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TV Review: The Mandalorian S2E8 “Chapter 16: The Rescue”

After last week’s trash talk ending, the long-awaited showdown between Mando and Moff Gideon has come in The Mandalorian Season 2 finale “Chapter 16: The Rescue“. Director Peyton Reed and writer Jon Favreau conclude Mando and Grogu’s quest and father/son arc nicely while setting up some tensions for upcoming seasons thanks to the return of the Mandalorians Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and Koska Reeves (Sasha Banks) and the general slipperiness of Moff Gideon. Honestly, Giancarlo Esposito’s performance is so damn entertaining as he projects menace and power while having multiple guns to his head and being in shackles. You can’t kill off a character like that yet, and The Mandalorian writers know that and show that he is even better as a master manipulator who knows everything about everyone than as a duelist.

“Chapter 16: The Rescue” opens with Slave I chasing an Imperial shuttle in flight. These ships both appeared in Return of the Jedi, and Reed and Favreau make multiple visual, verbal, and plot references to this film. This isn’t a bad thing though and comes across more as a leit-motif than fanservice with “side character” Mando (Even though Mandalorians have their own lore.) suddenly finding himself in the middle of an operatic adventure. The pursuit quickly ends in boarding with Cara Dune shooting an Imperial in the head when he taunts her about the destruction of Alderaan, and they find out the whereabouts of Grogu and Moff Gideon from Dr. Pershing, who has run experiments on the little guy to potentially clone him.

With the shuttle in hand, Boba Fett and Mando go to a bar on an refinery planet to recruit Bo-Katan and Koska to help them out. Like the previous episode in which “restore the glory of Mandalore” folks appeared, things are a bit tense between them with Bo-Katan not liking that a clone wears the armor of her people. However, they agree to join the team with the promise of getting Moff Gideon’s light cruiser after they rescue Grogu. Then, Bo-Katan goes into command mode (and Sackhoff channels a little bit of Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica) and sets up a plan where they will a fly the cruiser in the TIE fighter tube with Slave I giving chase. Then, the rest of the team will create a diversion and take the bridge of the ship while Mando stealthily recaptures Grogu. The one spanner in the works is the Dark Troopers, who kidnapped Grogu two episodes ago and are revealed by Dr. Pershing to be droids. Battle droids have definitely come a long way since the Trade Federation’s “Roger, roger” types in The Phantom Menace.

To start out, the plan goes off without a hitch, and Reed’s experience doing clever action sequences on the two Ant-Man really comes in handy as he homages the small ships take on the cruiser sequence in Return of the Jedi with Slave I taking out TIE fighters with the greatest of ease, and the best getaway driver/pilot Boba Fett taking his bow. Then, Fennec Shand, Cara, Bo-Katan, and Koska demonstrate their competence by running a gauntlet through the ship while Moff Gideon immediately calls on the Dark Troopers. Peyton Reed shoots a variety of action sequences from Ming-Na Wen demonstrating her chops and doing unarmed takedowns plus headshots as Fennec to Bo-Katan and Koska using their jetpacks to flank some hapless stormtroopers. While this is going on, Mando runs into the Dark Troopers’ cryo cells and gets physically knocked around by the one that escape his enclosure. However, his cleverness comes in handy, and he ends up besting the Dark Trooper by mixing a flamethrower with an oxygen tube and then a spear to the head while letting the rest

Mando makes it to the brig, and of course, runs into Moff Gideon holding the Darksaber over Grogu. They chat for a bit, and Gideon explains the Darksaber’s significance. (It’s basically the Excalibur of Mandalore.) Mando doesn’t care about the Darksaber and just wants Grogu so they decide to go their separate ways until, of course, Moff Gideon stabs in the back. What ensues is an epic Darksaber on Beskar spear duel with Pedro Pascal demonstrating the spear fighting moves he picked up while playing Oberyn Martell (RIP) in Game of Thrones. Because he’s a good guy, Mando disarms Gideon, puts him in chains, rescues Grogu, and hauls him up to the bridge where Moff Gideon is super-manipulative about the Darksaber. He basically says that Bo-Katan has to defeat Mando in combat to get the weapon and be a true candidate to the throne of Mandalore. While this is going on, the Dark Troopers come back from space, and Moff Gideon tries to escape and shoots at Bo-Katan, but is physically incapacitated by Cara Dune before he can put a bullet in his brain for the glory of the empire.

The Mandalorian Chapter 16: The Rescue

Even after this failure, Moff Gideon is still gloating about how he and Grogu will be the only ones to survive the Dark Trooper assault when a single X-Wing flies into the ship. Grogu’s little ears perk up, and he turns to the monster and watches a hooded figure with a lightsaber take out the Dark Troopers showing that his meditation on Tython paid off. Peyton Reed does an homage to the Darth Vader hallway scene in Rogue One by shooting a tight, close-up of the Jedi skillfully taking out the Dark Troopers. When the Jedi reaches the bridge, everyone except Mando is wary as he removes his hood and reveals himself to be none other, but Luke Skywalker (A CGI de-aged Mark Hamill). Luke, Grogu, and Mando have a chat with Grogu asking for Mando’s permission to go with him. In a touching moment, Mando removes his helmet and lets Grogu touch his face before he goes off to get training with Luke and R2-D2 in a reversal of his scenes with Yoda in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. This is the end of the episode, but there’s a cool post-credits scene where Boba Fett and Fennec raid Jabba the Hutt’s palace with Fett shooting Bib Fortuna in the head and then sitting on Jabba’s throne setting up a new show in December 2021 called the Book of Boba Fett.

“Chapter 16: The Rescue” is a really exciting ensemble action episode with Jon Favreau giving each member of Mando’s “impressive fire team” a different motivation for being on the mission while still having them be utter badasses except when Cara’s big gun jams. They end up rescuing Grogu and taking over Moff Gideon’s light cruiser, but Favreau makes it clear that they’re not all BFFs as evidenced by their different responses to Luke coming in at the end. (The Jedi are the ancient enemies of the Mandalorians.) Also, Boba Fett gets treated really badly by Bo-Katan and Koska at the bar, who are still doing the sales pitch about re-taking Mandalore, and thankfully, their self-interest and Mando’s intersect for this episode. In the bridge scene, Katee Sackhoff plays off Giancarlo Esposito really well when he talks about her actually having to defeat Mando in combat, and her usually confident, quippy self is quiet for once. There are whole plotlines waiting to happen in that silence.

Even though Luke Freaking Skywalker shows up, and for the first time in live action Star Wars, we get to see him in his prime and not as a learner or old man, it’s Giancarlo Esposito’s performance as Moff Gideon that will stick with me the most. From the get-go, there is a calmness to his line delivery as he overrides his flailing subordinates and sends out TIE fighters to fight Slave I. There’s a glimpse where you can tell that he knows the ship is pulling its punches, and that the Imperial shuttle isn’t a friendly so he immediately gives the order for the Dark Troopers. Even imprisoned, Moff Gideon is a matter of sowing discord between allies as evidenced by his earlier remarks about the Darksaber. Also, Esposito does a good job of making everything seem like it’s all part of the plan with Grogo being of no use to him because Gideon and his scientists already extracted a blood sample. He is best for now, but Jon Favreau and Peyton Reed understand they have an interesting villain on their hands: part fascist fanatic (“glory of the empire”/the almost suicide) and part cool chess player so they keep him alive for now.

I guess that it’s time to talk about the Luke Skywalker reveal. It definitely seems like a Deus Ex Machina because the episode has shown that without his Beskar that Mando would have been killed by one Dark Trooper (Who get a catchy dubstep theme from Ludwig Goransson), and he and his team would have been annihilated by a platoon. However, the scene is payoff for Grogu’s actions on Tython as well as his and Mando’s interactions with Ahsoka Tano with there needing to be some kind of Jedi or Jedi-adjacent character showing up for Grogu to choose to either train with the Force or just hang out with Mando some more. Plus there’s this season’s overarching plot of Mando returning Grogo to his people (While also kind of having a reunion with his too via Boba Fett, Koska, and Bo-Katan.) so there needed to be a reveal like this to have a satisfying end to his journey.

However, I have a slight criticism of Luke’s appearance in “Chapter 16: The Rescue” other than the wonkiness of the de-aging CGI. (It’s less creepy that bringing back the deceased Peter Cushing for Rogue One.) One of the great parts of The Mandalorian, especially in Season One, was that it was finally a Star Wars story not about the Skywalker line with Mando and Grogu going on Lone Wolf and Cub-style adventures around the galaxy and commenting on the post-Second Death Star destruction turmoil. However, Jon Favreau couldn’t help himself and connected Mando to this larger story and legacy, which is honestly par for the course with familiar Clone Wars and Original Trilogy characters like Bo-Katan, Ahsoka Tano, and Boba Fett popping up this season.

The Mandalorian Chapter 16: The Rescue

It definitely makes some of the fans happy, and it’s interesting to see the different flavors of Mandalorian when Mando, Fett, Bo-Katan, and Koska interact, but it also shows that Star Wars still isn’t 100% interested in getting out of this Skywalker shadow as shown by J.J. Abrams undoing all of Rian Johnson’s work to break the cycle of Hero’s Journey and just retell old stories in Rise of Skywalker. Thankfully, Favreau and his writing room are better storytellers than Abrams and set up the Luke reveal via Grogu’s actions and interactions in previous episodes instead of announcing Palpatine’s return via Fortnite. There is also a real sweetness to Grogu and Luke’s interactions with Peyton Reed shooting from Gogu’s POV as he meets and hits it off with R2-D2 as the astromech droid helps calm him and begin to heal his Purge-induced trauma. Of course, they have to be friends.

Speaking of friendship, Jon Favreau and Peyton Reed do make the cathartic move of having the last moments of the season finale be interactions between Mando and Grogu. There’s a minimal dialogue (“I’ll see you again” is nice.), and Reed squarely places the camera on Pedro Pascal’s helmetless face as he lets Grogu be one of the first people in years to touch his face because they’re really just a couple of foundlings out in a great, big galaxy. There’s a real sadness/your kid going off to college or some educational institution vibe to this scene, and it also shows that Mando has grown with a character as he has forsaken the apparently fanatical (According to Bo-Katan earlier this season.) ways of his Mandalorian offshoot to have a real connection with Grogu. He takes the helmet of his own free will instead of doing it for pragmatic reasons like in the previous episode, and it demonstrates real growth. I’m definitely going to miss Mando and Grogu’s interactions and hope they truly do get to meet again down the road.

“Chapter 16: The Rescue” has multiple fun setpieces from Mandalorian jetpack on stormtrooper action to Mando dueling both Moff Gideon and a Dark Trooper and finally, Luke Skywalker mowing down battle droids like his father before him in a similarly shot manner. However, its use of the Skywalker saga as a safety valve aside, it features an eye-catching and unsettling performance by Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon, nails those emotional beats between Mando and Grogu even if they don’t share a lot of screen time, and wraps up his quest storyline in a satisfying way. Finally, it also sets up future tension between Mando and the other Mandalorians, and the episode’s stinger shows a tantalizing glimpse at Boba Fett and Fennec Shand starring in their own show.

Overall Verdict: 8.8

Diamond Select Toys New York Toy Fair Wrap-Up: Deadpool, Joker, The Nun, and More!

Diamond Select Toys and Gentle Giant Ltd. debuted a variety of items at this year’s Toy Fair in New York City, and many of them are now up for pre-order! New Gallery Dioramas, Legends in 3D Busts and Premier Collection statues can be ordered through your local comic shop or favorite online retailer. Read on for more info on Batman, Deadpool, and a slew of villainous characters, like Lex Luthor, Rodan, the Nun, Scorpion, Mysterio and more!

DC Classic Movie Gallery Batman 1989 PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! One of the most iconic Batmen of all time takes the stage with this all-new Gallery Diorama of Batman from Tim Burton’s 1989 movie Batman! Standing atop a distinctive piece of Gotham City architecture, Batman spreads his cape and prepares to dive on some unsuspecting evildoer. Measuring approximately 11 inches tall, this diorama is made of high-quality PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. It comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Shawn Knapp, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item # MAR202618, SRP: $49.99)

DC Classic Movie Gallery Batman 1989 PVC Diorama

DC Comic Gallery Lex Luthor PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! Destroy Superman! Lex Luthor dons his powerful armor to take on Superman in the newest DC Comics-inspired Gallery Diorama! Raising his hand to fire a Kryptonite-fueled blast, this sculpture measures approximately 9 inches tall, is made of high-quality PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. It comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #MAR202619, SRP: $49.99)

DC Comic Gallery Lex Luthor PVC Diorama

Godzilla Deluxe Gallery Rodan 1993 PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! It’s the ultimate team-up! Rodan joins forces with the previously offered Godzilla to form a diorama tribute to 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II! Sculpted in a pose from the iconic movie poster, Rodan measures approximately 8 inches tall and is cast in high-quality PVC with detailed sculpting and paint applications. Displays by itself or as a pair with the Godzilla 1993 diorama. It comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Jorge Santos Souza.  (Item #MAR202621, SRP: $74.99)

Godzilla Deluxe Gallery Rodan 1993 PVC Diorama

Horror Gallery Nun PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! The titular star of the Nun movies is here to haunt your shelves! Measuring approximately 9 inches tall, this spooktacular sculpture of the spirit Valak is cast in high-quality PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. It comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Caesar, sculpted by Alterton. (Item #MAR202622, SRP: $49.99)

Horror Gallery Nun PVC Diorama

John Wick Gallery Cassian PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! Cassian is chasing down John Wick in this all-new Gallery Diorama! Depicting the hitman and bodyguard running full-tilt with his weapon drawn, this approximately 9-inch sculpture is based on his appearance in John Wick Chapter 2 and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. It comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Caesar, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella.  (Item #MAR202628, SRP: $49.99)

John Wick Gallery Cassian PVC Diorama

Legends in 3D Animation Batman TAS Joker 1/2 Scale Bust

A Diamond Select Toys release! This bust is no joke! But seriously, no one will be laughing when they lay eyes on this incredible half-scale bust of The Joker, as he appeared in Batman: The Animated Series! Part of the Legends in 3D line of busts, this approximately 10-inch portrait is limited to only 1,000 pieces, and comes packaged in a full-color box with a hand-numbered certificate of authenticity. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Varner Studios. (Item #MAR202620, SRP: $175.00)

Legends in 3D Animation Batman TAS Joker 1/2 Scale Bust

Legends in 3D Video Game Mortal Kombat Scorpion 1/2 Scale Bust

A Diamond Select Toys release! Fatality! This killer bust of Scorpion is the next release in the Legends in 3D line of half-scale busts! Measuring approximately 10 inches tall, and inspired by his earliest video game appearances, the bust features detailed sculpting and paint applications, and is limited to only 1000 pieces. Packaged with a certificate of authenticity in a hand-numbered, full-color box. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Salvador Gomes.  (Item #MAR202627, SRP: $175.00)

Legends in 3D Video Game Mortal Kombat Scorpion 1/2 Scale Bust

Marvel Animated X-Men Deadpool Bust

A Diamond Select Toys release! The hit bust series continues! Based on the original X-Men animation from the 1990s, this approximately 6-inch bust of Deadpool is inspired by his multiple appearances in the series. Featuring a cartoon-accurate paint scheme and detailed sculpting, this bust is limited to only 3.000 pieces and comes packaged with a certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. Designed by Barry Bradfield, sculpted by Paul Harding.  (Item #MAR202626, SRP: $59.99)

Marvel Animated X-Men Deadpool Bust

Marvel Comic Gallery Agent Venom PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! We are Venom! Flash Thompson dons the Venom symbiote once again for this new Marvel Gallery Diorama! Measuring approximately 9 inches tall, this sculpture of one of Venom’s most popular pairings is cast in high-quality PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. It comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Caesar, sculpted by Alejandro Pereira.  (Item #MAR202623, SRP: $49.99)

Marvel Comic Gallery Agent Venom PVC Diorama

Marvel Movie Gallery Avengers Endgame Rocket PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release!  The Guardian of the Galaxy finally gets his own Gallery Diorama! Based on his appearance in Avengers: Endgame, this sculpture of Rocket measures approximately 7 inches tall on a pedestal base, is made of high-quality PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. It comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #MAR202625, SRP: $39.99)

Marvel Movie Gallery Avengers Endgame Rocket PVC Diorama

Marvel Comic Premier Collection Hulk Statue

A Diamond Select Toys release! It’s smashingly good! This approximately 12-inch statue of the Hulk shows him leaping into action, preparing to lay the smash down on his opponent. Sculpted in scale with other Premier Collection statues, this piece features detailed sculpting and paint applications, and is limited to only 3,000 pieces. It comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color window box. Designed by Yuri Tming, sculpted by Alejandro Pereira.  (Item #MAR202624, SRP: $200.00)

Marvel Comic Premier Collection Hulk Statue

Star Wars Premier Collection Luke Dreamer 1/7 Scale Statue

A Diamond Select Toys release! The dream lives on! Luke Skywalker strikes one of his most famous poses in this all-new 1/7 scale statue. Standing on the sands of Tatooine gazing at the horizon, Luke holds his macrobinoculars in this highly realistic piece features detailed digital sculpting and paint applications. Limited to only 3,000 pieces, it comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color box.  (Item #MAR202617, SRP: $150.00)

Star Wars Premier Collection Luke Dreamer 1/7 Scale Statue

Marvel Comic Gallery Mysterio PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! Is it real or is it Gallery?! We don’t need hypnosis to convince you that this diorama of Mysterio, master of illusion, is an amazing installment in the Marvel Gallery line! Depicting the Spider-Man foe rising out of a cloud of green smoke, this approximately 9-inch sculpture is made from high-grade PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint details. Packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Caesar, sculpted by Alterton. Formerly a GameStop exclusive.  (Item #MAR202629, SRP: $49.99)

Marvel Movie Gallery Captain Marvel Binary PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! Captain Marvel goes higher, faster and farther in this new Marvel Gallery PVC Diorama! The star of the Captain Marvel movie hovers above the ground and glows with binary power in this approximately 11-inch sculpture. Featuring detailed sculpting and paint, and cast in high-quality PVC, the diorama comes packaged in a full-color window box. Sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. Formerly a GameStop exclusive. (Item #MAR202630, SRP: $49.99)

The Last Jedi Bids Farewell to The Hero’s Journey

*Warning: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you have not seen the movie, proceed at your own risk*

When I was 10th grade, I had an excellent English teacher who really supported me writing about pop culture critically, and she was even my advisor for my 12th grade capstone where I wrote about the evolution of action heroes from Achilles from the Iliad to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This all started when she showed the 1988 Bill Moyers PBS documentary Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth that laid out the idea of the Hero’s Journey and used the original Star Wars trilogy as a metaphor it. I thought this was super cool because I was a big Star Wars geek complete with my own homebrew Revenge of the Sith RPG and would spend time free time between classes editing Wookieepedia in the computer lab. And one thing that drew people to the original Star Wars films (And not the prequels so much) was its archetypes and dependable structure of good versus evil, plucky underdog heroes, and musical leitmotifs. Plus Han Solo is still the epitome of cool. (RIP)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens continued that theme by keeping similar elements from the original trilogy like a plucky underdog (Female this time) hero from a desolate desert planet, a masked/red laser sword wielding antagonist with loads of daddy/mentor issues and the possible hope of redemption, and of course, a big space station blowing up at the end. And with its thinly drawn characters, Rogue One was only emotionally resonant or exciting when reliant on nostalgia for previous movies like the Darth Vader scene. However, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, replaces the Hero with a Thousand Faces with cynical asshole Luke Skywalker and a battle between good and evil with a tale of war profiteering, Pyrrhic victories, and yes, a casino heist. Also, Snoke is a joke, and Rey‘s parentage doesn’t matter.

In an early, not-really-a-training-montage scene, Luke calls Rey, “Rey from nowhere”, and later on in the big not-really-a-reveal, Kylo Ren tells Rey that her parents were just scavengers that sold her for extra drink money. (This second one could be a lie.) The other three leads have almost equally as humble roots as Rey. Finn was a Stormtrooper janitor, bright new cast member Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) had a maintenance job on a Resistance bomber, and the most conventionally heroic Poe Dameron gets a demotion after losing almost the entire Resistance bombing fleet to destroy one First Order flagship. They aren’t Jedi apprentices, royalty, or the scions of Obi-Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker, but regular people who have lived the legends and legacy of Star Wars and geek out about Luke Skywalker or Han Solo much like the fans of the movies. In fairy tales and myths, often ordinary people ended up being secret princes, but with the exception of Rey’s Force abilities, this doesn’t really happen in The Last Jedi.

In probably its most controversial move, The Last Jedi also deconstructs and humanizes the larger than life Ur-hero Luke Skywalker, and Mark Hamill is up for the task. The quirkiness of the planet Ahch-To with its Porgs and sassy alien nuns is a definite callback to Dagobah, but Luke is no great motivator like Yoda was in Empire Strikes Back and spurns Rey for most of this segment of the film beginning by tossing his old lightsaber into the sea. He avoids training her for most of the film, and when he does train Rey, he berates her and compares her raw power to Kylo Ren. The big twist with his character is that in a moment of weakness he ignited his lightsaber, thought about killing Kylo, and Kylo saw this moment and truly fell to the Dark Side. It’s cool to see this flashback from both Luke and Kylo Ren’s POV and shows both characters’ weaknesses as Kylo spends most of the film trying to destroy all the structures of power, both good and evil, and trying to bond with Rey along the way. However, Rian Johnson doesn’t cop out and redeem him just yet and continues to portray him as very powerful, yet childish man who decides to renege on an easy victory for the First Order so he can settle his grudge with Luke and the Jedi order.

As well as Luke, Rian Johnson deconstructs the scoundrel with a heart of gold (and by extension, the late Han Solo.) through the character of DJ, an enigmatic smuggler played by Benicio del Toro. Johnson and del Toro play up the heart of gold aspects for most of his storyline by having him forge an unlikely friendship with BB-8 and rescue Finn and Rose when they fail badly at finding someone to hack First Order security. The biggest heartstring pulled is when DJ takes Rose’s dead sister’s necklace presumably for collateral, but actually because the metal it’s made of is a great conductor. However, this is all for naught as DJ got a better deal from Captain Phasma and the First Order, and Finn and Rose are captured and sentenced to death. Sometimes, scoundrels are just scoundrels, and the highest bidder wins the day. (Unless they get a last minute save from BB-8 in an AT-ST walker.) DJ gets some of the smartest lines of the movies like, “It’s all a machine, partner. Live free, don’t join.” DJ isn’t a great guy, but this is some good advice. In the real world, there are no good guys and bad guys; even the most decent people have flaws. This is basically the takeaway from The Last Jedi too.

Throughout The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson doesn’t just find the cracks in character archetypes. It examines and tries to correct the weaknesses in Star Wars plots and makes them more relevant to the real world than quests and space battles. The previous Star Wars films have super been into one warrior’s heroism saving the day for everyone whether that’s Anakin blowing up the Trade Federation ship in Phantom Menace, Luke destroying the Death Star in A New Hope, or Han, Finn, and Chewbacca blowing up the shield generator for Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens. However, the big opening setpiece where Poe goes mano a mano with a Dreadnaught ends in heavy losses, and his plan to break into a Star Destroyer and destroy their hyperspace tracker fails too. Rian Johnson is establishing a new Star Wars status quo where the big picture of the rebellion is more important than individual heroics even though that can come in handy like Luke’s astral form inspiring a little boy on a First Order occupied planet to pick up a broom and fight back against his masters in the final shot of the film. Sacrifices will be made, like the brave strategist Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), flying at light speed into the First Order fleet, but they are for the survival of the rebellion and of hope.

Rian Johnson uses the Star Wars storytelling devices of space battles, heroic last stands, and lightsaber duels while also poking holes in these things. This is wisdom tempered with a pinch of callbacks to earlier films (See the Yoda cameo.) and a lot of real world relevance. The Last Jedi breaks the mold of a kind of Manichean fairy tale battle between good and evil and instead critiques power structures whether that is the presumably good Jedi Order (Some of Luke’s best lines are throwing shade on their actions during the prequels.) or the evil First Order.

In both Johnson’s approach to Star Wars things like The Force and in his characterization and storytelling in The Last Jedi, he chooses balance and thoughtfulness over nostalgia and a slavish adherence to aging archetypes like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. And I think Campbell himself would be okay with this as he said in The Power of Myth, “The virtues of the past are the vices of today. And many of what were thought to be the vices of the past are the necessities of today.”

To remain vibrant, stories and myths have to evolve and reflect the society in which they were created, and The Last Jedi does this through the diversity of their main cast and their focus on regular people striking a force for good instead of some Chosen One with a hallowed destiny and blah blah blah midichlorians stuff.

Fashion Spotlight: Kylo Ren & Stimpy, New Toy, and Why You Little

Ript Apparel has three new designs! Kylo Ren & Stimpy, New Toy, and Why You Little, by AtomicRocket, Khallion, and NoemiFadda, are on sale today only! Get them before they’re gone!

Kylo Ren & Stimpy

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New Toy

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Why You Little

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