Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger”

Oh sure, set me up for failure episode. That is failure at ever being able to offer analysis this time around.

It’s called “The Gunslinger,” takes place on Tatooine, centers around Mando and Bobby Canavale’s son (who looks just like his dad) hunting for a dangerous sniper played by Ming-Na Wen, while Amy Sedaris and a bunch of pit droids baby sit LBY.

Of course that title just got me meditating, is Mando a Gunslinger? I don’t think he is. Ming-Na’s character is the gunslinger in question, but she’s not A Gunslinger in the Dark Tower way. And as I go back and for Mando, after all, “This is the way,” is not too far off from, “I shoot with my heart.”

This is not a sane line of thought to go down, and yet here we are. Turtles, all the way down. (Fuck that turtle though)

I love this episode. I have no other way to explain it. I thought it was wonderful, the changes in Mos Eisley since A New Hope (it’s been a decade and the ruling Mob family was blown up after all!) were fun to see. Mando’s familiarity with the planet was also neat.

And Amy Sedaris! And Ming-Na! OMG! It’s just too much goodness. The Canavale kid is good too. In terms of development, this episode didn’t do much, but it did provide us with a fun side adventure. I’m cool with this being an adventure of the week type show. We don’t get enough of them that are this good in the current landscape.

I know this post is relatively short for how these have been going, but this was a straightforward episode that I liked a lot and I doubt you all want to hear me ramble about unrelated Stephen King content, since that’s all I can think about when I think about the episode.

Also Amy Sedaris.

And pit droids.

And Ming-Na Wen.

We’re drawing closer and closer to opening weekend of The Rise Of Skywalker and I’m deeply ready for it. I’ve also decided to continue with Fangirl Loves Star Wars in some capacity as we move forwared. Season 2 of Resistance, whatever’s going on on Disney+, (New Clone Wars! I haven’t forgotten!) I’m going to do some reading of the novels. It won’t be a regular thing, but like Nerd Homework, I’ll check in occasionally!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian “Chapter 4: Sanctuary”

If there is a single individual artist that we should thank for inspiring George Lucas to create Star Wars is it probably Akira Kurosawa. I mean, we shouldn’t because it was a whole world of things that contributed to the building of our beloved galaxy far far away, but to subtract The Lost Fortress from the DNA would be taking out a lot.

So I kind of figured a Seven Samurai homage was likely in The Mandolorian, since the show is playing with Western Tropes and it’s been remade (TWICE) as The Magnificent Seven. Our Mando touches down on a planet, hoping to wait out some of the heat on him and Baby Yoda (I’ve been listening to Bingeworthy’s Star Wars series and they’re calling him LBY, we’re adopting that same nomenclature.) go into town and find Cara Dune, a former Shock Trooper who’s abandoned the New Republic and is trying to wait out some heat on her own. Mando concedes they both probably shouldn’t do that and prepares to move along.

However, some villagers ask him for help, they’re krill farmers and some imperial tech is ravaging their village. Mando agrees to help and recruits Cara as well. They train the villagers, they beat the bad guy and Mando has a broody flirtation with a pretty young widow. Also, the village children all obsess about LBY. Mando makes up his mind to leave LBY to grow up peacefully in the village, but as we must remember, The Heat Is On. A bounty hunter finds them and he realizes the closest to safe for The Kid is with him. AWWW.

Anyway, they’re off on an adventure again. LBY remains a wonderful beautiful pure presence on my TV. Pedro Pascal is doing really excellent work as The Mandolorian, and Gina Carrano made a really cool addition as Cara Dune.

So hey, we got more women with lines this week. That’s good. Also, Bryce Dallas Howard directed this episode. That’s super good. Last week’s episode was directed bed Deborah Chow, who will be running the Obi-Wan show. Since last week’s episode was my favorite so far, that bodes well.

I liked this episode, and I like what the show is doing.

Also, I will continue to lobby for a Baby Yoda plushie until I am holding one as I write these reviews.

Now seems as good a time as any to talk about what is going to go into this slot in 2020! Hooray!

We’re going to keep going with Disney+ and I’m going to watch all of the Disney Animation Studios Films, in order. So, Snow White to Frozen 2. (Which I’ll be reviewing this week.) I’m excited for this project. There’s some stuff in the 70s and 80s which I don’t think I’ve seen at all, and certainly not since I was a kid. But we’re still a few weeks from getting that going!

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 Special: The Rise Of Skywalker Trailer

The Rise Of Skywalker is coming.

We’re two months out and it’s coming and we can all take deep breaths and accept that we’re going to be fine.

I mean, like humanity is going to be fine.

Me personally?

Jury’s out on my level of fine-ness.

Anyway we’ll circle back on December 21. I have my tickets for opening night. (It was an ordeal. Why is it that AMC always always has issues when Star Wars tickets come out?)

Anyway, there’s stuff here that I find intriguing. I think we’re finally going to get that glut of Force Ghosts that I’ve wanted every since JJ Abrams took the wheel. (JJ loves ghosts almost as much as he loves time travel. ) I’m here for Space Horses and Finn turning Poe’s jacket into a vest, and the probably redemption of Kylo Ren. I’m here for the death of C-3PO being the emotional lynchpin of this thing. I’m here for Lando. (But if you’ve been following me the past few months you can probably guess that.)

I’m her for Star Wars. Also, I know season 2 of Resistance has started. We’ll talk about it soon, I promise.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

So, I’m one of those people that gave a hearty shrug to The Last Jedi. I absolutely understood the movie. I got what Rian Johnson was going for, and applaud him for the attempt. Deconstruction of something as woven into the culture as Star Wars is a bold thing to swing for.

And here’s the thing with The Last Jedi, I don’t think he quite pulled it off. Which isn’t to say I don’t admire the attempt, I do. Some of the stuff, well, some of it I absolutely adore, I think it’s wonderful. I really enjoy Vice Admiral Holdo, and the way the movie plays with Luke and Leia’s connection. (Mirroring it in Kylo and Rey.) I think it’s visually stunning. I think Luke’s ultimate fate was brilliant and lovely and deeply in line with what we know of him as a man and his Jedi training.

I do think the movie tries to do too much. Insisting that we have to move forward but doing so at the expense of stories that had been built up in it’s predecessor feels arrogant. It’s also hypocritcal to say “we’re burning down the past” while transforming the more underground Resistance into the outright Rebellion of the original trilogy. (You can’t have both, Johnson!)

Some things that I didn’t like initially have grown on me. I initially didn’t love Benecio Del Toro’s DJ, who I now think is kind of delightful. (Still think he should have been Lando…but ya know…beggars and choosers.) My anger at how Poe became a more cliched “I know better” hothead this time around has cooled so I was able to see what Johnson and Isaac were actually going for with this performance. Poe’s given it all to the Resistance, he’s exhausted and frustrated. His mentor may be dying. His boyfriend (STORMPILOT LIVES!) is off on a dangerous spy mission. He has no information about how this is going to end. He snaps.

One thing that’s held up every time I’ve watched the movie is John Boyega’s performance. It’s mind blowingly charismatic and fun. Finn’s transformation from selfish survivor to team player/leader is beautiful executed. It’s the part of the movie I always liked best.

Which brings us to Kylo and Rey. I think Kylo Ren is a brilliantly rendered villain, and Adam Driver plays him well. He’s all raw emotion and easily triggered anger, with the power to back that up. It’s so different for this series. Rey is desperate here, she just wants answers. And while I’ve had so much fun in the past six years playing with “who is Rey?” theories. While I’ve always been fond of “Kenobi” as a theory, watching The Last Jedi this time, brought me around a bit to  “clone.” (I don’t think she’s a gender swapped clone of Anakin of Palpatine, but I think she might be a clone.) Her lack of answers about her past, her overall competence (almost as if she’d been programmed, like a Kamino Clone), and that scene where she sees herself reflected over and over again in a line while communing in the cave.

Not to mention the “Dark Rey” images from the Rise of Skywalker trailer.

There’s a lot going on in this movie, which is part of why I think it doesn’t work quite as well as it could. Rian Johnson is trying to do a lot here and some of it therefore comes out a little bit half baked. I’m also immensely gratified that J.J. Abrams has insisted he’s not going to walk back Johnson’s decision in The Last Jedi. He could have, but he’s happy with the status quo he’s got to work with.

We shall see in a few months how this all shakes out.

We’re still a few weeks from The Mandolorian so I’m not sure what will go in this spot quite yet. Taking suggestions!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Last Friday night I sauteed a chicken breast, and boiled some spaghetti, popped a bottle of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and settled in to watch The Force Awakens for the first time in quite a while.

I mentioned the meal because I was so excited to watch the movie again and I wanted to breath it in and fall in love all over again. I was going on a date with Star Wars. 

I fell in love all over again. I really love this movie. I can see where the criticisms come from (though people criticizing a franchise that’s always been about remixing tropes and archetypes for doing it again feels like a reach…) but I can’t help but love it.

So much of that love belongs to Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, who are both so unfathomably wonderful. Rey and Finn aren’t particularly deep characters on the page. They are, as Luke, Han and Leia before them, archetypes, two searching orphans looking for home and belonging, and they find it in each other.

This would be wooden and dull and frightening if it were given to two actors with less charisma and less chemistry. Daisy and John click well together, so well, in fact, that they’re instantly connected, but they feel like family, not lovers, which is rare in a Hollywood blockbuster, and so so worth celebrating.

And then there’s the Kylo Ren issue. I think that Kylo is a pretty good villain, if pale in comparison to Darth Vader, but that’s kind of an impossible standard and is also the point of Kylo Ren. He’s not supposed to measure up, but he’s trying desparately to get there. The pressure of being from the greatest family in the galaxy broke him, and he reached for quickest connection to that legacy. It’s reiterated over and over again in Star Wars that the Dark Side is powerful and it’s quick. The light side requires patience discipline and letting go, allowing The Force to do the work. Ben Solo lost that battle because of the weight of expectation placed on his shoulders so he gripped to quick easy power.

THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT.

And, I saved it for last, you guys, I promised I wouldn’t spend this whole era dwelling on Poe Dameron, so I’m going to put it up here, and leave it at this. I am in awe of this character, who was shaped largely because of the actor they wanted playing him. (Oscar Isaac said he’d do it but not if he died.) Who became a focal point of the series because he was popular, and who models a kind of dedication and joy rarely seen in this trope of character. The hotshot pilot is supposed to be cocky, obnoxious, and out for himself, not quietly confident, deeply dedicated to his cause, and kind beyond reason. You keep waiting for Poe to be a dick. And then he isn’t.

I love Poe.

Alright, next week we talk about The Last Jedi, which should be great because no one on the internet ever talks about The Last Jedi right? We’re wading into new territory.

 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…GULP.