Talk about getting lost in the shuffle. In the sea of a new Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer, new merch, another exciting Star Wars Celebration panel, and much more, Star Wars day was packed with a lot for fans to digest. And flying slightly under the radar was the Disney Plus release of the new Disney Gallery episode focused on the making of The Book of Boba Fett.
To put it frankly, this behind-the-scenes look is a serious deep dive that is well worth your time no matter how you feel about the series. There are so many nuggets of information that it was hard to catch everything with a single watch. There are a few things I wished they expanded upon more, but as with any of these specials, it’s hard to really criticize anything, as it is always surreal to peek behind the curtain. Before we get into it, I will issue a general spoiler warning for the special. I won’t touch on everything, but there is one thing in particular you have to see in order to believe it.
Immediately, one of my favorite things that shone throughout the entire special was how it felt like a throwback to special features you would find on the original trilogy DVDs. It had a lived-in quality that brought me into this world anew. I don’t know if it was because of the computer I was watching it on, the fact that the majority of the show took place on Tatooine, or just being reminded of how practical this entire show was. I was blown away by the lengths to which they painstakingly created this new world for Boba Fett. It’s forever fascinating to me how this stuff gets made.
All that being said, I wish we didn’t have to retread already covered ground for the first 10 minutes. I know that not everyone keeps up with the news cycle, but to hear the same stories about how the show was conceived and the inspiration Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and Robert Rodriguez pulled from was a bit dull. I swear they copied and pasted the same quotes from the litany of promotional interviews everyone did for the series. It was all very surface level, but I understand you have to establish this for those unfamiliar with the process.
Thankfully, it didn’t last long. And now we’re off into the actual series, where the rest of the special generally went chapter-by-chapter, providing a nice flow.
Starting with Chapter 1, we finally have a better understanding of why Robert Rodriguez was so adamant about that second half of the episode being kept secret. If you had to create yourself as a four-armed monster so you could see your vision come to life, you’d be protective too.
The story he tells is framed with a reminder that the entire production of the show took place during a COVID-besieged world. During a pre-production meeting over Zoom, Rodriguez needed to convey the idea behind the sand creature Boba Fett fights at the end of the first episode. Rodriguez decided it would be easier to simply film himself as the beast. I don’t have any thoughts or analysis; just look at the nightmare-fueling imagery and admire it. Love it while also questioning your reality. And let’s move on.
The next major section focused on the creation of all of the characters and this new recreation of Mos Espa on Tatooine. Particular attention is drawn to the mayor and how they brought him to life. I never thought twice about it during the show, but I do remember thinking to myself once how it was weird that we were hearing him talk out of a voice box. Meanwhile, it’s just totally natural that the Ithorians have their mouths off the side of their heads.
Dave Filoni called back to how they had a similar issue during The Clone Wars. Filoni didn’t want to subtitle an Ithorian character, but they still had to find a way to have them talk, and they ended up creating a voice box for that purpose. So it is cool that they continued with that.
Another negative of this special is that it simply isn’t long enough. I don’t understand why we got a full season of Disney Gallery episodes for The Mandalorian season 1, but everything else has just received leftover scraps. Packing everything into one single hour is a lot.
That became apparent when they brushed past Black Krrsantan like he was nothing. It was mentioned how they needed to differentiate between him and Chewbacca, and all the credit for that was given to actor Carey Jones. It is a little disappointing, knowing this would have been a great opportunity to mention his origins. And if not that, at least why he was brought in other than just to be a contrasting Wookiee to Chewbacca. Filoni mentioned the old expanded universe, but it’s still Dave Filoni. Give a shout-out to the canon comics, man!
Enter the rancor. We got an up close and personal look at the beauty of the practical head they created. In figuring out what the best possible thing to do with it was, Lucasfilm Creative Executive Doug Chiang said they looked back at the original hand puppet created by Phil Tippett. If they were going to honor the rancor, Chiang said it wasn’t necessarily about it looking 100% real, it was in the emotional impact and what it means to people.
They took that inspiration and did the rancor head and shoulders practically, creating the rest in post-production for the climactic rancor moment in the finale. Not every shot includes the practical body, but the team went with the logic that, if we as the audience saw it as a real thing once, we’d start to believe it more and more if they did it right. I myself am willing to confirm that I agree with that sentiment.
Sadly, not much insight is given into why the show turned into essentially a prelude for The Mandalorian season 3. I know some don’t care, but I also know some do. Favreau alluded to the fact that he sees The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett as one big story, saying:
“Having The Book of Boba Fett come in the timeline and let everything settle, it allowed us to let some time pass, to take a breather, and meet The Mandalorian after he’d taken his helmet off and that The Child was no longer in his life. That father-child relationship that had developed was no longer there. And so his life, I think, would lose some of its meaning. That felt like fertile territory.”
I understand the thinking that fans want to see that story continue, but that still doesn’t answer the central question of why Din’s story had to take over two episodes of Boba Fett’s. It’s hard to say how long this special has been in the can for, but not addressing this further was a big misstep.
The biggest star in the whole episode (outside of nightmare Robert Rodriguez) is, of course, Mark Hamill. If you had any doubts that he loves the character of Luke Skywalker, throw them out. A lot of time is spent with Chapter 6, and it begins with him describing the unique symmetry of Luke learning from Yoda and now training another one of that species. Filoni then transitions into Ahsoka and how she can help Luke understand more about his father in ways not many can these days in the timeline.
Rosario Dawson is also the latest victim of the “Plo Koon” fake-out they pulled in The Mandalorian season 2 finale. Her script said Plo Koon, which is exactly what they gave the cast to hide Luke Skywalker’s initial surprise appearance. Dawson pops in and says she prepared for Plo Koon. While being a bit confused by it, she would worry about the rest later. Then she got to set and saw Mark Hamill.
It was a total delight seeing Mark Hamill on set. He almost acted as an assistant director to Dave Filoni, talking about how Luke would act so body double Graham Hamilton could get the job done perfectly. Hamill says he had done it all, but he was now learning with the rest of the team when it comes to recreating a younger version of himself.
Visual effects producer Abbigail Keller described it as “trial and error.” She said that they created a safe space to try over and over again to work with technology that is still arguably in its infancy. I don’t pretend to understand how any of this works, so I’ll nod my head and give the entire team a golf clap for the improvements made for The Book of Boba Fett. Deep fakes are mind-boggling to me.
Of note in this section is official confirmation that Sam Head AKA Shamook was indeed hired by ILM to offer advice and guidance during the process. Since he wasn’t specifically credited in the episode as Shamook, there were questions as to whether he was involved or not, so it’s nice to have that mystery solved.
Small Update: There is a Samuel Head listed in the credits for Chapter 6. This appears to be the first time we have heard Shamook’s real name (not uncommon for a lot of content creators with aliases), which is where the confusion inevitably first came from.
The last thing I want to bring up is regarding Cad Bane. Surprisingly, the impression is given that making the character’s distinct face wasn’t the challenge. Filoni said it was actually… the hat. While it isn’t the same style of hat as seen in The Clone Wars, he says it was pulled from George Lucas’ original vision of the character. Lucas compared Bane and Fett, saying that the former is the Lee Van Cleef to Fett’s Clint Eastwood. Bane’s hat is pretty much identical to what Cleef’s hat tended to be in the various westerns he took part in during his career. Just another cool little tidbit beyond the likely practical reason that using Bane’s larger hat from The Clone Wars might have been a bit too much.
Overall, this episode of the Disney Gallery is really insightful. If you want to learn more about The Book of Boba Fett, it’s all there. I just wish there was more so the pacing could breathe a little bit instead of flying from one bit to the next. I wanted to spend more time talking about the influences from the current canon and the expanded universe. I wanted to spend more time on the creatures and practical effects. I wanted to spend more time getting dirty into why the narrative structure of the show was what it was.
The biggest issue isn’t what we got, it’s what we didn’t get. It’s still a worthwhile watch, but don’t go in expecting it will change your opinion on The Book of Boba Fett. It’s a nice companion piece with tons of fun stuff, and that’s enough.