Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 4

Rebels played a long game that I got impatient with when I watched it the first time and I now deeply regret bailing on.

Ezra’s story is a deeply interesting take on coming of age, and actually reminded me of my beloved The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce (also about a mystical teen who has a magic connection to animals.) Ezra’s connection to the force in the end feels more akin to Yoda’s than any other Jedi we’ve seen in the series, he feels the world around him the way that Yoda does, especially on Dagobah, or in Ezra’s case on his home world of Lothal. (Also, he saves Ahsoka with Force time travel and concept that now exists in my universe and I’m so grateful for it.)

Sabine and Zeb also get strong supporting arcs, becoming leaders in their own rights, as they move along in the world. They’re both savior figures for their people which is cool and dedicated warriors who fight for the freedom of the galaxy.

And now it’s time, we need to talk about Hera and Kanan and the deep tragedy of it all. Hera Sandulla is a remarkable character. She’s strong and brave and awesome and she becomes a hero of the Rebellion and even fights in the battle of Endor! This is of course after the tragic loss of the love of her life, Kanan Jarris, Caleb Dume, Mediocre Jedi Knight. Also he becomes a force wolf.

It’s great.

Look, as I said to Jess on facebook last week, I’m ALL IN for Filoni and his mystical Force hoo-ha. And Season 4 is full to the brim with it. Especially Ezra’s ending, where he uses his magical Force connection to the space whales to shoot off into the unknown.

The show ends properly with an epilogue by Sabine, talking about how the Ghost crew made it through the main trilogy, fighting on the rebellion side. Hera and Rex were even on Endor. Also, Hera was pregnant! I hope that Jacen didn’t have the Force and go to Luke’s Jedi Academy and get murdered by Kylo Ren…and…I just gave myself a sad. Anyway, with the Empire defeated Sabine decides to go off in search of Ezra, with Ahsoka at her side.

The show ends with a bright white light of hope which is amazing.

It’s incredible how quickly I turned and loved these characters. I was so lukewarm on the show when it started, and I was devastated by the time it ended. (To be fair, Kanan was always the part of the show I was all in on, so that makes sense.)

Next week we’ll talk about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the Disney era movie that I like the least, but recognize on a technical and critical level is actually the best.

From D23

I might just do a separate post about the D23 news. Mainly, you know OBI-WAN. But as I wrote this up, I realized The Mandalorian takes place after the main trilogy. And a certain Mandolorian of our acquaintance jetted off into the unknown after Endor…I’m just saying…Pedro Pascal should cross paths with Sabine.

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Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 3

It turns out I’d watched more of Season 3 than I thought. Mostly because I remembered everyone buzzing about Saw Guerrera being in Rogue One and the return of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

It’s not as strong a season, though Ezra has a fly new haircut, and Bendu the middle way Force-beast is badass. Plus Admiral Thrawn. (Though Thrawn’s inclusion is really just another thing for Fanboy Types to get yelly about, and insist that Mara Jade be a thing. Look, we have a new side female character we want in everything now, and it’s Ahsoka.)

Speaking of. She dead.

I don’t like it. But functionally I get it. It’s a deeply important story decision, and she needed closure to her arc.

Oh and Kenobi. Ezra chases a vision of Maul to Tatooine and getting lost in the desert, he is saved by Kenobi, who basically tells him he’s in the wrong story. (This is ridiculous, what am I doing here?) It’s a nice way to put up boundaries between Ezra and Luke, who by all reasonable metrics are peers. Ezra leaves to return to his family, the crew of the ghost. Maul finds Obi-Wan, they duel and Maul dies. (Probably. I’ll never count Maul out for Filoni. If he pops up in Resistance I’ll note that it tracks.)

That was the last episode of Rebels that I watched. And there was plenty this season that I didn’t have much memory of. Kallus taking over as Fulcrum is cool, and Sabine taking her place in Mandalorian politics, while wielding the dark saber is also neat. Hera coming to terms with her father.

But for the most part, I prefer season 2. Ezra’s growing up is a relief and his excised angst makes him more watchable but also a lot less distinct. His competence is cool but without that edge he just becomes Luke, with different hair. We already have Luke, a different take on the Jedi trainee would have been welcome.

Maybe that’s why the fandom latched on to Ahsoka. She’s different, she’s new.

Or maybe I’m projecting. I don’t know. I’m enjoying watching the show, and it’s doing what I want for this project, which is get me excited to watch and think about Star Wars again. I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I’d lost my enthusiasm for this world and that made me sad. With The Skywalker saga ending I wanted to at least be excited.

And I am excited about Star Wars again. And Clone Wars and Rebels helped get me there. (Though it was mostly Solo if I’m honest.) Anyway, next week, we’ll talk Season 4, which I have not watched any of. (I don’t think.) Hopefully the show pulls off a cool ending.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 2

Ahsoka’s great right? Like she’s really great. I feel like I could write this whole essay about her. (Except I already wrote that essay back the first time I watched this season.)  

So instead we’re going to focus on something else this season.

We’re going to focus on Kanan Jarrus: Mediocre Jedi Knight.

Kanan’s a pretty shitty Jedi. But he’s a great character. Freddie Prinze Jr. does excellent work too. But Kanan is a different kind of character for Star Wars which is after all, the joy of both Clone Wars and Rebels, and, at least on paper the Story series, exploring different corners of that galaxy, far far away. Kanan isn’t a hero. He’s not a great warrior like Anakin. Or the best teacher ever like Obi-Wan. Or a wise sage like Yoda. He’s not the savior like Luke. Or power awaking anew like Rey. He’s just, a guy, who got lucky one time, and has been surviving on his wits since then.

He’s got his issues, (guilt mostly) but he’s in love, he’s doing his best to make the galaxy a better place, and he doesn’t really think he has what it takes to whip this kid into shape but he’s giving it his all anyway.

You wanna know who else comes back this season? (Besides Ahsoka? And again, she’s great.) Rex. Rex is great too. Kanan doesn’t care for him. (The thing about seeing everyone you care about getting murdered, it does a number on you and when a guy with the same face as the murderers shows up, you might not love having him around.) Ezra likes him though. Ezra is still super annoying. I forgot about the internet calling him Space Aladdin, but he is that. Also, back? Darth Maul. Dave Filoni loves bringing back Darth Maul so much he wants to take the concept out behind the middle school and get it pregnant, but he’s good here too, since his appearance at a Sith Temple eventually leads to that most devestating of showdowns. (That had me sitting on my couch rocking back and forth with tear streaming down my cheeks.)

That brings us to our villains! Hooray! Kallus is still around and still kind of a shit. But mostly this season is centered around The Seventh Sister, a new inquisitors who answers directly to Vader, who is also around. The Seventh Sister is eery and bad ass and, BEST OF ALL, voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Listening to Sarah and Freddie fight/flirt is super cute and also, there’s the whole Buffy factor adding to her badassery. And Vader being more directly involved so that he can kill Ahsoka is a necessity.

The moment where Ahsoka shouts, “I am no Jedi,” and declares her refusal to leave Anakin behind again is stunning. Ashley Eckstein is really wonderful. And knowing Ashley a little bit, I’m even more impressed by latter day Ahsoka, as she’s so straightforward and badass and Ashley is so giggly and bubbly and huggy. (Seriously I’ve met the woman four times and she always greets me with a “Reenie! IT’S SO NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN! OMG YOU LOOK GREAT! HOW ARE YOU?” and a giant hug. She’s amazing. I would follow her into battle.)

Next week we’ll deal with season 3, which will be fun, because I remember watching a few episodes, but little about them.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rebels: Season 1

Remember all those weeks ago when I started Clone Wars and I mentioned that I really didn’t care for the animation style, but the writing and characters made up for it? I don’t know if it’s the jump in tech, or that sweet sweet Disney money, or what, but even though it’s the same character types it’s smoother, the colors are brighter, and it’s more fun to watch.

That said, while Rebels is the prettier show, the whole, “writing and characters” thing is not as strong, but as I realized putting my notes together, unlike Clone Wars which had some built in foundations for it’s leads (except Ahsoka), here we’re starting from scratch, we don’t know any of these people.

The crew of the Ghost, Captain Hera (QUEEN), Jedi Knight Kanan Jaras (FREDDIE PRINZE JR!), monster type Zeb, and Sabine Wren (BEST!) pick up orphan force sensitive whiny teen Ezra (meh.) and zip around the outer rim taking lightly criminal jobs and fighting the empire.

It’s Firefly you guys. They made an officially Star Wars cartoon version of Firefly. And that’s great. It’s very good. We also have a guy who used to be a screw up trying to redeem himself as a teacher and some truly chilling imperials and easily my favorite cliffhanger in any cartoon I’ve watched.

Let’s talk about our bad guys? Agent Callas and The Inquisitor play a B-Team Tarkin and Vader well enough. (Until Tarkin and Vader show up in the last few episodes) but it’s also just eerie, to watch the way a generation has wiped things away. It’s a nice warning, frankly. But let’s not get political.

See, the season of vaguely getting to know the team, and Ezra building his light saber gun. (Seriously. I’m not a huge Ezra fan, but that is awesome) and them teaming up with Lando. (LANDO) Hera reveals to the rest of the team that they’re not on their own, they’re a cell in the rebel alliance under the command of Bail Organa. Oh, and the agent who’s been feeding them missions, the mysterious “Fulcrum?”

IT’S AHSOKA! I remember watching the episode and freaking the frak out at that. Remember, none of us really knew what her fate was, after she’d walked away from the Jedi order. She was just, you know, gone. Did she survive Order 66? Escape into the outer rim? What? (There has since been a novel explaining that whole situation. It’s pretty good. You should read it.)

Anyway, next week we’ll get into season 2, which if I recall is a little bit stronger than one. But I don’t love Rebels like I do Clone Wars, even though, you know, Sabine.

60 Books In 2019 #36: Little Fires Everywhere By Celeste Ng

I’ve lived 26 of my 32 years on this planet in the suburbs. (The 6 years are college and my year in Brooklyn) But, the suburbs where I grew up and still live are the towns that grew up around commuter train lines to New York City, rather than planned communities. (When I was young the town I grew up in got a few planned neighborhoods, and the town went so bonkers about it they voted the mayor out of office and he’d run unopposed for like 20 years or something) So Planned and Gated communites more common in the midwest and down south have always kind of freaked me out.

Little Fires Everywhere which is focused on Shaker Heights, Ohio, one of the earliest planned suburbs, in 1997, doesn’t not help with how alien this kind of town feels to me. Centered on the lifer Richardson family and their rental tenants, Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl, the book is equally concerned with Mia’s mysterious past, an adoption case involving an abandoned infant, and the romantic shenanigans of the teen cast.

That undersells the book which deals with race and class in some interesting ways, as well as the ways teenagers view the world around them, and the way the Richardson kids (wealthy white teens) are kind of full of shit. The way Pearl rebels against her mother’s unconventional artist’s life to the more conventional world she’s now a part of.

I don’t want to get spoilery, because the book twists in some interesting if predictable ways. It’s also a slow starter but worth the stick out. It’s a book about siblings and motherhood in some big ways and that’s pretty cool.

I’m looking forward to the mini series because I think this book is going to make a kick ass mini series.

Up next is The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory because it’s time to get some romance into my life.

We Used To Be Friends

Spoilers ahead for Veronica Mars Season 4

It’s been a week, so I think we’re fine to chat about it now, don’t you?

A few weeks ahead of time Hulu dropped the new 8 episode season of Veronica Mars. I’m a Marshmallow from not the beginning, but earlier than many. Crystan was always a big fan and I borrowed her DVDs of the show in college to watch.

So the way Hulu, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell have made the new season happen excited me. From rumor to execution it was quick, clean and done.

We need to talk about the ending though. I’ve watched the show a bunch of times. And as the last ten minutes approached, and Veronica, Keith and Wallace waited for Logan at the courthouse, my heart was in my throat. I knew someone was going to die, and since Keith had been given a clean bill of health, I knew it was going to be Logan.

But then he didn’t. And I exhaled. But then of course, he did.

I’m not as angry about this twist as others. It’s hella lazy on Thomas’s part, but I don’t think it’s this massive betrayal that other people made it out to be. Thomas and his team gave Jason Dohring a hell of a swan song to go out on. Logan was fantastic the whole season long. (So was Max Greenfield’s Leo, who I’ve always liked second best of Veronica’s love interests, due to him having a distinct personality. Troy, Duncan and Piz kinda run together in a bland mix of blah) (Also Veronica’s sex dream about him is how I imagine Fifty Shades would have been had Greenfield gotten the role of Christian. IE VERY HOT and INTERESTING)

The mystery was good, nothing will ever hit the highs of “Who killed Lily?” which has always been the show’s post season 1 problem. I’m watching season 2 now and OH BOY is the bus crash tedious. I don’t remember how it all comes together either. What’s the deal with Kendall and the Fitzpatrick’s? Beaver did it because Woody molested him, but there’s a lot of other shit floating around in the story that I think doesn’t mean anything.

The new characters are the best new characters since Gia Goodman came in in season 2, so that’s nice. Patton Oswalt’s true crime nut turned big bad Penn was a good deal of fun. JK Simmons was unsurprisingly wonderful as Clyde, an ex con with ambiguous motivation who bonds with Keith. Kirby Howell-Baptiste is fun as club owner Nicole who bonds with Veronica and Izabel Vidovic is fun as Veronica’s new protege Matty.

I think the most unfortunate thing about the ending, which again, is in my opinion, lazy but fine, is that like so many “eh” endings it’s going to overshadow what was a pretty great season of TV, with excellent work by it’s main cast. But as I said on facebook back at the last episode of Game Of Thrones, I might just like shitty endings? I like the Lost ending, the Dark Tower ending, and I like the Game Of Thrones ending (in concept, the execution I agree, was underwhelming). Those are three pretty reviled conclusions, y’all.

Anyway, I enjoyed the season. I hope as everyone’s emotions cool, we can discuss the rest of it that worked well, and not just the ending. Also, I hope we get more Veronica Mars down the line, if only because I want Weevil and Veronica to make up, and I want to see more of Wallace shaking is head at Matty during school hours. (He’s her physics teacher!)

Also, now I’m shipping Leo and Veronica, and again, don’t mind LoVe being the kind of deep epic tragic story it was always meant to be.

60 Books in 2019 #33: I Like To Watch: Arguing My Way Through The TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum

I feel deeply priviledged to have come of age the same time as an art form. Television began hitting it’s brilliant artistic stride as I entered my teens, and since I was raised in a TV house I was able to witness much of it. (Not all, my mother’s strictures against the “inappropriate” barred much material until I got to college) My dad once smiled wryly at my siblings and I, “You all feel about your shows how we felt about our bands.”

I only made the connection this weekend as I read Emily Nussbaum’s essay collection I Like To Watch that of course we do. We came of age with TV as my parents did with Rock and Roll. We’re defensive of the things we like. (Mary jokes that I “get yelly” when people try to claim Lost as the beginning of something. It was the breakthrough but Buffy and Alias did the hard work.) (Also X-Files) Like TV: The Book last year, I couldn’t wait to get this one in my hand. I was less familiar with Nussbaum’s work than Sepinwall and Zoeler-Seitz, (Both name checked here) because she writes for the hoity toity New Yorker, rather than the rabbly Vulture and AV Club where I go for my TV coverage, but I still know her work. She’s also not a recapper, which is what I knew the guys from.

Her defense of Sex And The City is actually my favorite piece of criticism ever, so there’s that. (It’s included in the book and was rapturously wonderful to read again.) I’m also just trying, with the limited dollars and time that I have to support the idea of TV criticism as valid. I love television. I love that it’s being taken as seriously as film now. (I love movies too, but not like I love TV.) Nussbaum’s essays are stunning in their clarity and research. I disagree with her on several points, she’s far too dismissive of Amy Sherman-Palladino and Aaron Sorkin for me, and thinks that the changes in Weeds post season 3 were “bold” and “reinvigorating,” rather than “absurd” and “ultimately fruitless.” (my preferred adjectives.)

I knew I’d be engrossed in the book though when she opened it with a spirited discussion of getting hooked on Buffy through the largely execrable season 1 episode “The Pack.” (It is a truly odious one, some of the worst, “High School Is Hell” pandering of the first few seasons. You know how I hate those WB genre puberty metaphors.) But the main section could have been expanded to a book on it’s own.

A nearly 50 page essay about grappling with her love for Woody Allen’s movies and Louis CK’s TV shows in the wake of Me Too, is a staggeringly personal look at separating art from artist, the way art gets inside of you and how to separate it out when it’s revealed as filthy or wrong in retrospect (it felt trenchant for me this weekend having rewatched Gone With The Wind on Friday and being enraptured all over again despite my woker instincts shouting “IT’S BAD! WITH THE SLAVERY! AND THE MARITAL RAPE! AND THE LIONIZING OF THE KLAN!”) is a beautiful piece of writing. She grapples with Cosby as well, but admits he was never inside of her the way Woody and Louis were, so it’s more of a footnote.

The three profiles she includes are also interesting, Kenya Barris (black-ish) Jenji Kohan (Weeds, Orange Is The New Black) and Ryan Murphy (RYAN MURPHY) deep dives into three very different artists using the medium in fabulously different ways. (Can one even compare Dre Johnson to Nancy Botwin to Andrew Cunahan?) For a work about TV by a female critic, I think there’s woefully little talk about Shonda, she covers Scandal in comparison to House of Cards (Hey! I did that) (Twice in fact) and Shonda is mentioned in all three profiles.

I did adore the book though. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of serious conversation about TV. It’s just a deeply unlikely think to happen.

Up next is The Princess And The Fangirl which is the companion book to Geekerella. Back into the YA breach, at least temporarily.