Why THE MANDALORIAN Will Probably Be Awesome

You may have seen the announcement about Jon Favreau’s live action Star Wars show, The MandalorianSet after the events of Return of the Jedi but before The Force AwakensThe Mandalorian will follow a gunfighter in a familiar armor as he travels the Outer Rim of the galaxy. You might look at the first image released and mutter, “What a bullshit attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Boba Fett,” and I get where you’re coming from. You’re coming from the POV of someone who hasn’t watched Clone Wars or Rebels.

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I Love Kelly Marie Tran And Rose Tico

Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (and, I’m assuming, upcoming Star Wars movies as well) deleted her Instagram this week. There’s a lot of speculation that she did it because of unrelenting abuse from toxic (male) Star Wars fans who hate her character in a seriously obsessive, unhealthy and unpleasant way. As far as I know she hasn’t confirmed this; some people say Daisy Ridley deleted her Insta because she was getting harassed, but she has said she did it because she was addicted and needed to take her life back.

But let’s assume that Tran deleted because of the abuse. I spent the last couple of days wanting to write at length about how broken fandom is (something I’ve written about in the past) but a friend rightfully called me out on sinking into despair the last few days, and focusing on what’s wrong only leads to more despair. So I want to focus on what’s right: Rose Tico.

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The Tragedy Of Han Solo

This contains spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Fans complain that The Last Jedi did Luke Skywalker dirty, but I think that the end of Luke’s story tracks really nicely. Luke was never one for the hard work – he was always imagining some other life for himself. When he was on Tatooine he wanted to join the academy, when he was on Dagobah he wanted to go be in the fight. These were the times in his life when he needed to hunker down and do the hard work, the unglamorous work, and his instinct was to take off and find something more romantic and exciting. What’s more romantic and exciting for a holy man than fucking off and becoming a mystical hermit? When his new academy failed, Luke didn’t decide to put in the hard work of trying again (or tracking down Kylo Ren), but rather disappeared to a small island to live out his monastic fantasies. And for Luke to feel like a failure is perfectly in character – look at how quickly he quits on Dagobah. Luke’s first instinct is to give up.

Now Han Solo on the other hand… that’s a character who got done dirty, and I think Solo: A Star Wars Story makes his end even sadder and his final days even more pathetic. I never liked what JJ Abrams did to Han in The Force Awakens, but now it feels downright disrespectful.

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SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a trifle. Solo is a puff pastry of a movie. Solo is a lark. But none of those things are inherently bad, and in fact they’re kind of refreshing. In the main Star Wars saga we get movies about the big, dramatic moments in galactic history. In Rogue One we got a movie about a small but vital moment in galactic history. In Solo we get a fun heist with some enjoyable double crossing and reversals that has plenty of connections to the larger Star Wars universe but that is more interested in exploring small parts of relationships rather than big pieces of canon.

It definitely feels like a prequel, but not to Star WarsSolo ends in a way that seems to be setting up a major storyline for some future media (a sequel? A cartoon? A series of comics? Masters of Teras Kasi 2?), and it expands out the criminal underworld of Star Wars enough to offer space for all sorts of other spin-offs. There is always a small universe problem plaguing the Star Wars films – everybody talks about the same six planets, after all – but I actually think Solo carves out enough new space (and illuminates existing space in enough interesting ways) to give the Star Wars universe a little extra breathing room.

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A Likely Ill-Advised Ranking Of All STAR WARS On-Screen Canon Works

With the absolutely awesome conclusion of Star Wars Rebels I think it’s time to go back and do that most destructive and pointless of all possible tasks: ranking! Chatting with a friend about where Rebels falls in the screen canon of Star Wars has gotten me itching to revisit a ranking of the entire Saga to date; I should wait until Solo comes out, but I’m concerned that the movie is going to be a bit of a bummer. So why not do it now, while I’m on a Rebels-induced Star Wars high?

This is a ranking of screen canon only – ie, Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars is not, from what I know, actual canon in the post-Disney purchase world. The new novels and comics are technically canon, but a) I haven’t read most of them and b) they can potentially be overwritten by future movies and TV shows, so I tend to not think of them as hard canon.

Yes, this is nit-picky nerd shit. Anyway, on with the ranking:
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The Weirder Side Of The Force

The most interesting expansion of the Star Wars universe is happening on TV, on the cartoon Rebels. And I say that as someone who absolutely loved The Last Jedi (I’ve published a whole ton of Last Jedi-related stuff on this site, like my review, my look at the Taoism of the Jedi, a piece on Rose Tico’s wisdom, and an admiration of Admiral Holdo). The new movies have brought an exciting life into the franchise on a mainstream level, but Dave Filoni and his team have been steadfastly keeping Star Wars humming – and exploring its nooks and crannies – for years on TV.

The latest two-parter of Rebels is a bad place to jump on; the show is hurtling towards its finale, and this two-parter is not just wrapping up story elements from the last four seasons but is also touching on stuff that was introduced in the old Clone Wars cartoon. Still, this is a good opportunity to talk about how deeply exciting this sort of tie-in show can be when handled by someone with a true vision, and how an expanded universe can work in absolutely stunning and involving ways.

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The Tao of the Jedi

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

Among the exciting things that Star Wars: The Last Jedi does for the larger Star Wars universe is that it expands and deepens the mythology of The Force in a way that we haven’t seen since The Empire Strikes Back. And it does so in a way that has learned a lesson from the fiasco of Midichlorians – The Last Jedi returns The Force to its status as a mysterious and truly powerful concept that is far beyond silly tricks like picking up rocks. In fact, it returns it to a concept that is far beyond such silly tricks like violence and physical force in general.

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Rose Tico’s Beautiful Wisdom

Rose Tico has the wisdom of the Buddha.

“That’s how we’ll win,” she tells Finn in The Last Jedi. “Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.”

Those words echo the Buddha’s in The Dhammapada:

“Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law.”

Eternal as in, it’s also true in a galaxy far, far away.

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Oh Holdo

Last night I revisited The Last Jedi with many people’s complaints about Holdo in mind. I ignored the myriad ones that are clearly coming from sexist places (so many complaints about this movie keep boiling down to people having a hard time with new characters who are not white males, but who knows what’s really behind that) and focused on the main one:

Why doesn’t she just tell Poe what her plan is?

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