Jared Warner or something you find in dirty diaper. We aren't sure.

Jared Warner

Awkward Pics Make Better Memories: A Defense Of School Picture Day

A Series of Pictures of the writer, from early school pics to today.

I am going to share with you something that is deeply, profoundly personal. It’s something I had buried years ago in my mind. I wanted to physically bury all copies of this relic at one point, but my mom wouldn’t allow it. Long story short: I’d forgotten about this, but in the days of social media, none of us are safe from our parents finding dark artifacts from the past and sharing them with the world. Brace yourself. Here is what I saw when I checked my notifications this morning.

Awkward School Pic of kid with glasses in front of a digital star field

….Oh….oh Jared…What happened here? Well, the year was 199…1(?), and it was school picture day. Now, there’s plenty to dissect here – horizontal stripes, tinted glasses, jeans that are let’s say, “relaxed fit.” But those glamour stars in the background are truly the piece de resistance. 

Why would I vouch for this background that seems to be missing a unicorn or something? The early 90s was a magical time when dinosaurs came to life on the movie screen and your school pictures could look like they were taken in front of a space-laser battle. So what I expected when I checked the “starfield” box as my preferred background while standing in line in the Bartow Elementary gymnasium was something closer to: 

Awkward School Pic With Background Replaced By Laser Grid

Aw heck yeah. Once digital editing became commonplace, most kids my age ended up with pictures where the background was replaced with what I would today describe as a screen-saver sorta deal. But back then it was freakin’ awesome.

But school picture day, like life itself, doesn’t always go as planned. I remember being so embarrassed weeks later when the prints came back. What was I going to do with these freaking glamour shots? Nevermind that there wasn’t much for an eight-year-old to do with pictures, regardless of how they came out. 

The thing is, that’s really part of the value of the whole School Picture Day tradition. In the last decade or so, we’ve become a society more obsessed with pictures than ever before, with social media making amateur photo-journalists of us all. It’s tempting to think you don’t need a “school picture” in a year where the concept of “school” is loose at best. But take it from a nerd who aimed for the laser grid and landed among the stars, having a set memento of a certain time just hits different than a regular ole’ insta post. (Even if you’re not crazy about the results at first). 

This is true for parents as much as it is kids. Take the best picture of me ever taken, for example:

A Kid Making A Goofy Grin For School Picture Day

That was my peak, it’s been downhill since. I would like to congratulate myself on somehow throwing some side-eye while still staring directly ahead. Here’s the thing, though.  My mother hated this picture. She didn’t tell me that at the time; I was a child, that would have been damaging. But growing up means if you have cool parents you get to become friends with them, and then you get to catch up on all the gossip about you from when you were a kid.

Now, I don’t know why Mom didn’t like this picture…maybe it’s ‘cause I look like a huge dork, but that’s something she always appreciated about me. Regardless, she wanted to have them retaken. Fortunately, Nana took her by the hand and said “Jan. Don’t you dare change that. One day it will be your favorite picture of him.” And Nana was right. To this day this is the pic that Mom keeps on her desk at work, and it’s her absolute favorite. My guess is that this pic is documentation of when I started becoming the guy I am today. It’s the first time my “okay, whatever” attitude really came shining through.

So don’t just take a school picture, celebrate how awkward, weird, unexpected they are. In a time when we spend twenty minutes capturing moments “for the ‘gram” it will mean more to have a memento of our kids and families as they are, not how we curate them on social. 

To celebrate National School Picture Day, Lifetouch will be creating America’s Yearbook -a digital compilation of user-submitted pictures capturing the spirit of picture day. For 84 years, Lifetouch has been shaping yearbooks featuring all the things that make school pictures so memorable, from fads to goofy expressions. You can submit your favorite throwback school pictures for a chance to be featured in America’s Yearbook on Oct. 5. Then a few select winners will receive free school pictures, yearbooks, and school supplies for the school of their choice! It’s a great way to celebrate where we’ve been, and all the goofy unexpected places we’ve yet to go.

Submit your favorite school pictures here.

 

This post was sponsored by:
Lifetouch

The Dad Gaming Bootcamp: Mario Kart & How To Completely Destroy Your Kids

Dad's racecar crosses the finish line

(Expert advice from The Dad Gaming Mario Kart Season 5 winner Joel Willis. With expert consultation from Season 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 winner Mick Winzeler and Season 9 winner Martin Flores.)

As dads, we want our kids to be winners. Usually. The main exception being when we play them in Mario Kart.  It’s written in The Dad Law that dads are never to take it easy on their kids in Mario Kart. EVER. Life doesn’t work that way, and neither does Bowser on his Wild Wiggler on Rainbow Road. So pick up the sticks and try not to cry when you get lapped, son. 

For the 2nd event in The Dad Gaming League, we’ve teamed up with Planters to throw an all-star, all-dad Mario Kart tournament! On Friday, September 18, we’ll have a 150cc tournament, a 200cc tournament, and possibly even Battle. Reminder, you do not have to be good to play any event in The Dad Gaming League. (In order to play this tournament though, you need Mario Kart 8, a Switch console, Nintendo Online and the will to take your child’s optimistic spirit and crush it without remorse.)

To sign up, click here. Whether you’re competing in this tournament, or you want to level-up your skills in order to impress/destroy your kids, we’ve got you covered. So, pop your favorite Planter’s Pop n’ Pour and join us on a spin through The Dad Gaming Bootcamp. 

These tips progress from easiest and most essential, to more advanced. So be sure you master the first ones, and then move on through the list to become a Mario Kart esports pro. LET’S-A-GOOOOOO.

Don’t go in the grass, dirt, or hit the walls

So this one is unbelievably obvious and basic. But as I most often shout to my kids whilst trying to coach them, “Stay in the middle of the track! Go in a straight line and quit swerving all over the place!” 

The first goal is to keep Basic Max Speed, which you achieve by not getting slowed down by obstacles or the path. As soon as you touch a non-track surface such as grass or dirt, your speed drops dramatically. In 150cc (the 2nd fastest kart in the game) or below you can basically hold the gas down the whole time. So stay on the track and you’ll keep at the basic max speed. Beyond that, you’re going to need boosts. 

Speed boost at the start (just after 2)

The earliest boost you can get is right at the start! Here’s a protip: Watch the start countdown. “3… 2… 1….” Start holding down the gas immediately after “2.” This will give you the most boost. If you’re a little late, it’ll be a little less boost. If you are a little early, you will burn out. This is relatively easy to master and starts you off right, and teaches the most important lesson: timing is everything. 

Jump on bumps

In Mario Kart 8, there are ramps all over the place. Right at the top of a ramp, hit the jump button. Your guy will do a little flip and get a speed boost. This move can quickly become a habit and you’ll do it even without thinking, and because, again, there are ramps all over the place. It can help a ton.

Actually, try it off of any bump you see. It doesn’t just have to be a proper ramp. Any track object that gets you airborne for the slightest bit can be used to get a jump boost. These can add up quickly!

Hold an item behind you for defense

Now that you’ve got a good start and are getting a little boost for every jump, you’re going to quickly find yourself out in front of the pack, especially if playing my children, who are notoriously trash at this game. To maintain your lead, it’s time to play a little defense.

You gain items in this game by driving through the multi-colored question boxes littered around the track. Certain items you can hold behind your cart by holding the “use item” (L) button. You can do this with bananas, green shells, red shells, and bombs. While driving, you’re holding gas anyway, if you have one of these defensive items, you will hold L as well and it’ll stay behind you. It may feel weird at first, but it’s worth getting used to. Now, if someone fires a red shell at you, the item will deflect it!

When you release the L button, the item gets released. If you hold back on the joystick while releasing, it will shoot the shell, banana, or bomb behind you. This all makes it difficult to snag some snacks, so keep your Pop & Pour nearby for quick-crave release. 

IMPORTANT: If you hold a bomb behind you and it gets hit, you’ll get caught in the explosion! So best to release those back behind you if anyone is approaching.

Holding items behind you does not save you from a blue shell! Only a Super Horn can help with that. (You may also use a mushroom to speed away just before the blue shell drops, but it’s gotta be perfectly timed!)

Get 10 coins as quickly as possible then don’t worry bout more

Coins are dramatically misunderstood by many Karters, especially my kids, who are just so, so bad at this game. 

Coins increase your base speed. More coins you have, the faster your core speed. Great! But the max effect is 10 coins. So try to get 10 coins quickly, then don’t worry about ‘em.

Drifting – turn boosts

Drifting is absolutely essential to being competitive in Mario Kart. The only reason it’s so far down this list is that it’s a little tricky for noobs, like my kids, who are terrible. But give it some practice and you’ll be drifting on every turn in no time.

To start a drift, do a little hop right before a turn. You’ll want to hold down the jump button (R). Depending on the direction your guy is facing when landing, your kart will begin turning a bit more in that direction. Keep holding the jump button! Try steering left and right with the joystick. You’ll find that if you turn into the drift, the kart turns EVEN MORE than normal. But if turning against the drift, it’s impossible to even turn that direction, but you can get the kart nearly going straight. 

As you keep turning and holding that jump button, eventually colors will appear behind your cart. Blue… orange… pink. The longer you hold a drift, the more powerful the boost when you release. After the turn, let go of the jump button and OFF YOU GO. Boom. That’s it. 

The most important skill in the game.

Know it, love it, master it. You’ll find that the mechanics of drifting also help taking sharp turns faster, and you’ll wonder how you ever turned without it.

Item management

Now that you’re drifting and boosting all over fools like my abysmal kids, you’re gonna be wayyyyy out in front. You need to start thinking strategy. The differentiator amongst top competitors is often item management. There’s some randomness when it comes to items, but there’s also strategy in how you manage them. Everyone’s style here may be a bit different, but there are some things to know…

If you’re out in front, you really want to have some defense. That is, holding a shell or banana behind you. 

When you’re in front, the items will almost always be a coin or a banana. So try to get a double item box so you can at least get something for defense if you need it. This also means that if you have a banana, you can drop it right behind the double item box, quickly replace it, and make that double item box tougher to get for those behind you. Muauahahahaha. Eat it, kids. 

Bombs are absolutely destructive if there are karters just behind you and you’re out in front. Drop that bad boy behind you and speed away like you’re in an action movie. 

Getting used to the best way to use each item is a matter of trial and error. If you have a big lead and someone overtakes you unexpectedly, how did they do that? What items did they use?

When you get mushrooms or a star, resist the urge to blast it immediately. Try to use it to cut difficult corners or take shortcuts, because the boost item will negate the speed loss of going off track. 

Know the courses,  time trials, & shortcuts!

Speaking of shortcuts, I guarantee there are more of them out there than you know! In The Dad Gaming Mario Kart we do a different time trial each week. Some people will spend HOURS on a track, sometimes trying to beat their own best time by just tenths of a second. You can’t do this without knowing all of the track shortcuts. 

There are lots of videos on YouTube to search for more intel. (You can start with MK8DX Records.) After learning the above tips…. Watch a record time for a particular track on YouTube, note all the shortcuts, and then spend 20 minutes trying to get a good time on your own. Now do that for every track. That is BY FAR the best training you could do in Mario Kart 8.

Know the courses – proper lines!

Time trials and watching record times on YouTube is not just about shortcuts. Also watch the “lines,” or the path you take on the track. Sure, taking a turn on the inside is faster, right? Well entering and exiting turns in particular spots, on particular tracks, can be more efficient and also set you up for what’s next. Getting down to that level of detail is important to be elite, which my kids have no hope of achieving.  

Drafting

If you get right up behind another racer, after a few seconds, you’ll see a wind effect blowing and your Kart will speed up significantly, then you’ll blow by them!

I tend to see this happen the most at the start of a race when everyone is so close together. It doesn’t happen quite as much as you’d expect otherwise, because a few seconds behind someone is kind of a lot. But if you can make it happen, the boost is pretty solid. Just watch out for the guy in front dropping a banana on ya!

Whether you’re attempting a draft of not, you can see the item the person in front of you has. So if they have a green shell or banana, don’t try to trail directly behind them.

200cc, get used to brake drifting

Once you’ve mastered all of the above, and you’re ready to put it to the real test, strap in and kart-up to the start line of a 200cc match. Everything you’ve learned still applies, except faster. You will no longer be able to hold the gas down the entire match! You may even need to press a button you’ve never pressed before: the brake. 

You won’t need the brake on straightaways, only turns. And since you mastered drifting, you’re still going to be drifting on almost every turn (holding the jump button). So the main thing you need to know for 200cc is brake drifting. When you’re FLYING around the turn in 200cc, holding down the jump button and drifting, just let off the gas and tap the brake button a few times. In some cases, you may need to press it, not tap, but a lot of the time, simply tapping it will keep you from slamming into the wall.

Get used to holding jump, drifting, letting off gas, and tapping brake. It’s a strange combo. But you’ll have it in no time and destroying peeps at 200cc. Then the biggest difference between 200cc and 150cc is your kids will be crying 2 minutes sooner.

So there you have it. You’re ready to compete with the big boys and bask in the defeat of my children and yours as well. Use their tears to wash down some Planters Pop & Pour and we’ll see you on the tracks September 18th! 

This article and The Dad Gaming League are sponsored by Planters. Enjoy delicious snacks without gunking up your controller with Planters Pop and Pour

This post was sponsored by:
Planters

Parenting Is Hard. One Ritual Helps Keep Me Going

A Dad Considers Ritual Multivitamins

I’m usually up around 7 in the morning, and I don’t get much “me time” until 9 or 10 at night; just in time to fall asleep for the last 20 minutes of whatever show my wife and I are “watching.” Being an adult usually means running from one crisis or calamity to another, and it can take a toll.

The suggested solution to this issue is to work out, eat better, practice meditation and all sorts of activities that are, you know, not the sorta thing parents would have a lot of time for. And even if you’re a few months or years into the parenting gig, finding your way back to a routine of self-care is not easy. Even I would start weeks making big promises about getting in three weight training sessions, or swearing off fast food; this proved a great way to end every week feeling like a total loser jerk. When I was offered a monthly sample of Ritual, a daily multivitamin supplement, it seemed like an easy way to fit in something for myself.  

Now, Ritual is a multivitamin supplement with a soft spot for parents. The company gained notoriety with moms for developing a prenatal multivitamin that specialized in transparently-sourced nutrients without all the shady fillers a lot of brands cram into their products. They’ve recently launched a line for men with the same philosophy of scientifically-developed multivitamins, and while that’s all cool, what really intrigued me was the philosophy behind their design: That no pill or powder can make you stronger –– a refreshing angle for someone essentially trying to sell me a supplement. Instead, Ritual emphasizes that foundational health starts with small daily habits. 

If finding time to take care of myself was a challenge, I could manage to take two little pills a day. At least to start, right? 

Now, let’s be clear. Ritual didn’t give me sudden superhuman abilities or mental clarity. I was still groggy in the mornings and exhausted at night – I didn’t immediately start hitting my workout goals. There’s no magic pill. What I could do is stand in front of a mirror every day, open the Ritual container and look myself in the eye knowing that no matter what happened that day, I’d done something to help support my health. Something for myself.* 

So what does Ritual do then? Well, the big goal of a multivitamin is to help fill nutritional gaps in the diet. Yes, Brad, we all know that eating a pure Mediterranean diet that we cooked over campfires made from ancient trees would make us good to go, but the year is 2020, and that’s not in the cards. So Ritual provides key nutrients to help fill nutrient gaps in most modern men’s diets, using transparently-sourced nutrients that you can feel good about putting in your body. 

I take Ritual’s Essential for Men 18+ which is formulated with key micronutrients to help support men’s health –– including heart, brain, muscle, and normal immune support.*  The key differentiators here are their nutrient sourcing and No B.S. formula. For example, they get their Magnesium, which helps support bone health*, from Odgen, Utah. I’m not saying I needed to know my Vitamin K2 comes from Oslo, Norway, but when it comes to supporting heart health it’s comforting to see such transparency.*

At this point, it might go without saying that all of Ritual’s products are vegan-friendly, non-GMO, as well as gluten and major allergen-free. Since their whole thing is about accountability in their products, this commitment to quality isn’t surprising. I’m not even vegan, but I have to agree that it seems like multivitamins should be? I don’t know what goes into non-vegan multivitamins, but it’s not a filet mignon I can tell you that.

I can’t promise that I’ll be hitting my workout goals every week or even rejecting the Dad Tax of all the extra fries that fall to the bottom of the bag. But after a few weeks with Ritual, I believe there’s something to be said about starting small. Sure it’s just taking two little minty multivitamins every day. But that’s a habit that makes it easier to commit to other personal goals. This week I’ll commit to getting up early one day for a run. Next week, I’ll squeeze in a weight training session. It’s not a multivitamin that makes this happen, but if I can show up for one easy Ritual, I can see a path to another, and then another after that.

Heck, even the ritual of taking Ritual has to be flexible!  Mornings are chaotic, I’ve run out of the bathroom and forgotten to take them. It happens. But you just gotta keep committing to your habits. (Sidenote: The delayed-release design of the capsules means I don’t get an upset stomach if I end up taking the multivitamins later in the day on an empty stomach. Little details like that are nice.)

Ritual helps me remember the most important lesson in taking care of myself: you have to show up every day. Real health comes from habits that become ingrained in your behavior as second nature. The most effective way to build those habits is to commit to them actively…as a ritual. If mine, for now, is remembering to take two little minty multivitamins every day, that’s a foundation to build on. 

Ritual is committed to quality ingredients as a key to helping support foundational health. You can learn more about which of their products are right for you here.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This post was sponsored by:
Ritual

Fortnite Bootcamp – Impress Your Kid Or At Least Not Embarrass Yourself

The Dad Gaming League’s first event is Fortnite, on August 21. Sign up now to reserve your spot on the Battle Bus.

The first gaming event we held was a custom Fortnite match in a private lobby of about 10 dads playing. People were randomly squaded up, everyone was laughing, getting along, even making friends. It reminded me of the old days playing Goldeneye with my buddies, except these were members of our internet community who didn’t know each other, and were 100s of miles apart. That spirit of comradery is what’s behind the whole The Dad Gaming community – giving dads a fun excuse to take a break, get away, and play games with cool people.

Epic snack-makers Planters knows this better than anyone, and they love the community spirit; so we squaded up to launch a full-fledged The Dad Gaming League. This monthly competition will champion that essence of fun and “anyone can play” spirit. (So you don’t have to be good to win a prize.)

However, if you’re brand new to Fortnite and you don’t want to embarrass yourself too hard -or if you’re pretty decent and looking for a couple of areas to work on- we’ve got you covered. Any dad’s path to leveling up starts here.

These tips start for the newbiest of newbs, and gradually get more advanced. Start at the beginning. Once your eyes start to glaze over, take a break, pop some Planters, and jump onto the Battle Bus. Because the best way to get better at any game is to lose A LOT.

QUICK OVERVIEW OF HOW FORTNITE WORKS

Fortnite is a quintessential Battle Royale game. This genre of game is that a large group of online players drop into the same world, called the map, and fight it out. When someone is eliminated, they’re done. So the number of players in the game continues to drop throughout the match. To keep it interesting, there is a storm that will damage you closing in on the island, making the play area smaller and smaller as time goes on.

You drop onto the island empty-handed, so you want to immediately find some weapons, powerups and other items to help you thrive and survive. Unfortunately, there are no Planters Pop and Pours on the Battle Island.

LINGO

There is a lot of shorthand dads use when squadded up. These terms were completely lost on me when I started and it made things very confusing. So if you’re starting fresh, here’s your first real advantage:

Battle Bus – This is your entry to the island. At the top of each round, you choose when to jump off the bus and parachute to where you want to land.

Circle – The playing area. This is where the storm hasn’t closed in yet, and it shrinks every few minutes or so.

Slurp – This is the neon blue health substance found in “pots” and scattered in lakes and rivers throughout the map. It heals you over time, not all at once.

Full Pot – This is a “Large Health” item. It’s a big blue jar of “Slurp.”

Mini -This is a “Small Health” item. It’s a small vial of Slurp.

AR – Just like in real life, this is what we call those bigass fast shooting guns.

Engage – Confront another player or team in battle. It’s a big map at first, so you don’t always have to fight. Engagement is a choice…for a time.

Final Circle – This is the endgame, when the storm has zeroed in extremely tight, and all remaining players are thrown together in sweet chaos.

Bot – This is an AI enemy who appears to be another player in the game, but is basically just a dummy to fill out the map and make you feel like you actually got some kills.

Skin – This is the term for how your character looks. You can buy or earn various skins that include character designs and costumes.

Default – This is what we call the basic no-investment character mold. If you log on for the first time and hit play without swapping anything, you’re playing as Default.

TACTICS

SURVIVE
Hide!  First things first, don’t get shot right away. Hang out on the Battle Bus a little bit and then when you do jump out, land where other people don’t usually tend to go right away. It’ll take a few rounds to learn all the locations, but if it looks like a big structure or base, it probably has a lot of items to snag….but a lot of other people will be interested in trying for them.

The first time I played Fortnite was at my wife’s friend’s house. There was a 10-year-old there who was nonstop talking crap to me about how I was a “noob” and he was better than me at Fortnite. I challenged him to see who could last the longest. He landed, got some eliminations, but finished 40 or so?

On the other hand, I strategically rode the Battle Bus as long as I could, dropped far away, and proceeded to sneak around, hiding at every place I could, always searching for predators.

Eventually, someone found me, engaged, and I was quickly eliminated. But I got 6th. (Now who’s the noob?) Usually, you’ll need to be pretty decent at offense to finish in the top ten. But I’ve found for beginners, the easiest way to finish top 25 is hiding. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS.

WATCH THE STORM
Hang out on the outer reaches of the circle. Move-in as the storm gets smaller.

When you’re on the outside of the playing area, you don’t have to watch your back as much, because you know people will be less likely to sneak up behind you.

Watch the clock, though, and be ready to move. The circle doesn’t shrink automatically, but the Storm does move faster than you do.

STAY SNACKED UP
A single Battle Royale can last about 20 minutes. As any kid who has been asked to turn off their video game mid-game will tell you, you do not want to quit during a match. Keep snacks handy. Planters Pop and Pour is ideal here. It allows one-handed snack consumption and keeps the controller clean. I kind of think it was designed with dad gamers in mind.

DON’T BE SO QUICK TO ENGAGE
Learn the “Third Party” strategy. If you see multiple players or squads, let two groups fight it out and be the third party there to clean up at the end. This was called “pickin’ cherries” back in my Halo days, but what was dishonorable for the Master Chief is a sound strategy in Fortnite.

READY TO ENGAGE? LEARN TO ATTACK BY PLAYING TEAM RUMBLE
It takes lots of battles to learn the proper way to engage and how to be more accurate. Try playing the Team Rumble game mode to get a feel for combat. Battle Royale means once your out, you’re out. In Team Rumble, when you get eliminated you automatically respawn and you’re back in the action, giving you lots more experience at eliminating (and being eliminated). It’s not the most satisfying game mode, but it helps you learn.

LEARN THE WEAPONS, PERFECT YOUR LOADOUT
You’ll want a variety of weapon types, as well as healing items, but there are only so many item slots available. There’s also a color-coding system to how powerful each weapon is. In ascending order, they are: grey, green, blue, purple, orange.

JUMPING AS A DEFENSE MECHANISM
To avoid being sniped, some more advanced players jump all the time. They’ll jump across an open field like Mary freakin’ Poppins. I was always the type who’d rather not be so noticeable. But jumping is a great defense against attacks, especially close range. Start panicking? Start jumping. You may just make it out.

AMMO MANAGEMENT
I am a terrible shot. I can spray and spray and not land a single hit. So then when I have to reload and the opponent is engaging me, it can feel like a lifetime. One thing I started doing to help is I will take my favorite weapon choice, and put two of them right next to each other in my loadout. So if I empty one of them, instead of reloading, I just switch the other and keep firing. Essentially gives you double the ammo without reloading.

It is also possible to use this technique with Pop and Pour snack containers.

KEEP WATCHING AFTER YOU GET ELIMINATED
When you’re out, you’ll get to spectate the person who got ya. Keep watching and you might pick up on some strategies or tips. Sit back with your Pop and Pour, and watch it like a movie.

LEARN TO BUILD
You’ll notice this tip isn’t even in here until number 10. Dads notoriously don’t like Fortnite as much as other first-person shooters because of the building. A common joke is you fire a single shot and your opponent instantly has a five-star hotel. It can be frustrating when you don’t know how to do it. (Which is why we host a weekly no building event.) But you can use it to your advantage with very little effort. Simply learning to build a ramp will help you access much more loot, and it’s a simple two-button press. The same goes for building a vertical wall. If you can get used to quickly pressing those two buttons, you can throw one up as an opponent engages you. That simple wall will save a lot of damage and buy you some time.

And most importantly:

HAVE FUN, BOND WITH YOUR KID
I had a Nintendo as a kid and I loved it. But my dad never played video games with me. No big deal. But now, as a parent, the only reason I have a video game system is so I can play with my kids. It’s a bonding tool.

My son is super into Fortnite skins, while I proudly remain “a default.” But since he is so into them, I’ll gladly play with him to beat the season challenges and unlock new skins for him. We collaborate with each other as a team, we chat, we laugh, we have a blast.

Sure, he enjoys it now because he gets to unlock some new skins. I enjoy it because I’m spending quality time with my kid doing something he loves. I know it may sound far fetched to non-gamers, but I truly believe that when he is an adult, he’ll look back with fondness at the times his dad helped him beat Fortnite challenges to unlock skins. And those parent/kid moments, the unforgettable memories… that’s what it’s all about.

This article and The Dad Gaming League are sponsored by Planters. Enjoy delicious snacks without gunking up your controller with Planters Pop and Pour.

This post was sponsored by:
Planters

SIGN UP NOW FOR THE DAD GAMING LEAGUE

The Dad Gaming League Launch Announcement

Our days are filled with housework, work-work, and keeping one or more small humans happy and alive. We wouldn’t trade it for the world, but sometimes dads need a break.

This year, The Dad is teaming up with Planters to bring you the first-ever The Dad Gaming League–a season of big games, delicious snacks, and comfortably moderate stakes! Each month we’ll host a tournament of a fan-favorite game, hosted and live-streamed by The Dad. Sign up today!

MONEY, SWAG, AND SNACKS (OH MY)

We have over $5000 in prizes, but giveaways aren’t only for sweaty try-hards. We’re parents. We just want everyone to try their best and have a good time. We’ll randomly give away cash, cool swag, and Planters snacks to people who sign up, not just the elite gamers. Get eliminated first in a particularly embarrassing fashion? You get a prize! 

Most exciting of all? We’ve teamed up with Planters to create the first-ever official The Dad Gaming esports jersey. All Event winners will get these bad boys. And we’re giving them to 25 random people just for signing up!

The Dad Gaming League Jersey

Gaming and snacks go together like that video game plumber who dresses in red and his brother who dresses in green. So we’ll be dropping tons of epic Planters snack loot boxes. And while gaming, we’ll be throwin’ back some Planters Pop-and-Pours, designed with gamers in mind. These aerodynamic containers let you snag a delicious mouthful of Planters snacks while keeping your hands and controller free from salt and oil! 

Joel gaming with pop n pour

(Rules and restrictions apply. See for details.)

HOW TO PLAY

You can play in as many of the events as you want. After signing up, each month we’ll send you specifics for how to join each event.

SCHEDULE 

  • August 21 – Fortnite
  • September 18 – Mario Kart
  • October 9 – Rocket League
  • November 13 – Apex Legends
  • December 11 – Super Smash Bros
  • Week of December 28 – TBD Bonus Holiday Tournament

JOIN THE LEAGUE! 

BOOTCAMP

Interested in gaming, but worried about lookin’ like some sorta noob? Fear not! We’ve got you covered. Each month we’ll release a The Dad Gaming Bootcamp article outlining strategies and need-to-know terms relevant to each game, so you’ll have plenty of time to get up to speed. The Dad Gaming League is designed to level-up all dads together!

Nothing is better than sharing the controller, and some awesome snacks with the kids. 

So pull up a gaming chair, dim the lights, pop some Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts – maybe some Cheez Balls for your little squadmate, and get ready to game!

SQUAD UP

Fill out the form and join the squad! 

You can also join us to hang out and talk gaming, parenting, and gaming while parenting in our Facebook group. Or follow us for gaming content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Twitch.

Pick up the sticks, grab a Pop and Pour, and we’ll see you out there.

This article and The Dad Gaming League are sponsored by Planters. Enjoy delicious snacks without gunking up your controller with Planters Pop and Pour!  

15 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Star Wars

(20th Century Fox)

Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Back to the Future all have hardcore fanbases. But people don’t just like Star Wars, they like knowing everything there is to know about it. I grew up with all the Essential Guides, Visual Dictionaries, and Incredible Cross-Sections, but every day Twitter informs me that I am like a mid-grade Star Wars nerd, at best. So, depending on your own level of fandom, the mileage you get on this 15 Facts article may vary, but I promise we dug up some cool things your average nerf-herder wouldn’t know:

1. There Is No Light Side Of The Force

Obviously I have started with a bold claim, but the fact remains that nowhere in the Star Wars movies is there a reference to the “Light” side of the force. In the original movie, the Force was presented as an all-encompassing aspect of life. The “Dark Side” was more of a shadowy corner of the Force, rather than a fully developed B-side. As the series progressed over 40+ years, the idea of duality grew from such a massive good vs. evil story. The prequels made it pretty official by focusing on the whole “Chosen One bringing balance” runaround. Still, the closest the movies have gotten to identifying the Light Side is Kylo Ren struggling with “the call to the light” in The Force Awakens. So what is the true nature of the Force? Is the Force a balanced yin and yang, or is it ~everything~ and that just means there’s a dark corner? The answer is: Star Wars is a fairy tale that is fun to talk about.

2. The Ewok Language Is Real

Ben Burtt, the man behind Darth Vader’s breathing and the lightsaber hum, created most of the languages in the galaxy far, far away. Ewokese was based on the Kalmyk Oirat, a language spoken in Russia after Burtt heard it in a documentary. In fact, most alien languages in movies are created by rearranging sounds and words in real languages, because making them up out on your own is really hard. Yub nub!

3. There Are No Bras In Space

When we lost Carrie Fisher in 2016, we lost not only our Princess and General but one of the most honest and hilarious voices in Hollywood. In her memoir-turned-performance piece, Wishful Drinking, Fisher shares the reasoning George Lucas gave for not letting her wear underwear. 

“What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t — so you get strangled by your own bra. Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit — so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

I guess Gold Bikinis have a little more room to breathe?

4. Yoda Dang Done Gone To The Damn Dark Side

Dark Yoda
(Star Wars Underworld)

In the Clone Wars-era novel Dark Rendevous, there’s a moment where Yoda and Count Dooku have a little lightsaber fight chit-chat about the nature of the Force. During the debate, Dooku does the basic “you don’t know the power of the dark side” spiel, which Yoda throws back in his face, basically saying “yeah-huh.” Of course, the book is not officially canon, as it was released pre-Disney, but A) “canon” is a made-up way to classify different made-up stories. It’s all made up! But if you insist on following the rules when it comes to imagination stories, then may I refer you to the episode “Destiny” from the sixth season of Clone Wars. Yoda meets his own dark shadow in the Wellspring of Life, and while it’s not spelled out, the implication is that he maybe went through, like, a phase.

5. TIE Fighters Sound Like Elephants

Back in the sound booth, Ben Burtt combined the sound of a car skidding on wet pavement with an elephant…neighing? Honking? What do you call the sound elephants make?* Either way, that goofy noise is what’s behind the intimidating screech of the Imperial Navy’s staple fighter.

*I looked it up, it’s called honking. TIE Fighters honk like elephants. That’s cannon.

6. David Prowse is Banned From All Official Events

David Prowse is the body inside Darth Vader’s armor, and as far as he knew he was the voice of the iconic villain as well…right up until he saw the movie at the premiere. While we can all agree that hiring James Earl Jones to dub Vader’s lines was one of Lucas’ better decisions, he probably should have, like, mentioned it? The British bodybuilder spent years being understandably  -but vocally- frustrated about the snubbing, to the point that he was finally banned from all official Star Wars events in 2010. According to Lucas’ representatives, Prowse had “burned too many bridges.”

6. A New Hope Is The Reason You Have To Leave When Movies Are Over

Back in the day, buying a movie ticket would let you hang out in the cinema all day. Rather than a scheduled attraction, you bought admission to the theater and could stick around for whatever you liked. That changed when Star Wars became so popular that people would sit and watch it multiple times in a row. Film distributors quickly changed the rules to capitalize on multiple viewings. This is why you have to awkwardly smile and nod to the teenagers trying to clean while you wait for a three-second joke after the credits of a Marvel movie.

7. The Original Millennium Falcon Was Kinda Meh.

Before Colin Cantwell landed on the flying hamburger design for Han’s bachelor van, his original concept was much closer to a classic rocket tube. This earlier version, known as the “Pirate Ship” was even built by ILM modelmakers before George Lucas saw the similar-looking ship from Space:1999. The creative direction was to ensure Han’s ship was wholly unique and original; so the Pirate Ship was retooled into Leia’s Tantive IV, which is the very first ship we see in the franchise.

8. The Opening Crawl Cost Lucas His Seat In The Director’s Guild

According to movie rules in the 1970s, a movie needs to have opening credits. Of course, Lucas had a different vision for kicking off the biggest adventure ever. Lucas resigned from the Director’s Guild and paid a fine to have his movie start with the iconic crawl, rather than telling us who the third executive producer was.  This did cost the original trilogy another director, though/ Steven Spielberg, who was in good standing with the guild, was later unable to sign on to direct Return of the Jedi as he originally hoped.

9. “Endor” is Elvish for “Middle-Earth”

Endor’s race of Fozzie Bears may be closer to dwarves than elves in stature, but warriors more attuned to nature than technology is something Tolkien’s elves would surely appreciate. Fantasy writers gotta stick together, yo. Speaking of Ewoks…

10. Kenny Baker Was Originally Supposed To Play Wicket

The man behind – or rather, inside – R2D2 was originally supposed to play the young Ewok in Return of the Jedi. Baker fell ill during filming, and the role was passed to an 11-year-old boy who was an extra on set. The kid was a HUGE Star Wars fan, so getting recast as an actual character and hero to the Rebellion was a big role upgrade. That boy, of course, was Warwick Davis, who would grow up to be a successful actor famous for roles in Willow, the BBC Chronicles of Narnia miniseries, the freakin Leprechaun in Leprechaun, and Harry Potter.

11. There Are No Clone Trooper Costumes From The Prequels In Existence

…Because every single one of them was CGI. Every single one. So, my condolences to the 501st Legion, but if y’all really want film-quality replicas of Clone Trooper armor, you’re gonna have to walk around with those little CGI tracking balls stapled to a unitard.

12. Darth Vader’s Chestplate Has A Secret Message

In Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Vader’s control panel displays three lines of text under the buttons on the left side. While it looks close enough to Aurebesh (the Star Wars language you see on control screens and such through the movies), the lettering is actually Hebrew. The translation isn’t exact, but the general gist reads “His deeds will not be forgiven until he merits” which is, you know, freakin’ rad.

13. Luke “Pulls” His Lightsaber By Throwing It

Movie magic at it’s finest: when Mark Hamil would reach out with the Force to bring his lightsaber to hand, they’d film him just chucking the thing across the room, then reversing the footage in the final edit. Legitimately hilarious visual.

14. The Millennium Falcon Can Travel 25,000 Light Years Per Day

The Falcon Makes the Jump To Lightspeed
(Yahoo.com)

While I think applying any sort of real-world science to the Big Laser Movies misses the point, Han and friends do seem to get places awfully fast, even with the fastest ship in the galaxy. Of course, all fictional spaceships travel at the speed of plot, but it turns out there’s some math that says the Falcon blows the Starship Enterprise out of the water in a space race. With only the vague technobabble of  “.5 past lightspeed” as a reference point, Slate put together a pretty cool interactive chart that maps out how fast various classic sci-fi ships can run.

15. The Force Is Yoga.

This one’s for all of us. As George Lucas explained to Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, “If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it. It’s like yoga, anyone can do it.” So. We are all one with the Force, and the Force is with us.

What’s Up With This “Star Wars: Underworld” Footage That Just Surfaced?

Star Wars Underworld Clip?
(YouTube/• holonet •)

Well, it’s a day of the week, which means that some new Star Wars stuff has surfaced online for all of us to pounce on like a bunch of crackheads let loose in Oakland. Surely proving that Disney has “ruined the franchise” and “franchise fatigue” is setting in, people are freaking out over a snippet of unverified footage from a TV show that does not even exist.

The clip is supposedly test-footage for Star Wars: Underworld, George Lucas’ original proposed TV show set in a galaxy far, far away. The clip is roughly five minutes of a Jedi-looking lady securing Star Destroyer blueprints, and then getting into a gunfight that looks like it was choreographed by a high school theater kid. Being a former high school theater kid, I don’t mean this to be insulting. As my mom would say, “it looks like y’all had lots of fun.” The rest of the video is essentially behind-the-scenes footage of the same thing we just watched, like an unproduced DVD extra. Ah, DVDs. Hey, remember the past?

Anyway, check out the clip below, and then let’s break down what we’re looking at.

Okay, so my first guess was that this was actually discarded footage from some unfinished video game in the vein of Dark Forces II. The live-action cut scene genre of action-adventure games was a relatively short-lived staple for many of us, and this scene looks like the kind of adventure Kyle Katarn would be all over in heartbeat.

After a little digging though, it looks like this is actually legit test footage for the unmade Underworld project…but that doesn’t mean it was made by LucasFilm.

About ten years ago, George Lucas wanted to make a show that focused on the seedy underbelly of the Star Wars galaxy. Not the gleaming jewel of the Old Republic seen in the prequel movies, but the gritty, lived-in world that we’ve seen more recently in Rogue One and The Mandalorian. (And, you know, the original Star Wars movies.) Ole’ G.L. said the Underworld project would have a “noir” vibe, and there’s a real cyberpunk Blade Runner energy happening in the footage here. But rather than looking for clues about the story, the clip is better viewed as a trial for the filming technique.

See, the show Lucas had in mind would have spanned 100 hour-long episodes, each one costing an insane amount of money to produce. To bring down costs, LucasFilm needed alternatives to standard TV production, and the footage in this video was a possible solution.

As you can see in the latter half of the video, the set is a combination of practical scenery and CGI effects. Back in 2005, this was common for an epic space movie, but a little unheard of on a TV show scale. This footage was created by Stargate Studios, which didn’t work on any of the Stargate movies or shows, but is a well-regarded FX company that has created special effects for shows like The Orville, Nightflyers and more. This whole shebang has actually been available on their website for ten years, now – it’s not even a new thing. They were testing how financially viable creating full sets in CGI would be, as that would allow production costs south of eleventy bazillion dollars.

While there’s certainly some promise here – this may look a little bit like an Activision joint, but for test-footage, it’s honestly amazing. But it wasn’t good enough for George Lucas at the time, and the show was scrapped when he began working on treatments for a sequel trilogy of movies before selling the franchise to Disney. Still, this is Star Wars, and so no one -or in this case, nothing- is ever really gone. The first live-action Star Wars show to actually make it to air fulfills the promise of Underworld‘s premise. And, not only that, the filming technique is a more technologically advanced version of what the Stargate Studios footage was going for.

So Underworld may have been a bust, but the thing about George Lucas is that he’s always ahead of his time. We all gave the dude a lot of flack for the prequels at the time, and I still say the scripts were…rough, but the man is truly a DaVinci of movies. He may be remembered as the guy who created Star Wars, but make no mistake, George Lucas is a pioneer of modern filmmaking.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Series Reportedly Casting for Young Luke Skywalker

Kenobi and Luke
(Disney+)

With both Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian season finale getting released this past week, the sun is now setting on this generation of Star Wars, so let us take a moment to reflect on the…

Wait, hold on, sorry. It appears as though our galaxy will never be void of Star Wars.

Time itself belongs to Star Wars now.

If you haven’t heard, Ewan McGregor is reprising his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi for an upcoming Disney+ series centering around the Jedi hermit during what we’ve assumed would be his years on Tattooine. That suspicion is now confirmed; not only because it’s the only thing that would make any sense, but also the producers are reportedly on the search for a young actor to play Luke Skywalker.

The scoop comes from known scoop-guy Daniel Richtman, who has a decent track record of sniffing out film intel on his Patreon account. Yes, that’s right: you can pay people to spoil things for you now! Anyway,  /Film has also confirmed the rumor, so it’s a safe bet we’ll see Obi-Wan watching over his young future apprentice in the series. What we don’t know is how large a role the kid will play in the series. While it’s clear in the original film that Luke and Old Ben have met, it’s not like they are super close. It’s doubtful we’ll see a repeat of the Mando/Baby Yoda relationship, although Disney has been known to reuse things that work. (“On your left”/”You’re not alone,” anyone?).

The series’ is going to be helmed by Deborah Chow, who directed two of the best episodes of The Mandalorian‘s first season, but it’s anyone’s guess what the story will actually…be. According to McGregor, the show will see Obi-Wan dealing with the fall of the Jedi Order and his own exile:

“It will be interesting to take a character we know in a way and show him — well, his arc will be quite interesting, I think, dealing with that the fact that all the Jedi were slaughtered with the end of Episode III. It’s quite something to get over.

Of course, actors are rarely allowed to say anything of substance this early on in a project, so that’s all just a bunch of press talk. Still, Chow has proven herself to be an excellent storyteller who can command action-packed shootouts and simmering tension with equal finesse. Will this Kenobi story take place entirely on Tatooine, as the disgraced Master protects young Luke, or will there be a surprise adventure none of us see coming?

While the odds are that Skywalker will only be a periphery character, there’s always the chance other old friends could pop in. If you listen very closely you can hear Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Ginn in The Rise of Skywalker. Could the new series feature a guest appearance from Obi-Wan’s old master? Perhaps training him to become a force ghost? It certainly seemed like we’d get that cameo in Revenge of The Sith when Yoda was all like, “I’ve been talking to Qui-Gon” and Obi-Wan was like “Really?!!” and then the movie just slurped into a different scene without any payoff. Also, one of the Joel Edgerton played Uncle Owen in the prequel trilogy, and what’s he up to these days? Get that Disney money!

The untitled Kenobi show begins filming in 2020, and while the scripts are written, there’s no word yet on a release date.

*an earlier edition of this article reported that Liam Hemsworth played Uncle Owen instead of Joel Edgerton. Apologies for the error, but in our defense, they’re basically the same.

The Mandalorian Episode 8 Recap: What’s Up With That Lightsaber?

Mandos Save Din
(Disney+)

In the recap for last week’s episode, I talked about how the show played into video game lore by introducing the force-heal power into the live-action Star Wars universe, which most of us now know was a setup for what goes down in The Rise of Skywalker. This week’s finale, however, is essentially the greatest hits album of video game tropes, while also managing to be one of the most heartfelt, nuanced and entertaining episodes yet. We’ve got mini-guns, flame-thrower sub-bosses, and setting aside prejudices to form new friendships!! Taika Waititi, man. Taika Waititi.  As always, *SPOILER ALERT* from here on out.

The episode opens with the greatest scene in the history of Star Wars? The two scout troopers who offed Uncle Ugnaught race back to the city with Baby Yoda in tow, stopping to await orders. Played by Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally, the two chat idly, the subordinate trying to convince his superior to let him see the baby. It’s a funny scene that mocks what terrible shots Stormtroopers are. Ever since Obi-Wan snuck past some troopers talking about “the new VT-16” in A New Hope, the Empire’s faceless soldiers have always had a bit of a working-man vibe when you catch them having a chat. This scene lays into that hard enough to make you almost like these two dickheads, right up until they start punching Baby Yoda.

Enter my boy, IG-Taika Waititi, the reprogramed killer nanny bot. He drops in to murder the Tag and Bink wannabes and get his kid back. I’m sincerely worried dads are going to start asking their neighbor’s 12-year-old to demonstrate that wrist-breaking maneuver before trusting them to babysit for 20 bucks.

IG and Baby Yoda
(TheNerdStash.com)

Anyway, back in town, things aren’t awesome for Mando and his crew. Moff Gus From Breaking Bad still has the space team cornered in the local bar…which, hey, things could be worse, right? The big bad drops some key points of information to intimidate our friends. He knows Cara Dune is from Alderaan, which is why she hates the Empire so much. He knows The Mandalorian’s real name! And he calls out Carl Wethers for…being kinda old, I guess? Dramatic stuff. Mando and Cara Dune explain to Carl Wethers than being a Mandalorian isn’t a race, because yes, race is a social construct, Ok boomer? Yes, even in a galaxy with fish-people.

We get the full flashback of Din Dijin’s family being killed during the Clone Wars, and Mando explains how Moff Gus was the Imperial behind the big Mandalorian purge we keep hearing about. He was supposed to have been executed for war crimes but it looks like the New Republic is already getting sloppy with paperwork.

Anyway, Moff Gus gives them until nightfall to surrender for no real reason other than it’s a television show. We don’t have to wait that long, though because IG-Taika Waiti saves the day, blasting in on his speeder to start a big ole’ gunfight. Before the fight, Moss Gus made a big deal about how cool his big gun was, so of course, Mando goes right for it and turns it on the Imps. The team hit the standard approx 75-to-1 ratio of kills during a fight with the Empire but is forced to retreat back to the bar when Mando gets hit with one of Moff Gus’ frags. I’ve been playing a lot of Fallen Order lately, and you just gotta watch out for those bonus attacks.

In the bar, a flame-trooper goes in to burn everyone alive (I mean…Jesus) while the team argues about how to get out of there. Mando wants everyone to leave him to die covering their escape, but Cara Dune’s not having any of that because Cara Dune is the best of all of us. Baby Yoda proves to be a Baby Yoda Of Action and saves the day by blasting the flame trooper’s fireball back in his face using the Force. Then, like me, after doing anything remotely taxing, he takes a little nap.

IG-Taika Waitit promises to take care of Mando while everyone else jumps into the garbage shoot sewer grate. This, in my opinion, is the strongest moment of the series so far. All of the connections they have built over the season – Mando’s droid racism, IG-Taika Waititi’s obvious Mandalorian stand-in metaphors, the very question of who Din Dejarin is under that helmet – all come to this perfect, understated moment. Only the droid can save the Mandalorian. And since the droid “is not alive,” removing the Beskar helmet isn’t technically breaking with the code. We see Pedro Pascal’s face for the first time, and he’s just a person under all that armor after all. Fragile and vulnerable.

Mando's Face
(WhereverIlook.com)

The team is reunited in the sewers, where they learn that the entire Mandalorian clan from the beginning of the season has been wiped out by the Empire for helping Mando escape in episode three. Only the Armorer survives, cleaning up the devastation Mando has left in his wake. She finally meets Baby Yoda and declares the child to be a foundling, just like Din was. Until ManDADlorian can train the kid in the creed, or return him to his own kind, they are officially father and son in the eyes of Mandalore. Mando finally receives his signet – the mudhorn monster from episode two that the Armorer tried to give him before. Only this time it is given with the understanding that Mando and Baby Yoda are a clan unto themselves. (Cara Dune and the rest of the gang don’t say anything about that, but like…burn.) He also gets a jetpack, which is less meaningful, but what’s a good cut scene without an equipment upgrade?

The gang leaves the Armorer to her cleanup on aisle 11, and soon Stormtroopers descend on her in what looks like a heroic, ceremonial end for the character. But she ends up beating the shit out of a whole squad of stormtroopers instead, which was just great.

Mando and co make their way out of town playing a big game of The Floor Is (Literally) Lava. With stormtroopers at the exit, however, it’s up to IG-Taika Waititi to save everyone by making the ultimate sacrifice. In episode one, Mando had to stop the assassin droid from blowing himself up for selfish reasons. Now, in the finale Din Dejarin again pleads with the same droid, but this time it’s because -even with no other choice- The Mandalorian wants his friend to live. Cyclical storytelling that highlights character growth: George Lucas 101. As the man himself once said, “It rhymes.”

Still, IG-Taika Waititi does what needs to be done and clears the path by blowing up his central processor and taking all the stormtroopers with him. Flights of Angels, buddy.

The finale of the episode sees the Mandalorian finally get to use a jetpack in a fun air fight with Moff Gus’ TIE Fighter. It’s a very Indiana Jones moment: Mando is badass, but he still drops his little bombs at first, you know, because getting yanked around by a starfighter in low atmosphere is probably kinda hard. Anyway, the ship goes down and Mandalorian gets a 7 for the landing, with a little flourish of his theme music that I’ll miss very much. It’s time to say goodbye to the space team and The Mandalorian flys off with Baby Yoda the same way we saw baby Din flown off to safety in the flashback earlier.

(Collider)

The big surprise cliffhanger tag of the episode is not that Boba Fett shows up, but that Moff Gus cuts his way out of his downed TIE Fighter using the Darksaber. Clone Wars and Rebels fans will recognize this particular “not just any lightsaber” as the legendary weapon used by the first (possibly only?) Mandalorian inducted into the Jedi Order centuries ago. (Mini-Spoiler Alert ahead, if you want to go back and watch those shows totally cold).

The sword has played a big part in Mandalorian culture over the years, passing hands among fan-favorite characters Darth Maul and Sabine Wren. There’s a lot to infer here since we know Moff Gus had some part to play in the Great Purge. His having the ceremonial weapon is probably not going to sit well with The Mandalorian in the future. Are we setting up a story where Mando will reclaim the sword and unite all Mandalorians? Will this all align with his growing beyond and expanding the dogmatic creed as he corrects the sins of the past? IS IT MAYBE GONNA BE LIKE A STAR WARS THING, YOU THINK?

Very frustratingly, we’ll have to wait until Fall 2020 to learn more.

Blaster Fire:

  • The Mandalorians who rescued baby Din Dijarin and brought him into the Creed are members of DEATH WATCH (Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn). In Clone Wars the Death Watch clan were all about bringing honor back to Mandalore, and generally speaking, they were sorta portrayed as bad guy terrorists who weren’t very chill with the Jedi. Still, the Jedi were stupid pricks about the Clone Wars in general, so it’s cool to see a more heroic side of the controversial clan of Mandos. It’s always about a certain point of view, after all.
  • There’s a fun bit of narrative trickery when Mando has his flashback. We know that Moff Gus was part of the Mandalorian Purge, but we hear that story while also seeing the Mandalorians rescue Din from certain death during the clone wars. These two events are years apart, but the narrative sleight of hand emphasizes Moff Gus as a nemesis to Mando. It’s not that he was there during the raid on the village, but by learning about these two disconnected stories at the same time, we’re conditioned to see the Moff as an overarching villain in Mando’s story.
  • I could go on all day about the unmasking scene. IG-Taika Waititi claims that because he’s “not alive,” it’s not breaking the Mandolorian creed to see Den’s face. But in seeing his droid buddy face-to-face for the first time, Den lets some of his hatred of droids go. That’s the moment Mando sees the droid as a person, even if not a technically living one. It’s bending the rules, to say the least, but in a way that suggests the growth, our main character is experiencing through this story.
  • Absolutely love how the Armorer and Mando talk about the Jedi as this vague, mysterious band of sorcerers, and how they are “the enemy.” Playing into the Jedi/Mandalorian conflict is great fodder for the story as the Mandalorian dad raises his Jedi baby. Also, I know people who love to obsess over details will be like “how do people not remember the Jedi from like 30 years ago,” but the fact is Star Wars is cooler when the mystical stuff is kept in the shadows. The Jedi are just more interesting when they are unknown and mysterious, rather than a weird law enforcement agency.
  • IG-Taika Waiti is the best version of the Spock character in like thirty years. Not to franchise-hop, but Taika nails delivering an inhuman performance who is subtly full of compassion and humanity. Everything the droid does, including explaining his own “jokes,” is cold and calculated, but it’s obvious that despite his saying otherwise, he was very much alive.

 

The Mandalorian Episode 7 Recap: New Force Power Alert

Grand Moff Gus
(Collider)

For weeks people have been wondering if The Mandalorian was actually going anywhere, or merely spinning its wheels rather than progressing a narrative. Personally, I’ve enjoyed the episodic and self-contained nature of the show, which is deliberately setting the same pace as the old serials the entire Star Wars franchise is based on. Essentially Star Wars is to Flash Gordon and Akira Kurosawa as Stranger Things is to Ghostbusters and Steven King. An elegant storytelling genre, from a more civilized age, so to speak.

But folks should be happy that the penultimate episode of the season finally ups the stakes by bringing back the mystery of Baby Yoda and the Imperial Remnant. We begin with a “last time on…” that could have been easily substituted with a fourteen-second loop of the prisoner from last week’s episode asking “aren’t you a man of honor” over and over again with, like, hypno-rays coming out of the screen. The show would very much like to be clear that this question is the whole banana of the story.

So, Mando and Baby Yoda are crusin’ through space when Carl Wethers calls to offer a “no harm no foul” deal. Apparently Werner Herzog is being a real pain in the ass, and if Mando comes and kills him, Carl will let Mando and Baby Yoda be a happy space family. It sounds like a pretty good deal, which means its definitely a trap, so our boys go and GET THE BAND BACK TOGETHER BABY! Okay, they didn’t all work together before, so it’s more of an “Avengers Assemble” sorta deal, but Disney doesn’t need that much of affirmation right now.

First up, the Razor’s Crest touches down on the dumb-dumb planet of shrimp farmers where Cara Dune is showing some big Marion Ravenwood energy, beating the crap out of dudes for money at the treehouse bar. She’s not really interested in taking a job from Mando until he tells her it would mean killing Imperials, and then as Mar would say “Oh they in the ship and they goin!”

Funny how Mando absolutely avoids going to talk to Step Mom in the shrimp village. Look, I also feel weird calling my ex to catch up when I’m in town for the holidays, but that’s still pretty cold Mando. Especially since they need a babysitter for Baby Yoda on the big space mission. But don’t worry, there’s another character perfectly suited to taking care of the little dude while mom and dad go out assasinatin’.

Amy And Baby Yoda
(Elite Daily)

…Oh wait, no, not the character that’s already shown a proclivity for babysitting? Instead, we’re going and grabbing Uncle Ugnaught, the guy who specifically said “I don’t want to do this” the last time we saw him? Cool, makes total sense. I’m kidding, of course, Nick Nolte is always a welcome addition to the show. Even better is getting the satisfaction I have demanded from day one: The Return of my boy IG-Taika Waititi. But the coolest character in the series coming back is more than just fan service.

As Uncle Ugnaught tells the tale of rebuilding the broken killing machine, we’re treated to a mercifully understated mirror of the Mandalorian’s own story. Just as IG-Taika Waititi was rescued and rebuilt by Uncle Ugnaught, so was Mando rescued and remade by the Mandalorians. And now, Baby Yoda will be raised by Mando, but will he become a tool of destruction…or something else?  Almost as a direct challenge to that question, the very next scene has Baby Yoda force choke Cara Dune when she gets the upper hand in an arm-wrestling match against Mando. it’s pretty clear he thought his dad was under some sort of attack, but YIKES.

Seeing our lil’ bub pull a Vader is deeply disturbing, but there’s no time for Walking Dead-style “what is life?” questions in the Ster Wers. Instead, Uncle Ugnaught builds a new floating crib, giving a speech about earning your freedom with work and toil, and like okay, boomer. It’s a little less clean a metaphor here than the droid-training montage.

Once we get to the planet, Carl Weathers and some Bounty Buddies are waiting to lead the team back to Werner Herzog. Even though supposedly everyone is on the same team, Deborah Chow does a killer job layering tension and uncertainty into the scene. Instead of characters saying “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” the show just sorta makes you think it to yourself. True to form, everything goes very poorly when a pack of flying dinosaurs attacks the team’s camp, taking out some of Uncle Ugnaughts frog dragons in easily the saddest part of the series so far. However, this also leads to a monumental moment in Star Wars history – the day the Gamers won Star Wars.

See, in Star Wars video games, you usually have a force healing power, which makes sense in video game logic, but not really in any other kind of logic. Although the power has been featured in some of the books and maybe cartoons already, and frankly, the whole point of the Force is it can do and be anything. Still, it’s pretty shocking when Carl Weathers gets bit by a monster, and in yet another borrowed Western trope, Baby Yoda comes to suck the venom out. Only instead of sucking out venom, he uses Force Heal. Back in episode two, the kid tried this move on Mando but was brushed aside, and I assumed it was just a nod to his latent power. To actually see it happen is game-changer for how the Force can be used in the live-action stories. It’s also the other side of the coin flipped when Baby Yoda choked Cara Dune. Will The ManDADlorian raise the kid to be a killer or a healer? Mando’s got a lot of armor to break through, after all.

Carl is so thankful for the revive, he kills his Bounty Buddies and reveals their plan was to jump Mando and the team all along. New plan: They’ll send Uncle Ugnaught back to the ship with Baby Yoda, and steal a classic move from Luke, Han and Chewie called “Pretend-To-Have-Captured-The-Biggest-Guy-And-Trust-Stormtroopers-Are-Stupid.” Not as eloquent as “Holdo Maneuver” but Leia was always the clever one, and that was before they met her.

The team bluffs their way into town, which has way more stormtroopers than Carl Weathers said and comes face-to-face with Werner Herzog being a creepy old grandpa.

Werner Would Like To See The Baby
(Collider)

As Star Wars fans know, however, there is always a bigger fish. Just when our heroes’ genius plan of hoping Werner Herzog doesn’t want to look at the baby falls apart, the rascally Imperial gets a phone call from his boss, Gus From Breaking Bad. Moff Gus apparently knows Werner is getting fooled, suddenly his sleek Death Troopers go all Al Capone on the bar. Mando calls Uncle Ugnaught to tell him to GTFO, but that only alerts some Scout Troopers to chase after them on speeder bikes. Gus’ troops arrive in much nicer armor than we’ve seen so far, trapping Mando, Cara Dune and Carl Weathers in a Butch and Sundance situation. Meanwhile, Uncle Ugnaught is supposedly killed, and Baby Yoda is in the hands of the Empire once again. After a season of stand-alone adventures, we’re finally left with a real cliffhanger and some heavy anxiety. Happy?

Blaster Fire

  • Calling Imperials “Imps” is fun. Much more believable than “Remnant.”
  • I don’t know why i never realized it before, but Mandalorian is droid-racist because it was the Separatist droids who murdered his original family. We saw the Battle Droid in episode three’s flashback, which was cool at the time, but the show is proving better and better about giving weight and meaning when it parades the nostalgia stuff around.
  • Mando is a good dad but like a terrible father. How many times does Cara Dune have to ask if Baby Yoda is alright before Baby Yoda does something to almost get everyone killed by mistake before the Mandalorian will learn to, like, keep an eye on the kid?
  • We see Moff Gus in person for the first time, and when he takes a few steps, we don’t hear those spur sounds that were featured at the end of episode 5. There’s still a chance Boba Fett could show up for a last-minute surprise here. (Or Cad Bane, c’monnnnn Cad Bane)

RUMORED: New Vader Series Starring Hayden Christensen & James Earl Jones

Rumored Vader Series
(Getty/Handout)

In case you didn’t have quite enough Star Wars content getting Clockwork Oranged into your brain holes these days, a new rumor has surfaced that could make some Star Wars fans very happy. And other Star Wars fans very unhappy. And then a bunch more people who don’t care that much about Star Wars chime in just to make sure everyone knows that they don’t care that much. And on and on we will dance until the heat death of the universe.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. According to a report by We Got This Covered, there are very very very very early talks about a possible series centering around the galaxy’s greatest dad, Darth Vader.  The idea would reportedly feature James Earl Jones voicing the Dark Lord of the Sith, with Hayden Christensen returning to the role of Anakin Skywalker in flashback sequences. The story would take place between Revenge of the Sith and New Hope, and fill audiences in on how Vader went from broken-ass robot assistant to the most feared agent of the Empire.

If you’re not an obsessive fan of the franchise like certain staff writers for The Dad *ahem*, you might be a bit confused because the general consensus from the movie-going public was that the prequels were bad, and that Hayden Christensen was bad, and that all of this seems not good at all. However, in recent years thanks to The Clone Wars & Rebels TV show, Marvel’s Vader comic series, and the fact that kids from the prequel era are now grown-ups, there’s been a bit of a resurgence of love for the Star Wars galaxy pre-New Hope. 

Even most people can agree that Christensen himself isn’t a bad actor, he just didn’t have Harrison Ford’s Big Grump Energy for telling George Lucas when dialogue didn’t make any damn sense.

So look, we all got excited when Vader showed up in Rogue One, but in just three short years the amount of Star Wars we’ve been through has left some fans a little fatigued. What more could a whole series about arguably the most famous character in the history of pop culture bring to the table?

Well, for one thing, it could give Christensen and Vader a chance at redemption with a story that the actor and character deserve. While some folks have come around on the prequels, it’s safe to say that we’ve gotten a more complex look at the Skywalker patriarch through the comic series and TV shows that have come out since. Bringing those elements into a live-action interpretation of Vader could be amazing.  Other than a little show called The Mandalorian, Disney+ is focusing their TV efforts on the span between episodes III and IV. A Vader show could be a chance for some crossover potential with the already greenlit Cassian Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi focused series’. Disney surely wants to capture some of that Avengers energy with their other major franchise.

There is a good nest egg of stories during this timeline. Throughout the comics and cartoons, we’ve learned that Vader built his castle on Mustafar in order to harness enough bad guy power to bring his wife Padme back to life. When that failed he devoted himself fully to hunting down and exterminating the remaining Jedi with the Fallen Order‘s villains, the Sith Inquisitors. There was even a story where he hunts down the old lady librarian Jedi while she tries to save a bunch of old books, and honestly, it’s pretty badass.

Vader Hunts Jocosta
(Wookiepedia)

She does a pretty good number on him, too (at first). Support your local libraries.

Anyway whether or not this will even happen is nowhere near certain, but the unidentified source who brought this info to We Got This Covered is the same one who first broke that Ewan McGregor was returning as Obi-Wan and that Robert Patterson had been cast as Batman; so it’s safe to say it’s somewhat feasible. Hayden Christensen himself has also been making more and more appearances at Star Wars events lately, including the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. Could this be evidence that he and the Lucasfilm execs are gussying up to each other?

Rumored Vader Series
(Gagloop/pbs.twimg.com)

So what do you think? In my opinion, if this lets us see a live-action Doctor Aphra or Asoka Tano, I’m in. Sure, James Earl Jones’ voice sounded a little…wobbly in Rogue One, but look if we’re gonna run all our favorite things into the ground, we might as well go full throttle.

The Mandalorian Episode 6 Recap: Attack of The Cameos

Mandalorian in Red
(Disney+)

After last week’s Tatooine adventure, The Mandolorian is making a jailbreak in the latest episode that combines heist and horror tropes for the most well-rounded episode yet. The show continues to defy modern TV convention by favoring the old-timey serial format that originally influenced Star Wars; but “The Prisoner” hits a narrative sweet spot with a mid-episode turn that gives this episode more heft without adding excess weight.

As always, slapping a big ole *Spoiler Warning* for the episode here, and let’s talk about it.

Mando arrives at a space station run by That Guy From Sons Of Anarchy, looking for work. Back in the day, these two used to run space capers together, and if I know anything about heists, it’s that coming out of retirement for one last job is usually bad news bears. But with the Bounty Hunter’s Guild on his ass all the time, Mando needs to make cash on the DL, and sometimes that means asking old coworkers if they know of any freelance assignments.

The first chunk of the episode plays out like any good Ocean’s 11-type deal, with Mando meeting a crew and everyone looking at blueprints. There’s Bill Burr as an ex-special ops stormtrooper, continuing the show’s gimmick of giving comedians the most fun role of each episode. It’s cool to see this angle on a formerly faceless Imperial – he’s kind of a jerk, but he’s not outright evil. To quote another space western that takes place after a big war, “We’re all just folk now.”  You might not recognize Tonks from Harry Potter or Osha from Game of Thrones,  but Natalia Tena plays the Twi’Lek Lady, which you just love to see. She has an unspecified but obviously PG-13 history with our Mandalorian friend, but Mandalorians and Twi’Leks don’t kiss and tell. Or whatever it is they did to work around that helmet. Rounding out the squad is big ole’ Clancy Brown as one of those devil guys from the Mos Eisley cantina, and Richard Ayoade reprising his role from IT Crowd, but as a robot.

The job is simple – they let Richard AyoDroid fly the Razor’s Crest in a fancy maneuver that will let them slip by the sensors of a New Republic prison ship, sneak past the all-droid crew, and rescue an old accomplice of The Guy From Sons Of Anarchy. Your basic “smash and grab” as people in heist movies like to say.

Once they’re underway, the team gets to know each other a little better in the ship’s hold, and since they’re all a bunch of scum and villainy, that goes not great. They mostly pick on the Mandalorian way more than necessary, teasing him about his helmet. I’m not sure they are actively making parallels between how Mando is a big droid racist while also the victim of harassment and discrimination or not, but it’s interesting. Anyway, Devil Guy and Mando get in a little scuffle leading to the door to Baby Yoda’s little secret chamber opening. Hey, there’s Baby Yoda! Remember him?

The ruthless gang of mercenaries all coo and kaa over Baby Yoda appropriately, since they’re not part of the Bounty Hunter’s Guild, and don’t know what they’ve just discovered. However, you can tell Mando is running a bunch of different “murder everyone and somehow still get paid” scenarios in his head when Bill Burr gets a little too flippant about our man’s boy. Before everything goes to shit, though, Richard AyoaDroid brings the ship out of hyperspace, throwing everyone into some Star Trek-style turbulence acting. Bill Burr drops Baby Yoda so hard, everyone in my house all shouted “Whoa whoa whoa!” at the screen at the same time.

Once they’ve stealth landed on the Republic ship, we get to phase two of the heist and a nice change of scenery for the first time in the episode. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with gritty back worlds, but for my money, Star Wars is the most Star Wars-iest when there’s a group of weirdly dressed friends doing a bad job of sneaking around monochromatic 70s-era space-hallways.

We pass through the detention cells of the ship, and because he’s bored(?), Devil Guy shoots a mouse droid, alerting the entire ship that they’re there. I always thought the mouse droids seemed too cute to be Imperial purists, so it’s nice to see them getting work in the New Republic after the war.  Anyway, they murder this one, so now there’s a squad of robot guards to deal with. These security droids are new, and I’m glad we get to see some character designs that aren’t recycled. Mando takes the droids out handily, and everyone is still a prick to him.

The control room is where things get really interesting. The all-droid ship apparently has one human onboard, a jittery Republic officer played by none other than Matt Lanter, who voiced Anakin Skywalker on all seven seasons of The Clone Wars! Matt’s got a tracker that will bring the New Republic down on them if he activates it, and the team argues about how to handle the dicey situation.

Showcasing his growing morality, the Mandalorian tries to resolve the Matt situation without violence. He’s come a long way as a negotiator since a few weeks ago when he was *checks notes* …trying to beat up a Sandcrawler. I’ve seen some people complain about the episodic nature of The Mandalorian, thinking that these one-off stories aren’t “about anything” but I have to disagree. We’re getting an incremental look at how the character grows as a person, one adventure at a time. I know people want to know why Baby Yoda is so important but the answer is: “Because the Mandalorian likes him.” One day there will be 2,000 youtube videos about Baby Yoda’s backstory for people to get mad about, but for now the show’s focus is on characters, and I dig it.

All that’s for naught, however, since Twi’Lek Lady kills Matt with one of her little daggers, but hey, good try Mando! Now it’s time to free the prisoner they came for who turns out to be….

…A guy we don’t know. But Mando does, and it’s his fault the guy got pinched in the first place. Here’s the turn of the episode that makes it the most narratively satisfying yet – it turns out the whole mission was a big setup to free Twi-Lek Lady’s brother and trap Mando in the New Republic prison instead. “You deserve this,” Twi-Lek Lady tells him as the crew leaves Mando to his fate.

What happens next is a hard pivot in a genre that some are saying is reminiscent of Die Hard (just in time for Christmas!). In my opinion, though, the next bit plays out more like the last act of Alien. Mando escapes his brig, through some Mando badassery, and in the red gleam of emergency lights, separates and hunts down each of the mercenaries who betrayed him. Even though apparently he betrayed them first a while ago. It’s a moral gray area.

Oh, meanwhile Richard AyoaDroid stumbles onto Carl Wether’s old voicemail about Baby Yoda, prompting him to search the ship while all his friends get merc’d.

 

But back to the action: Devil Guy gets the door treatment Mando is partial to…twice. Twi-Lek Lady tries to go all Knives Chau on her ex, but that Beskar armor ain’t got time for that. And finally, Bill Burr gets full-on Batman-ed.

The Prisoner surrenders to the Mandalorian and promises his fair share, as long as he lets him live. “Aren’t you a man of honor?” That seems to be the million-dollar question of this series, my dude.

Richard AyoDroid finds Baby Yoda at last, and the kid goes to force-choke the droid, only to be surprised when it’s heart explodes in front of him. Turns out Baby Yoda hasn’t tapped the dark side of the force just yet, though: it’s only Mando back onboard and doing his very favorite thing. (Killing robots).

The Mandalorian returns The Prisoner to The Guy From Sons of Anarchy and takes his payment without much ceremony. It seems like nobody has any hard feelings about the ole triple double-cross, and everyone can go on their merry way- oop, nope, Guy From Sons Of Anarchy is gonna blow Mando out of the sky with a gunship. Except it turns out Mando is still an ice-cold badass who slipped Matt’s New Republic tracker into The Prisoner’s back pocket.

Faster than you can say “Porkins” a squadron of old school era X-Wings shows up. This episode is a cameo-spectacular, and the icing on the cake is that the three main directors of the series, Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow and Rick Famuyira, play the X-Wing pilots. Without asking a single question, the New Republic Space Cops blow the hell out of the space station without thinking twice about the Mando’s ship that just high-tailed it out of there.

Mando gives Baby Yoda his favorite little doodad, and tells him that he knew this whole thing had been a bad idea, and off they go. Meanwhile back at the space prison, it turns out Mando didn’t kill his whole crew, and everyone’s locked in a cell- just like how they left him. Mando said they “got what they deserve,” and it looks like he’s a man of honor after all.

Blaster Fire

  • Bill Burr is officially the character I relate to most in this show with the line “I’m a little particular about my personal space.”
  • The way the show discusses honor and morality is the most interesting thing about it, besides Baby Yoda. Mando lives his life by a set code, which he perceives as his morality. By caring for a child, his code changes, but he arguably becomes a more honorable person, even in betraying that preset morality ~*ThEmEs*~.
  • Baby Yoda thinking he blew up Richard AyoDroid and looking at his little hand is the best thing that’s ever happened.
  • Devil Man’s horns are cut off in the last scene, which is a nice little detail after getting double squished by the blast doors.
  • Last week’s mystery is left still hanging. There are only two episodes of the season left to learn the identity of Spurs, and while the bettin’ money is still on Moff Gideon, there’s always the chance we’ll get a big cliffhanger featuring that other guy to wear the Mandalorian armor.

The Mandalorian Episode 5 Recap: Who Was That Masked Man?

Mandalorian Speeder
(Disney)

Dave Filoni has a reputation as The Chosen One of Star Wars thanks to his Clone Wars and Rebels animated shows. Filoni is known for his love of the prequel era of Star Wars, and the latest episode of The Mandalorian is jam-packed with prequel references like pit droids and young heartthrobs who can’t act their way out of a paper bag.

Jake Canavale

The image above was supposed to be a gif, but it won’t play. That’s how bad at acting he is. This is an objective fact, not at all rooted in this writer’s personal jealousy. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The rest of this story will be chock full of Spoilers, and if you haven’t already check out our recap for episode four to catch up.

We pick up with Mando and Baby Yoda stumbling their way into a bit of a star war. Their ship is being attacked by another member of the Bounty Hunter’s Guild, and it’s great. I’m of the mind that as good as Star Wars has been in Disney’s hand, with notable exceptions there have been way too few WW2 dogfights in space.

After the fight, Mando has to set down for repairs and the only place to go is everyone’s favorite planet furthest from the bright center of the universe: Tatooine. We get some lovely shots of the Razor’s Crest soaring into Mos Eisley, including a flyover of the same cliff where a certain Jedi exile and his young apprentice first looked down on the wretched hive of scum and villainy. The ship settles into a docking bay almost identical to the one where we first glimpsed the Millennium Falcon, and we get a Lucas-approved Three Stooges routine from the Pit Droids I mentioned earlier. The Mando is still pretty droid-racist, though.

The garage is run by Amy Sedaris, playing I assume, Amy Sedaris, Actual Space Alien. Some people are bothered by goofy characters in Star Wars, as though Jabba the Snail Gangster and his Pig Guards were hard sci-fi serious creations. As for my money, I’ll take Amy Sedaris playing a million different weirdo characters over more graduates from the Academy of Making Pouty Faces like we’ll meet in a minute.

Having stashed Baby Yoda in the closet, Mando heads to the Cantina looking for work. I love this because it does make perfect sense for him to hide the child considering we know there are countless ruthless bounty hunters after him, but also WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU MAN? You should get arrested for leaving a dog in the car with the windows rolled up, don’t even get me started on you leaving your kid like that. I mean good lord, Mando.

Anyway, at the Cantina, we see things have changed around here since New Hope days. For one thing, droids went from not being allowed in the bar to running the show. Which is fine with me, since the original bartender sold out Han to the stormtroopers and you know, always seemed like an asshole regardless. Like some of these Brooklyn bartenders who won’t serve someone whose mustache isn’t pointy enough, or doesn’t have the death sentence on enough systems.

We learn that because the Hutts no longer control Tattooine, (thanks Leia!) the Guild isn’t active on the desert world anymore. That means nobody will be looking for Baby Yoda, but it also means work to pay for ship repairs is going to be hard to come by. Enter Bobby Cannavale’s Boy. Bobby Cannavale’s Boy is an aspiring bounty hunter who is immediately and obviously an idiot, and he’s out to prove himself to the Bounty Hunter’s Guild by capturing Ming-Na Wen’s character, Space Ming-Na Wen. She’s the most feared and dangerous of all the Ming-Na Wens, according to Bobby Cannavale’s Boy.

The new partners gear up to head out to the Dune Sea (still a cooler-than-your-really-think-about-concept) before Mando gets scolded by Amy Sedaris for being a shit parent leaving Baby Yoda alone like that. Amy Sedaris is all of us. Just like me when my lady wins an argument, The Mandalorian gets all pouty and quiet and goes to hang out with some jackass friend he doesn’t even like that much.

 

Out in the desert, the two bounty bros encounter a group of Tusken Raiders, and we get a neat little spin on the original Luke/Tusken surprise before the Mando negotiates with them. The scene is leaning heavily into the Western influence here, with Mando and the Tuskens playing cowboy and “Indians,” only less racist because Tusken Raiders are make-believe. It’s pretty cool to see The Mandalorian skilled at something even Old Ben didn’t know how to do. When we’ve seen Jedi interact with the Tuskens, they either trick, scare, or outright murder them all. The Mandalorian just talks to them. Remember, a big lesson of the prequels and The Last Jedi is that the ideals and the actions of the fallen order don’t always align.

Further down the road, the two come across a dewback dragging another fallen hunter through the desert; a trap sprung by Space Ming-Na Wen. She’s been camping with a sniper rifle like she’s playing a round of COD, so Mando and Bobby Cannavale’s Boy wait until dark to get the drop on her. It’s a fun action sequence with flash grenades, so maybe they are playing COD actually. After the fight, Mando has to go find the dewback from earlier to get back to Mos Eisley. This errand takes all freaking day, which is plenty of time for Space Ming-Na Wen to get inside Bobby Cannavale’s Boy’s head.  She convinces him that turning in the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda would be much more lucrative than she is.

The poor sweet bounty hunter’s mind clunks its way into a devious plot, and he decides to kill Space Ming-Na Wen instead, then heads back to the Razor’s Crest to get the drop on his partner. Things play out like you’d expect from there, with the Mando and Amy Sedaris getting the upper hand on Bobby Cannavale’s Boy by using his remaining Checkhov’s gun flashbang. The Mando gives Amy Sedaris way more money than they agreed on because A) he’s actually a Pretty Decent Dude and B) he loves his Baby Yoda baby just so much. The boys blast off, leaving Amy Sedaris to toss Bobby Cannavale’s Boy into Beggar’s Canyon, where Luke used to shoot womp rats in his T-16. The En-

OH BUT WAIT THAT’S NOT THE END OF THE EPISODE!!?!!!!!!!!

(Bustle)

The big tease of this week is the mysterious stranger who approaches Space Ming-Na Wen’s body in the desert. There are two big possibilities who this could be, which I’ll break down in the Blaster Fire below. Otherwise tune in next week for the continuing adventures of Space Xena: Warrior Mandalorian!

Blaster Fire:

  • The ship chasing Mando, in the beginning, looks awfully similar to the Z-95 Headhunter ship, created by Brian Daley in his Han Solo Adventures novels. Fans of LucasArts from the 90s will remember the Headhunter ships from the X-Wing and Tie-Fighter Video games. It’s an interesting easter egg because Daley wrote the books during the gap between New Hope and Empire, and had almost no lore or worldbuilding to work with aside from what we saw in the first film. For a show so reliant on parading out the familiar, it’s a nice shoutout to a creator who built Star Wars with imagination rather than nostalgia.
  • Was the Bartender in the Cantina the same droid from Jabba’s torture chamber in Return of the Jedi? It was definitely the same model, but knowing Filoni, it seems likely that it’s an even more direct connection. Hey, you gotta get work where you can, right?
  • TUSKEN RESPECT: It’s cool that Mando and the Tusken Raider Scouts communicate through sign language, but that’s made even cooler by one of the Scouts being played by deaf actor Troy Kotsur.
  • Okay, the mystery boots at the end. Here are the options:
    • Moff Gideon – The upcoming character played by Giancarlo Esposito is a prime suspect. We don’t know anything about him but we do know that he’s wearing a cape in the marketing promos, and this mysterious character was also wearing a cape, so that’s basically what we have to go on.
    • Boba Fett – Yeah, yeah, yeah. The most distinctive thing about this moment was the jingle of spurs as the boots walked towards the fallen body. Boba Fett made the same sound when he walked, and that’s way too specific a reference to be coincidental or throwaway. Also, the gun Space Ming-Na Wen used was mentioned as an MK-modified rifle. That’s an extremely specific Mandalorian-built rifle based on Boba Fett’s own weapon. That’s another cut too deep to not amount to anything.
    • Luke Skywalker – Look, it’s not Luke Skywalker, but someone suggested it and in a previous recap I said I thought he might show up, so I’m including that theory here simply to give myself a little pat on the back.
    • Cad Bane – Dave Filoni is obsessed with Westerns so much that he created a cowboy bounty hunter character who wears a cowboy hat and boots that is essentially a stand-in for who Filoni wishes he actually was. I love Filoni and all he does, but I’ll never understand how anyone takes this character seriously. Still, I haven’t seen anyone else suggest him yet, so this is sorta my bettin’ on the house. If it does turn out to be right, I assure you, I’m gonna be WAY smug about it.
      Cad Bane
      (fandom.com)