After two seasons of the successful Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, a spin-off is arriving on Disney+. The first episode of The Book of Boba Fett has premiered and this space Western stars Temeura Morrison as Boba Fett, a former bounty hunter turned crime lord who navigates the galaxy’s underworld with assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). “Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land” shows how Boba escaped the Sarlacc Pit in Return of the Jedi and what happened to him after.
As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more inclined to like this show than your casual audience member. There’s a lot to enjoy about this episode, with many scenes that longtime fans of the protagonist with a cult following will love. For example, the opening sequence where we get a brief flashback to the moments after Boba’s father’s death in the Battle of Geonosis will send a grin to those who have seen Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.
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However, as the series premiere to a spin-off of one of the best pieces of Star Wars entertainment in recent years, this episode was underwhelming. It’s a show made for the fans who have clamored for more of the iconic bounty hunter, but the first episode doesn’t set up very much to hook the audience and keep them watching. Perhaps the primary cause of this is the premiere’s failure to introduce ideas that haven’t been previously established.
One of the first scenes in “Chapter 1” features Boba escaping from the Sarlacc after Han Solo accidentally launched him there. It’s an enjoyable sequence that quickly leads to his armor being stolen by Jawas and him getting captured by Tusken raiders. It’s fun to return to the desert planet of Tatooine and see the creatures introduced in A New Hope, but the sequences with these characters don’t feel as if they amount to very much.
The episode shines in its moments where we get to see Boba being the badass hero we’ve always known he was. The scene where Boba takes down a massiff that charges at him is an excellent example of this, as well as the scene where an assassin tries to escape, but Boba fires a rocket at him. Furthermore, the sequence near the end where Boba takes down the giant creature is a fantastic Star Wars set piece that ends “Stranger in a Strange Land” on a hopeful note as he gains the respect of the Tuskens.
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But the moments in between pull the episode down. In addition, the episode’s structure is strange, beginning with a 12-minute flashback sequence, then bringing us to the events after the end-credits scene of The Mandalorian Season 2, where Boba establishes himself as a crime lord but then features another 9-minute flashback. The pacing of the flashbacks can be monotonous, and the story doesn’t feel as if it’s setting up any questions beyond what we’ve seen before. We know Boba wants to be a unique crime lord, but the episode doesn’t set up a mystery that will keep us watching.
Furthermore, the episode’s main action sequence with the assassins fighting Boba, Fennec, and the two Gamorrean guards is entertaining. Still, it’s not entirely on the level of the action setpiece Boba and Fennec shared in “Chapter 14” of The Mandalorian. Perhaps it will take its time to pick up, but the show may have benefitted from debuting its second episode as well. Because while the premiere of The Book of Boba Fett has its moments and hints at becoming something greater, the result does not equal the sum of its parts.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 5 equates to “Mediocre.” The positives and negatives wind up negating each other, making it a wash.
Disclosure: The critic watched the episode on Disney+ for ComingSoon’s The Book of Boba Fett Season 1 Episode 1 – Chapter 1 review.