Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandalorian: “Chapter 13: The Jedi”

In which all my dreams come true and my emotional reaction is much more muted than I expected.

She’s here, y’all, Ahsoka Tano has arrived in live action and while I was apprehensive about the casting decision here (not that I don’t love Rosario Dawson, she’s wonderful) I was vibrating at a frequency I can’t really explain to people who don’t know her and how wonderful she is to people.

So, we open with a scene of a shadowy figure running through some burned out woods and taking out motherfuckers with two white light sabers. It ends with Ahsoka standing before a Magistrate at a wall, who tells her that she’s going to kill her. Ahsoka basically rolls her eyes at this and disappears into the mist and ROLL CREDITS.

Baby Yoda is trying to get his little silver ball back and Mando is babbling about finding Ahsoka (Mando is all of us in this moment, and LBY is all of our friends who don’t know, nor care about Ahsoka). and when they land on Corvus (a planet I’m very into) they go to the Magistrate who hires Mando to kill Ahsoka.

He goes into the woods to find her and she gets the drop on him because she’s the best and they discuss why he came looking for her. She has a little telepathic force conversation with LBY who is actually named GROGU.

WE HAVE A NAME AND AHSOKA GAVE IT TO US. We learn that Grogu was trained at the temple but was taken away sometime before or during Order 66, and also after some Force Powers testing, Ahsoka refuses to train Grogu, because of his emotional connection to Mando and is fear of losing him. She’s been on that particular heart breaking, Dark Side leading train before.

She does however ask for Mando’s help freeing the village and in a badass set of fight scenes they do just that. She then tells him to go to a Jedi Temple planet and hopefully, Grogu can then commune with the Force and choose his path, and a teacher will come.

This teacher will, with all likelihood be Ezra Bridger, because, during her fight with The Magistrate, Ahsoka asks about Thrawn, and as we all know, the last time either of them were scene they were riding some space whales into the unknown reaches.

Anyway, the nerds were in fine form this time around, with a lot of screaming and talking about how much we love Ahsoka (because we do) and speculation about Ezra, and shouts of #NotAJedi.

I was overwhelmed by how good Rosario Dawson was as Ahsoka, managing to capture her movements and facial expressions perfectly. And I’m so glad for more people to know her and love her. She’s the best.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Chapter 12: “The Seige”

I’m Addressing The Problematic: Bringing this one over from The 007 Project. Gina Carrano is a transphobic garbage person. This is hugely disappointing. I’m not going to bring it up every time I bring up Cara Dune in this review, just blanketing it. She sucks. Trans rights are human rights!

Mando and LBY realize that The Razor Crest is not going to make it to Forest Planet to meet Ahsoka (AKA we’re not to Filoni’s episode yet and no one else is allowed to into us to his perfect daughter, Ahsoka.) so they stop off to visit with their old friends, Griff Carga and Cara Dune. They put LBY in school while they plan a caper to raid an old Empire ship.

They do! They beat up on Storm Troopers. LBY does not make friends at school, but there is a shitty kid who has space macarons and doesn’t share them with LBY. It’s tragic and sad, and fuck that kid, give LBY a damn cookie.

The actual story is that it turns out, the remnants of the Empire have been searching for Force Sensitive children to isolate the “M” gene. (MIDICHLORIANS!) Why do they want this? To make Snokes and ressurect the Emperor presumably.

This is a pretty straightforward episode, that Carl Weathers directed. Good for you Carl Weathers. It just was not a meaty enough episode to distract me from the coming of Ahsoka. I know that I’m a weirdo that way.

Next week, when we actually meet her, I will get into the lengthy discussions my friends and I had regarding recasting her, especially given Katee Sackoff playing Bo Katan, who she also voiced. But that’s next week. This week we mostly talked about Gina Carrano being shitty, and that kid not giving LBY a cookie.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandalorian: “Chapter 11: The Heiress”

You guys are we all doing OK? I’m not, (I mean in general maybe, my OK-ness varies hour to hour at this point) but in regards to this episode and it’s bearing on Star Wars and Science Fiction television, in general, I am not OK.

I mean, I’m thrilled but I’m also like *BOOM* galaxy brain. SO, let’s get into the episode.

Mando, LBY and Frog Lady land on an industrial planet and Frog Lady is reunited with Frog Husband. Mando puts The Razor Crest in for repairs, and heads to a tavern to get some information on other Mandalorians and some food for LBY, now that his supply of yummy frog eggs is gone. The baby gets some soup that tries to eat him. (Star Wars is whacky) Mando gets a ride on a fishing boat that will allegedly take him to some other Mandalorians.

It doesn’t. The captain just wants to feed them to a sea monster and steal the Beskar. RUDE. Luckily, they are rescued by three Mandalorians jumping on board. They include MOTHER FUCKING BO KATAN! And not just a new intrepretation of Bo, she’s played now in person by Space Jesus herself, Katee Sackoff.

When she takes off her helmet Mando is scandalized and she and her two companions laugh and say that he’s “A Child Of The Watch” which he doesn’t even know, but they agree to help him find The Jedi for LBY if he helps them with a heist. Said heist is to find The Darksaber so that Bo can take her place as ruler of Mandalore again.

Cool, great, love it. We see a brief conversation with Moff Gideon and eventually Bo gives Mando a piece of information, he should go to a forest planet and there he will find a Jedi to help him with the baby. That Jedi is….AHSOKA TANO.

Guys, seeing Bo, and seeing Katee playing her would have probably held me over to the next season, really. But that we’re this close to Ahsoka made me run around flailing. Because of some family commitments I couldn’t stream this with my friends, but I did leave family dinner to watch them all get these revelations and it was so satisfying.

Bo Katan is great, I like learning for sure that Mando was raised in an extremist sect (this was always the assumption), and that we are likely in the next few weeks going to see live action Ahsoka is pretty much getting me through. (Having things to look forward to is my main coping mechanism, and I’m freaking out a little about the Holidays due to COVID spikes and also, my sister isn’t going to be at Thanksgiving for the first time ever and OMG YOU DON’T CARE!) Ahsoka is very important to me, as I have outlined many times. I love her very much. I’m still mixed about her being played by Rosario Dawson, WHO I ADORE, because part of what’s made Ahsoka mean so much to me is Ashley Eckstein’s stewardship of her, and my odd, parasocial relationship with Ashley.

That’s beside the point though. Ahsoka is about to enter mainstream, live action Star Wars and I cannot wait.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Chapter 10: “The Passenger”

So, first of all, I hope you’re all feeling good. Here the sun is shining, we’re all taking deep breaths because the future seems to be looking pretty good. The craziest election ever is over and now we get to exhale because some barriers have been broken and you know, it’s good. Also there’s promising COVID Vaccine news! Whoo!

Of course I knew none of this on Friday night when I watch The Mandalorian’s 10th episode, which did offer as a nice easy balm for the evening.

So, after getting Boba Fett’s armor, Mando and Little Baby Yoda go back to Mos Eisley, looking for more leads. Amy Sedaris and a Giant Ant get them a job with a giant Frog Woman who needs transport and might know something about the surviving Mandalorians. She’s trying to get to her home planet so that her eggs can hatch.

After an encounter with some cops (New Republic X-Wing Pilots) they crash land on an ice planet and also the whole time Little Baby Yoda has been just eating the crap out of those Frog Eggs. (As my friend Sara said, “That is some toddler realness!”)

On the planet, The Frog woman finds a hot spring, while Mando repairs the Razor Crest, and there are eggs for LBY there too! Unfortunately they are the eggs of a terrifying spider monster that definitely tries to eat them. Luckily they get the ship working and off they fly, after a confrontation with the cops. (One of whom is Dave Filoni!)

Look, it was a fun little episodic adventure. It is very clear that there was a price increase because once again the action finale is incredible, and it was directed by Peyton Reed so there are all these fabulous small comedy moments, that he’s so good at. And most importantly, BABY YODA RUNS AND IT IS THE CUTEST. America, we’re moving forward. It’s all very exciting.

The nerd commentary this time was quieter, but it was a lot of AWWWW, and being super excited about The Frog Woman, who is great, although we are disappointed in the uncreative name. GIVE A SPECIES NAME.

Anyway, I’m really enjoying the season so far and especially loving my group watches. I have great friends who I love. I love everyone today.

Cross your fingers for that vaccine my darlings!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandalorian: “Chapter 9: The Marshal”

As always, SPOILERS. You’ve had all weekend to watch the episode.

First things first. Baby Yoda remains a true treasure, who must always be defended. Mando, meanwhile, is just casually bringing him to Fight Club, like it’s no big thing.

Be a better parent Mando!

Yes, we start out with our intrepid warrior goes to a fight between a pair of those pig men who guard Jabba The Hutt, and talks with a gangster played by John Leguizamo. (Right off the bat The Mandalorian is killing it with the guest spots again) He understands said gangster might have information that could lead him to more Mandolorians which might then in turn lead to getting Little Baby Yoda back to the Jedi. Of course the gangster is just after the armor, but in truly badass fashion, Mando strings the guy up, finds out there’s a Mandalorian working on Tatooine. He goes, is greeted by Amy Sedaris (As glad to see her as she was to see LBY) and heads right out from Mos Eisley to Space Deadwood, I mean Mos Pelgo.

Once there, he enters the Cantina where the friendly bartender, played by W. Earl Brown , who played Barman Dan Dorrity on Deadwood, because this is an episode of Deadwood without the swearing. (Or alas, The Swearengen) As Mando questions him about seeing other Mandalorians and Baby Yoda makes cooing noises and the bartender asks if he means, “The Marshal” who then enters and is Boba Fett!

No, he’s not Boba Fett, he’s Marshal Seth Bullock, uh, I mean Cobb Vanth, played by Timothy Olyphant with an extremely attractive beard, who through a series of convoluted events came into possession of Boba’s armor (or “armpit” as my phone happily corrected it to.) He agrees to give the armor back to Mando if he helps free the town from a sand worm, err, a Krayt Dragon. (DUUUUNNNNNEEEEEE). They team up with some Tuskens to do so, and after takin’ a vote in The Gem saloon, erm, I mean the Cantina, they beat the dragon in the most astounding action sequence I’ve ever seen on television.

Vanth and Mando part noting they hope to meet again, and like The Judge on The Good Place, I very much hope they do because more Olyphant on my TV is a good thing, all the time.

The episode ends with Mando speeding away and on a hill, watching, a mysterious cloaked figure who is as it turns out Temeura Morrison! Morrison played Jango Fett and the Clones in the prequel trilogy, which means this is most certainly Boba Fett. It may also be Rex, or one of the other surviving clones. (God, I hope it’s Rex.) The smart money, though, given that it’s Tatooine and the appearance of his armor, that it’s Boba.

The most exciting thing for me this season, besides just so much good Star Wars content and Timothy Olyphant, is the Disney+ group watch feature, which allowed me and The Nerds to stream simultaneously and chat throughout our watch. Highlights from this week include being blown away by the visuals, thirsting after Timothy Olyphant and general Boba and or Rex related flailing.

I’m so glad to have The Mandalorian back. I love Star Wars so much, and I’ve missed it dearly.

Star Trek: Lower Decks And The Healing Power of Silly

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately that I’m trying to break out of. This isn’t as bad as the actual depression hit I got back in April, but just, a low level blah and lack of motivation, and numbness.

So, I’m trying to get out of it, with my usual stuff, yoga, changing up my diet, abstaining from alcohol, tracking how much water I drink, rearranging my furniture (I bought a new couch! I’m very excited about it!) and, getting out of the rewatch loop.

I decided, since I purchased a year of access to CBS All Access, and there’s a new show that is just the part of Star Trek that’s my favorite, ie, the silly, dopey, jokey parts, I decided to give Lower Decks a whirl.

I was immediately enamored of the show’s sense of humor and of my adorable tiny space dorks. Let’s run down our main cast:

Ensign Brad Boimler: A try hard, rule follower who thinks that Star Fleet is the absolute greatest. He wants to be like the TNG bridge crew, but he’s not really up to that kind of thing.

Ensign Beckett Mariner: Mariner is actually a really talented Star Fleet officer. She’s also the daughter of two high ranking captains and thinks that the rules are bullshit. As a result, she’s been demoted and shifted around and is now stuck on her mother’s ship and it is not going well.

Ensign Sam Rutherford: He’s a big engineering dork who just became a cyborg and is working on that. He’s also super awkward.

Ensign D’Vana Tendi: A new medical recruit. She’s just very bright and shiny and happy to be here.

There’s also the standard Trek bridge crew, who are around, but they’re basically in the same position as these kids are in a standard show, popping in and out of stories as useful.

I’m mostly happy about this show because it is so delightfully silly. It’s not a smart show, it’s stupid in the best way and every one is just a goofy dork and I want them to succeed and be protected. Protect my tiny space dorks! It was exactly what I needed when I needed it and I’m therefore very happy to have it. It also reminded me that I’d watched the first season and a half of Star Trek: Voyager and I’ve now fallen down that hole and will be continuing it and finishing it and writing  up a Nerd Homework (remember those? Remember when I wrote about stuff that wasn’t Disney movies?)

Anyway, if you have CBS All Access, it’s worth checking out the show. Or waiting until it completes and doing a free month and binging the whole thing, which I would definitely recommend over forking over your money for this stupid disappointing platform. (I would like to remind everyone that when I signed up, I didn’t think we’d enter a terrifying pandemic and that I wouldn’t want to even think about, let alone reread and then watch an adaptation of The Stand.)

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian

The thing about becoming a pop culture blogger, and excited fandom tracker and frequent Comic Con goer (I’m really missing cons this year. So much) is that you just accumilate junk knowledge, but it also can suck the magic out of stuff, because a part of this kind of work, which I love doing, is figuring out how to see the strings.

So I decided to let the magic of The Mandalorian linger for a bit and not watch the behind the scenes Disney Gallery specials about the show. But as I realized that I’d maybe watched The Imagineering Story too many times, I decided to check it out.

First of all, I loved the format of the show, which reminded me of Jon Favreau’s delightful Dinner For Five. (I’ve heard The Chef Show does something similar, I might watch that too) Favreau used to host a show where he held a dinner party for five people and rolled cameras. It’s an intensely fun way to have a talk show. On Disney Gallery he takes a similar approach, doing roundtable interviews with different people involved in The Mandalorian, talking about their experience with Star Wars in general, this show in particular, and laughing a lot.

Some really cool stories come out, and there’s interesting behind the scenes talk about the technical and writing processes, tons of info dumping from Dave Filoni, and Bryce Dallas Howard telling an incredible story about a childhood trip to Japan. (This is in the “how did you find Star Wars” section. She starts with, “so when I was six, my dad,” and everyone just groans. She laughs, “I know, OK! But I promise this is cool!”)

The stuff about Baby Yoda is cool, but I was really fascinated with the way Favreau talked through building new tech as he moved from Iron Man to Jungle Book to The Lion King and now in The Mandalorian. And not for nothing, it’s always a joy to watch someone talk about something passionately, and if there is anything I know from following his career for most of my life, Jon Favreau loves movies and loves artists and loves film history, so talking about how special effects have grown to be able to create something as special as The Mandalorian is a real treat.

I’m also completely in love with Gina Carrano. My God, that woman is beautiful and funny and charismatic as hell.

The Lady Of Winterfell

It’s been a year, am I allowed to talk about Game Of Thrones again? I know we were supposed to chuck it into the ocean and never look back, but I can’t do that.

Because I think about Sansa Stark a lot.

I grew up reading fantasy. I loved it. I’ve always loved it, but there were never girls I related to in those fantasies. If there were girls, they hated being girls, or what was interesting about them was that they rejected the world of girls. There was Alanna, there was Eowyn, there was Leia. Or they were romantic heroines, which I loved but wanted more. The flip side of that coin was Belle, Ariel, Cinderella.

There weren’t girls like Sansa. Girls who wore their femininity in all it’s power as armor. Girls who used embroidery and marriage and the selfish love of the men around them as weapons. Girls who loved their families and wanted handsome princes to come save them but when those dreams shattered didn’t cower but fought, not in battles but in the ways they understood.

I think about Sansa Stark a lot. I think about how she got into my blood and mind. And in the past few years, as I’ve let the floodgates open to more and more fantasy I see that I couldn’t have been the only girl who hungered for that. Because there are these books now, you see, these books written by women around my age, filled with girls. Some who are like Alanna, Eowyn, Leia, who put on armor and pick up swords and fight alongside men. Some like Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, who long for true love and princes. And there are so many Sansas.

So many girls who fit into their world of privelege and beauty and when it’s hollowness was revealed, didn’t reject it, didn’t say, “there’s nothing here,” didn’t see the other women held by it as stupid, shallow or weak, instead took those things and made them the tools of their fight.

Yesterday I finished Queen Of Shadows, the fourth book in the Throne Of Glass series. It’s going to be a while before I finish this series, because I’m waiting on Empire Of Storms and I’m the eight person in line for 5 copies at my library. But Sarah J. Maas’s series is full of Sansas. I had trouble getting into it because the lead, isn’t, and my GOD does this girl hate other women at the beginning of her journey. And that begins to unravel, slowly as the series progresses.

“I’m not like other girls,” is a hell of a drug. I’ve never understood it. I’ve always loved other girls and women, but it’s a really hard thing to kick in society that tells us that there’s no room for us to be who we are. But I’m so grateful to see that it is starting to shift.

I think about Sansa Stark a lot. I think about how overjoyed I was to find her eight years ago. I think about how she got an ending full of justice and triumph without ever compromising who she was.

I think about Sansa Stark and I cry, because she exists, in print and on TV for girls like me to find, and know they aren’t wrong or weak or stupid. There is space for them in these stories. And oh that matters so much.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 11 “Shattered”

“Execute Order 66,” I actually cannot hear those words without taking a big ass inhale of breath. It begins a long slide into weepiness that last for the next half hour of movie in Revenge Of The Sith, rivaled only by Return of The King and Avengers: Endgame for absurd blockbuster blubbering for me.

So I held my breath as Ahsoka sensed what happened between Mace Windu, Anakin and Palpatine, leading to the execution of Order 66. It’s devastation and also important to note that Ahsoka might be the most powerful force user in the series, before Rey? She’s not fully in her powers yet, that doesn’t come until she passes through time with Ezra but she’s still strong here. Strong enough to connect while looking for Anakin, something we’ve only ever seen Yoda do with such specificity.

Anyway, after this moment of darkness, she turns to Rex, who is shaking, talking to himself, refusing to follow his programming and kill Ahsoka. Unfortunately the rest of the Troopers don’t have will and try to fight her. Of course she wins and gets away, taking Rex’s warning, “Find Fives” to heart and searching for a file on Fives, learning that his malfunctioning inhibitor chip caused his death. Rex sent himself a message in this file, which is why he was able to resist.

Ahsoka practices some “cogninative recalibration” on Rex, and also, to get the two of them away, releases Darth Maul, to spectacular effect. She reminds him that she doesn’t trust him and also that she kind of hopes the clones kill him which is great. I know I talked about it last week but it bears reiterating, Ashley Eckstein and Sam Witwer are doing unbelievable work here.

OK, we’ll finish up tomorrow. I’m not sure I’m ready. How far will we go into Episode III, where will we end?

I don’t know, but I bet I’ll be crying, and crying a whole lot.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7: Episode 10: “Phantom Apprentice”

It’s kind of crazy how sometimes two things I’m working on can dovetail nicely, or maybe it’s just my liberal arts brain trying to make less reading for myself that connects things that way, but the fact that this episode aired the same week that I was reading Erik Larson’s truly brilliant history book In The Garden Of Beasts, about the American Ambassador to Berlin during the years leading up to World War II, William Dodd.

The book is mostly about how Dodd kept saying, “HEY HITLER IS DANGEROUS AND WE CAN’T TRUST THE NAZIS,” and everyone in the American state department and establishment kept saying, “ehh, Dodd’s overreacting, I’m sure it will be fine.” (Narrator: It was not fine)

How does this connect to “Phantom Apprentice,” you might ask?

This is all about how Darth Maul has been shouting that, “HEY I KNOW WHO DARTH SIDIOUS IS AND YOU’RE ALL JUST PAWNS!” and everyone reacts by saying, “Boy, that Darth Maul sure is crazy, huh? Anyway,” and moves on. It’s even more present in this episode, where he and Ahsoka have several beautifully animated confrontations and he tries to convince her to join him and stop Sidious, because he knows this is all about to fall down on their heads.

What’s really fascinating in this run of episodes is that they are running parallel to Revenge Of The Sith, and that’s all the more chilling. Everytime Ahsoka checks in with Obi-Wan and Anakin we know exactly what’s going on with them and how horrible the next steps are. I keep holding my breath waiting for the moment that the clones turn on her. We know Rex helped get her out, but Order 66 has broken my heart every single time I’ve watched the movie, all the way back to high school when I first watched it. I don’t think whenever this hits in the next two weeks will be different.

The real showcase of this episode were those fights between Maul and Ahsoka, and frankly, they were some of the most stunning visual moments the show has ever had. Ray Park, who played Maul originally did the motion capture for them, so the physicality is perfect, and while the fight is exceptional there are also a pair of excellent performances from Sam Witwer and Ashley Eckstein here. Ashley has done incredible work all season showing Ahsoka’s growth and Witwer is always a joy, but this particular “We’re not so different, you and I,” “I’m nothing like you!” back and forth was a true joy to hear. (Granted, I’m a sucker for the trope)

This was my favorite episode of the season so far and I can’t believe we’re only two out from the finale. I’m going to miss this show so much. (Although, let’s face it, I’ll probably just watch ROTS and then Rebels again as soon as it ends.)