In popular entertainment, there are far worse ways to end a story than by delivering exactly what the audience expects. The finale of The Book of Boba Fett is essentially one long battle scene involving nearly every character who’s appeared on the show, a textbook climax for an action-adventure serial. It’s a full hour of action punctuated with comedy and what might charitably be called “character moments,” all executed with the bare minimum of style or finesse. Like the series as a whole, it’s got all of the ingredients to make a good Star Wars, minus the base elements required to make a good television show. If watching cool action figures blast aliens and robots is all you need, you’re golden. If you’re looking for compelling characters or clearly defined themes, you’re shit out of luck.
“Chapter Seven: In the Name of Honor” begins with Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and his gang surveying the ruins of Garsa Fwip’s Sanctuary, the casino that was bombed by the Pyke Syndicate at the end of last week’s episode. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) arrives with news that the people of Freetown will help fight the Pykes for free on the condition that Fett puts a stop to the local drug trade. Fett agrees to these terms, despite a reminder from Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) as to what the hell business they are in. They are taking over Jabba the Hutt’s territory, and Fennec finally clarifies explicitly that most of Jabba’s income was from selling the addictive drug Spice. But, Fett says, since “Spice is killing our people” (we never see this) the crime family is now officially out of the drug trade, pivoting exclusively to selling “protection.” It should come as no surprise that the rest of the crime families, who previously told Fett that they would remain neutral in his war with the Pykes, all end up siding with the crime family that’s still in the crime business.
The Mods, Skad (Jordan Bolger) and Drash (Jordan Bolger), convince Fett to make his last stand here in town, rather than back at the palace. Mos Espa is their home, and they refuse to leave their people at the mercy of the Pykes. This would mean more if Skad and Drash had been developed as characters at all, but at least they are serving a purpose as proxies for the downtrodden citizens of Mos Espa that Boba Fett has sworn to extort protect. It also seems as if it’s supposed to represent growth for Fett, that he’s now a selfless, community-minded warrior rather than a ruthless mercenary, but this “compassionate kingpin” persona is the only version of the character we’ve seen on this show, so the growth is invisible. The same is true when Fett resists being drawn into a shootout with bounty hunter Cad Bane (Corey Burton) while outnumbered. It’s supposed to demonstrate some newly earned maturity, but Fett has been anything but a hothead this entire time.
The Pykes’ army arrives at Fett’s stronghold, and with the Mods and Shand occupied elsewhere, he and Djarin are forced to defend their position alone. A few attempts to outsmart or confuse the enemy, like using the mayor’s verbose personal assistant (David Pasquesi) as a distraction, don’t pan out, but luckily relief arrives when the people of Freetown arrive, as promised. This is the pattern that the battle follows for the next 25 minutes or so, with the tide turning back and forth as new players, both friend and foe, arrive on the scene. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s a reliable way to keep a long battle interesting, and it shows us that the real Book of Boba Fett was the friends he made along the way. When Fett’s allies arrive, the Pykes counter with some thirty-foot-tall battle droids, leading Fett to return riding the rancor. A giant monster fights some giant robots, and you really can’t go wrong with that. Sweet Grogu returns, rescues his Mandalorian papa, and uses the Force to sooth the raging rancor and they take a sweet little nap together. That puppet is pure television magic and I can’t possibly complain that he’s here. Again, the portion of the show that is pure Star Wars fun is right on target.
The climax of the battle is a showdown between Fett and Cad Bane, which is a last-ditch effort to make this series about something. It’s essentially a duel between Fett’s old way of life as a ruthless killer and his new one as Crime Sheriff. Bane (as it’s vaguely referenced here) was a close associate of Boba’s father, later Boba’s mentor in the bounty hunting business, and has come to impart one final lesson: “Look after yourself, anything else is weakness.” Fett finally kills Bane using his gaffi stick, a symbol of his connection to others. As a scene, it absolutely works! As a thesis statement for the series, it falls short because The Book of Boba Fett has done nothing to frame Fett’s redemption as an internal struggle. At no point on this show has it seemed as if Fett is in danger of reverting to his old self, nor do we ever see that old self in flashback. He’s a team player as far back as the first episode, when he tries to convince a fellow captive of the Tuskens to plan their escape together. There is no arc here. I wish we’d seen the series to which this ending would feel earned.
The story wraps up with Boba Fett and his crew walking down the streets of Mos Espa being hailed as their benevolent protectors, but this ending is made possible not because Fett has won the day with the power of teamwork, but because Fennec Shand snuck away during the climax to brutally butcher the mayor and the entire Pyke leadership—you know, that merciless bounty hunter shit that Fett has grown out of. Because this isn’t very emotionally satisfying, the show’s final scene is Din Djarin and Grogu departing in their new spaceship, doing some of their cute “gruff dad and cute baby” schtick, which at least put a smile on my face as the credits rolled.
Back in 2004, writer-director Kevin Smith (who, like this episode’s director Robert Rodriguez, is an ascended indie filmmaker of the 1990s) preemptively warned that his upcoming film, Jersey Girl, “wasn’t made for critics.” This was mocked at the time as a blanket statement to protect himself and his film from any negativity at all, as if to say “If you don’t like my work, that’s fine. I didn’t make it for you.” I actually have no objection to this attitude, in fact I think it’s a healthy way for an artist to approach their own art.
But there’s another way that something can be “not for critics,” and that’s for it to be enjoyable only on the barest, most superficial level and not pass the slightest bit of scrutiny. The Book of Boba Fett is best enjoyed casually, with your brain turned all the way off. Not just “sit back and enjoy the explosions” off, but “discard all standards and expectations” off. If you have been able to do this, I sincerely envy you. The next time there’s a new Star Wars series, that’s how I plan to absorb it. But for the past six weeks, my job has been to watch this show and then think about it for three to four hours at a time, and that experience has not been rewarding. This is plainly not the way The Book of Boba Fett was made to be watched. It’s not for critics. Make of that as you will. As for me, I’m hanging up my helmet.