Plots And Such
Okay. Let’s break down some stories. I’m going to have to spoil Book of Boba Fett because it takes about half the season to get through all the misleads and red herrings to even reach the story proper, and then they just… put it on pause for a couple of weeks.
Also I’m less concerned about it because– I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, I’ve been subtle– I’m not really endorsing Book of Boba Fett here.
There’s a version of this that would have been good.
You can keep the split timelines for the first four episodes, because it would in theory lend Boba Fett some intrigue if we don’t know his motivations at first. But… like, in an interesting way, not like in the actual show where his motives are just incredibly ill-defined and sure it takes four episodes to spell them out but when he does it’s just… nothing.
In this better version (not to be confused with the better version pitched by Nando V Movies in which it’s all about Timothy Olyphant’s Tatooine lawman Cobb Vanth, a version whose improvements include but are not limited to “it would star Timothy Olyphant”), Boba Fett still gets abducted but later adopted by the Tuskens, still teaches them to do train heists and run protection rackets on gangsters using their land, and they still get wiped out by the Pyke Syndicate while he’s away. But in the present day (for a given value of “present”), instead of Boba declaring himself daimyo of Mos Espa, he just strolls into the city, now with his armour that he reclaimed in Mandalorian (which maybe keeps the Pykes from recognizing him), and starts working his way up the ranks of the local crime syndicate. Through being good at crimes and cunningly betraying everyone a rung above him, Boba (with help from Fennec) gets himself closer and closer to the Pykes to avenge his adoptive clan. That’s a cool story with stakes. That’s interesting and fits with the tiny amount we know about Boba Fett. Boba just declaring himself crime lord despite lacking any sort of army or gang or experience in leadership just didn’t, but that’s the show they went with.
I guess we’re supposed to assume that being daimyo can’t be that hard if Bib Fortuna was doing it for like five years. That tentacle-headed mamaluke couldn’t even resist a Jedi mind trick. Even Watto could resist a Jedi mind trick, Bib, you ain’t meant for management.
So there aren’t really layers or organic escalation. It’s just post-Sarlacc Boba Fett earning his place among the Tuskens, and post-Mandalorian Boba Fett trying to be the new crime lord of Mos Espa, despite the fact that his entire syndicate is him and Fennec Shand. He puts way too much trust in, weirdly, the system, thinking that as long as he says he’s the new daimyo everyone will just buy it. But clearly they don’t, because the mayor of Mos Espa (always nice to see one of them hammerhead aliens) doesn’t pay his tribute, in fact demands tribute of his own, and soon assassins are coming at Boba in the street.
But no, says the mayor, it wasn’t him. No, it was Jabba’s cousins from the Hutt homeworld, here to claim Jabba’s throne as their inheritance (five years late)! And soon their Wookie muscle (who apparently is a character of note from the books or comics or Rebels or whatever I don’t know) is attacking Boba right in his palace!
But no, say the Hutts, they aren’t his enemy either, sorry for the misunderstanding, we’ll be leaving the show now. And you, the audience, think “It’s episode three, of seven, get there.” So in come the real enemies, the Pyke Syndicate, who killed Boba’s tribe and framed space-bikers, but Boba doesn’t know that for another four episodes and honestly it doesn’t even matter, it has no impact, nothing he’s done was driven by that fact, every single scene would play out almost precisely the same without it. So Fett and Fennec start building a gang to take on the Pykes, including the Wookie and a youth gang with individually coloured pastel Power Ranger sand scooters which at first seems incredibly silly but then you realize that a kid will think they’re super cool so whatever. And a familiar face (or lack thereof) for added muscle.
Which brings us to what must be the most egregious part… for two episodes they all but give up on Boba Fett and just do two bonus episodes of The Mandalorian. They can’t just have Din Djarin show up on Tatooine, no, we need to do what’s basically the the first two episodes of Mandalorian season three before he’s ready to work for Boba. Din tries to master the Dark Saber, gets his quest for season three, meets up with Amy Sedaris’ mechanic Peli Motto (easily the best part of the series, with insights on Jawa love) to get a new ship, tries to reunite with Grogu… all of which I liked but none of which really has jack diddly to do with Boba Fett. Remember him? The title character? He barely appears and doesn’t speak for two episodes right when the show’s almost done.
It’s just incredibly damning that four episodes into a seven episode season even the showrunners got bored of their main character and switched back to the other guy.
Also Boba tries to convince the local crime bosses to stay neutral in his fight with the Pykes, they inevitably betray him, and then in a quick burst of sneaky assassin murders Fennec wipes out all of the bosses, the Mayor, and the head of the Pykes (remember him, the guy who personally wronged Boba, who isn’t there) while Boba has his final boss fight against some jabroni gunfighter from Clone Wars or something, I don’t know. What an unsatisfying resolution. Even putting aside Boba not being present for the avenging of his tribe, come on, killing the rest of them was just begging for a Goodfellas or Godfather-style “settle all family business” murder montage, maybe set to a minor key cover of the Cantina Theme.
Now over to the better one.
America, possibly the world, has been infiltrated by something called “Butterflies,” which when Peacemaker inadvertently first encounters one, certainly seem to look human but with superhuman strength and endurance. Peacemaker meets his first Butterfly at a moment of vulnerability, shall we say, and barely makes it out of the fight alive. As to the exact nature of the Butterflies, what they are and what they want, that comes out gradually as, well, the team wasn’t exactly up front with Peacemaker about what the mission is. They just need him to kill the people they point him at. But they deeper they get, the more he needs/demands to know, and the more we the audience learn as a result.
And that works! Having your lead character kept intentionally in the dark is a great excuse for leaving us, the audience, equally in the dark. We learn the truth about Butterflies as our protagonist does. That works as an escalating narrative, and it’s honest. They don’t tell us the Butterflies are three different things, each time saying “Gotcha” and switching to something else one episode later.
I can’t really go into fuller detail without spoiling stuff and in this case I don’t wanna, you should watch this, and you should go in blind. Suffice to say, the plot rolls out at exactly the right pace as Peacemaker learns more on his own and his teammates grow to trust him enough to show him the whole picture. And in the process, we get at minimum four very solid and satisfying (if sometimes tragic) characters arcs, whereas Book of Boba Fett had… um…
A solid opening for Din Djarin’s arc in season three of Mandalorian?
And a vengeance quest for Boba Fett that he’s technically somewhat involved in?