Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.
Dreams and Madness is the penultimate episode of the season (series?) and feels like it, blending payoffs and character beats with a lot of setup for what is to come next. I’m hoping the end of the Writers Guild of America strike means we can get some news regarding creator Dave Filoni’s next step: Are we going to see a movie? Another season of Ahsoka? The entire landscape of big-budget entertainment is changing rapidly, so it’s hard to know how to feel knowing we’re clearly heading for a cliffhanger next week. There’s just no way this whole story ends without Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) returning to the main galaxy, probably leaving several of our heroes behind in the far, far away. Do we have to wait until a movie in 2026 to get two hours of resolution to that story or will we get another eight episodes of deliciously paced action-adventure to really soak in the story? Obviously, I want as much of this era, and of these characters, as Disney is willing to pay for. I don’t think the Star Wars galaxy has been this exciting in a long time.
It says a lot about this week’s episode that I completely forgot it features another lovely cameo from Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, this time acting out a sequence from last year’s Tales of the Jedi. That he makes no attempt at hiding his Canadian accent now is extremely endearing to me. Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) using his old recordings and telling Huyang (voiced by David Tennant) he was a “good master” is a nice way of showing what she learned from her spirit journey. So, too, is her reaction to Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) when they eventually reunite.
Quite a lot happens in this episode, all of it pretty great. We get to see the rematch between Ahsoka and Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson). It almost lacks the focus I’d have liked, but I’m sure they’ll meet again. Sabine and Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi), traveling with his Noti friends, are attacked by marauders, Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) and Night Troopers, which allows the two of them to engage in some pretty great combat moments. Ezra’s refusal to take his lightsaber, and his insistence that the Force is his ally — before engaging in some mystical martial arts – was totally great. As Thrawn remarks, “It’s almost like the Jedi of old.”
Speaking of Thrawn: This episode felt like an effort to show new audiences how the franchise’s uber-antagonist operates. The challenge with a character like Thrawn is that he’s a “master strategist,” always one step ahead of his foes, but he also must consistently lose to them to keep the narrative moving forward. Different authors have had varying levels of success not making Thrawn feel like a total dumbass. Filoni has generally done a good job establishing that Thrawn’s key skill isn’t so much hyper-intelligence but adaptability and long-term thinking: His plan doesn’t account for Baylan abandoning Shin, but it doesn’t really matter if Ahsoka and company are alive because his ultimate goal is to leave the “far, far away,” regardless of their mortal status. This is one of the better depictions of Thrawn, and I really hope we get to see what he looks like leading Remnant forces against the New Republic.
I know the canon established by J.J. Abrams in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is predicated on the idea that there was no major conflict for the New Republic after Jakku, which was a few years after Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi. I don’t give a shit. Neither should anyone else. That was a stupid idea. I’m excited at the idea of Thrawn causing a lot of trouble for them as they form; just retcon the previously existing tie-in novels. Filoni fixed the prequel era; I’m glad we’re getting to work on some of the sequel lore now.
Anyway, some notes:
- I love the opening on Coruscant, giving us a little more Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and in a new outfit, and setting up the New Republic elements that are surely playing a part in what comes next. I love Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) believing Hera even as she tries to wrangle her less faithful senators.
- Using C-3P0 as a stand-in for Leia is a brilliant way of keeping Leia involved in the story without resorting to something grotesque. It will be extremely challenging to tell a consequential story in this era without including Leia and, to a lesser extent, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. I’m not arguing for their inclusion, but solutions like this are deeply welcome.
- I actually think there’s an opportunity — if done correctly — to let Luke play a role as a grandiose Jedi hero in this major conflict and have it fit neatly in with his regrets in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, where he references believing in his own myth (and resenting it). We still haven’t seen that Luke, and I think there’s room to see him … but if it means another CGI monstrosity, I’d rather not. Christensen’s de-aging looks great to me because there’s less work required on him; that is not the same for Mark Hamill and his stand-ins.
- I loved the Imperial minefield, the chase in the Purrgil graveyard and basically all of the space stuff. It’s all so conceptually rich and interesting and Star Wars. I can’t believe this show exists.
- I love the Noti; they are very much in the vein of George Lucas’ love for underdog native creatures fighting for themselves.
- I was a little surprised that Baylan left Shin. I’d like more of both of them, and within the context of the last episode, it makes sense. But maybe it’s time we actually learn what power Baylan is hunting.
- I’ll say it again: Ezra’s fighting style was so damn cool. Maybe a preview of what we’ll see in The Acolyte?
I was fortunate last week when my brother snagged me one of the deeply discounted Target-exclusive Cobb Vanth + Cad Bane sets. This thing retailed at $55, a totally absurd price, but feels like a steal at 50% off. The Cobb is unique to the set, a stripped-down version of his previous Deluxe release, and the Cad Bane is an early version of what will end up being a single-packaged mainline release a few waves from now. It would be hard to justify paying full retail for either, seeing as I own both characters already — as seen in my comparison photos featured here. I thought this season of Serial Consumer would be light on the new purchases, but I’ve gotten very lucky with sales and other rare finds, largely thanks to my brother. I don’t anticipate finding anything this coming week, but who knows: The new Sabine is supposedly showing up on shelves and maybe Target will finally discount all those peg-warming Luke + Grogu sets.
Not a lot of new stuff was introduced this time around. I’d buy a Noti with their little hut — maybe a future Deluxe figure?