“Chapter 1” holds few shocks or surprises, but it’s very solid Star Wars storytelling nonetheless, filling in gaps in the past and hinting at more to come in the future.
This recap of The Book of Boba Fett season 1, episode 1, “Chapter 1”, contains spoilers.
The character of Boba Fett has always been fascinating to me since he became iconic without ever really having a character at all. A cool-looking henchman in the Original Trilogy, he was unceremoniously killed off – or so we thought! – in The Return of the Jedi, just another Dark Side casualty of Luke Skywalker’s heroic ascendence. The prequel trilogy, particularly the much-maligned Attack of the Clones, helped to flesh out some backstory for him, introducing his father, Jango, who was essentially just Boba all over again, and gave him some worldbuilding significance by revealing that all the Republic’s Clone Troopers had been shaped in his image. Jango was killed off, young Boba disappeared into the far-flung corners of the expanded continuity, and that was the last we heard of him.
For a while, anyway. When Boba returned in The Mandalorian Season 2, it felt like a fun but ultimately inconsequential cameo; just another bit of fan service in a show that was burning it for fuel every week. Boba’s arc in that season didn’t suggest that Disney were interested enough in him to give him his own show, and yet the finale, which turned the internet topsy-turvy and reduced many a long-time fan to tears of unbridled joy, revealed that he would return in something called The Book of Boba Fett, a mysterious title that would, presumably, chronicle Boba replacing Jabba the Hutt and Bib Fortuna as the daimyo of that desert planet’s criminal underworld. Since then, few details have been revealed. Now the show is here, and after the premiere, it still isn’t entirely clear how the show is going to actually fit into the wider worldbuilding of the Star Wars franchise, or indeed what anyone has planned for it beyond enjoyable fan service and filling in some gaps that have long been left unaddressed.
The Book of Boba Fett season 1, episode 1 recap
After The Mandalorian, it’s easy to set expectations way too high for something like this, both in terms of overall quality and storytelling significance. There’s a good chance that The Book of Boba Fett will, ultimately, reveal some big twist or significant development that changes how we look at and understand the universe, but it shouldn’t have to, really. It can work on its own terms, and thus far it does, even if the urge to expect more from it can’t help but lead to a little bit of disappointment with an opener that is content to be good but also pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
I don’t suppose it helps that “Chapter 1” leans heavily against a played-out device, namely plot-convenient dreams and flashbacks, to do a lot of the narrative heavy-lifting. Boba spends a good chunk of the first episode in a bacta tank, snoozing away while his wounds are healed, and when he’s in there he has very vivid recollections of his backstory, from his time on Kamino to the death of his father to his claustrophobic, gooey escape from the Sarlacc Pit in Return of the Jedi. It’s nice to see how he survived, even if “he just used the flamethrower” hardly seems like it was worth the wait to find out, but what’s more interesting about all this is the idea that there’s a whole story that happened after, that seems as if it’s going to run parallel to the “present-day” one. After having his armor stolen by a gang of Jawas, Boba is subsequently taken into the custody of some Tusken Raiders, who drag him all over the desert and hit him with sticks.
Things are certainly going better for Boba when we pick up where The Mandalorian Season 2 left him, but it still isn’t going all that well. There’s a funny sequence when several of Tatooine’s movers and shakers come to pay tribute to the new daimyo, and we get a sense of how Boba intends to “rule”, not with fear like Jabba did but with respect, so he moves among the people of Mos Espa like a canvassing politician. This later opens him up to an assassination attempt by a bunch of free-running ninja types with shields and shock sticks, which is a nice action sequence, but the thing that stood out about it, at least to me, was how it depicted two Gamorrean bodyguards whom Boba kept alive in exchange for their loyalty as slightly more complex and formidable allies than any previous Star Wars story has given them credit for being. I really like that kind of thing, reworking a simplistic idea or character into a more contoured version, which is precisely what the show is doing with Boba Fett himself when you think about it. It’s those two who carry Boba back to the bacta tank so he can have another flashback in time for the credits, and I really hope we see more of them.
That second flashback, by the way, showcases some of the show’s stellar visual effects when Boba takes down a giant Goro-style monster and earns some respect among the Tuskan Raiders. It’s hard to say whether any of this is really going anywhere – I’m not sure how much time is left to chart between this moment and when Boba meets Din Djarin in The Mandalorian – but it’s still a lot of fun.
Either way, with shows like Kenobi on the horizon, which are sure to delight in all kinds of significant worldbuilding details for fans to salivate over, there’s a chance that The Book of Boba Fett isn’t really interested in doing anything major with the continuity. It doesn’t really need to. It’s a confident bit of small-screen Star Wars storytelling that gives the ever-popular setting of Tatooine a lived-in, oddly realistic feel, closer to the Western border town it was always supposed to emulate than any previous depictions have managed. If it’s content to be this throughout its entire run, then that’s fine with me. But the chance that it’s holding some more interesting cards close to its chest is always a tantalizing prospect. We’ll just have to wait and see.