The Supporting Casts
So we’ve got iconic toy Boba Fett, who grows from a one-dimensional background player to a two dimensional “lead character,” and Christopher “Peacemaker” Smith, who grows from the big heel turn of The Suicide Squad into someone truly worth rooting for. What else do these shows have for characters?
Boba Fett: …Some guys!
One thing that the Disney+ Star Wars shows thus far have always been reliable for is getting a stream of recognizable guest stars to pop by for an episode or two, because modern celebrities love Star Wars and are more than happy to get suited up and be a canonical Star Wars character. Mandalorian had some greats, from Timothy Olyphant to Gioncarlo Esposito to even Bill Burr, whose ex-Imperial sniper Mayfeld got one of the deepest, most moving character beats of anyone in season two, possibly including Din himself, fight me.
And yes, Book of Boba Fett certainly has a similar string of guests. Danny Trejo as a Rancor trainer, the always delightful Stephen Root as a Mos Espa water dealer, Flashdance and Swamp Thing’s Jennifer Beals as a Mos Espa casino owner who I guess is one of the top underworld figures, Robert Rodriguez as the voice of Mos Espa’s mayor, Matt Berry as the voice of Boba’s protocol droid, a role which achieves the impossible and makes the man behind Steven Toast, Douglas Reynholm, and Human Bartender Jackie Daytona boring, and of course the parade of Mandalorian Pals and Gals that dropped by for episodes five and six, when the writers decided the audience needed a stiff shot of Mando stuff to stay invested.
But I wouldn’t call any of them the supporting cast, per se. Most just dropped by for one episode, only three turned up for the finale (end-credit scenes notwithstanding).
The primary and best supporting character is, of course, Fennec Shand, almost entirely because she’s played by the iconic Ming-Na Wen, who is now a Disney Princess, a Marvel superhero, a Street Fighter, and a Star Wars icon, and still looks great and kicks more ass than you and I ever will well into her 50s. And I suppose Din Djarin is also a supporting character, sure, because Pedro Pascal is credited as a series regular for his three appearances.
After that… well, Boba brings two Gamorrean guards onto staff (you remember, the pig-faced aliens that worked for Jabba), and hires that Wookie the twins sent after him, but in terms of supporting cast whose faces are visible and have English dialogue, there’s just this cyborg youth street gang Boba adopts, each with their own pastel-coloured hover-Vespa, the leader of which is played by Sophie Thatcher, better known as Teen Natalie from Yellowjackets.
I mean… y’all did watch Yellowjackets, right? Oh you gotta. You just gotta.
At first I was absolutely ready to roll my eyes at these street rat Power Rangers, then I remembered that Star Wars is, well…
Thank you, Patrick.
And as a kid, I’d have eaten this youth gang up. These are action figures I’d need, the characters I could see myself as*, in that context they made sense. I’d just… I’d love to tell you something about any of these kids other than cyborgs, scooters, or Yellowjackets, but I can’t. I’m not even sure how many of them there are at any given point. I think some might die during the finale, but not Sophie Thatcher, Token Gang Member in Preppy Jacket, or the one who did the spin move before shooting that the internet made fun of like Star Wars has ever been too good for unnecessary spin moves, so… honestly can’t be sure. Don’t know how many they were, or how many were left. Don’t know their hopes and dreams, their conflicts or dramas, nothing beyond “cool scooters and individual mechanical enhancements.”
So essentially, it is the Boba Fett show any child might have imagined in the 80s: a bunch of actions figures you smash against each other without a lot of thought.
(*If my young brain didn’t self-insert me into anything I watched as a literal superhero with whatever powers fascinated me at the time. Which made a lot more sense with, say, Flight of Dragons or Police Academy or even Disney’s Gummi Bears than it did with Diff’rent Strokes or Gimme a Break. My brain is weird.)
Peacemaker: The 11th Street Kids
Christopher “Peacemaker” Smith may be our main and title character, but he’s not the only one on the team.
The black ops unit Smith is attached to is run by Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), a black ops agent trying to put a career of dark deeds and darker allies to some use protecting the world from the Butterflies. As punishment for their suspected but unproven assistance of a brief coup against Waller in The Suicide Squad, agents Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and Economos (Steve Agee) are assigned to Murn’s task force and put in charge of pointing Peacemaker at an enemy that can’t be publicly identified (what David Ayer never got about the Suicide Squad as a concept, Amanda Waller uses supervillains to do missions the government wants to be able to disavow). Also on the team is Amanda Waller’s own daughter, Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks), who’s joined the family business for lack of money and other options, and before long they’ve also brought in Peacemaker’s would-be best friend, the equally homicidal Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) who lacks Peacemaker’s emotional struggles with violence.
And, of course, Peacemaker’s best friend and sidekick, Eagly the eagle. Who is the best and must be protected at all costs.
And hanging over all of them in their attempts to stop the Butterflies are two threats: Peacemaker’s father and provider of his gear Auggie (Robert Patrick, creepy as all hell), sometimes known as the white supremacist supervillain White Dragon; and two well-meaning local police detectives (Annie Chang and Lochlyn Munro) whose investigations threaten to expose everything the team is trying to do.
And the thing about this crew is that, without taking anything away from what John Cena’s bringing to the title role, every single one of them could anchor their own show and that show would be amazing. Well, except for Auggie, I would not want to watch a show where Auggie is the protagonist, but that’s because he’s a terrifying racist monster, and not because Robert Patrick isn’t absolutely crushing the role, because he very much was. My point is, the entire cast is fantastic, nailing the humour, the tragedy, the action in equal measure, and every member of the team (later called the 11th Street Kids, a nickname the cast adopted for themselves) has a compelling arc.
Adebayo is the obvious example, as she is thrown by what a black ops career involves, unnerved by how Harcourt and Economos view her mother, disturbed by what her teammates are capable of, and more disturbed by how good at this job she might be, something that drives a wedge between her and her wife. Harcourt starts out closed off and hostile, but learns to be more open with the team, even Chris, and grows into a leader. Murn has a dark past, but is trying to use everything he was and did for a greater good. Detective Song (Chang) is too clever for her own good, and risks ending up way over her head. Economos is the team’s tech support/Man in Chair, but must learn to be a field agent, and the payoff to a running gag in which Peacemaker mocks him for dying his beard somehow has a better, more emotional payoff than any character arc from seven of this year’s Best Picture nominees and any movie Zack Snyder’s ever made.
Look he’s had so many cinematic Daddies stoically sacrifice themselves it’s lost all impact, that’s just a fact.
The only exception might be Vigilante, who ends the season pretty much where he started it, but even he learns to trust, to be part of a team, and plays a vital role in helping his best pal confront his incredibly evil father. Plus the way he steps in to help Peacemaker during a moment of self-doubt in episode three was touching, then funny, and a little creepy at the same time.
And that’s more than even Boba Fett got on his own show.
Dang, didn’t have time to touch on Nhut Le as Judomaster, Christopher Heyerdahl’s hilarious turn as an old black ops pal of Murn’s, Rizwan Manji as a janitor Peacemaker befriends in the hospital or Mel Tuck as Auggie’s neighbour, and that’s just the ones notable enough to put in the opening title sequence. There’s just a spectacular cast on this thing.
Also yes there are some cameos, some very notable ones in the finale and Viola Davis makes a couple of appearances as Waller, they’re all good and fun, but at no point does the show pause its story for two weeks so we could catch up with Bloodsport or Ratcatcher 2.
I mean an awkward reunion with either or both of them would be great but it does feel more season two, you know?
Okay on to the minutia.