SPOILERS for The Book of Boba Fett.
Okay, so the finale of The Book of Boba Fett was fun, but that’s mainly because of the other characters in the story. Boba’s actual character arc still left a lot to be desired, and the finale helped me figure out what the story was missing.
Here’s what would have made The Book of Boba Fett a much stronger narrative:
- Introduce Cad Bane as the villain early on: One of The Book of Boba Fett‘s main problems is that for much of the season, it had no main villain. Star Wars is known for its iconic villains, and they all challenge the franchise’s protagonists in interesting ways. When the Hutt Twins showed up, I thought, “Oh, here are our main villains,” but then they left the story pretty quickly. The Pyke Syndicate also doesn’t work as a main antagonist, either, because they’re mostly a faceless criminal business with no personal connection to Boba. But when Cad Bane appeared in the finale, I realized he was the villain that the show was missing. Cad Bane and Boba Fett’s dialogue in the finale implies that Bane taught a teenage Boba to be a bounty hunter. So make that relationship a core part of the show, instead of something just touched on at the end. Bring that connection forward to show what Cad Bane is like, how he influenced Boba, and how Boba has changed since they last worked together.
- Contrast Cad Bane with Boba’s Tusken family: The show has Boba join a tribe of Tuskens that he grows to care for, but it comes across as a rather predictable “white man goes native arc” where they eventually die to motivate Boba to move forward. While it was nice to see the Tuskens get humanized once again, this plot felt very loosely connected to what Boba was doing in Mos Espa. Contrasting his original bounty hunter training with Cad Bane against his time with the Tuskens would have made this arc much stronger. If these two relationships had been juxtaposed that way, we would have better understood where Boba is coming from when he joins the Tuskens and how his time with them changed his outlook on life. Cad Bane’s dialogue in the finale suggests that he has an “every man for himself” philosophy, and it would have been easy to contrast that with the Tuskens’ communal way of life.
- Center Boba’s journey around self-identity: In the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian, Bo-Katan Kryze (a former princess of Mandalore) tells Boba, “You’re a clone. I’ve heard your voice a thousand times.” Similarly, Cad Bane tells Boba in the Book of Boba Fett finale, “Your father’s blood still runs in your veins.” These shows keep Boba’s backstory from the Star Wars prequels, which made him an unaltered clone of his father, Jango Fett. He was not a member of the Clone Army (who were all genetically altered to age twice as fast as Boba does), but he’s still a direct genetic copy of another person. Is Boba exactly the same as his father, Jango, or is there something about him that makes him unique from his dad and from the Clone Army? That would have been a great character development thread for Boba, and it would have helped explain why he might want to take up Jabba’s throne as Mos Espa’s crime lord. At the very least, becoming a crime lord would be tangible evidence that he’s different from Jango and the Clone Army, all of whom worked for clients or commanders. Boba could differentiate himself from them by fashioning himself into a great leader. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t take time to explore that narrative thread.
- Make the audience understand why Mos Espa matters: Why is Mos Espa worth protecting from the Pyke syndicate? Why does Boba Fett care about Mos Espa at all? It seems like The Book of Boba Fett narrative thinks we’ll care about Mos Espa simply because we’ve seen it before in other Star Wars installments, such as Episode I: The Phantom Menace. But the show itself doesn’t make a case for why Boba needs to protect Mos Espa, both from a logistical perspective and an emotional one. Does he need to protect Mos Espa because he feels like he needs a new purpose after his near-death experience with the Sarlacc? Does Mos Espa have some sort of resource or position that’s worth protecting? Or are the people of Mos Espa special to Boba for some reason (were they kind to him when he visited the city while he worked for Jabba the Hutt)? Answering these questions helps clarify Boba’s motivations and helps make the narrative more interesting.
- Address Boba’s ties to the Empire: Boba worked for the Galactic Empire, which was an organization of Space Nazis and Space Confederates. They were bad people who oppressed innocent folks across the galaxy. Boba Fett took money from Darth Vader himself and tracked down the Millennium Falcon for the Empire. Then he helped freeze Han Solo, space rogue extraordinaire, in carbonite! WHY am I supposed to root for a guy who did those things? We need to know what Boba thinks of the Empire and what his motivations for taking a job like that were. If he had no other motivations than money, does he feel remorse about that now? Also, how did find out that the Empire fell, since he was stuck in a Sarlacc and then living with Tuskens around the time of the Battle of Endor? Okay, that last point is very nitpicky. Cad Bane mentions at the end of Episode 6 that Boba has worked for the Empire, but we really need more information that his terse dialogue to find Boba sympathetic.
- Vary the types of personalities around Boba: Both Boba Fett and Fennec Shand are stoic badasses, which makes their interactions very terse and straightforward. Most of the other characters they meet in Mos Espa are similar, expect for the Mayor’s majordomo/advisor Twi’lek guy (let’s just call him Jack the Twi’lek). The speeder-biker people seem cool, but they are also stoic badasses. A great show needs a variety of personalities in the cast to keep scenes interesting, and The Book of Boba Fett just doesn’t have that. Think about The Mandalorian, for instance. Mando goes around to different planets and meets different types of people. Sure, some are stoic badasses, but not all of them are. And Mando travels around with an adorable toddler who gets curious, sneaks around, eats frogs and eggs, and laughs when he enjoys things. Varying the types of characters in your story makes the story more engaging, and that’s something The Book of Boba Fett should have used to its advantage.
- Take fewer detours from the main plot: I loved the plot detours that involved Mando, Grogu, and Cobb Vanth, but that’s because I already care about about those characters. Also, their scenes and characters were more interesting than those for the main characters. If you want to make a show about Boba Fett, then you’ve got to stick with Boba Fett. Detours from the main plot give you less time to establish your main characters’ motives and struggles, so they end up feeling hollow, which is what happened here. I get the feeling that Jon Favreau, Robert Rodriguez, and Dave Filoni really wanted to start working on The Mandalorian Season 3, but Disney made them do a Boba Fett show. After all, the Boba Fett fans have been clamoring to see Boba’s live-action adventures for years. But if your showrunners aren’t interested in your main character and leave him behind in favor of more established characters (in the world of Disney+ shows, anyway), then your show becomes really unfocused.
- Don’t assume every audience member has seen the Clone Wars cartoon: Much more than The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett relies on audience members’ knowledge of the Clone Wars cartoon to fill us in on things like Cad Bane and the Pyke Syndicate. But the thing is, not all of us have seen the Clone Wars cartoon, and we shouldn’t be locked out from other Star Wars things because of that. I saw a few Clone Wars episodes several years ago when my brother was watching it, but I mainly saw episodes focused on the Jedi, not bounty hunters or criminals, and I don’t feel the need to watch the rest of the series. The Star Wars installments that really count for me are the live-action ones, rather than the cartoons or novels. Why? Well, I prefer to keep some parts of the Star Wars universe mysterious. I don’t need to know what happened during the Clone Wars. I’d rather imagine it for myself. The creators of newer Star Wars installments need to remember that not every audience member watches every cartoon or reads every novel. That may mean you need a couple extra scenes to establish someone or something like Cad Bane or the Pyke Syndicate, and that’s okay.
These are just some ways that The Book of Boba Fett could have been improved. There are probably more possible improvements, but these are the ones that have been most prominent in my mind.