The Book of Boba Fett and the Second Act
Focusing on one through-line in the series: Can you teach a bunch of old dogs new tricks?
Star Wars is never truly subtle with its themes. And The Book of Boba Fett was no different, leaning heavily on reinvention and rebirth. Changing careers past your prime is relatable to most people. Whether or not this series succeeded in a well-constructed character journey, I leave it to individual taste.
The beginning of The Book of Boba Fett starts with the title character in a bacta tank, which we later learn is from spending time in the Sarlaac pit. Picking up after he got knocked in by Han Solo, Fett awakens in the digestive system of the Sarlaac. Using a dead Stormtrooper’s oxygen tank and his flamethrower to burn his way out of the pit, Fett rises and is immediately stripped of his armor, his identity by Jawas. He is literally a clean slate starting the series.
The series parallels two realizations for Fett: That he wants something more from his life than bounty hunting and that being a mob boss presents far more challenges and can be just as brutal.
From there, Fett falls into the hands of a Tusken Raider tribe and ultimately joins them, getting an honorary gaffi stick. Leaning heavily on indigenous people vs. colonization, Fett navigates his way through life on Tatooine and even tries to negotiate more agency for the Tuskens. Fett has begun his transition from fighter to a politician. It goes poorly, and the Tuskens are killed while Fett tries to collect payment from the Pyke Syndicate.
Water is often used as symbolism of rebirth, and the way the bacta tank is used during this series feels to serve that purpose for multiple characters. Even though the latter half of the show shifted focus to Mando, most of the story in The Book of Boba Fett revolves around Boba Fett’s trials and tribulations of learning a new trade.
A former bounty hunter often cited as the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy, Fett confesses to Fennec Shand shortly after he saves her life that he is “tired of our kind dying because of the idiocy of others. We’re smarter than them. It’s time we took our shot.”
Fett is trying to change not only what he was (the best bounty hunter in the galaxy) but also what he was created for. Even though he is unaltered, he is still a clone, and the clones were created to take orders and fight.
Fett’s ignorance on being a Daimyo is met with challenges to his power (particularly from the Pykes and the other families controlling Mos Espa but other smaller players in Tatooine, too). But he comes out victorious thanks to Fennec, the Mods, Black Krrsantan, Mos Pelgo, and Mando.
His story contrasts with bounty hunter Cad Bane who never stopped being a bounty hunter. Bane is a veteran in The Clone Wars when Boba is a teen and even more so in The Bad Batch when he encounters a younger Fennec Shand. He challenges Fett on his attempt to go straight:
“You tried to go straight. But you’ve got your father’s blood pumping through your veins. You’re a killer. This isn’t the first time I beat you out on a job.”
The Book of Boba Fett. “Chapter Seven: In the Name of Honor”
I would question the “going straight” part as Fett is still trying to take over Jabba’s territory as Daimyo. He is still a part of the criminal underworld. But we will put that aside. Bane is steeped in bounty hunter mentality and refuses to see Fett as anything else, so he underestimates him. Fett gets the upper hand in the fight by using his gaffi stick from the Tuskens. It is actually a nice moment and nod to the tribe that set him on this course.
The Book of Boba Fett fills in the holes left by Fennec Shand’s journey from season one to season two of The Mandalorian. Shot and left for dead by Toro Calican in “The Gunslinger,” Boba finds Fennec and brings her to the Mos Eisley Mod Parlor. There is a question about consent and Fennec not having a say in becoming part cybernetic; however, Fennec never confronts Fett on the issue and remains loyal to him, so it does not appear to be a conflict. There is still more mystery behind Fennec as we only have The Bad Batch to get a sense of her early years. But Fennec was also a capable bounty hunter also familiar with the clones. And she was used to working alone, but for reasons that have not been developed, Fennec is willing to work with Fett immediately. There is more to explore with Fennec on why she chose more of a title change than a job change as she is still killing off Fett’s enemies.
Even though Mando appears in the last three episodes, he still goes on a similar journey of redefining himself. Shipless and Grogu-less, Mando goes through a mid-life crisis in two episodes.
He gets a new ship since the Razor Crest was destroyed by Moff Gideon’s Imperial Light Cruiser, which inadvertently redefines his identity as a bounty hunter because his new ship, a Naboo Starfighter, is not built for bounties. It is essentially a two-seater for him and Grogu. And Mando has Grogu back, so his life is no longer just about him.
When we first meet Mando, he has more energy in his “I can bring you in warm or I can bring you in cold.” A challenge almost to his would-be bounty. In “Return of the Mandalorian,” he is less enthusiastic and exhausted. He is going about the motions of being a bounty hunter, and it is clear that he wants something more.
In Chapter Seven, before Mando reunites with Grogu, he and Fett have a heart to heart when they are cornered by the Pykes:
I suppose you’ll be headed out.
It’s against the Creed. I gave you my word. I’m with you until we both fall.
You really buy into that bantha fodder?
The Book of Boba Fett. “Chapter Seven: In the Name of Honor”
It is more of a conversation than they give other characters, but it is meaningful. The Creed is one of the few things Mando has left after he was expelled from his faction for taking off his helmet. How Mando moves forward, with Grogu and the legacy of the Darksaber, will have to wait until season three of The Mandalorian, but he is on a path that is vastly different from where he started.
Cobb Vanth has a history of remaking himself, though not always in his control. A former slave who freed himself by the time of his first appearance in Chuck Wendig’s The Aftermath Trilogy, Vanth becomes Sheriff of Mos Pelgo. He makes an impression on Mando in his first live-action appearance by helping to bring together the citizens of Mos Pelgo and the local Tusken Raider tribe. The act is in service to his people (and a condition for Mando to get Fett’s armor) but Mando walks away with respect for Vanth.
In The Book of Boba Fett, Vanth is the incorruptible lawman that meets a quicker hand in Cad Bane. He is down but not out as the townsfolk get Vanth to Fett’s bacta tank to be reborn with some cyber enhancement. Like Fennec, this next act is out of his control, but he will likely use his new cybernetics to continue fighting for the people of Mos Pelgo.
I want to also mention Black Krrrsantan, who was a Wookiee Gladiator who became a bounty hunter and now might be working permanently with Boba Fett and his organization. Black Krrsantan has a longer lifespan than anyone we have discussed, so we might see more of him during different parts of the Star Wars timeline with different professions (possibly as a bounty hunter tracking down Obi-Wan Kenobi like in the comics).
Whether you loved The Book of Boba Fett or thought it was just ok, the show did feature older characters figuring out what they wanted in life. And figuring yourself out is not exclusive to people under 30. It is never too late to look for a second act.
Originally published at http://creditsandcanon.com on April 29, 2022.