What To Expect From Tython, Star Wars’ Force-Sensitive Planet

SPOILERS FOR THE MANDALORIAN AHEAD!

The latest chapter of The Mandalorian has definitely given me plenty to talk about, from the origins of Grogu to the backstory of Grand Admiral Thrawn. But one thing which we haven’t discussed yet – and which I haven’t seen being widely discussed online – is the series’ next destination: the planet Tython, where Din Djarin and Grogu will supposedly find a mountain, a magical seeing-stone, and quite possibly a Jedi willing to help them out of a tricky situation. Ahsoka Tano didn’t provide much other information about the planet in her vague set of directions, which means she failed to warn Djarin about something that might pose a small problem, depending on what’s canon now and what’s not: Tython is one of the few Force-sensitive planets in the galaxy, and it can be downright hostile to Force-users visiting its surface.

Tython
Tython | starwars.fandom.com

Tython is not a new addition to the Star Wars universe, made up on the fly by The Mandalorian‘s creative team: it’s existed on the fringes of the current, official, Disney canon for a couple of years, and far longer in the old – and now mostly disregarded or discarded – “Legends” canon. I don’t expect the planet’s entire “Legends” era backstory to be suddenly canonized in next week’s episode, but I do think that, with this being the planet’s first live-action appearance, there will be plenty of opportunities for Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni to slip in some subtly awesome callbacks to “Legends” material. And because they’ll probably only be hints at most, I thought you, dear reader, might want to go into next week’s episode prepared to quickly identify those hints.

First, though, let’s quickly go over what we know to be true of the planet Tython: i.e., what’s actually stated in the Disney canon. So far, it’s only been mentioned a handful of times, and visited just once, in an issue of the Dr. Aphra comics. Chelli Aphra and Darth Vader went there looking for the Rebel base – which Aphra, a Rebel sympathizer, secretly knew was located on the planet Hoth. Aphra was able to distract Vader and his Imperial forces on Tython for a while, leading the Sith Lord to a mysterious location known as the Martyrium of Frozen Tears, in the planet’s coldest region, where Vader was forced to confront traumatic memories of his past crimes. It’s unlikely that Din Djarin and Grogu will have any reason to visit the Martyrium themselves – though it could be useful, if we need to see any of Grogu’s own traumatic memories (such as his escape from the Jedi Temple during the Purge). The only other thing we know about Tython is that it’s located in the Deep Core (near the heart of the galaxy), and it’s one of several planets that vie for the honor of being the homeworld of the Jedi.

In the old “Legends” canon, Tython simply was the ancient homeworld of the Jedi – and, as I mentioned, it was also a Force-sensitive planet that reacted violently to any disturbance in the Force. Almost 40,000 years before the events of A New Hope, the Je’daii Order was founded on Tython by mystic pilgrims who arrived there in eight giant, flying, pyramids. Conveniently, they just happened to discover another giant flying pyramid already waiting for them on the planet (seriously, what are the odds?). These pyramids – named the Tho Yor – came to rest in various locations around Tython, where they became the foundations of the planet’s cities and temples. I’m not saying that the “mountain” that Ahsoka told Din Djarin to seek out is necessarily an ancient pyramid starship, but…wait, actually, that’s exactly what I’m saying. At least be aware of the possibility. These pyramids could also serve as weapons of mass destruction during wartime, which is both terrifying and awe-inspiring.

Tython
Tho Yor | swtor.fandom.com

Each of the temples built up around the Tho Yor had its own specific purpose – from martial arts, to healing, to balance. In these places of learning, the Je’daii invented and taught the philosophies that would later shape them into the Jedi Order we all know and love (do we love them? That’s up for debate: they’ve been pretty awful sometimes, no matter what canon you’re referencing). Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Before long, Tython became a battleground for the Force Wars, a conflict between two opposing factions of mystics; some still calling themselves the Je’daii, others carrying Force-powered swords and known as…wait for it…Jedi. Needless to say, the Jedi won. The planet faded in importance as the Jedi spread out across the galaxy, and it fell into the hands of the Sith a few times.

But by far the most interesting thing about Tython is its ability to detect any imbalance in the Force, and respond with deadly force whenever necessary: the planet is sentient, and can change its weather to create catastrophic Force storms and earthquakes. How it determines “imbalance” is up for debate; apparently, even the mere presence of a very strong Force-user can cause the planet to start self-destructing. In the Disney canon, it’s unclear if this is still the case. After all, Darth Vader – whose midi-chlorian count is the highest on record – didn’t face any resistance from the planet; but Grogu is possibly even stronger. We’ll see. I would be thrilled if Tython actively tried to annihilate Grogu and Din Djarin, because I don’t think they’d be in any great danger: whichever Jedi they meet on the planet would surely be able to help calm the planet and lull it back to sleep – just as the Je’daii were trained to do for centuries.

Alternatively, we know that The Mandalorian loves a good old beastie – and Tython is crawling with them, both in “Legends” and supposedly in the new canon as well. Some of the monstrous animals to look out for next week include…(*takes deep breath*)…Silik, desert-dwelling humanoid lizard beings; hook hawks, that hypnotize unwary travelers with enchanting singing before gouging their eyes out; carniverous Manka cats, armed with tusks; giant Saarl worms, a distant cousin of the Sarlacc; vicious, bat-like Blood Spites, which exist in the Disney canon already; shaggy Uxibeasts; tentacled Gelfish; and acid spiders for good measure, just in case you wanted more after Chapter 10 gave us an entire arachnid army. Depending on where Din Djarin lands the Razor Crest, he’ll find plenty of creepy-crawlies to fight off while Grogu does the magic hand thing and tries to call up some of his old Jedi pals.

Tython
Tython | swtor-life.com

As for the actual seeing stone referenced by Ahsoka, I can’t find anything like that in the surprisingly extensive records about Tython. I suspect this is an entirely new invention, but it could also be the last remnant of one of the Je’daii Temples built around the Tho Yor pyramids. Either way, it obviously has a strong connection to the Force. It’s unclear how Ahsoka Tano even knows about it, but it’s possible she and other Jedi survivors visit the planet often, which is why she believes Grogu will be able to contact one there. There’s a small risk that Grogu will accidentally contact a Sith or other Dark Side user, and an even bigger risk that Moff Gideon will ambush Djarin and Grogu there (he’s been tracking the Razor Crest since Nevarro), so one has to hope there’s a Jedi on standby somewhere. I’m not sure how this whole thing is supposed to work: can Grogu summon Jedi instantly to his location? Do they have to sit on the mountaintop and wait? I guess we’ll find out next week.

What do you think? Are you excited to see Tython? How similar do you expect it to be to its “Legends” counterpart? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

Who Is Thrawn? The Star Wars Villain, Explained.

As I mentioned while reviewing yesterday’s episode of The Mandalorian, I am a huge fan of the Star Wars: Rebels animated series. I love the entire crew of the Ghost; I get a kick out of seeing Rebels references and Easter eggs pop up anywhere from Rogue One to The Rise Of Skywalker; and today, when it was teased that a major cliffhanger from the Rebels series finale will finally be resolved, I nearly screamed out loud because it’s about time. Whether it happens in future seasons of The Mandalorian or an entirely new spinoff series starring Ahsoka Tano (and Sabine Wren?), we are going to learn the whereabouts of one of Star Wars‘ most enduring antagonists, Grand Admiral Thrawn. And, probably, the lost Jedi Ezra Bridger. This could not get any better.

Thrawn
Grand Admiral Thrawn | barnesandnoble.com

(No wait, actually it could. Please, Disney: cast Rahul Kohli as live-action Ezra Bridger. It’s the fan-cast that dreams are made of, and I will accept nothing less).

So let’s break it down. Even though we went over the basics in my review, I still feel like I have more to say (I always have more to say about Rebels), and anyway, it seems like fans of The Mandalorian are going to need more than a passing knowledge of Thrawn in order to fully understand what he could be up to, so many years after his initial disappearance at the end of Rebels.

Grand Admiral Thrawn, born Mitth’raw’nuruodo, was one of the Empire’s most terrifyingly efficient military leaders and strategists during the fight to suppress the rebellion. He’s been around in Star Wars canon for a long time, first appearing in the 1991 novel, Heir To The Empire. When Disney bought Lucasfilm and erased much of the old canon (now called “Legends”), Thrawn was nearly lost forever – but Dave Filoni swooped in and rescued the fan-favorite character from oblivion, giving him a key role in Star Wars: Rebels as the series’ main antagonist, and ultimate big bad. With his innate ability to strategize several steps ahead, and foresee every plausible outcome, the red-eyed Chiss alien commander is more like a super-computer than a living creature; his most “relatable” quality is his affection for art, which he steals from the worlds he plunders and assembles into a massive private collection.

In the waning years of the Galactic Empire, Thrawn’s attention was turned towards the remote planet Lothal, home to some of the Empire’s most valuable industrial centers. There, shortly before the battle in which the Death Star plans were stolen, setting off the events of A New Hope, Thrawn clashed with the Rebel forces led by Lothal native Ezra Bridger, a young Jedi with a deep connection to animals. All of Thrawn’s intricate plans were foiled by Bridger saving the day in a heroic, and completely unpredictable, act of self-sacrifice – by summoning an entire army of purrgil space whales from the other side of the galaxy. The purrgil grabbed both Thrawn and Ezra Bridger in their tentacles before shooting off into hyperspace at lightspeed, to a destination unknown. The moment leaves everyone – including the audience – in stunned silence, but Bridger’s actions end up saving Lothal: reeling from the loss of Thrawn, the Empire gives up on the backwater planet and turns its focus towards other, more urgent targets, while the core team of Rebels are free to go their separate ways, starting new lives.

Thrawn
Ahsoka Tano and Sabine Wren | starwars.fandom.com

And as for Bridger and Thrawn…well, nobody knows. But Dave Filoni has confirmed that both characters survived the space-crossing. Most likely, they exited hyperspace somewhere in the outermost regions of the galaxy (or perhaps even further afield?), and have now spent the last decade or so trying to find their way back. The final scene of Rebels picks up with one of Ezra Bridger’s former crewmates on the Ghost, Mandalorian graffiti-artist Sabine Wren, some years after the fall of the Empire; as she embarks on her own journey to locate Bridger and finally bring him home to Lothal. We know she has help from Ahsoka Tano, who made a promise to Bridger before his disappearance that she would find him. And now, thanks to The Mandalorian, we know a little bit more about Tano’s involvement in this very personal quest.

The general consensus amongst fans is that The Mandalorian‘s latest episode takes place just before Ahsoka and Sabine team up in that final scene of Rebels. It makes sense: the episode ends with Ahsoka learning the new whereabouts of Grand Admiral Thrawn from one of his acolytes, which could give her some hint of where to find Ezra Bridger as well, or at least where to start looking. But if Thrawn is back (and apparently already conspiring with his old allies), that means the New Republic has more pressing concerns than finding Bridger – the Grand Admiral could very well be the mastermind behind other Mandalorian villains like Moff Gideon, and the driving force behind the plan to rebuild the Empire, making him the biggest threat in the galaxy. As I said in my review, I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out that The Mandalorian is all leading up to the story of how Thrawn created the First Order from the remnants of the Empire. This would even line up with Thrawn’s original story arc in the “Legends”, where he set up his own secret empire, united the remaining Imperials in the wake of the Empire’s fall, and battled the New Republic. Much like Palpatine in The Rise Of Skywalker, he cloned himself and became something of a recurring threat long after his actual death.

Thrawn
Grand Admiral Thrawn | usatoday.com

Ezra, meanwhile, can’t be too far off. In fact, The Mandalorian dropped a subtle reference to him in this latest episode, with the sudden (and suspiciously random) appearance of a loth-cat in the streets of Calodan. Loth-cats are native to Lothal, and act as Bridger’s spirit guides throughout Star Wars: Rebels, communicating the will of his planet’s thriving ecosystem. They’re cute and all, but their semi-mystical powers and connections to the Force make them even more fascinating. Interestingly, this is the second loth-cat to show up in The Mandalorian: the first having almost eaten Baby Yoda (back when he was still Baby Yoda) in season one. Is a pattern emerging?

So what do you think? Are you excited to see Thrawn return to Star Wars, and make his live-action debut? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

6 Characters Who Could Have Saved Grogu From Order 66

SPOILERS FOR THE MANDALORIAN AHEAD!

Today’s episode of The Mandalorian was practically overflowing with Star Wars deep lore, including several big reveals, Easter eggs, and hints and teases of even more exciting things to come. But whereas many of those things (like Ahsoka’s future, and the location of Grand Admiral Thrawn) may be explored in spinoff series’ down the line, the true identity of Baby Yoda – sorry, Grogu – and the details of his mysterious backstory are almost sure to be explored in The Mandalorian itself. So let’s discuss the new biggest mystery surrounding Grogu’s past: who saved him from Order 66.

Grogu
Grogu | insider.com

Thanks to Ahsoka Tano, we now know that Grogu was raised in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant in the last years of the Old Republic. He was mentored by many Jedi Masters, and presumably became fairly strong in the Force – but in the intervening years between the fall of the Jedi Order and his reappearance in The Mandalorian shortly after the fall of the Empire, he has somehow forgotten much of his Jedi training and distanced himself from the Force. Ahsoka explains that this is because Grogu is afraid of something; probably the trauma of having survived the Jedi Purge and the execution of Order 66, when Emperor Palpatine turned on the Jedi and slaughtered all but a few in a massive bloodbath. In one of Revenge Of The Sith‘s most memorable sequences, Palpatine’s disciple Anakin Skywalker stormed the Jedi Temple and murdered pretty much everybody, including children. But somehow, Grogu survived the Purge, thanks to an unnamed rescuer who got him out of the Temple and kept him hidden from Anakin, Palpatine, and the long arm of the Empire for years. While the Emperor continued his hunt for Jedi survivors with the help of Darth Vader and a small army of Jedi traitors known as Inquisitors, Grogu remained alone in a secret location until somehow being brought to the attention of ex-Imperials in the aftermath of the Empire’s collapse. The rest is history.

But now, let’s look at a few characters who could have been Grogu’s secret savior (and one or two who definitely weren’t) – and who could be very important players in The Mandalorian‘s future storylines, as we continue to explore the child’s backstory and purpose.

Grogu
This is not the face of someone about to rescue a baby | express.co.uk

6: Anakin Skywalker. This is a bizarre theory I saw making the rounds on social media, though it seems very out of character for young Skywalker. In Revenge Of The Sith, we saw Anakin go from senselessly murdering children in the Jedi Temple to mowing down an entire Separatist council, Force-choking his wife, and trying to kill his mentor. I’m not sure there’s any space in between those events for Anakin to suddenly have a change of heart, randomly decide to spare a single padawan‘s life, and then go back to being an out-of-control killing machine. In his later years, as he witnessed first-hand the horrors he had helped to bring about, Anakin quietly (and sometimes subconsciously) started helping his enemies in small, secretive ways – such as destroying a Jedi holocron that would have supplied Palpatine with the names of every Force-sensitive child in the galaxy: which means that, technically, older Anakin actually did save Grogu’s life. But young Anakin? Not a chance.

Grogu
Yaddle | starwars.com

5: Yaddle. The Mandalorian introduced a new complication in the story of Yoda’s female counterpart, Jedi Master Yaddle, with Ahsoka Tano stating definitively that, in all her time as a Jedi, she’s only ever known one other member of Grogu’s species, besides Grogu himself – Yoda. It’s a big slap in the face to all of Yaddle’s fans, who are still waiting for her to return. She hasn’t been seen in live-action since her very first appearance in The Phantom Menace, and it’s been way too long if you ask me: especially since the current canon doesn’t provide any information about Yaddle’s fate in the Purge (and, in fact, hints that she survived). So why doesn’t Ahsoka know about her? Well, Yaddle is believed to have retired from her post on the Jedi High Council before Attack Of The Clones, meaning that Ahsoka might have never come into contact with her if she left the Temple completely. But if that’s the case, that means Yaddle probably wasn’t anywhere nearby when Anakin attacked and Grogu needed saving. So I think we have to rule her out as a likely option, but take comfort in the fact that it means Yaddle’s survival is even more plausible!

Grogu
Shaak Ti | aminoapps.com

4: Shaak Ti. I feel kind of sorry for Master Shaak Ti – who, coincidentally, filled Yaddle’s seat on the Jedi High Council. Ti was given a very important role in the Jedi hierarchy, overseeing the training of the Clone armies on Kamino. But in this role, she failed to thoroughly examine the nefarious secret behind the purpose of the inhibitor chips hidden inside each Clone soldier, despite all the warning signs. It would have been cruelly poetic if she had been killed by one of those same Clones at the same time as most of her fellow Jedi, but she was actually murdered by Anakin Skywalker himself: impaled while meditating in the Jedi Temple. That would seem to rule her out as a potential Grogu savior, but she did record a final hologram message before her death telling any surviving Jedi to rise up and rebuild the Order – so clearly, she knew what was going on before Anakin got to her. Could she have had time to rescue Grogu in that brief space of time and make up for many of her failings? Possibly. I doubt it, but never say never.

Grogu
He…survives this? | starwars.com

3: Mace Windu. I know what you’re thinking: isn’t Mace Windu literally one of the first Jedi to die in Order 66? Doesn’t the Emperor personally kill him, with help from Anakin? Well…maybe. Windu’s death is something that’s been debated in the fandom recently, with some (including Samuel L. Jackson himself, and George Lucas) theorizing that such a powerful Jedi could have withstood losing a limb, being electrocuted by Force lightning, and then getting thrown out a skyscraper window. This is Samuel L. Jackson we’re talking about here, so I’m prepared to buy that. And if he did survive his apparent death, maybe he could have gotten back to the Jedi Temple before Anakin and rescued Grogu: though I’d be interested to hear his reasoning for why only Grogu warranted saving. This theory raises a lot of questions. Too many, if you ask me. But if it means we get SLJ/Baby Yoda content, I’m prepared to forgive even the most random of retcons.

Grogu
Yoda | observer.com

2: Yoda. We still don’t know whether Yoda and Grogu are related in any way, despite being two of only three known members of their unidentified and incredibly secretive species, but Yoda would definitely have known who Grogu was during the child’s time in the Jedi Temple. He probably also selected some of Grogu’s Masters, and might have taken a role in mentoring the child – when Ahsoka mentioned Yoda’s name in her conversation with Din Djarin, Grogu’s ears immediately perked up, indicating that he recognized the name, at least. Yoda was one of the wisest and most far-seeing Jedi: if Grogu has any huge relevance to the overall story of Star Wars, it wouldn’t be surprising if Yoda knew that well in advance, and decided to protect the child from harm so he could one day grow up to become…whoever he becomes. Yoda did visit the Jedi Temple the morning after Anakin’s attack, so he could have found Grogu, if the child had hidden during the assault on the Temple. But why wouldn’t he have taken Grogu with him to hide on Dagobah?

Grogu
Jocasta Nu, the galaxy’s coolest librarian | themarvelreport.com

1: Jocasta Nu. If anybody had the motive and means of smuggling Grogu out of the Jedi Temple, it was Jocasta Nu. The elderly Jedi librarian who briefly interacted with Obi-Wan Kenobi in Attack Of The Clones may not have been of much assistance when trying to track down Kamino, but she became instrumental in rescuing and preserving Jedi knowledge after the Empire rose to power. According to the new Disney canon, she was able to escape from the Jedi Temple on the night of Anakin’s attack with a treasure trove of books, holocrons, artifacts – and potentially one stray padawan? Nu tried her best to locate other surviving Jedi, particularly Force-sensitive children; a list of whose names she kept in a valuable holocron. Although Darth Vader eventually killed her, she didn’t fail entirely in her goal: Vader destroyed the holocron without telling Emperor Palpatine of its existence, and the information Nu snuck out of the Temple provided the blueprint for Luke Skywalker’s later attempts to rebuild the Jedi Order. And it’s possible that, if she was Grogu’s savior, she may have played an even more important role in saving the galaxy.

As you can probably tell, there aren’t a whole lot of Jedi who could have saved Grogu: some of the ones on this list were probably either too far gone to the Dark Side, too far away, or just too dead, to help out. It’s possible this is a completely unimportant conversation, too: maybe Grogu was rescued by someone random, a Jedi we’ve never met before in any story. But I don’t think so. The way this reveal was set up – combined with the revelation that more Jedi are coming in future episodes of The Mandalorian – makes me think we will learn the identity of Grogu’s savior, and it will be someone we already know. It also makes me think we’ll be getting flashbacks to the attack on the Jedi Temple: just like the flashbacks we saw of Din Djarin’s own childhood trauma, and the slaughter of his people by Separatist battle droids, in The Mandalorian‘s first season.

So what do you think? Who saved Grogu? Somebody on this list? Somebody completely different? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

“The Mandalorian” Chapter 13 Review!

SPOILERS FOR THE MANDALORIAN AND STAR WARS: REBELS AHEAD!

Mere moments after The Mandalorian‘s thirteenth – and most eagerly-anticipated – chapter opens, we are introduced to Rosario Dawson’s live-action Ahsoka Tano, rising up out of the nocturnal fog with her twin lightsabers flashing on and off, hot on the trail of one of her enemies. And like me, your first reaction to this might be that it’s too soon for the episode to reveal her character, that you’re not yet prepared, that you haven’t had time: but that’s because we’ve all been under the (completely wrong) impression that Tano’s debut would surely have to be the biggest reveal in this entire episode, no matter what else happened. That is very much not the case. In fact, if I had to make a bet, I’d wager that any and all Ahsoka Tano discourse will dwindle out long before the uproarious debate about several other, arguably more urgent, reveals – including Baby Yoda’s birth name. This episode gives you absolutely no time to process any one of these reveals before dropping another bombshell on the audience, which makes the whole experience even more thrilling for a viewer (especially if, like me, you’re watching at three o’-clock in the morning and trying to stay quiet while also wanting to scream to the heavens because OMG WAS THAT A THRAWN NAMEDROP?)

The Mandalorian
Ahsoka Tano | polygon.com

Yes, yes it was.

But before my head actually explodes, let’s dial things back. Let’s start out with the most predictable and least shocking of all the reveals, which, ironically and a little bit tragically, turned out to be Ahsoka Tano. Over the course of The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, Tano gradually became one of the most well-written, complex, and compelling characters in all of Star Wars canon, growing from a reckless, free-spirited Jedi padawan, to a disillusioned cynic who left the Order rather than be complicit in its crimes, to a Rebel leader and a mentor for heroes like Ezra Bridger. The Mandalorian picks up with her shortly before her final Rebels appearance, still on Bridger’s trail after his mysterious disappearance (although he’s not the only missing person she’s following, as it turns out). Tano is once again entrusted to the care of her creator Dave Filoni, who directed this week’s turbulent, action-packed chapter.

It’s hard to find any glaring faults in Rosario Dawson’s performance, although the design of her striped lekku horns leaves much to be desired: somehow they went from ornate and almost waist-length at the end of Rebels to being short, soft, and rounded again, like they were in Clone Wars, and I can’t for the life of me understand why. Dawson has many of the character’s mannerisms down to a science, from her smirks and side-eyes, to the way she runs slightly hunched-over. She doesn’t perform quite as many gravity-defying leaps or twirls as her animated counterpart, but her action scenes are impressive nonetheless – and she has plenty of them. Her twin lightsabers, gashes of white light in the oppressively dark fog of Corvus (when Bo-Katan said it was a forest planet, she neglected to mention it was a petrified forest on a lava flat), are strikingly beautiful weapons as always. The only major difference between animated Ahsoka and live-action Ahsoka is her voice, which has up until now been consistently provided by actress Ashley Eckstein. Dawson’s voice is deep where Eckstein’s was higher-pitched, and the change is significant and hard to grow accustomed to in just forty-five minutes, especially when we’ve spent so much time with Eckstein as Ahsoka, and her unique voice has become such an intrinsic part of the character’s identity.

And, although I can’t believe I have to be saying this a second time, it is worth remembering and acknowledging that Rosario Dawson is still under fire for alleged transphobia, something that can’t be taken lightly. But whereas her Mandalorian castmate Gina Carano foolishly decided to make her petty transphobia public on her social media, Dawson’s case is more complicated, as it involves a severe allegation – that Dawson violently attacked a transman in her employ – that supposedly happened behind closed doors, and is thus much harder to prove. All but two of the charges filed against Dawson were dropped a few months back, but many fans still find it hard to support Dawson until more information is available, and that’s totally valid. No matter how you ultimately decide to process this information, it’s important that you know about it.

Din Djarin (voiced and sometimes played by Pedro Pascal), meanwhile, knows nothing about Ahsoka Tano except what Bo-Katan told him about her location on Corvus, in the city of Calodan. By the time Din Djarin and Baby Yoda reach Calodan, Ahsoka has already had to leave the city, and is now lurking in the forests just outside its walls, picking off her enemies one by one and slowly working her way towards the heart of the city, and its ex-Imperial Magistrate, a woman named Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto, channeling Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon era Michelle Yeoh very effectively), who wields a beskar steel spear and is withholding some very valuable information about her former masters. Elsbeth immediately enlists Din Djarin to hunt down and kill Ahsoka for her in exchange for her Mandalorian spear. But when Djarin does find Ahsoka, the two only exchange a few blows (and Djarin nearly scorches her with his trusty flamethrower, but whatever) before they both hesitantly lay down their weapons and agree to help each other. Like all of us, Ahsoka is immediately entranced by Baby Yoda, and wants to know more about him.

The Mandalorian
Baby Yoda | indepent.co.uk

And thanks to her ability to communicate with Baby Yoda via the Force, we actually get some solid, though incomplete, answers to our many questions about the child’s backstory and place of origin. But most shockingly, we also learn his given name. He couldn’t just be Baby Yoda forever, I suppose. Now, one can see the wisdom in Disney’s decision to name him “The Child” in all of The Mandalorian’s marketing – it seems they were trying to give him the most boring moniker imaginable, so that when the time came for the big name reveal, audiences would willingly make the transition. But just as they never realized how big a sensation The Child would become, they never realized how the entire fandom would instantly disregard “The Child” in favor of a hashtag-friendly nickname we all collectively decided upon: Baby Yoda. And now, a season and a half into the show, we’re being asked to give up the nickname/social media phenomenon that helped to fuel this show’s popularity in favor of a new name…Grogu.

Grogu is a short, simple, and kind of adorable in its own way. Who knows, it might even catch on with the fandom (though, from what I’ve seen, reactions to this reveal have been mixed). But the fight between the Grogu separatists and the Baby Yoda loyalists will be long and brutal, and I honestly don’t see how Grogu – despite being a truly cute name for a cute character – can beat out Baby Yoda, which has become so solidly cemented in the public consciousness over the past year. Personally, I hope both stick, because I’m not quite ready to let Baby Yoda go (though I will use Grogu from now on).

In-universe, though, he’s officially Grogu. He even answers to that name, which will make the Mandalorian’s parenting a lot easier from now on. And in his conversation with Ahsoka, Grogu feels comfortable enough to open up about some other details from his traumatic past – like how he apparently used to live at the Jedi Temple in Coruscant until the very end of the Clone Wars, at which point someone got him out of the Temple. Although nobody mentions the Jedi Purge or Anakin’s slaughter of the Temple’s younglings, it sounds like Grogu was snuck out during that night of bloodshed – Ahsoka notes that Grogu is still very afraid of something. Without any more information to go on, we’re still left with gaps in Grogu’s story that don’t make sense: like how he ended up in the pirate camp where Din Djarin found him in the season one pilot. Or, for that matter, how Ahsoka herself managed to live at the Jedi Temple for years without ever coming across the baby (it’s theoretically possible he joined the Order after she left, but there’s hardly enough time between then and the end of the Clone Wars for him to have been trained by “many Masters”, as Grogu says he was). The reveal that he came from the Temple doesn’t even necessarily suggest a connection with Jedi Masters Yoda or Yaddle: the Jedi took in hundreds upon hundreds of Force-sensitive children from every corner of the galaxy. He could be anyone.

At the very least, Grogu’s background as a Jedi-in-training will give him an advantage as he begins the learning process again and reconnects with the Force. Ahsoka practices with Grogu, helping him use the Force to levitate small rocks, but the child is stubborn – and too attached to Din Djarin for his own good, Ahsoka quickly determines. And so, after a single training session, Ahsoka politely informs Din Djarin that she can’t risk mentoring Grogu, and tells him in no uncertain terms to seek help elsewhere. Ahsoka’s own mentor and best friend did succumb to the Dark Side because of his powerful love for another, so she’s certainly entitled to be wary of any sort of “attachment”, something expressly forbidden by the old Jedi code. But in my opinion, this whole situation felt far too contrived for my taste, and out of character for Ahsoka. After all, Ahsoka knew about Anakin Skywalker’s love for Padmé, but she never actually found out that was what drove him to the Dark Side. And considering how she rejected the Jedi Order and its outdated rules pretty firmly in The Clone Wars, it seems odd that she’d now be so adamant about adhering to their traditions, so many years after the Order fell.

But The Mandalorian needs a way to write her off the show somehow, because apparently we don’t get to spend more than one episode with any new character. First, though, Din Djarin agrees to help Ahsoka storm the city of Calodan and defeat Morgan Elsbeth. And it’s a good thing he does, because we, the audience, get to witness a truly spectacular duel between Ahsoka and Elsbeth in the latter’s water-garden (while Din Djarin confronts Elsbeth’s henchman in a very suspenseful staring contest): and what’s more, we finally find out why Ahsoka is so intensely interested in this remote planet when the former Jedi asks Elsbeth point-blank where to find Grand Admiral Thrawn. Cue me, a Star Wars: Rebels fanboy, screaming at the top of my lungs. Thrawn, the chief antagonist of Rebels, went missing shortly before the events of the original trilogy, after being ensnared in the tentacles of a purrgil space whale and carried to an unknown location somewhere in the outermost reaches of the galaxy. Ezra Bridger, the young Jedi protagonist of Rebels, went with him – sacrificing himself to defeat Thrawn and put an end to the Grand Admiral’s schemes. Fans have always known that neither Bridger nor Thrawn died: but at the same time, we still don’t know where they went, or whether they’ve spent the intervening years trying to work their way back towards civilization. But now, thanks to her encounter with Lady Elsbeth, it looks like Ahsoka has the intel she’s been looking for – and despite leaving The Mandalorian for the time being, she may be back: this time, perhaps with her traveling companion Sabine Wren, another Mandalorian and former Rebel whom we know she eventually enlists to help find Bridger.

The Mandalorian
Thrawn | syfy.com

The big question, though, is whether we’ll meet Thrawn in this series, or a future spinoff – because I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for him to appear now. Although he failed in his attempts to obliterate the Rebel Alliance, he became a truly menacing villain thanks to his innate ability to play the long game, staying several steps ahead of his opponents at all times and only being defeated thanks to a truly unpredictable act of heroism. But if Ahsoka has reason to believe he’s back, that probably means he’s begun conspiring with other ex-Imperials. I would not be at all surprised if we eventually learned that Thrawn is as much one of the masterminds behind the First Order’s rise to power as his master, Emperor Palpatine.

But for the time being, the race to hunt down Thrawn is still merely a tantalizing subplot. The main plot is heading to the planet Tython, where Ahsoka tells Din Djarin he’ll find an old Jedi Temple – and maybe, just maybe, some other Jedi. No hint of whom that might be (share your own theories in the comments below), but I expect we’re about to be in for another big reveal.

Episode Rating: 9/10

Is The Mandalorian’s Midi-chlorian Plot Twist A Risk Worth Taking?

SPOILERS FOR THE MANDALORIAN AHEAD!

Yesterday’s episode of The Mandalorian was…not my favorite, for several reasons. I’m over Gina Carano as Cara Dune, I’m growing tired of so many repetitive side-quests, and I’m ready for Baby Yoda to become something more than Din Djarin’s adorable accessory…but one thing that I did find genuinely fascinating and admirable about the episode was showrunner Jon Favreau’s borderline-reckless bravery and confidence, on full display for everyone to see. With a single, subtle reference, he has brought back midi-chlorians, one of the most controversial and universally hated elements of George Lucas’ prequel trilogy, and managed to weave them so deeply into the story that they’re sure to be addressed more directly in the near future as they influence The Mandalorian‘s plot moving forward (if The Mandalorian‘s plot ever moves forward, that is): and now Favreau has to hope that the goodwill he’s built with fans will carry him unscathed through the inevitable firestorm. If he’s lucky, he’ll find the fandom more welcoming to his interpretation of midi-chlorians than they were to George Lucas’ introductory explanation of the concept twenty years ago.

The Mandalorian
forbes.com

Personally, I don’t expect Favreau to suffer any major consequences for bringing back midi-chlorians, though I do think he could risk damaging The Mandalorian‘s popularity with hardcore fans. Let’s just say, midi-chlorians aren’t something from the prequel trilogy that I think anyone was begging to be reminded of anytime soon, though they have popped up sporadically in Star Wars canon since their appearance in The Phantom Menace. They tend to lead to prolonged philosophical arguments about the nature of the Force: which you might think sounds like fun now, but trust me, you don’t want to be around when Star Wars fans start arguing about…well, anything really. Whether it’s a debate about midi-chlorians or the Skywalker surname, this is one fandom that has always had a massive and well-documented problem with toxic trolls, gatekeepers, bigots, and the like.

Before we go any further, though, I feel obligated to break down some midi-chlorian history and biology for you. Imagine for a moment that you’re Baby Yoda in school on Nevarro; grab a bright blue macaron cookie, and settle in for an explanation of one of Star Wars‘ most complicated, convoluted concepts.

Midi-chlorians, most in-universe scholars agree, are sentient microbes that concentrate inside the cells of every living creature in the Star Wars universe. Most people don’t have very high concentrations of midi-chlorians in their bodies: 2,500 or lower is agreed upon as the normal amount per cell for an average human being in Star Wars. But the more midi-chlorians you have living inside of you, the more attuned you are to the Force (Anakin Skywalker, for example, had over 25,000 midi-chlorians) and the more likely you are to be picked up by some random Jedi passing through town. In fact, during the reign of the Old Republic, that was one of the main objectives of the Jedi Order: taking blood samples from kids around the galaxy, and testing them for midi-chlorians. Now, something important to remember is that midi-chlorians aren’t actually the Force – rather, they act as a conduit between the Force and their host body, translating the will of the Force to their host. The host also has to put in work focusing their mind and looking inwards so as to be more attuned to their own midi-chlorians, and thus more open to the will of the Force. It’s unknown whether the midi-chlorians actually created the link between the Force and living creatures, or whether the Force created midi-chlorians to establish that link (if it’s the former, it leads to some disturbing questions about why the midi-chlorians have an agenda of their own that seems to overpower the free will of their host bodies; but if it’s the latter, why wouldn’t the Force have distributed midi-chlorians more fairly throughout the galaxy?). Midi-chlorians also have a wide range of other bizarre, and only vaguely defined, powers: such as the ability to create life. This has led to speculation that Anakin’s abnormally high midi-chlorian count was a result of him being conceived in his mother’s womb by the midi-chlorians, Immaculate Conception style – and again, we’re getting into troubling territory regarding free will and consent, since Shmi Skywalker doesn’t seem to have gotten any say in this matter.

The Mandalorian
wallpaperflare.com

It’s this ability to create and potentially preserve life that caught the attention of the Sith and led to them manipulating midi-chlorians for a variety of evil purposes. Eternal life, for instance, was one of several goals that Emperor Palpatine lusted after – and almost achieved. In The Rise Of Skywalker we discovered that Palpatine was able to survive his death in the explosion of the Death Star II, and since it’s never been fully explained how he managed that (except that it had something to do with clones), it’s been speculated that midi-chlorian manipulation was involved. Now, it looks like The Mandalorian may be trying to retroactively provide more information on this issue – as well as the backstory of Palpatine’s mutant science project, Supreme Leader Snoke (whom I mistakenly referred to yesterday as a clone of Palpatine, when he is in fact a clone created in someone else’s image by Palpatine).

When Din Djarin and his team infiltrated the ex-Imperial fortress in yesterday’s episode of The Mandalorian, they stumbled upon a top-secret cloning facility being operated by Dr. Pershing, a character last seen in season one, whose backstory is largely clouded in secrecy but involves the Kaminoan cloners. Pershing was a minor character, whose agenda in season one was being hindered by having to work alongside “The Client”, an Imperial bureaucrat who didn’t seem to have a very high regard for the doctor’s work, and was mostly concerned with finding Baby Yoda and killing him as quickly as possible. But it seems that ever since the season one finale, with The Client now dead, Pershing has found a more receptive audience in ex-Imperial killing machine Moff Gideon. Unfortunately for Din Djarin, both Pershing and Gideon are working towards a common goal: getting their hands on Baby Yoda, and using him – somehow – to bring about the return of the Empire.

Dr. Pershing isn’t at the fortress when Djarin and his team stage their attack, but they do find a hologram message from Pershing to Gideon’s headquarters, where the doctor gives a progress report on his work, and seems to confirm that, with just a single blood sample he was able to obtain from Baby Yoda back in season one, he’s been trying (so far unsuccessfully) to transfer the child’s midi-chlorians to other beings: all of whom now resemble deformed vegetables lined up in tanks. Pershing never utters the word “midi-chlorian”, but he specifically states that recapturing Baby Yoda is essential because the Empire is unlikely to find any other test subject with a higher “M-count” – a subtle, but unmistakable, reference to the midi-chlorian count. Pershing doesn’t state an exact number that we could compare to other notable Jedi (if Baby Yoda has a higher M-count than Anakin Skywalker, he’s by default the most powerful Force-user on record), but it seems that the child is extremely valuable to the Empire.

But why? What are they doing with all these experiments? Well, we don’t know just yet: but from the context, it certainly looks like Pershing and Gideon are trying to create a small clone army of Force-users, with a small assist from Baby Yoda’s midi-chlorians. The logistics of how a Force-user’s midi-chlorians can be transferred from one person to another is a subject of debate in the fandom – but as I mentioned, we have seen Palpatine successfully clone himself (or something) with his Force powers intact, and we know he created multiple clones of Snoke, a Force user. In The Mandalorian, we possibly even see the very first proto-Snoke in development on Nevarro: according to musically-minded Star Wars fans, his theme plays over a scene in the cloning facility where the camera zooms in on a distorted specimen who has a facial scar very similar to the one sported by Snoke. I have mixed feelings about the revelation that Snoke might have been created using Baby Yoda’s blood, but it’s a twist, alright. What’s more concerning about all this is the implication that this experiment on Baby Yoda was the Empire’s first step towards doing…whatever they did to bring Palpatine back in physical form…and that Baby Yoda’s blood might have been part of that process.

The Mandalorian
starwars.com

If all goes well, this might also be the first step towards making midi-chlorians popular with fans. When George Lucas introduced the complicated idea in The Phantom Menace, audiences were justifiably confused about why the Force – which, until that point, had seemed like an intangible, spiritual construct – suddenly had a nonsensical scientific explanation: one which seemed to contradict the guiding principle of the original trilogy by suggesting that the Force isn’t something that anybody can wield with the right training, but instead requires you to have a specific number of symbiotic microbes in your blood before you can even take the next step towards becoming a Jedi. It ruins the magic, in a way. And it’s so complex that nobody can figure out exactly what the midi-chlorians are or what they’re capable of, because nobody behind the scenes has ever conclusively answered either of those questions. If The Mandalorian is going to bring back midi-chlorians, it’s going to need to put in the work to explain what they are, what they do, and why we shouldn’t hate them.

So what do you think? Is this a good idea, or a bad one? Are you still trying to figure out the difference between a midi-chlorian and a Mandalorian? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

“The Mandalorian” Chapter 12 Review! SPOILERS!

SPOILERS FOR THE MANDALORIAN AHEAD!

The hype for The Mandalorian‘s second season has never been higher than after last week’s episode, probably the best in the entire series, when audiences met The Clone Wars‘ Bo-Katan in live-action for the first time, and were promised an upcoming encounter with another fan-favorite from the animated Star Wars universe: Ahsoka Tano, former Jedi turned Rebel spy. But the eight-episode series has found time for another side-quest this week before we actually get to meet Ahsoka – and although it’s a side-quest that does eventually tie back into the actual plot, towards the very end, it might be the final straw for some people. This latest episode hasn’t made it into the top trends of the day on Twitter and it probably ranks among my least favorite “chapters” thus far. The slow pace, something I had hoped to grow more accustomed to this season, still just feels obnoxious and inorganic to me – seriously, how many times are we going to repeat the same exact storyline of Din Djarin (voiced and sometimes played by Pedro Pascal) trying to find a mechanic?

The Mandalorian
Cara Dune, Din Djarin, and Greef Karga | gamesradar.com

The Mandalorian has never been great at moving the plot forward. When it does move, it takes baby steps. And some people really like that, which is fine. Some people think it gives us more time for worldbuilding and character development; which, to some extent, it does. But never enough, in my opinion, to justify the series’ tedious pacing. The only character who has any development this week is Cara Dune (Gina Carano), and, well…that’s a whole other messy situation.

Gina Carano, a WWE wrestler turned actress, has proven to be more damaging to the Star Wars franchise than I’m sure anyone behind the scenes at Lucasfilm could have anticipated. Last year, when she made her debut in The Mandalorian, she was generally well-received by audiences: sure, she wasn’t all that great an actress, but the driving concept behind her character was intriguing, and it seemed like a fairly decent bit of stunt casting. That was last year. These past few months, Gina Carano has been using her social media platforms (including her newest one, alt-right conspiracy theory forum Parler) to spread dangerous misinformation about everything from the Black Lives Matter movement, to voter fraud, to COVID-19. She got into a prolonged Twitter war with the transgender community after mocking the use of pronouns and putting joke pronouns on her bio. Bizarrely, she also celebrated the birthday of a YouTuber who has attacked her liberal Mandalorian co-star Pedro Pascal in a series of rant videos. I can’t be sure what else she’s said and done more recently, as she blocked me on Twitter not long ago, but I think you get the gist: she’s wildly controversial, and many of us feel that her and her baggage have no place in Star Wars. In some ways, Cara Dune has herself been tainted by the actress’ personal views, and it’s hard to not feel extremely uncomfortable whenever she’s onscreen.

But whether or not Gina Carano sticks around (there has been a steadily growing movement to have her replaced), Dune looks likely to stay – and with a different actress in the role, one who doesn’t make fun of marginalized communities or attempt to undermine democracy, perhaps I’d find her more interesting. After the first season finale, Dune became the Marshal of Nevarro under the administration of Greef Karga (Carl Weathers, who also directed this week’s episode), and we now get to see her doing his dirty work as a brawler, before being approached by her former allies in the New Republic (by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, no less) and asked to come back and help root out the last Imperials scattered across the galaxy. Although Dune turns down the offer, she seems indecisive, and if she does decide to rejoin the Republic, that would be a good setup for future stories: especially since there’s still a lot of gaps in our knowledge about the New Republic, and how it took over from the Empire, especially in the worlds on the Outer Rim. What Dune would be leaving behind, however, is a good job on a world that seems like it might become a bustling trade hub in the near future, thanks to Din Djarin.

The Mandalorian
tvfanatic.com

Djarin gets involved in this week’s side-quest mostly out of necessity, after having to land on Nevarro for more repairs (his initial attempt to put Baby Yoda to work ends up getting the child electrocuted), leaving his ship with a suspicious mechanic, and reuniting with Dune and Karga, both of whom he bonded with during his adventures in season one. Karga’s been trying to clean up his act and turn Nevarro into a more respectable planet than it once was: he’s even built a school in the remains of the old saloon where he and Din Djarin battled the Empire. But the one thing he hasn’t been able to do is infiltrate the ex-Imperial fortress outside town where a small garrison of stormtroopers are still hiding out – and that, of course, is where Djarin comes in. He can’t really turn down Karga’s offer, after all. And so, after leaving Baby Yoda at the aforementioned school (where Baby Yoda spends most of the school day using the Force to steal cookies from his unsuspecting classmates), the squad set out in a speeder owned by the very same Mythrol alien (Horatio Sanz) whom Din Djarin took captive in the season one pilot. Froze him in carbon, if I recall correctly, and sold him off for a hefty reward. You would think this might lead to more awkwardly humorous interactions between the two now, but that is unfortunately not the case.

The break-in at the fortress has its moments (including one obviously unintentional blunder, when a Mandalorian crew-member wearing a wristwatch is partly visible behind Greef Karga at exactly 18:54). There’s a riveting chase scene involving speeder bikes and TIE fighters. A small volcano erupts. But by far the most notable events take place in the secret laboratory deep within the fortress: where Din Djarin uncovers a recent hologram message from season one’s minor antagonist Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) to Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), the ex-Imperial official who has made it his mission to recover Baby Yoda at all costs and…well, we don’t know what he intends to do with the child after that. Presumably something involving cloning, Pershing’s specialty, since the laboratory in the fortress is filled with rows of tanks containing strange, malformed humanoids – including one that some fans think might be an early prototype of Supreme Leader Snoke, a major villain in the sequel trilogy, revealed in The Rise Of Skywalker to be a mutated clone of Emperor Palpatine.

Pershing’s experiments seem to have been developed using a single blood sample he obtained from Baby Yoda back in season one: a blood sample which, in his words, contains an abnormally high “M-count”. While this reference might go over some fans’ heads (it went over mine at first, that’s for sure), this is a nod to one of the most controversial elements of the prequel trilogy: midi-chlorians, ingredients in a person’s genetic code which determine that person’s strength in the Force. The whole concept of midi-chlorians was extraordinarily unpopular back in the day, since it seemed to undermine the idea that the Force was something anyone could wield, so The Mandalorian can’t have brought them back without a very good reason. What seems most likely is that Gideon and Pershing are trying to clone Force-users – perhaps the early stages of a plan to resurrect Palpatine – and understanding midi-chlorians would be essential to getting to the bottom of this nefarious plot. All of this sounds very complicated and very exciting: which makes it even more disappointing that we still don’t have any clear answers, even after this new reveal. If anything, we just have more questions – since the return of midi-chlorians necessitates a re-evaluation of the Force, and more heated arguments about who can and can’t use it.

The Mandalorian
Snoke | inverse.com

In the end, the fortress comes down and Nevarro is saved. But Din Djarin has unintentionally landed himself in more trouble, since it turns out that the mechanic he hired is actually a spy working for Moff Gideon, who somehow anticipated the Mandalorian’s arrival and had a tracking beacon ready to attach to the Razor Crest so that Gideon can now follow Djarin and Baby Yoda to their next location – which, presumably, will be the city of Calodan on the forest planet of Corvus, where Djarin has an outstanding appointment with Ahsoka Tano. What are the chances?

(Before I close out this post, I want to briefly inform my readers that today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, the date on which we mourn the transgender lives lost to transphobic violence and bigotry: thus making Gina Carano’s return to Star Wars on this solemn date all the more noticeably awkward and uncomfortable, considering that her own statements and actions – whether intentionally transphobic or willfully ignorant – have made members of the trans community less safe.

To my cisgender readers: please know that being asked for your pronouns isn’t some ridiculous request or an opportunity to make a joke, but is instead a harmless and important sign of allyship with the trans community. My pronouns are he/him/his, for example. And to my transgender readers: please know that I stand with you, and I will listen to you and learn from you, as I continue to strive to make my blog a safer and more welcoming place for people of all gender identities).

Episode Rating: 5/10

The First “Ms. Marvel” Set Photos Have Been Revealed!

Despite Marvel having to shuffle its entire release date calendar every few months or so due to the COVID-19 crisis, the studio is continuing to film their various upcoming movies and Disney+ series’, in anticipation of the time when they’ll once again be able to release content on a normal basis and schedule. Ms. Marvel, a series that we still don’t know too much about, just went into production in Atlanta over the past few days, and now scoopers have obtained not one but two groups of behind-the-scenes pictures showing star Iman Vellani suited up (well, maybe) as Marvel’s newest superheroine, Kamala Khan, one of the fresh new faces who will lead the Marvel Cinematic Universe in its next phase. These pictures, distributed by Just Jared and Marvel News on Twitter, don’t reveal anything major, but they do give us a few clues as to how Marvel will be adapting Kamala Khan to the small screen.

Ms. Marvel
Kamala Khan | comicbasics.com

Most of the photos are all various angles of Iman Vellani riding her bike around town, wearing casual clothes for Kamala’s day-to-day attire, before she becomes Ms. Marvel: a colorful flannel jacket, bright red biking helmet (with her initials, KK, written on it), and so on. Nothing too interesting, right? Well, take a closer look and you’ll spot some cool details – like the Captain Marvel logo emblazoned on her helmet, the Avengers logo on her blue T-shirt, and an air-force badge on her jacket sleeve that’s identical to the one Carol Danvers wore before she became a Tesseract-powered superheroine in Captain Marvel. All these things indicate that, just like in the comics, the MCU’s version of Kamala Khan will be a huge fan of the universe’s many superheroes, but with a special emphasis on Captain Marvel, her role model. Considering how much merch she has on here, it seems likely that her room will probably be crowded with posters, action figures, memorabilia, autographs, Funko Pops, etc. I can’t wait to see it all: and presumably Disney will make sure you can buy it all too.

Ms. Marvel
Twitter | @BRMarvelNews

The second group of photos, revealed after the first bunch and shortly before I was about to publish this article (necessitating my having to quickly do some rewriting), show someone who I think pretty much has to be a child actor playing young Kamala, wearing a full Captain Marvel costume – complete with adorable glowing mohawk! – and being helped onto the roof of her porch by a friend, possibly her school classmate Bruno from the comics. This is probably just a cute flashback scene to show how Kamala’s obsession with superheroes has been almost lifelong, but it might have a lot of significance.

Ms. Marvel
Twitter | @BRMarvelNews

Even as an older teenager, Kamala Khan seems to like that spot on her porch roof, as a single photo in the first batch shows her perched there again, while a visitor – possibly a villain or antagonist – stands on the front steps. Kamala looks like she’s trying to hide on the roof, or perhaps planning to jump down and start punching (remember: Kamala Khan is an Inhuman, and her powers manifest themselves as the ability to redistribute the atoms in her body at will, a skill she often uses to create giant fists and stretchy arms and legs, or grow to an immense height). Unfortunately, both Iman Vellani (or perhaps her stunt double) and the other actress in this scene are wearing capes to hide their costumes: a common tactic on Marvel film sets. But a little bit of Khan’s outfit is visible – including one bright blue boot and a red pant leg. Up until the second batch of photos was just released, the assumption was that this had to be Kamala’s first, homemade, Ms. Marvel costume. It might still be, but comparing between the two groups of photos I think it’s easy to see that this outfit she’s wearing as an older teen is very clearly also a Captain Marvel cosplay. It’s possible she wears this at first because she doesn’t have time to make a whole new suit, and later upgrades to something entirely original. The other actress’ costume is completely concealed, sadly, making it hard to guess who she could be playing but very likely that she’s a superpowered character of some sort: probably not some random passerby, or family friend of the Khans.

Ms. Marvel
Twitter | @BRMarvelNews

Speaking of the Khans, I feel like I have to comment on how nice and tidy their little suburban house looks, with its tasteful porch furniture and assortment of potted plants. Some hanging decorations are visible through one of the upper windows. The curtains are a vivid shade of blue. It’s all very charming, and exactly the type of cozy, inviting, setting for a whole series. The behind-the-scenes photos don’t show any of the other members of Kamala’s family, but they can’t be far off. It’s also been reported that the series was filming at a mosque in Atlanta, meaning that we’ll see Kamala and her family going to worship, and catching up with friends and the rest of their Muslim community. It’s exactly the type of casual representation that Kamala Khan’s comic run was praised for, and which Ms. Marvel needs to succeed.

So what do you think? How excited are you for Ms. Marvel, and what do you hope we see next from the series? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

“The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” Review!

Lego’s holiday-themed parody of the Star Wars universe probably won’t become a cult classic like its predecessor, the notoriously unwatchable Holiday Special that aired in 1978, but…that’s probably okay. Lego’s Holiday Special is a brief, hilarious, and surprisingly action-packed story that takes us further forward into the Star Wars timeline (albeit, non-canonical and made out of animated building blocks) than ever before, and all the way back to its beginnings in the prequel trilogy, in a charming mini-adventure that allows characters from every trilogy (and even some of the expanded material) to interact, duel, or share memorable moments together. In so doing, the Special also very gently (and in some ways imperfectly) fixes some of the biggest problems that fans have pointed out about The Rise Of Skywalker, which is one of those movies that I’ll probably always have an irrational soft spot for, but definitely don’t feel as positively about now as I did when it came out.

Lego Holiday Special
cnn.com

The Special takes place soon after the end of The Rise Of Skywalker, during the Star Wars universe’s “Life Day” – an all-inclusive holiday that has existed on the peripheries of Star Wars canon since the original Holiday Special. In all that time, however, no one behind the scenes has done anything to sketch out the in-universe customs or traditions of Life Day, and so it still just borrows most of the standard trappings of Christmas anyway: the decorated tree, the lights, gift-giving, ugly sweaters. The Special’s setting on Chewbacca’s homeworld of Kashyyk is another throwback to the original Special, which centered around Chewbacca’s family on Kashyyk (and, side-note, also introduced the world to the Mandalorian bounty hunter Boba Fett). But Wookiees are less crucial to the overall plot in Lego’s version than they were in the original: most of the action revolves around a time-hopping quest to learn forgotten Jedi secrets.

Early on we find out that, in this timeline, Rey (voiced by Helen Sadler) has started mentoring her best friend Finn (Omar Miller) in the ways of the Force, and her apprentice has already begun training with a lightsaber, using the same time-honored methods as countless Jedi padawans before him – a natural part of his character arc that many of us hoped we’d get to see in live-action. Sadly, the Star Wars films mishandled and mistreated Finn’s character: only revealing him to be Force-sensitive after The Rise Of Skywalker‘s release, not unlike dozens of other crucial bits of plot information that were vaguely alluded to in the movie itself and then later confirmed by people behind-the-scenes or by tie-in material. Lego certainly tries to right that wrong by making Finn visibly (though non-canonically) Force-sensitive, but it still makes the same egregious mistake that the films did – by sidelining him, and all of the franchise’s living characters of color to a side-quest (better described as decorating duty and cooking, in this case) while Rey and BB-8 get to go on the actual adventure. And even though that adventure gives Rey plenty of opportunities to cross paths with characters like Mace Windu or a younger Lando Calrissian, both prominent and beloved Black Star Wars heroes, those encounters don’t happen (Mace Windu is present in the background, but never speaks). It’s simply unforgivable that Finn, at the very least, doesn’t get to participate in the action – his Force powers come in handy just once, and well…it’s not quite as epic as one would hope.

On the bright side, it is great to be able to welcome Kelly Marie Tran back to Star Wars as Rose Tico, after her character was treated so horribly by the franchise. Tran will soon be getting even more attention and recognition for her voice-acting talents with the upcoming release of Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon, where she voices the film’s heroine, Raya. It would be hard to determine anything about her performance in that role from the cameo she has here, however – especially since, for some reason, it seems like every other line she delivers is “are you crying?”, while Poe (voiced by Jake Green), visibly in tears, tries to pass it off as allergies. Other notable Star Wars actors reprising their roles include Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Billy Dee Williams as Lando, Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker, and James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Lego Holiday Special
nerdist.com

Rey, meanwhile, discovers a magical Jedi gemstone that allows her to travel through time – a nod to the World Between Worlds, a mystical location outside of space and time that was first explored in Star Wars: Rebels, but never really reappeared until now…sort of. Rey’s misadventures start out slow, with her basically just listening in on conversations between various Jedi master/apprentice duos – going all the way back to her master’s father’s master and his master before him. But once she meets Darth Vader (voiced by Matt Sloan) and Emperor Palpatine (voiced by Trevor Devall), the action picks up and hilarity ensues. The duel between Vader and Rey has been one of the most hyped-up events in this Holiday Special, and luckily it does not disappoint: in fact, it takes place across several different planets, in several different eras, and eventually grows to become an all-out battle on Luke Skywalker’s farm back on Tatooine, involving three different Obi-Wan Kenobi’s, at least two Han Solo’s (and one Greedo), pod-racers, a bunch of very confused stormtroopers, and a legless (but no less fearsome) Darth Maul, among others. Baby Yoda is even featured, and neither Rey nor Darth Vader can resist pausing their fight to adore the infant alien – who is apparently just as much of a celebrity in-universe as he is in real-life.

But where the Special really hits its peak is when it unites Vader, Palpatine, and the First Order’s Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (voiced by Matthew Wood), after the Emperor decides to time-travel to the future and see what he’s managed to accomplish. Sure, it’s not a bizarre musical number by Jefferson Starship (yes, that really happened in the original), but for all the grumbling from Palpatine about “less talky-talky, more fighty-fighty”, the intensely awkward comedic interactions between Kylo and his Dark Side predecessors are the highlight of the entire Special and culminate in a dramatic shake-up of the Sith power structure – and some fabulous one-liners and sight gags. Fans of the Reylo romantic pairing, however, might be disappointed that Rey and Kylo don’t share many scenes – and when they do, the Holiday Special makes some…interesting choices regarding their dynamic, that are sure to have Star Wars Twitter in a bit of a frenzy. No spoilers here, though.

Lego Holiday Special
inverse.com

All in all, the Lego Holiday Special basically achieves what the original Special probably intended – and failed – to accomplish: which is to just be harmless fun for the whole family. It’s ironic, then, that the original’s failure to do that has given it a staying power it never should have had, but will continue to enjoy – probably until Disney releases it on Disney+ eventually, and it becomes that week’s most popular hate-watch before finally being allowed to rest in peace.

Rating: 7/10

“The Mandalorian” Chapter 11 Just Made Din Djarin Interesting

SPOILERS FOR THE MANDALORIAN AHEAD!

So…what is the way, exactly?

The mysterious “Way”, the unbreakable creed by which The Mandalorian‘s protagonist Din Djarin (voiced and sometimes played by Pedro Pascal) lives, and which, as far as we know, mostly exists to forbid him from ever removing his helmet in the presence of others, was well-established and cemented by the end of The Mandalorian‘s first season: but fans of Star Wars‘ animated offshoots The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels have always known something sounded a bit fishy about this “Way”, which never stopped previous Mandalorian characters in either of those canon TV series from removing their helmets freely and frequently.

The Mandalorian
Mandalorian Nite Owls | gamespot.com

And today, The Mandalorian finally addressed that lingering continuity error by revealing that, as many of us had suspected for some time…Din Djarin is kind of weird, even by Mandalorian standards.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – jumping the shark, or the mamacore, if you will. Best to start at the beginning, with Din Djarin piloting a very damaged Razor Crest towards the estuary moon of Trask, still ferrying Frog Lady (voiced by Misty Rosas) – who, to be fair, is keeping her cool under extremely disturbing circumstances. Luckily for the fandom, which can now finally take a break from the lively and occasionally heated debate about whether or not Baby Yoda intentionally committed genocide by devouring several of Frog Lady’s unborn children on last week’s episode (and whether or not that forebodes a turn to the dark side in his near future), the infant isn’t given an opportunity to eat any more eggs. Instead, his insatiable appetite finds other victims this episode; mostly small, tentacled creatures.

The crash landing on Trask goes about as well as you’d expect, which is to say it’s a complete disaster and Frog Lady is nearly killed one more time before finally reuniting with her husband – who is alive! That’s doubly fortuitous because it means that (a) Frog Lady’s entire species will not be wiped out of existence despite Baby Yoda’s best efforts, and (b) because this husband of hers is able to lead Din Djarin to a friend, who gets in touch with another friend, who supposedly knows some Mandalorians. This friend-of-a-friend’s deal involves a not-at-all suspicious boat ride across the open ocean with a sea monster (a mamacore, to be precise) in the cargo hold. Din somehow doesn’t find this alarming at all, and unsurprisingly ends up in the aforementioned cargo hold, drowning, with a bunch of Quarren pirates trying to strip him of his precious beskar steel armor, while the mamacore swallows Baby Yoda in his tiny motorized cradle.

The father/son bonding moment is broken up by some swift intervention by a trio of rogue Mandalorians wearing dark blue armor and jet packs. Their leader, instantly recognizable long before she’s unmasked due to the distinctive markings on her helmet, is none other than Lady Bo-Katan Kryze, making her long-awaited live-action debut, played by the same actress, Katee Sackhoff, who has voiced her for years in both The Clone Wars and Rebels. It was in Rebels that we last saw Bo-Katan, wielding the famous Darksaber and preparing to unify her warring peoples for an assault on Imperial-occupied Mandalore, her ancestral homeworld. The Darksaber has passed from her hands to others, and the Empire has now fallen, but the years that have passed since her appearance in Rebels have done little to change her iconic look – somehow, the costume department for The Mandalorian even nailed her strange, choppy, red bob haircut. But when Bo-Katan and her team remove their helmets is when things get weird, because Din Djarin almost immediately has a freakout moment and flies off with Baby Yoda, convinced his saviors aren’t really Mandalorians at all. I’m not sure how the Mandalorian education system works, but you’d think someone as well-traveled as Din Djarin would at least have heard stories about Bo-Katan, the sister of Mandalore’s former duchess and herself once its leader, after the end of the Clone Wars. But, as Bo-Katan rather scornfully points out, Djarin is a “Child of the Watch” – a signifier that, shocking as it might seem for fans of the show, confirms that Djarin is a member of a group affiliated with Death Watch, the super-violent, jingoistic, religious extremist militia group that was formed during the Clone Wars to oppose Duchess Satine’s peaceful rule. Bo-Katan herself was once a high-ranking member of the group, but left after Darth Maul got involved with Death Watch, and instead formed her own group called the Nite Owls. It appears she (understandably) doesn’t have warm feelings towards the people who stayed with Death Watch, and the people they in turn recruited into their ranks, like Djarin (who was only a child during the Clone Wars, and didn’t actively choose the way of the religious extremists).

The Mandalorian
Bo-Katan | meaww.com

Djarin isn’t having any of it and makes his escape, so hastily and awkwardly that he doesn’t even have time to retrieve Baby Yoda’s floating cradle. There’s no going back for it now – Bo-Katan blows up the entire ship when she leaves. It’s a small tragedy: that cradle wasn’t just a practical item that saved Baby Yoda from some dangerous situations; it was also a last keepsake by which to remember the hospitality and honorable sacrifice of Kuiil, the Mandalorian’s friend from season one. Without it, Din Djarin is now forced to carry Baby Yoda around in the crook of his arm everywhere he goes.

To add insult to injury, Bo-Katan’s Mandalorians return just a few minutes later to save Djarin again, after the brother of the Quarren smuggler who tried to kill him randomly shows up to avenge his sibling’s death. Over a drink and a cup of hot, steamy…sentient tentacles, the Mandalorians start to ease up, and we get some insight into what Bo-Katan is doing on Trask with her compatriots, who include Simon Kassianides as Axe Woves, and Mercedes Varnado (better known by her stage name, Sasha Banks, or her wrestling alias, The Boss) as Koska Reeves. Banks wasn’t playing Sabine Wren after all, as many people had guessed after seeing the second season trailer – nor was she a solitary Inquisitor, as some believed. All in all, her role turned out to be small but fun: and yes, she’s a better actress in her few scenes with minimal dialogue than The Mandalorian‘s resident anti-mask, conspiracy-peddling transphobe, Gina Carano, was in the series’ entire first season. The trio’s mission is to stockpile weapons and gear for an eventual assault on Mandalore, which Bo-Katan hopes to retake – she does have a valid claim to the throne, after all, and until recently was in possession of the weapon that would have solidified that claim: the semi-mythical Darksaber, which we the audience know is currently being wielded by Din Djarin’s arch-nemesis, ex-Imperial fanatic Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito).

Without many other options to choose from, it’s not long before Din Djarin has reluctantly signed on to help Bo-Katan and her squad in exchange for information about the Jedi – whom he also knows nothing about and needs help finding. The mission is a fairly simple job on paper, breaking into a cargo ship manned by some ex-Imperials and stormtroopers, but the potential danger means Djarin first has to stop by Frog Lady’s house and leave Baby Yoda in her care. Baby Yoda is always being dropped off places while Djarin does the dirty work, and that formula is growing a bit tiresome – I’m still waiting for the day when the child will actually be able to fight alongside his father, with his own itty-bitty little lightsaber and Force powers. Alas, today is not that day.

(On the other hand, it’s probably for the best, because Baby Yoda isn’t around to witness what has to be the biggest slap in the face to Din Djarin during an episode that mostly consists of Djarin being slapped around and otherwise humiliated: when Bo-Katan gives him an order and then follows it up with “This is the Way”, stealing his sacred catchphrase in a way that seems to be subtly poking fun at his strict, old-fashioned code. I don’t know what they call that in Star Wars lingo, but here we call that a burn).

The mission itself is a lot of fun to watch, and director Bryce Dallas Howard keeps it suspenseful even though the outcome is predictable: it’s a fight between four Mandalorians and probably around thirty or forty stormtroopers, so obviously the odds are in the Mandalorians’ favor. Even the ship’s conniving Imperial Captain (played by Titus Welliver) can’t do anything to slow down his attackers, despite an urgent call with a completely disinterested Moff Gideon to beg for reinforcements and then a last-ditch attempt to crash the ship into the ocean; though he does ultimately kill himself (in the most eerily Nazi way you could imagine, by biting down on a poison pellet in his cheek) before Bo-Katan can wrestle any information out of him about the Darksaber’s whereabouts. The whole incident sets up several new plot lines I can’t wait to see continued over time. We’ve all just assumed that Din Djarin will have to face off against Gideon at some point – but Bo-Katan’s arrival makes it far more likely that, if anyone is going to take him down, it’ll be her. She’ll definitely stick around: she’s far too important a character to only appear once, and we still have to see what happens when she and her now very heavily-armed team head to Mandalore to overthrow a government.

As for Din Djarin, he chooses not to follow them, because he still has an oath to lead Baby Yoda to the care of his own people, or at the very least a Jedi. He gets his next coordinates from Bo-Katan: the city of Calodan, on the forest planet of Corvus – an as yet unexplored location in the vast Star Wars universe, but supposedly home to one former Jedi, Ahsoka Tano. Let the fandom discourse begin anew, because Star Wars is about to welcome actress (and alleged transphobe) Rosario Dawson into the fold as one of the saga’s most popular and interesting characters – an extremely controversial choice, to put it lightly.

The Mandalorian
Baby Yoda | nme.com

But of the many repercussions this episode will have, one of the biggest (and subtlest) is that Din Djarin is finally interesting again. Up until now, The Mandalorian has positioned Djarin as a gold standard Mandalorian, a prime specimen of the group. He’s also been – for the most part – a fairly noble hero, who operates according to the tenets of his faith, putting his people’s needs first and respecting tradition above everything else. Revealing that Djarin’s “Way” is actually not the Way after all heightens the stakes dramatically, placing Djarin in a very uncomfortable position, challenging his faith and forcing him to reconcile with his clan’s past crimes. Whether Djarin knew about those crimes or not is still up for debate (he didn’t seem to know who Bo-Katan was, and he had never even heard of Jedi, so I don’t put it past him), but either way he’s been put in a deeply personal predicament.

But of course, because this is still really the Baby Yoda show, the episode ends with the child eating yet another tentacled creature, one that seemed much too large for him to tackle, but, hey, what can I say? He’s a growing…unknown type of alien, and he needs sustenance! Be glad he’s out of his baby-eating phase.

Episode Rating: 8.5/10

“The Mandalorian” Chapter 10 Review! SPOILERS!

SPOILERS FOR THE MANDALORIAN AHEAD!

Without Timothy Olyphant around to steal all his screentime or hog his spotlight, Baby Yoda successfully reclaims his spot as the true star of The Mandalorian – apologies to Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), our actual Mandalorian protagonist, but there’s simply no way he can compete with the adorable pint-sized little green alien. But under Peyton Reed’s so-so direction, nobody wins: not Djarin, who is forced to spend much of the episode cleaning up after his tiny sidekick; not Baby Yoda, who isn’t yet the Force wielder many of us expected him to become after the first season’s finale; and not The Mandalorian as a whole, which seems to have settled quite comfortably back into its usual routine and doesn’t look likely to shake things up anytime soon.

The Mandalorian
digitalspy.com

If I absolutely had to choose a winner from today’s episode, it would be Amy Sedaris, who returns for what I truly hope is not her final appearance this season. The episode picks up on Tatooine where we left Din Djarin last week – speeding back to Mos Eisley with Boba Fett’s armor in tow and no closer to finding any Mandalorians (though, as I and many others have noted, he may not have to find any, since possessing Boba Fett’s armor might unintentionally bring them to him). Sadly, he doesn’t actually run into Boba Fett, whom we saw last week watching the Mandalorian from afar: instead, after a brief but humorous scuffle with a group of bounty hunters who are still looking for Baby Yoda (something that doesn’t alarm Mando nearly as much as it probably should, since it could mean his Imperial enemies are already on his trail again), he and the child make it back to Mos Eisley and meet up once more with their lovable mechanic Peli Motto (Sedaris), who is even funnier and more roguishly charismatic than she was last week, or in season one – a quip about roasted Krayt dragon meat goes over particularly well, and I have to give Sedaris props for keeping a completely straight face while speaking in a frog-like alien language. She has quickly become an indispensable asset to The Mandalorian, and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t take on a larger supporting role. Hopefully, with Boba Fett presumably still on Tatooine, Din Djarin will have to return there eventually.

This week, her impact on the story is critical, as she points Djarin in the direction of a friend (the aforementioned frog alien, played by Misty Rosas) who has a tenuous but possibly vital connection to some Mandalorians on another planet – where the frog lady herself is headed on a personal mission of her own, since she has an entire tank of her eggs that need to be fertilized and a husband waiting for her return. It’s unclear what she’s been doing on Tatooine all this time with her eggs, and whether the Mandalorians that her husband supposedly knows will turn out to be frauds like Cobb Vanth, but it’s the best lead Din Djarin’s got. And so he, Baby Yoda, the frog lady, and a tank of frogs as yet unborn set out, quickly leaving Tatooine behind and heading into more frigid climates. Sorry, Boba Fett, your time will come. Hopefully.

The Mandalorian
aliens.fandom.com

The mission goes badly, as one would suspect, and it’s not long before Din Djarin’s ship, the Razor Crest, crashes into an icy cavern. Remember how we saw this in the trailer, and some of us (a.k.a. me) thought this planet was Hoth, and some of us thought it was Ilium, the ancient kyber crystal planet of the Jedi? Yeah, no. It did turn out to be the home of hundreds of thousands of giant ice-spiders though! You can imagine how I, an arachnophobe, absolutely loved that! Soooo much better than finding some silly old kyber crystals, or Jedi temple ruins, buried beneath the ice. For those who want to know more about these spiders (why???), you’ll be pleased to know they are a new addition to the Star Wars universe, but their design is borrowed from the giant spiders that were once intended to inhabit Yoda’s planet of Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back (and would have fit in perfectly there, considering it’s the same movie that gave us starship-eating space whales, parasitic space bats, and bloodthirsty space yetis), but which eventually became the almost indestructible Krykna of Star Wars: Rebels. Luckily, these particular spiders are much easier to kill than Krykna, but no less nightmarish – they come in all different sizes, move at high speeds, and their leader almost takes down the Razor Crest. Luckily, Din Djarin and his passengers are rescued by some quick intervention from a pair of New Republic X-Wing pilots who were previously chasing the Razor Crest but who come back to help out – and both pilots are super cool cameos. Dave Filoni, one of the top creative minds at Star Wars and a director on The Mandalorian, is one of the pilots, reprising a cameo role from season one (clearly competing with Peter Jackson’s carrot-eating man in the Middle-earth Cinematic Universe for most times a director can cameo as a single character in their respective franchise), but the other pilot is none other than Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, whom I recognized immediately since I happen to be a massive fan of Kim’s Convenience, the popular Canadian sitcom in which Lee stars.

With the spiders gone, Din Djarin is able to patch up his ship to the best of his abilities, and the little crew continue their journey – notably missing a few of the frog lady’s eggs, which Baby Yoda periodically steals from her tank over the course of the episode and eats. He’s also the reason we get the absolutely-necessary-and-not-at-all-trauma-inducing spider attack, after eating a spider egg. And trust me, I get it; stress eating is in right now. Not sure stress-eating various species’ eggs is quite as popular, but I’ll excuse that. My problem with Baby Yoda over these past two episodes is that he’s done nothing but cause trouble and look cute for the camera. By this point in season one, he had already started using the Force, and everybody had already come up with their own theories about who or what he was, who his parents were, whether Yaddle had anything to do with it, so on and so on. And sure, he’s still an infant; he shouldn’t have to be wielding the Force every few minutes (and we’ve seen how it exhausts him to do so, sometimes). But surely a little bit of Force magic wouldn’t be too much to ask for, at least to keep the conversation about Baby Yoda going? If this season is going to repeat the slow-burn storytelling of season one, it has to do something to make that choice worthwhile. You can’t end your season one finale on a massive cliffhanger and then wait until your season two finale to ever address it! You can’t just introduce Boba Fett and then not mention him again! I mean, you can, technically, but it hardly seems fair.

The Mandalorian
Zero | hnentertainment.co

The closest thing we’ve got to a Boba Fett reveal this week is the return of a season one antagonist, the bounty hunter droid named Zero (voiced by Richard Ayoade), whom the Mandalorian unceremoniously blasted to bits before the droid could kill Baby Yoda. Bizarrely enough, it looks like Din Djarin never had time to dispose of the droid’s various disassembled body parts, since the frog lady finds them sitting in a pile on the Razor Crest and uses them to build herself a translator, making her conversations with Din infinitely easier. It’s really just the droid’s disembodied head that’s been fired up again, so I doubt he’ll be able to cause any mischief, but it’s still something to keep an eye on in the future. Not quite Boba Fett, I’m aware.

But don’t lose hope! Next week, if the frog lady’s information is accurate and her husband isn’t missing or dead by the time Din Djarin reaches their destination, we’ll probably be meeting up with some Mandalorians – or at least people claiming to be Mandalorians, for purposes that could be innocuous…or nefarious. It’s possible they could be characters like Bo-Katan Kryze or even Sabine Wren, but even if they’re not, remember that fraudulent Mandalorians can turn out to be scene-stealers too, as Timothy Olyphant’s Cobb Vanth proved to us all. Fingers crossed, folks; fingers crossed.

Episode Rating: 5/10

“The Mandalorian” Season 2 Premiere! Spoiler Review!

SPOILERS FOR THE MANDALORIAN SEASON TWO PREMIERE AHEAD!

For me, one of the biggest questions coming out of The Mandalorian‘s season two premiere is how to label it in my title headings: because, technically, you’d think it should be season two, episode one…right? But Disney+ lists it simply as “Chapter 9” of the total series, based on the assertion that the entire series is one continuous story. I’ve settled on the more neutral term “Premiere” for now, but I can’t say I fully agree with the terminology used by Disney+. Honestly, the premiere doesn’t feel very much like an immediate continuation of the story so far: under the direction of Jon Favreau, it jumps right back to the style of episodic, slow-burn storytelling that was so controversial (but ultimately successful) during The Mandalorian‘s first six episodes. I imagine that, unless things take a turn quickly, that’s how season two is also going to unfold – but this time at least I’m aware that’s what’s going on, and prepared to wait it out.

The Mandalorian
newsbreak.com

Favreau’s premiere episode has all the hallmarks we now expect of a typical episode of The Mandalorian: an entertaining side-quest on a backwater planet, and an uneasy alliance between our protagonist, Mandalorian bounty hunter Din Djarin (voiced and sometimes played by Pedro Pascal), and one or two new characters. This time, however, the side-quest is big, elaborate and prolonged – going on for almost an hour – and the episode even includes some flashback sequences to help us become attached to our new characters. Both quest and characters are also slightly more interwoven with our main plotline. Din Djarin and his tiny, adorable companion Baby Yoda find themselves on the planet Tatooine, following the trail of other Mandalorians who can help Djarin track down the whereabouts of Baby Yoda’s people. But that plotline gets put on the back-burner while Djarin tries to unite the bandits of Mos Elgo and the desert-dwelling Tusken Raiders against a ravenous Krayt dragon that has been terrorizing both groups – in exchange for a marvelous suit of Mandalorian armor possessed by Mos Elgo’s charismatic marshal.

Tatooine has been explored to death in the Star Wars universe, but The Mandalorian keeps coming back to it because it’s the planet that best exemplifies the series’ general sci-fi/Western vibe. And to its credit, The Mandalorian has at least made it feel fresh again by exploring some new corners of the desert planet besides just Mos Eisley – in this particular episode, the small frontier town of Mos Elgo. The town is run by a motley assortment of bandits, bounty hunters and low-level criminals, but is far from being a hive of scum and villainy. In fact, Mos Elgo seems pretty well-organized and well-governed, and even has a schoolhouse for the kids. It’s also a treasure trove of cool Easter eggs and Star Wars artifacts, such as a speeder bike made from one of the engines of Anakin Skywalker’s podracer in The Phantom Menace.

An alliance with the elusive Tusken Raiders means more opportunities to see just how much the portrayal of the Raiders has changed over the decades: once minor antagonists to Luke Skywalker’s journey, they’re now mostly depicted as sympathetic characters, no different from anyone else trying to aggressively carve out territory on Tatooine’s inhospitable surface in order to survive – and that shift is largely thanks to The Mandalorian, which showed Din Djarin peacefully interacting with them in season one and again in this season’s premiere, both times using sign language communication to strike up bargains with the Raiders. In this case, the Raiders are interested in helping the people of Mos Elgo defeat a Krayt dragon – a huge, carnivorous creature which technically made its first onscreen appearance back in the very first Star Wars movie; as a skeleton buried in the planet’s sand dunes. Now, over forty years later, we’ve finally gotten the chance to see one alive and in action, and it’s spectacularly fearsome (though eventually defeated by a poor, unsuspecting Bantha beast outfitted with explosives).

The season two premiere simultaneously finds room to include surprise appearances from characters we met on Tatooine in The Mandalorian‘s first season, like the human mechanic Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) and her small fleet of pit droids. The unexpected Motto/Baby Yoda reunion plays out just as one would hope, with Motto only half-joking when she asks Din Djarin if she can keep the child. For those wondering, Baby Yoda himself is still as adorable as ever (shocker, I know), and it’s a great relief to have him back after such a long, wearisome year. I just hope he finds an opportunity to exercise his growing Force powers sometime soon, because I’d hate to see him get upstaged by anybody else – and a newcomer has already come very close to doing just that.

The Mandalorian
Cobb Vanth | radiotimes.com

Said newcomer is none other than the Mos Pelgo marshal Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant, currently still trending on Twitter), a character from the Star Wars: Aftermath novels. Olyphant shines in the role, and not just because he gets to wear Boba Fett’s famous suit of armor, bought from Jawas who recovered it somehow from the sarlacc pit where Fett went down. He’s a lot of fun, with a braggadocio and swagger that comes from being able to pass for a Mandalorian, and a disarming, warm attitude. Can he be trusted? I think so, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up again later in the series: especially since he’s unintentionally gotten himself involved in something much bigger than he probably imagined. Vanth is, however, lucky to have been able to give Din Djarin his armor after the success of their dragon hunt, a generous action that will probably save him in the long run – because somebody else, somebody with a personal, irrefutable claim to that armor, is also on the hunt for it…and judging by the assortment of large, nasty-looking weapons this somebody has on their person, I’m guessing they’re prepared to fight for it.

The Mandalorian
Boba Fett | menshealth.com

This somebody is Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) himself, of course; a character I’ve always personally found to be quite overrated, now returning for a chance at redemption after his humiliating “death” in Return Of The Jedi. Although the Boba Fett reveal comes at the very end of the premiere, it’s not exactly a big surprise to anybody who’s been following the production of the series closely, having been reported on some time ago. Nonetheless, it’s still exciting for several reasons: firstly, because it’s finally canon confirmation that Fett escaped the sarlacc pit, something that’s been debated in the fandom for decades; it’s likely confirmation that it was Fett whose shadowy figure we saw in season one, investigating Fennec Shand’s dead body; and it bodes well for what’s to come, as the series begins to dive into the history and lore of the Mandalorian people.

Whether or not Din Djarin stays on Tatooine any longer, I have a feeling that him and Boba Fett will meet up soon: the older Mandalorian warrior seems to have adapted to his new life as a desert nomad, but I’m sure he won’t pass up an opportunity to reclaim his old armor and his dignity – though, if it’s dignity he’s after, he might want to consider fixing or simply discarding his famously faulty jetpack, which malfunctions again while Cobb Vanth is using it. Just a suggestion.

Episode Rating: 7.5/10

Oscar Isaac Is The MCU’s Moon Knight!

Today has been an emotional rollercoaster of Moon Knight news – if you asked me this morning who would be my top candidate to play the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I would have said, hands-down, Sacha Baron Cohen, one of the most multi-talented actors working today and the man I’ve been pushing for the role for months now. If you had asked me the same question a few hours ago, when Murphy’s Multiverse broke the news that Hamilton‘s Daveed Diggs and comedian Nick Kroll were on the list of contenders for the role, I would have told you that Diggs was an incredibly interesting, out-of-the-box casting and that it actually sounded like something I could get behind. But just as I was beginning to wrap my head around just how great Daveed Diggs would be as Moon Knight, Deadline reported that Oscar Isaac is, in fact, in talks to play the character.

Moon Knight
Oscar Isaac | upi.com

There’s definitely reasons to be excited about this casting. Oscar Isaac is Guatemalan-American, making this a big win for the Latinx community, and he’s obviously a very well-liked and established actor with experience in both indie and mainstream films – his biggest role to date has been as Poe Dameron in the most recent Star Wars trilogy. While playing Dameron, he famously pushed Disney to try and make his character explicitly gay, which is endearing and awesome. Then there’s the matter of his Jewish heritage, and that’s where things get a little bit more complicated.

In the comics, Moon Knight (a.k.a. Marc Spector) is unequivocally Jewish and that’s part of what’s made him such an interesting character that so many people have been excited to see join the MCU. Oscar Isaac does have some Jewish heritage from his father’s side, although he was not raised Jewish – in fact, he was raised an Evangelical Christian and has said previously that he regards himself to be “a big mix of many things”. Because Jewish identity often follows a matrilineal line of descent, there’s been some confusion and debate over whether or not Isaac is considered Jewish or not, and whether this counts as good Jewish representation, considering that Isaac doesn’t appear to consider himself Jewish and once said that he lost a potential role because a director mistakenly thought he was Jewish based on his surname (which is actually his middle name). As someone who is not Jewish myself, I can’t say for certain what the answer to these questions are, but I will leave the question out there because it’s important to have this discussion. I recently addressed issues of colorism with regards to the possible America Chavez casting, and I think it’s unfortunate that we’re now having a similar conversation, especially when this was probably avoidable.

Moon Knight
Moon Knight | screengeek.net

Despite Isaac possibly not identifying as Jewish, the character of Moon Knight is likely to be depicted as such when he shows up for the first time in the upcoming Disney+ series that will star the character and explore his origins. For those who don’t know much or anything about Moon Knight, let’s quickly break it down: Marc Spector starts out on his journey as an ex-CIA operative and mercenary working in Egypt, where he gets involved in a fight with his former friend Raoul Bushman over a newly uncovered Egyptian archaeological site that Bushman is trying to plunder. Spector gets mortally wounded and lost in the desert, but is miraculously saved by divine intervention – the ancient Egyptian moon god Khonshu is able to resurrect him in exchange for Spector’s service, which Spector is able to perform while wearing the mantle of the Moon Knight. The Moon Knight fights a wide range of enemies, ranging from street-level fighters to psychic nuns and supernatural beings. Spector begins to suffer from dissociative identity disorder, and creates several notable personas including that of a millionaire named Steven Grant and a cab driver named Jake Lockley. It’s a juicy, complex role(s), and Oscar Isaac is definitely going to be doing exciting things with it, if the Moon Knight backstory isn’t radically different from the comics.

Isaac is only one of a long line of actors who will be starring in hotly-anticipated Disney+ series’ for Marvel, such as Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Tatiana Maslany and Iman Vellani. But Isaac is arguably the one with the biggest name recognition thanks to his work on Star Wars. There’s no word yet on if or when Isaac will jump to the big screen, but his willingness to jump onboard a streaming service for the studio makes it likely that he will have a prominent role in the MCU going forward. In the comics, Moon Knight has collaborated with the Midnight Sons under the command of Dr. Strange, and there have been reports that other members of that team will be showing up throughout the Marvel universe soon.

Moon Knight
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron | comingsoon.net

Interestingly, it won’t be Isaac’s first time working alongside superheroes. He played Apocalypse, the villain of Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse, and had a voice cameo as one of many Spider-Men in the post-credits scene of Sony’s Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse, something that is likely to be explored further in that film’s sequel. This casting also puts him en route to joining Ming-Na Wen as one of the few actors who are part of the Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney Animated universes (he’d make for a fabulous Disney Prince, honestly).

So what do you think? Are you excited for Isaac, or do you have reservations about the casting? Feel free to share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!