“Cowboy Bebop” Is Gonna Carry The Weight Of Its Wrong Choices

Night before last, I was honored to attend a virtual screening for the first two episodes of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop, a live-action reimagining of the beloved 1998 anime that debuted its full first season yesterday. The two episodes I saw were pretty good – a little slow, perhaps, and guilty of retreading ground the anime already covered, but good enough to leave me wanting more when the credits rolled. Sadly, it turns out that Cowboy Bebop is one of those shows that gets progressively worse as it plods along through a ten-episode season that feels like an eternity.

Cowboy Bebop
Spike Spiegel | vulture.com

Now, we all love a show that’s so bad it’s good in a roundabout way, and I even think Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop has its fair share of unironically compelling elements, including a couple of scenes toward the end that enrich the world of the anime so significantly that, if (and that’s a big if), if expanded upon in a second season, we could theoretically just forget about all the bad stuff and move merrily along. But this first season’s greatest crime is that it makes Bebop boring – and that’s really hard to do, so this took concentrated effort.

Ironically, it’s Cowboy Bebop‘s inability to free itself from the imagined constraints of a straight-up remake that keeps this series about the dangers of never moving on from the past entangled in a web of its own creation. The glimpses of originality that shine through are much appreciated (though often built on other generic tropes), but every time it looks like the show might finally do something bold and unique it inflicts upon us another halfhearted re-enactment of storylines that were intended to be stand-alone in the anime and are here awkwardly fused with the series’ mostly new overarching narrative to create some lopsided chimera of a first season.

If it was ever implied that there was some reason behind the inclusion of these storylines, apart from the desire to lure in fans of the anime with scenes and characters they already know, that would be one thing, but none ever emerges; and in any case such clarity of purpose would be jarring in a series that ricochets tonally between snarky profanity-laced comedy (which is where, tellingly, it seems most comfortable) and a transparent facsimile of the anime’s melancholy atmosphere.

Uneven writing is largely to blame, but the whole series is gonna carry that weight. And if that pun was obvious, it’s still more subtle than Cowboy Bebop‘s bull-in-a-china-shop approach to adapting a story famous for its multiple delicate layers of meaning. Where the anime slowly peeled back those layers to reveal more depth than one might at first expect from a sci-fi western, Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop has nothing to uncover and nothing to say that the anime didn’t already communicate more efficiently and poetically. It’s shallow and thematically muddled.

Cowboy Bebop‘s best attempts to disguise this involve repeatedly hitting you over the head with dialogue that spells out the series’ message in capital letters (incorrectly, but that’s beside the point), but such clumsy writing only draws more attentions to the areas in which Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop not only fails to honor the visionary anime, but very purposefully throws out the source material. I’m hardly a purist, but in this case it’s clear that Cowboy Bebop‘s writers aren’t motivated by some spark of their own genius but by the desire to build another franchise for Netflix.

Specifically, I’d point to what I feel is the most significant change, and that’s the reimagined team dynamic between our three main characters; former hit-man Spike Spiegel (John Cho); ex-cop Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir); and amnesiac bounty hunter Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda). Both the anime and live-action series revolve around the traumatic events in their backstories that defined them and still affect them to this day, but the anime allowed this conflict to impede on their ability to form new relationships or start over with their lives. You felt all of their pain because it was evident in how they remained closed-off from each other, how they kept their secrets sealed behind closed doors.

Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop can’t ever go to those lengths, because that would require editing out at least fifteen minutes of friendly banter from each episode. Leave aside the fact that the characters’ backstories are already rendered weightless by being unloaded early in the season before we form an emotional attachment to any of them, the live-action versions of Spike, Jet, and Faye are simply too emotionally available, too familiar with each other, too well-adjusted, for the core conflict to work. They bicker, but they’re already basically a family unit by the end of the season when they face the first real challenge to that dynamic.

Cowboy Bebop
Jet Black | indiewire.com

Of the three main characters, I do want to point out that Mustafa Shakir is not only an excellent Jet Black, but a vast improvement on the anime’s version of the same character. Jet was my least-favorite of the main trio, partially because his backstory was simply less interesting to me and partially because his character often stayed behind on the Bebop while Spike and Faye would go after a bounty together or individually. Shakir’s Jet is always in on the action, effortlessly taking the lead. He’s also a father in this retelling, which leads to some plot-beats that would have been predictable if not for Shakir’s performance.

I wish I could say the same of Cho or Pineda. Cho is a very good actor, but his Spike is written to be so talkative and funny that it’s only in those rare moments where he’s allowed to speak volumes through silence that he really feels like the character – for instance, when he gets off an elevator wearing headphones and strolls casually into the middle of a casino-heist, or when he’s hanging upside-down from a billboard and lights a cigarette while he waits to be pulled to safety. These are both new scenes, but they express the character’s motto of “Whatever happens, happens” perfectly.

Pineda, sadly, is dealt the worst hand, as her character is only Faye Valentine insofar as that’s her name and she shares roughly the same backstory. The nostalgia for a life she doesn’t remember that kept Faye frantically bouncing from place to place in search of belonging, the vividly realized claustrophobia of being in your own body and still not recognizing whose it is, and the vulnerability that comes with that, leaving Faye susceptible to manipulation – almost none of that is brought over into live-action. Pineda’s Faye is only a step above a comedic-relief character.

Even with an entire episode centered on a gender-bent version of the con-artist Whitney Matsumoto (Christine Dunford), who here poses as Faye’s doting mother, the series squanders its opportunity to explore Faye’s internal conflict. Cowboy Bebop could have played up the psychological horror of waking up with no grip on reality or sense of stability, and then being fed lies by a total stranger who claims to be the only person who remembers you…but instead Faye and the others get roped into a whole bunch of humorous hijinks involving Matsumoto’s husband that culminates in an utterly random plot twist for shock value.

And while we’re on the subject of characters undercut by cheap humor, I can’t not talk about Vicious (Alex Hassell). I’ll be honest, I never liked him in the anime to begin with; he was a despicable, one-dimensional villain. But I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed on his behalf while watching the live-action Cowboy Bebop drag Vicious’ name and reputation through the mud, reducing the menacing warlord to a sniveling parody of Lucius Malfoy, with a stringy platinum-blonde wig so atrocious that if you told me it was found discarded on the set of Jupiter’s Legacy, I’d believe you.

Vicious is constantly surrounded by a whole host of other actors hamming it up as various crime-lords of the Syndicate, which might have been enjoyable in a different show; in Cowboy Bebop, it’s just weird and unnecessary. John Noble is probably the best of the bunch, playing another authoritarian father figure in the same vein as his iconic Denethor, only a little more overtly villainous. Vicious is also accompanied by Julia (Elena Satine), who in the anime remained enigmatic and invisible until the end of the series. Here, she’s a major character, which is a nice change. The final episode sets up a very interesting future for her, which as I said could turn the whole show around in season two.

Apart from some interesting new characters, there’s also the occasional character so exquisitely redesigned – and often modernized – that at best you wish they looked like that in the anime, as I felt was particularly the case with Gren (Mason Alexander Park). Sadly, they’re all stuck in this inferior series.

Cowboy Bebop
Vicious | netflixlife.com

Even in its best episodes, Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop falls far short of the anime on which it’s based. There’s good stuff scattered here and there, and with a lot of work this show could be something interesting down the line – but I don’t know if it will ever feel like a proper adaptation of Bebop. And as disappointing as that is, take comfort in the fact that the original anime is also streaming on Netflix, so you can skip this entirely and go straight to the source. You won’t be missing much.

Series Rating: 5/10

What’s Next For The Eternals After Their First Film?

SPOILERS FOR ETERNALS AHEAD!

Eternals may not be the sure-fire Best Picture nominee that Marvel Studios thought they had on their hands when they debuted it at the Rome Film Festival to a lukewarm and increasingly negative critical reception, but in the long run, fans of the film needn’t fear that the Eternals will be ret-conned out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or that their storylines will be abandoned going forward. The box-office has been strong enough to ensure that heroes like Sersi and Thena and the newly-knighted Dane Whitman will return somewhere down the line, in various other MCU projects if not in their own sequel.

Eternals
Arishem and the Eternals | cbr.com

If you ask me, the instantly endearing characters of Eternals are easily the film’s greatest strength. I’m sure Marvel has their secretive reasons for wanting to get us acquainted with the complex (and somewhat convoluted) lore of the Celestials and Deviants and the origins of the universe itself, all of which will be revealed in due time, but it’s these characters who make continuing this story worthwhile right now. Director Chloé Zhao infused almost all of the ten earthly Eternals with vibrant humanity, and they each have seven-thousand years of individual stories to explore in prequels and spin-offs even before we look to their collective future.

So in today’s post, we’ll be looking at where the Eternals will be headed next in the MCU, both separately and as a team unit. There’s a spoiler warning at the top of the page, but in case you missed it, I’ll be discussing the film’s shocking ending, mid-credits scene, and a number of other plot-points including character deaths. You’ve been warned.

Now, speaking of character deaths, let’s start there – because by the end of Eternals, there at least two characters whose arcs conclusively end in their deaths, and a third whose death is satisfying and oh-so-poetic, but who might be too good a character to waste this early. Salma Hayek’s Ajak and Don Lee’s Gilgamesh fall into the former category, and Richard Madden’s Ikaris is of course the latter.

Ajak is the first Eternal to die, surprisingly early in the film, and her teammates happen upon her lifeless body outside her home in South Dakota without being given a chance to properly say their goodbyes to the caring yet deeply flawed woman who led the Eternals for seven-thousand years. We’re initially led to believe that Ajak was killed by a Deviant who absorbed her regenerative powers, but it’s revealed in the third act that there was a little more to it than that. Ajak was sacrificed to the Deviants by her own right-hand man, Ikaris, after he discovered that Ajak didn’t want to complete the Eternals’ top-secret mission to destroy the earth.

As I explained in my review of the film, Ajak’s entire character arc is scattered over just a couple of out-of-order scenes, so it’s hard to initially feel much grief for a person who until the third act is largely depicted as turning a blind eye to various tragedies, including the genocide of indigenous Mesoamericans in Salma Hayek’s home country of Mexico. But when we learn how she used her last few years to evolve and find the good in humanity just before Ikaris brutally executes her, well, it doesn’t make up for any of her wrongdoings, but it perfectly illustrates how the Eternals’ centuries of inaction caused all their problems and how they nearly were too late to change. So I think Ajak’s death is fitting.

Gilgamesh’s death also comes at just the right moment in the story, although I’d be less opposed to some fantastical resurrection plot device being used to engineer his return in the future. He and Angelina Jolie’s Thena are platonic soulmates for thousands of years, and their relationship only grows deeper when Ajak diagnoses Thena with Mahd Wy’ry, which she misleadingly describes as a buildup of memories in the brain over centuries that can cause an Eternal to become mentally unstable and violent. Gilgamesh brings Thena to Australia, where they settle down in the desert and live quietly for the next few centuries, with Gilgamesh caring for his friend and giving her love and support.

With Sersi’s help, Thena discovers that everything she thought she knew about Mahd Wy’ry was a lie. Long story short, her visions, panic attacks, and aggressive outbursts are actually a result of her glimpsing into the memories of other Eternals on other planets across the universe – or rather, former planets. Thena and Gilgamesh join the Eternals’ quest to stop the destruction of earth, but sadly Gilgamesh dies not long thereafter, killed by the same Deviant that took Ajak’s life. He and Thena share one last moment together, one which actually drew tears from my eyes, as he pleads with her to remember. The fact that even as he’s dying he wants her to remember her life and not specifically him is heartbreaking and hard-hitting.

Eternals
Gilgamesh and Thena | thewrap.com

Then there’s Ikaris. The second highest-ranking member of the Eternals and the only one besides Ajak who knows their true purpose on earth, Richard Madden’s Ikaris is defined both by his unwavering loyalty to the mission and by his age-long love for his teammate, Sersi. It’s unfortunate that their romance is almost entirely devoid of chemistry, because it had the potential to be truly epic. Sersi loves the earth and its inhabitants from the moment she first looks upon it, but Ikaris has only ever pretended to love humans so he can get closer to Sersi and try to relate to her. They find themselves on opposite sides in the film’s third act, with Sersi fighting to save earth and Ikaris to destroy it.

But when they confront each other face-to-face in the film’s most dramatic moment, Ikaris has a change of heart – not because he realizes for himself that humanity is worth saving or that he’s loved earth all along and didn’t want to admit it, but because he finally understands what earth and its people mean to Sersi. And in the end, his love for her outweighs his devotion to the mission and his belief in the Celestial plan for the Eternals. Ikaris stops fighting, leaves earth, and looks back at it one last time – mirroring his and Sersi’s first scene in the film, where he only had eyes for Sersi while she was the one staring down at earth – before flying into the sun.

This bleak and beautiful death is obviously intended to evoke the myth of Ikaris’ namesake in Greek mythology, Icarus; a boy with wings who flew too close to the sun in a moment of reckless pride and burned up. But the parallels to ancient mythology go deeper than that surface-level reading: mythology is uniquely full of stories of tragic couples in which one or both lovers will die by their own hand, usually after some misunderstanding and horrific moment of revelation. It’s a story structure that’s not quite as popular nowadays, and to see it used in a Marvel film is actually extraordinary. But another common theme in mythology, particularly Greek mythology, is that of the hero’s descent into the underworld to retrieve the soul of a lost loved one.

Could we see Sersi or another Eternal attempt to resurrect Ikaris? It’s not as implausible as it sounds. Halfway through Eternals, it’s explained to Sersi in one of the film’s several exposition-heavy monologues that the Eternals were forged, not born (an interesting and perhaps deliberate parallel to Agatha Harkness’ description of Wanda Maximoff), and that all of their memories from before arriving on earth were implanted into their heads by their true maker, the Celestial Arishem. He keeps these memories stored away in a chamber of the World-Forge, which is where he designs, builds, and breathes life into his Eternals.

So there is a path for Ikaris to come back, or more likely for his memories to be transplanted into the body of a new Eternal (i.e. a different actor). And Arishem himself might have already arranged for that to happen. At the end of the film, the Celestial arrives on Earth and summons Sersi, Phastos, and Kingo to join him in deep space, presumably at the World-Forge judging by Arishem’s remark that he will look through their memories to determine if they and the planet they love so much are actually worth saving. I can’t wait for Chloé Zhao to get the chance to explore that location in more depth and detail, but most importantly it will give our characters a chance to find Ikaris’ memories.

And something else Arishem doesn’t realize is that Sersi, Phastos, and Kingo aren’t the only Eternals left from the team he sent to Earth. Shortly before Arishem’s arrival, Thena departed the planet along with the speedster Makkari and telepath Druig on a mission to find other Eternals scattered across the universe and try to persuade them to save the planets which they’ve been assigned to destroy. The mid-credits scene picks up with this trio sometime later, arguing about whether they should head back to Earth to find out why their friends aren’t responding to their messages or continue their objective.

That’s when they’re rudely interrupted by the arrival of not one but two characters new to the MCU. Patton Oswalt voices Pip the Troll, an obscure Marvel Comics antihero who’s usually paired up with Guardians Of The Galaxy characters like Adam Warlock, Gamora, and Yondu Udonta’s Ravagers. In the MCU, he serves a different role as the herald and traveling companion of a maverick Eternal, Eros. Pop-star and Dunkirk actor Harry Styles portrays Eros, a stunning casting choice that was unfortunately ruined for general audiences long before the film’s release by a professional critic.

Eternals
Harry Styles | esquire.com

Eros is a fascinating addition to the MCU, for several reasons. Sure, he’s the younger brother of Thanos and it’ll be interesting to explore more of the history of their home-planet Titan and the branch of Eternals that lived there before they and everyone else were wiped out by famine and war. And yeah, he’s a part-time Avenger with strong connections to Mar-Vell and the Kree that could be depicted in The Marvels. But let’s be honest, that’s hardly the most noteworthy thing about a character who, just like his Greek mythological counterpart, can manipulate the brain’s pleasure centers in a number of ways.

This bizarre power comes with greater responsibility than most, and I don’t expect Marvel to utilize it to the same degree as in the comics – not unless they’re prepared to adapt all the stories in which Eros is accused of sexual assault, and even stands trial at one point with She-Hulk acting as his lawyer. I mean, they could do that, and it would allow them to explore some important real-world topics, but I’m wary of them handling those topics well. And honestly, I think Harry Styles’ Eros would make a much better superhero intimacy coach than sexual offender. If the dispassionate sex scene in Eternals is any indicator, the MCU could use a lesson or two from the god of love.

That being said, Eros is probably as morally ambiguous as any of the Eternals, and I won’t be surprised if he uses his powers recklessly at first – perhaps playing matchmaker with Sersi and a resurrected version of Ikaris. If he runs into the Guardians of the Galaxy anytime soon, I could easily envision a scenario where Eros gets entangled in Peter Quill’s awkward relationship with the time-displaced Variant of Gamora who doesn’t love Quill the way Quill loves the deceased version of her from the main MCU timeline, using his powers with disastrous effects. Basically, just don’t romanticize the removal of consent, and things should work out.

Back on Earth, there’s one last wild-card to consider. Lia McHugh’s Sprite, an Eternal trapped in the body of a child, made the difficult choice to become a human so that she can finally grow up and live a normal life – with the chance to experience love being one of her primary motivations for giving up her illusion-casting powers. Arishem didn’t take Sprite with him to the World-Forge, but it’s hard to believe that she’ll be completely absent from the story going forward. She could help Sersi’s distraught boyfriend back on Earth, Dane Whitman, as he musters the courage to embrace his destiny as the Black Knight and take on the Celestial host.

I don’t expect we’ll see the full team reassembled for a long time, perhaps not ever seeing as Ajak and Gilgamesh are probably really dead and Ikaris might not come back in the same form. But we now know there are hundreds of thousands of Eternals scattered across the universe, including several important characters from the comics who didn’t make it into this film. I suspect we’ll even meet a few in Thor: Love And Thunder, if Gorr the God-Butcher considers Eternals godly enough to make worthwhile targets for his Necroblade. And the distinctions between Eternals and Greek gods are already blurry enough that Hercules could easily be another member of their species.

Eternals
The Eternals | cnet.com

As long as Makkari, Thena, Kingo, Druig, and Phastos stay on the team, I wouldn’t object if others come and go. Sersi could make her way onto the Avengers team just as she did in the comics. Druig has a comics history of villainy and connections to the Soviet Union that haven’t really been touched upon (I’m still waiting for the reveal that he’s Natasha Romanoff’s biological father). And Kingo is delightfully off in his own world most of the time, so give him a Bollywood spin-off with lots of over-the-top musical numbers, and I’ll be more than happy.

So where do you hope to see the Eternals pop up next, and which character are you most excited to follow throughout Phase 4? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

“Arcane: League Of Legends” Part 1 Review!

As someone whose only second-hand experience with League Of Legends is through the massive multiplayer online game’s soundtrack of epic original music, I’ll be totally honest: until last week when I finally started getting bombarded with marketing for Arcane: League Of Legends, I had almost no interest in nor preconceptions about the Netflix adaptation which longtime fans of the game have been waiting for with bated breath. And the biggest thing holding me back was my concern that Arcane would be inaccessible to anyone unfamiliar with League Of Legends, its complex worldbuilding, and its sprawling ensemble cast of heroes and villains.

Arcane
Arcane: League Of Legends | engadget.com

But for every time that Arcane suddenly throws an out-of-context piece of lore at the viewer and usually expects you to just roll with it (which is fairly easy in most cases), the animated series doubles down on establishing a single approachable storyline with just enough characters and fantastical plot devices to keep things lively, but never so many that a viewer new to the franchise will feel completely lost. Arcane‘s first three episodes provide a concrete baseline from which to expand and develop the world of League Of Legends in the near future.

And when I say near, I mean like next week. The three episodes currently available on Netflix are only the first segment of Arcane season one, which will be released in intervals between now and November 20th. Binge-watchers might take issue with this release strategy, but Arcane‘s episodes are significantly longer than the norm when it comes to animated television, so these three episodes together could make for at least one thoroughly satisfying evening. Each episode leaves you urgently wanting more, but episode three especially delivers in that regard, with a cliffhanger ending that actually got me to gasp out loud. Fans of the game are possibly familiar with certain…developments, but I definitely wasn’t.

Arcane follows two sisters, Violet (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld of Hawkeye) and Powder (voiced by Mia Sinclair Jenness), who as I understand it both become major characters in the League Of Legends game universe. Arcane, however, opens during a pivotal moment in their childhood, and explores their early days on the streets of Zaun, a dimly-lit and crime-ridden city built underneath the prosperous town of Piltover, where a steampunk renaissance is underway. Navigating a rapidly growing social and class divide requires the sisters to make hard choices and more than a few sacrifices if they’re to survive.

Arcane
Violet | netflix.com

The series packs a surprisingly emotional wallop, wrapped up in an impactful message about how those in power will do whatever they possibly can to keep oppressed and marginalized groups at a disadvantage by turning them against each other. The series revolves around bridges built and bridges burned, whether that’s manifested in the terrifying rifts in Violet and Powder’s own family that they feel powerless to fix, the ideological divide between their father Vander (voiced by JB Blanc) and his friend-turned-supervillain Silco (voiced by Jason Spisak), or the literal bridge between Piltover and Zaun that burned during the last conflict between the two cities. Okay, so not a subtle metaphor, but an effective one nonetheless.

As much a pleasant surprise to me as its mature themes, Arcane‘s animation style should be particularly exciting to anyone looking for the next evolution of the medium – because this is it. All the depth and richness of a painting in every shot, but brought to life with the same fluidity and awe-inspiring direction that distinguishes League Of Legends‘ own cinematic trailers, which have racked up hundreds of millions of views on YouTube. Video games are the blueprint for how to wed the unique sensibilities of animation and live-action, and it’s only fitting that Arcane is actually building upon that blueprint.

And of course, no adaptation of League Of Legends would be complete without a heart-pounding original score and soundtrack that makes you want to tackle a dragon or two. The game’s music has become widely popular outside of the core fanbase (as I mentioned, it’s the only reason I was familiar with the game at all), and Arcane‘s first three episodes feature catchy contributions from Bea Miller, Curtis Harding, Jazmine Sullivan, Ramsey, and a theme by Imagine Dragons. Harding and Sullivan’s “Our Love”, an upbeat yet nostalgic romantic duet, is my personal favorite track.

Arcane
Vander with Powder and Violet | thegamer.com

It’s safe to say that Arcane exceeded my expectations and then some. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next chapter in Violet and Powder’s story, especially because it will pick up after a significant time-jump during which the two characters will have matured into young women. I’m not going to get into spoilers for episode three here, but let’s just say…I’m very interested to see how the years will have changed them. That’s all I’ll say. If you want to know what I’m talking about, you’ll just have to watch the show.

Series Rating: 9/10

“The Book Of Boba Fett” 1st Trailer Promises My Kind Of Star Wars

Two seasons in and with a third already in the works, I’m still not sure if I actually like The Mandalorian. It’s a slow-moving series that I find to be generally lacking in direction or purpose, and Baby Yoda’s cuteness factor is starting to wear off, but it has its moments of greatness. And one of those moments was the season two finale post-credits stinger that unexpectedly set up a spinoff for the season’s biggest guest star, a legendary villainous bounty hunter long believed dead, who rose from the sands of Tatooine with a new lease on life.

Fennec Shand.

Boba Fett
Fennec Shand | denofgeek.com

And Boba Fett. Okay, so technically, the spinoff series is actually called The Book Of Boba Fett, and technically yes, he’s the star and Fennec Shand is his costar…but Fennec Shand is played by one of my long-time idols, Ming-Na Wen; the unmistakable voice behind the original Mulan and the incredible physical performance behind Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Melinda May. I am thrilled to see her in another leading role now that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has wrapped up its seven-season run, and the first trailer for The Book Of Boba Fett indicates that she and Temuera Morrison’s Fett will share almost equal screentime.

Both actors are honestly phenomenal and although I’m a Fennec Shand stan first and foremost, I think Morrison is doing a great job of bringing depth and nuance to a character that for the longest time was a one-dimensional baddie who happened to have a really cool spaceship. We’re finally being given a good look at the man behind Boba Fett’s iconic helmet, and he’s profound, insightful, deeply philosophical, and still just as awesome as ever. Probably more awesome now, in fact, because The Mandalorian made it canon that he fought his way out of the Sarlacc pit after the events of Return Of The Jedi.

In the aftermath of Boba Fett and Fennec Shand storming Jabba the Hutt’s old palace and unceremoniously disposing of his gelatinous right-hand man Bib Fortuna, The Book Of Boba Fett picks up with the duo as they attempt to build a new criminal enterprise out of the ruins of what Jabba left behind. Every mercenary, bounty hunter, warlord, and villain in the galaxy wants a piece of the profit, and you know what that means: palace intrigue, one of my favorite tropes in fantasy and sci-fi. The trailer introduces us to a host of new characters, each shadier and more suspicious than the last, who will all be vying for a place in Boba Fett’s good graces.

These characters are also, for the most part, aliens – a nice change of pace from the human-centric stories found in other Star Wars properties. I’m not sure if this is an unpopular opinion or if I’m just weird, but the arachnid B’omarr monks are pretty high on my list of coolest character designs of all time, so I want to give a round of applause to the trailer editors who chose to open this trailer with a sequence of a B’omarr monk scurrying across the desert on business of its own. I want the B’omarr monks to be important in this show, but even if they just skitter by in the background every now and again I’ll be happy.

Boba Fett
The Book Of Boba Fett | gameinformer.com

That being said, if The Mandalorian found a way to squeeze in cameos from Bo-Katan, Ahsoka Tano, Luke Skywalker, and Boba Fett himself, then I can’t imagine The Book Of Boba Fett will feature any fewer guest appearances. I’m thinking Bossk, IG-88B, Cad Bane, Hondo Ohnaka, Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, and any number of characters who showed up for all of two seconds in the Mos Eisley cantina and yet somehow have thirty pages of elaborate semi-canonical backstory. If Emilia Clarke isn’t too busy with Secret Invasion and other projects, I’d love to know what crime boss Qi’ra has been up to ever since the events of Solo. Basically, I just want a smorgasbord of bad guys.

Hey, what can I say; there’s a reason Jabba’s palace was (and, based on the sound I made when I saw it onscreen again in The Mandalorian, still is) my favorite location in Star Wars. I love villains, especially well-designed alien villains. Seeing them all together under one roof, scheming and plotting and being fabulously evil, is extremely my jam. I can’t excuse the cringeworthy musical number that George Lucas inserted into the re-release of Return Of The Jedi, but it doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the Jabba’s palace sequence nearly as much as it probably should.

Boba Fett, for his part, claims that he wants to lead with respect rather than fear. Will his palace still be full of corruption, bribery, backstabbing, and deceit? Undoubtedly. But I imagine Disney would prefer if the star of one of their most hotly-anticipated series’ wasn’t willingly engaging in such immoral activities, at the very least not without balancing out his crimes with some selfless or noble deeds, and anyway it makes sense that Boba Fett has grown as a person since his brush with death, so I think we can all excuse it. He’s still morally gray, and he’s got Fennec Shand to do his really dirty work for him.

Boba Fett
Jabba’s Palace | starwars.com

This kind of storytelling, somewhat evocative of Game Of Thrones (the early seasons at least) with its layers upon layers of treachery and complex webs of intrigue, is something truly different for Star Wars. The franchise continually finds new ways to expand across multiple genres and mediums, and that’s what keeps it ahead of the competition. We saw it with Star Wars: Visions, and I think we’re seeing it again with The Book Of Boba Fett. This trailer is brief, but it’s giving me all the vibes I want from a series that takes place in my favorite Star Wars location and combines some of my favorite Star Wars characters. December 29th can’t come soon enough!

Trailer Rating: 9/10