'The Book Of Boba Fett's Best Episode Is A Meta-Bummer
This week’s episode of The Book of Boba Fett featured everything from Darksaber duels to X-Wings to an extended scene of the space-TSA enforcing their pre-flight security measures – but oddly not Boba Fett himself. No, this week’s episode was all about the Mandalorian, that guy who looks exactly like Boba Fett but gets to do more than simply parade through a small town, occasionally pop into a local bar, and soak in a tub while vividly recalling key events from his recent past.
Chapter 5 further underscores one of the biggest problems with The Book of Boba Fett; Din Djarin, The Mandalorian, has clearly pilfered all of Boba Fett’s coolest attributes. While Boba was cooling his heels in Jabba’s dirt castle, Mando got to show off his badass skills, breaking into a galactic slaughterhouse and roughing up a bunch of doggie-faced mobsters who, disappointingly, were at no point depicted playing literal poker.
The episode also served as a, perhaps inadvertent, ultimately kind of depressing, metaphor for the Star Wars universe as a whole – specifically its penchant for scrapping bold new avenues of storytelling in favor of painfully familiar touchstones. Whether it’s the inexplicable return of Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker, shoehorning Luke into the last season of The Mandalorian, or following up Rogue One with a spin-off about how a young Han Solo was already a pretty good guy who happened to bankroll the entire Rebellion, by the way.
The opening of Chapter 5 actually shows us a new location (a giant space station seemingly inspired by the Ringworld book series) while introducing new characters and concepts – it actually expands on the Star Wars universe in exciting and tantalizing ways. We even see what happened to Mandalore, which … apparently was just The Terminator?
But then, 25 minutes into the episode, Din Djarin goes back to goddamn Tatooine, the crappy sand planet, first defined as the place farthest from where anything at all remotely exciting was happening. Once The Mandalorian is back in Mos Eisley, we’re hit with a barrage of familiar artifacts from previous Star Wars projects. He fixes up a Naboo starfighter with the help of that droid from the Jedi: Fallen Order video game and then takes it for a spin around Anakin’s old podracing route. And if that wasn’t enough, he even uses the term “Wizard!” for the first and, hopefully, only time.
In a way, Mando’s new ship is itself a symbol for what these streaming series are trying to accomplish; it’s an embodiment of the prequels that, against all logic, has been revived and remodeled to fit modern needs. Similarly, the Disney streaming era of Star Wars has tried to reclaim and make sense of so many parts of the controversial prequels; the cloners of Kamino, Boba Fett’s tragic childhood, even Obi Wan’s weird “high ground” line.
These shows have gone out of their way to try and smoosh every element from all corners of the Star Wars universe together, up to and including the Holiday Special, and hope it forms into something resembling a cohesive universe. The problem is that mandate also comes at the expense of charting new ground, which was extra-evident in this recent episode. Hopefully, going forward, Star Wars will stop, both metaphorically and literally, going back to Tatooine.
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Top Image: Lucasfilm