‘THE MANDALORIAN’ Chapter 9: Filoni and Favreau Further the FANtasy
In the case of Boba Fett’s death, had I known he was gonna turn into such a popular character, I probably would’ve made it a little bit more exciting. Boba Fett was just another one of the minions, another one of the bounty hunters and badguys. But, he became such a favorite of everybody’s that, for having such a small part, uh he had a very large presence. And now that his history has been told in the first trilogy, y’know, it makes it even more of a misstep that we wouldn’t make more out of the event of his defeat, because most people don’t believe he died anyway. I’d contemplated putting in that extra shot in where he climbs out of the hole, but y’know I figure that’s . . . it doesn’t quite fit, in the end.
When I was a kid, I was fortunate enough to be spoiled enough that my parents paid for me to be a part of the official Star Wars Fan Club Newsletter, Bantha Tracks. I couldn’t tell you how many of them I had before they stopped coming, but I can tell you that what I read in the issues I did have may well have been the genesis of what has apparently been my lifelong pursuit of “insider knowledge.” I read those newsletters front to back and back to front over and over again; I felt like I was in the cool club because I was exposed to a wealth of knowledge, straight from the brain of George Lucas; knowledge like the bit below:
Not much is known about Boba Fett.
At the time that issue 5 of Bantha Tracks was published in 1978, there was no way Lucas could have predicted how deeply rooted this minor character would become in pop culture. And while the mystery of just how and why Boba became such an integral part of such an otherwise richly develop mythology is a conversation worth having, it’s not the one we’re having here. The bounty hunter accumulated 392 seconds of screen time in the films but has taken up a lot more space in my brain and the brains of fans than that. Did he escape the Sarlaac pit? What are all those symbols on his armor and what is that braid? Mandalore? What’s a Mandalorian? And people who I always assumed were just as obsessed with all these things as I was thought about these things too and now, as it turns out, a couple of people just like that in Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, have created an entire series that seems like it may have spun out of the mind of a kid who sat on his floor reading Bantha Tracks, watching the movies and trying to figure out just who this mysterious bounty hunter was. And now, with the first episode of Season 2, they’ve reached out to all of you who sat around and overthought every minute detail of every film and they’ve said this: “That time you spent wasn’t wasted. We spent time doing it too and have built an entire world around those thoughts.” It’s validation and as Boba turned and faced me on screen in the twilight of the twin suns of Tatooine, it felt amazing.
Boba is back but as excited as I am, he’s not truly at the heart of this piece either. Chapter 9 wasn’t enthralling just because we have a now-canonical expansion of the legend of Boba Fett that actually only adds to the mystery but also because, as they do, Favreau and Filoni made an entire episode out of in-universe things that only the truest of fans would love to see. If Seinfeld was a series about nothing, then The Mandalorian is a series about making nothing into something. The creative duo behind the series just gave us 54 minutes of glory by creating a story around a pile of bones that were seen onscreen for 2 seconds, a strange noise Obi-Wan made to scare off some Tuskens and a bounty hunter who “died” in his last chronological appearance. This is what they do and this is the heart of Star Wars. George Lucas created a world, a universe, that was already fruitful when we first saw it in A New Hope. If all we ever got was that film, it would have been enough. But Lucas didn’t just give us the fruit up front, he also planted seeds and, over the years, those seeds have come to bear fruit in the minds of creators like Favreau and Filoni. Creators who just like you and I, probably have spent hours reading character profiles on StarWars.com and know all about those shiny pearls inside a Krayt dragon.
And that’s what The Mandalorian has been since it debuted last year: a series of shiny pearls, the value of which might only be apparent to the staunchest of fans. That’s not to say that a new fan wouldn’t enjoy Chapter 9. But for fans who have invested countless hours talking, arguing, theorizing and speculating about how big a Krayt dragon would be and what happened to Boba in that Sarlaac pit, this episode felt like a non-contact hug from minds behind Mando. The hug that tells us that all that time spent fantasizing and building a Star Wars encyclopedia in your head was time well spent. In furthering the fantasy, Favreau and Filoni push all the right buttons and hit all the right notes because they’ve walked those same miles. Hell, I bet they read Bantha Tracks, too.