“The Book of Boba Fett” takes a stand “In the Name of Honor” and finally remembers who its star is

Here is the final episode by episode review of season 1 of The Book of Boba Fett. Reviews of previous episodes may be found here.

Warning: Spoilers behind the cut!

After a two episode detour into season 2.5 of The Mandalorian, Boba Fett is finally back in this episode and even gets to kick arse, take names and generally be awesome. As does everybody else. Honestly, this was a really good finale for a rather messy and uneven show.

“In the Name of Honor”, the final episode of season 1, begins with Boba, Fennec and Din Djarin surveying the damage to Graza Fwip’s club The Sanctuary, after the Pykes bombed it at the end of the previous episode. No word on whether Garza, her two Twi’lek servers, one of whom may be trans, and her guests survived, which is a pity. I mean, you don’t hire Jennifer Beals (who has been a Star Wars fan since she was 14 according to this interview in The Guardian) to waste her on a glorified cameo. Besides, Garza was cool. Also, we want to see her dance. After all, there’s a big overlap between the Star Wars and the Flashdance generation. Though at least everybody’s favourite blue jazz musician Max Rebo survived, because he wasn’t in the Club when it blew up.

Boba and Fennec know that the bombing of the Sanctuary was just the Pykes’ opening volley. They will attack in full force, as soon as all their soldiers are in place. Boba wants to retreat to Jabba’s palace, because it is easier to defend. However, the two lead Mods (who actually get names this time around – the white punk girl is Drash and the black boy with the cybernetic eye is Skad) refuse to abandon Mos Espa. For a street gang, they’re remarkably civic-minded. Though the plan to hole up in the ruins of The Sanctuary makes no real sense, as Tor.com reviewer Emmet Asher-Perrin points out, because it guarantees that Mos Espa will be badly damaged in the resulting fight and that random citizens will be killed in the crossfire, which is the opposite of what the Mods claim to want.

Din Djarin tells Boba that the people of Freetown a.k.a. the town formerly known as Mos Pelgo will help out, because Cobb Vanth wants the spice trade gone from Tatooine and has been keeping the Pykes away from his city single-handedly so far, an act which came back to bite him in the backside in the last episode. Boba agrees and promises that he will put an end to the spice trade on Tatooine. Fennec Shand, who remembers that they are actually supposed to be criminals and not heroic frontline fighters in the war against drugs, points out that Jabba made the bulk of his income via the spice trade. However, Boba is determined. “The spice is killing our people,” he says and that without spice controlling their territory will be much easier. Honestly, these are the most civic-minded criminals I’ve ever seen.

AV-Club reviewer Nick Wanserski also points out that Boba Fett and his gang are remarkably wholesome criminals and that Boba appears to aspire to be a civic leader rather than a crime lord. Which is perfectly fine, but why call Boba a crime lord, when he doesn’t actually engage in any crimes? Tor.com‘s Emmet Asher-Perrin also points out that even though spice has been mentioned since the very first Star Wars film (borrowed wholesale from Dune), we have little to no idea what it does except that it’s a drug and drugs are bad.

And yes, Disney’s insistence on Star Wars and anything else they’re involved with being family-friendly entertainment (TM) is very likely the reason why Boba Fett is the most civic-minded and least criminal crime boss ever, but it’s still an odd storytelling choice. After all, they could have had Boba just straight out swear off crime and decide to become a community organiser to help the people of Tatooine, cause they helped him after his sojourn inside the Sarlacc’s intestines.

Meanwhile, the Pykes are very much not wholesome criminals. And so we get a brief interlude of the Pyke leader (Fishhead?) and Mok Shaiz, the treacherous mayor (actually, ex-mayor) of Mos Espa, conferring in Fishhead-in-chief’s not very impressive heaquarters in Mos Eisley, when the alien gunslinger Cad Bane shows up to report that he dealt with Cobb Vanth and the people of Freetown and that Boba won’t be getting any help from there. During this conversation, Fishhead-in-chief also reveals that it was the Pykes who murdered Boba’s Tusken friends back in episode 3 and that they pinned the crime on the Nikto biker gang. So Boba killed the wrong people, even though the Nikto gang were jerks and bullies and no one is going to mourn them. Oddly enough, the show completely glosses over the fact that its star gunned down a bunch of Niktos for something they didn’t even do.

In her review at The Daily Dot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw notes that the Pykes are very underwhelming villains, “a drug cartel with no personality”. I’ve made the same point in my review of the previous episode, namely that the Pykes are just dull, useful as muscle and foot soldiers, but not really interesting enough for us to care about them. Neither is Mok Shaiz, for that matter. Cad Bane is a far more interesting villain. However, he only shows up in the penultimate episode and he’s very much a hired killer, who’ll work for anybody, if the price is right (much like Boba Fett used to be).

Meanwhile in The Mandalorian, both Werner Herzog’s unnamed ex-Imperial official and Moff Gideon created an atmosphere of menace, even if they remained in the background for much of the series. The Book of Boba Fett has no comparable character, The Pykes are much like Stormtroopers, cannon fodder without personality. And indeed, I expected either Darth Maul or Emilia Clarke’s character from Solo (both of whom are affiliated with the Pykes) to show up in the finale as the Big Bad behind the Pykes. But no such luck, it’s fish people all the way down.

Cad Bane, who is still the closest thing to an actually menacing villain this show has, shows up outside the Sanctuary to inform Boba that reinforcements from Freetown won’t be coming (BTW, when you google Freetown, the fictional city on Tatooine comes up before the actual capital of Sierra Leone), because he killed Cobb Vanth (he’s wrong on that account, but more on that later). Oh yes, and he also lets Boba know that the Pykes killed his Tusken friends, not the Niktos, which sets Boba off so much that he’s about to engage in a shootout with Cad Bane right there and then, until Fennec talks him down and points out that this is exactly what Bane wants and that Boba is too emotional to deal with Bane. She almost sounds like a Jedi master cautioning an overager padawan there.

Now that they know the people of Freetown won’t be coming, Boba has to win his war against the Pykes with Fennec, Din Djarin, a bunch of streetkids, two Gamorreans and a Wookie. Even Boba knows that those odds are bad and so he tells Din to leave while he still can. Din, however, is not leaving, even though – as he notes with resignation – they’ll probably all get killed. However, he gave Boba his word and so Din will stay and fight until the bitter end, because honour demands it. “You really believe all that bantha shit, don’t you?” Boba asks. “This is the way,” Din replies.

If two seasons of The Mandalorian have shown us anything, it’s that Din is honourable to a fault. However, Din is also depressed at this point. His Mandalorian splinter group has rejected him as being no longer a proper Mandalorian and Grogu, the person Din cares about most, is away at Jedi Academy. At this moment, Din truly doesn’t care whether he lives or dies, because he has nothing left to live for.

Meanwhile in Mos Eisley, Peli Motto receives an unexpected visit by a battered X-Wing. Peli is quite flustered, since her repair business apparently isn’t licenced. It’s also notable that absolutely no one in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett takes the New Republic seriously. To people like Peli, they’re glorified traffic cops, harrassing people over missing licenses.

However, when the X-Wing canopy opens, there is no New Republic officer underneath. Instead, none other than Grogu climbs out of the cockpit, much to the delight of Peli and the viewer. We never get to see a direct resolution to the cliffhanger of the previous episode, where Luke Skywalker asks Grogu to choose between the Mandalorians and the Jedi. Instead, we get the aftermath. Grogu has made his choice and decided that he wants to be a Mandalorian, so Luke has R2-D2 deliver Grogu home to Din, care of Peli Motto. Luke apparently has no desire to see his old stomping grounds in Tatooine again and check up on Camie and Fixer, who are still hanging out at Tochi Station after all. Or – as Gavia Baker-Whitelaw points out – does Luke have no idea that Grogu is gone and has R2 decided to take matters in his own hands? It would certainly fit in with R2, who always had his own agenda and who is the only character aside from Yoda and Obi-Wan who knows everything. Or maybe the production team simply worried that being confronted with Amy Sedaris would break the creepy deep-fake CGI Luke (not even the voice was real) we saw last episode.

Just in case it’s not clear which choice Grogu has made, he’s also wearing the mail shirt that Din had made for him underneath his robe. Peli is clearly happy to see Grogu again and gets him a dish of wiggling worms to eat, because setting off to Mos Espa to return him to his Dad.

Meanwhile in Mos Espa, Fennec assures Boba and Din that their meagre troops are watching every part of the city, so the Pykes can’t sneak up on them. Black Krrsantan is stationed outside city hall, the Mods are patrolling the workers’ quarter and the Frazetta Gamorreans are watching the spaceport. However, things are about to go very wrong. Drash the Mod calls in to report that something feels off, shortly before some swell-headed local gangsters start shooting at the Mods. Simultaneously, the Frazetta Gamorreans and Krrsantan find themselves under attack as well. The local crime gangs, who promised Boba to stay out of his conflict with the Pykes, do not remain true to their word – oh shock and horror – and have sided instead with the Pykes. Considering that Boba is about the disrupt their business by getting out of the spice trade, this betrayal even makes sense from their point of view. Though Boba and Fennec dividing their meagre troops rather than holing up at the Sanctuary together from the start doesn’t make much sense, as Tor.com‘s Emmet Asher-Perrin points out.

While Boba’s troops are otherwise occupied, the Pykes move in on the Sanctuary. Boba sends Fennec out to rescue the Mods and then head for Mos Eisley to deal with the Fishhead-in-chief. Meanwhile, Krrsantan is seemingly overcome by too many Tradoshans for even a very large and very angry Wookie to handle, while the Frazetta Gamorreans are thrown off a cliff. Rest in Peace, loyal Frazetta Gamorreans, who never even got names. Krrsantan, meanwhile, of course isn’t dead, but shows up again, wounded and flinging Tradoshans and Pykes around like ragdolls.

Mok Shaiz’ annyoing Twi’lek majordomo offers to negotiate on Boba’s behalf, so Boba sends him out with a tablet containing some hastily typed “terms of surrender”. Of course, Boba has no intention of surrendering and so the Twi’lek is only used as a distraction, allowing Boba and Din to put their jetpacks and arsenal to good use against the Pykes. For once in this show, the fight scenes actually are impressive, though the Pykes still aren’t particularly impressive antagonists. Though there are a lot of them and more keep coming.

Just when things look really bad for Boba and Din, who shows up to help them but the people of Freetown in a battered landspeeder piloted by the Weequay bartender. Turns out that Cad Bane’s visit to Freetown had just the opposite effect as intended. Bane killed the marshall and the deputy, so the people of Freetown are furious. After a bit of sniping at each other, the Mods and the people of Freetown (Am I the only one who’s seeing sparks flying between Drash and the cute black Freetown girl?) as well as Krrsantan, Boba and Din have a massive shoot-out in the streets of Mos Espa that takes up most of the episode.

Peli Motto also shows up to join the fun, when she and her droids deliver Grogu to Din. And of course, we get the long awaited reunion between Din and Grogu, which is everything we hoped for. Grogu force-jumps into Din’s arms, shows off his shiny new mail shirt and clearly very much wants Din to take off the helmet, so Grogu can go sure that his Dad is still underneath, but unfortunately the middle of a massive shoot-out is no place for that. Meanwhile, Peli decides to stike up an unlikely friendship (and more?) with the soon to be out of work Twi’lek majordomo.

Both teams also get further reinforcements. The Pykes bring in massive, shielded battle droids, whose shields are almost impossible to get through. In response, Boba takes off to get help. “From where?” Din wants to know, “You’ve run out of friends.” However, Boba still has one ace up his sleeve, namely the Rancor. And so we finally get to see Boba riding the Rancor and its glorious, though sadly Danny Trejo fails to put in an appearance. The Rancor tears into the battle droids, with some help from Din and his darksabre and Grogu, who uses the Force to pull bolts out of droid legs and bring the things crashing to the ground.

The tide turns once more for Boba and his motley crew, when Boba is thrown off the Rancor and the creature – who after all didn’t ask to be dragged into a firefight – goes wild and attacks friends and enemy alike. The Rancor also decides to have some Pyke sushi. Din tries to control the Rancor, but the Rancor only responds to one Mandalorian and that’s Boba. And Boba is too busy having his long delayed showdown with Cad Bane.

It’s clear from the dialogue that there’s a lot of history and bad blood between Boba and Bane, though most of that apparently takes place in the various Star Wars cartoons. And yes, I should probably watch those cartoons eventually, except that there are a lot of them, the animation style really isn’t my thing and my time is limited and there are umpteen things I’d rather watch. So I can only go by what we see in this episode, which hints that Bane apparently not only knows Boba, but also knew his Dad Jango Fett, since he taunts Boba that he has his father’s blood (quite literally since Boba is a clone of Jango) and that he’ll always be a killer, even if he’s trying to reinvent himself. In response, Boba decides that reinventing himself can wait another day and kills Bane with his Tusken gaffi stick.

Meanwhile, the Rancor has decided that now is a really good moment to reenact the climax on King Kong (either version) and climbs the city hall tower. Din still tries to calm him down, alas without success. However, the Rancor decides that he’d really like to know what Mandalorians taste like. Of course, Grogu won’t let anybody hurt his Dad and he’s become a lot better at using the Force. The tiny Grogu waddles up to the big bad Rancor and uses the Force to calm it down and make it fall asleep. And since using the Force is very tiring and Grogu is still a baby, he curls up next to the Rancor for a nap in what must be the cutest scene in this episode.

The remaining Pykes decide that discretion is the better part of valour and make a run for it. Presumably, they mean to return to the hideout of their boss, the Fishhead-in-chief, in Mos Eisley, but no such luck. Because Fennec Shand sneaks into the hideout, kills the Fishhead-in-chief and the treacherous bosses of the Mos Espa crime families and hangs Mok Shaiz, complete with twitching legs, something which is standard for the various westerns this episode draws upon, but remarkably graphic by Star Wars standards, as Nick Wanserski points out. Boba may have decided that he’s not a killer anymore, but Fennec is too practical for that. She may have reinvented herself for the post-imperial world, but she is and will always be a killer. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.

After the Pykes have been beaten, Boba and Fennec walk along the streets of Mos Espa, only to find the inhabitants waving and bowing at them and giving them melons. Boba is somewhat bemused by this and also unsure, if this is really what he wants. “Who if not us?” the ever practical Fennec replies.

Meanwhile, Din’s Naboo starfighter is streaking away from Tatooine with Grogu firmly installed in the astromech droid seat. Grogu bangs against the dome with his favourite toy, the knob that is the sole surviving bit of the late lamented the Razorcrest. “No,” Din says, but Grogu just keeps knocking, until Din finally relents. “All right, but only one last time,” he says and flips the booster switch, sending the starfighter into overdrive, much to Grogu’s delight.

There’s a mid credits sequence as well, featuring Cobb Vanth, who’s not dead after all, in Boba’s bacta tank. The cyber-surgeon who operated on Fennec is there as well and getting ready to operate, so I guess Cobb Vanth is about to become a cyborg marshal.

All in all, the was a fun finale to a very uneven show, but – as io9 reviewer James Whitbrook points out – it was also basically one massive shoot-out with very little in the way of character development for the actual protagonists Boba and Fennec, both of whom seem underserved, compared to Din Djarin, Grogu and even supporting characters like Peli Motto.

The storytelling choices seem even more baffling, since the same team was responsible for this show which also made the much better The Mandalorian. We know that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni can tell a Star Wars story, so why did they do such a mediocre job here? In fact, I wonder whether there were behind the scenes issues with this show that we don’t know about, requiring hasty rewrites, which led to the mess we got.

The story they wanted to tell here is clearly the story of Boba Fett’s rise to the benevolent ruler of Tatooine. Which is compelling enough, but I still wonder why they went with the whole “I want to be the baddest crime lord on the planet, except that I don’t deal in drugs or prostitution or slaves or anything bad” angle. Patterning Boba Fett’s rise to ruler of Tatooine after Conan’s rise to King of Aquilonia would have made for a much better model and wouldn’t have led to such baffling choices as making Boba and his gang the most wholesome criminals ever.

By the end of The Book of Boba Fett, Tatooine is probably in as good a place as we’ve ever seen this unexpectedly important backwater planet. And Din and Grogu are back together and off to many wonderful adventures. But I still wonder what exactly the point of this whole show was, since the Din/Grogu plot would have been better handled in season 3 of The Mandalorian and Boba’s own story is pretty flimsy.

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8 Responses to “The Book of Boba Fett” takes a stand “In the Name of Honor” and finally remembers who its star is

  1. Szwole?er says:

    It`s just me, or Disney is significantly more risk averse with Star Wars than with Marvel? I mean, it`s not like MCU is particularly brutal, but I almost never got impression with them that plot becomes somewhat ridiculous because of self-censorship.

    In general I believe that with few notable exceptions (The Mandalorian, Rogue One) Disney somewhat mismanaged Star Wars brand. Obviously, it was generally commercial success, but they really could do better.

    • Cora says:

      It’s not just you. Disney is certainly more willing to experiment with Marvel than with Star Wars. Nor do they shy away from organised crime plots, e.g. Hawkeye was about organised crime and the consequences of Clint Barton becoming the murderous vigilante Ronin.

      And yes, it’s baffling that Disney does a remarkably good job with Marvel and a not very good one, exceptions notwithstanding, with Star Wars. Yes, there are different people in charge of Marvel and Star Wars, but I still have no idea how e.g. the mess that was the sequel trilogy was even allowed to happen. I mean, how can you embark on something like that without an overarching plan?

  2. Peer says:

    I agree – Fun but more like “Star Wars Stories!” than “Boba Fett”. I wonder if Cobb Vance will get his own show or if he will keep shwing up in other spinoffs.
    Darth Maul should be dead right now, isnt it? Didnt he die in the first prequel? Solo plays before the prequels IIRC thats why he could show up there.
    But thats one problem I though about earlier: Obi Wans Show will play in another time again – between Prequel 3 and Original 1. The diefferent times potentially make it hard to track who can meet whom and when and how things are connected. At least the MCU is relativly consistent with their timeframes and they keep things that play at a different time than now to a minimum.

    But, If nothing else, this show has established Chekhovs Rancor, for which Im very thankful.

    • Cora says:

      Yup, “Star Wars Stories” or “Tatooine” would have been a better title than The Book of Boba Fett, since he is in comparatively little of it. As for Cobb Vanth, they may be preparing for either possibility, depending on the availability of Timothy Olyphant. Cause I recall hearing somewhere that a revival of Justified, the show that made Olyphant a star, is in the works and he’ll likely choose that over Star Wars.

      Darth Maul apparently survived being bisected by Obi Wan’s lightsabre in The Phantom Menace only to pop up in Solo, which is set several years later (it would have to be, for while Han is older than Luke and Leia, he’s not that much older), having foregone Sith glory for a life of crime. Supposedly, one of the cartoons explains how he survived, but I have no idea which one, since there are so many of them.

      The Obi Wan show will be set in the little explored period between the prequels and the original trilogy. Solo (and Rogue One to a certain degree) are the only other Star Wars movies/TV shows set during that period, so there should be little overlap with established continuity. But yes, the timelines are a bit of a mess and it’s not easy to figure out when exactly The Book of Boba Fett is set. How long exactly was he inside the Sarlacc? And how long was he with the Tuskens?

      It’s really striking that Lucasfilm doesn’t seem to have anybody in charge of keeping timelines and continuity straight, especially since Lucasfilm had someone like that back when it was still owned by George Lucas, which is the reason why there were very few continuity issues with the old Expanded Universe, because they hired a superfan to keep track of everything.

  3. Lurkertype says:

    Not only did I see sparks between Mod girl and Black sniper girl, I also caught a little somethin’ somethin’ between Mod Girl and Fennec! Possibly even sparkier.

    Chekhov’s Rancor was a delight.

    I’ve been wondering for weeks if there’s a Rocker gang in some other Mos.

    Grogu napping with the rancor was so cute it hurt.

    • Cora says:

      Drash, the Mod girl, clearly has a thing for women with guns and a deadly aim and who can blame her? Though I do hope we get to see more than a few sparks flying. People keep complaining about there being no sex in superhero movies (even though there is plenty of implied and some on screen sex), but Disney era Star Wars really is oddly devoid of romantic and sexual attraction.

      I’d be totally here for “The Battle of Brighton”, Tatooine edition. Though maybe the Nikto biker gang were the Rockers.

      I love Chekhov’s Rancor and particularly his little nap with Grogu.

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