Friday, December 6, 2019

Holiday Gift Guide: Toys and Collectibles

I find writing this guide gets more challenging every year as my collecting tastes have remained pretty consistent throughout the years. I still enjoy collecting some higher end items from Sideshow Collectibles and love my Funko collection Loyal Subjects army that bring nostalgia to my workplace and home. This year's guide is a bit different than previous entries, but is one of my favorites.


Fable and Black x Illumicrate Pin Club (Recommended by Adri)

Everyone loves a good subscription service, and since discovering both of them at the Young Adult Literature Convention in London last year, Fable and Black and Illumicrate have become two of my favourite suppliers of regular bookish goodies. While Illumicrate's regular book box is totally worth checking out (they had a Gideon the Ninth box in August which offered an early exclusive edition of the book!), I want to wave the flag for the monthly pin club subscription, which offers a pin every month based on various bookish YA fandoms, all designed in Fable and Black's gorgeous style. While there's plenty of representation for major fandoms - an ongoing "HP Dark Artefacts" series has been creating mini pins representing stuff like Slytherin's locket and other recognisable stuff from the series - what I particularly love is the opportunity to pick up items from books that don't command the same level of "merch love" as those those favourites, like Neal Shusterman's Scythe and Toni Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone, upcoming in November and December respectively. For those looking for a one-off stocking filler, most pins are also available for single purchase after the subscription period, and Fable and Black also has a selection of non-subscription options (although sadly the "Raging Bitch Queen" pin I picked up from them in the summer appears to no longer be available)...





Kid Robot has been making killer vinyl collectibles as long as I have been in the game. I have a variety of their offerings, but none hit me with a nostalgic blast like their Simpsons line. The Duff beer is flowing in its most recent series that includes the Love Tester machine!!!! Other licenses that might appeal to the Nerds of a Feather crew include Futurama, Bob's Burgers, Adventure Time, Animaniacs, Sanrio, Marvel, and more! You can view everything they have to offer here, but everyone on my Christmas shopping list loves getting some fun blind boxes as stocking stuffers.



Baby Yoda Plush (Recommended by Joe)

Okay. It has barely been announced and it is only available to preorder at the time I'm writing this, but we all need a Baby Yoda plush in our lives. I'm not going to pretend I'm going to buy one for my kids because they are way too young to watch The Mandalorian, Heck, I haven't even watched The Mandalorian yet but LOOK AT BABY YODA!!!!!!! I must have a Baby Yoda plush.



Masters of the Universe Rug - Grayskull Dungeon (Recommended by Mikey)

Based on the decal from the original Castle of Grayskull, this rug is a must for the hardcore Masters of the Universe fan. This will really tie your collectible room together and is a unique item that most of your friends will be envy. It measures 45" x 60" and I might need help convincing my wife that it would look great in our hallway


POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.  

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Holiday Gift Guide: Games (All Kinds!)

It's the most wonderful time of the year... for people who aren't me. I am basically the Grinch. I hate people feeling like the have to get me something, so Christmas is basically my own personal hell (as is my birthday, which is a closely guarded secret because... I really hate my birthday). But for the rest of you, GIFTS! And I do love giving people gifts, and I love games, so:


Just One by Repos  (Recommended by Mikey)

This has quickly become the party game at my house and it is equally entertaining for both of my kids and all of my adult friends. It is a cooperative word guessing game that forces you to provide one word clues to the active player. The twist is that if multiple people write the same word the active player does not get to see the clue. This game takes about five minutes to teach, 10 minutes to play, and is a hoot. I have yet to complete a round of the game without the group wanting to run it back in order to improve on their score.





Untitled Goose Game (Recommended by Adri)

It will come as a surprise to nobody that Untitled Goose Game is my pick for a video game gift this year. This year's most memeable game, from indie developer House House, combines elaborate stealth-based mechanics with the aesthetics of a rural English village, and puts you in the shoes (well, the webbed feet) of a horrible goose completing a number of tasks to mess with a series of villagers. Featuring four main areas for mischief which open up into an increasingly elaborate world, its a game whose puzzles are satisfying and unrepentantly sadistic, with a great flow through the "level-based" tasks and into more elaborate post-game tests. There's also plenty of fun to be have in tasks which serve no in-game purpose apart from the pure-hearted joy of being a goose, and while this isn't quite Breath of the Wild levels of "exploring the world because its there" content, it's still a diversion that can be returned to even once your goose to-do is all crossed off.

Not only is it one of the best times I've had playing a game ever, the goose game's charm is wide ranging and, despite the rampant sadism, great for all sorts of gamers. Its also an experience that rewards viewers as well as players, meaning that you can give it to somebody you actually intend to spend Christmas day with, knowing that if they decide to play it in your company you'll get a kick out of watching their beautifully-scored slapstick antics. Plus, I cannot think of anything more festive to balance out the capitalist consumerism of Christmas than with the socialist anarchism of the Horrible Goose - especially if you've got one of its friends on your festive menu.





Tiny Towns by Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) (Recommended by Mikey)

This game might be my current favorite gateway game on the market. In Tiny Towns, you are the mayor of a....wait for it....tiny town. As mayor you are responsible for populating your town on a 4x4 grid in an attempt to make the best town in the world. It plays 1 to 6 players and has zero down time regardless of player count. This is what makes the game so engaging and entertaining. The basic premise is that you will take resource cubes, align them on your grid to match the patterns on various building cards. Once you match a pattern, you clear the cubes off of your board (freeing up space for future cubes) and replacing one spot with the building you completed. Space on your board becomes a valuable commodity as it fills out and the spatial element of this game is extremely well done. When you are the active player you get to dictate what resource will be active for that round granting you a significant advantage as everyone else has to place that resource on their board as well. Do you focus on your town, or try to stick it to one of your opponents by giving them a useless resource? This game plays extremely fast, is quick to learn, and has a wide variety of building card combos giving it a ton of replayability.




Control by Remedy Entertainment (developer) (Recommended by Brian)


Glue together LOST, The X-Files, internet creepypasta, House of Leaves, and Max Payne, and you’ll get something looking like Control. Control is a supernatural third person shooter that puts you in the otherworldly offices of the Federal Bureau of Control. You use your magical weapon (a gun that transforms into other guns) and psychic powers like telekinesis to fight an awful lot of possessed Bureau employees. The action is as fun as you’d expect from the makers of Max Payne, but the game really shines in its setting. Control is jammed full of tons of weird internet horror. It has collectables worth collecting, documents worth reading, and the Remedy signature TV show within the game, The Threshold Kids, is truly creepy. It’s an excellent blend of action game and horror setting.

Control is available on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. 





Observation by No Code (developer) (Recommended by Brian)

It’s been a banner decade for games where you play with security cameras, and Observation may be my favorite of them. You play the whole game from the point of view of an on-board AI on a space station. Something bad happens and you have to help your crew figure out what happened and how do you all survive. Observation is third person horror. Bad things are happening and you’re mostly resigned to watching it. But it’s not completely passive, you do get to manipulate station objects, like opening doors and working with the station’s computer systems. It’s good looking, well-paced, and doesn’t require twitch reflexes to enjoy. 
 
Observation is available on PC and Playstation 4.


Blood Bowl by Games Workshop (Recommended by Dean)

I gotta tell you... I sort of forgot about Blood Bowl. For years, my local game group had a league and it was a blast and then my life took me away from there, and, well, you know how that song goes. Now established in a new area, with new gaming friends, I found they had never heard of Blood Bowl. I find myself telling you, gentle reader, the same thing I told them: I don't know how to explain it.

It's so stupid.

It's so fun.

It's football.. with fantasy characters. And blood. And you get to level up your team with stupid, awesome upgrades.

Just buy it.



Please Help Me
X-Wing (second edition) (Recommended by Dean)

Did you like how, at the beginning, I was all "I'm not selfish" and then all my picks are for things that benefit TWO people? Does that make me a good person, or bad? Either way, make no mistake: Buying someone this gift is a curse. You have doomed them for life, and the only reason you should do it is if:

A) you really hate that person

or

B) you already have a crippling X-Wing addiction of your own.

But, yes, buy them the core set. It has an X-wing and TWO TIE fighters, which should allow for many hours of gaming fun! Except, your squad will be better with another X-wing! Or a specialty TIE! OK, yeah, that works, but what your squad REALLY needs is... you see where this is going.

I need more X-Wing stuff, is what I'm saying. Or an intervention.


-DESR

 Dean is the author of the 3024AD series of science fiction stories. When not holed up in his office tweeting obnoxiously writing, he can be found watching or playing sports, or in his natural habitat of a bookstore

Thursday Morning Superhero



We finally have a date for the Netflix adaptation of Locke and Key!  While it is later than I would prefer, I am happy that on February 7 I can finally watch a live action version of my favorite comic book of all time.  While other adaptations of Joe Hill's works haven't been that great, I am optimistic that this one will deliver.



Pick of the Week:
Daredevil #14:
Daredevil remains on track for his eventual return. His rehab with Elektra is going well and the turf war in Hell's Kitchen is reaching its breaking point. After helping Detective Cole North, it appears that North and Daredevil are on the path of eventually teaming up. North has major ethical concerns with how Daredevil conducts himself, but the rot in the police department is too big to ignore.

Meanwhile, Wilson Fist is being seriously challenged by Owlsy, but is handcuffed with what he can do with the spotlight of being Mayor.  This leads to some unlikely alliances among other crime syndicates and we are very much nearing all out war.

As I note often in gripping storylines, this is really the calm before the storm.  Daredevil, Elektra, and North appear to be forming a team as the turf war escalates in order to protect the city. The one piece of the puzzle that remains a true mystery is how Fisk will react when this all goes down.

The Rest of the Pull List:
Cullen Bunn's new horror title, Dark Ark, continued as we learn more about the group that was tasked with saving all of the demons and evil creatures from the great flood.  I remain very intrigued about this series and feel it has tremendous potential.  I am also excited about..., a comic based on a serial killer who operated in Nazi occupied Germany.

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Watchmen Wednesdays: Episode 7

Hey all, I've been pretty unconcerned about spoilers so far in these posts, but I did want to make a quick note that there is a major spoiler in this episode. If you intend to watch the show and haven't yet, I'd suggest you stop reading until you've caught up.

In episode seven, "An Almost Religious Awe," we begin to get some answers. Angela is having her grandfather's memories flushed from her system; Lady Trieu is administering the procedure; and Laurie Blake is continuing her investigation by talking to Chief Judd Crawford's widow. In Veidt wonderland, he's been under trial for 365 days by a jury of the clones for trying to escape his prison. 

Veidt during his trial by the clones.

As part of Angela recovering from taking the Nostalgia pills, her own memories flashback. She remembers the death of her parents after Vietnam became the fifty-first state. They are killed by a suicide bomber screaming: "Death to the Occupiers!" While this is just a small moment, it motivated Angela to becomes a police officer as a small child, which creates an interesting link between not only violence and the police, but the police as a colonizing force. I'm interested to see where this theme goes in the final two episodes. 

Laurie Blake has figured out that Chief Judd Crawford was a white  supremacist and confronts his wife, suggesting that their plan was to use the Seventh Kavalry to help make Senator Joe Keene (a Kalvary member) president, but Blake was thinking a little too small. The Seventh Kavalry have bigger plans, as Joe Keene reveals when he gives a speech about how hard it is to be a white man in the US. While he comes short of saying the word "genocide," it seems like that's where the Seventh Kavalry is headed--by capturing, killing, and turning one of their own into Dr. Manhattan. 

Yes, the blue wonder is revealed in this episode! Frankly, I'm surprised and impressed I didn't see it coming since it's totally clear in hindsight that Angela's husband Cal did not have nearly enough to do in the show, plot-wise, considering he was in almost every episode. The scenes between Lady Trieu and Angela fill in the backstory. Angela left Vietnam with her husband Cal after he had a car accident that gave him total amnesia. They start a new life in the US, except, as the end of the episode shows, Cal isn't exactly what he appears. Angela says he wiped his memory so they could be together and proceeds to burst open his skull with a hammer and pull out a familiar image--Dr. Manhattan's forehead mark. 

As might be expected, most of Twitter started freaking out over the biggest reveal yet on Watchmen. At the same time, though, I want to point one of the other powerful moments in the episode, at least for me, anyway: white supremacy being taken seriously as an actual threat. In the scenes with Lady Trieu and Angela, Lady Trieu reveals her plan to save humanity--from white supremacists. Not only are they a threat, but the Seventh Kavalry is the threat. While Watchmen isn't the first piece of media to do this, I appreciate it's also localized. The Kavalry is making a huge impact in Tulsa, OK, but also in the police force across the country, as shown in Will Reeves' memories. In addition to that, they have plans for the presidency through Senator Joe Keene, which become superseded by the idea of using Dr. Manhattan. In other words, the Seven Kavalry isn't some bungling group of a handful of racists trying to steal a nuke, they are a wide network across the US.

At a time when it would be easy to turn the Seventh Kavalry into a punchline, Watchmen demonstrates how truly threatening white supremacy can be and the measures that should be taken to stop it.  


Phoebe Wagner currently studies at University of Nevada: Reno. When not writing or reading, she can be found kayaking at the nearest lake. Follow her at phoebe-wagner.com or on Twitter @pheebs_w.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Holiday Gift Guide: Movies, TV, and Music

In this, the gift-giving season of 2019, we find ourselves at a strange technological crossroads. In years past, I have wrapped and given, and received and opened countless CDs, DVDs, vinyl records, you name it. For two generations, we have given each other *a* movie or *an* album we think will mean something to the recipient. But now, suddenly, with the proliferation of streaming services, we can give someone...*all* the movies. Or *all* the albums. It's a huge shift, and one that will continue to play out for many holiday seasons ahead, but this year it creeps into our Gift Guide. What will Gift Guides of Christmases-Yet-To-Come hold? Only Criswell knows for sure. - vk.

Joe:
Disney+

It is the height of consumerism to recommend Disney+. It's the new streaming service on the block and there have been some technical hiccups in the roll out, but I have two small children and there is just so much goodness available and more on the way. From the Pixar movies to Marvel to Star Wars to Disney animated classics to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (I've got small kids) to the wealth of 90's cartoons (Darkwing Duck, we're looking at you) - Disney+ has something for the whole family.

The G:
Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky (Criterion Collection Edition)

Did you like Chernobyl? What about Annihilation? Men in Black? Mash those three together and then crank the weirdness factor up to 11 and you’ve kinda sorta got Andrei Tarkovsky’s adaptation of the classic SF novel Roadside Picnic. Not for the faint of heart, and like a lot of European arthouse cinema, it requires a good deal of patience. But the viewer’s patience is duly rewarded in spades.

Vance K:
The Criterion Channel

Filmstruck is gone, and the Criterion Channel has taken its place. This streaming service boasts access to the Criterion Collection library, but there are licensing deals on certain titles that mean they'll either never show up on this platform, or will only be there for a little while. This is familiar to all of us who have watched things disappear from our Netflix lists, so we know the drill. But in addition to bringing film nerds (like me!) the works of Bergman, Kurosawa, Ray, Tarkovsky (see above), and other legends of world cinema, the channel is also doing a great job of curating new and under-appreciated talent. With showcase collections about women filmmakers, LGBTQ+ cinema, various spotlights on specific areas of the world and filmmakers from there, animation, and other specialties, it's a rewarding streaming option on several fronts.

Brian:
Shazam! by David F. Sandberg (director)

It’s easy to be skeptical of the DC comic universe of movies. They’ve had a rough launch. But Shazam! requires none of the backstory of those movies, and it’s easily the most fun. Billy Batson is a teenage orphan who suddenly finds himself with super powers. It’s a stark contrast between the dour Superman we’ve seen recently, and a kid who wasn’t born Superman but needs to learn some of the same lessons. It doesn’t bury you under mountains of comic book history. It gives you a quick supervillain origin, a quick superhero origin, and then lets those two forces collide. If you’ve been disappointed by DC’s previous comic book movie outings, forget about them and give Shazam! a shot. It’s just a fun superhero movie, which is what this universe of films should’ve kicked off with in the first place.

Shazam! is available on most major video media formats, streaming, physical, and otherwise.

1000 Gecs by 100 Gecs

1000 Gecs might break your brain. I know it broke mine the first time I listened to it. Coming in from having listened to Stupid Horse on repeat for it’s ska-influence, I wasn’t sure just what in the hell I was listening to. But the more I listened to it, the more I liked it. I’m not a music critic. I don’t know anything about music, and I have bad taste. But 1000 Gecs sounds different. It sounds fresh and new. It’s a brisk 20-something minutes of the best post-pop I’ve heard in a long time.

1000 Gecs is available on almost all music streaming platforms.

Phoebe:
There Existed an Addiction to Blood by clipping.

For the hip-hop fan, the horror fan, the narrative fan — heck, the Hamilton fan — in your life, may I recommend clipping.'s latest album There Existed an Addiction to Blood. Some folks might be aware of their Hugo-finalist album Splendor & Misery (a narrative story about an AI and a prisoner), but this album shakes things up by going full horrorcore. Each song is a story all in itself, ranging from cannibals to werewolves. That being said, the songs don't get lost in the story and remain tracks ready to break out at the next Halloween party. While the songs definitely have a Halloween flare — perfect for its October release — the atmospheric elements will engage speculative fans all year long.

Posted by Vance K — cult film reviewer and co-editor of nerds of a feather, flock together since 2012.

The Hugo Initiative: They'd Rather Be Right (1955, Best Novel)




Dossier: Clifton, Mark and Frank Reilly. They'd Rather Be Right [Astounding, Aug - Nov 1954]

Filetype: Novel

Executive Summary: They’d Rather Be Right is a novel about human potential and the need to strip away all prejudice and preconceptions to be able to reach that near limitless potential. Individuals may get close on their own, if they are driving by logic over emotion, but something external is needed to drive the internal changes. Two scientists (and a telepath, it seems) have developed a “cybernetic brain”, which I think is something of an early form of AI. That brain, inexplicably named Bossy, is so advanced that even the scientists who made it aren’t really sure how they made the intuitive leaps to actually create Bossy. Bossy, though deep therapy and science so handwavy it might as well be magic, can transform a person so much that age will melt away and true intellectual superiority is possible. The only catch is the aforementioned requirement for the individual to be willing to admit they have prejudices and that they were wrong about, well, anything. Hence the title. It’s a difficult standard to meet. 


The focus character of the novel is a young telepath named Joe who appears to be the driving force of everything that happens here. He uses his powers to change people’s minds and push them to get what he wants. Everyone else is secondary, including those scientists, a grifter, the older prostitute who is the first to benefit from Bossy’s therapy, and a wealthy industrialist / newspaperman. They’d Rather Be Right deals with a general distrust of humanity as it is with an assumption of the possibility of the human mind being unlocked and freed from base prejudices. 

I’m also curious where Mark Clifton came up with the naming of “Bossy” for the “cybernetic brain” / AI he developed with Alex Apostolides in “Hide! Hide! Witch”, the first Bossy story published before They’d Rather Be Right. It’s a terrible name. 


Legacy: They’d Rather Be Right was serialized across four issues of editor John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science Fiction in 1954 (Aug – Nov) and won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1955. The Hugo Awards were in their infancy, having only been established two years prior in 1953 and then promptly taking a year off before returning in 1955. Clifton was a fairly popular short fiction writer at the time with stories published in Astounding, Galaxy, If, and Universe. Two of those stories were precursors to They’d Rather Be Right (“Crazy Joey” and “Hide! Hide! Witch!”, both published in Astounding in 1953). 

Fans today are accustomed to being able to access detailed nominating and voting statistics, so we can dive in and not only see which novels were finalists, we can see what works were close and how the ranked choice voting shows the readers preferences between novels to build a consensus pick. In the instance of the 1955 Hugo Awards, we only know the names of the winners. They’d Rather Be Right won Best Novel. We have no idea what the other finalists may have been (though Jo Walton has some reasonable guesses based on publication date and relative importance in the field. Relative importance only gets you so far because They’d Rather Be Right will always be recognized as a Hugo Award winner. The relative importance of They’d Rather Be Right in science fiction and fandom is that it is also generally recognized as the worst Best Novel winner of all time. 


They’d Rather Be Right was collected and published in book form in 1957, was republished again the next year in an abridged form and retitled The Forever Machine. It has been republished several times since then. The edition I read was the 1983 Science Fiction Book Club edition. It has even been published in Easton Press’s Masterpieces of Science Fiction collection, in which company it seems somewhat out of place. 

One of the lasting points of conversation regarding They’d Rather Be Right is a curiosity of *how exactly” it won Best Novel at the 1955 Worldcon in Cleveland. Doctor Strangemind attempted to clarify the three most plausible reasons for the novel’s Hugo win. The first is that it was part of a block vote campaign by supporters of L. Ron Hubbard’s dianetics. The second is a push by editor John W. Campbell. The third is that it was the beneficiary of a split vote between other likely contenders and pulled off the win that way. A fourth option, which I’ll put forward, is the simple option that the particular set of fans who attended Clevention honestly preferred They’d Rather Be Right over the other choices. Enough voters did, obviously, but there is always a chance it was a true consensus pick for those readers at that time. Since then, it holds the generally unargued distinction of being the worst Hugo Award winner of all time.


In Retrospect: [I knew going into this reading project that I wanted to read They’d Rather Be Right. It’s not that I *want* to read bad novels, but They’d Rather Be Right holds an infamous place in Hugo Award history. Look through the list of Hugo Award winning novels and it is a list of legendary novel after legendary novel written by the giants of the genre’s past. Nestled among those legendary novels is They’d Rather Be Right, a novel I hadn’t heard of by a pair of writers I’ve never heard of. It stood out. Over time, I learned of the novel’s reputation and I’ve since read one story by Clifton reprinted by Judith Merril in her in 1956 anthology S-F: The Year’s Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy. The Hugo Initiative was the perfect opportunity to see if it the novel lives down to its reputation. 


Is They’d Rather Be Right the worst Hugo Award winning novel of all time? I’m in the minority of readers who hated The Three-Body Problem, so that will always be in contention for my personal Worst Hugo Winner of All Time category. I haven’t read everything. If my statistics at Worlds Without End are accurate, I’ve read 30 of the 68 winning novels, which is enough to say that there is a significant amount of fiction out there which I haven’t read yet that might be in contention for the dishonor of being the worst Hugo Award winning novel of all time. 

They’d Rather Be Right is very much of its time and it does not hold up to a modern reader (or at least to this modern reader). I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the reputation of the novel because there is no escaping that, but I did go into They’d Rather Be Right in the hopes and expectation that it would exceed that reputation. I was eager to be delighted and surprised. 

I was not. 

There is an era (and style) of science fiction where the stories were more about working out some sort of idea with the characters (and I use that word loosely) declaiming and often internally monologuing high concept ideas and ideals than they were about characters who were actual characters rather than cardboard cutouts. They’d Rather Be Right fits firmly in the middle of that era, and also hits on the trope of “psionics” as a scientific endeavor (the study of the mind and other supernatural mental powers). That’s fine as far as it goes, but at best They’d Rather Be Right is a very workman-like novel playing with an idea but not necessarily doing so with any particular craft. Having read Astounding, Alec Nevala-Lee’s biography of editor John W. Campbell (and Asimov, Heinlein, and Hubbard), I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of the stories Campbell had an active hand in shaping – both in terms of the ideas and partial re-writes. 

Looking back, They’d Rather Be Right is a clunky, sexist novel (the only female characters I can remember are a prostitute and two secretaries) that doesn’t live up to the best of the era, let alone as something that stands up to the harsh light of history. Serialized in four installments, I do expect readers to have been interested in seeing what happened next in the story and it was obviously well regarded to get enough Hugo Award votes, but reading They’d Rather Be Right was a chore. The one saving grace, for me, was They’d Rather Be Right is a very short novel (150 pages or so). Much longer and I might not have finished.]


Analytics

For its time: 3/5
Read today: 1/5.
Gernsback Quotient: 4/10




POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 3x Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Mondays on Mandalore: Do the Evolution

Welcome to Mondays on Mandalore. Unlike Mandalorians, this will not be a quiet, stoic affair. It will, however, discuss The Mandalorian, and in doing so, assume you have seen same. So there are spoilers.

The least surprising theme of the Mandalorian is that he is largely alone. Secondary characters shuffle in and out, appearing in an episode or two before our hero moves on, Yodaling in tow. Once again, Mando embodies the Western hero who is always on the move, caught between worlds, and doesn't fit in or put down roots.

He is contrasted in 'Sanctuary' by a former Rebel shock trooper, who is burned out and disillusioned. I love that The Mandalorian is following in the footsteps of Rogue One here and showing us some of the diritier parts of the Rebellion. But she provides an excellent compliment to Mando, equally skilled and determined. But while she is clearly lost faith in the Rebellion/New Republic, she doesn't lack ideals. She still leaps at the chance to help the farmers out - ostensibly for money, but in short order, much more willingly.

Mando is there so him and the Yodaling have a place to hide. But, of course, it turns out he can't, and not just because of the steady stream of bounty hunters that are sure to come. He can't because he... can't. To most, taking off the helmet seems like the refreshing way to go. Like it's a burden to wear, and settling down with the pretty (deadly) widow and a bundle of cuteness is the right, easy choice.

But the helmet to him is not a prison to him, even if aspects of the settled life appeal to him. It's what protects him, not just physically, but from being too close to anyone, even his present ward. He has no definite plan for it beyond survive. But there has to be an endgame for his charge, at some point, and where will that leave Mando?

If the Westerns which so heavily influence this show are any guide, standing outside a doorway, watching the kid safely delivered to its new family.
Please let this be the closing shot
-DESR


 Dean is the author of the 3024AD series of science fiction stories. When not holed up in his office tweeting obnoxiously writing, he can be found watching or playing sports, or in his natural habitat of a bookstore.