Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian Chapter 3: “The Sin”

This show is not what I thought it was when I first watched it. It’s not what I thought it was going to be either.

It’s not just Baby Yoda, although, like, we all love Baby Yoda, you guys. SO much. I love Baby Yoda. You love Baby Yoda. The world loves Baby Yoda. Werner Herzog has described Baby Yoda as “Heartbreakingly Beautiful.” We’re all on board with the greatness that is Baby Yoda.

What shocked me, going into this was how going out of Chapter 1, I understood that this show as going to be good, it probably wasn’t for me. I already had Firefly and even if I wanted that feeling with a Star Wars skin, I had Rebels. Chapter 2, with Baby Yoda using The Force, opened things up a little bit more, and now Chapter 3, I’m fully all in.

Our Mando drops the Baby with The Client and Doctor, wary. He accepts his payment, the steel that builds Mandolorian armor, and he returns it to his clan. Turns out, our dude is not super popular among his own people. He’s called a coward and a failure. He realizes he is, but not for the reason his clan thinks. He needs to save The Child.

So he goes back to the Bounty Hunter Guild and gets a lot of, “Forget it, Mando, it’s Bounty Hunting,” from his brothers in arms. But he goes into the fortress, kills some storm troopers and saves Baby Yoda, but he’s pursued by the other Bounty Hunters, and now he has a price on his head.

He’s bailed out at least once, when the rest of his clan comes out of hiding to fight for him. I gasped with joy at this. That feeling, that clan, friends and family who have your back against all the odds. That’s one of the many many things I love about Star Wars, it’s why I fell for Finn and Rey so quickly, because that connection is so perfectly and quickly articulated between them.

It’s a theme I can’t get enough of. Anyway, now our Mandolorian is an outlaw, with a baby to protect, but the respect and honor of his Mandolorian clan. And we don’t know what’s next. I expected this to be the season finale, but we still have five episodes. (Again, there’s a another Mandolorian running around the edges of things in this time frame. She’s really into neon and also needs to find a young force user…).

I’m really into the show, I hope it develops well. Of course on twitter it was pointed out that there’s only been one woman who talks. My friend Cha nodded, “yup, it’s a bummer. But! We got a new Black Guy!” We say all of this tongue firmly in cheek, knowing how much more work there is to do for representation, I hope the show rights itself as we go forward.

Still on Helmet Removal Watch, but Pedro’s starting to sell the character even without the face. Still, want to see the face. We’ll see you next week, we’re off into the unknown.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian Season 1, “Chapters 1 & 2”

OK, we’re doubling up on The Mandolorian recaps this week, and moving “Fangirl Loves Star Wars” back to it’s rightful place on Mondays. “Crisis Management” will now move to Thursdays so that I can watch all the shows and lose the lag between weeks on Batwoman and Supergirl. (As we saw last week!)

So, I was looking forward to The Mandolorian, although, it’s not the main reason I signed on for Disney+. (Those Disney Channel Sitcoms of my adolescence aren’t gonna watch themselves!) (Seriously though, I am so excited to watch Even Stevens again.) But I was still looking forward to it. I loved the casting announcements and a Mandolorian, I think Jon Favreau is deeply underrated as a director and the concept is strong.

The concept is indeed strong. I love a space western and The Mandolorian is undoubtably that. Pedro Pascal plays the titual bounty hunter with nearly wordless physicality. I hope we see his pretty face eventually, because he’s a very expressive actor in addition to being quite attractive, but I like what he’s doing. The Mandolorian has a code, he’s true to his culture’s odd mix of mercenary ideals and thoughts about community.

Also, in the end it turns out his prey was a baby Yoda. I went looking for a species name and no such name exists. Which, cool. Also cool, me bouncing up and down on my couch going “Lone Wolf And Cub! Lone Wolf And Cub! Lone Wolf And Cub! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH” (I may be misusing the word “cool” here, I’m prone to that)

It was fun to see Werner Herzog (who I assume is an exiled Imperial, due to his costuming and Storm Trooper guards) and Brian Poeshen, and Taiki Waititi. Also, there’s a little bit of where did the money go ($15 million!) but I think it’s mostly in design and creature work; all of which is stunning. This show looks expensive.

Chapter 2

This episode is called “The Child,” and it’s amazing. The world has Baby Yoda Fever and I’m right along with them. That thing is dang adorable, and it using the force in concert with our Mando’s fighting style is really cool. (And began the repeating, “Lone Wolf And Cub” chant in my mind.)

I enjoyed Chapter 2 much more than Chapter 1, as it gave us a bit more insight into our lead. We still aren’t seeing a face. Some internet chatter is saying Mandolorians don’t remove their helmets in front of people ever. But, I mean, I know Sabine was a bit of a rule breaker, I don’t think that’s a rule we’re going to have to keep to. Again, if only because Pedro Pascal is nice to look at, but also because it limits a level of connection to the performance. He’s doing well, vocally and physically, but I’d like to also see his face.

Anyway, my specific prediliction for seeing beautiful actors aside. I simply found this a better episode of TV. The use of the Jawas was great, as was Nick Nolte’s performance. It lacked Herzog, but one can’t ask for everything. And we know Herzog will be back. A few conversations this weekend made me hope that the struggle between Herzog’s The Client and Baby Yoda has something to do with the rise of Snoke and The First Order.

Anyway, all that out of the way, let’s focus on that baby Yoda, shall we?

He’s goddamned adorable and the fact that the plushes haven’t been released yet, is either a stroke of negligence or brilliance on Disney/Lucasfilm’s part. Negligence if it didn’t happen because they were worried about it not selling. Brilliance for spoiler protective purposes and Tickle Me Elmo levels of hysteria if he does get released before Christmas. That baby is FRIGGING ADORABLE.

BABY YODA SO CUTE

He is precious. I shall call him TEENY CUTE and I shall love him always

Anyway, this development does change my approach to the show, which I was initially nervous about not having any Mystical Force Woo Woo.

I should have trusted Dave Filoni’s influence on the show more. The man who gave us Mallus, and Meditating to time travel, and Dume was never going to let this show be completely free of Jedi influence. It’s just not in him.

Next week, more Herzog? More Baby Yoda? Who knows! I’m excited to see where it goes and we’ll talk then. May The Force Be With You!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith

It was kind of a relief to fall into one of the Star Wars movies even if it was one that’s kind of garbage but that I also love a lot.

Unlike when I watched Episode II nearly a month ago, where I had to really zero in on the elements of the movie that I liked because I love so many things about Episode III, it’s a mess of a film but it’s a damn fun mess, and it’s my mess, and I love it very much and will defend it until I die.

It’s overwrought, poorly plotted and for the most part indifferently acted. Though Ian McDirmind and Ewan McGregor excepted, they are both CHEWING SCENERY UP RIGHT AND LEFT and that makes the whole thing a worthy endeavor to me. But especially McGregor who has to sell the breaking of a man as his world comes crashing around him.

Coming to this so soon after finishing Clone Wars also adds a lot of Pathos to Yoda’s stuff too. I mentioned how what’s interesting about the last arc there is it lends a sadness and resignation to his plot. He knows the Jedi have to fall, but he’s also not ready to let the Sith take over. There’s a lot more weight to his decisions when you know that he knows they’re inevitable.

What strikes me everytime I watch this movie though is how quickly it moves. It’s not short. It’s not like MCU long either, but it’s not short. It does move though, and I really love all of the action sequences. If the acting were better and someone fixed the horrible, horrible George Lucas dialog, it would be a really really good movie. Instead it’s kind of a trash fire but I love it so, so so much.

Next week we talk about Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is an actually good movie that people think is a bad one and I want to fight those people.

In Other Star Wars News: 

There wasn’t a lot of Star Wars stuff out of San Deigo at least not that tracked with me. But Natalie Portman’s back in Thor: Love And Thunder, and Jane’s picking up the hammer like she did in the comics, so that’ll be fun.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions

The Clone Wars’ belated final season, released on Netflix, rather than the series original home of Cartoon Network is kind of an odd duck. It’s painfully brief. (13 episodes) It only covers 4 stories (though they’re all pretty strong) and resolves nothing.

To be fair, it’s hard to offer resolution in Clone Wars it’s meant to be a bridge, the resolution comes in Revenge Of The Sith, but there are seeds planted here that don’t even reach full fruit until The Last Jedi, whether that was “that plan,” (I doubt it, Kathy Kennedy, for all her brilliance is not Kevin Feige, she’s more adaptable than he.) or just some thematic resonance that makes sense because narrative is inherently structured no matter how hard you try to deconstruct it Rian Johnson, (I have many many critical thoughts about The Last Jedi, but we’re still a few months away from that discussion!) I’m interested in the question.

The first arc revolves around Tup and Fives discovering that there’s extra programming in the clones, that could make them turn on their commanders. Their advanced knowledge of Order 66 gets them killed, and leads to Rex deprogramming himself. (We don’t know this yet, of course.)

The second is Padme discovering that her shitty ex boyfriend is playing both sides because he’s shitty. Also she and Anakin discuss divorce. I don’t really care for this arc, but that’s because I have limited emotional investment in Padme and Anakin’s relationship and even less in her ambivalence to her shitty ex boyfriend.

The third arc involves Jar-Jar and Mace Windu fighting an evil force cult and it’s awesome which you would never expect to say about a Jar-Jar arc, but it explores the nature of the force and what it means to those again, outside The Jedi/Sith binary. I can’t believe how central this idea has become to the franchise but I sort of love the work out it gets in this series.

The final arc was the one I remembered, which is Yoda talks to ghosts. This is the one that I think really comes through in Last Jedi. After learning that Jedi Master Sipho Dios isn’t dead, or is he? Yoda goes on a vision quest to learn how to commune with the dead. He does so by talking to some embodiments of emotions in kabuki masks and Darth Bane, the first Sith, voiced by Mark Hamill. Hearing Hamill bring the menace he’s perfected in his voice over the years to an argument with Frank Oz’s Yoda is delightful.

But overall, it becomes clear that Yoda knows the order has lost it’s way. That he continues to fight is out of habit, he knows he has to destroy the Sith, but the old was have to go with that destruction. It’s resignation.

I’m glad I rewatched Clone Wars even if it felt overwhelming at times. Revisiting isn’t a think I do as much lately (the point of Nerd Homework after all was to break me out of the cycle of rewatching I’d found) especially not critically, and I was glad to do it here. The show is a wonder of writing and action. (Even if the animation is not to my taste, exactly) It deepens the lore and scope of this world, and, probably, as I watch Revenge Of The Sith later, it will make me feel deeper about that movie too.

Next week we’ll talk about Revenge Of The Sith, yes, we’re back to movies at least for a few weeks. Which is a relief for the rest of my watch schedule to be frank.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4

It’s only a few episodes, but seriously, there are very few arcs in American Animation that blows me away like the return of Darth Maul does.

It’s an incredibly compelling bit of work that really really applies a level of consequence to The Phantom Menace that let’s say the movie itself doesn’t quite provide. Sam Witwer’s work with Maul as a character is instantly iconic voice work, deserving of praise alongside say, a certain farmboy’s later interpretation of a certain homicidal clown.

And what’s so astounding about season 4, is that while that terrific final arc is wonderful, and overwhelms the rest of the season in a way, it’s also got a lot more to offer. Ahsoka’s adventure with the Guerrera siblings, (and her own cutie pie senator who she has romantic feelings for. Anakin is adorable about that whole situation.)

Anakin also comes to terms with his time as a slave, while a sexy cat queen keeps trying to get into his pants. (It’s a very strange set of episodes, but quite good.) The “Slaves of The Republic” arc highlights some interesting things about all the characters, (Obi-Wan’s penchant for martyrdom, Anakin’s ambivalence about  his commitments, Ahsoka’s temper and flare for the dramatic.)

The clones also get a good arc, with the crazed racist general Krell pushing for their destruction and (badly) trying to play both sides. There’s also Ahsoka’s adventures with the Younglings building their light sabers, which just really, really badly made me want to go to Galaxy’s Edge and build a saber. (If I manage to save for that trip, I know I’ll have to forgo my typical Disney Dining habits to build that Saber. I will do it though! I’ll eat shitty burgers and soggy fries!)

Season 4 is really, really strong is my point, and it blew me away the first time I watched it, and I was blown away by it this time.

Next week, we’ll talk season 5. We’ll say goodbye to Ahsoka (SOB) for now, and we’ll watch Anakin slide further into Darkness and Obi-Wan confront his past. WAY!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3

If Season 2 is about complicity and begining to fill in shades of grey, Season 3 is about living in that grey.

It’s also about how Anakin categorically rejects his chances at turning away from the dark side, over and over again. It’s about Ahsoka beginning to see she doesn’t quite fit with the way the Jedi do things. It’s about Obi-Wan seeing the world he knows collapsing around him. It’s about Padme realizing that she might be on the wrong side.

And it’s just so good. The weird wrinkles that form because of those themes make for some of the most compelling episode arcs. Ventress’s origins, as a Night Sister, and their relationship to Darth Maul, (And Savage Oppress, which, like Star Wars names are always a little on the nose but that’s a real doozy) which leads into an exploration of the Dark Side and The Force outside of the Jedi/Sith binary. (Something that I think will probably be vitally important moving forward in the series after The Rise Of Skywalker.) 

This also leads into The Father/Daughter/Son trilogy, and Anakin’s confirmation as the chosen one and his rejection of the responsibility of maintaining balance.

It’s just so good you guys. The physical embodiments of the Force are shouting at him to get it together, and he just. can’t. let. go.

He can’t let go of his grief and guilt about Shimi. He can’t let go of Padme. He can’t let go of Ahsoka and Obi-Wan. He can’t let go of his own identity as a Jedi. He can’t do it. The inevitability of the whole thing is part of what makes these episodes great, but it’s just such good character work.

Anyway, there’s a lot to think about with that. And there’s also just the deepening of the mythology around Force paving the way for Ahsoka finding her “other path” later in her life. And how stunning and amazing that is.

Next week is Season 4, Darth Maul’s actual return, and just more and more escalation. Plus! Admiral Ackbar! Yay!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 1

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is really, really wonderful. And what’s amazing about it, beyond it just being pretty darn great on it’s own, is that it’s in service to three movies that range from awful to just the worst. I’m more forgiving of Revenge Of The Sith than many. (It has one my all time favorite scenes in the movie, but we’ve got a few months before we get into that.) Part of that is because Clone Wars provides a lot more background and framework for the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker.

And Anakin, as portrayed in Clone Wars is as close to perfect as we can expect for a character with such a faulty foundation. He’s impulsive, heroic, brave and wonderful. His temper flares, but he’s also a dedicated teacher and warrior. There’s good good stuff.

My deep and abiding love of Obi-Wan Kenobi is indulged in a bunch of ways in this show. He’s the great teacher we all wished for. Patient with Anakin but indulgent and fun loving when he can be. He rallies his troops.

Padme and Jar-Jar are also around. The less said about them in the early goings the better. (If I recall their stories get better as we move along.)

But the real stories that matter, at least to me, in this particular series, are the Clone Troopers themselves, and of course, the wonderful perfect, Ahsoka Tano.

Ahsoka means a lot to me. On her own, her story is wonderful, the point of view character in this series being a young girl learning to be a Jedi felt so revolutionary at that moment, and of course, my friendly “when we see each other at cons and Walt Disney World events we cry,” realtionship with Ashley Eckstein has only made me love the character more.

And the clones, the ones we follow throughout the series, Cody and Rex and Fives. (And a few others, but they’re our big ones.) They get strong intros here and they all develop well from what I remember.

I don’t think I’ll ever really love the blocky jerky animation style for all of the Star Wars cartoons. But the writing and voice work are both good enough to make up for it. (The animation takes huge jumps in quality between seasons, but I’ve always found it quite ugly.)

Next week we’ll talk about season 2. More Ahsoka. More Clones. All the good stuff.

Do Or Do Not, I Know, I am Your Father

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is largely regarded as the best of all the Star Wars movies. I quibble with that. (I have very strong feelings about A New Hope) But it’s a very good movie, and I always enjoy watching it.

Let’s dive in!

  • Luke is a Commander now. Way to get promoted Luke. He’s also been continuing his Jedi training somehow…instinct? Those holograms that Kanaan and Ahsoka used to teach Ezra? Kanaan or Ezra themselves???? (SHUT UP THIS IS MY HEADCANON!)
  • Obi-Wan’s force ghost shows up. Hello first Force-Ghost!
  • Han and Leia have a thing going on. It develops into a full on love affair. She finally says she loves him as he’s about to be frozen in carbonite. He responds with “I know.” Women everywhere fall on the floor.
  • Speaking of swooning, we meet Lando Calrissian, smoothest opperator in the whole dang galaxy.
  • Luke goes to Dagobah to train with Yoda. Yoda has, kind of lost in seventeen years of exile. He’s still a badass, but he’s on the bonkers side. He and Obi-Wan have some force ghost chats.
  • Luke faces a phantom version of Darth Vader in a cave. When he strikes it down, his own face is revealed inside the mask. FORESHADOWING!
  • Vader is looking for Luke, and decides the best way to find him is by torturing his friends. I assume he comes up with this plan because you know, it’s what he, Anakin Skywalker would do.
  • Luke goes to Cloud City to save Leia and Han, thus falling into Vader’s trap. Vader cut’s off his hand, reveals that he’s his father, and that he has a plan to overthrow the emperor together. (Anakin is BAD AT PLANS. Vader is SLIGHTLY BETTER AT THEM, but this one seems not so great.)
  • Yoda eludes to another who could help with the whole restarting the Jedi bussiness. (This means Leia.)
  • While Leia and Han are on the run, they are pursued by bounty hunters, including one Boba Fett. I wonder, does Vader recognize Boba as the brother clone of his former troops?
  • This is also the first instance of Wedge Antilles! (WEDGE!) And the use of the “Rogue” call sign (ROGUE!)

 

Here Come The Clones, Detective Kenobi Is On The Case, and A Wedding!

Two years ago in my full review, I talked about the squandered potential of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack Of The ClonesSo I won’t dwell on that here.

This will be longer than yesterday’s post, because OMG so much mythology is introduced here.

  • Anakin and Padme have the major hots for eachother. This is less weird for him. (10 year old crushes on 14 year old), although hers is more of the “whoa, you grew up nice,” situation, they explore this in a few way, mostly by sighing dramatically at one another and staring off into the distance. (I should note, I have sort of stolen this technique in my wonderful fantasy romance story The Marina Chronicle! Shameless Plug!) Eventually they admit their feelings and are secretly married. HOORAYYYY!
  • Obi-Wan performs the “Jedi Mind Trick” on a drug dealer in a bar. This is his signature move. It is also the Jedi trick that Rey does reflexively with a storm trooper in The Force Awakens. (REY IS A KENOBI)
  • Palpatine has befriended Anakin and knows about his feelings for Padme, so he pushes them together, by taking a hit out on her and suggesting he be her body guard. This is the first time I realized, that Palpatine must be a really big Witney Houston fan.
  • We learn that it is possible to quit being a Jedi. Count Dooku did it, and is now also a Sith Lord known as Darth Tyrannus.
  • Tyrannus/Dooku recruits a bounty hunter named Jengo Fett to be the basis of a clone army ordered in the name of the republic by Darth Sidious/Palpatine. The clone army itself is important (it’s part of Palpatine’s plan to further divide the galaxy/radicalize the senate) as is Fett, as he requests one clone to raise as a son. This is Boba Fett. You’re welcome Star Wars fandom.
  • Yoda kicks ass. So does Mace Windu. That’s not really mythology, just shit I like.
  • Anakin gives in to the power of the dark side for the first time, when he destroys a tribe of Sand People who kidnapped and tortured his mother. He’s also begun having visions of the people he cares for in agony. It is unclear whether these come from Sidieous or from the Force itself.
  • Anakin regards Obi-Wan as his father. They later refer to their relationship as more brotherly. Either way, they’re family. There’s attachment that shouldn’t exist between them.
  • The Geonoxians (bug aliens allied with Dooku) are working on “the ultimate weapon” (Death Star!)
  • We meet Bail Organa for like half a scene!

Tomorrow we’ll talk about Episode III, which I love with the kind of absurd affection you have for a first love. I know it’s garbage, but I think it’s a delight!

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

I know yesterday I spouted about people overlooking A New Hope in favor of The Empire Strikes Back, but the thing is, when you watch Empire, you remember how god damned perfect it is and why everyone decides it’s the best Star Wars movie.

The thing that’s been striking me with the old vs. new trilogy is the pace. The Prequels tend to meander, whereas the originals get going and do not stop, Empire especially, where barely a half hour in, we’ve had Luke attacked by Yeti creature, Han rescuing him and The Battle of Hoth. That there is Avengers style pacing.

It’s also a plus that the two plots, Luke on Dagobah with Yoda and Han and Leia running from Vader are equally weighted and equally effecting. And there’s something uniquely magical about that moment where Yoda lifts the X-Wing out of the swamp. There are so few movie moments like that, that take their time and are still completely thrilling, and more love to throw on Mark Hamill, who, I don’t know if it’s just my new nerdier brain, or a maturity thing, or having seen too many boring *insert yourself here* protagonists, I’ve just been thoroughly enjoying during this rewatch. He’s acting his butt off in this movie, and it’s really cool to see.

I’ve mentioned that I consider Han and Leia’s story to be my favorite love story ever right? I love them, and there’s something so perfect about the scene with their first kiss. You know, the “scoundrel” scene? It’s so good. And Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are the best in it.

Also Lando. I love Lando. I have always loved Lando and feel like Star Wars comes to life when he shows up. (Not that A New Hope isn’t awesome, it is, but it’s just, I mean, Lando, man…) Billy Dee Williams is exceptionally good as well, it just feels like everything is firing on all cylinders.

The thing I want to call attention to here more than anything else though is James Earl Jones’s voice performance. I notice voice acting in a way that I never used to because of my year or so close animation watching and Vader really is a masterful performance, here even more than in A New Hope, and knowing the fact that him talking the Emperor out of killing Luke is saving the only family he has left (that he knows of) does make that scene more affecting, and having just watched the prequels, it’s hard not to see him wanting to save the only connection to Padme he has. But there’s so much emotion in Jones’s voice and there’s a desperation to this performance.

Maybe I’m projecting,  I don’t know, but I thought it was interesting.

I also want to talk about Yoda, and how miraculous it is that this is a character that works at all. I guess it’s Frank Oz being the best at what he does, or a script that willingly plays with how silly he is as a factor, or something, but the ancient tiny Jedi should be ridiculous and for some reason isn’t, he’s instead compelling.

So those are the things that really stood out to me about this, the best Star Wars movie, a title that Empire deserves almost to distraction.