Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Dave Filoni, Steph Green, Bryce Dallas Howard, Kevin Tancharoen
Written by: Jon Favreau, Noah Kloor, Dave Filoni
Cast: Temuera Morrison, Ming-Na Wen
Cinematography: David Klein, Dean Cundey, Paul Hughen
Editor: Jeff Seibenick, Andrew S. Eisen, Dylan Firshein, Dana E. Glauberman
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
The Book of Bobba Fett, streaming on DisneyPlus Hotstar, ended its first season with an action packed, no-holds-barred finale, featuring an all-star cast from the Mandoverse (The Mandalorian DisneyPlus sub-universe within Star Wars). In the show's greatest strength, however, also lies its greatest weakness. There is a moment in the finale when fan-favorite assassin/bounty hunter Cad Bane (Corey Burton) asks the protagonist, Bobba Fett, "What's your angle?". It's almost a meta reference to what the audience might have been thinking so far. What is Bobba's angle in all of this? Or, for that matter, what is the angle of the showrunners and writers?
The Book of Bobba Fett follows the legendary bounty hunter (Temuera Morrison) right from his escape from the Sarlacc Pitt after the events of the original Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. When he emerges from the monster's throat, he is both rescued and imprisoned by a Tuskan raider tribe. As we cut to the present day, we see Bobba and his loyal aide, Fennec Shand (Ming Na Wen), trying to establish control over their newly acquired Tattooine empire; one they took from Jabba the Hut and Bib Fortuna. There's a lot of flashbacks, a little bit of Dances with Wolves between Bobba and the Tuskans, and a significant amount of boring territorial politics before the show really starts going anywhere.
Written by Jon Favreau, with episodes directed by Robert Rodriguez, Dave Filoni, Steph Green, Bryce Dallas Howard and Kevin Tancharoen; the show has a definitive Western feel – even more so than the Mandalorian. That approach of course makes sense, as the barren landscapes and sand towns of planet Tattoine lend themselves easily to that sensibility. At its finest, the show deliver on the tension, the foreboding and the visual aesthetics. At its worst, it's a lumbering showcase for a beloved character whose motivations, backstory and principals we really could have done without in favour of maintaining the air of mystery around him.
Temuera Morrison and Ming Na Wen try to hold the show together in the first few episodes, but the plot doesn't really give them much to work with. Only when our usual suspects, The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), Cobb Vanth (Timothy Oliphant) and Grogu (Baby Yoda) show up does The Book of Bobba Fett really becomes one worth reading. My favourite performance was that of Cad Bane – his intimidating growl and piercing eyes heighten the tension every time he's on screen.
Did we really need a Book of Bobba Fett, however? Or did we get the Mandalorian Season 3 we wanted in the guise of this show instead? It's a fundamental problem if a show works best when it doesn't revolve around its protagonist. Calling the show a 'slow burn' would be inaccurate, and trying to justify the screentime given to its supporting characters doesn't work since they already are well established in their own universes.
The latter half of season one, however, is an absolute blast, and the finale delivers the goods. The only gripe I had was that the action and fights feel clunky, even in the hands of a pro like Robert Rodriguez, and most certainly in comparison to The Mandalorian. And let's not even talk about the space mopeds/lunas. Without giving away too many spoilers, Rodriguez and Favreau compensate by throwing in a lot of fun homages to the classics in the finale, including what I suspect were nods to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and King Kong.
What also works to the show's advantage is that it is almost absolutely faithful to the main Star Wars canon. It deftly pulls in cameos, plotlines and threads from the larger Star Wars universe, while leaving enough room for speculation for the hardcore fans. Watch The Book of Bobba Fett just for its final three episodes, so your appetite is whetted for The Mandalorian Season 3, when, hopefully, the gang gets back together.