The Book of Boba Fett Goes Out With Style, and Little Substance

The Book of Boba Fett Goes Out With Style, and Little Substance
Fennec and Boba prepare to fight for the fate of Mos Espa. (Image: Lucasfilm)

After seven weeks of struggling to lay out a reason for why its titular hero wants to become a crime lord, The Book of Boba Fett has set the stage for its grand finale, and is ready to see if the few reasons it found for Boba are worth fighting for. The answer? Not really. But the explosions required to get to that conclusion are very pretty.

The Book of Boba Fett Goes Out With Style, and Little Substance

Episode seven of The Book of Boba Fett, “In the Name of Honour,” brings together the lingering threads of the whole show. First, there’s Boba and Fennec, who it feels like we haven’t spent time with in eons. There’s Din Djarin and Grogu, who have become the main focus of the show in recent episodes. And there’s the whole motley crew of Wookiees, Gamorreans, cybernetic youths, and Freetown’s finest for good measure. They’re all brought together for a shootout with the Pyke Syndicate. And that’s… mostly the entire episode, really. If fans were frustrated at how the past two episodes of the show felt more like a sideways step into The Mandalorian season 3, then once the adrenaline levels even out from this week’s explosions they might find “In the Name of Honour” a little more akin to a sugar rush of empty calories than a satisfying meal.

Screenshot: LucasfilmScreenshot: Lucasfilm

At least most of the action that dominates the episode is very fun. There’s that visceral Star Wars thrill in seeing Boba and Din back-to-back blasting through waves of Pyke footsoldiers, or the comical chaos of Peli Motto and her pit droids rolling into the middle of said blasting with Grogu in tow, the young child having made their (obvious) decision after last week’s extended detour. When the scale amps up and the Pykes roll in two massive artillery droids to smoke out Boba’s holdouts — and the latter counters by gleefully riding his Rancor into battle like he was hoping to a few episodes ago — things begin to feel like a smashing together of Star Wars toys, evocative of the fun of playing in an action-packed sandbox, instead of just laying your action figures side-by-side for collecting purposes.

It broadens the scope of action we’ve seen from Star Wars’ live-action streaming ventures in ways it hasn’t done before, delivering a scale that feels worthy of a climactic episode while also giving The Book of Boba Fett’s extended cast something big and fun to do. Everyone gets a moment to shine with some kickass martial display or some cunning strategic ingenuity that turns the tide against the Pykes. And for the most part, getting those moments with supporting characters like Krrsantan or the Mods neatly pays off on Boba’s willingness to put trust in others as he built out his alliances early on in the series — even if the pay off is not particularly satisfying other than “they’re here now, and their blaster isn’t pointed at Boba.”

Screenshot: LucasfilmScreenshot: Lucasfilm

But beneath the bluster of what mostly amounts to an hour-long action sequence is the problem that there isn’t all that much in “In the Name of Honour” beyond its extended spectacle. It would be less of a problem if this was not the finale of the season, or perhaps even the show at large, as it’s unclear whether or not we’ll get more Book of Boba Fett , or if threads left here will be picked up in shows like The Mandalorian instead. As the culmination of everything The Book of Boba Fett was meant to be about — the growth of its titular character and close confidants like Fennec Shand — the fact that this episode is a series of action sequences that eventually just peter out means there’s little time to actually pay off some proper character work.

There is a little character development in fits and starts, but as in the last two episodes of the show, those moments feel like they’re either brushed over too quickly or for characters who aren’t Boba himself, who once again struggles to be the heart of his own story. The scant quiet moments between chases and shootouts largely go to Din Djarin and his re-union with Grogu, but even those are fleeting — it’s still emotional, sure, because we’re invested in those characters from two seasons of The Mandalorian. But there’s something darkly humorous that the long-awaited reunion between the duo comes mid-chase sequence as Peli Motto lifts a blanket from over Grogu to go “ta-da!”

What few beats we get with Boba between the moments of spectacle are similarly fleeting, but also more muddled and uneven. Boba is quickly separated from the rest of his allies during the skirmish to stage a one-on-one duel with Cad Bane, and it’s treated as if Bane is The Book of Boba Fett’s answer to a major foil for Boba, and not like he literally only showed up with seconds to spare in the previous episode. As Bane and Boba stare each other down, their duel of wills becomes about whether or not, as Bane sees it, Boba still has the killer edge of a bounty hunter. He teases Boba for having the blood of Jango flowing through him, and for, confusingly, being both a coward and a killer. He gloats as if he has been a longtime mentor to Boba, a persistent thorn in his side in this show, and this is the final conflict between student and master, a relationship Star Wars has always defined some of its greatest struggles by — one that, like many of those relationships, is severed permanently when Boba kills Bane.

Screenshot: LucasfilmScreenshot: Lucasfilm

But it isn’t that. It’s barely even a relationship at all. This is the first time they’re onscreen together in The Book of Boba Fett, only the second time they’ve interacted on screen at all, aside from fleetingly crossing paths with a nod to a larger shared history in The Clone Wars’ fourth season a decade ago. Boba and Cad Bane have more interaction in a famously unfinished deleted scene from an animated series than they do in The Book of Boba Fett, and by spending one of its few moments of character work trying to treat Boba and Cad’s relationship like one that we should not only be invested in already, but like it really exists in the first place, undercuts it as a character moment for Boba entirely. And that’s not great when this is the climax of his own show!

You’ll notice Fennec, The Book of Boba Fett’s other ostensible protagonist, barely warrants a mention either — disappearing early on in the episode, she only returns when the fighting is largely done, to wrap up the plot thread of the Mos Espa crime lords who betrayed Boba, Mok Shaiz and the lingering Pyke leader, by quickly offing them. It’s an awkwardly neat bow that gets wrapped in a way that is much more demure than getting vengeance on these characters should be. In doing so, makes it feel like there’s little for The Book of Boba Fett to pick up on should it continue beyond this season. There’s just not the emotional connection there with Fennec and Boba the way there is with Din and Grogu, because the two have had to fight tooth and nail for scraps of character work in their own series, Star Wars once again trading spectacle and intertextual connection over a real sense of substance.

Image: LucasfilmImage: Lucasfilm

And that’s really the problem with “In the Name of Honour,” and ultimately The Book of Boba Fett. Between extended detours packed with characters we’re much more invested in, and its own frustratingly sudden curtailing of plotlines that gave the early parts of the series promise, it’s hard to justify that Boba’s book was worth cracking open. What was accomplished in seven episodes — more realistically five, given our sidestep into The Mandalorian — is just a reminder that Boba is yearning for belonging and meaning in a world that has already taken the character’s mythos and compellingly examined its legacy through the helmeted eyes of other Mandalorians.

As the dust settles and Boba and Fennec settle in as the defacto rulers of Mos Espa, I’m not sure The Book of Boba Fett ever really had an inkling of what it main character’s purpose should be. It’s never been clearer that Boba’s original status as a compelling design in search of a character is something Star Wars is still struggling with after all these years.