big, glowing gobstoppers Jar-Jar’s friends catapulted around. Some real crap.
So, these cyber-ninjas close in, and it’s looking like these Mortal Kombat: Annihilation background action extras may defeat Boba and the only other person in his big criminal enterprise, when: the half-naked green men in pig masks show up! Thank god Boba spared their lives, giving him four people (two non-verbal) in total in his big criminal crew that doesn’t even seem to be doing any crime outside of passive extortion.
Overwhelmed by there now being two almost-nude men in fetish masks, the cyber-ninjas disperse. Boba blows one up with a wrist missile, but a couple others sprint off across the rooftops.
“Alive,” Boba demands as Fennec gives chase. As if he’s not the one who just dusted the most easily-catchable one. What follows is an action sequence that looks like an Aladdin video game by way of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
Fennec kills one of these assholes and captures the other one. Time to interrogate them, right? Nope! They can’t even wait until the next episode for another goddamn flashback.
Back in his tub/bed, Boba conveniently picks up his dream exactly where it left off twenty minutes ago. He’s been re-captured by the Tuskens, and re-roped to the stump he could definitely just stand up to escape from. But now a Tusken is freeing him from his casual bonds.
The Tusken leads Boba and the scrotum-looking Greedo off into the desert. They stop when they see some alien Mad Max biker gang looting and arsoning a home. Peering over a small dune at the scene, you can tell Boba is thinking, “Wow, those biker guys are ruling by fear. I’d probably choose respect, honestly.”
The goal of this mission, it seems, is some RPG shit. Boba and his pal have been led out to dig for little water pods buried in somehow-identifiable areas of the sand.
It’s worth noting, there’s a head-on shot of the two suns of Tatooine glaring down, and that’s pretty effective. Lucas always shot the dual suns in setting beauty, but this may be the first real look at them blaring down at high noon. It would probably indeed suck to be under multiple suns in the desert.
Anyway, these two morons are digging for the +2 Water Pods when the Greedo guy comes across something terrible: more Mortal Kombat-looking garbage. He accidentally dug up a CGI combination of Reptile and Goro. And it’s angry!
In the episode’s latest return of Return of the Jedi, Boba pulls a slave Leia on the beast, using his shackle’s chain to strangle it. Then he just stands there in this Hero Shot pose, thinking how awesome he is to reheat that old scene beneath these scorching suns.
Soon after, we see that killing this creature seems to have been some sort of larger return quest for the young Tusken. The NPCs can’t wait to update this kid’s journal now that he’s unexpectedly turning in the Iguana Centaur Head x 1 at such a low level.
While the young Tusken regails the tribe with his inflated tale of defeating the creature, the Tusken chieftain recognizes the real hero—mostly because Boba is still insisting on doing his Hero Shot pose. The tribe’s leader offers Boba to drink from one of the little water pod things. Boba has earned their respect. And he has established that, yes, this is another Disney+ series where a Mandalorian kills a monster from a hole every other episode.