Episode Four of Book of Boba Fett starts with a 90 second “Previously On” sequence that’s so comprehensive it’s a strong case against watching the first three episodes at all. You can jump into Episode 4 cold, you may even be better for it. At the end the Title graphic is somewhat unstable. It looks like a rushed mistake- which is also my one line review of the whole series to this point.
The ‘Catch Up Sequence’ may seem like a stupid thing to focus on but it shows how remarkably vague the details, timeframe and useful information has been for three episodes. The sequence also seems to be from a better take on this story. It would have you think this show has mostly been about Boba Fett and Fennec dealing with Jennifer Beals Twi’lek character and Kryssantan the mentally incompetent wookie- who both have had very little screen time. Another reason you don’t need to watch the first three episodes at all is because Boba recontextualizes his time in slavery as a gallant rescue anyway.
Episode four hit new lows in casting, character names, music and costuming. This show simply never looks much like Star Wars. These Star Trek leftovers and Quadrophenia inspired characters are more appropriate to the movie Fifth Element. They are so out of place it’s distracting.
This week’s installment is somewhat less boring. If you enjoy ironically watching Batwoman you’ll enjoy this episode. Boba is more like the Punisher than Batman this week, and its refreshing. He also reveals that he was truly happy and had a sense of belonging as a Tusken. I guess we could say he chooses to identify as a Tusken now.
Boba sounded like a Branch Davidian who survived the Waco Standoff and still loves David Koresh. He’s finally realized that bounty hunters are used as cannon fodder and it just bugs him. The idea mercenaries aren’t valued as much as soldiers is apparently a new revelation that he’s angered by. Seems like Day One stuff for that job but ok. In a rare Star Wars-like moment, we see some new droids who have the inspiring names Chef Droid and Sous Chef Droid. Like with the Gun Train episode the droids are Boba’s biggest problem.
This week’s best news is that, yes, Max Rebo is alive. It’s not another alien of his species, Jennifer Beals calls him Max. So we have an answer to a (trivial) 40 year old question. Until now the highpoints were George Lucas’ work repurposed from Attack of the Clones. The confirmation that Max Rebo is alive is their best ‘original’ moment. I’ll go so far as to call it a pay off in this mess of a show. Still no word on Salacious B Crumb. Also -Turns out Bantha’s are omnivores and Tatooine definitely has no less than three moons.
We see the blandest, most low effort aliens ever to be on screen in any kind of Star Wars this week. Think Art Carney in The Star Wars Holiday Special on this one. The Starship Troopers or Blade Runner extras would fit right in. Han Solo, however, would look very out of place.
Typical of characters we meet this week is a guy who gives people Borg Implants. This character, called The Modifier, seems likely to return. I would have preferred Babu Frikk to this character. The Modifier has a mechanical arm that’s just right off the set of Star Trek First Contact. He’s merely a human club-kid with highlighter yellow dreadlocks. He looks like he sold cocaine at a club in our world circa 2010. I’m sure Stephen ‘THUNDERCAT’ Bruner is a cool guy and a good actor, but this character sucked. He’s right out of the mosh pit at a Rage Against the Machine show.
The pacing is a bit better, but director Robert Rodriguez’s use of music is awful. His abilities may need reassessing too after this show. We reach a stark new low in the look of this universe. Greenwich Village on a Tuesday at 1 pm is more alien than Mos Espa.
We have been all over the chronology of the franchise each week. There are frequent Flashbacks to the events of Attack of the Clones and the time frame of Return of the Jedi. This has been disconcerting but apparently it’s not confusing enough for Favreau. Now we also have a new flashback point- right before he encounters the Mandalorian. We also have Tekno Music. For a long time. It’s non diegetic as far as I can tell. This was for us to ‘enjoy’ There’s a lot of things from 10 years ago being retasked in this show to crank out aliens, sets and gear.
With that said let’s delve into the events of Episode 4!
We start with another minute long montage of Boba sleeping in his pod of medicinal water dreaming of riding a bantha and being sort of zen.
In this dream Boba’s stalking Bib Fortuna and casing Jabba’s old place. Around four and a half minutes in we get the first dialogue. Boba affectionately talks to his bantha for a while. He then spots some distant flashing lights or blaster fire and walks into the aftermath of Fennec out cold and gut shot from events we saw in The Mandalorian. They then tell us the Episode is called The Gathering Storm. It’s pretty pretentious considering we’ve seen so much dumb already.
Boba brings mortally wounded Fennec to the Modifier. For a bag of coins he upgrades Fennec in a sequence combining the least interesting or outright worst parts of the Matrix and the later Terminator sequels or things co-opted wholesale from Star Trek First Contact. He snaps Fennec back together like legos while we are assaulted with extra loud, extra irritating 90’s tekno beats. You need drugs to enjoy this noise. John Williams is puking somewhere! It isn’t immersive. The sequence is silly. Imagine your pot guy running an illegal plastic surgery business in the back of his apartment. It’s a lot like that. There’s plenty of very Un-Star Wars Blade Runner-type randos in this scene.
Boba later calls the place a “Mod Parlor” when he explains to Fennec how it is she’s alive. Mod Parlor is a decent band name if your looking, by the way.
Boba tells her ‘You’re Fennec Shand’ and mentions whatever faction she was aligned with like she doesn’t know. Fennec mostly takes her new life as a cyborg in stride and doesn’t ask any of the questions you’d expect like “do I still eat and if so what?” “Do I need to drink motor oil sometimes now?” “Do I need batteries?” or “Why did you leave this machinery exposed on this filthy sand covered dump of a planet?”
Boba says he’s not going to turn her in for a bounty and instead of asking what he wants for saving her life and all, Fennec just asks him his name. “I’m Boba Fett.” He says it like he’s saying he’s Batman. She knows the name. This means he’s more famous than Luke Skywalker- who even Cara Dune, elite rebel trooper from Alderaan, didn’t recognize. So she’s the smartest person we’ve met since the Prequels.
Then Boba reminisces about his fun times with the Sand People and how they rescued him, took him in and treated him as one of their own- something that did not happen. He was captured while unconscious, then enslaved, beaten and tortured. He was eventually handed over to a brutal Sand Person child who mistreated him and made him do slave labor. He won the tribes respect when he saves the kid from a low effort monster and was rewarded with a Tusken Make-over that ended up with him adopting the look of Uncle Fester. He recounts this like a cherished memory of summer camp as a kid. It’s NOT what we saw. Fennec’s appreciation is short lived and in the course of their first conversation starts to contradict him and question his story.
Boba is just oozing benevolence but does have a violent agenda. He has acted like Batman every episode, but this week he’s putting that aside for the moment. He just says he’s outright gonna kill some people, including Bib Fortuna and the Nikto Bikers. The Nikto are the Lizardy Road Warrior Faction we’ve seen. They wear german WW1 helmets and levi’s denim trucker vests with their ‘gang colors.’ They do not have any kind of ‘Star Wars-yness’, a trait common to the show now.
This is a really ad hoc list of grievances. It seemed to me the Nikto were uninvolved in the massacre. Fennec simply doesn’t believe the Nikto could have pulled this off and says so. The Nikto Bikers are also not the faction named by the Pykes (the blue aliens who operate the Gun Train and kill Tuskens all the time) as having a beef with that tribe of Tuskens. The only interaction with these lizards was when Boba jumped a few of them, beat them up easily and stole their speeders.
Fennec proposes she help Boba get his ship back to repay her debt. It’s locked up in Jabba’s old Palace. Boba accepts this offer. Slave One is now called ‘My Firespray Gunship” – which is also a good band name, but I am going to call it “Living Wage 1.” He dismisses the idea of requesting his own property back and says he just can’t pull it off without his armor. So he really is just a loser stuffed in a suit in his own mind. Finding a rando and hoping she’s smarter than him is his new plan. Fortunately; this was the perfect idea. THEN WE SEE ANOTHER BANTHA RIDE.
They use a small drone to locate Living Wage 1. Boba gives his Bantha a PETA pep talk and frees it. The dialogue is absolutely horrible, but now that Fennec is around the bantha is his closest intellectual equal, so it almost makes sense.
They make their way to the palace kitchen and encounter a couple of droids. One pulls a General Grievous-like attack move and it looks like this will be fun- but Fennec destroys it quickly. Then a comic sequence ensues where Boba mixes it up with a tiny droid that’s much smarter than him. It was actually decently amusing. When he does catch it he pins it to a wall and, just like Michael Keaton in Batman 89 says “I’m Boba Fett!”…. for the second time this episode. The droid commits suicide rather than listen to any more.
They recover Living Wage 1 in a somewhat slapstick sequence that riffs on the ships unique design having terrible line of sight. Soon they are free, flying over Tatooine. At this point Fennec just expresses shes going to stick with around for a while even though they are even. Then a vengeful Boba Fett airstrikes the Nikto Bikers. Its sort of an A-Team action sequence in the sense there’s plausible deniability that he kills anyone – but it seems pretty unsurvivable. He just jacks them in his ship and strafes them all.
They then fly Living Wage 1 to the Sarlacc pit and it gets weird. Boba says he was trapped in there ‘so many years ago.’ So while he escaped in like an hour he’s been with the Tuskens a good long time. This is not how we experienced it. It seemed like two, maybe months tops. It’s just cheap way to get to Mando’s timeline. So escaping the Sarlacc in minutes is now even more pointless.
Then we get what I’m pretty sure is a Retcon- Boba Fett’s armor is now Beskar- something we only hear about in the Disney era to my knowledge. This makes Boba the only person who paints over beskar. Captain Phasma didn’t, Mando doesn’t. Wookiepedia had simply said Boba Fett had ‘Upgraded Armor.’ Look for that to be updated soon. He’s also the only person who has managed to damage beskar armor. Unfortunately it’s his own, which has been dented and beat to hell since we first saw it in Empire Strikes Back.
Then we find out the Sarlacc is very much alive despite the multiple beatings it took in the Return of the Jedi and episode 1 of this series. It’s also much tougher now and a match for Living Wage 1. It can handle sustained heavy blaster fire and is strong enough to hold a ship in place while its engines are at maximum.
For context; the Sarlacc struggled to pull in Lando and was fended off by a single blaster shot from Unfrozen Han Solo. It’s now the most inconsistent monster ever.
The scene is unsatisfying. In ‘Gamer-Speak’ it was a total Kill-Steal by Fennec and Favreau. This monster is something the shows Hero needed to kill himself. He’s been beat up in every episode and now he gets the Han Solo TFA treatment. He needs someone else to operate his own ship’s most powerful weapons. They aren’t anywhere near the pilot. Boba Fett has operated Living Wage 1 since he inherited it from his father. This upgrade was something he’s needed for like 35 years.
Fortunately for our hapless hero Fennec pulls a Rey and saves them both by getting to the weapons panel to drop a seismic charge into the sarlaccs mouth, killing the monster. It’s just a bit too much like a mashup of The Last Jedi bomber sequence and Rey Bypassing the compressor in Force Awakens. So Fennec kills the sarlacc monster and saves them both.
Boba volunteers more fortune cookie logic justifying his desire to supplant Bib Fortuna and be a crime lord- it’s mostly to save lives. This is ridiculous. Just join the New Republic Rangers under a fake name. Tell them your Rex. Just pretend to be any clone of the millions that were created and do that. Then he tells Fennec he need ‘brains and muscle, you have both.” This is our tough guy Crime Lord? He needs a 90 pound half mechanical woman who shoots things to be his Enforcer? We didn’t see much muscle and she’s only smarter than Boba Fett, so we just have someone verbalize it to poof it into reality.
Boba has been emphasizing that he’s even more bad ass now but he still wants her to be his partner. In a weird scene they exchange the criminal version of some sort of wedding vows and they’re now a virtuous (platonic) criminal duo. He pledges her his life and loyalty and like us she thinks it’s dumb. He says Tusken’s have made him a team player type guy. She does not respond.
Stoic silence is becoming typical of Fennec. She has no real traits and only says things Boba Fett should already know. It’s becoming a bit boring. To make sure we never get distracted by the beauty they cast her for, they have her in the most figure hiding unisex outfit ever. So it may as well be Rose Tico. She can’t be allowed to be too pretty and she has to be smarter than Boba Fett, this is a Disney show after all. Think Loki and Sylvi on this one. The writers just split Boba in half and gave his intellect to Fennec, but that’s all she’s got. The only difference is she doesn’t use Australian slang or call people ‘mate’.
In yet another Bacta Tank dream we see the sequence where he kills Bib Fortuna and we know we’re in the late part of Season 2 of ‘The Mandalorian’ timeframe. He then awakes to the timeframe we could call “now.” He’s told he’s fully healed and he doesn’t look like roast beef anymore. He then promptly ignores Fennec’s advice and decides he’s going to walk around town and see if anyone tries to kill him.
We catch up with the incredible Max Rebo at the Twi’lek Casino and its VERY Canto Byte. A sulking Kryssantan, who Jennifer Beals calls Santo is being a drunken bully. He beats on some much smaller reptilians to blow off steam but Jennifer Beals tries pop psychology, causing him to hesitate for a moment. Then Santo tears the lizards arm off (maybe they grow back?) and no one cares. Having shown he’s got a substance abuse issue, low intelligence and is prone to erratic behavior he’s checked all the boxes to get hired by Boba Fett just as I predicted last week. If you suck at something Boba Fett will just offer you a job, even if you tried to kill him a week earlier. He really needs an HR Droid. Just let 8D8 do all the hiring.
The next scene is supposed to evoke Godfather or the way a Bond villain bullys his henchmen. In a gathering of crime lords at Jabbas old palace Boba asks for nothing but a truce while he rids the planet of the Pykes. It’s dumb and he comes off as an Outer Rim Supremist looking to Make Tatooine Great Again. He essentially told them he’s super weak and if they betray him a stronger faction will reward them. They aren’t buying it at all.Then he has the baby rancor growl a little and everyone just falls in line. Problem solved.
In a Bond movie or a Mafia tale this conference would have featured one holdout who pushes the Head Baddies buttons too much and gets himself killed as an example. Book of Boba Fett has no such moment. The other Crime Bosses don’t really respect anything about him outside the fact he owns a rancor, which is apparently good enough.
In a final wistful scene Fennec and Boba verbalize that a tough, heroic type would be a great help. Then they wonder if that kind of person might be available as the Mandalorian’s theme plays. It’s the only good piece of music in the episode. The illustrations during the credits were as bland as the rest of the show.
Summing up; there is very little to praise. It was refreshing to see some aggression from Boba and Living Wage 1 looks cool. They seem to have saved all their allotted violence for this episode. He goes on a killing spree and acts like a criminal for part of the episode.
The comic sequence actually was amusing and introduced a new droid that was at least cute and funny. If you have the subtitles on you even see its name (such is the incompleteness of the writing). It spoke for the audience by attempting suicide rather than hang out with this guy and his loser friends. I had a great laugh when the droid just hits his own kill switch to escape the stupid. I relate to the ‘LEP Droid’ strongly. He’s the second smartest individual we’ve met since the Prequels.
This show is just bad, which sucks because it supposedly came from a good place. This week is easily the best episode and it’s still really terrible a lot of time.
It doesn’t bottom out as bad as last week but it’s bad. And BLAND! The dialogue is really poorly conceived. For instance; when Boba goes to get Fennec Modded, Yellow Dread guy says ‘Aren’t you a little old to be here?” In our world we actually do have Cyborgs and they are mostly old people.Vice President Cheney spent time as a Cyborg when he had an artificial heart for years. So old people would be beating a path to his door. Maybe its just cause he’s a dick who blasts bad music that keeps them away?
A good deal of character’s are just very low effort. In this show any and all ‘off the shelf’ sci-fi costumes are acceptable. Like Star Trek The Original Series, but not charming and with no awareness. Episode One featured Mortal Kombat extras; that’s been the bar ever since.
This shows best special effect is Jennifer Beals. She simply has not aged and looks like she’s 30. She was on my wall in 1983. She’s 58. What a Feeling!
The factions are uninteresting and some are all too familiar. Typical of this would be the new sidekicks we met last week with the cybernetic Mod-ing. These Doctor Who extras ride scooters resembling those favored by Brit Mods in the 70s. They go by the cringe-y and way too on the nose gang name “the Mods” too.
The Mods cute female leader wears a leather Biker MC vest from Hot Topic. Its so common that it was in vogue for female news anchors about 10 years ago. Brooke Baldwin wore one. Fox News hosts wore them. It’s unimaginative. It’s a vest of version of the same kind of jacket Joey Ramone wore.
The Mod faction would not be conspicuous in a bar or subway car in our world right now. I can’t tell if this is a failed homage or just really lazy.
This week was at best a Guilty Pleasure.