The Book of Boba Fett is at an early crossroads. Many Star Wars fans met its opener with a lukewarm response thanks to its clipped runtime and slow-moving story. But, if a more action-heavy Chapter 2 is any indication, there was never any need to worry: the Disney Plus series is in safe hands with Jon Favreau and the rest of the creative team.
The second episode, directed skilfully by Academy Award-nominated Steph Green (New Boy), is a clear improvement on the glacial, directionless premiere. Where that floundered and failed to provide a meaty hook for fans to tune in next week, the follow-up has taken the handbrake off and lit the proverbial touchpaper in a galaxy far, far away.
Fennec Shand delivering the Order of the Night Wind assassin to the feet of Boba Fett helps set engaging events in motion from the offset. A Rancor fakeout and an icy reception at the mayor’s office follows, neatly weaving in the twin threats of that old Star Wars foe – bureaucracy – and fresh forces rolling into Mos Espa.
Speaking of twins, it’s the Hutt Twins – cousins of Jabba, with a Wookiee bodyguard named Black Krrsantan in tow – that provide one of the episode’s most compelling standoffs. The cousins lay claim to Jabba’s throne, which has since been wrestled free of Bib Fortuna’s grip by our one-time bounty hunter.
The scene is a pivotal one, not least because it acts as a microcosm for the show’s strengths and weaknesses so far.
One of The Book of Boba Fett’s great strides is the way it has shaped street-level Star Wars stories. Despite only heading to a handful of locations, Tatooine is teeming with life and rich with the sort of scum and villainy that can be expected from the seemingly-always hostile planet. It also marks Boba Fett’s ascendancy – with Temuera Morrison steadily growing into the role of lead throughout the terse showdown.
But the episode (and scene) isn’t without its faults. Chief among them is that, yet again, it ends too soon before we’re pulled into the throes of flashbacks with Boba’s time in the harsh sands of Tatooine. It also highlights Fennec Shand’s odd function so far, namely as a vehicle for exposition rather than the cold, calculating killer we saw in The Mandalorian.
Thankfully, the flashbacks, if not Shand’s dialogue, are markedly improved this week. They chart Boba’s new relationship with the Tuskens (it feels almost wrong to reduce them to ‘Raiders’ given how much this Chapter fleshes out their culture to good effect) after an attack from smugglers in the hilariously-named “long speeder.”
A train to catch
This lets the episode wriggle its way into what fans probably expected – and wished for – from a Boba Fett standalone project: the bounty hunter bringing out his brutal side. Boba steals a set of speeders from a biker gang, then proceeds to launch an all-out assault on the train that killed his newfound Tusken allies.
Simply put, The Book of Boba Fett’s train chase is one of the best Star Wars live-action set-pieces in recent memory. In what is essentially the franchise’s answer to Mad Max: Fury Road, the sequence brims with the sort of kinetic energy that George Miller would approve of and puts to bed any notion that Star Wars is nothing without Jedis, Sith and lightsabers.
Crucially, it leads somewhere. In introspective scenes that we’d wager are drawn from Morrison’s own Māori heritage, Boba Fett shares in a ritual with the Tuskens. The man behind the helmet, it seems, is given just as much space to develop here as Boba Fett the icon. It’s a welcome development and, knowing its likely personal ties to the lead actor, is a deeply touching one that only strengthens both the show and the character. Despite all that, the ratio of flashbacks to present-day scenes are still a little too top-heavy. Let’s hope balance is restored further down the line.
Despite a few wobbles, The Book of Boba Fett has finally found its groove. Viewers, too, should slowly become accustomed to how the Disney Plus series is choosing to tell its story. Namely, the flashbacks aren’t there merely to stretch out the runtime; they’re acting as a firm exploration of Boba’s transformation as well as – we expect – a backstory in the likely event that he needs some backup in Mos Espa. Episode 2 provides more than a glimmer of hope that this – as a certain Padawan-turned-Sith once said – is where the fun begins.
For more on The Book of Boba Fett, discover where the show fits in the Star Wars timeline.