Tatooine Under New Management
The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+ has been met with mixed reactions but beyond being a credible addition to the Star Wars universe, it comes with a story worth telling.
Matt Poppe typically reviews the new Star Wars and Marvel shows for Christ and Pop Culture. He's now onto The Book of Boba Fett, though not reviewing every episode, as he has done with previous shows. So far, he hasn't been impressed.
And that’s because any guy who comes into town and thinks he’ll get it right where everyone else got it wrong tends to either fail miserably or become a weird, psycho cult leader. Whatever the outcome, this isn’t the type of person onto whom I want to project my hopes and cares as I’m munching down Little Caesars on the couch with the rest of the Poppe fam.
I get where Poppe is coming from, but I have also enjoyed the series more than he has. Unlike Poppe, I can see a legitimate character arc for Boba Fett that not only makes sense, but can make for compelling TV. To leave Boba Fett where he was when we saw him in the original trilogy would be doing the character a disservice and wouldn't be a good follow-up to The Mandolorian, either. His entry into the canon of crime bosses promises to tell a more interesting story.
When we came across Boba Fett in the 1980's, he was a quiet loner, who as Poppe points out, wasn't a boss. For him to become a boss, or even to have the desire to become one, he has to undergo a transformation. The Book of Boba Fett goes to great lengths to show us the steps in that transformation. First, he is ravaged by the Sarlacc, and very near to death, saved only by his protective beskar armor. When he escapes the bowels of the monster, unconscious in the middle of the unforgivingly arid Dune Sea, he loses that armor to itinerant Jawas, and we witness his rebirth, left almost as naked as he came into the world. The symbolism is easy to detect. When he is rescued/captured by a group of Tuskens, he begins to relearn how to live and even how to fight. We know all of this because the physical scars left by his experience leave him dependent on a bacta tank for healing and while he is in the tank, he has flashbacks of the past.
Fett's life with the Tuskens is anything but easy, as he gradually proves himself to a nomadic people hardened and distrusting from the harsh desert sands. As he builds himself up, he both learns from, and teaches the Tuskens. We witness a cultural exchange, and understand that the Tuskens have as much to offer Fett, as he, a man who has seen the far reaches of the galaxy and dealt with some of the most powerful people in it, has to offer them. What he has to give them, though, is not what we would expect from the Boba Fett of Empire Strikes Back. Sure, he's cunning, and his bravery scores him an early victory over a desert monster that impresses the Tusken tribe. As the days spent with the tribe wear on, though, he proves himself to be a masterful tactician and negotiator. As such, he becomes a de facto leader within the Tusken tribe. By the time he seems to have rid the sand people of two different groups of tormentors, he is well entrenched in the group.
You begin to see why Boba Fett now wants to lead rather than taking orders. The new situations he has lived through, and the experiences with which he has been gifted mark a different path for him. By the time he has gone full Dances With Wolves as part of the Tusken tribe, it's hard to believe he will ever leave. As viewers, though, we know that he moves on to become (or attempt to become) the crime boss we see in early scenes from the show. Fett's growth as character during his period in the Dune Sea not only makes him sympathetic, but also does something that no one watching A New Hope in 1977 thought would be possible: it humanizes the sand people that tried to kill Luke in that movie. The journey is a worthwhile story.
My main disappointment with the show is the killing off of the entire Tusken tribe early on in the season. The scenes set after Fett takes over Jabba's crime syndicate (what's left of it) are not as impactful as those set in the past with the Tuskens. However, future events have shown that was necessary to set Boba Fett on his current course. Boba Fett himself even admits he would have stayed with the Tuskens had they not been wiped out by a rival group. We know there is more in store for the once loner bounty hunter. I'm waiting for the rest of the show to catch up to the quality of the flashbacks with the Tusken raiders, but I'm pretty confident that it will. Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau have earned that trust, and it will be interesting to see where they take things in upcoming episodes.
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