It cannot be overstated how many sins can be forgiven by the redemptive act of having a giant monster fight robots. Sure, The Book Of Boba Fett ended exactly as it began, which is to say, mostly a mess. But “In The Name Of Honor” had the good sense to minimize the unearned characterizations and befuddling plot choices in favor of an all-out brawl across Mos Espa. Why, again, does Boba Fett want to rule over the planet that’s farthest from the bright center of the universe? What does a Daimyo do? If your crime empire won’t sell drugs because of your deep concern for the people of the community, what crime are you in charge of? Distributing bootleg Beanie Babies? Why are these gang members so wholesome? Who knows, but at least Boba Fett finally made good use of his jet pack.
One unlikely conclusion this episode highlighted is that Cad Bane should have been introduced much earlier. For a show that committed to fan service so indulgent it accounted for nearly a third of the series’ run time, the initial introduction of Bane last episode felt as much as a “Well, why not?” shrug as anything. But he was well-utilized this episode, less as an implacable hard-ass who’s quick with a blaster, and more as someone who has history with Boba Fett and can act as a bridge between the character he was and who he is now. Because even here, at the end of the series, there is practically no connection between the cold professional killer of the movies and the man here willing to die to protect the citizens of Mos Espa.
Showing that transformation is obviously something the show should and could have done. In retrospect, Fett’s time with the Tusken tribe was meant to represent that character development, but it was never shown. It could have been handled with such a simple montage; the chieftain stopping Fett from killing a foe that could be reasoned with, Fett tending to a wounded bantha or planting a tree at an oasis—any of the well-established thematic shorthand we utilize to show that a person isn’t a jerk anymore.
All we have is the meta knowledge that Disney+ doesn’t want a cutthroat, Michael Mann-style crime thriller, and therefore Fett has to be at least reasonably family-friendly. With a few lines, Bane was able to highlight the incongruity of these two versions of Fett. Had he shown up earlier, the show could have further explored the push and pull between Fett’s warring motivations; the conflict inside him, as the Jedi is so fond of warning about. Part of Bane’s role was to act as main bad guy, since syndicate of identical aliens isn’t as compelling a central antagonist, but the show would have been better served by bringing him in sooner and focused on the pair’s dynamic instead of hopping around with rotating cast of disposable villains. Even Bane’s reveal of the obvious—that it was he, not the biker gang who killed the Tuskens—is ill-served by being presented this episode. Why not let that enmity breathe a little bit instead cramming an entire revenge arc into 20 minutes?
As for the final showdown itself, it had all the requisite final showdown motifs. Our heroes were woefully overmatched; they faced a few grim last stands and were in return saved by a few arrivals of the cavalry. Most importantly, the show made good on delivering a Rancor freak-out that’s been hanging, suspended, like a beautiful promise since Fett first mentioned he wanted to learn to ride the beast.
But first things first. The mods insist on making their final stand against the Pykes in the ruins of Garsa Fwip’s place as a symbolic gesture of unity with the citizens of Mos Espa. I didn’t peg a cybernetic street gang as having a strong sense of community, but good for them. Fett tells Djarin it’s best to take off, but citing the code, Djarin promises to stay, even to the death. Fett is happy to benefit from the Mandalorian’s sense of honor, even if he doesn’t personally share it, offering a small sense of contrast between the helmet buddies. It’s a good exchange, and satisfying to see the dynamic falling into place between these two characters. Fett sends out the few lieutenants he has to watch for any move from the Syndicate. It’s all a setup, though as each group is betrayed by the factions who previously promised to remain neutral. Poor Gammoreans, the first and most faithful of Fett’s crew get ignobly tossed off a cliff.
This culminates in a fight in the plaza where we get to see nearly every weapon the two bounty hunters have at their disposal put to good use: big guns, small guns, jetpacks, wrist rockets, knee rockets, and everything else. But even beskar steel can only withstand so much, and right as the duo are about to be overwhelmed, the Freetown cavalry arrives. Of course, every escalation must be met in kind, and the Pykes do so with a few massive gun droids. And according to the rules established by Super Sentai shows, if you introduce something big, something else big is going to have to come along to fight it.
I admit, when the droids were first introduced, as cool as they are, I assumed it was a way to present a bloodless opponent for the Rancor to wrassle with. And while that was mostly the case, we still did get the chance to see at least one Pyke get eaten. At some point, Robert Rodriguez must have become more comfortable with technology than people, but the Rancor vs. droid battles were some of the most coherent fight scenes of this series. They were kinetic and exciting. And while Fett’s claim to not want the Pykes to take over since he believes they would destroy Mos Espa seems moot given the mayhem they caused, at least it makes for good action. Even the rickshaw chase scene where Djarin and Grogu were reunited was more energetic than the scooter race from a few episodes ago. In the end, our heroes are triumphant and everyone is rewarded with a scene of Grogu laying down for a nap, nestled against a sleeping Rancor.
What an odd show. Seven episodes of a stakes-couldn’t-be-lower character portrait that was entirely uninterested in that character. Like a Jell-O mold salad with marshmallows suspended in it, it was a big, wobbly medium made to deliver smaller, more flavorful bits the creators were actually interested in. It’s fairly telling that there was as much or more plot and character development in two episodes dedicated to ancillary characters than for the protagonist.
Given how we see Star Wars shows are shaping up, the door is obviously open for Boba Fett and Fennec to show up in the future on other series’ episodes. But it’s a testament to this series that the idea elicits a shrug and “I guess…” instead of excitement about the duo’s further adventures. How can you be excited for a character not even the showrunners want to hang out with?
Despite all that, The Book Of Boba Fett was still a very watchable series. There wasn’t a week that I dreaded having to watch an episode. After all, there were a lot of fun set pieces and cool monsters and all that great pulpy Star Wars stuff. But it was so hollow. After all this time, they finally took the helmet off, and there was no one underneath.
- I said earlier that this was no Michael Mann thriller, but that’s exempting Fennec’s incredibly brutal cleanup work with the remaining Pyke Syndicate after the main battle was won. The way she strung up the mayor so that we could see his dangling legs as she took out everyone else was uncharacteristically brutal for Star Wars.
- I like Fett’s dedication to poetic justice that he made sure to grab his gaffi stick when he went to get the Rancor in order to kill Bane in the most emotionally resonant way possible.
- After the rickshaw crashes, Peli Motto offhandedly spits out a tooth. You can see the gap in her teeth for the rest of the episode.
- It’s good stuff whenever you get to see a giant Wookie throw other people around like rag dolls.
- Good King Kong action with the Rancor climbing the tower.
- I would rather one of the episodes this series dedicated to the Mandalorian be given to Fennec instead. Being a wry badass isn’t the worst way to go through your Star Wars screen time, but her character was given fairly short shrift.
- The mid-credit stinger shows Cobb Vanth (not Vance, my apologies for last episode) in the bacta tank. Modifier (Thundercat) is there as well, prepping his cyber surgeon arm. How extensive of an intervention does Vanth require? I’m sure we’ll find out some time in the future when we invariably return to Tatooine.
- This show was not the greatest, but I’m always happy to watch (except you, Rise Of Skywalker) and discuss Star Wars. Thanks for joining me every week.