Hyperspace Theories

On September 21, Star Wars: Andor launched on Disney+ with a three-episode premiere. On Hyperspace Theories, we analyzed how those episodes set in motion the character journey for Cassian Andor from his life on Ferrix, and the preceding years in flashbacks, to become the Rebel operative and hero we see in Rogue One. The fourth episode of Andor, released on September 28, greatly expands the scope of the series and broadens the character arcs and plotlines far beyond the personal path of the titular character.

On today’s episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester revisit the roots of the podcast in Star Wars speculation. We analyze the first four episodes of Andor, the scenes in the official trailers that did not occur in those episodes, the publicly available list of writers and directors for all twelve episodes, and Tony Gilroy’s prior Star Wars storytelling in Rogue One. Examining these sources, we consider what they suggest about the story structure, themes, and character arcs in the remaining eight episodes of the first season. Knowing that the series was thoroughly planned before entering production, and overseen throughout by Gilroy as showrunner, provides more confidence than other recent Star Wars live-action productions that speculation from the early episodes and other evidence creates the opportunity to accurately draw inferences and make predictions that align with the storyteller’s carefully developed tale.

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Direct download: ANDOR_-_Where_is_it_going.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:09am EDT

The newly premiered Andor is the biggest and most ambitious Star Wars Disney+ streaming series yet. Created by showrunner Tony Gilroy, who oversaw the rewrites and reshoots that salvaged the theatrical release of Rogue OneAndor is a prequel to a prequel: beginning five years before that film, it will bring its principal characters to the events of Rogue One, which itself leads directly into A New Hope and the Original Trilogy. The first season of Andor includes 12 episodes, with 12 more planned for a second (and final) season that enters production later this year. From the trailers, interviews, press conference, and other promotion, it seems clear that Andor is intended to mark the entry of the Star Wars franchise into the “prestige television” space alongside series such as The CrownGame of Thrones, or The Expanse.

For its premiere on September 21, 2022, however, Andor released a trio of episodes focused almost entirely on the titular character, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and the immediate desperate aftermath of a particular incident. In this episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester discuss how these episodes reintroduce Cassian to the audience at a very different point in his life compared to the seasoned Rebel Alliance operative from Rogue One. The episodes also make effective use of flashbacks to reach even farther back in his past – before, we learn, he even went by the name Cassian Andor – to lay the groundwork for the character arc that begins to develop in these early episodes of the series. In addition to the core story about Cassian, we consider the many new characters introduced in Andor, some of whom appear destined to play important roles in the series beyond the initial episodes.

If you missed it during the early rounds of publicity and promotion in late August, be sure to catch up on the Andor coverage at Fangirls Going Rogue and FANgirl Blog now that series has launched into its weekly release schedule for the remaining nine episodes of the first season.

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Direct download: Andor_Episodes_1_-3_Storytelling_Breakdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:40pm EDT

Disney+’s Ms. Marvel is earning rave reviews and allowing a whole new segment of Marvel fandom to see their stories represented. Siya Patel has shared her passion for Marvel stories here at FANgirl Blog. When she asked about learning about podcasting, Ms. Marvel seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Hence, the Night Light podcast was born.

On the third episode, Tricia Barr and Siya Patel discuss the final two episodes of Ms. Marvel. The themes of identity and community bonds shine as the season draws to a close.

Night Light cover art by Siya Patel.

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Direct download: Night_Light_Ms_Marvel_Podcast_Episode_3.mp3
Category:Night Light: A Ms. Marvel Podcast -- posted at: 6:30pm EDT

The latest episode of Hyperspace Theories discusses the full story unfurled in the newest six-episode Disney+ series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU): Ms. Marvel, featuring the origin story of teenage heroine Kamala Khan. Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester are joined by longtime FANgirl Blog contributor Priya Chhaya, an historian and advocate for representation in storytelling and nonfiction alike.

First introduced in the comics, Kamala Khan stands out as Marvel’s first Pakistani-American and Muslim superhero. Like the comics, the Ms. Marvel series showcases Kamala’s family, friends, faith, and community as integral aspects of her personal identity both before and after she acquires her superpowers. At the same time, her story includes universal themes than resonate with audience members who do not share her heritage or religion, such as overprotective parents, sibling resentment, and a multi-generational immigrant experience in the United States. In addition, Ms. Marvel is prominently a story about mothers and daughters, too often still a rarity in blockbuster entertainment and other popular fiction. Kamala’s story is also unusual in featuring an intact family unit.

The Ms. Marvel series also places significant emotional prominence on an important event in the 20th century history of South Asia: the Partition of India at the end of British imperial occupation, creating new borders and the new country of Pakistan. (Subsequently, East Pakistan became the independent nation of Bangladesh.) The Partition not only sparked religiously motivated violence in India, but also the largest mass migration in human history as millions of Muslim refugees fled to Pakistan. Ms. Marvel highlights the Partition in the flashback love story of Aisha and Hasan, as well as its lingering ramifications in the lives of Sana, Muneeba, and Kamala. Although the Clandestines and the Department of Damage Control serve as Kamala’s overt antagonists in the series, Ms. Marvel perhaps suggests that the real villain is the generational trauma of imperialism.

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Direct download: Hyperspace_Theories_Ms_Marvel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30pm EDT

Disney+’s Ms. Marvel is earning rave reviews and allowing a whole new segment of Marvel fandom to see their stories represented. Siya Patel has shared her passion for Marvel stories here at FANgirl Blog. When she asked about learning about podcasting, Ms. Marvel seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Hence, the Night Light podcast was born.

On the second episode, Tricia Barr and Siya Patel discuss Aamir's wedding and Kamala Khan’s journey to Pakistan. Siya Patel shares insights into the South Asian culture that are revealed in the episodes "Destined" (Episode 3) and "Seeing Red" (Episode 4). The themes of self discovery, family dynamics and generational trauma cut across boundaries, making Ms. Marvel a universal coming-of-age story that is relatable to many.

Cover art by Siya Patel.

Direct download: Night_Light_Ms_Marvel_Podcast_Episode_2.mp3
Category:Night Light: A Ms. Marvel Podcast -- posted at: 4:20pm EDT

This episode of Hyperspace Theories offers the third discussion in our three-part analysis of Obi-Wan Kenobi, following our previous commentary on the first two and middle three components of the Disney+ series. Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester first break down the trio of major character arcs resolved in Part VI: the content and consequences of the second showdown in Obi-Wan Kenobi between Obi-Wan and Vader, and how Reva’s parallel subplot further illuminates their choices while defining her own. We also examine how Part VI contains deliberate ambiguity regarding Reva’s exact motivations in seeking to kill Luke on Tatooine, before her change of heart and merciful compassion from Obi-Wan.

We then return to the Hero’s Journey aspects of the series. On its own terms, Obi-Wan Kenobi concludes a full progression through Christopher Vogler’s cinematic model of the journey. Viewed through the lens of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, by contrast, Obi-Wan Kenobi contains the Departure and Initiation phases of the hero’s transformation. The Return phase is not absent from the character’s story, though – it appears in A New Hope. Only then does the moment finally arrive for Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi to complete his Hero’s Journey, synthesizing his character development from the Prequel Trilogy, The Clone Wars, and Obi-Wan Kenobi to attain the highest state of mastery.

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Direct download: Obi-Wan_Kenobi_-_Master_of_Two_Worlds.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:30pm EDT

FANgirl Blog's Tricia Barr and Siya Patel discuss the Marvelous origin story of Kamala Khan.

Direct download: Night_Light_Ms_Marvel_Podcast_Episode_1.mp3
Category:Night Light: A Ms. Marvel Podcast -- posted at: 9:02pm EDT

In our newest episode, Hyperspace Theories continues our analysis of Obi-Wan Kenobi with a discussion of Parts III, IV, and V of the Disney+ limited series. Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester examine how, after Parts I and II launched Obi-Wan on his mythic adventure, the next three episodes propel him through an extended progression of trials and tribulations that return the broken man into the Jedi General he used to be and push him toward the serene Jedi Master he ultimately becomes. Elements of both Joseph Campbell’s monomyth and Christopher Vogler’s cinematic hero’s journey illustrate the mythic structure of Obi-Wan’s personal challenges.

Importantly, Obi-Wan Kenobi advances its protagonist’s character arc through the influence of three significant female characters: Leia, Tala, and Reva. Each plays a different role in shaping Obi-Wan’s rediscovery of himself and reconnection with the Force through the events on Daiyu, Mapuzo, Nur, and Jabiim. In a twist on Campbell, it is Roken and Vader, not a woman, who present the biggest temptations that might divert Obi-Wan from his path. By the conclusion of Part V, Obi-Wan has moved through his trials and overcome their obstacles. In our next episode, we’ll discuss how Obi-Wan Kenobi resolves its character arc for the Jedi Master in Part VI, as well as how that arc plays forward into the ultimate culmination of his Hero’s Journey in A New Hope and the Original Trilogy.

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Direct download: Obi-Wan_Kenobi_-_Testing_the_Heros_Journey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:26pm EDT

After the world premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi at Star Wars Celebration, Tricia Barr and BJ Priester sit down to explore the storytelling structure as it expands the Campbellian monomyth.

Direct download: Obi-Wan_Kenobi_Ep_1_and_2_Reaction.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:57am EDT

Hyperspace Theories podcast returns to the realm of Star Wars storytelling with this month’s episode, in which Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester discuss The Book of Boba Fett. In addition to its seven chapter, we also consider insights from the Disney Gallery episode exploring the development and production of the Disney+ series.

 

We begin with the titular character. The first four episodes of The Book of Boba Fett portray two sets of events in his life: his experiences from his escape from the Sarlaac Pit until his appearance in “The Tragedy” chapter of The Mandalorian season two to reclaim his father’s armor, and his return to Tatooine to establish himself as “daimyo” upon the throne previously occupied by Jabba the Hutt and Bib Fortuna. Each of these storylines contains some interesting ideas for Fett’s character development, but both fail to meet the potential of those ideas. In addition, the series at times relies heavily on homages to famous cinema (like Lawrence of Arabia or The Godfather) and references to previous Star Wars material (including comics, books, and videogames) without challenging or subverting some of the damaging tropes frequently found in those sources, particularly in the thin characterization of the female characters and the fate of the indigenous Tusken tribe that welcomed Fett into its community. Although the finale episode delivers exciting Star Wars action sequences, it ends on a meta-referential note: Fett himself wonders aloud whether he should have been pursuing the objective of becoming daimyo in the first place.

Even more jarring, the fifth and sixth chapters of The Book of Boba Fett barely even include him at all. Instead, the focus on events that we would have expected to appear in season three of The Mandalorian, including Din Djarin’s return to the Armorer’s covert, his acquisition of a new starship to replace the RazorCrest, and his paternal caring for Grogu. Another appearance by Ahsoka Tano delivers unexpected emotion for Din in doing what’s right for Grogu, as well as for the audience with dialogue overtly linking her current role in the galaxy to her past with the Skywalker family. A surprisingly lengthy appearance by Luke reveals more about Grogu, while also testing both Luke and Grogu in their commitment to the Jedi path. Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard and Dave Filoni, respectively, these two episodes offer far stronger Star Wars storytelling than the rest of The Book of Boba Fett.

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Hyperspace Theories: The Story of The Mandalorians

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Direct download: The_Book_of_Boba_Fett.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:40pm EDT

This month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories rings in the new year with the storytelling of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester discuss the six episodes of the Christmas-themed Disney+ series Hawkeye. Though the show may have one character name in its title, like the other MCU series to date it also is very much an ensemble story.

Clint Barton has been the MCU’s Hawkeye through four Avengers films and several others. In Endgame, we learn that Clint responded to the Snap taking away his family by becoming the ruthless and vengeful assassin Ronin, murdering crime lords and other “deserving” foes until Natasha Romanoff managed to restore his hope, changing his heart just as he had once given her the chance to change hers. In Hawkeye, everything spirals outward from these events: Clint’s grief for Natasha, his commitment to honoring the sacrifice she made to give him a life with his family, and his responsibility for his actions as Ronin.

But while Clint creates the circumstances in which Hawkeye‘s story can unfold, the series at its heart is the story of three women: Kate Bishop, Yelena Belova, and Maya Lopez. Each must face difficult truths and choose their own path forward after their interactions with Clint’s past and present. Obsessed with vengeance for Ronin’s murder of her father, Maya discovers that Clint is not the monster she thought, and the real monsters are the ones closest to her. Driven by certainty that Clint does not deserve to live either if Natasha is gone, Yelena is challenged to face her grief, accept Natasha’s sacrifice, and confront whether assassin-for-hire is really the path she wants to walk.

Kate Bishop, meanwhile, evolves from a talented young woman ringing a tower bell with an arrow on a dare to a superhero committed to doing the right thing, even if it means risking her own life in single combat against a ferocious foe to save the life of her mother – who she then promptly has arrested for her crimes on Christmas. Much of Hawkeye plays out through the trope of the reluctant mentor and the overeager pupil, but the contrasts (and comparisons) between Clint and Kate only serve to show the audience why Kate is ready to take on the mantle of Hawkeye. But not simply to replicate how Clint fulfilled that role; rather, Kate will become her own version of Hawkeye, perhaps even as more of a team leader. In Hawkeye, Kate proves her skill and her heart to Clint and to the audience – and to herself.

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Direct download: HT_Hawkeye.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT

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