The Book of Boba Fett, Chapter 1: The Tribes of Tatooine
Director – Steph Green
Form – Temuera Morrison, Ming-Na Wen, Jennifer Beals
Rating – 3/5
After a 15 minute series that captures Boba Fett’s ongoing struggle to establish himself as the Big Cheese in Mos Espa, the second episode of Boba Fett’s book goes on to unfold an extended flashback that would have been lengthy even if the episode itself had been a more conventional length. But chapter two, titled The Tribes of Tatooine, is over 50 minutes long – almost twice as long as the usual live-action Star Wars episode – meaning the flashback sequence lasts over half an hour.
Given this information, it would be quite reasonable to wonder if the “contemporary” sections in The Book of Boba Fett are in fact flash-forwards.
By now, after two episodes, it’s clear that series creator Jon Favreau is following a pattern here. After the required ‘A Day in the Life of Boba Fett’ sequence, you can expect the story to deal with uncovering the bounty hunter’s past. This would be a fine strategy, provided there was a lot to gain there, but The Book of Boba Fett has focused on arguably the least interesting stage in the enigmatic character’s life.
There is nothing in it about his childhood, or his early days as a bounty hunter in the service of Darth Vader. Even more surprising, his father, Jango Fett, has barely been mentioned. The show seems to be mainly concerned with the events immediately following his escape from the Sarlacc Pit, which, somewhat disappointingly, are limited to him trying to assimilate into Tusken culture. Boba Fett’s book is building somewhere, and it better get to the point quickly.
Boba Fett is captured by a group of Tusken Raiders in episode one and proves his worth by helping them rob a train. After that disappointing season premiere, episode two feels like more familiar territory. Director Steph Green stages the Great Train Robbery with confidence and with a style that honors westerns of yesteryear.
And unlike director Robert Rodriguez’s season opener, The Tribes of Tatooine aligns more with the imagery Favreau helped create on The Mandalorian, where Boba Fett was reintroduced in season two backdoor pilot. It’s more elaborate and less forcedly crafted, giving you time to admire the flawless StageCraft technology.
But here’s the problem: Train robbery sequences are such a cornerstone of Western cinema, not only has this trope been done (repeatedly) before in the Star Wars universe, it’s done better. Similar sequences in Solo: A Star Wars Story and director Rick Famuyiwa’s season two episode of The Mandalorian were much better. Because they had real interests.
The Tribes of Tatooine confirms The Book of Boba Fett’s now worrisome identity as a show about nothing. And unlike Seinfeld, this cannot be taken as a compliment here.
Episode two, like episode one, spends way too much time on moments of inactivity (which I’m sure adds color to the largely bland story), and punctuates the largely wordless script with throw-away rules that even fans of the Star Wars series go, “Huh.”
“These aren’t Duur’s death pits and I’m not a sleeping Trandoshan guard,” Boba Fett says at one point, which is meant to be… funny? And then there’s the sequence in which the bounty hunter teaches a bunch of dumb Tusken Raiders how to ride speeder bikes. It would have worked so much better if the show had even a little bit of playfulness. Instead, Favreau and co. have given the ominously titled The Book of Boba Fett a depressingly dull tone. And so far there is no thematic evidence to justify this level of seriousness.
With only five episodes to go, The Book of Boba Fett lacks urgency, a villain, and any real forward momentum. It’s an inflated $200 million equivalent of something that would make you want to say, “This could have been an email.”