So Many Bobas, or, Why Frog Lady Is So Important To The Mandalorian

More speculation on how the new Boba Fett series fits into Disney+ Star Wars programming, and how The Mandalorian looks without Baby Yoda

(Image for this post was stolen from The Spruce website)

After the season finale of The Mandalorian, I was speculating that “The Book of Boba Fett” shown in the teaser was going to be the third season of the series, which would unexpectedly take on an anthology format, devoting each season or two to a story about another Mandalorian character. Also, I was enjoying the blissfully un-21st-century feeling of having no idea what was going to come next.

Turns out I was completely wrong in multiple ways. By Monday, they were putting Jon Favreau on Disney-owned morning programs to explain what was going down.1I’m not linking to the Good Morning America interview because it annoyed me as a Star Wars pedant. At least Favreau gave them explicit permission to call Grogu “Baby Yoda.” The Book of Boba Fett is a new, separate series, led by Robert Rodriguez, coming in December of 2021. After it’s complete, season three of The Mandalorian (which is currently in pre-production) will start.

I’m a little disappointed, because I liked the idea of an anthology series, but it sounds like good news overall:

Continue reading “So Many Bobas, or, Why Frog Lady Is So Important To The Mandalorian”

The Mandalorian: The Book of Din Djarin

The Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian, “The Rescue,” once again reminds me of how I felt watching the original movies

Since it was such an annoyance with this episode in particular: spoiler warning for the season two finale of The Mandalorian.

I can’t accurately describe to anyone what it felt like seeing The Empire Strikes Back for the first time back in 1980. For me, it involved my parents driving us to the only mall theater in the state that was showing the movie on its premier night, then waiting in line for two hours. That was back when two hours felt like an eternity. Everyone in the theater was just losing their minds cheering and gasping and booing at every moment from the opening crawl, in response to every character appearance and dramatic reveal. By the end of the movie, I could already tell as a nine-year-old that it had been a transformative experience.

But the season 2 finale of The Mandalorian was kind of almost similar to that. Partly in the hype building up to it, partly in the feeling that everybody in the country was experiencing a Huge Cultural Event at the same time, but mostly in that feeling of simultaneous satisfaction and uncertainty. It was an excellent conclusion to the season, and I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next.

Continue reading “The Mandalorian: The Book of Din Djarin”

Spoiler Warning: Human Beings Continue to Disappoint

When I first heard that Disney+ was going to release its original series as real series, meaning waiting a week between episodes instead of dumping an entire season online at once, I was very happy to hear it. The Netflix model makes sense for what they’re trying to do — be a repository for hours and hours and hours of programming available whenever you want it — but it turns out that even in the over-stimulated 21st century, there’s a lot to be said for that week of speculation and anticipation between episodes. It feels more like a shared communal experience.

Or at least, it would feel like that, if there weren’t so many selfish a-holes out there.

As much as I’ve been loving The Mandalorian, I’m not watching new episodes at midnight the night before a new episode is released. But I’ve seen people not even waiting an hour to start posting spoilers online.

Now granted, I didn’t see many direct spoilers, probably because I’ve managed to weed out the worst offenders from my social media by now. But there were enough people proud of themselves for talking around the spoilers that by the time I watched the episode at a reasonable time tonight, I already had a rough idea of what was going to happen.1The biggest spoiler was a coy, roundabout tweet from one of the guest stars of the episode, which more or less revealed that they were going to be a guest star of the episode. It reminded me of The Crying Game, when I’d seen so many people so deliberately talking around the spoiler that I could tell what the spoiler was within a few minutes.

Most surprising to me, though, was how many people I saw on Twitter defending their right to post whatever they want. “If you don’t want to be spoiled, you shouldn’t be on Twitter!” was the claim. One particularly asinine person started mocking somebody who was complaining about spoilers, then said that if you’re reading Twitter in the morning you’re clearly not working, so you could just as well be watching the episode. Because taking two minutes to scroll through Twitter at work is exactly the same as taking 45 minutes to watch television during work, I guess.

I started to break my read-only policy to call the guy out for not only being stupid, but also being such a jack-ass that he’d go out of his way to defend carelessly and selfishly ruining the experience for other people, instead of showing the barest minimum amount of consideration by demonstrating the barest minimum amount of impulse control for a couple of hours until everyone got a chance to watch it. But then I realized three things.

One is that the people I was about to yell at were people I didn’t know, and one of them is apparently a contributor to a notoriously asinine Disney “news” site, so I had no idea why I’d been following them in the first place.

Two was that once someone’s selfishness has gotten to that point, calling them out on it isn’t going to have any effect at all. If there’s ever any question, the best course of action is always to block them and move on.

And lastly, no matter how selfish their intention, their advice was “you shouldn’t be on Twitter.” Which is impossible to argue with.

Apart from just bitching about a social media platform I should never have signed back onto, this also has me wondering about building anticipation and buzz and community when distribution gets wider and audiences get more and more fractured. The Mandalorian in particular has been, since its first episode, full of revelations that it’s tried to keep under wraps. Surprisingly, it’s succeeded more often than not. Obviously, people are super-eager to talk about it, or there wouldn’t be so many people eager to spoil it, so they’ve built (and earned) a dedicated audience. I’d be interested to see if there are ways to preserve that communal experience of the old broadcast TV days, that don’t just depend on people not being jerks.

The Mandalorian: Then They Saw His Face

The Mandalorian episode “The Believer” surprisingly felt like I was being rewarded for something I hadn’t earned.

The title image is from a WIRED autocomplete interview with Pedro Pascal and Oscar Isaac.

I expected the worst from the latest episode of The Mandalorian, called “The Believer,” since I expected to see Bill Burr’s character come back, and he’s the worst. But instead of being a disappointment, it felt like they were piling on scene after amazing scene showing me something cool that I hadn’t even known I wanted to see.

About five minutes into the episode, nerds worldwide let out a collective sigh of satisfaction, as we finally saw after 40 years a demonstration of exactly how stuff in the hull of the Slave I stays upright when the ship changes orientation. It still amazes me that this show is actually turning out to be a combination of my most sugar-rush-hyped-up fantasies as a 9-year-old, 20-year-old, and 49-year-old: And and and then, Boba Fett shows up, and they’ve both got jetpacks, and then Ming-Na Wen is in the group too, and they all get in the Slave I and fly to a bunch of new planets, and then there’s a scene like the truck chase in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and they just BOOM destroy a ton of Imperials, and there’s like multiple Mandalorians, and they have these bad-ass fight scenes but also when they take their helmets off, they look like Timothy Olyphant, Temuera Morrison, and Pedro Pascal.

Oh! And then for no reason at all, they had Boba Fett launch a seismic grenade to blow up multiple TIE Fighters at once, which might be the only scene I liked in all of Attack of the Clones. At that point, I was already like No really, I couldn’t take any more fan service, I’ve had so much…. oh well all right then.

I’d also been about to complain about how Star Wars keeps reusing the same biome over and over and over again; how many desert planets are in this galaxy, anyway? The only thing I really liked about Rogue One was the production design, and part of that was putting so many familiar Star Wars elements into a completely unfamiliar South Pacific-esque jungle environment. The last episode seemed to have been set in the same area near Los Angeles that episodes of Buck Rogers and Star Trek took place, and this one seemed even closer to being a real place. I’d love it if the live action series were to get as experimental with exotic environments as The Clone Wars series did.

A perfectly paced, satisfying episode like this one proves how much of what works in The Mandalorian is about restraint. There’s still a host of phenomenally talented concept artists and CG artists (and sound designers, and costume designers, etc. etc.) but here, their work is allowed to stand out, because the stories are more straightforward, the action is more old-fashioned chases and beat-em-ups, and the stakes are more personal. In this episode, I actually had the chance to appreciate the design of the pirates’ speeders, since they weren’t lost in a sea of other things fighting for attention.

It’s no knock on Disney or Lucasfilm to say that it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be able to keep this same level of quality with every one of the new Star Wars properties in the works. But if this one is so eerily able to deliver exactly what I want to see, I imagine that they’re eventually going to have a Star Wars that’s perfectly tailored to everybody.

And yes, the only reason I wrote this post is because I’m so inordinately proud of making the “I’m a Believer”/”saw his face” connection that I felt the need to spell it out explicitly.

The Mandalorian: His Backpack’s Got Jets

My reactions to the last couple episodes of The Mandalorian, “The Jedi” and “The Tragedy”

WAMPAAAA! (Advance to 11:58 for the really good stuff)

I didn’t have much to say about last week’s episode of The Mandalorian, titled “The Jedi,” because I didn’t have the same visceral attachment to the characters that a lot of other Star Wars fans seem to. I never got into The Clone Wars series1I’m trying again, and I’m currently at the end of the first season., partly because I was still a little bitter that Genndy Tartakovsky’s brilliant series was so quickly forgotten, but mostly because I was still getting comfortable with the premise of “What if the Star Wars prequels had much more engaging stories and were performed by CGI versions of the Thunderbirds puppets?” when they started lobbing Jar Jar-centric episodes at me. I mean what the hell, Star Wars? I thought we’d reached an understanding.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that I don’t have any attachment to the character of Ahsoka Tano. But some people on Twitter and YouTube were so excited they were already posting breathless takes by 1 AM on Friday. I watched it quickly to try and avoid any spoilers, and… I thought it was quite good.

Spoilers after the break!

The Mandalorian Was Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience

Episode 12 of The Mandalorian, “The Siege,” was episodic TV Star Wars, and proved the rest of the series isn’t really that

I keep saying that The Mandalorian is what I always wanted to see as a kid in the early 1980s: an episodic Star Wars television series. This week’s episode 12, “The Siege,” was as close to what I would’ve imagined in 1983 as the series has come so far… and proves that I’ve been wrong about the series this whole time.

This was my least favorite episode of the series so far.1Not that anyone asked, but my previous least favorite was “The Gunslinger” from Season 1. It says a lot about how much I love this show that being “least favorite” isn’t really a knock against the episode; I liked it a lot. But it shows that there’s been a lot more going on with this series than has been apparent on the surface. It’s seemed like such simple, straightforward, storytelling that it’s easy to neglect just how sophisticated it is in style, character, visuals, and music.

“The Siege” is like Carl Weathers interviewed me as a 12-year-old in 1983 and made a checklist of everything I’d want to see in a Star Wars TV series:

  • Jetpacks
  • Speeder bikes
  • Those acrylic star map things
  • Insane jump tricks in an Imperial transport
  • Assault on an Imperial base
  • Lava
  • TIE Fighters where the wings fold up and then they fly off and shoot at the good guys who are racing away
  • Hallways full of sinister experiments
  • Macarons

But there’s something almost indefinable missing, the heart and soul of this series, the thing that makes it feel more like “classic” storytelling than “scoped down a bit” storytelling. To jump to a different franchise: it’s what separates Mad Max: Fury Road from what I’d imagined Max Max: Fury Road was going to be like before I saw it. This was an action-heavy and plot-heavy episode that was still extremely entertaining, even if it didn’t resonate with me the way the others have.

In this review on Screen Crush2Which is also where I stole the title image from, Ryan Arey makes an interesting point that hadn’t occurred to me: if the characters hadn’t been so suspicious of authority and the New Republic at the end of this episode, Baby Yoda would’ve been safely united with Luke Skywalker, and the series would be over. Depending on how deep Moff Gideon’s conspiracy goes, it might’ve even prevented the sequel trilogy before it could start. So maybe the show needs an 80s TV-style catch phrase: Thanks for nothin’, Greef Karga!

The Mandalorian: Out of Alignment

Middle-aged nerd REACTS to episode 2 of season 2, “The Passenger!”

This is inevitably going to end up a Chris Farley-style review of episode 2, “The Passenger,” because I honestly don’t have a whole lot of insight beyond “Remember when he knocked out those two guys at once with a third guy’s rifle? That was awesome.”

This episode was, as usual, cool as hell, and exactly how you should do televised Star Wars, and it remains the series that I wanted in my childhood but would never have been possible so we live in the greatest time in history, etc. etc. I’m actually a little worried that I’ll get too used to this level of quality week after week, and I’ll start taking it for granted.

Continue reading “The Mandalorian: Out of Alignment”

The Mandalorian: Now this is fan servicing!

The Mandalorian season opener “The Marshal” was like time traveling back to 1981

Watching The Mandalorian has always given me a vague sense of deja vu, as if I were watching exactly the Star Wars television series I would’ve wanted to see as a kid. According to the Wikipedias, Jon Favreau is five years older than me and grew up in New York City, but especially with the first episode of season 2, “The Marshal,” he’s somehow managed to translate the hopes of a 10-year-old living in the Atlanta suburbs in 1981 directly to the screen.

To be clear, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with any actual stories, or in fact anything specific apart from lots more of this, please. But The Empire Strikes Back left impressionable kids with near-infinite potential: not only could the movies’ story go in any direction, but there were so many possibilities for new planets and new characters and new stories.

Continue reading “The Mandalorian: Now this is fan servicing!”

Do or do not; there is #nohomo

More spaceships and laser swords, less snogging.

Whenever Star Wars comes into contact with the internet, dumb things happen. One of the most annoyingly dumb things recently has been the insistence that the new sequel trilogy is a perfect stage for better LGBTQ representation, but Disney overlords have kept it from happening.

The kiss between two women at the end of Rise of Skywalker is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it example of tokenism, they claim, kept short so it could pander to liberals but still be easily cut for less gay-friendly foreign markets. And of course the characters of Finn and Poe were obviously well-suited to be a couple, until skittish Disney execs insisted that they each be paired off with hetero romantic interests.

As a red-blooded American white male gay nerd, I’m calling that a bunch of nonsense.

Of course I’d prefer it if a company as large as Disney would choose to stand its ground. Release the movie with its completely innocuous kiss between two women, and let the market decide. (Retaining the arbitrary and unearned kiss between the trilogy’s hero and villain is a lot more offensive, anyway). But then they’d get accused of cultural insensitivity, so I guess there’s not one easy solution. At least the Huckabee family has to see it and get angry about it, so that makes me happy to think about.

But as for making it a more significant beat in the story, my question would be: why? What do you hope to get out of it? These aren’t stories that do a great job with romance in any case; the most successful one in the entire series is still insufferably corny in places. If it’s just a question of representation — which is absolutely important — then I think showing two secondary characters kiss during a happy moment is a great way to handle it.

When I was growing up watching these movies, I would’ve been happy to see any acknowledgement that other gay people exist, and that they don’t need to be primarily defined by or driven by their sexuality. In a series that doesn’t tend to focus on the personal lives of any of its secondary characters, devoting more time to those characters’ relationship would inevitably feel shoehorned.

The one that I feel a lot more strongly about is the business about Finn and Poe. With that, I can’t be as sympathetic to the call for representation, because I think it’s actually a huge and disappointing step backwards. In modern American entertainment, it’s getting increasingly common to see representation of two men in a romantic relationship. What’s still disappointingly rare, though, is to see two men in a supportive, affectionate relationship that isn’t romantic or sexual.

I’m sure that the people pushing for a Finn & Poe romance (including Oscar Isaac himself) believe they’re pushing for open-mindedness, but I think it just reinforces the kind of toxic masculinity we’re already overwhelmed with. It sets a limit on how much two men can show they care about each other before it turns gay. They hug, they’re concerned about each other, they even share clothes — now let’s see them kiss!

Believe me, nobody wants to see Oscar Isaac kissing another dude more than I do, but I think the better and more valuable representation — which could impact more of the audience than just the people who identify as gay — is to show men being caring and supportive of each other without having to be romantically linked. If for no other reason than it reminds all the guys in the audience who don’t identify as gay or bisexual that being affectionate isn’t a threat to their sexuality or their masculinity.

Now, the obvious issue with The Rise of Skywalker in particular is that they introduced Zorii Bliss as a character whose presence in the movie is at least 75% to give Poe Dameron somebody to mack on. I think they handled it well for the most part, seeing as how she’s portrayed as a bad-ass who’s able to show she cares about someone while still not being just a sexual object. And it gave the movie one of its best moments, when Poe turns on the full smolder, and she shoots him down immediately. But there’s no denying that it’s hella heteronormative.

Since that whole character relationship was already loaded down with the kind of corny, when-do-I-get-that-kiss “romance” that already exists in Star Wars, I say the “best” LGBTQ representation would have been to have Zorii Bliss open the helmet and reveal another man. (Like, say, me. I’ll do it. Just call me). It would’ve felt every bit as shoehorned in, but it would’ve at least been somewhat novel.

But let background characters stay in the background, and let Finn and Poe just be friends. It’s not progress to push for gay characters at the expense of telling men that they can’t be straight and give another guy a hug.

The Rise of Skywalker: The Last Gatekeeper

It’s partly true. Some of it.

This post is full of spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker.

While I was psyching myself up for seeing The Rise of Skywalker, I said I was bracing myself for either the rush of The Force Awakens or the disappointment of The Last Jedi. As it turns out, I didn’t really feel either.

I definitely felt none of the exhilaration of the first movie. The Force Awakens felt like the gasp of new life after someone plunged a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the franchise — (Note: I don’t know if that is actually a thing outside of Pulp Fiction. Please consult your doctor) — but this story was full of bad decisions that they couldn’t just lightspeed-skip over (like, say, an over-long discussion of thermal oscillators or a weird repetition of “kanjiclub”).

At the same time, even as I was shaking my head and mouthing the word “no” over and over, I didn’t feel the miserable deflation I did while watching the bad decisions play out in The Last Jedi. I’ve grown into a begrudging acceptance of that movie — and honestly, it’s a more ambitious and more daring movie than The Rise of Skywalker — but watching it felt like the cold touch of a Dementor was draining me of my renewed enthusiasm for Star Wars.

I think ultimately, JJ Abrams is too talented a filmmaker to make something I can’t enjoy in the moment. I’m hesitant to assign authorship to something as complex as a feature film — especially a blockbuster with as many invested parties as this one — to one person, but the constant through every JJ Abrams project I’ve seen is that they’re all full of charm, momentum, and seemingly boundless potential. Beautiful, charismatic people exchanging snappy dialogue while doing intriguing things. The stories rarely end on a satisfying note, though: starting with the mindset that the story can go anywhere and literally anything could happen means that all that potential energy gets used up quickly. Once it’s run out, the end result tends to either evaporate into meaninglessness, or land with a baffling thud.

Maybe it’s appropriate that watching The Rise of Skywalker felt to me like watching The Return of the Jedi. I left that movie feeling like they’d taken something great and somehow made it silly, overwrought, and nonsensical, to the point of making me wonder whether I’d “grown out” of the franchise altogether. But then I remembered how rad the speeder bikes were!

The Rise of Skywalker is like that, multiplied by ten. I started Return of the Jedi disappointed that they’d only made two movies and were already repeating themselves with Tatooine and another Death Star; this movie brings back a dead villain with no explanation, and then he also has 1000 Death Stars!

To be clear: I’m still 100% on board with the idea of bringing back the Emperor. He’s a great, over-the-top bad guy who could’ve served as the source of all evil across all nine movies. And I still think it could’ve worked, had it been made the driving force of the plot of the last movie, built up to a climactic reveal and final showdown, and tied into all of the events that led up to it. But here, it was introduced in the first line of the opening crawl. And of all the hundreds of questions that could come from that reveal, the least interesting one to explore was “Okay, how do we get there?” But that’s what they chose to focus on.

It’s so bafflingly arbitrary that it retroactively makes the rest of the final trilogy seem smaller and sillier. I’d been able to justify the First Order and Supreme Leader Snoke as building on the idea that The Return of the Jedi was a conclusive happy ending for the galaxy. I thought that The Last Jedi gave it weight by asserting that restoring the Old Republic without fixing its problems would just cause the cycle to continue indefinitely. Now, suddenly re-introducing Palpatine with little convincing explanation just makes it seem like they simply didn’t think you could tell a Star Wars story without bringing back the Empire and the Emperor. (I want to be charitable and use the common defense of repetition in the Star Wars movies by saying “it rhymes,” but there’s a part of me that only thinks this rhymes with “schmack of schmimagination.”)

I was left wondering whether the stable boy shown at the end of The Last Jedi now has to be revealed to be a long-lost grandson of Obi-Wan or something. Most disappointing is that Rey’s story has been robbed of all its potential energy built into the last two movies: the focus shifted from “who are you?” entirely to “who were your grandparents and the long line of now-dead heroes who are entirely responsible for your importance in this story?”

Ever since The Last Jedi came out, people have been calling it a case of filmmakers petulantly refusing to “yes, and…” each other. I never bought it, before. Despite my problems with the movie, The Last Jedi didn’t feel like it was arbitrarily throwing away ideas built up in The Force Awakens, so much as turning the story in a new direction to give a counterpoint to the previous two trilogies. But many of the changes in The Rise of Skywalker feel so arbitrary, even petty, that it just makes it feel like watching a bunch of preposterously rich people fighting over a box of Star Wars toys and refusing to share.

The Hollywood Reporter has an interview with co-writer Chris Terrio that makes me think it maybe wasn’t as clear-cut or arbitrary. (Or petty). Perhaps the major problems that I had with the story weren’t ones of intent, but of execution. They were trying to build on ideas from The Last Jedi, for the most part. But it sounds as if they had a very narrow interpretation of what The Last Jedi was trying to say, felt an obligation to honor a bunch of other people’s interpretation of the franchise (including George Lucas), and then had to deal with the thousands of things that always happen over the course of making any blockbuster, especially such a high-profile one that has to act as the conclusion of nine movies.

The biggest difference between my experience watching The Return of the Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker is that this time, I knew that Star Wars isn’t over. There’s no sense that it’s time for me to put away childish things, since I’ve got a huge media company pumping out millions of dollars worth of more stuff or me to enjoy at a steady clip.

If you’d told me that my favorite interpretation of Star Wars would be by the guy who was largely responsible for Swingers, I — well, to be honest, I probably would’ve said, “yeah, that checks out.” But it’s still great to see that Disney seems to have taken the best part of the MCU model — giving creators who grew up loving the material the chance and the resources to realize their own interpretation of it —and applied it to Star Wars. I don’t love the extended comedy beat at the beginning of the last episode of The Mandalorian, for instance, but I do love that it was instantly recognizable as Taika Waititi’s unique contribution.

That allows me to focus on The Rise of Skywalker’s speeder bike moments, the parts that it does well:

  • It was great that they put so much focus on having all the main characters going on an adventure together.
  • Although the story felt overstuffed with characters, I did like that their presence was kept character-driven — hinting at a stormtrooper revolt with Jannah, and the scoundrel-with-a-heart-of-gold story for Zorii Bliss, to emphasize the idea of “regular people” across the galaxy all standing up to the new Empire.
  • I loved the propulsive energy of the first act that kept things moving (even if I felt they were chasing after the wrong things).
  • I still love the inherent charisma of Daisy Ridley, who manages to make an unwaveringly good character still seem interesting and relatable.
  • I loved the scene with Han Solo and the clever repeat of “I know.”
  • I appreciated that they kept at least a trace of the “democratization of the Force” idea alive, with Finn’s growing awareness that he’s Force-sensitive.
  • I loved Adam Driver’s performance after his transformation back to Ben Solo — after two and a half movies with not much to work with other than “really intense,” he made that character so appealing, with relatively limited screen time and just an “ouch” and a perfectly-delivered, Han Solo-esque shrug.
  • And I loved that they did build on the idea of a unique connection between Rey and Ben, incorporating it into two key moments in the plot. It was a great counterpoint to the iconic moment in The Force Awakens in which she takes the light saber from him, to see her give it back.

Ultimately, I just can’t see the point in getting too upset about the disappointing parts of a movie that was this entertaining. That doesn’t mean I’ve “outgrown” Star Wars, or that I need to retroactively dismiss or downplay its importance to me — I’m still one of the guys who got engaged in Galaxy’s Edge this year, and I’m still considering the feasibility of having a wedding ceremony inside the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. It just means we no longer have to settle for what one person’s interpretation of what Star Wars “is.”

While we’ve spent the last decade or so besieged by reboots and re-interpretations and re-imaginings, it’s often seemed like we’re in a cultural death spiral: everyone lacks imagination or ambition, and they’d rather play to nostalgia instead of creating something new. But there’s something uniquely wonderful about the thrill I felt seeing The Force Awakens, or even seeing The Mandalorian deliver a live-action version of a forgotten toy. Dismissing it as nothing more than nostalgia makes it sound completely selfish, instead of acknowledging that it’s more like a shared cultural moment. They’re not simply showing me the things that I used to love; they’re acknowledging “I understand why you love this, because I grew up loving it, too.”

There’s value in telling stories in these shared universes. And of course, there’s nothing stopping creators from using the money and/or industry clout from these shared universes and applying them to make their own original murder mysteries. I can put references to Harry Potter and Pulp Fiction into my opinions about a Star Wars movie, and we all get it because they’re all cultural touchstones that we share. Not narrow-minded fandoms that we’ve got exclusive ownership over. Take the parts of it that you love, don’t get too upset over the parts you don’t, and go on to enjoy — or make — new stories.

Back in middle school, I heard that Star Wars was planned as an epic trilogy of trilogies, and I tried to imagine all the different ways that such a long, huge story could play out. Now, though, limiting it to only nine stories seems remarkably unambitious.