io9 Investigates: Will Wearing a Giant Baby Yoda Onesie Improve Your Mandalorian Viewing Experience?

Portrait of a scientist in the field.

Portrait of a scientist in the field.
Photo: James Whitbrook/io9

Toys and CollectiblesAction figures, statues, exclusives, and other merchandise. Beware: if you look here, you’re probably going to spend some money afterwards.

The Mandalorian is already some pretty solid Star War. But what if we could improve on it by looking like an absolute idiot while watching? I, io9’s resident idiot, decided to find out.

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As anticipation for The Mandalorian’s second season began building up a few weeks ago, so came with it a sea of merchandise. Toys! T-Shirts! Funkos! A…onesie for adults? As a noted impulsive Baby Yoda Item purchaser, I couldn’t help myself but to be drawn to Hot Topic’s “Plush Union Suit”, as they call it, a unisex onesie that replicates the Child’s snugglesome robes, complete with a hood depicting his lil’ head, ears and all.

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And so, I ordered. I waited, and then several weeks and one customs charge later, my dreams came true:

But it was not enough to frolic around in the early days of a British Fall/Winter transition. The Child Plush Union Suit was very soft, and very warm, the living embodiment of that Simpsons bit where Homer is curled up in bed like a cinnamon bun of pure peace. It was, as a one-size-fits most item, like being drowned in a blanket of Baby Yoda, even more so when you pulled the hood up to envelop yourself and/or terrify any nearby pets. These are all good things. But I wanted to be rigorous, and conduct some science. As Chapter 12 drew near, I prepared to conduct a field test: would I enjoy an episode of The Mandalorian more if I saw it through the eyes of being an incredibly soft Baby Yoda in disguise?

And so, behold the notes I took while sitting down to watch “The Siege”—transcribed from my notes app—resplendent in Child regalia like a functioning adult who gets paid to write things about this dumb franchise online:

  • It is 8am and I am very tired, so being in this soft blanket of a thing is not doing favors for my ability to keep my eyes open.
  • I am warm. Maybe I should’ve kept my workout clothes on instead of putting some lounge wear on. Pretty sure it’s like 8 degrees here right now, too. I should figure out what that is in American later. [Editorial update: 46 Fahrenheit, friends!]
  • THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ONESIE BUT SPACE MACARONS!!!!!!
  • Lotta shooting in this ep. Less Baby Yoda than I anticipated, so I’m waving my head around to flap the ears during the fight scenes.
  • I am very warm. If I unzip the chest a bit do violate the entire test? There’s only 10 minutes of the episode left…
  • VICTORY. I have completed the episode and I am taking this damn thing off and getting some water.

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Turns out, Carl Weather’s The Mandalorian Chapter 12? Pretty alright Star War! Solid episode, not much going on outside of the action, but that’s also kind of The Mandalorian sometimes. Would I have liked it less if I was not bedecked in officially-sanctioned onesie? I conducted a control test that evening after work, re-watching this time without the hoodie. I was substantially cooler—in body temperature, not social cachet, to be clear and obviously the surprises like the Dark Troopers didn’t quite land the second time around. But it was still pretty alright!

It would seem, at least, from this rigorous display of science, being dressed as Baby Yoda will not improve your enjoyment of The Mandalorian. I tested it again this week, and did not take notes, but came to the same conclusion: I looked very silly, I was very warm, and I was very comfortable. Oh, and The Mandalorian continues to be a solid piece of Star Wars.

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So yes, maybe if you like looking a bit silly and need to be substantially warmed this winter, maybe consider dressing up like a 50 year old space baby and letting your inner child out for a bit. Or I dunno, buy a sweater or something. That might be better for when we’re allowed outside again.

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The Mandalorian’s Grandest Episode Yet Uncovers Old Friends, and Older Pains

Din Djarin meets an old friend, not forgotten.

Din Djarin meets an old friend, not forgotten.
Image: Lucasfilm

The Mandalorian has always promised the picture of a much wider place it could encompass in the Star Wars universe, ever since its first episode flipped the script and put our titular hero in front of a little green mystery from the stars. Its latest chapter re-aligns the show’s place in that world even as it grows it ever larger, but does so while cementing the most intimate bond that ties it together.

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Image: Lucasfilm

It’s hard not to treat “Chapter 13”—burdensomely titled “The Jedi” and directed by Clone Wars and Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni—as something of a turning point for The Mandalorian. The end of one part of its mystery and the start of a new expansion which builds upon that mystery. Yet, there is a loose casualness to the way it sweeps its prior slate clean, only to begin writing a new, grander story for Din Djarin and our dear Baby Yoda to take.

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That’s a casualness that also extends to its treatment of the titular Jedi, perhaps the show’s worst-kept secret in a long time: Ahsoka Tano (played by the equally-ill-kept secret, Rosario Dawson, who has been the center of an ongoing legal case regarding the alleged discrimination of a trans employee). For all the reverence we as Star Wars fans place on the character, The Mandalorian is not particularly of the same eye. Ahsoka is not some grand secret kept hidden away for a lavish arrival onto the scene, or kept at arm’s reach as That Thing We Know. From the moment the episode begins, no grand airs are made: Ahsoka is here, lightsabers swinging on the planet Corvus—the wandering ronin to our western gunslinger in Din. Ultimately, as so often is the case with The Mandalorian, she is someone willing to help Din if he helps her in turn.

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Image: Lucasfilm

What Ahsoka needs in exchange for lending a hand (and a floating rock or two) is access to the Magistrate of Calodan, Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto)—a woman whose lingering scars from the Clone Wars not only saw her align with the Empire during its reign and help build its navy, but continue to keep a cold grip on the people under her thumb even as that Empire lies in ashes. Ahsoka wants Elsbeth, not just to liberate the people under her control but for information, the continuation of her own quest from Star Wars Rebels to locate both Grand Admiral Thrawn and Ezra Bridger, who vanished into the unknown regions in the animated series’ climax.

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Although Ezra himself goes unnamed here, it is a connection to this brash, once angry, once emotional young Jedi Knight that seems to plague Ahsoka for much of the episode, something of a running theme in her long life at this point. In spite of ultimately making good on her offer to help Din, she cannot teach the Child the ways of the Force. After making a connection with him, Ahsoka lays out something that is as clear in her as it is in the Child—in the process, revealing his name, Grogu. A young Padawan raised on Coruscant, Grogu was hidden away during the Clone War, only to be rescued and kept secret once more when it fell during Order 66. Through the Force, Ahsoka senses Grogu’s pain and despair, but also anger: an anger she has seen lay even the greatest Jedi of her time low.

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Screenshot: Lucasfilm

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So, like she herself seemingly has with the world around her, Ahsoka begs Din to cut Grogu off—let his connection to the Force dwindle, keep him secret as he once was. Because the thought of training that power only to see it give in to the dark, uncontrolled impulses Grogu has displayed before could only lead to the heartbreak she once saw with Anakin. Ahsoka lost her master and is in the process of attempting to recover a lost young friend strong in the Force, one who needs as much guidance as Grogu does. These connections have driven her over the years, yes, but they’ve also caused her unimaginable pain. Pain she does not want to burden further in taking on Grogu and training his abilities: the fear of a failure that saw her unable to save Anakin or Ezra (yet).

But Ahsoka’s distance with Grogu, even as she is able to connect with him and share his story with Din, is tempered by something made more explicit in “The Jedi” than it ever has previously been in this series: the simple fact that Din loves this child. It’s not outright said, The Mandalorian isn’t really that kind of show, but this chapter’s most gleeful, earnest moments aren’t in Ahsoka swinging a lightsaber about or the mentions of Star Wars’ past, canon or otherwise.

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Screenshot: Lucasfilm

They’re the intimacy in his interactions with Grogu in this episode, made all the stronger after Ahsoka’s mental connection to the Child provides context for him. The lovingness with which he knows how to get Grogu to reach out with his power for Ahsoka, his joy and pride when Grogu does so for him and not her, the quiet moment of melancholy when, in the episode’s climax, Din believes he’s waking the child up on the Razor Crest one last time before parting ways. Hell, even the way he practically coos when calling the Child “kid,” or by his name.

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We know that Din cares for Grogu at this point, but it’s typically been presented with a gruff distance, the underprepared sudden father figure attempting to deal with a wacky kid high on space macarons and midi-chlorians. The bond between them has never been depicted as openly and as intimately as it has here, and it’s vital that it is presented openly, as The Mandalorian evolves from the mystery of who this child is, and instead onto where he will go next. It’s a rare emotional denouement in a show that is otherwise mostly preoccupied with tone and context: we now know who Grogu was, but it is also made clear who he is now, the adopted son of a man whose bond is just as potent with him as a Jedi’s connection to the Force is.

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Screenshot: Lucasfilm

As to where he’ll go next? Ahsoka is, at least, willing to pass the metaphysical buck, so to speak. After Din aids her in liberating Calodan from Magistrate Elsbeth and her Forces, Ahsoka insists once more that she cannot train Grogu, but offers hope that there may yet be more Jedi that could: but they will have to be Jedi open to that idea, not ones who have this little child thrust into their paths as she was. Ahsoka gives Din a location, Tython, home to an ancient Jedi temple, and a seeing stone that will allow Grogu to decide his own path: reach out and allow others of his kind to sense him, or stay hidden as the Jedi’s twilight continues.

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A new quest for our heroes, albeit a spin on the old one, but many questions still remain, of course. Who kept Grogu a secret for all those years of tutelage? Who saved him from the rise of the Empire? Who, if not Ahsoka Tano, could be the Jedi that reaches out to him now on Tython? But in some ways, even for a show that is all-too-fascinated by lingering questions and the promises of wider teases to Star Wars canons old and new, they don’t necessarily matter in this immediate moment. For all the importance laid upon the appearance of Ahsoka here, “The Jedi” keenly reminded us that the most vital thing The Mandalorian has is the relationship between Din Djarin and his child.

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Image: Lucasfilm

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Assorted Musings:

  • Shout out to Michael Biehn! Also, RIP Michael Biehn, I guess.
  • Are you ready for the inevitable, incredibly stupid fandom war that’s going to break out between people who will continue to casually call Grogu “Baby Yoda,” those who are insistent that now his name is known we must call him Grogu at all times, and then the third faction attempting to still use “the Child” as a middle ground? It’s Star Wars. People will complain about this.
  • Ahsoka is still looking for Thrawn at this point, which means she’s been doing so for around four years—The Mandalorian takes place around 9ABY, while Star Wars Rebels’ epilogue has previously been established in the book Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy as taking place around a year after the Battle of Endor, so in 5ABY. What’s interesting here is the way she refers to Thrawn as Elsbeth’s “Master,” which almost carries the implication that Thrawn is not as missing as he was when Ezra shipped them both off with the purrgils into the unknown. Is Thrawn once again a presence in the Imperial Remnant, as he was in the old Expanded Universe? Is he Gideon’s master? And if Thrawn has returned, and Ezra hasn’t, what became of our young rebel friend?
  • Tython has been previously mentioned in the Disney era of Star Wars canon as home to one of the earliest known Jedi temples, but it has a much longer history in the prior Expanded Universe as the ancestral seat of the Jedi Order, home to its spiritual predecessors in the Je’daii, first covered in the Dark Horse Comics series Dawn of the Jedi. Players of Bioware’s MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic will also be familiar with it—Tython and its Jedi temple are where all Knight and Consular characters begin their journeys as padawans.
  • Speaking of the Old Republic games: HK Assassin Droids! Elsbeth’s two HK-87s aren’t from a model that’s appeared in Star Wars before, but their series has an infamous legacy. We first met them in the form of HK-47, the sardonic mercenary killer who joins the player’s party in the beloved Knights of the Old Republic CRPG, making appearances in its sequel The Sith Lords as well as the aforementioned The Old Republic MMO. While the series itself has had fleeting mentions in Star Wars’ current canon, this is the first time we’ve actually seen one in action. Frankly, the 87s don’t seem quite up to the task like HK-47 was!

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The Nerd’s Watch: The Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Streaming in December

Maybe the biggest streaming movie...ever is coming this month.

Maybe the biggest streaming movie…ever is coming this month.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Viewers are turning to streaming entertainment more than ever thanks to the global pandemic, and the plethora of services can serve as a much-needed escape. At the start of each month, most streamers do a little shuffle, adding new movies and taking some away, and io9 is here to help with your decision making.

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Welcome to the Nerd’s Watch, our monthly column where we curate the most interesting sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies coming to the biggest streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO Max are all ready for December with lots of holiday content, would-be theatrical movies, and more, so let’s get to it.

Rango is coming to Netflix.

Rango is coming to Netflix.
Image: DreamWorks

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Netflix

Available December 1 

The Da Vinci Code – Not quite up to the entertainment value of the book it’s based on, this slick mystery directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks based on the Dan Brown bestseller is still pretty entertaining if you’ve never seen it before. (Also on Hulu)

The Happytime Murders – I know I said these are the “best” streaming titles and this is literally one of the worst movies I’ve seen in some time. But now that it’s on streaming, I think that level of awful definitely makes this weird, R-rated, puppet human hybrid starring Melissa McCarthy worth a watch.

Jurassic Park; The Lost World: Jurassic Park; Jurassic Park III – Come for the original all-time classic, stay for the diminishing returns in the sequels that at least have some great visual effects.

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Kung Fu Panda 2 – It might be weird to watch Kung Fu Panda 2 without watching the first Kung Fu Panda, but these movies are so damn entertaining for the whole family, we’re pretty confident you can pick it up. Big panda kicks ass. Got it? (Also HBO Max)

Little Nicky – After a bunch of hugely successful comedies in the lates 1990s, Adam Sandler made the weird story of a demon named “Little Nicky.” It was not as revered as those earlier movies but it has since gained some cult fans for being oh-so-strange.

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Monster House – Right in the middle of Pixar’s early 2000s renaissance, Sony released this super creepy, cool animated film about a haunted house terrorizing a neighborhood. It was a hit, but got a little overshadowed by the Pixar films, so maybe you missed it. Now you can catch it. It’s very good.

Stargate SG-1: Seasons 1-10 – I’ve never seen these shows, but when 10 seasons of a fan-favorite sci-fi series comes to streaming, we take notice. And now you’ll notice too. Here’s some more on the Stargate franchise.

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Available December 8

Bobbleheads: The Movie – This is an actual movie that exists. Cher does a voice in it.

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Available December 10

Alice in Borderland This adaptation of the manga of the same name follows a group of Tokyo gamers who wake up in a very weird version of Tokyo and get drawn into games that could kill them. It’s a Netflix original series.

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Available December 23

The Midnight Sky December has some big, big movies coming to streaming. Among them is this Netflix original directed by George Clooney in which he plays a scientist who has to stop a group of astronauts (including Felicity Jones) from returning to Earth after a massive global catastrophe.

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Available December 26

Fast & Furious Spy Racers: Season 3: Sahara With the wait for F9 continuing for a few more months, Fast and Furious fans will at least have the third season of this animated series to enjoy.

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Available December 28

Rango – After several years of Pixar dominating the Best Animated Feature Oscar, a little green lizard voiced by Johnny Depp (under the direction of his Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski) came along and ended the streak. Rango is a very quirky, funny animated film that stands right along side those Pixar classics.

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No this isn’t a live shot of 2020, it’s the movie 2012.

No this isn’t a live shot of 2020, it’s the movie 2012.
Image: Sony

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Amazon

Available December 1

2012 – He was only a few years off. In 2009, Roland Emmerich made this global disaster film about a father (John Cusack) trying to save his family as the world basically ended around them. What’s more 2020 than that? And though the movie isn’t great, you could do way worse in terms of Hollywood escapism.

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Anaconda – Giant snakes, Ice Cube, and Jennifer Lopez. What more could person want?

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs – Before they made The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street, and so much more, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were TV guys making the leap to the big screen with this excellent, smart, and funny story about a man whose food-making machine threatens to end the world.

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Dr. No; Goldeneye; Goldfinger; The Spy Who Loved Me – A kind of random quartet of James Bond movies are coming to streaming. A few of the best too, though. (Also on Hulu)

The Natural – You might be thinking, “How is this baseball movie on here? That’s not a sci-fi movie!” And yet the story of nobody Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford), an older man who comes out of nowhere to, for a brief time, become the most amazing baseball player in the world with a magic bat created by lightning…sounds more like a comic book than a drama, right?

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True Lies – James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger have made some great movies, especially together, and this one—with Schwarzenegger as a man whose family doesn’t know he’s a spy—remains highly underrated. It’s so much fun and well worth a rewatch if you haven’t seen it in a while

Available December 16

The Expanse: Season 5We interrupt this column with an urgent break in from Expanse superfan Cheryl Eddy: “Season four ended on a cliffhanger—all those space rocks are still making their way toward Earth, and it wouldn’t be The Expanse without some sort of teetering-on-the-brink-of-war situation—but look for the series’ penultimate season to also delve into the complicated backstories of its more mysterious characters, especially fan favorites Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) and Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper). The first three episodes drop December 16, then the show shifts to a more traditional format, with episodes popping up each Wednesday through February 3.”

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The cast of Sunshine.

The cast of Sunshine.
Image: Fox

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Hulu

Available December 1

Lupin the 3rd Part 5: Complete Season 1 – James Whitbrook loves the franchise. You might too.

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30 Days of NightJosh Hartnett stars in this decent little horror movie about a town that plunges into its annual stretch of perpetual darkness right when a bunch of vampires invade. Since vampires only can be out at night, that’s probably a bad thing.

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Charlotte’s WebThe classic 1973 animated version of the E.B White book is coming to streaming. Perfect to watch and cry at with your kids, or all by yourself, as if you were a kid again.

Dominion: Prequel to the ExorcistThis is Paul Schrader’s version of this twice-made tale, not to be confused with Renny Harlin’s version, and is generally considered the superior take. As the title suggests, it’s a prequel to The Exorcist in which we see Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård) first encounter the demon Pazuzu. It’s not in the same league as the original but fans will find a few interesting connections and scares along the way.

Dragonball: Evolution Being voted one of the worst movies ever on IMDB makes this loose, live action Dragonball adaptation worth a watch on its own, yes? Probably not if you’re a fan of Dragonball, but for other people, bad moves can be fun.

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SunshineDanny Boyle’s movies are almost always awesome, and yet somehow, this 2007 sci-fi film featuring Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne, Cillian Murphy, and Mark Strong, plus a script by Alex Garland, oddly gets overlooked. It’s about scientists traveling into space to reignite the sun for crying out loud! It’s awesome!

The 6th DayWhile the aforementioned True Lies is great, this 2000 Arnold Schwarzenegger action film is…less great. It’s about a man running into a clone of himself and the wildness that ensues. Not much about it is memorable but it’s Arnold so that by itself makes it worth watching.

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The Fifth ElementThe late ‘90s were great for sci-fi and while The Matrix and Star Wars may get the headlines, Luc Besson’s excellent story of a cab driver (Bruce Willis) saving the galaxy with the unforgettable Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) is right up there.

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The Hulk The Hulk has become a fan-favorite character in recent years thanks to his portrayal by Mark Ruffalo but this earlier approach, starring Eric Bana, saw multiple Oscar winner Ang Lee take a crack at the big green machine. It’s a weird movie that should have been better than it is, but is nevertheless fascinating.
 
The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring; The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers; The Lord of The Rings: The Return of The King – The holy trilogy of fantasy filmmaking. Bow at its greatness. (Fellowship is also coming to HBO Max)

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon EmperorAlmost a decade removed from the first film in the series, by the time Tomb of the Dragon Emperor came about in 2008, the Mummy franchise had pretty much been put in a tomb. But, director Rob Cohen got Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh to come out for this film and tried his best to bring it back. He failed but it’s a valiant effort nevertheless.

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Available December 6 

The Secret GardenThis 2020 version of the classic, and often remade, tale of a young girl finding a magic garden got largely lost in the annual shuffle. But now it’s coming to Amazon and reviews make it sound like at least a solid attempt at capturing the wonder and whimsy of the story.

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Available December 15

Hitman: Agent 47 For a second, I got excited that this was the Timothy Olyphant Hitman movie from 2007. But, alas, it’s the 2015 film with Rupert Friend as the bald assassin. Both movies are bad but at least Olyphant is having a moment.

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Pixar’s Soul is coming to Disney+.

Pixar’s Soul is coming to Disney+.
Image: Pixar

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Disney+

Available December 4

Anastasia – My wife has been begging me to watch this Fox musical for years. She says I’ll love it. For some reason, I keep putting it off. But now that it’s on Disney+, I think it’s unavoidable.

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Big – Tom Hanks’ signature role as a teenage boy who longs to be an adult (and then unexpectedly gets his wish) remains as funny, poignant, and charming as it was over 30 years ago.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms – If you’re looking for a visual feast, you can’t do better than The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. It’s just a stunningly gorgeous movie. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good movie. At least it’s finally on Disney+ where it belongs though.

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Sky High – I need to say this in all caps: IF YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN SKY HIGH, IT’S TIME TO WATCH SKY HIGH. IT’S THE INCREDIBLES MEETS HARRY POTTER WITH KURT RUSSELL AND IT IS AMAZING. No further questions at this time.

Godmothered – In this Disney+ original, Jillian Bell plays a fairy godmother in a world that doesn’t really believe in those anymore—including the girl she’s come to Earth to help, who’s now an adult played by Isla Fisher.

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Available December 11

Ralph Breaks the Internet – The video game world of Wreck-It Ralph was so worth exploring audiences luckily got to see more of it in this awesome 2018 sequel, where Ralph jumped from the old-school arcade to the new-school internet. Chances are you haven’t seen it and, if not, you should watch it.

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Available December 18

Into the Woods – Rob Marshall’s fairy tale-filled musical adaptation isn’t quite as good as fans had hoped upon release, but the iconic songs and performance by the likes of Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt still make it a nice addition to the Disney platform.

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Available December 25

Soul – When Pixar releases a new film, it’s a big deal. It’s an even a bigger deal when it skips theaters to go to Disney+ and even bigger again when it’s the latest film from Pete Docter, director of Monsters Inc., Up, and Inside Out. Soul follows Joe (Jamie Foxx), a jazz teacher who gets his big break and then dies in a sudden accident. He then helps a soul (Tina Fey) learn why life is so precious. I’ve seen the film and it’s every bit as good as you hope it will be.

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One HBO Max subscription, please.

One HBO Max subscription, please.
Image: Warner Bros.

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HBO Max

Available December 1

Annabelle: Creation – Why not start the holiday season by diving into one of the many subsets of The Conjuring Universe, such as this second film about a sinister doll, which helps explain her origins?

The Crow; The Crow: City Of Angels; The Crow: Wicked Prayer – The main event here is the original Crow, a moody, powerful comic book adaptation starting the late Brandon Lee. Then, if you’re so inclined, you can go to the second and fourth films in the franchise. Not as good, obviously, but at least you get the original.

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Deep Blue Sea – Genius sharks, Samuel L. Jackson being eaten in one of the greatest on-screen deaths ever, plus an amazing LL Cool J theme song? This is what cinema is all about.

Demolition Man – Grab some Taco Bell and enjoy one of the best and most underrated sci-fi action films of the 1990s, starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock.

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Fallen – Denzel Washington stars in this excellent supernatural thriller about a killer who passes into other people’s bodies through touch. Chilling, tense stuff. Absolutely worth watching if you’ve never seen it.

Final Destination; Final Destination 2; Final Destination 3; The Final Destination – You can’t escape in these four pretty damn awesome horror films about people who avoid death and then find it following them at every turn. The original is great but even the sequels are good.

The Girl With All The Gifts – One of the best zombie movies you’ve never seen. Read more about it below but seriously, don’t miss it.

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Harry And the Hendersons – John Lithgow stars in this Bigfoot comedy from the 1980s you may have forgotten existed until this moment. But it does. And it’s dumb as hell in the best possible way.

Logan’s Run – This 1976 classic is crazy dated but still hugely important to the sci-fi genre. It follows a society that seems like everything is perfect and peaceful, mostly because everyone is killed when they hit a certain age.

Mars Attacks – ACK. ACK. ACK. TIM BURTON. ACK. ALIENS. ACK. WATCH IT.

The Omega Man – Charlton Heston stars in this adaptation of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend in which a man fights mutants while believing he’s the last person on Earth.

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Shaun Of The Dead – The best zom-rom-com of all time. Edgar Wright co-writes and directs the modern classic about a regular guy who tries to reconcile his failing relationship during a zombie apocalypse.

Snakes on a Plane – The fact Snakes on a Plane is coming to HBO Max along with Deep Blue Sea makes for a very good double feature of Samuel L. Jackson fighting weird creatures. In this one, he actually survives longer than a few minutes.

Snow White and the Huntsman – Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth fall in love while battling Charlize Theron in this better-than-you-remember fantasy adaptation.

Spawn – As fans wait for Todd McFarlane to make a new Spawn movie, never forget in 1997 Hollywood already made one. It’s pretty bad but there are some cool effects and stuff.

THX 1138 – Before he created Star Wars, George Lucas made this heady sci-fi film starring Robert Duvall. It’s not as exciting as Star Wars but the big ideas and filmmaking talent are well on display.

Westworld – If HBO Max is gonna have the Westworld TV show, it’s probably good to have the Michael Crichton movie on which it was based. Required viewing for fans of the show and Yul Brynner in a black hat.

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Available December 19

Wendy – The sophomore film from Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin is a modern, gritty, beautiful, and poignant reimagining of the Peter Pan myth. It got a little buried in the 2020 shuffle but is absolutely worth watching.

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Available December 25

Wonder Woman 1984 – The reason why HBO Max is now on the list, and while you’re all soon to become HBO Max subscribers. Warner Bros. has decided to debut one of its biggest 2020 release on its streaming service, the continuing story of Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman. We are so pumped for this you don’t even know.

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Available December 26

Independence Day – What better way to ring in the new year than with this 1996 sci-fi blockbuster? Bonus, this is the “Extended Edition” which adds a few little scenes, nothing significant, but it’s still a great movie.

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The Art of The Mandalorian Says ‘Peekaboo’ in This Exclusive Preview

We see you, little baby!

We see you, little baby!
Image: Richard Lim, Abrams Books/Lucasfilm

The Mandalorian has always put its concept work front and center—from behind the scenes looks in shows like Disney Gallery, to literally every episode of the series itself, since its end credits highlight the concept work that helped bring what you just watched to life. Now, as we journey through the second season, a new art book is looking back on season one, and we’ve got a look inside.

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io9 is excited to give you a sneak peek at The Art of The Mandalorian (Season 1), by author Phil Szostak—he of many, many, many incredible Star Wars artbooks—and published by Abrams. Taking a look into the process of creating a new live-action Star Wars story for the small screen, the book is filled with concept art not just like the ones we saw in every credits sequence, but explorations and experimentations that helped scope out designs for fundamental parts of the show.

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Everything is in here, from the forging of Mando’s ship, the Razor Crest, to his own pre-Beskar look, and, yes, an exploration of how the designs of Baby Yoda would come to be one of the cutest little things in the galaxy far, far away.

Illustration for article titled iThe Art of The Mandalorian /iSays ‘Peekaboo’ in This Exclusive Preview

Image: Doug Chiang, Abrams Books/Lucasfilm

Check out our exclusive preview below—with art by Ryan Church, Brian Matyas, Jama Jurabaev, and Christian Alzmann—including scenes from the first season, Razor Crests that might have been, and a much more patchwork look for the shadows of the Empire in some very beaten up Imperial Remnant Stormtroopers. Oh, and of course, a few pieces of art dedicated to your son and ours, Baby Yoda.

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The Art of The Mandalorian (Season 1) hits shelves on December 1.


The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season One), by Phil Szostak, published by Abrams Books © & ™ 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd.

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Disney’s Experiments With Disney+ Could Change How We Watch Movies

Illustration for article titled Disneys Experiments With Disney+ Could Change How We Watch Movies

Image: Disney+

As covid-19 continues to push theaters to the brink of bankruptcy, Disney has been cagey about the future of its planned theatrical releases. But a new report suggests more big-budget films could be heading to its service Disney+, as have recent releases like Mulan and Artemis Fowl. And even if theaters are able to make it out of the other side of the pandemic, a new standard for movie releases could forever change how we see movies in a post-covid-19 future.

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Deadline reported last week that Disney may be eyeing VOD releases for a number of its upcoming titles, including Cruella, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan and Wendy—all of which were slated to release in theaters. The outlet said that it wasn’t clear whether the films would release directly on Disney+ or be offered at a premium through its Premier Access platform, as the company did with the live-action remake of Mulan. It also added that no final decision had been made, meaning theatrical releases for one or any could proceed as originally planned.

But such a move would make sense for Disney at a time when a return to theaters is still a distant prospect for moviegoers in many parts of the U.S., either as a result of theater closures or a hesitancy to return to cinemas more broadly. Moreover, Disney executives made clear during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report that Disney’s primary focus now and for the foreseeable future is its direct-to-consumer business.

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Key to building on the success of Disney+ and its growing subscriber base is new and exclusive content. It’s not hard to imagine Disney might tap its slate of yet-to-be-released feature films to help bring in new subscribers given how things are looking in the U.S. right now—which is to say, not great. While Disney was tight-lipped about the success of its Mulan release through Premier Access, data from Sensor Tower estimated that app installs of Disney+ between Google Play and the App Store rose by 68% during a three-day period when Mulan hit the service over the same three-day period the week prior, while in-app spending also rose 193% that week.

Disney, of course, isn’t the only studio bypassing theatrical releases and going the direct-to-consumer route for big-budget titles. Universal Pictures saw tremendous success with its release of Trolls World Tour as a PVOD title, with the movie pulling in nearly $100 million in rentals during its first three weeks—more, even, than the original Trolls pulled in during a five-month theatrical run, per the Wall Street Journal. And next month, Warner Bros.’s Wonder Woman 1984 will release both in theaters as well as on its streaming service HBO Max on Christmas Day. Even Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins, who’s been outspoken about the effects that ongoing theater closures could have on the industry, said last week in a statement about the dual VOD and theatrical release, “At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, theaters were in a much better position to make demands about the terms of their release windows and exclusivity for those titles. The success of Trolls World Tour as a PVOD title initiated a short-lived war between AMC and Universal Pictures, with the theater chain promising to ban screenings of films by “any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes.”

When the two parties came to a truce months later, it was clear that concessions had been made to keep their relationship amicable. Universal granted AMC theatrical rights for at least three weekends before it could offer the movies on its own services—a markedly shorter window than had been standard in pre-pandemic times. Even then, it was clear that theaters needed studios more than studios needed theaters, particularly since most of them have shifted toward being as vertically integrated as they can reasonably get away with. Now, the biggest cinema chains in the nation are narrowly avoiding bankruptcy.

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Disney’s little Premier Access experiment may not be the avenue through which it releases all or even most of the titles that could wind up heading straight to Disney+. But it does prove that Disney is carefully considering its options, and that should scare the shit out of theaters that are already in trouble.

The Mandalorian Brings Big Action and Even Bigger Mysteries

The Mandalorian poked a bit into the past in Chapter 12.

The Mandalorian poked a bit into the past in Chapter 12.
Photo: Disney

Chapter 12 of The Mandalorian saw our hero return to a familiar planet, meet some old friends, and go on an old-fashioned Star Wars adventure. Along the way, he learned some crucial information about the Child, the Empire, and reignited an old rivalry that’s sure to shape the second half of the second season.

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Illustration for article titled iThe Mandalorian/i Brings Big Action and Even Bigger Mysteries

Did you really think The Mandalorian was simply going jump to lightspeed and magically arrive at Ahsoka Tano? Of course not. The Razor Crest needed repairs before Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and the Child could go and find the former Jedi revealed at the end of the previous episode. What better place to get those repairs than Nevarro, where he could see old pals Greef Karga (Carl Weathers, who also directed this episode) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano)?

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The latest episode title, “The Siege,” implied Cara and Greef had other plans for Mando once he arrived on Nevarro. Turns out in the time since he’s been gone, now-Marshal Dune and now-Magistrate Karga have cleaned up the planet pretty well. Greef has even hired Mythrol (Horatio Sanz), who Mando captured in the first scene of the first episode of the series, to help him out.

These days most of Nevarro is peaceful, save for one old Imperial base that hasn’t been abandoned for some unknown reason. While he’s waiting for his ship to be repaired, Greef and Cara would like Mando to join them on a trip to go blow up the base. You know. Something real simple like that. He, of course, agrees, and after dropping Baby Yoda off at the (adorable!) droid-led local school—in the building that used to be the Client’s hangout—they’re off on another adventure.

Once they arrive and break in, the whole siege reminded me very, very much of A New Hope: heroes running through an Imperial base, blasting back and forth with Stormtroopers, being chased by Stormtroopers, traversing onto a small catwalk over a long drop to turn off something in order for them to leave. It was A New Hope. Hell, the reactor controls Mythrol had to sabotage even looked like the tractor beam controls Obi-Wan shut down on the Death Star. But then the group discovered the true purpose of this random base. It’s no moon—it’s a science lab.

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Green is good, red is bad. They’re going to the red.
Photo: Lucasfilm

Apparently, what most of us guessed Moff Gideon and the Client wanted with little Baby Yoda was true. It’s in this base that Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) was using the blood he extracted from the Child way back in Chapter 3 to do…something. The episode is purposefully a little vague here but it’s a huge revelation—it’s suggested the Empire was injecting the Child’s high M-Count blood (Midi-chlorians, we presume) into volunteers to see if they could create Force-sensitive beings. Ones that would fight with the Empire. The experiments failed though and the gruesome results look like something out of The Shape of Water meets Snoke in The Rise of Skywalker (I personally don’t think these have anything to do with Snoke, but that’s a discussion for another time).

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In a message viewed by our heroes, Pershing recommends to Moff Gideon they call off the failed experiments unless they can get the Child back. Upon hearing how long ago the message was sent, Mando realizes he didn’t kill Moff Gideon as he had assumed and they are in deep, deep shit. He zooms away on his jetpack to get back to the Child while Greef, Cara, and Mythrol are forced to blast their way out of the base.

This escape, again, felt like A New Hope, at least at the start, but once Cara stole a Trexler Marauder the show suddenly became Return of the Jedi. Scout Troopers jumped on speeder bikes and chased the heroes through the canyons, resulting in the episode’s best action scene. Weathers even lifted a few shots from Jedi to harness that nostalgia but quickly distinguished the sequence with a unique moment on top of the Marauder, and by eventually adding in TIE Fighters.

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This was an inspired sequence.
Photo: Lucasfilm

It was already some of the best action the show’s done, only for the scene to get taken to a whole new level. A last-minute save from the Razor Crest, now fully repaired, bailing out his friends with an unforgettable showdown in the sky, full of high-altitude stunts. Stunts wildly applauded by a very excited Baby Yoda…until he got sick as a result. He spent all his time at school not learning but instead binging space macarons. Precious. He’ll eat anything!

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Once again, the Mandalorian has helped save Nevarro, but unfortunately for him, one of the aliens tasked with repairing his ship secretly works for Moff Gideon, and has placed a homing beacon on it. After an epic, New Hope-inspired intro to Moff Gideon’s ship (which we told you was coming!), we were reintroduced to the Moff and saw he had a surprise. He’s building an army of very sinister-looking troopers that look ripped right out of Dark Forces: the sinister Dark Troopers of the old expanded universe (or at least something similar and new to the canon). That’s good news for him, but bad news for Mando, who is now leading Moff Gideon right to himself, the Child, and one of the last Jedi in the universe: Ahsoka Tano.

“The Siege” was another highly entertaining episode of television, even if it did stick to the basic, predictable structure of The Mandalorian. Mando has somewhere to be, needs something to get there, has to complete an unrelated task to get it and move on. That’s just what it is at this point, though, and you have to look at the positives. The action here was excellent. The revelations about the Child were intriguing. The development of Greef and Cara was welcome. It all added up to another great chapter in the story of The Mandalorian. Bring on Ahsoka!

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Screenshot: Disney+

Assorted Musings:

  • This may have been the best Baby Yoda episode yet. From him helping Mando with the wires, to him sitting at a desk, asking for space macarons and using the Force to get them, and finally him cheering as Mando destroyed a TIE before vomiting all over himself, it was just pure adorableness. Beyond that though, you can see that he’s learning to vocalize a bit more and definitely starting to understand things better. Though he hasn’t been a huge factor in this season so far, producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are absolutely aging him and making him smarter. He will not be Baby Yoda forever.
  • As a big Ponda Baba fan, it was awesome to see a few of his fellow Aqualish in the episode, even if they were very quickly dispatched by the force that is Cara Dune. The way The Mandalorian keeps making random Star Wars aliens more prevalent is one of the show’s best attributes.
  • It was cool to see Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) of the New Republic back so soon, especially since Greef mentions how he doesn’t like the New Republic trying to police the Outer Rim. You have to think him coming back just two episodes later means this is a story that’s going to get bigger.
  • Even more interesting though is how Teva extracts more information about Cara Dune’s past, tries to recruit her, and leaves her a Rebel badge. Is this to kind of officially make her the Marshal? Yeah. But we think it could also be a sign Cara may get back in the fight with her former allies in the Rebellion.
  • Speaking of which, do we think Cara will keep that Star Wars rat thing as a pet? [Editor’s Note: Excuse me, I believe that was a space meerkat, thank you for coming to my TED Talk. – Jill P.]
  • As a big carbonite fan, I enjoyed hearing Mythrol talk a bit about his experience. “I still can’t see out of my left eye,” he says. We guess Han Solo was lucky to get his eyesight back so quickly.

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The Many Looks of Ahsoka Tano

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Screenshot: Lucasfilm

The Clone Wars got a serious animation bump in its third season, and with it came the acknowledgment that time had passed for our heroes—all a little older, wiser, and increasingly tired by the duration of the war. Ahsoka’s new costume traded in her crop top for a more intricate, high-necked tunic, longer arm wraps, and an overall darker palette, strewn with a diamond-cutout motif. It might not be the outfit she debuted in, but when you think of Clone Wars Ahsoka, this is it.

The Mandalorian’s Sasha Banks Can Thank Chicken Wings for Her Star Wars Guest Spot

You know what would warm even the chilliest Mandalorian? Some hot wings.

You know what would warm even the chilliest Mandalorian? Some hot wings.
Screenshot: Disney

Professional wrestler Sasha Banks has followed in the footsteps of Dwayne Johnson, Dave Bautista, and so many others, making her (small) screen debut in season two of The Mandalorian. But it wasn’t just her time in the ring that got her the gig. It was a plate of hot wings.

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In an interview with Variety, Banks (aka Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado) shared how she was recruited to play Mandalorian warrior Koska Reeves, who appeared alongside The Clone Wars Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in the third episode of The Mandalorian’s sophomore season—and got to save Baby Yoda, something Banks called a highlight of her on-camera experience. The wrestler-turned-actress revealed how showrunner Jon Favreau reached out to her after seeing her in a popular show. Not a WWE match, but rather the YouTube series where celebrities eat chicken wings.

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“Jon Favreau came to me because he watched an interview that I did with Hot Ones. And he really liked me and got my contact information. Then on FaceTime he asked me to be part of The Mandalorian. I was like, ‘Well, I cannot say no,’ but I was so incredibly nervous,” she said.

Banks noted how thrilling and terrifying it was to be on set the first day, enveloped in a Star Wars world. This was not only because it’s a naturally overwhelming experience for anyone, but because this was her first time doing any acting or performing outside of the ring. She shared Favreau’s encouraging words, telling her “Uh, you do WWE every single week and you do that live. You are amazing. There’s a reason why I wanted you to be a part of the show.” But beyond that, she said episode director Bryce Dallas Howard (returning from directing an episode in season one) was a game-changer for her.

“She really, really guided me and really took me by my hand because like I said, I was so nervous. She texted me to make sure I was all good. She walked me through everything, if I had any questions. She was there for me,” Banks said. “I was just really inspired by her and how she treated everybody. She was so down to earth. I brought a lot of her energy into my work because of how incredibly she treated me. And as you see she is getting so much praise for her work because she is just so special.”

The Mandalorian has had its share of badass women, both in front of and behind the scenes—and it turns out one of them wants to come back. In a recent interview with Insider, Ming-Na Wen expressed hope that her character, assassin Fennec Shand, sees a reprise in season three. She may have been shot in the stomach and left for dead in episode five of The Mandalorian’s first season—but, as we’ve seen on Star Wars many times, death doesn’t actually have to mean anything.

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Wen referenced her time on Marvel’s Agents of Shield, when a massive fan petition asked to bring Coulson back (something that eventually happened) and expressed hope that it could happen for Fennec in the future. Not just because she loved her time on the show, but because she really loves Star Wars.

“Growing up, Star Wars was my religion. The force—I believed in it as much as I believed in Buddha as much as I believed in God. I used to pray to all three,” she said. “I wanted to be a rebel, a scoundrel, just daydreaming about being part of Star Wars.”

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The Mandalorian is currently airing its second season on Disney+.

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The Mandalorian Feels Like It’s Building to Something Much Bigger

Mando met some Mandos on the new Mandalorian.

Mando met some Mandos on the new Mandalorian.
Photo: Lucasfilm

Something is bubbling in a galaxy far, far away and it could be hinting at the future for a long time. A long time.

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The first three episodes of The Mandalorian season two have all felt, somehow, bigger in mythology than the first. Season one introduced the Child (our beloved scamp Baby Yoda), and with him, huge questions about his relationship with the Force. But beyond that, the show was pretty specifically linked to Din Djarin and his exploits. However, the sophomore season has opened up the scope significantly, introducing fan-favorite characters with more to come, and the whole thing got us thinking.

Illustration for article titled iThe Mandalorian/i Feels Like It’s Building to Something Much Bigger

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By our account right now we’ve got Boba Fett (probably), Bo-Katan (definitely), and we will almost certainly soon have Ahsoka Tano. As she usually is, Ahsoka is the key. Depending on if, when, and how the padawan of Anakin Skywalker gets introduced into The Mandalorian, she opens up almost infinite possibilities of where and how big this story could go. Possibilities that could lay outside of just The Mandalorian.

Ahsoka isn’t some random badass in beskar armor. She knew Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker. She fought Darth Maul. She knew Anakin had a relationship with Padmé Amidala, and that he eventually turned into Darth Vader (and fought him too). She also helped the Ghost team, which included two Jedi, join the Rebel Alliance. She’s a walking Wookieepedia of Star Wars knowledge, unlike almost any other character that’s still alive. Her seeing the Child (whose species is known to have served on the Jedi Council), Boba Fett, or other familiar faces could instantly inspire and change the way characters see themselves and the universe.

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Ahsoka Tano at the end of Star Wars Rebels.
Photo: Lucasfilm

We also know that, just before the time The Mandalorian is set, Ahsoka teamed up with Mandalorian Sabine Wren to find Jedi Ezra Bridger and Grand Admiral Thrawn. That’s happening while a Force-strong Baby Yoda is floating around wanted by the Empire, Bo-Katan is planning on taking back Mandalore, and the galaxy’s most notorious bounty hunter (most likely) survived the Sarlacc and wants his armor back. Even more importantly, we also know none of these characters play any major role in the battle between the Resistance and the First Order that will, in the next couple of decades beyond The Mandalorian, see the rise and fall of Kylo Ren, the destruction of the New Republic, Starkiller Base, the return of Palpatine, and the fall of Exegol and its Final Order.

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The problem you run into with all these stories happening in the same universe is fans know these other characters are out there and not interacting. So to some, it might seem cowardly for, say, Ahsoka to not help Rey defeat Palpatine. Well, outside of an inspirational Force groupchat at the end of The Rise of Skywalker. Because of this, storytellers have to come up with reasons for the characters not being around.

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Clone Wars, Rebels, and Mandalorian executive producer Dave Filoni is the master at this. Why isn’t Kanan Jarrus there to help his fellow Jedi? He was killed saving his friends. Why isn’t Ezra Bridger around? He disappeared in a selfless act, taking Thrawn with him. Where was Ahsoka for Anakin’s fall? She left the Jedi Order. As The Mandalorian moves on now, and especially since it’s introducing more powerful, knowledgeable characters like Ahsoka and Bo-Katan, their whereabouts in the future will have to be covered too. (Not so much the Mandalorian himself though; we very easily understand why he wouldn’t be involved. It’s baked into his character.)

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This little guy could be looking at a whole new universe.
Photo: Lucasfilm

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The best way to cover these story issues is to give the characters their own tales. Ahsoka, Bo-Katan, and Ezra can’t team up with Leia, Rey, Finn, and Poe if they have very important problems to deal with on the other side of the galaxy. In the case of people like Moff Gideon, their place in seasons of a grounded, smaller-scaled show like The Mandalorian feels right. But once we start talking about the Jedi, Grand Admirals, another of Yoda’s species, it feels bigger than that. Bigger than a show about a lone bounty hunter.

That’s why we think The Mandalorian is doing one of two things right now. It could be arranging not only the future of this series, but future Disney+ shows, or more intriguingly, setting up the future of Star Wars feature films to come. Don’t forget, there had been talk previously of Mandalorian characters appearing in movies and spin-offs. What better way to pay off some of these big ideas and connect canon than by having a few of these characters feature in a new Star Wars trilogy? We’d get a new, epic adventure while also explaining why their particular stories don’t impact the Skywalker Saga as we know it.

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It’s easy to imagine some multi-part series that stars Ahsoka, Baby Yoda, and maybe Ezra, in which they help Bo-Katan and Sabine in one movie, defeat Thrawn in the next, and dive deeper into the Force and explore the Mortis storyline too. All the biggest and best dangling threads in the works of Dave Filoni all coming together as one? If the Skywalker Saga was the first phase of the Star Wars Universe, the current episodes of The Mandalorian strongly hint some kind of “Filoni Saga” could be next. Maybe The Mandalorian is nothing more than a modern version of the Prequels.

Of course, this is nothing but wild fan speculation at this point. However, the fact that more and more Filoni characters are being brought into live-action feels like it’s seeding something. Something that could be bigger than The Mandalorian or any streaming show. We just don’t know exactly what yet. The rest of this season of The Mandalorian will probably give us a hint, but whatever happens, we believe the clues are already there.

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We Don’t Know Shit About The Mandalorian’s Major New Planet, and That Rules

Din Djarin finds himself ready for the next step of his quest.

Din Djarin finds himself ready for the next step of his quest.
Image: Lucasfilm

Star Wars, for better or worse, is fascinated with itself. It loves the past, even as it rails against it, an existential back and forth between adding to its vast tapestry or enriching what came before (or, more often than not, simply repeating it because it rhymes). But today’s episode of The Mandalorian, in a moment of nostalgia, instead chose to do something a little new.

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Today’s drop of Chapter 11, “The Heiress,” put Din Djarin and his occasionally wayward son on a new trajectory. Having found more of his kind in the form of none other than Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and the Nite Owls, Din also secured information for the next vital step of his quest—because to bring Baby Yoda to his own kind, Din needs to find remnants of the Jedi Order.

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It just so happens to be that Bo-Katan knows where to find one. Well, a Jedi no more, perhaps.

Yes, ever since the rumors began swirling, we finally have the tease we’ve been waiting for this season: Din Djarin must find Ahsoka Tano. Bo-Katan doesn’t just give Din a name for him to pursue, she’s actually surprisingly specific. Din, and we, will find Ahsoka in the city of Calodan, on the forest planet of Corvus.

Usually, this is the kind of blog where we’d then tell you that Corvus first appeared in an issue of Marvel’s Star Wars comic in 1984, or maybe it came up in the West End Star Wars Roleplaying game rulebooks, a perennial source of classic old-school canon influences. Maybe it was in a book! Maybe it was in a video game (it was, kind of, as a ship name in Battlefront IIbut I digress)! Maybe it was an obscure piece of merchandising history now made canon, like those very silly Imperial troop transports seen in Rebels and The Mandalorian season one!

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But…it isn’t.

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Screenshot: Lucasfilm

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Corvus, home to this hugely important Star Wars character—one who will now bridge all eras of the Star Wars movies together, transcending its animated and live-action halves in the process—is just…an entirely new place. We’ve never seen it before, it’s not a reference to something in Star Wars’ past. It is familiar because of Ahsoka, and yet, unknown. That’s exciting!

It really is, because Star WarsThe Mandalorian in particular—has conditioned us to prepare for a more insular, smaller-feeling galaxy far, far away. Already this season we’ve had a return to Tatooine and Boba Fett, the familiar sight of New Republic X-Wings and monsters ripped right out of Ralph McQuarrie art (and not even the first time that art inspired something!). Now we have Bo-Katan and her Nite Owls, talk of the Darksaber, and soon Ahsoka. What was once heralded as a great unknown coming into this series has become a vehicle for nostalgic hints at what we already know and love. In some ways, loving Star Wars involves accepting the dual joy and frustration that fan service can bring: for every little bit of newness, we are couched in the imagery of what came before.

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Which means it’s nice when we do get that little bit of the new, or when Star Wars canon hints at one path and goes another—lending a sense of banal normality to something we would expect to be so much grander. We put so much importance on the canonicity of its world that we are sometimes robbed of the simple joy of refreshingly being in the dark about something that seems, right now, so important. Even as we look forward to meeting Ahsoka once more, it’ll be nice to do so in an environment we aren’t so intimately aware of.

Whether ol’ Snips will actually show up in next week’s episode remains to be seen, however. We’ll have a lot to say about her arrival once it happens though.

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