- Loki, “Glorious Purpose” Series Premiere Reviewby Trey Plays
You’re that criminal with the blue box!
Only enjoying a brief escape from the Avengers after the events of Endgame, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) finds himself a prisoner of the Time Variance Authority (TVA), a powerful agency charged with protecting the timeline from disruptions. While many wish to “reset” Loki for his crimes, Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) has other ideas. Sitting down with the god of mischief, he digs deep to find out Loki’s motivations before offering him a chance at redemption for helping them catch another dangerous time variant: another Loki.
Loki’s series premiere continues to fix the character of Loki that was introduced in Thor: Ragnarok; more mischief, less gloom. However, where Ragnorok focused more on the mischief and comedy, “Loki” manages to strike a strong balance of causing mischief and still playing the dramatic role Hiddleston so excels at.
The TVA is an interesting addition to the MCU. Created by three all-powerful beings, the TVA seems to be even more powerful than the Infinity Stones, which many employees use as paper weights. But with their power also comes a comedic bureaucracy that you’d find in a Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett book.
Finally, Wilson’s Mobius is a surprisingly charming and insightful counterpart to Hiddleston’s Loki. It might even be said that Mobius is the Agent Coulson of the TVA, who is also seen briefly in a memory. The majority of this episode focusing on their conversation, it was almost like a therapy session that also caught this post-Battle of New York Loki up to speed to the current events of Infinity War and Endgame, successfully continuing Loki’s overall character development since the first Thor instead of resetting the entire arc.
Just how powerful is the TVA? What are the other variant Loki’s motives and where does he come from? What are Mobius’ plans for the god of mischief? Hopefully we’ll have answers to these questions in the coming weeks.
- Falcon and the Winter Soldier “One World, One People”, Finale Recap Reviewby Trey Plays
The only power I have is that I believe we can do better.
The Flag Smashers have made their move to stop the GRC’s vote, which would restore the world’s borders and status quo before the Snap, by attacking their offices in New York City. Bucky tries to make his way up from the ground while Sam, sporting a brand new Captain America uniform and wings, gifts from Shuri in Wakanda, and the shield, makes his way to the top floor. Before getting very far, he encounters an angered Batroc, hired by Sharon to help the Flag Smashers, who is out for revenge, as Bucky and a covert Sharon Carter try to track down the Flag Smashers and their GRC hostages.
Making short work of Batroc, Sam takes to the sky as the Flag Smashers escape with the GRC by both air and truck. Following their helicopter, Sam manages to to unseat the Flag Smasher pilot and get the hostages to safety. Bucky chases Karli through the streets until they’re interrupted by John Walker, equipped with a DIY shield and a thirst for vengeance against Karli. Bucky trades blows between Karli, John, and the rest of the Flag Smashers, until Karli maneuvers a situation where John must choose to go after her or save the hostages. John, surprisingly clearing his head, chooses to save the hostages, with a little more help from Sam. With the hostages safe, Sam, Bucky, John, and Sharon, go after Karli, enraged at her failure. Cornering her alone, Sharon and Karli stand off at gunpoint where it’s revealed that Sharon was the Power Broker all along. Interrupted, Sam confronts Karli one last time, urging her to stand down before she draws a gun on him and Sharon takes her shot, killing Karli, ending the Flag Smashers, and keeping her secret role as the Power Broker safe.
Outside, a stunned crowd and GRC thank Sam for his heroics, though he quickly shuts them down and explains the ramifications of their actions trying to return the borders to how things were before the Snap, comparing them to the actions of the Mad Titan, Thanos five years ago. Giving them something to think about, Sam has one more thing to take care of before returning home. Visiting Isaiah Bradley, Sam brings him and his grandson to Washington DC, where he shows them a new addition to the Captain America memorial exhibit in the Smithsonian; a statue of Isaiah and a history of his service as a super soldier, ensuring that America will never forget what he has done for this country.
The season/series finale of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, or Captain America and the Winter Soldier as the end credits show us, makes up for the lack of action from the previous episode by getting right into thick of things. Sam has shown some pretty incredible moves as the Falcon throughout the entire season, super soldier or not. But when he adds attacks with the shield AND his wings? That was AWESOME! It would have been even cooler if I wasn’t so distracted by the new uniform. I hate to admit it, but I’m not a fan. I know it looks very similar to the comics, but I’ve never been a fan of that outfit either. It may just be a preference thing, and it’s a trifling matter as Sam’s real moment to shine was not how he looked or his sweet moves, but what he says in his ending monologue to the GRC, and really the whole world. And it’s not just what he said but it’s THAT he said it. So often people shy away for fear of rocking the boat or biting the hand that feeds or poking the bear or any other metaphor, and not take a stand for or against something. Not to say Steve or even Tony Stark ever kept their opinions to themselves, but seeing this character share this view was refreshing, even if it was the view he’s had for the whole season. Something about him standing up for what was right, directly to the politicians and the reporters and the mob, right beside the river of truth, and telling them “No, YOU move.” Of all the moments Sam earned the title of Captain America, that one shined the brightest.
John Walker, former Captain America, received his own small redemption arc as he made the right choice to forgo his pursuit of vengeance against Karli and instead helped save hostages. Good for him for doing the bare minimum of saving people over killing someone? If you’re going to give a villain, or even just an asshole, a redemption arc, make it a strong one. This felt too easy. Even Bucky, who had the most to say against John, seemed to quickly accept him as a new team mate, at least in this particular fight, even somewhat teasing him later on like they were old pals. Of course, that could show some of Bucky’s own character development, but for John it didn’t feel earned. Especially given his new role as US Agent by Contessa Valentina and evidence that he’s perhaps learned nothing from this experience.
What are Valentina’s true motives, and who does she work for? Remnants of Hydra? Some new government agency we haven’t met yet? What are Sharon’s plans as the Power Broker now that she’s back in the good graces of the US intelligence community? Either seem like a formidable enemy for Captain America and the Winter Soldier to face in an upcoming movie or second season.
- Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “Truth” Recap Reviewby Trey Plays
They will never let a Black man be Captain America. And even if they did, no self-respecting Black man would ever wanna be.
Confronting John after his brutal and public murder of one of the Flag Smashers, Sam and Bucky take the shield from him, aggressively. With Karli’s disappearance and John being brought up on war crime charges, the US government and Global Repatriation Council (GRC) taking over jurisdiction of the hunt for the Flag Smashers, Sam seeks out Isaiah Bradley to understand his story and experience as one of the first Black superheroes. Hearing his tragic tale, Sam returns home to Louisiana to focus on saving his family and his community rather than saving the world.
Bucky easily tracks Zemo down at the Sokovian memorial where the city once stood before it was destroyed by Ultron, one of the big three. Bucky isn’t swayed by Zemo’s warnings against Karli’s radicalism and that the only way to stop her is to kill her, and to Zemo’s surprise, Bucky turns him over to Ayo and the Dora Milaje who promise to bring him to the Raft, the government’s maximum security lock-up for enhanced criminals, like Jessica Jones’ Trish Walker. Bucky also asks one small favor from Ayo and Shuri; a new set of wings for Sam, which he delivers to Sam back in New Orleans, and stays for a time getting to know his family and slowly becomes a part of the community. Before he leaves, Sam and Bucky discuss the ideas and unfortunate repercussions of Steve’s decision to pass the shield to Sam, a Black man. However good intentioned he was, neither Steve nor Bucky could truly understand what experiences Black men like Sam and Isaiah have had, and why their representing the stars and stripes of America is complicated, to say the least. But, knowing Karli and the Flag Smashers are still out there, Sam and Bucky decide to not let the shield’s legacy decide who they are, and build their own identity away from Steve’s shadow.
The building intensity and globe trotting of Sam and Bucky’s hunt for the Flag Smashers takes a back seat in “Truth”. That back seat however is actually the trunk of a large van with three rows of seats that are filled with the messages of racial inequality and mistreatment of veterans that this show has put at the forefront of Sam, Bucky, and even John Walker’s story, just in case those messages were too subtle for you.
Early in the episode we see John Walker’s hearing for the murder he committed, and as much as we want to rail against him for his actions, the statements he makes about doing what he was trained to do, what he was “built” to do, the same actions that the US government were now discharging him for, weren’t wrong. While there aren’t many super soldier veterans, this same scenario is a familiar one for many who find themselves tossed aside after a military career because they were no longer needed or they were inconvenient. While they give John a pass on the murder due to his service, he’s given no counseling, no accountability, and no military benefits often reserved for veterans. The men who trained John to be the ultimate American star-spangled man are the same exact ones tossing him aside, not because he murdered someone, but because he did it in front of everyone and made them look bad. Does any of this forgive John of his actions? No. But just like many aspects of this series it offers an intriguing perspective into how soldiers and veterans are treated.
It’s also interesting, and tragic, to hear Isaiah Bradley’s full story as a Black superhero. What stands out is how similar it is to Steve Rogers story, a man even Zemo had admiration for, though with key differences. While Steve signed up for the super soldier serum and was hailed as hero, Isaiah was lied to and used as a test subject for the experimental serum. Steve single handedly fought his way into a Hydra base and freed Bucky and the rest of his future Howling Commandos, and in return was heralded as Captain America and given his own authority to lead troops in the war. Isaiah broke into an enemy POW camp to rescue his fellow soldiers before the American army could bomb the compound and kill them to get rid of the evidence of their experimental serum, and in return was locked away from the rest of the world for 30 years. This parallel shows signs of the two (Captain) Americas that are still present today; one for the white majority, and one for the Black community and other minority groups. And Isaiah is right, nothing has changed.
Lastly, who is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine?! It was a huge surprise to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus take the screen in a very brief meeting with John Walker after his hearing? A woman who clearly has big plans for John, but what are they? Could she be the mysterious Power Broker we’ve been hearing about? Does that take the suspicion from Sharon Carter now that she’s apparently helping the Flag Smashers by connecting them with Batroc? But then Batroc wants revenge on Sam? So many questions. Hopefully they will be answered in next week’s season (series?) finale.
- Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “The Whole World is Watching”, Reviewby Trey Plays
Were you ever offered it, the serum? If you had been, hypothetically, would you have taken it?
Following up on their lead from Madripoor, Donya Madani, Sam, Bucky, and Zemo find themselves in Ziga. After learning that Madani has since passed, Bucky discovers another complication; Ayo and the Dora Milaje have followed them and intends to take Zemo back to Wakanda to answer for his murder of King T’chaka in Captain America: Civil War. Uninterested in Bucky’s reasons for working with him, she gives him eight hours to conclude his business and hand him over.
Pressed for time, they search for the location of Donya Madani’s funeral, hoping to find Karli and her Flag Smashers and stop her before she becomes even more violent in her crusade. But again, they find themselves followed by the new wanna-be Captain America and Battlestar, John Walker and Lamar Hoskins. Hoping calmer heads will prevail, Sam convinces the others to let him speak with Karli alone, referring back to his experiences as a counselor for fellow veterans who struggled with mental health after returning home from war. They’re talk begins to go somewhere as Sam and Karli discover they’re more alike then they thought, before a hot headed John breaks up the conversation, sending Karli on the run. Losing Karli, John focuses on capturing Zemo who had his own plans with Karli as he catches up with her and destroys what little super soldier serum she has left. John knocks him out and discovers one intact vial left. Blaming Sam and Bucky for Karli’s escape (seriously?), John assumes to take command of their mission and Zemo, until Ayo and her sisters arrive to take Zemo on their own. Tearing through John and his shield as if he were wet tissue paper, they discover that Zemo had slipped away during the fight.
Emasculated by being beaten so badly by warriors he assumed were just girls with “pointy sticks”, John secretly takes the last vial of serum before going after Karli one more time. Unbeknownst to him, Karli was setting a trap to kill the symbol of a bygone era as she lured away Sam and Bucky by calling his sister, subtly threatening her and setting a meeting. Once they discover her plans, Sam and Bucky chase after her before she and the Flag Smashers kill John, but are too late as they instead kill Lamar in the struggle. Enraged, John chases the Flag Smashers through the streets of Ziga until catching one unawares and smashing his skull with the shield in front of everyone.
While it was only a small part of “The Whole World is Watching”, the inclusion of not just the Dora Milaje, but also a short scene of Ayo and Bucky in Wakanda during his recuperation, was exciting to see. For a moment, I half expected to see the late Chadwick Boseman appear on screen, and was heart broken when I was reminded of his passing. But this scene in Wakanda also came with it a brief moment of celebration for Bucky as we were witness to the first moment he knew he was free of Hydra’s programming as Ayo repeated his trigger words and he remained in control of himself. Knowing Bucky’s history, so many of the things he’s been through, this one true, pure, moment of happiness was such a powerful, if brief scene.
While this is a buddy-cop-esque series between Sam and Bucky, more and more I feel Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes takes more of the spotlight, or at least pulls a lot of the weight of the show. I LOVE Anthony Mackie as an actor (NOLA represent!), but I’ve always felt his portrayal of Sam Wilson wasn’t that far from his own personality, which isn’t a bad thing. Stan’s performance as Bucky, however, is so layered. He has plenty of humor to offer the show, but it’s a dry kind of humor based off the stark contrast of Mackie’s sarcastic and upbeat attitude. But Stan also has the challenge of presenting a veteran suffering from extreme cases of PTSD from nearly a century of horrifying experiences of war and violence. Not that Sam doesn’t have his own share of turmoil, but his war time experiences are more managed, to the point that he is even able to act as support for his fellow veterans, like Bucky. But Bucky is still healing, still sleeping on the floor and waking up in old sweats, still having nightmares and flashbacks. So that one moment of happiness that Stan shows on Wakanda was performed beautifully and made you feel for this character, if you weren’t already.
This episode also gave a small glimpse into the war time experiences of Wyatt Russell’s John Walker. There is very little we know about this character before being given the title of Captain America aside from a service record that earned him three Medals of Honor. But in a short discussion, we learn that those medals are apparently reminders of the worst day in his life, a time when he did things that didn’t seem heroic. We now see more of John’s motivations for taking up the mantle of Captain America, and why he puts so much pressure on performing to the best of his abilities, despite seeming to fail time and time again, pushing him further over the edge as we see in this episode.
One final note…
STOP HARRAASING WYATT RUSSELL! STOP HARRASING ACTORS AND PEOPLE IN GENERAL BECAUSE OF A ROLE THEY PLAY IN FILM OR TV! IF YOU DON’T LIKE THEIR PORTRAYAL OF A VILLAIN, IT MEANS THEY’RE DOING THEIR JOB AND GIVING A GOOD PERFORMANCE!
Time and time again we “fans” have shown just how emotionally immature we are because we apparently think it’s a good idea to harass and bully and threaten people because we don’t like the character they play on screen. This kind of behavior is unacceptable. These actors, these PEOPLE, owe us NOTHING. They don’t have to portray a character accurately from the comics. They don’t have to give a good performance for us. Yet they do their best, take the criticism that is bound to come with the job, and still show up to press conferences and conventions to meet fans. And for this, we take things too far and threaten them for performing a character to the best of their ability. If this continues, actors are going to stop taking these roles, and I wouldn’t blame. No one deserves that kind of treatment, and we should be ashamed.
- Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “Power Broker” Reviewby Trey Plays
I can’t run in these heels!
Hitting a dead end on their investigation into the Flag Smashers and their super soldier serum, Sam and Bucky decide to take drastic actions and visit Zemo, the Avengers manipulative enemy from Captain America: Civil War. In return for information on Hydra’s involvement with making the serum, Zemo demands that Bucky break him out of prison, promising he is an invaluable asset and ally as he shares their desire to rid the world of super soldiers and to stop the creation of an army of Avengers. While not thrilled with the idea of allying themselves with the man who pitted Cap and Iron Man against each other, crumbling the Avengers from the inside before their initial battle with Thanos, Sam goes along with the plan and they make their way to Madripoor, a city that has maintained its status as a haven for crime lords despite governments’ best efforts.
After some failed cloak and dagger tactics to acquire information about the serum, they receive some surprise help from an old friend, Sharon Carter, former SHIELD agent and niece of Peggy Carter. With her aid, Sam and Bucky manage to find the scientist, Dr. Nagal, who was able to recreate the serum from Isaiah Bradley’s blood samples for a criminal known as the Power Broker. That’s all they manage to learn, however, before Zemo quickly kills Nagal and they’re attacked by more of Madripoor’s criminals. Escaping again with Sharon’s help, Sam, Bucky, and Zemo try to follow up on their next lead to the Flag Smashers, Donya Madani, while the new Captain America and Battlestar pick up their trail after breaking out Zemo.
While it was fun watching Sam trying to act the part of a hardened crime and lord and intriguing to see Bucky once again take on the role of the Winter Soldier to infiltrate Madripoor, Sharon Carter and Baron Zemo steal the spotlight in “Power Broker”. Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo was an interesting but underused villain in Civil War, so getting to see him as the fully realized Baron Zemo, complete with riches, private jets, cool cars, and his famed comic book mask was a treat. Bruhl dances on the line of maniac killer and sophisticated aristocrat while staying humorous and even charming, even when getting down at Sharon Carter’s party in Madripoor.
Another under used character, Emily Van Camp’s kind of former Steve Roger love interest before he went back in time and married her aunt, Sharon Carter, gets the chance to show just how much of a bad ass SHIELD agent she was. While Sam, Bucky, and Zemo hold their own in the fight in Madripoor, Sharon takes on the majority of their foes single handed with maneuvers that would rival Black Widow. But, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something more villainous behind Carter’s motives of helping Sam and Bucky.
It’s obvious Zemo will have alterior motives, that’s what his character does; schemes within schemes. But Carter has always been fairly straight forward (for a spy). Bucky was able to get pardoned after the snap, but not Carter when all she did was steal Steve and Sam’s gear from the CIA? There was no point in that five years that Steve didn’t try to clear her name after Civil War? While it’s clear she’s done very well for herself while hiding in Madripoor, it seems like there is something else keeping her there. Is she perhaps the mysterious Power Broker?
What are Sharon’s and Zemo’s true motives? what are the Flag Smashers planning? Who is Donya Madani, Sam and Bucky’s next clue to Karli Morganthau, the leader of the Flag Smashers, and is there a connection to agent Dinah Madani from Marvel’s The Punisher (doubtful)? Hopefully these questions, and more, will be answered next week.
- Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “New World Order” and “The Star-Spangled Man” Reviewby Trey Plays
The world’s broken. Everyone’s just looking for someone to fix it.
Months after half of Earth’s population was snapped back into existence due to the efforts of Iron Man and the Avengers, the world makes an effort to move on and find a new normal. Offered the role of the new Captain America by Steve Rogers himself, Sam Wilson aka The Falcon decides it’s best that the world not focus on empty symbols, but instead remember the men, like Steve, who gave those symbols weight. However, when new world order groups like the Flag Smashers come on the scene with enhanced abilities, the US government decides it’s time for a new Capt. America of their own choosing: All-American hero and veteran, John Walker.
While Sam deals with the news of Steve’s replacement, Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier is making an effort to fix the mistakes he made as Hydra’s assassin over the past century. In therapy and performing his own step-by-step program to make amends, Bucky’s world is shaken when he learns of Sam’s declining of Cap’s shield, and of John Walker. Begrudgingly following Sam on a mission to uncover the mystery behind the Flag Smasher’s enhanced abilities, they’re taken on a chase through Europe, struggling to work together, and run into even more problems when John Walker arrives on the scene with his hot shot sidekick, Battlestar aka Lemar Hoskins. Thoroughly beaten by the Flag Smashers, Bucky reveals to Sam a secret he’s kept about another enhanced soldier, much like Steve Rogers; Isaiah Bradley.
From the beginning, Falcon and the Winter Soldier presents itself less like a superhero or sci-fi show, like that of WandaVision, and more of a political and military thriller, like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Its opening of Sam packing up Cap’s shield to bring to a donation ceremony to the Smithsonian carries the reverence of a veteran preparing for the memorial to a fallen comrade. But, if the tone wasn’t strong enough, Sam’s mission as the Falcon against French terrorist Batroc, previously seen in The Winter Soldier, carries the message home of what kind of show this is going to be.
What is surprising, though perhaps it shouldn’t be, is how it approaches the topic of racism and economics after the Snap (I’m not calling it the Blip). We’re given a peek into Sam’s personal life and family as he travels back to New Orleans to be with his sister and nephews and handle the selling of their family’s fishing boat. Despite being a hero, an avenger, a military contractor, and meeting all of the requirements for a loan to help their business, they’re denied a loan for reasons of “the economy”, or more likely “being black”. However, this racism may not be apparent to some. The banker makes good points about the economy being in flux after billions of people were snapped back into existence and banks are making it even harder to apply for loans. So, to drive the point home about racism and the differences between white and Black America, we witness Sam and Bucky being harassed by police, presuming to check on Bucky’s “safety” because he and Sam were having an argument.
With the introduction of Isaiah Bradley as one of the first Black superheroes, and the privileged status of John Walker’s Capt. America, who thinks Sam and Bucky should “stay out of [his] way” (seriously?), these themes of inequality and racial injustice are only going to become more apparent. Even the Flag Smashers, whatever their ultimate goals are, claim to act on the ideals of economic equality and fighting for the people who were abandoned by their government during the Snap, and are now even more desperate as the government tries to go back to the normal status quo of giving the lion’s share of resources and wealth to the wealthy and powerful.
What is Isaiah Bradley’s story? Who are the Flag Smashers? Will John Walker succeed or fail in his role as the new Captain America, or will Sam pick up the shield? Hopefully, these questions and more will be answered in upcoming episodes.
- “You’ll get through this”: Celebrities Helping Social Distancingby Trey Plays
Last week we talked about “The Office’s” John Krasinski and his new YouTube series, “Some Good News,” helping everyone who is social distancing by reporting only on the good news that is going on in our world today. While he’s still knocking it out of the park with this series (literally, as he treated some of Boston’s COVID-19 medical staff and Red Sox fans to a private trip to Fenway Park), there are so many other celebrities who are taking the time to reach out to us to remind us that things will be okay, and we are all in this together. Below are just examples of a few.
Gearbox Studio’s latest entry into the first person “shlooter” series “Borderlands,” is still running strong since it’s release in September 2019. Since it’s release, they’ve added new DLC’s, including an exciting return to the world of Handsome Jack, “Borderlands 2’s” fan-favorite villain. Another addition to the game is now allowing “Borderlands” players to help with real-world science with a small mini-game called “Borderlands Science.” “By playing ‘Borderlands 3,’ you can contribute to real-world scientific research,” says “Big Bang Theory” actor, Ph.D. scientist, researcher, and your favorite person, Mayim Bialik in a short introduction to “Borderlands Science.” The mini-game itself is very similar to phone games like “Candy Crush” as you simply match the retro-style colors and pictures together until you hit the point goal and move on to the next level. It’s what the game does behind the scenes that brings the science into it. In an effort to organize the data of the 55% of foreign DNA in human bodies, the Microsetta Initiative is teaming up with Gearbox Studios and gamers like you. By organizing this open-source data, scientists can use this research for new breakthroughs in food, medicine, and more. So next time someone thinks you’re wasting time playing video games, tell them you’re engaging in real-world science.
A Message from The Doctor
“Oh! Hi! This is an emergency transmission,” begins Jodi Whitaker as The Thirteenth Doctor from the beloved BBC sci-fi show “Doctor Who.” “If you’re seeing this, then the TARDIS must have detected an upsurge of psychological signals from somewhere in space and time. Basically, I think someone somewhere might be a little bit worried.” Filming from her phone and posted on the official “Doctor Who” Twitter, dressed as The Doctor, Whitaker gave some tips to survive the social distancing and quarantine, and the message that “you’ll get through this.” She lists The Doctor’s own methods of self-isolation, or as she likes to call it, hiding, such as tell jokes, even bad ones, be kind, look out for each other, listen to science, and to stay strong, stay positive; you’ve got this.
“Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;”
Beloved and renowned actor, Sir Patrick Stewart, known for his roles as “Star Trek’s” Capt. Jean-Luc Piccard, “X-Men’s” Dr. Xavier, and an endless history of roles in films and plays, is taking the time to deliver to us #ASonnetADay. Working his way through playwright and poet William Shakespeare’s volumes of sonnets, Sir Stewart is using his naturally soothing voice and demeanor to deliver what many believe is food for the soul; poetry.
Coldplay’s Chris Martin put on an Instagram Live mini-concert called #TogetherAtHome. Ellen Degeneres is updating us on her putting together a 4000 piece puzzle. Ryan Reynolds is reminding us that it’s the celebrities that will help us get through this, right after the healthcare professionals. Even actor Tom Hardy is reading and recording bedtime stories to play for kids. There are so many who are giving everything they can from their time to their financial support to help flatten the curve of COVID-19. In uncertain times like these, having sources of entertainment, comedy, poetry, and even gaming, are invaluable as we self-isolate to flatten the curve.
- “I’m only delivering the good news. You ARE the good news.”: John Krasinski’s “Some Good News”by Trey Plays
There’s no point in denying it; right now we are living in a scary time. While we can make jokes and share memes about Covid-19, it doesn’t change the fact that this is something that most of us, if not all of us, have never experienced. Even for those who grew up in a post-9/11 world and survivors of Hurricane Katrina had the hopeful perspective that there will be a tomorrow. With Covid-19, that kind of outlook gets a little fizzier day by day.
Thankfully, there are those out there doing everything within their power to make sure we’re not only taken care of via healthcare, but emotionally. Teachers have gone to great lengths to make sure their students have what they need to finish their school year. Sports teams and celebrities are donating resources and money to medical professionals and affected families to survive the coming months. Even video game developers have added bonuses to their games to give old and new players a more fun experience, like Blizzard Entertainment offering a 100% Experience Bonus in their MMO World of Warcraft, or Gear Box increasing the drop rate of legendary items in Borderlands 3. All of this good news is being collected and delivered to us in a brand new YouTube series to help hold back the despair of the Covid-19 news cycle.
“Why is there not a news show dedicated entirely to good news?” wonders “The Office” and “Jack Ryan” star, and director of “A Quiet Place,” John Krasinski in the opening of his latest project, “Some Good News” on YouTube. “Without question, we are all going through an incredibly trying time. But, through all the anxiety, through all the confusion, the isolation, and all ‘The Tiger King,’ the human spirit still found a way to break through and blow us all away.”
Krasinski’s “Some Good News” series is only two short episodes in, but it’s already succeeding in reporting on some of the most heart-warming events from around the globe. In his very first segment, after making a few jokes at himself and the DIY quality of his videos, he showcased social media posts and videos from Spain to London to right here in the USA of patients and ordinary civilians taking the time to show their appreciation and applaud the healthcare professionals who are working around the clock to save their lives (I’m starting to cry just while thinking about it). Another piece of good news Krasinski shared was the 15th anniversary of his beloved series “The Office,” and was joined by Some Good News Entertainment Correspondent Steve Carrell. But, as if sharing their funniest and most touching moments from “The Office” wasn’t enough of a show topper, Krasinski took time to interview Coco, a young girl who, on her return home from her last chemotherapy treatment, was welcomed back by her friends lining the streets and decorating their cars to celebrate her cancer remission.
Krasinski’s video was a huge success and he went on to make his second episode, sharing clips of fans who took his lead to create their own “Some Good News” segments. He continued his coverage of the support of healthcare professionals who received masks, medical gowns, and even protective face wear made by baseball and hockey equipment manufacturers, with some being delivered on the New England Patriots private jet, as well equipment made by students across the country. He quickly switched to his new weather correspondent, Robert De Niro, who reported that the weather “looks, uh, looks pretty good.” His last story, how young Aubrey couldn’t attend a cancelled “Hamilton” show, brought a surprise to the young fan when the entire cast of the smash Broadway musical (THE ENTIRE CAST) performed the opening song “Alexander Hamilton” via video conference.
The stories John Krasinski shares in this series may not be ground breaking or world changing, but they may change the world for one person, like Aubrey, or like his viewers. Only two weeks in and Some Good News already has 1.41 million subscribers and is trending in YouTube’s Top 3.
Humor my getting personal for a moment, but watching these videos was the first time I’ve cried tears of joy since this quarantine began. This comedy and bliss at seeing enormous acts by people like you and me just trying to fix a world gone mad has helped keep me sane. So far, videos are only premiering once a week, but I would willingly donate to a patreon to make them daily. Then, I’ve started rewatching “The Office” again.
As John Krasinski signs off, “No matter how dark it gets, there’s always some good in the world.”
- Castlevania Season 3 Reviewby Trey Plays
On March 5th, Netflix premiered the third season of “Castlevania,” its anime adaptation of the popular video game series of the same name. After defeating Dracula and his war against humanity, Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso), Alucard (James Callis), and Trevor (Richard Armitage) find themselves separated as Alucard tries to rebuild his castle, formerly Dracula’s castle, and Trevor and Sypha travel looking for adventure. Coming upon the town of Lindenfield, Trevor and Sypha investigate a mysterious church that is planning to bring Dracula back from hell.
Season 3 of “Castlevania” builds on the strong foundations that were previously laid in seasons one and two, its strongest aspect being its characters. “My favorite character is definitely Alucard,” says UNO graduate Grecia Medina, who’s been a fan of the show for a little over a year. “But right after that comes Sypha and Trevor because they are great. As a group, they are comedic gold.” When not fighting against Dracula’s monsters, the series’ three main characters spend their time throwing quips at each other in entertaining battles of wit. With Sypha as the upbeat magician, Alucard as the dark and depressed vampire, and Trevor as the stoic, feigning apathetic monster slayer, their personalities compliment each other incredibly well.
It’s not just the main three characters that serve as protagonists, as with each season the list of characters and strong side plots grows. Season one introduced us to Sypha, Trevor and Alucard. Season two showed us Dracula’s vampire war council with Carmilla (Jaime Murray), and the two human forge smiths, who create his army of demons, Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack) and Hector (Theo James). Now, in season three, we meet new characters such as Carmilla’s own sisterhood of vampires, and the mysterious Saint Germine, voiced by award-winning actor Bill Nighy. While all of these characters have their own agendas pushing them forward, it’s hard to find a character that you’re not rooting against. There are clear lines between the sides of good and evil, but audiences still found themselves hoping to see Isaac succeed in his goal of growing his demonic army in hopes of defeating Dracula’s killers, Sypha, Alucard, and Trevor. “The series is really interesting and I love how they portray each character. The art is also amazing and don’t get me started on the music. It’s superb,” says Medina.
The quality of this show is due in large part of this being a work of passion, at least for its producer, Adi Shankar. While still relatively unknown as a filmmaker, Shankar has a popular following of his “Bootleg Universe” on YouTube where he’s made short films of popular titles like “The Punisher: Dirty Laundry” (2012) starring Thomas Jane, which gave the initial “Punisher” (2004) a second chance to be as brutally close to the comics as possible. Shankar makes these short films as a fan himself, which shows his ethics of care when handling a video game adaptation, a genre that has consistently received poor reception. “Watching the series does make me want to try the games,” says Medina. “but I find myself stuck because the games aren’t as interesting as the show is to me.” As “Castlevania” has been seen as one of the best video game adaptions, it serves as a small hope that the quality of future videogame adaptations will increase, and perhaps the Netflix series will bring new fans to the older game series.
Trying to find something critical to say about “Castlevania” is often as hard as the original games can be. As a videogame adaptation, it presents a strong story with nostalgic characters from the games. As an anime, it strikes the balance of comedic and dramatic storytelling, mixed in with powerful and often overexaggerated fight scenes. The one negative aspect of the show is its runtime; twenty to twenty-five minutes, with only ten episodes a season that premier once a year. This show is so good it’s a tragedy that it’s so short. On the other hand, its short length may be an advantage. With such limited time, “Castlevania” delivers quality over quantity.
“What I really hope for is a reunion between Alucard, Trevor, and Sypha,” says Medina. “I also want to see the Vampire Council of women start to move their plans into action. It’s gonna be really interesting and crazy.” By the end of season three, the main characters are left in a state of melancholy after the season’s events, especially Alucard, who may begin to understand his father’s feelings about humanity. Audiences could take this chance to play through many of the old “Castlevania” games and learn the series’ history, but as the show doesn’t strictly follow the games’ timeline, that could leave them with more questions than answers.
- Doctor Who Season 12: Reviewby Trey Plays
The BBC’s 57-year-old science fiction series “Doctor Who” ended its 12th season of “New Who” with its 13th Doctor played by Jodi Whitaker. Investigating strange extraterrestrial signals coming from Earth, the Doctor and her new fam’ of Yaz (Mandip Gill), Ryan (Tasin Cole), and Graham (Bradley Walsh), find themselves entangled in the sinister plot of the Doctor’s oldest friend and enemy, the Master (Sasha Dhawan). Narrowly escaping with their lives, the Doctor is left a final message from the Master that forces her to question everything she knows about her people, the Time Lords, and her own memories. Searching for answers, the Doctor and fam’ travel through time, going on adventures with historical figures like Mary Shelley, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla.
This latest season of “Doctor Who,” led by showrunner Chris Chibnal, offered its viewers a wide range of adventures through space and time that didn’t have everything in the universe at stake in every episode. Being able to breathe from one dire episode to another made the show feel more fun, and most of all let Jodi Whitaker’s Doctor have more room to play to her strengths; her enthusiastically geeky moments when meeting historical figures like Tesla and Shelley. This Doctor is such a nerd and is so much fun to watch as she travels from place to place genuinely excited to be there. But this season also gave Whitaker opportunities to play the more dramatic role of the Doctor as she dealt with somber issues of her own identity.
With the Master’s return, this season dances around the line of an overdone gimmick and a welcome classic aspect of the series. Just as the Doctor always finds a way to survive at the last moment, escaping whatever danger may be facing them, so too does the Master and surviving whatever scheme they throw at the Doctor. Having the Doctor and Master locked in their battle of intellect is as fundamental to “Doctor Who” as Batman and the Joker or Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty. But Dhawan’s performance of the Master was sometimes lacking. The strength of his character is a strength he’s carried in a number of his other roles in “Iron Fist” or “Sherlock;” a strong, imposing figure, a softly, but confidently, spoken villain. But his moments of whimsy and craziness felt very forced as if he was trying to recapture the madness of John Simm’s Master from 2007.
This season also had a very obvious message it was trying to convey to the audience on the subject of climate change, specifically in two episodes. In “Orphan 55,” the Doctor and fam’ travel to a possible future of Earth where humans have evolved into monstrous biped predators living in an ashen wasteland, ravaged by climate change from a world government who chose to do nothing to save their planet. In another episode, “Praxeus,” they discover a microscopic virus made of plastic particles infecting people and turning them to dust when they come into contact with a massive plastic waste heap floating in the ocean. While this message is strong and should be taken more seriously than the flu or a presidential scandal, the end messages of these episodes felt slightly shoehorned in. However forced, taking up a good cause like climate change or social justice is what the Doctor has always done, at least in the New Who that began in 2005.
Where we last left the Doctor, she’d somehow found herself in trouble with another group of aliens and her fam’ stranded back on Earth with her TARDIS. We may have to wait until the next Christmas Special to find out how she’ll escape and get back to Earth, but hopefully, we’ll be traveling with her a lot sooner.
- Spotlight on “Altered Carbon’s” Anthony Mackie: NOLA REPRESENT!by Trey Plays
Takeshi Kovacs, the Last Envoy, a highly-skilled freedom fighter from a bygone era, continues his search for his lost love, Quellcrest Falconer. Taking place 30 years after the events of the first season of Netflix’s sci-fi film noir action series, “Altered Carbon,” season two sees Kovacs returning to Harlan’s World, his home planet and the richest mining operation of Elder technology, a species long dead. Following a clue to Falconer’s whereabouts puts him in the crosshairs of bounty hunters, the universe’s governing body the Protectorate, and a conspiracy dating back over three hundred years.
Taking over the role from Joel Kinneman as Takeshi Kovacs inhabits a new “sleeve” (human consciousness is now held on small data drives than can be interchangeable from one body to the next), popular New Orleans actor Anthony Mackie picks up where the last season left off, plus some thirty years. Following Kovacs investigation, as he digs deeper to the source of the dark secrets of Harlan’s World, season two throws a lot of complicated world-building at the audience, Mackie doesn’t miss a beat as the anti-social investigator with a heart of gold introduced in the first season. This role is made even more difficult when having to mimic the acting styles of other actors who have played Kovacs like Kinnaman and Will Yun Lee, who plays Kovacs’ “birth sleeve.” But just like the others, Mackie delivers on the familiar character of Kovacs while making the role his own. If Lee is the young soldier and Kinnaman is the brooding detective, then Mackie succeeds in combining the two previous incarnations into the warrior fighting for love, but still with a lot of brooding.
This, of course, isn’t Mackie’s first role in science fiction or action. While the NOLA actor has plenty of dramatic performances under his belt, like playing Martin Luther King Jr. in “All the Way” (2016) and Tupac Shakur in “Notorious” (2009), Mackie’s breakout and most popular performance was as Sam Wilson aka the Falcon in Marvel’s “Captain America: Winter Soldier” (2014). But Wilson was no simple sidekick. Mackie portrays the ride or die best friend to Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers aka Captain America and was responsible for gathering compatriots to Capt. America’s side in the divisive “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) and crucial to helping Cap’ avoid authorities during his nomadic missions before “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018). He’s reprised the role in a number of other Marvel films, most recently, though only briefly, in Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” (2019). While Mackie was only involved at the end of the three-hour film encompassing ten years of Avengers movies, it’s in “Endgame” that Mackie was passed a new role as Sam Wilson accepted the title and shield of Capt. America from the elderly Steve Rogers. While he will still fly on Falcon’s wings, Mackie will add the iconic vibranium shield to his arsenal when he first takes the stage in the upcoming Disney+ series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (2020). Little is known about the upcoming series aside from Sam Wilson will be teaming up with Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier, another past friend of Steve Rogers, as they go up against “Captain America: Civil War’s” manipulative villain Zemo played by Daniel Bruhl.
It’s inspiring to see such a talented actor from New Orleans now portraying Captain America (NOLA REPRESENT!). But despite his rising fame, Mackie has never forgotten his home town and even returned to take up the role of the King of Bacchus’ Mardi Gras parade and attended Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con in 2016. A New Orleans native, Mackie grew up among his family’s roofing business, Mackie Roofing. As a teenager with an early love for acting, he attended both Warren Eastern Sr. High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), graduating in 1997. From there, Mackie went on to study at New York’s performing arts conservatory, Juilliard School’s Drama Division and graduated in 2001. Many are looking forward to what Anthony Mackie’s future career will have in store, and are excited to see his return to the character of Sam Wilson aka The Falcon aka Captain America.
- The Pharmacist: One Person Really Can Make a Differenceby Trey Plays
After the shooting of his son in a drug deal gone bad in 1999, St. Bernard Parish resident and pharmacist Dan Schneider strives to find his son’s killer while the police write it off another dead junkie. After beating the odds and putting the murderer behind bars, Dan becomes aware of the opioid epidemic spreading in the New Orleans area and crusades to save other parents from losing their children to drugs. Despite warnings from police, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), and threats from former pill-mill doctor Jaqueline Cleggett, Dan again defies the odds by shutting Cleggett down and brings awareness of the opioid epidemic to the public.
Netflix’s new documentary “The Pharmacist” takes audiences through the emotional journey of Dan Schneider and his war against drugs and big pharma. This impact is even more significant for GNO (Greater New Orleans) residents as they witness the events that took place in their own communities. “I lived down the road in St. B. during that time. It’s surreal to see all these facts in front of your face not realizing it was happening,” says a former St. Bernard resident who wished to only be identified by the initial C. “I never knew it was that bad, just a bunch of teenagers getting high.”
Beginning the story with the murder of Schneider’s son, Danny Jr., the first episode brings us step by step through the Schneider family’s grief and galvanization into taking their son’s murder case into their own hands. This first episode is a strong introduction to the story, a moving tale of loss as well as one of intrigue for any true crime enthusiast. The documentary’s pacing slows down to process Schneider’s grief, then ramps back up as he starts to uncover the pill-mill of Dr. Jacqueline Cleggett. “I was impressed by the way [Schneider] was able to help his community see the opiate crisis with more compassion by sharing his story,” says Shannon Williamson, Director of UNO’s Learning Resource Center. “There’s no telling how many lives this one guy really saved with all the work he did. Sometimes I forget that one person really can make a difference in the world.”
Schneider’s own brand of vigilante justice was a far cry of what the word vigilante often brings to mind; images of caped crusaders stalking nighttime rooftops. His methods were less exciting but just as effective as Schneider kept records of every interview and scrap of information he could find. Had he not succeeded in his quest, he may have been looked on as obsessively paranoid rather than the key to taking down Cleggett. “My dude lived in the neighborhood behind the sketchy af ‘doctor’ office behind the pharmacy where they would give you a shot of b12 for literally everything,” says a Reddit user who goes by Sarah. “Watching this with him was a lot of ‘That guy played ball with my son’ and ‘That girl used to be friends with my daughter.’ He knows Mr. Danny. We are both in awe of Mr. Danny’s badassness.”
What the series doesn’t give as much focus to is the pill-mill doctor herself, Jaqueline Cleggett. While there is one brief interview with Cleggett, there aren’t too many other details explained about her. This could be due to her own wishes of not wanting to be interviewed, or some other legal reason we are unaware of. What her interview does give us is her sense of arrogance and inability to accept the consequences of her actions, or responsibility for those who suffered addiction under her care.
“The Pharmacist” is a shocking reality of the opioid and drug crisis we see not only in America, but in our own community of the GNO area. Schneider’s persistence and bravery should be applauded for what he accomplished, and it’s thanks to this documentary that more are able to see the effects of his investigation. However, as this entire series of events was sparked by the death of Schneider’s son, Danny Jr., it begs the question of how many deaths of the Black community, or other minorities, did it take until someone started paying attention to the death of a young white man. This neglect is neither on the part of the documentary filmmakers who succeeded in telling this true tale or on Dan Schneider himself. But it is still a tragedy to see that issues such as this can be passed over so easily until it affects someone with more privilege than others.
- Netflix’s “Dracula” Sucks the Life from its Audienceby Trey Plays
When it was announced that Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat were reuniting to bring the classic story of Dracula to the small screen, fans were excited for a new series from the former “Sherlock” showrunners. Running from 2010-2017, “Sherlock” amassed one of the largest and most devoted fan bases to date. The modern adaptation reintroduced the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his partner in deduction Dr. John Watson as they solved murders around London while trying to stop the infamous criminal mastermind James Moriarty. Unfortunately, Sherlock’s series finale left the “Sherlock” fandom adrift in a sea of melancholy, so a new series from the same creators was a glimmer of hope. Sadly, that hope was misplaced.
Premiering on Netflix in early January, 2020, “Dracula” adapts the story of Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror story of the brilliant and deadly vampire, Dracula. Arriving under the guise of assisting the reclusive Count Dracula to sell his Transylvanian castle before he ventures to the new world of England, he quickly becomes Dracula’s latest victim as his life and blood is slowly drained, reinvigorating Dracula. Finding the case of Jonathan Harker and his experience with Dracula fascinating, Sister Agatha Van Helsing investigates Dracula in Transylvania and his escape to the shores of England. With their fates now intertwined, Van Helsing’s descendant, Dr. Zoe Van Helsing, attempts to continue her work and prepare for Dracula’s return to the modern day world.
“I thought the use of dreamlike states and important reveals was handled really nicely,” says UNO graduate student Chad Hopkins. “The acting was much better than I thought it’d be, and it managed to portray a homosexual relationship faily respectfully. Not perfect, but better than most.” While many enjoyed a number of aspects of “Dracula,” to others it felt like slow, dull narrative that leaves its viewers drained of life, much like Dracula’s own victims.
Netflix’s “Dracula” only adds a few new, fresh aspects to the classic Dracula story, overall, it’s the same tale we’ve seen before. It’s one saving grace comes in the character of Sister Agatha Van Helsing played by Dolly Wells. Similar to Anthony Hopkins’ Prof. Abraham Van Helsing in the 1992 film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” Agatha Van Helsing steals the show in every one of her scenes with her quick wit, snarky comebacks to the manipulative vampire, and her ingenious MacGyver like methods of keeping the creature of the night at bay. The decision to cast a woman as the popular vampire hunter isn’t surprising from Moffat and Gatiss, as they’ve at least attempted to promote women in their casting of past shows like “Sherlock” or “Doctor Who,” but their choices often feel like mansplaining to its viewers, such as in “Sherlock’s” “The Abominable Bride” where Sherlock explained feminism to a group of female feminists.
Outside of the character of Van Helsing, the rest of the series is a drag focusing on the uninteresting title character of Count Dracula. With each episode spanning around 90 minutes, the slow narrative focuses on telling its audience how manipulative, ingenious, and seductive he is, but these characteristics are rarely shown in Claes Bang’s Count Dracula. Where “Sherlock’s” 90 minute episodes on Sherlock and Watson working to solve the crime, seeing their methods and watching them connect the dots, all we see of Dracula’s manipulations are the aftereffects and the unearned fear it instills in his future victims. The few moments and twists that do take place throughout the story are thrown away shortly after their introduction, like the 2020 institute studying Dracula’s blood contagion in preparation for his inevitable return. This was one of the most interesting and new aspects to the story, and is quickly ended when Dracula’s lawyer shows up, played by show creator Mark Gatiss. Once Dracula is free and clear from the institute, it’s back to being told how awesome Dracula is, when he is in fact not.
It may be unfair to compare Netflix’s “Dracula” to “Sherlock.” It’s simply difficult to understand how the creators of a brilliant adaptation of the world’s greatest detective would create a dulled adaptation of the world’s greatest vampire. Thankfully, “Dracula’s” slow pacing is briefly lifted by the brilliance and snark of Sister Van Helsing, but even that isn’t enough to make the 90 minutes of each episode feel like a never ending vacation slideshow of how cool Dracula is supposed to be.
- Cute, Baby Yoda Isby Trey Plays
Jon Favreau’s latest show, “The Mandalorian” on Disney+, is already shaping up to be a strong entry into the “Star Wars” canon. Taking place between Episode VI “Return of the Jedi” and Episode VII “The Force Awakens,” “The Mandalorian” follows the adventures of a mysterious and skilled bounty hunter simply known as the Mandalorian. During one particularly difficult bounty, he discovers his objective is to retrieve a child of a mysterious species and hand it over to holdouts of the defeated Galactic Empire. Finding a source of empathy, the Mandalorian chooses to escape with the child and go into hiding until he can ensure its safety. While the premise of the space-western genre with gun-slinger with a rough exterior looking after an innocent and learning to love along the way is a bit cliche, “The Mandalorian” still manages to keep things interesting, action-packed, and intricately simple. But, the quality of the show isn’t what’s catching everyone’s attention.
The child the Mandalorian is protecting is ADORABLE. The child, who fans have dubbed Baby Yoda, is probably the cutest thing since Baby Groot in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and fans cannot get enough of him. Despite the series only being four episodes into its first season, posts and memes about Baby Yoda have flooded the internet on social media, Reddit, gifs, and he already has his own memes. Baby Yoda has even replaced Kermit in the “Kermit sipping tea” meme and the cat in the “woman yelling at a cat” meme. Even though the Baby Yoda’s name isn’t accurate, as Yoda died in “Return of the Jedi” (pushes up glasses), anyone who has spent even a minute checking their email on the internet has become familiar with the character. But what do we actually know about him?
Baby Yoda is from a species that is still a mystery in the “Star Wars” canon. After some research, it is the fifth member of its race that we’ve seen, following Jedi Master Yoda from the entire “Star Wars” saga, Master Yaddle from Episode I “The Phantom Menace,” Master Vandar from the RPG “Knights of the Old Republic,” and Master Oteg from the MMORPG “The Old Republic.” Despite this handful of characters that have been present in multiple “Star Wars” titles ranging from 1980 to the present, there are only a few details available on this short, green, force-sensitive race. There is no name, no planet of origin, no information about its culture, or even what they like to eat, aside from seeing Baby Yoda capturing and eating frogs whole. What we do know is that their lifespan can last to almost 1,000 years, and their species is apparently strong in the force, as all the members we’ve been introduced to have been Jedi Masters, aside from Baby Yoda, who we’ve seen is able to use the Force, even at his young age of 50. According to “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, Yoda’s species was meant to remain a mystery, adding some unknown mysticism to the character. This could just be an excuse, however, for Lucas to not have to flesh out another alien race.
Baby Yoda is not the first adorable member of the “Star Wars” galaxy. Throughout the films, books, TV series, and video games, we’ve met Jawas, Ewoks, Porgs, Lothcats, and even the droid BB-8, which have all been met with varying degrees of acceptance. There have been some fans who have been enraged by the cute races of the galaxy far, far away, considering them nothing more than a cheap form of fan service and toy marketing. However, most fans, new and old, have been able to take some delight in these creatures while still loving “Star Wars” for the epic science-fantasy saga that it is.