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Recapping the Big Week at Lucasfilm Games

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

This week, Lucasfilm announced that upcoming video games will be under the umbrella of Lucasfilm Games, with several upcoming projects to be announced.

Indiana Jones game by Bethesda

On Tuesday, Lucasfilm Games announced an all new Indiana Jones project developed by MachineGames and executive produced by Todd Howard of Bethesda Games Studios. Howard is best known for his work on the Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises. Lucasfilm also revealed that the game will tell a completely original and standalone story set during the prime of Jones’ adventures. A brief teaser trailer for the game was also released, featuring the iconic fedora and whip of the character.

Lucasfilm Games VP Douglas Reilly had this to say:

“I have wanted to do an Indiana Jones game for a long time, and we’ve never had the right fit of partner and idea to make that happen. We are extraordinarily fortunate to be working with Todd Howard, the executive producer for the upcoming game, which will be developed by MachineGames and the team at Bethesda. He has a unique vision and a unique passion for Indiana Jones, and pitched us a story and a concept that is so amazing, I can’t wait to start sharing it with folks. I love Star Wars and we love making Star Wars games, but it’s been a long time since we’ve made Indy. We’re really excited about this one.”

Open World Ubisoft Game

Also announced this week is a project that Star Wars fans have longed for for quite some time: an open world game set in a galaxy far, far away. Ubisoft is a big player in the world of video games, developing series such as Assassins Creed, Watch Dogs, Tom Clancy projects, and more. Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment, best known for its work on The Division 2, will spearhead the project.

Lucasfilm Games VP Douglas Reilly stated:

“We’re really excited about an opportunity to work with the team at Massive, led by David Polfeldt and the creative director, Julian Gerighty. We’ve spent almost a year now, working to get to know them and what they want to bring to the table. I’m a huge fan of them, personally. I think we’re really excited about where that project is going, because they have a unique vision for the story and the game they want to deliver.”

Upcoming EA Projects

Lucasfilm also confirmed that EA will still continue to develop games in the future. After the success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, EA confirmed that sequels to that game are currently in development, along with other projects.

After only 4 new Star Wars games in 5 years, it seems as if Lucasfilm are putting their video game development into light speed.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm Games, Bethesda, EA, and Ubisoft

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REVIEW: Star Wars The High Republic: Light of the Jedi

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

The High Republic era launched with a bang, with a new comic series and childrens, middle-grade, and YA books all debuting simultaneously. However, amidst this welcomed array of new Star Wars content, perhaps the most anticipated of the bunch was The High Republic: Light of the Jedi, an adult novel written by Star Wars veteran Charles Soule. Despite a somewhat disjointed, overwhelming beginning act, Light of the Jedi finds its footing as the narrative progresses, culminating in a thoroughly entertaining, emotionally resonant kick-off to the High Republic era.

Two hundred years prior to The Phantom Menace, a disaster occurs in hyperspace that sparks the series of High Republic projects we’ve gotten so far. In an event known as the Great Disaster, a freight transporter called The Legacy Run is destroyed while traveling through hyperspace, causing fragments of the wreckage to be dispersed randomly and disruptively throughout the galaxy. Being protectors and guardians of peace, the Jedi of the High Republic are sent to the site of the wreckage and tasked with rescuing survivors and preventing further destruction. Soon enough, the Jedi find themselves caught in the middle of a mystery involving the Nihil, an insidious crew of space pirates, that threatens the Republic and the entire galaxy.

It’s hard to become immersed within the High Republic publishing initiative without being reminded of the MCU (in a very good way). Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe has its critics, Kevin Feige and company have been universally praised for creating a brilliantly interconnected series of stories spanning various movies and shows. Light of the Jedi and the other High Republic projects really evoke the best of the MCU in that, as a reader, you feel as if you’re being thrown into this grand, interweaving segment of the galaxy. This involves characters from and events occurring in Light of the Jedi being integral to other projects, and vice versa. This sort of interconnectivity elevates Light of the Jedi in feeling as if we’re just getting our feet wet into something really vast.

Charles Soule expertly navigates Light of the Jedi and clearly shows why he was the perfect choice to spearhead this new era. Soule has always had a great knack for dialogue and this skill is on full display in this High Republic novel, with the banter and rapport between different Jedi being a particular highlight. Each Jedi feels like a truly distinct character with unique personality features and characteristics. Soule definitely draws upon some of the post-Return of the Jedi content in Legends when writing his new collection of Jedi characters. The unique Force connections and aesthetics of each Jedi evoke some of the highlights from Legends in a positive way. A lot has been made of Avar Kriss, the shining light of this new era, but various other new characters in the novel are just as interesting and had us eager to see more of them.

Soule also strikes a great balance between world-building and story-telling, something that we pinpointed as a potential criticism in some of the other High Republic projects so far. We’ve loved everything we’ve read in this new era so far, but found some of the world-building to be a little lightweight, making the distinctiveness of the High Republic era a little ambiguous. Soule subverts these issues in avoiding dense paragraphs of exposition and, instead, building out this new era of the Star Wars universe with interesting character moments, dialogue, and references. A particular reference to The Force Awakens was a personal favorite.

Despite striking such a great balance overall, the first act of the novel can be a little jarring. So many new names are thrown around so quickly that it can be difficult to get a grip on who’s who and what’s going on exactly. This issue is ameliorated as the novel progresses, however, as we see more of these characters and come to realize that they are surely to play larger parts in subsequent projects. In fact, the novel adopts an interesting structure in thrusting readers in the midst of a chaotic, climatic event, only to slow down considerably and become more personable as the chapters progress. I commend Soule for this bold structure to the High Republic’s leading book, although it doesn’t always pay off.

It was also somewhat difficult to get a good grip on the Nihil, the antagonists of the novel. The stakes of the Great Disaster seem, well, great. But, it may take some getting used to the Nihil. It’s questionable, at this point, to conceive of how the Jedi Order at the peak of their power would be greatly threatened by this band of pirates. However, this may be the point. Ben Kenobi stated in A New Hope that the Jedi were guardians of the peace for thousands of generations before their downfall, implying that any threats prior to The Phantom Menace aren’t that monumental. 

Verdict:

Beyond a somewhat rocky start, Charles Soule delivers an enthralling introductory installment into the High Republic era. Full of interesting new characters and a mysterious overarching conflict, Light of the Jedi excels in almost every department and sets the stage nicely for what’s to come.

Image courtesy of Del Rey Books

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Highlights from The High Republic Launch Event

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

On the eve of the big launch of the High Republic era, Lucasfilm kicked things off with a special live stream event full of new announcements, concept art, covers, conversations, and more. Hosted by StarWars.com’s Kristin Baver, the official launch event was led by Lucasfilm Publishing creative director Michael Siglain and featured the range of High Republic authors: Charles Soule, Claudia Gray, Justina Ireland, Cavan Scott, and Daniel José Older.

We’re going to break down some of the highlights of the event.

New trailer for The High Republic

The launch event featured a fantastic cinematic-style trailer for The High Republic publishing initiative. The trailer labels the initiative as “an interconnected mega-story…during the golden age of the Jedi” chronicling a conflict that threatens “the survival of the Republic, the fate of the Jedi, [and] for control of the Force itself.” Most of the images shown in the trailer are cover art or concept art we’ve previously seen, but the dramatic music and theatrical narration add a certain weight to the stakes at hand and the grandness of the projects that will follow.

First looks at new characters

Concept art of and information about new characters were also revealed during the live stream event. These include Ram Jamoram, Ty Yorrick, Leox Gyasi, and the Bonbraks, all of which you can see below. The stories of how authors like Gray and Older conceptualized their new characters were fascinating to hear, especially Buckets of Blood…

The Phases of the High Republic

Siglain revealed that The High Republic will encompass three waves of publications spanning several years. This first rollout of projects are part of Phase I, termed Light of the Jedi. Phase II is titled Quest of the Jedi, whereas Phase III is titled Trials of the Jedi. We’re not sure yet what these phases entail, but they certainly give off an MCU-style vibe that we’re excited about.

New projects unveiled

The highlight of the event for us was the announcement of a slew of new High Republic projects coming our way. Having really enjoyed what we’ve read so far in the High Republic era, the new projects on the horizon excite us even more.

One of the projects is a graphic novel titled The Monster of Temple Peak. The graphic novel is written by Cavan Scott and includes art by Rachael Stott. The cover art alone is brilliant to behold.

Justina Ireland’s contributions to the High Republic era continue with Out of the Shadows. This was perhaps the most interesting title to be unveiled at the event. We had the chance to read Justina Ireland’s A Test of Courage recently and really became invested in the narrative and the characters, especially Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh. Whereas A Test of Courage was a middle-grade novel, Ireland will be shifting audiences slightly to continue the adventures of Vernestra and company with this YA novel.

Speaking of middle grade novels, Daniel Jose Older is writing Race to Crashpoint Tower. This book takes place at the same time as Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm, also releasing this summer.

Finally, Shima Shinya and Justina Ireland will pen a new High Republic graphic novel titled The Edge of Balance. Unlike the Marvel and IDW comics releasing, The Edge of Balance is told in manga format and, from the cover art, it’s looking to be a beautiful work.

Images courtesy of StarWars.com

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REVIEW: Star Wars The High Republic: Into the Dark

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

THIS IS AN ADVANCED REVIEW. STAR WARS THE HIGH REPUBLIC: INTO THE DARK RELEASES ON FEBRUARY 2, 2021

The adventures in the High Republic era continue with Into the Dark, a new young adult novel written by Star Wars veteran Claudia Gray. Gray has delivered some of the best YA novels in canon so far with Lost Stars and Leia, Princess of Alderaan, not to mention her brilliant work with Bloodline and Master & Apprentice. For the most part, this trend continues in a mostly entertaining and intriguing tale.

Into the Dark follows young Reath Silas, a bookworm Jedi Padawan who aspires to be a great scholar, rather than a great warrior. Much to his dismay, Reath is dragged along by three older Jedi on a journey to Starlight Beacon, a new Republic outpost that is also integral to Justina Ireland’s A Test of Courage novel. The journey does not go to plan, however, as their transport is stranded and they are forced to take shelter in a mysterious nearby space station.

Gray made a series of bold decisions in conceptualizing Into the Dark and one’s enjoyment of the novel will, in large part, be determined by how one takes these decisions. For starters, the protagonist Reath is not your typical Star Wars hero. One of the most interesting things about Star Wars adventures has been their ability to carve out intriguing, unique backgrounds for each character. It’s not that all Jedi are the same, but, rather, there is a lot of variability that makes each Jedi feel like their own individual. This is a pattern we’ve seen with Kanan in Rebels, Ahsoka in The Clone Wars, Luke in The Last Jedi, and we also see it now with Reath in Into the Dark. The issue, however, is that Reath is somewhat of a dry protagonist. The scholarly interests of the Padawan add a certain authenticity or grounding to the character, but also result in him being a rather uninteresting lead at times. As the novel progresses, Reath further develops, but, ultimately, I was a little disappointed with this character, however likable he may be.

Nonetheless, Into the Dark is backed up by a series of great side characters. Particular highlights included a pilot named Affie and her mentor Leox. The novel also focuses on the older Jedi masters in this journey, Orla and Cohmac. Their friendship is touching and flashbacks to a previous mission were always a point of intrigue. The High Republic era’s villains, the Niihl, are also present, as are a mysterious new enemy.

Another bold decision Gray makes really pays off in the novel and that is to make Into the Dark a contained thriller. After the novel’s rather slow beginning, the action kicks into gear when the crew is stranded on the ancient Amaxine space station. From here on out, the story plays out interestingly, with all the twists and turns of the space station gradually being revealed. Certain parts of the novel really felt like they were influenced by the Indiana Jones films, which was a nice touch to see.

As we noted in our review for A Test of Courage, one of the most intriguing things about the High Republic publishing initiative was the potential to explore an entirely new era in the Star Wars canon. And, similar to A Test of Courage, Into the Dark offers a really entertaining story, but doesn’t quite delve into the new era as much as we would like. This is somewhat of a harsh criticism to lodge given that we are only three books into the High Republic and there are a vast array of projects to come. However, it would have been nice to see just a little more time spent on fleshing this era out as distinct from the rest. We’re given a lot of details through narrations or dialogue, but this information, for the most part, is rather surface level. I anticipate this is me being a little eager to really wrap my head around this era and, in that sense, I’m absolutely sure that subsequent projects will begin to dive into what makes the High Republic interesting more.

Verdict:

Overall, Into the Dark has a lot for Star Wars fans to feast on. The third novel in the High Republic era introduces some unique characters in a contained thriller that sets the stage nicely for inevitable sequels to come. The somewhat lightweight world-building in Gray’s novel is offset by an engaging adventure with unpredictable twists and threatening villains.

Image courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press

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10 Questions We Have About The Mandalorian Season 3

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

With The Mandalorian’s second season ending on such a resounding, unexpected note, we’re left with more than a few questions heading into the Disney+ series’ third season. Here are 10 questions we have about The Mandalorian Season 3:

1. What happens to Grogu now?

I guess this is the big question fans will be left scratching their heads over until new episodes of The Mandalorian debut. It seemed as if the show was heading in a direction where Grogu’s true destiny was to stick with Din and not go off with a Jedi, but this was evidently not the case. Despite Grogu being a massive pop culture icon at this point, it seems as if The Mandalorian Season 3 will, at least in part, shift gears away from the baby Yoda creature to other plots and characters. That being said, although Grogu’s reappearance in the show is inevitable, what that will entail, when that will happen, and if we’ll see Luke again all remain a mystery.

2. Will we see Bo Katan and Mando fight over the Darksaber?

It seems that the obvious answer to this question is yes. Chapter 16: The Rescue doesn’t leave fans with much to go off of in regards to predicting next’s season plot. One of the few unresolved plot points was the fact that Gideon’s defeat at the hands of Din has now pitted a motivated Bo Katan and a reluctant Din against one another. Will the two come to some agreement about the transference of the darksaber? Or will they indeed fight over the storied weapon? And what will be the answer to the question of why Sabine could pass the darksaber onto Bo Katan, but Din cannot?

3. Will we visit Mandalore?

Speaking of Mandalorian lore, it seems inevitable that The Mandalorian will eventually journey to Mandalore (yes, a lot of Mandalorians in the same sentence). Mandalore was a gorgeous planet brought to life in canon in The Clone Wars and Rebels and, given that Bo Katan is attempting to reclaim the planet, it seems that The Mandalorian could logically be taken here in season 3.

4. What happens to Gideon now?

Gideon has been the elusive antagonist of The Mandalorian so far, but now he is captured. This opens the door for other villains to step into the main antagonist role of the series. Or, maybe Gideon finds a way to break out of the New Republic’s custody. Either way, Gideon has featured less than people expected so far and it’ll be interesting to see where the character goes from here.

5. What happens to characters who now have their own spin off shows?

Both Cara Dune and Boba Fett, two prominent characters in The Mandalorian’s second season, now have their own Disney+ series coming our way. What does this entail for their inclusion in future episodes of The Mandalorian? Cross-overs between shows are surely inevitable, but we would expect that both Boba and Cara will have reduced roles in season 3.

6. Will Cobb Vanth reappear?

Timothy Olyphant’s Cobb Vanth was a fan favorite in season 2 and his line “I hope our paths cross again” surely sets him up to appear again. Given the Marshal’s location on Tatooine, one would think he is most likely to next appear in The Book of Boba Fett, but we hope we see more of the adventures of The Mandalorian and the Marshal soon.

7. Will we see more of Din without his helmet?

We’ve only seen the titular character’s face three times across 16 episodes, but it feels like the show is getting more and more accustomed to exposing Mando’s face. Especially with Pedro Pascal’s rising fame and the fact that Din has gradually began to take his helmet off when necessary, we’re curious about the extent to which we’ll see the unmasked Mandalorian in season 3.

8. When will people call him Din Djarin?

Speaking of our titular character, no one refers to him by his real name. The character’s real name was dropped by Moff Gideon in Chapter 8, but has not been spoken since. This was a surprising omission from season 2 and, perhaps, with Din removing his helmet more often we’ll see him shed other parts of his secretive identity, including his name.

9. Which new characters will be added to Season 3 and can they be kept a secret?

Season 2 took a massive leap forward in integrating The Mandalorian into broader canon, primarily through the appearances of Bo Katan, Boba Fett, Ahsoka Tano, and, of course, Luke Skywalker. Unfortunately, all but one of these appearances leaked prematurely, something we and surely Jon Favreau and co. dearly hope does not happen again.

10. When will season 3 debut?

This is a tough one. At Disney Investor Day, Kathleen Kennedy stated season 3 would start streaming in Christmas 2021, but that is seeming less and less likely. We know that The Book of Boba Fett is set to start streaming in December 2021 and it seems unlikely there would be two Star Wars series on Disney+ simultaneously. Also, The Mandalorian season 3 is yet to go into production. Meanwhile, Andor is in the middle of production and Obi-Wan Kenobi is set to start filming in January, making it seem more likely these series drop before the next season of The Mandalorian. We hope season 3 comes sooner rather than later, but, if it is indeed later, we know there’s plenty of exciting Star Wars content to consume in the meantime.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

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REVIEW: Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

We are on the verge of exploring an entire new era in the Star Wars mythology with The High Republic, something that we have been looking forward to since the publishing initiative’s reveal last year. One of the first major entries in this new era is Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage, a new middle-grade novel written by Justina Ireland. Ireland’s previous Star Wars works include the middle-grade novels Lando’s Luck and Spark of the Resistance. And, similar to those works, Ireland delivers an exciting, fast paced novel geared toward younger readers with plenty for older readers to feast on too.

A Test of Courage dives into this brand new era of Star Wars canon, set approximately 200 years before The Phantom Menace. Featuring a new ensemble array of characters, A Test of Courage primarily follows Vernestra Rwoh, a Jedi Knight journeying on a luxury starship heading for a space station in the Outer Rim regions. Vernestra is accompanied by Jedi apprentice Imri Cantaros, a senator’s daughter named Avon Starros who Vernestra is tasked with supervising, Avon’s protocol droid, and an ambassador’s son named Honesty Weft (yes, Ireland creates some truly great Star Wars character names in her novel). Their plans go awry, however, as their ship becomes under attack by insidious pirates known as the Nihil and the team flees on an escape shuttle to a forest moon.

Amidst recent projects like The Rise of Skywalker, The Clone Wars, and The Mandalorian, it can be overwhelming to suddenly shift gears to an entirely different time period before the Skywalker saga, but A Test of Courage navigates this task well for the most part. The novel doesn’t become bogged down in exposition about this new era, instead primarily focusing on the narrative at hand with sprinkles of important canon information throughout, in true Star Wars fashion. This may be a little disappointing to Star Wars fans seeking a deeper exploration into this new era with A Test of Courage. Most of the world building is rather surface level, although what we get is interesting. In particular, the Great Disaster is mentioned several times and also appears in several of the other debut High Republic books. Not much is known about this event, but it involved the destruction of a massive spaceship traveling through hyperspace, which caused hyperspace lanes to become dangerous to travel in and the entire landscape of the galaxy to undergo radical changes. It’s cool to learn more about this event with seemingly ancillary tidbits scattered throughout. That being said, one probably needs to read other High Republic books in conjunction with A Test of Courage to really begin living in this new era. Little references to other facets of Star Wars, including Batuu and Pasaana, add depth to the novel and make it feel integrated into broader Star Wars canon, but the novel doesn’t quite delve into the High Republic era as we would have liked.

As opposed to world building, Ireland’s novel really excels in character dynamics. Ireland has a nuanced way of writing dialogue that feels so genuine and appropriate for the novel’s target audience. Adolescents speak like adolescents, kids speak like kids, and adults speak like adults. Each character feels distinct from the next and different people are bound to have their favorites. I was particularly drawn to Imri and the journey she goes on, whereas another editor at Star Wars Holocron was unexpectedly drawn to Avon. The stakes are high, but the tone never becomes too abrasive or overwhelming for our cast of characters. Little character interactions throughout the novel harken back to dynamics we’ve seen before, including Obi-Wan and Anakin, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, and even Kit Fisto and Nahdar Vebb. In this sense, A Test of Courage certainly feels like an episode of The Clone Wars at times, both in its tone, plot, and character interactions.

Verdict:

Justina Ireland’s A Test of Courage is a fantastic new novel that complements other High Republic projects like Light of the Jedi and Into the Dark in interesting ways. The novel doesn’t quite delve into the uniqueness and world building of the High Republic era as we would have liked, but this is offset by brilliantly written young characters, who readers will quickly empathize with.

Image courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press

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What’s New in Star Wars – January 2021

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

2021 kicks off with the highly anticipated debut of The High Republic era across a range of new, exciting projects. The sprawling publishing initiative was revealed last year and we’ve been eagerly awaiting some of the new books and comics in this new era – a perfect antidote to the post-Mandalorian blues. January also sees the continuation of various other ongoing projects we’re looking forward to. It is important to note all of these release dates are subject to change. Below includes a list and description of upcoming Star Wars projects in the month of January:

January 5 – The High Republic: Light of the Jedi

The first installment of The High Republic publishing campaign drops in early January, written by the always brilliant Charles Soule and published by Del Rey. The novel follows Jedi Avar Kriss two centuries before the events of The Phantom Menace. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Long before the First Order, before the Empire, before even The Phantom Menace. . . Jedi lit the way for the galaxy in The High Republic. It is a golden age. Intrepid hyperspace scouts expand the reach of the Republic to the furthest stars, worlds flourish under the benevolent leadership of the Senate, and peace reigns, enforced by the wisdom and strength of the renowned order of Force users known as the Jedi. With the Jedi at the height of their power, the free citizens of the galaxy are confident in their ability to weather any storm. But even the brightest light can cast a shadow, and some storms defy any preparation. When a shocking catastrophe in hyperspace tears a ship to pieces, the flurry of shrapnel emerging from the disaster threatens an entire system. No sooner does the call for help go out than the Jedi race to the scene. The scope of the emergence, however, is enough to push even Jedi to their limit. As the sky breaks open and destruction rains down upon the peaceful alliance they helped to build, the Jedi must trust in the Force to see them through a day in which a single mistake could cost billions of lives. Even as the Jedi battle valiantly against calamity, something truly deadly grows beyond the boundary of the Republic. The hyperspace disaster is far more sinister than the Jedi could ever suspect. A threat hides in the darkness, far from the light of the age, and harbors a secret that could strike fear into even a Jedi’s heart.”

January 5 – The High Republic: A Test of Courage

Justina Ireland’s junior novel A Test of Courage also debuts in early January. We recently received the Disney-Lucasfilm Press book and have to say that we were blown away by the story and characters depicted by Ireland. An amazing installment in canon with lessons and adventures that would appeal to people across the lifespan. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Long before the Clone Wars, the Empire, or the First Order, the Jedi lit the way for the galaxy in a golden age known as the High Republic! Vernestra Rwoh has just become a Jedi Knight at age fifteen, but her first real assignment feels an awful lot like babysitting. She’s been charged with supervising eleven-year old aspiring inventor Avon Starros on a cruiser headed to the dedication of a wondrous new space station called Starlight Beacon. But soon into their journey, bombs go off aboard the cruiser. While the adult Jedi try to save the ship, Vernestra, Avon, Avon’s droid J-6, a Jedi Padawan, and an ambassador’s son make it to an escape shuttle, but communications are out and supplies are low. They decide to land on a nearby moon, which offers shelter but not much more. And unbeknownst to them, danger lurks in the forest?”

January 5 – The High Republic: The Great Jedi Rescue

Disney-Lucasfilm Press also delivers The High Republic content for younger readers with Cavan Scott’s The Great Jedi Rescue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Meet the noble and wise Jedi of the High Republic! When a disaster strikes in hyperspace, putting the people of Hetzal Prime in grave danger, only the Jedi of the High Republic can save the day!”

January 5 – A Galaxy for Everyone

One of the best things about Star Wars is its ability to convey relevant life lessons across a range of different projects, a tradition the new Little Golden Book debuting in January looks to continue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Celebrate the diversity of the Star Wars universe with this Little Golden Book! Some are big, and some are small. Some are young, and some are old. Some are queens, and some are scavengers. All off the aliens and beings from the Star Wars saga are very different, but each and every one of them plays an important role in the galaxy. This Little Golden Book celebrates the wonderful diversity in the Star Wars saga. Featuring stunning retro stylized illustrations, this book includes characters from all of the Star Wars films. It is perfect for Star Wars–and Little Golden Book–fans of all ages. Star Wars has captivated millions worldwide for almost forty years. The phenomenon began with the 1977 theatrical debut of Star Wars, later retitled A New Hope, and has expanded to include six additional major motion pictures (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and The Rise of Skywalker), television programming, publishing, video games, and much more, with new films coming every year.”

January 5 – Star Wars Galactic Storybook

More young reader content arrives with a new storybook of 6 tales illustrated by Katie Cook and published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press. 

January 5 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian Junior Novel

Author Joe Schreiber brings the events of The Mandalorian’s first season to life in this junior novel published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press. We recently reviewed the junior novel, which you can check out on our website.

January 6 – Star Wars 10

Charles Soule’s contributions to Star Wars continue in the month of January with the 10th issue of the main line. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “”OPERATION STARLIGHT, PART 2 (OF 3)” – REELING FROM THE LOSS OF ONE OF THEIR OWN, THE REBELS FINALLY SEE A PATH FORWARD! THE REBELS attempt to create a new communications code that THE EMPIRE will never be able to crack, in hopes that they might be able to safely reunite their scattered fleet and rejoin the fight. However, the code has a cost, one that LANDO CALRISSIAN is not willing to pay Meanwhile, STARLIGHT SQUADRON, the group of elite pilots tasked with finding the scattered divisions of the fleet, heads out on its first deadly mission.”

January 6 – The High Republic 1

The High Republic content continues with the first issue of Marvel Comics’ series written by Cavan Scott. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “BEFORE THE SKYWALKER SAGA! THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE JEDI! A new era of STAR WARS storytelling begins. It is centuries before the SKYWALKER SAGA. The JEDI are at their height, protecting the galaxy as REPUBLIC pioneers push out into new territories. As the Frontier prepares for the dedication of majestic STARLIGHT BEACON, PADAWAN KEEVE TRENNIS faces the ultimate choice — will she complete her Jedi Trials or rescue the innocent from disaster? New Jedi! New ships! New evils to fight!”

January 12 – Star Wars: I Love You. I Know.

A perfect early Valentine’s Day present, Amy Richau’s new DK Publishing book will detail lessons of love and friendship in a galaxy far, far away. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Relationships can be complex—your dad could have turned to the dark side, your partner could be a princess, or your best friend might speak in more than 7 million forms of communication and never stop talking! This book shares some wise advice for romances, friendships, and family relationships from fan-favorite Star Wars characters such as Han and Leia, Rey and Kylo Ren, and Finn and Poe. The perfect Valentine’s Day or anniversary gift for your scruffy-looking nerf herder, best friend or long-lost sibling, Star Wars: I Love You. I Know is a lighthearted guide to relationships, featuring quotes, classic moments, and characters from the Star Wars galaxy.”

January 13 – Darth Vader 9

Greg Pak’s incredible Darth Vader series continues with this ninth issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE ASSASSIN RETURNS! In his search for vengeance in the depths of MUSTAFAR, DARTH VADER has seized the mysterious key to the EMPEROR’S greatest secret. But the key itself needs a key — which only the deadly assassin OCHI OF BESTOON seems to have. Vader and Ochi are in for the fight of their lives with the fate of the Emperor in the balance — but how much of this is all PALPATINE’S plan? And what happens when the SITH LORD and the SITH ASSASSIN start to figure that plan out?”

January 19 – Star Wars Adventures Vol. 11: Rise of the Wookiees

This volume collects issues 27-32 of the series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Journey deeper into the world of Star Wars with these stories set just before the events of The Rise of Skywalker! With Kashyyyk under siege from the evil First Order, can Chewbacca and the Wookiees successfully defend their home world? Next, the droids must carry out a special undercover mission, but will C-3PO be able to adapt when the mission parameters change? Then, discover secrets of your favorite characters in a trio of stories spotlighting the newest heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe, Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren! All this, plus new “Tales from Wild Space”!”

January 20 – Doctor Aphra 7

The 7th issue of Alyssa Wong’s Marvel Comic series featuring one of our favorite additions to canon debuts this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE OFFER! Hired by DOMINA TAGGE, APHRA sets her sights on a mysterious piece of tech that could shift the balance of the galactic civil war. Her hunt takes her to CORELLIA… and to SANA STARROS’ doorstep! But Aphra’s not the only one on Corellia with an eye on the tech…!”

January 20 – Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run 2

We’re always interested in new Han and Chewie adventures and the second issue of the Smuggler’s Run series will do just that. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “After the Battle of Yavin, Han Solo and Chewbacca intend to use their reward to settle their debts. But Princess Leia asks them to accept a secret mission for the Resistance. Mortal dangers, traitorous enemies, and thorny situations mark the path of these two heroes of the Star Wars saga.”

January 26 – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 1 — Fortune and Fate

For anyone wishing to catch up on the adventures of Doctor Aphra, this new paperback collection has you covered. Marvel Comics are bringing together the first five issues of the Doctor Aphra comic series from author Alyssa Wong. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “The rogue archaeologist returns – with a new crew and a new mission! With the Rebel Alliance on the run after their defeat at the Battle of Hoth, it’s never been a more dangerous time for outlaws and scoundrels. But after a string of bad luck and near escapes, Doctor Aphra is back on the job – hunting the score of a lifetime that’s too good to pass up. To find the cursed Rings of Vaale, Aphra will need a crew of treasure hunters the likes of which the galaxy has never seen before! But Ronen Tagge, heir to the powerful Tagge family, also has his eyes on the prize. Do Aphra and her team stand a chance at fortune and glory? Or could there be a traitor in their midst?”

January 26 – Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales

Michael Moreci’s five-part comic-book series Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales is compiled together in this paperback collection published by IDW Publishing, which was originally scheduled to drop last month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Return to a time of great upheaval in the galaxy, the final years of the Republic, in this anthology based on the beloved animated series! While Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and other Jedi Knights fight against incredible odds, two Republic squadrons must hold their position against an encroaching droid army of the Separatists. Pinned down for the duration, Commander Cody, Captain Rex, and other clones swap war stories that feature your favorite characters from The Clone Wars animated series, such as Padmé Amidala, General Grievous, and many more!”

January 26 – Star Wars Adventures: Beware Vader’s Castle

Cavan Scott’s brilliant Tales from Vader’s Castle and Return to Vader’s Castle series are brought together in this hardcover graphic novel collection. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Why would anyone break IN to the dreaded stronghold of Darth Vader? Find out in this spooky graphic novel perfect for middle-grade readers! How does a band of rebels distract themselves when sneaking into the creepiest place in the galaxy? Tell scary stories of course! Your favorite characters, like Obi-Wan, Han and Chewie, Hera Syndulla, and the Ewoks, face classic creeps like ghosts, monsters, witches, and more. But the hidden corners of the Star Wars universe hold even more terrifying tales: stories featuring a wretched hive of scum and villainy including the likes of Darth Maul, Jabba the Hutt, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Asajj Ventress–all under the shadow of Vader himself!”

January 26 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian – The Art & Imagery Collector’s Edition, Volume Two

Volume two of Titan Comics’ Art and Imagery series debuts in January, after being delayed from its previously scheduled release of May 2020. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “This collector’s edition includes stunning artwork from chapters 5- 8, featuring the droids, rogues, and soldiers of the Empire as seen in the hit series. A unique mix of photography, art and concept illustration showcases the Mandalorian, his allies, his foes and his incredible adventures.”

January 27 – Bounty Hunters 9

The adventures of Valance continue in the ninth issue of Ethan Sacks’ Marvel Comics series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE “TERMINUS GAUNTLET” CONTINUES! Trapped on a REBEL transport under attack by pirates, VALANCE must make a desperate gambit to survive. But little does the cyborg bounty hunter know he’s on a collision course with his old rival, DENGAR! Plus, a familiar face makes a shocking return with a plan that will change the underworld forever.”

January 27 – Star Wars Adventures 3

The third issue of the Star Wars Adventures comic series is written by Michael Moreci and Sam Maggs. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Join the Wookiees of Kashyyyk for part one of a special Life Day celebration! Then, follow Kylo Ren as he learns what it means to be the Supreme Leader of the First Order.”

For reference, a condensed list of upcoming projects in January without descriptions is included below:

January 5 – The High Republic: Light of the Jedi  

January 5 – The High Republic: A Test of Courage  

January 5 – The High Republic: The Great Jedi Rescue  

January 5 – A Galaxy for Everyone  

January 5 – Star Wars Galactic Storybook  

January 5 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian Junior Novel  

January 6 – Star Wars 10  

January 6 – The High Republic 1  

January 12 – Star Wars: I Love You. I Know.  

January 13 – Darth Vader 9  

January 19 – Star Wars Adventures Vol. 11: Rise of the Wookiees  

January 20 – Doctor Aphra 7  

January 20 – Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run 2  

January 26 – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 1 — Fortune and Fate  

January 26 – Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales

January 26 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian – The Art & Imagery Collector’s Edition, Volume Two

January 26 – Star Wars Adventures: Beware Vader’s Castle  

January 27 – Bounty Hunters 9  

Images courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Marvel Comics, Random House, IDW Publishing, Titan Magazines, Disney+, and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: The Mandalorian: Junior Novel

by @holocronGeorge by @sw_holocron

The events of The Mandalorian’s debut season are brought to life in an approachable and exciting new junior novel. Published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press and written by Joe Schreiber, The Mandalorian: Junior Novel follows in the footsteps of previously released middle-grade Star Wars adaptations of theatrically released films and other television shows by expertly condensing a wealth of characters, plot lines, and events into a concise, entertaining novel for younger readers.

It’s important to keep in mind the target audience of any Star Wars project and the junior novel adaptation of The Mandalorian is no exception. The title obviously indicates the book is a junior novel and, in that regard, it excels. The book offers a great opportunity for younger readers to re-experience the events of The Mandalorian or even experience it for the first time for those who haven’t seen the Disney+ series yet. Schreiber writes in an approachable and age-appropriate manner, while never compromising on what makes The Mandalorian’s tale so great.

The junior novel intelligently disregards certain elements of the first season, such as the opening capture of the Mythrol, which makes the story, in a written format, come together more seamlessly. As this is a novel and not a series of junior comics, it makes sense that certain components of the first season that are less relevant to the overarching narrative are removed. While these moments are fantastic in viewing The Mandalorian, Schreiber makes the right decision in excluding what’s not completely necessary and focusing more exclusively on framing the season as a coherent narrative.

Regardless of the novel’s intended audience, there’s plenty to be enjoyed by fans of all ages in The Mandalorian: Junior Novel. For adult readers, the novel presents itself as a more lightweight, straightforward retelling of a season fans universally enjoyed. As with the adult novelizations of Star Wars films, it’s just cool to consume the story again in a different medium like a book. It’s one thing to watch characters like Cara Dune and Kuiil come to life on screen, but it’s another to turn page after page and further immerse oneself in their stories, especially at such a formative age.

Verdict:

The Mandalorian: Junior Novel retells the events of the Disney+ series’ first season in a fast paced, cohesive narrative geared toward younger readers. The book is a fun read for kids and adults alike in reliving the events of The Mandalorian in a new way.

Images courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Disney+, and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron Blog

Easter Eggs, References, and Trivia Facts from The Mandalorian Season 2

by @holocronJulie, @holocronJosh, @holocronWilliam and @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

The Mandalorian created an amazing tradition of including incredible references and easter eggs to the broader Star Wars universe in its debut season and this tradition continued with the recently concluded second season. Here is a rundown of all the easter eggs, references, and trivia facts we noticed from The Mandalorian season 2 (this list is not exhaustive):

Chapter 9: The Marshal

Graffiti of Stormtroopers and C-3PO can be seen on walls at the beginning of Chapter 9.

Gor Koresh is voiced by actor John Leguizamo. Koresh is an Abyssin, a species with a single eye and green skin first seen in the Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope.

Mos Pelgo was first introduced in the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion pack for the video game Star Wars: The Old Republic. In canon, Mos Pelgo was first mentioned in Aftermath.

Cobb Vanth first appeared in an interlude chapter in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath novel. Chapter 9 marks his first live-action appearance. Vanth is played by Timothy Olyphant, who has created somewhat of a reputation of playing lawmen. He played lawmen in Deadwood, Justified, The Crazies, and even an actor playing a lawman in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Timothy Olyphant and W. Earl Brown play Marshal Cobb Vanth and the Mos Pelgo bartender respectively. Olyphant plays Sheriff Bullock and Brown plays the bartender of the Gem Saloon in Deadwood, paralleling their roles in The Mandalorian.

Cobb Vanth’s speeder resembles Anakin’s podracer in The Phantom Menace.

The hologram depicting the destruction of Death Star II is footage from Return of the Jedi.

Cobb Vanth’s destruction of the raiders in Chapter 9: The Marshal of The Mandalorian resembles a similar scene in Iron Man. Both projects were directed by Jon Favreau.

Ben Kenobi does a Krayt dragon call to scare Tusken Raiders away in A New Hope. In Chapter 9, Tusken Raiders collaborate with Din Djarin and Cobb Vanth to defeat a Krayt dragon.

Din Djarin, Cobb Vanth, and the Tusken Raiders trying to defeat a Krayt dragon in The Mandalorian was inspired by a mission in Knights of the Old Republic, in which Revan and Komad team up to kill a Krayt dragon and take its pearl.

Djarin hitting Cobb Vanth’s jetpack is almost identical to Han accidentally smacking Boba Fett’s jetpack and subsequently sending him flying in the air in Return of the Jedi.

Temuera Morrison makes his first live-action appearance as Boba Fett at the end of Chapter 9, confirming in canon that the character survived his fall in the sarlacc pit.

Chapter 10: The Passenger

A mark on the wall left by Greedo’s blaster in A New Hope can be seen in concept art of the Mos Eisley Cantina in Chapter 10.

A WED-15 Treadwell droid can be seen roasting meat on a pod racer engine. At Galaxy’s Edge, an eatery called Ronto Roasters claims to cook its meat in the same way, although the burning pod racer engine is just for show.

Before appearing in season 2, the frog lady appeared in Chapter 5: The Gunslinger. She is voiced by Star Wars veteran Dee Bradley Baker and played by Misty Rosas, who played Kuiil in the first season,

This character’s name is Dr. Mandible and he too appeared in Chapter 5: The Gunslinger. Interestingly, Chapter 10 was directed by Ant-Man director Peyton Reed and this character resembles an insect.

Din Djarin, The Child, and Frog Lady in Chapter 10: The Passenger are stranded on Maldo Kreis, the same planet that Din Djarin captures the Mythrol on in Chapter 1.

The spider egg scene in Chapter 10: The Passenger of The Mandalorian is a reference to a similar sequence in Alien in which the Nostromo crew discover a nest of facehugger eggs.

The spider creatures in Chapter 10: The Passenger of The Mandalorian resemble the Krykna, creatures that appear in Star Wars Rebels, and Ralph McQuarrie’s Dagobah concept art for The Empire Strikes Back.

Chapter 11: The Heiress

The crane in the port on Trask in Chapter 11 of The Mandalorian has the same basic four-legged body plan as the AT-ATs first seen in The Empire Strikes Back.

Janina Gavankar, who played Iden Versio in Star Wars Battlefront II, puppeteered the nostrils of a Mon Calamari seen in Chapter 11

The sound of Bo-Katan’s helmet coming off in Chapter 11 of The Mandalorian resembles the sound of Vader’s helmet being placed on in Revenge of the Sith

The Gozanti-class cruiser Din Djarin, Bo-Katan Kryze, and the Mandalorians is raided in Chapter 11. This cruiser has previously been seen in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, The Clone Wars, and Rebels, amongst other Star Wars projects.

Corvus, the planet Ahsoka Tano is located on as revealed in The Mandalorian, is also the name of Inferno Squad’s ship in Star Wars Battlefront II 

Chapter 12: The Siege

A statue honoring IG-11 can be seen in the background on Nevarro.

The protocol droid teacher in Chapter 12 of The Mandalorian mentions a number of notable locations, including Coruscant, Chandrila (the homeworld of Ben Solo), and Akkadese Maelstrom, which Han Solo navigated during the Kessel Run.

One of the students in the classroom on Nevarro in Chapter 12 shares the same hair style as Rey.

The cookies that Grogu eats in Chapter 12 are called Nevaroo Nummies Macarons and are on sale at williams-sonoma.com

Dr. Pershing’s message to Moff Gideon references the “M-count” of the blood of his test subject. This is a reference to midi-chlorians, the cells in blood that indicate Force sensitivity that were first introduced in The Phantom Menace.

The test subject in Dr. Pershing’s lab resembles the tanks with Snoke seen at the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker.

The traitorous mechanic who plants a tracking beacon on the Razor Crest in Chapter 12 is a Mimbanese. Mimbanese are from the planet Mimban, seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Chapter 12 gives us our first look at dark troopers. Dark troopers first appeared in the Legends video game Dark Forces.

Chapter 13: The Jedi

Not trivia from the episode per se, but it’s interesting to look back at a tweet posted by Rosario Dawson back in February of 2017 commenting on fan art depicting Dawson as Ahsoka. Three and a half years later this fan art became reality in Chapter 13.

The magistrate Morgan Elsbeth is played by Diana Lee Inosanto. Inosanto’s godfather was Bruce Lee and Inosanto has an accomplished career in the martial arts world, in addition to film, television, theatre, and writing.

The magistrate’s assassin droids in Chapter 13: The Jedi of The Mandalorian are HK-87 models. This is a reference to HK-47, the Jedi hunting assassin droid in the Knights of the Old Republic video game.

The way in which one of the soldiers in Calodan scans the Razor Crest resembles what the Rebel sentry did when the Millennium Falcon arrived on Yavin IV in A New Hope.

Several tookas can be seen roaming around Calodan. Tookas first appeared in canon in The Clone Wars, before a specific breed of tooka- the Loth Cat – appeared in Rebels. A tooka is also seen in Chapter 4: Sanctuary. Tookas are named after Dave Filoni’s deceased cat Tuuk.

Morai, the convor who watches over Ahsoka, can be seen sitting on a branch in the forest outside Calodan in Chapter 13: The Jedi of The Mandalorian.

Din’s usage of the grapple against Ahsoka resembles Jango’s move against Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones and Boba’s move against Luke in Return of the Jedi.

John Williams’ classic Yoda theme hums in the background as Ahsoka states, “I’ve only known one other being like this, a wise Jedi master named Yoda.” When Yoda’s name is stated, you can see Grogu slightly looking to Ahsoka. Did Grogu know Yoda?

Ahsoka also references her old master and dear friend Anakin when she states, “I’ve seen what such feelings can do to a fully trained Jedi Knight…to the best of us.”

It’s revealed that Ahsoka is searching for Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn was first introduced in Legends, but first appeared in canon in Star Wars Rebels. Thrawn was last seen vanishing with Ezra and presumably Ahsoka is searching for the pair.

Ahsoka tells Din Djarin to bring Grogu to a Jedi Temple on Tython. Tython appeared in the Legends series Dawn of the Jedi as the birthplace of the Jedi Order and has previously appeared in canon in Doctor Aphra.

Chapter 14: The Tragedy

Grogu sitting atop the stone on Tython greatly resembles imagery from The Last Jedi in which Luke sits atop a rock on Ahch-To. This visual parallel becomes even more striking upon the shocking appearance of Luke in Chapter 16. 

Boba’s line, “I’m a simple man making his way through the galaxy. Like my father before me” is an obvious callback to Jango’s line to Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones, but the last sentence also resembles Luke’s proclamation that he is a Jedi like his father before him in Return of the Jedi.

This shot of Gideon aboard his cruiser resembles Vader in The Empire Strikes Back.

Chapter 15: The Believer

Boba’s line, “Let’s just say they may recognize my face” is a reference to both Boba being a clone and his notorious collaborations with the Empire.

The explosive substance rhydonium has been seen in canon several times before, including The Clone Wars and Rebels.

The Juggernaut cargo vehicle is a version of a prisoner transport tank that has been used since the Clone wars, the HCVw A9 turbo tank.

The shoretroopers seen guarding the imperial mining hub on Morak first appeared in Rogue One.

Valin Hess shares the same first name as Legends character Valin Horn, a Jedi Knight who appeared in Specter of the Night and other projects.

To cover for Din, Mayfeld says that Din is an Imperial officer who served at Taanab. Taanab first appeared in the video game Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and first appeared in canon in Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure.

Mayfeld calls for a toast of Operation: Cinder. Operation: Cinder, seen in Battlefront II, was part of Palpatine’s contingency plan to destroy Imperial worlds in order to ensure that the Empire did not outlive its Emperor.

Concept art of Chapter 15: The Believer of The Mandalorian features Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron as one of the pirates.

Chapter 16: The Rescue

Cara Dune’s response, “Which one?” to the Imperial pilot’s statement, “I was on the Death Star” is an obvious jab at the fact that the Rebellion destroyed both Death Star and Death Star II. 

A Gauntlet starfighter can be seen outside of the bar Bo-Katan is in. This type of ship was used by Death Watch and later the Shadow Collective in The Clone Wars. Maul had his own Gauntlet starfighter called the Nightbrother. 

Koska Reeves threatens Boba by saying, “You’ll be talking through the window of a Bacta tank.” These healing tasks were seen in The Empire Strikes Back after Luke was attacked by a Wampa.

An RA-7 droid can be seen roaming the halls of Gideon’s light cruiser. This drop appeared in A New Hope and Chapter 7 of The Mandalorian.

Dank farrik has been thrown around constantly in season 2 (too many times to count!). Cara Dune drops one last dank farrik in the season finale.

Gideon says that harvesting the Child’s blood will “bring order back to the galaxy.” This line greatly resembles Vader’s statement to Luke at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, “We can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.” This scene is also the first time we’ve seen the darksaber in action since Star Wars Rebels. Howevver, it seems like the rules have changed regarding how to pass the saber on.

Luke Skywalker. Enough said.

And R2!

Bib Fortuna says “maclunkey” at the end of Chapter 16. This word, said by Greedo in a new edition of A New Hope, is a Huttese word meaning, “This will be the end of you!” Fortuna is played once again by Matthew Wood, who portrayed the character in The Phantom Menace.

The debut post-credits scene of Star Wars sees the reveal of the rumored Boba Fett series titled “The Book of Boba Fett.”

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Season 2, Chapter 16

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 16 of The Mandalorian

Wow. Just wow.

The second season of The Mandalorian concluded with what can only be described as a Star Wars fan’s wildest dreams come to life. The show has repeatedly indulged fans with brilliant connections to canon and thrilling moments, but it has never reached the jaw-dropping level that Chapter 16: The Rescue does.

The episode does not waste any time as the audience is immediately and unexpectedly thrown into an action sequence from the get-go. Every time the Slave I has showed up in The Mandalorian it takes a moment or two to sit back and return to reality, because the inclusion of this iconic symbol in Star Wars lore is so breathtaking. That being said, the opening, pre-titles sequence of Chapter 16 felt a little choppy. The interchange between Cara Dune and the pilot holding a blaster to Pershing’s head was interesting in highlighting that the galaxy’s conflicts are more complex than merely good versus evil. The pilot’s point that millions died on the Death Stars was a sobering note and something Star Wars fans have spoken about for a while. Nonetheless, the dialogue feels a little forced and unnatural and it isn’t until the title card comes up that the episode really kicks into gear.

It wouldn’t be Star Wars without an intense cantina scene and Chapter 16 delivers just that. Similar to the conclusion of season one, which saw many fan favorite characters from previous chapters re-appear, we were thrilled to see Bo-Katan Kryze and Koska Reeves again (although Simon Kassianides’ Axe Woves is mysteriously absent). The entire exchange between Din Djarin, Boba Fett, and the two Mandalorians both served a story purpose in setting up the plot of the episode, but also offered an interesting glimpse into Bo-Katan’s motivations and how Boba Fett is perceived by Mandalorians. The highlight of this sequence was Bo-Katan mockingly responding to Boba’s statement that the armor belonged to his father by saying, “Don’t you mean your donor?”, ridiculing Boba’s status as a clone and acknowledging that she’s heard thousands of voices like his before. Just seeing characters like Bo-Katan and Boba interact in a post-Return of the Jedi era in live-action was something amazing to behold.

After the team is assembled and the rescue plan is formulated, Chapter 16 delivers relentless action to the very end. The plan to deceptively board Gideon’s cruiser by using Slave I as a distractor was really well conceived and entertaining to watch unfold. Upon boarding, the team splits up in classic Star Wars fashion, with Djarin trekking through the cruiser on his own, while the rest of the team try to breach the bridge of the cruiser. Djarin secretly weaving through the halls of the cruiser reminded us of Rey on Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, not to mention countless other stealthy missions seen throughout the Star Wars universe. Seeing this plan unfold was really intense as the stakes were high with the dark troopers slowly being turned on and innocent Grogu helplessly captured somewhere aboard.

Djarin’s battle with the dark trooper was perhaps the episode’s most intense action sequence. Not only are the dark troopers incredibly intimidating and beautifully designed, but the brutality they exhibit while fighting was startling. Seeing Djarin thrown around the halls of the cruiser like a rag doll as he desperately attempted to defend himself further affirmed how intriguing it is to have a vulnerable protagonist, rather than an invisible, perpetually successful one. 

Djarin’s confrontation with Gideon was also a highlight of the episode. Giancarlo Esposito’s villainous character has always lurked in the shadows of The Mandalorian so far, so it was great to see the Moff play a more significant role in the season two finale. And, as always, the incredible Esposito does not disappoint. Gideon luring Djarin in to take Grogu in exchange for letting him go actually felt genuine, in large part due to Esposito’s threatening, yet charismatic performance. The fight sequence that ensued was something fans had predicted ever since Djarin got Morgan Elsbeth’s beskar spear in Chapter 13: The Jedi. The fight, however, was a little underwhelming. It was brilliantly choreographed and entertaining while it lasted, but felt rushed and concluded too prematurely.

Everything that occurs from this point onward in the episode was truly unexpected. Gideon’s giddy demeanor upon playfully revealing that Bo-Katan must now challenge Djarin for the darksaber sent chills down our spines. However, we can’t help but think that Bo-Katan had no issue taking the darksaber from Sabine in Star Wars Rebels, so why is this an issue now? Hopefully, this point of confusion is cleared up in the future. Nonetheless, this added even more tension to an already intense episode. We thought that this confrontation between the two may happen then and there, but the arrival of the dark troopers quelled that idea. It felt like we were in store for a massive fight when the dark troopers began threateningly pounded on the door of the bridge like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots.

But, perhaps no other moment in The Mandalorian so far has surprised and delighted us as much as the arrival of the lone X-wing fighter boarding the cruiser. The sense of “No…it couldn’t be” flashed through our minds. Are we actually going to get Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian? Was it Luke that Grogu was communicating with in Grogu? Is this real life? Well, all of these questions were answered upon the breathtaking reveal of Luke Skywalker. The build up to this reveal was palpable, seeing a hooded figure wielding a lightsaber easily take out dark troopers one by one on the cruiser. When the hooded figure is revealed to be Luke, it felt like our wildest dreams coming true. Luke’s hallway fight sequence with the dark troopers evoked memories of the brilliant hallway sequence with Luke’s father at the end of Rogue One.

This may seem blasphemous, but we had some mixed thoughts regarding the final moments of Chapter 16. Yes, it’s absolutely jaw-dropping to see a badass Luke Skywalker appear out of nowhere and chop down a battalion of dark troopers in epic fashion. But, when Luke removed his hood and finally revealed his face, things just didn’t look right. The computer-generated depictions of characters’ younger versions has become somewhat of a regular occurrence in big franchises. Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia notably appeared in Rogue One. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has featured de-aged versions of Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Douglas, Kurt Russell, and more appear in their films. And, for the most part, these depictions work really well. Perhaps a few years down the line, the looks of Tarkin and Leia in Rogue One don’t hold up as well, but this is to be expected. At the time, I had no issues whatsoever with the looks of these characters and, in fact, found them quite convincing. Unfortunately, this was not the case with Luke in The Mandalorian. Luke looks best the first time he removes his hood in Chapter 16, but every shot of him after that is downhill from there. There’s just an off, unsettling look about the character with the head not looking like it fits on the body and an unnatural looking mouth being slightly out of sync with the dialogue. Even the way the scene is directed suggests that they were trying to avoid lingering on Luke for too long as the computer-generated imagery just wasn’t really up to the standards we’ve seen in other major blockbusters, not to mention the incredibly impressive array of visual effects on display in The Mandalorian more broadly. These issues somewhat dampen upon the appearance of Luke.

The goodbye between Djarin and Grogu was perhaps the most heartfelt moment of the series so far. We’ve come to really buy into the bond between the two and to see Djarin take off his helmet to look Grogu in the eyes was so touching. It was hard to not get choked up seeing the de facto father and son be split apart like this, especially when R2-D2 appeared out of nowhere and Djarin watched as Grogu is taken away. I’m somewhat torn on this ending though. The emotional impact of this moment is not in question at all. We’ve said time and time again that The Mandalroian’s emotional crux is the relationship between the titular character and the Child and, when the show has placed greater emphasis on this bond, it has really excelled. That being said, I feel as if the show has always been converging on the conclusion that the Child’s rightful home is being with the Mandalorian. It’s not that this cannot happen in the future, but there was something slightly off about these final moments as it didn’t feel right that Luke was taking Grogu away.

Just when we thought the episode couldn’t get any more unexpected though, we were greeted to the Star Wars universe’s first post-credits scene. I can see how some fans may claim that this feels too similar to an MCU film or superhero film and, while they may have a point with this, the fact that the post-credits scene is so cool in what it portrays and what it sets up makes us happy about its inclusion. Seeing Jabba’s Palace in live-action again was incredible, not to mention the glorious return of Matthew Mood as Bib Fortuna. Boba and Fennec easily taking down the palace guards, killing Fortuna, and claiming Jabba’s throne for themselves once again felt like a dream come true and sparked lots of speculation regarding the upcoming The Book of Boba Fett project.

All in all, The Mandalorian caps off an amazing second season with a truly stunning finale. This is a season that has set a high standard, with brilliant appearances by Cobb Vanth, Ahsoka Tano, and more in some of the best Star Wars content we’ve ever seen. So, Chapter 16 had a lot to deliver and, for the most part, it really did. The episode showcases thrilling action sequences and concludes the season’s overarching narrative on an emotional and unexpected note. We can’t wait to see what The Mandalorian has in store with the future as it seems like one chapter has come to an end while others have opened.

Verdict: 9/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+