This Star Wars article contains spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett.
The Book of Boba Fett, a series that went nowhere for its first four episodes, has in the span of two weeks completely turned its fortunes around. But it’s not because The Book of Boba Fett is suddenly a good show. If we’re talking about the core storyline, which is ostensibly about a crime lord’s rise through the seedy underworld of Tatooine, Boba Fett is far from appointment television. So, how do you turn an inessential Star Wars series into the must-watch streaming event of the winter season? The Disney+ method is to pump it full of surprising cameos and easter eggs.
In just the last two episodes we’ve seen the return of the Mandalorian, the Armorer, Paz Vizsla, Luke Skywalker, Grogu, Ahsoka Tano, Cobb Vanth, and fan-favorite Clone Wars mercenary Cad Bane. So many returning characters and new storylines have been introduced that these episodes have barely had any time to see what Boba Fett and Fennec Shand are up to on their own show (not that they’ve done much since the series started). A massive big-screen character like Boba being upstaged by ones made for TV would have been a preposterous thought a decade ago when Disney first bought Lucasfilm. But for all intents and purposes, The Mandalorian spin-off has basically become The Mandalorian season 2.5, following Din and Baby Yoda’s adventures on their way to season 3 later this year, while Boba’s left stuck on his sandy wasteland.
Fortunately, with one chapter left, the series may actually have one last trick up its sleeve to restore Boba’s legacy — by becoming the gritty, Western-inspired bounty hunter show it should have always been in the first place. In fact, the Boba-centric portion of this book has shined brightest when lifting tropes straight from the genre of gunslingers and outlaws that originally inspired the character, such as during the great Dune Sea train robbery and Cobb’s fateful duel with Cad. But it has never worked as a gangster drama.
I’ve already written plenty about how turning Boba into a benevolent crime lord sat on a throne inside a palace has been detrimental to a character who at his core has always been a violent drifter happy to work for the highest bidder, even if it’s the Empire. Some may call it growth, and sure, being stuck inside the sarlacc’s stomach may force you to rethink a few things, but this book hasn’t made a good case for why this is an interesting next step for Boba. Let’s face it: he looks out of place as the daimyo walking around Mos Espa running errands, and hasn’t done a very good job of actually holding down a territory that’s already been divided up by other gangs and the Pyke Syndicate before he even got there.
It’s true that in the old Legends continuity Boba Fett did eventually settle down, even becoming Mand’alor decades after Return of the Jedi. But that made sense for a version of the character who wanted to embrace the heritage that was rightfully his as Jango Fett’s son. In comparison, writing Boba Fett out of the larger galactic story for a permanent stay on Tatooine merely seems convenient for a creative team that prefers playing with the other bounty hunter in Mandalorian armor.
But The Book of Boba Fett finale could let this iconic character finally do what he does best: be the biggest, baddest bounty hunter in the room, a guy who will do anything (and kill anyone) to collect his prize. In Marvel’s War of the Bounty Hunters, Boba Fett blows up insectoid bounty hunter Zuckuss and decapitates his droid companion 4-LOM in one fell swoop because they got in his way. In an unfinished episode of The Clone Wars, Boba shoots Cad Bane in the head. In fact, it’s the latter bounty hunter, Boba’s former mentor, who sets the record straight at high noon for Cobb Vanth: “Boba Fett is a cold-blooded killer who worked for the Empire.” In other words, just because Boba had a brush with death and is trying to be a better man now, that doesn’t change who he was or is deep down. And Cad Bane has landed on Tatooine to let his protégé know you don’t just get to run from your past.
With the rematch between Boba and Cad all but booked for the finale, The Book of Boba Fett hasn’t just stopped there. The final battle between the daimyo of Mos Espa and the Pyke Syndicate will also feature Fennec Shand, Black Krrsantan, and Din Djarin — the setup for a bounty hunter shootout fans could have only dreamed of in 1980 when Boba Fett, Bossk, Dengar et al were first introduced on the bridge of a Star Destroyer. And since this is a finale on Disney+, it remains to be seen whether the Pyke Syndicate will bring any other mercenaries with them. (If not Bossk, Dengar, or an IG unit, you’ve still got Durge, Deathstick, and Beilert Valance, all of which have appeared in recent Marvel comics and could make cameos here.)
This finale shootout is an opportunity for Lucasfilm to once and for all solidify the bounty hunter hierarchy of the Star Wars galaxy. Will Boba Fett prove that nobody does it better, or will his mentor close the book for good? It’s the classic duel straight out of a Wild West film you’ve always wanted to see from Boba Fett, a moment for him to once again take centerstage after spending so many years in the sidelines.
It’s a shame that it’s taken the series this long to get to where it always needed to go. Four weeks of trying to turn Boba into a good guy through flashbacks have all led right back to where we all expected: Boba, knowing the time for negotiations is over, bares his teeth and lets his blaster do the talking. Finally, a reason to get excited about The Book of Boba Fett.