After being announced just over a year ago via post-credit scene in The Mandalorian season two finale, at long last, The Book of Boba Fett has arrived on Disney+. Starring Temuera Morrison as the titular bounty hunter-turned-crime lord, and Ming-Na Wen as his second in command, master assassin Fennec Shand, The Book of Boba Fett brings a quieter, more grounded story to the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Despite critiques that the series is pandering to the nostalgia of an aging demographic, The Book of Boba Fett appears to be more focused on developing the legendary bounty hunter beyond the cool-looking, ambiguous vibe he had before, and into something more like the very grounded, human character who appeared in the back half of The Mandalorian’s second season.
Questions that have floated around since Boba Fett returned to Star Wars – particularly questions surrounding how he escaped the Sarlacc and survived in the interim – are answered almost immediately in the pilot episode via extensive flashbacks. The escape itself is not given very much time, because it’s not the actual getting out that matters, it’s Boba’s survival once he escapes that matters.
Once he is stripped of his armour by Jawas, he is taken by Tuskens and kept as a prisoner in their camp, where he begins by fighting back against their harsh treatment of him, and eventually, begrudgingly earns their respect. These largely dialogue-free sequences make up a good portion of the episode and go a long way to not only conveying how Boba managed to survive all those years, but also lays the groundwork for his current approach to his reign over Tattooine’s underworld.
In the present day, the newly-minted Lord Fett is adjusting to his role as a crime boss. The line most often repeated in the promotional spots was that Boba intends to rule with respect, and that becomes staggeringly clear from the moment he begins to receive the heads of various crime families, who come bearing tribute for their new ruler. The only authority figure who does not bend the knee is Mok Shaiz, the mayor of Mos Espa, who sends his majordomo to instead demand tribute in turn – very politely of course.
At Boba’s right hand through it, all is Fennec Shand, a fellow survivor and denizen of the underworld with a much more cynical, calculating outlook on things. Where Boba would prefer to reinvent the wheel, Fennec often encourages him to carry on in the old way as Jabba the Hutt would have done. To rule with fear and not show himself so readily among those he now rules. This immediately sets up an interesting dynamic between the two since all speculation (and shipping) aside, we know very little about how the two of them actually interact with one another. Is Fennec’s caution and advice born of wariness and fear that they will themselves be usurped by someone more aggressive, or does she long for more than what they have and see Boba as the way to get there? I am personally inclined to believe the former, but time will tell.
The present-day portion of the episode ends with the two of them being beset in the streets of Mos Espa by a mysterious gang of fighters. Once most of them have been dispatched, Fennec gives chase to those remaining, while Boba is taken back to the palace, too injured to continue. He orders her to bring them back alive, and she follows the order to the extreme, leaving a single survivor who will likely shed some light on who hired them next week.
Though the premiere was filled with action sequences, it never feels gratuitous. Each one serves to drive the story forward, and in some cases push a character arc forward. The varied fighting styles demonstrated by Boba and Fennec contribute in large part to keeping the show grounded.
They never once feel like invincible superheroes, but instead, people whose profession necessitates a certain level of physical prowess. They each get knocked over several times in a fight, and at one point Boba is too injured to even continue. When directing The Mandalorian episode “Chapter 14: The Tragedy,” Robert Rodriguez made it his mission to really show the audience what it was about Boba Fett that appealed to him, rather than operate on the assumption that the audience already thought the character could do no wrong. Though the episode was penned by Jon Favreau, it’s obvious Rodriguez’s aim has carried through here.
The two leading actors also play a huge part in making the series feel grounded. Both Morrison and Wen infuse their roles with a quiet subtlety that makes this series feel like a more grown-up Star Wars story. Underneath the aliens and the references to Star Wars-specific things, The Book of Boba Fett feels at its heart like a crime drama, complete with an ensemble of morally gray characters—including Jennifer Beals’ Twi’lek cantina owner Garsa Fwip—and a slow-burn plot.
The Book of Boba Fett didn’t rely on a surprise gasp-inducing moment to end the episode. It merely ended on a natural pause, and the assurance that the audience will return next week to see how Boba and Fennec continue to grow, flourish, and struggle at the head of Tatooine’s criminal underworld.
The Book of Boba Fett airs new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+
This post originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Featured Image Credit: Lucasfilm.