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Author: Blaine Dowler

The Batman's Penguin TV Show Will, Unsurprisingly, Bring Back Colin Farrell @ io9

Colin Farrell will reprise his role as Penguin in a new show.Screenshot: YouTube/Warner Bros.

Batman’s world is expanding, and its star power is rising. A few months back, news broke that Warner Bros. was developing a show centered on the new iteration of the Penguin from the upcoming Matt Reeves film The Batman. Colin Farrell plays Penguin in the film but, at the time, it was unclear if the star would reprise the role for the series. Now we know that he will.

Variety broke the news of the unsurprising but welcome casting which will keep the Bat-spinoff continuity in check. Reportedly, the show will “delve into the Penguin’s rise to power in the Gotham criminal underworld,” though that doesn’t make it clear if it’s set before or after the Reeves film. We say that because we don’t know where Penguin, aka Oswald Cobblepot, is during the movie. Is he already the Penguin? Has that full transition happened yet? The new trailer certainly shows that he comes face to face with Batman in the form of a fiery car chase so you assume he’s already a formidable villain—but where specifically that is in his journey versus the show is yet to be revealed.

Lauren LeFranc (Impulse, Chuck, Agents of SHIELD) is now attached to write the script while The Batman director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark will executive produce. That pair is also producing another series set in the world of their film that’ll focus on the Gotham City Police Department. So it’s rather clear that Reeves film is not only Year One in the career of the Caped Crusader, but Chapter One in a whole new Bat-Universe for Warner Bros. and DC.

Farrell will debut his villainous character on March 4 when The Batman hits theaters. He co-stars along with Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as Riddler, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, and John Turturro as Carmine Falcone. Robert Pattinson, of course, is Batman.

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Star Wars Hunters Looks Way More Fascinatingly Weird Than It Should @ io9

10/10 need a spinoff Disney+ show for them.Gif: Zynga/Lucasfilm Games

Star Wars’ current canonical era—where the series is bigger and more expansive across film, TV, books, comics, and video games than ever, and yet also everything simply must align and matter to the rest of its wider universe—makes for a weird mix. It means that we’ve gone from, say, a side character in a series of novels showing up as a big deal on The Mandalorian, to this: how do you logically navigate the story of a Star Wars arena shooter?

Because that’s what Star Wars: Hunters is, a previously announced Nintendo Switch and Mobile devices game that is, derivatively speaking, the galaxy far, far away’s riff on the current popularity of the hero shooter genre—games like Valorant, Overwatch, Paladins, and what not. It’s not surprising that in the current expansion of Lucasfilm’s gaming ideas, getting Star Wars skins on trending ideas in the modern gaming space is a thing that’s happening. Star Wars games have always been like this, from the highs of simulation games like TIE Fighter to the iconic Knights of the Old Republic, to more modern games like the Battlefront series and Jedi: Fallen Order. And judging from the new gameplay trailer released for Hunters today, it’s going to be no exception.

While it mostly focuses on the rough idea how the various characters of Hunters are going to play in its four vs. four arena combat game—setting the teams seemingly not just against each other, but pushing payloads and defending objectives—there’s also an introduction to the game’s looser personality, and its cast of kooky Star Wars characters. There’s our aforementioned fave Utooni, literally two Jawas stacked on top of each other. There’s a Sith acolyte named Rieve, and a droid programmed to think he’s a Jedi Knight literally called J-3DI. Whether it’s bounty hunters and smugglers, agents of the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant, there’s a lot going on here that, considering we live in the “Everything is Canon” age of Star Wars, makes it hard to square the circle.

It’s wild that this is meant to be set in the immediate wake of Return of the Jedi, that a galaxy recovering from conflict on unfathomable scale as the Rebel Alliance finishes its civil war to reform as the New Republic, that somewhere out there there’s teams of mercenaries turning out droves of onlookers to a lethal arena combat sport event that somehow has agents of those big galactic factions involved. If a Disney hotel can get a comic series, why not an Ugnaught riding a droideka?

But maybe the point of the matter is that line of thinking is just kind of silly with the scope of Star Wars as a behemoth right now. The desire to seek a value out of canonical status has long had a detrimental effect on the way audiences perceive storytelling in Star Wars or otherwise, but given that this is a push Disney and Lucasfilm have stuck to for the best part of a decade now, it stands to reason that people are going to want to find some kind of answer to make something as silly and fun-looking as Hunters fit alongside the latest High Republic books or the next Star Wars TV show. Perhaps the answer is that we should take a page out of Hunters book and lighten up—and that it doesn’t really matter if Rey, Finn, Rose, and Poe sit alongside the same universe as two Jawas in a trenchcoat. Maybe we should look back to Star Wars’ old Expanded Universe for inspiration, and say that all these stories and ideas loosely fit into each other, but somethings things will get weird and messy and you can take what you want out of these stories from a certain point of view, rather than trying to make everything rigidly slot into the fabric of a massive universe.

Maybe it’s just that stacked Jawas are cool. Who can say? Maybe Star Wars: Hunters can when it releases on Switch and mobile platforms in 2022.

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James Cameron’s Unmade Spider-Man Movie Would Have Been Spectacularly Generic @ io9

James Cameron signing Alita posters in 2019. Photo: Lintao Zhang (Getty Images)

James Cameron’s Spider-Man. It’s a phrase film fans have heard and thought about for years. The idea of one of the greatest blockbuster filmmakers in history tackling one of the most popular, cinematic superheroes ever is incredibly enticing. And, in the mid-1990s, it almost happened. Cameron was aggressively trying to make the film work before right issues finally killed it.

In a new interview though, the director of Aliens, True Lies, Terminator 2 and Avatar talks a bit about what specifically he would have brought to the Web-Slinger and, well, it sounds kind of blah. “I wanted to make something that had a kind of gritty reality to it,” Cameron told ScreenCrush. “Superheroes in general always came off as kind of fanciful to me, and I wanted to do something that would have been more in the vein of Terminator and Aliens, that you buy into the reality right away. So you’re in a real world, you’re not in some mythical Gotham City. Or Superman and the Daily Planet and all that sort of thing, where it always felt very kind of metaphorical and fairytale-like. I wanted it to be: It’s New York. It’s now. A guy gets bitten by a spider. He turns into this kid with these powers and he has this fantasy of being Spider-Man, and he makes this suit and it’s terrible, and then he has to improve the suit, and his big problem is the damn suit. Things like that. I wanted to ground it in reality and ground it in universal human experience. I think it would have been a fun film to make.”

He also explained that he wanted to focus on the fact the character might be called “Spider-Man” but he’s really an unpopular “Spider-Kid” and how his superpowers are a metaphor for something more. He saw the powers as “that untapped reservoir of potential that people have that they don’t recognize in themselves. And it was also in my mind a metaphor for puberty and all the changes to your body, your anxieties about society, about society’s expectations, your relationships with your gender of choice that you’re attracted to, all those things.”

Which, look. Sounds fine. Cameron isn’t a narrator, though, he’s a filmmaker, so him saying something is one thing. Seeing how he would represent those things in a visual story probably would have been much different and better. As mere words though, it’s rather basic Spidey stuff. And yet, maybe it’s for the best. Cameron concluded that he was so frustrated when he couldn’t convince Fox to get the rights for him (what a mistake huh?) it set him up on a whole new path.

“I made a decision after Titanic to just kind of move on and do my own things and not labor in the house of others’ IP,” Cameron said. “So I think [Spider-Man not coming together] was probably the kick in the ass that I needed to just go make my own stuff.” Sounds like we have Spider-Man to thank for Avatar.

Head over to ScreenCrush for more on Cameron’s Spider-Man including his thoughts on web shooters, Stan Lee and the movie rights to one of the biggest superhero characters around.

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Cat People's Supernatural Transformations Made Female Desire the Ultimate Transgression @ io9

Irena kissing Dr. Judd.Screenshot: RKO

While we sometimes mistakenly think of old Hollywood as being a relatively chaste place (compared to the modern film industry), where the Hays Code forced studios to self-censor sexuality and anything that bucked American social norms, that’s not at all the case.

Though the Hays Code was a powerful force from the mid-30s’ to the late 60s’, there was a brief period before it really started being enforced when films and the women starring in them were more free to be dynamic, multidimensional reflections of reality. Though director Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 film Cat People debuted in the thick of the Hays Code era, its focus on a young fashion illustrator navigating life as a single woman in New York City features many of the same narrative elements as pre-Code classics like Baby Face starring Barbara Stanwyck, and Thirteen Women starring Peg Entwistle. Cat People’s heroine, Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon), enters the film as a mysterious loner who breezes through the world without a care for the many men who can’t resist throwing themselves at her, even though she radiates an unsettling aura.

Screenshot: RKO

Easy as it is for Irena to keep to herself and ignore her suitors, her chance encounter with engineer Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) while she’s at the zoo sketching large cats leaves them both flustered and feeling the tinglings of romance. Irena’s hypnotic gaze is unnerving, but Oliver can’t help but be drawn to her in his free time, and talk about her obsessively to his good friend and colleague Alice (Jane Randolph).

What little Irena tells Oliver about her dark past in Serbia before she immigrated to the US is enough to explain some of the more peculiar details of her life, like why she doesn’t seem to have any other friends and family living in the city. When Irena describes to Oliver how, in her village, it is believed that King John of Serbia drove Satan-worshipping were-cats from the land, he interprets her story as an ugly bit of folklore reflecting whatever unrest or conflict in her homeland that she fled. But to Irena, the stories of women cursed to transform into murderous animals should they fall in love is all too real, and the main reason she can’t immediately admit her feelings to Oliver.

As Cat People begins to maneuver its two leads into a relationship, the film briefly feels like it’s going to play its story straight down the middle and depict the everyday rhythms of an idealized, but prototypical couple locked in a normal drama. But the way Cat People glosses over certain moments, like Irena and Oliver’s marriage, is one of the first ways the movie lets you know that its story is, in part, a kind of commentary about our culture’s obsession with nuclear families and traditional gender roles. Cat People’s concept of people who can magically turn into panthers is introduced somewhat haphazardly, but explored from an interesting angle that underlines some of the movie’s larger themes.

Before Cat People properly becomes a supernatural thriller, it spends ample time depicting how Oliver takes to heart Irena’s earnest expressions of fear about an evil presence living within her. Oliver hears all of the reasons Irena gives him for why they can’t consummate their marriage, but rather than truly listening to her seriously, he takes her stories as a sign that she may need psychiatric intervention from Dr. Louis Judd (Tom Conway). The way that Cat People builds out Oliver’s social life at first makes it seem like the movie’s about him getting closer to discovering the secret Irena’s hiding. But the spareness of Irena’s characterization is gradually revealed to be more a statement about how, obsessed as men often are with women, they’re just as often uninterested in getting to know women as people.

Watching Cat People in 2021, the movie plays like a devastatingly stylish depiction of multiple women whose trajectories in life are being meddled with simply by the mere presences of emotionally immature men, who are simultaneously aroused and repulsed by women’s independence. Throughout Cat People, Irena isn’t wholly resistant to Oliver’s advances, but instead she repeatedly tells him that she needs time to figure things out, and it seems as if she’s telling the truth. Strange as Irena is, her genuine affection for Oliver is why she accepts his hand in marriage and makes a go at being a typical wife to him. Whether their relationship could have worked if Irena had more time is a question Cat People leaves unanswered, because it’s not something Oliver, Dr. Judd, and Alice consider as the three of them begin speaking about the transplant behind her back about her supposed mental illness.

Even by modern standards, the way Cat People goes about showing you its otherworldly elements is superbly stylish and clever. There are multiple shots of actual panthers in different scenes, of course, but the movie very carefully uses shadow, intensely dramatic lighting, and precise editing to both fudge around outright transformation sequences, and create a wonderfully foreboding atmosphere. In each of the handful of scenes in which a transformed Irena (it seems) attacks an innocent human, you’re not really meant to be focusing on the large cat, but rather the acute panic and fear the animal’s presence elicits in its prey.

The helplessness that Irena’s victims feel as she tears into them in her panther form is the feeling that nearly all of the movie’s characters presume she herself is defined by. Irena is anything but helpless against the real and imagined dangers the men in her life take it upon themselves to protect her from, but that same paternalistic concern for Irena’s well being ends up being the most significant and dangerous obstacle that Cat People throws her way.

Cat People is available to download now in most digital stores.

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The Expanse Season 6 Is Almost Here—Where Did Season 5 Leave Off? @ io9

Remember this all-too-brief moment of peace and happiness?Image: Amazon Studios

In just a few days, the sixth and final season of Amazon’s beloved sci-fi series The Expanse will premiere. This new season is only going to be six episodes, so you know it’s going to hit the ground running—and you gotta be prepared, beltalowda! Here’s a crash course for fans on where things stand.

What happened during season five of The Expanse?

In short, a lot. A hell of a lot. The Rocinante crew was mostly separated throughout various storylines. While James Holden (Steven Strait) tried to track down the last sample of the alien protomolecule, Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) had a heartbreaking reunion with her long-lost son, Filip (Jasai Chase Owens)—a relationship complicated by the fact that the teenager’s father is the charismatic yet cruel Belter leader Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander). Captain Camina Drummer (Cara Gee) was doing just fine running a salvage operation with her polyamorous family until Marco’s plan for galactic domination got in their way. That plan involved flinging a devastating array of asteroids at Earth, where Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) happened to be paying a visit to his old home in Baltimore, with a side trip to check in on the imprisoned Clarissa “Peaches” Mao (Nadine Nicole).

Working with Luna-based Earth diplomat Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams) and Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) headed out to investigate clandestine deals involving Martian weapons and Marco’s Free Navy. Looming over everything: the Ring Gates to other solar systems, the destructive yet fascinating protomolecule, and the mysterious, ancient entities connected to the protomolecule that seem worrisomely ready to come back into existence.

If you haven’t seen season five, not sure why you’re even reading this, but juuust in case...

Avasarala smiling—smiling!—as Bobbie looks on at the end of season five.Image: Amazon Studios

What happened at the end of season five of The Expanse?

Thanks to her own bravery and survival instincts, Naomi was able to escape from Marco and hang on until help arrived in the form of Alex and Bobbie. However, she had incredibly mixed feelings about leaving an obstinate Filip behind with his father. In a sad turn for the Roci crew, Alex did not survive the rescue mission (a death written in for reasons that had nothing to do with The Expanse). After being strong-armed into fighting alongside Marco, Drummer decided not to follow his orders to destroy the Rocinante. A furious Marco spaced one of Drummer’s crew members in retaliation—the last straw for some of her beloved family members, who decided to leave her in the aftermath.

Meanwhile, after a daring escape from post-apocalyptic Earth, Amos returned to the Rocinante with Peaches in tow—giving an astonished Holden no choice but to accept a new crew member in the form of a woman who tried to kill him back in season three (and who’s also now a fugitive from justice). Avasarala, one of few Earth leaders left standing, stepped back into the role of UN Secretary-General—and hosted a reception on Luna attended by Bobbie, Naomi, and Holden (the latter two’s relationship now stronger than ever, despite all the chaos they’ve been through) in what’s maybe the series’ most mellow and happy scene ever? Addressing her assembled guests—Earthers, Martians, and Belters alike—Avasarala gave a little pep talk: “This is what Marco Inaros hates. This is what he is afraid of... this is how we win.”

‘Course, there’s no counting out Marco, who’s as determined to keep his iron grip on Filip as he is determined to be the guy who puts the Belt on top. Mid-party, big news dropped: a UN ship was destroyed at the Ring, attacked by missiles that somehow came from inside the Ring. Also at the Ring: an MCRN ship, the Barkeith, one of the vessels involved in Marco’s secret dealings with Mars. Holden voiced his suspicion that Marco “bought” Mars using the stolen protomolecule, taking it through the Ring despite the events of season four because “maybe they know something we don’t.”

The last few minutes of the finale really set up season six in a big way. Aboard the Barkeith, rogue MCRN Admiral Sauveterre (Tim DeKay) took a video call from Marco. As they talked, Sauveterre mentioned Admiral Duarte, a major Expanse book character as-yet unseen on the show, as well as the “mine field on our side of the Ring,” which “is now active to prevent any unauthorized transits in the future,” which sounded entirely ominous. Marco then mentioned the planet Laconia, a key location in the books. Then, in came another video message, this time from loopy protomolecule scientist Cortazar (Carlos Gonzalez-Vio). He happily (and vaguely) reported “beautiful results” after receiving the protomolecule on Laconia, where we can see Ilus-like structures behind him and in the sky above. But just as the Barkeith passed through the Ring... well, remember those mysterious, ancient entities that wiped out the protomolecule builders? It’s heavily implied they’re the reason the Barkeith suddenly disintegrated in a sinister swirl of bright red plumes.

Amos and Holden have a friendly chat. Or a confrontation... hard to tell with those two.Image: Amazon Studios

What’s going to happen during season six of The Expanse?

There are tons of lingering questions, and with the compacted length of the season, expect lots of action and rapid-fire plot maneuvers to get to some kind of conclusion. We’re obviously going to learn more about Laconia, Duarte, and whatever use the protomolecule—introduced in season one as a potential weapon, though humans have had a hard time controlling it—is being put to. Presumably, the Rocinante crew will be back together this season, minus Alex but plus Peaches, and will be working with Avasarala to address the ongoing Marco Inaros problem. (The season six trailers suggest space battles will be a major component of the season.) Naomi is no doubt still haunted by her encounter with her son and her toxic ex, and Drummer has a lot of pieces to put back together after going against Marco and losing so much of her family. And for his part, Marco will obviously continue his quest to control the galaxy while doing his best to control his son. Again, it’s a lot. A hell of a lot. And somehow it’s all going to be contained within six episodes. The Expanse has pulled off miracles before, so we have high hopes the show will do it again one last time.

TK season 6Image: Amazon Studios

The Expanse premieres December 10 on Amazon Prime. This season will be a weekly drop, with new episodes arriving on Fridays until the season finale on January 14.

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Marvel's Shang-Chi 2 Is a Go From Director Destin Daniel Cretton @ io9

Simu Liu will return as Shang-Chi in a sequel from director Daniel Destin Cretton. Image: Marvel Studios

Disney is all in with Destin Daniel Cretton. The co-writer and director of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has just signed an exclusive multi-year overall deal with Marvel Studios and Hulu’s Onyx Collective which includes a sequel to Shang-Chi as well as programming for Disney+.

Destin is an amazing collaborator who brought a unique perspective and skill to Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings. We had a fantastic time working together on the film and he has so many intriguing ideas for stories to bring to life on Disney+, so we’re thrilled to expand our relationship with him and can’t wait to get started,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said in a statement to Deadline, which broke the news.

In addition to that, Cretton will be developing stories “that highlight the experiences of communities that have traditionally been overlooked by pop culture,” according to the trade. “Working on Shang-Chi with Kevin and the Marvel Studios team was one of the highlights of my life, and I couldn’t be more excited about Tara [Duncan, President, Freeform & Onyx Collective] vision for Onyx Collective. I can’t wait to explore new stories and build new worlds with this community,” Cretton said.

After Shang-Chi, Cretton had already began working with Disney+ on an adaptation of American Born Chinese, a 2006 graphic novel written and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang. It follows a teenager who becomes involved in a battle of Chinese mythological gods, and Cretton will direct and executive produce. There’s no news on when that show, or any of these other projects, will end up happening, but they are happening under the watch of one of the most talented filmmakers working today. If you’ve never seen Cretton’s earlier film Short Term 12, do that now—it’s not a superhero movie, but it’s an outstanding drama, and the excellent cast includes Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Lakeith Stanfield, Kaitlyn Dever, and Rami Malek.

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Doctor Who Brought It All Together... For This? @ io9

The Doctor faces down all the threads of the Flux.Image: BBC

Doctor Who’s latest season has come to an end with the conclusion of Flux, a storyline that started off weird and found little footing as it continued these past six weeks. But while “The Vanquishers” did its damndest to wrap things up nicely, its conclusion did little to demonstrate that this was an experiment worth watching.

Perhaps the most fascinating—and altogether damning—idea in “The Vanquishers” is that there were so many lingering plot lines built up over the last five episodes of Flux that the only way to coherently address them all, and not turn this final hour of the season into a repeat of the first, was to literally split Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor into three selves, and let her be involved with all the struggles of the week. First, she needs to escape the clutches of Swarm and Azure in the Division base; second, she needs to save Earth from Sontaran occupation (again); and third, she needs to reunite with Yaz, Dan, and Professor Jericho, especially now that they’ve discovered that the Williamson Tunnels and their creator are a massive series of interconnected doors across time and space.

This makes for a fun, and at least slightly more clear path connecting the disparate plot arcs of Flux than we’ve previously gotten, because one of the rare highlights of this season has been Jodie Whittaker’s performance as the Doctor. Her strong showings helped drag Flux’s episodes to the finish line, albeit often in a tattered state. But it also undoes whatever potential good will Flux had while it set up so many lingering questions and arcs, because everything needs to be dealt with now, no matter our investment in it, so most of the plot lines just straight up fizzle out.

Why did the Sontarans want to invade Earth? Well that one’s easy, they’re Sontarans, it’s what they do. Taking advantage of the devastation of the Flux to draw the Cybermen and the Daleks to its final point, tricking them into mutually assured destruction, would leave the Sontarans as the mightiest warriors left in a universe that is... basically just Earth at this point, considering the Flux will have destroyed everything else. Also, why is the Grand Serpent here? We never really get to find out, and instead of the master-planner ally to the Sontarans we saw built up last week, he mostly just gets to be very bad at torturing the Doctor until he’s shoved into a time door never to return.

Image: BBC

That’s kind of the running theme of “The Vanquishers” across these three major arcs—it wouldn’t be untrue to say that things are concluded, yes, but it would be very untrue to say they’re concluded with a sense of satisfaction that waiting six weeks for answers made worthwhile. Even the Flux itself is treated more as an aside than the universe-ending threat it was built up to this season, sucked away into a Passenger form and just left as-is.

Adding another two versions of Jodie Whittaker into the mix to solve all these threads expands Doctor Who’s roving cast of heroes—already bulked out by the addition of Jericho to Yaz and Dan—even more when Kate Stewart gets involved, and Joshua Willamson and the returning Claire—and makes for a compelling opportunity for Whittaker to have some fun literally with herself. But it also means that a lot of the narrative conclusion here is the Doctor explaining to everyone else what is going on, and then neatly wrapping up a plot thread by herself.

There is a small moment where Yaz, Dan, and the Doctor reunite that is emotionally well crafted, but it’s immediately undone by the fact that they take the back seat to both the Doctor and this expanded Team TARDIS, making it feel like there’s little in the way of narrative satisfaction to their arc in Flux. Dan, at least, gets to have a nebulous reunion with Di once she is freed from Azure’s Passenger form prison (which... just happens by Vinder shooting a door lock, making it feel pointless the Passengers were built up in the first place). Yaz in particular is left on the wayside as the three Doctors go about their business of checklisting what still needs to be addressed.

And when that checklist finally gets to what should’ve been the dramatic conclusion of Flux—the Doctor reclaiming her Gallifreyan fobwatch filled with memories from her lives well before William Hartnell stole a TARDIS and ran away—well... that just sort of ends too. Swarm and Azure, who spend much of the episode torturing the Doctor by breaking her apart and reconstituting her, hope to offer the Doctor up to Time itself, returning the three of them to Atropos as the Flux is about to devour all the remnants of the universe. Time, manifested as a series of blue particles that then just become a copy of Swarm (thanks, Doctor Who budget), promptly chastises the duo for letting the Doctor split herself across points in the timeline, making it impossible for Time to hoover her up as-is, and chooses to instead “ascend” Swarm and Azure, disintegrating them. That’s it. All the set up of why Swarm and Azure were doing what they were doing is cast away as simple vengeance for their imprisonment, there’s no dramatic reckoning, they just... stand there and dissipate. And then Time manifests itself as The Doctor—because there were apparently not enough Jodies Whittaker in the episode already—to essentially tell the Doctor that she’s about to die, only to peace out when the Doctor starts thinking about asking a question. Tune in next year!

Image: BBC

This sort of nebulous, half-hearted wrapping-up becomes most frustrating when the Doctor is left momentarily alone in the TARDIS at the conclusion of “The Vanquishers.” The day is saved, her friends are back aboard the TARDIS, and she has the fob watch full of her old memories. The hunt for these memories has driven so much of the Doctor’s personal arc over the course of Flux, pushed her to emotionally dark places as the desperation to know anything of her past made her reckless and distant from the people closest to her. But instead of reckoning with any of that, or even giving us the Doctor reaching some kind of peace with not knowing, but having access to, her past, “The Vanquishers” sees her chuck the fob watch into a hole on the TARDIS console, down into some impossibly remote part of the ship, unless she really wants to find it in the future. And that’s it! Flux ends there, yes, but it doesn’t end. It’s just much as it was for these past six episodes: A sea of teases to a weak conclusion that only leads to more teasing of what’s to come on New Year’s Day and beyond.

The biggest problem Flux had across its run was to keep enough narrative meat on its bones to feed all the conflicts it created. We had old villains and exciting new ones to explore, the continuation of last season’s major mystery, a new companion, and a chance for an old one to build her arc. Instead of running with any of that, we got fleeting asides and half-sketched ideas that looked like they would be explored, but just fizzled out. Flux’s most interesting dramatic evolutions were either curtailed or left on the ‘still-to-be-concluded’ pile.

Time has run out for this season of Doctor Who to do anything about that, but there’s still a New Year’s special starring Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor that could help make this season feel like it was worth our time. Time will tell if Chibnall used those final hours wisely. In the here and now we’re left wondering if Flux was really worth ripping apart the universe.

Image: BBC

Assorted Musings

  • So at the end of the episode as the Doctor says goodbye to Claire and Kate, everyone’s just... fine? The Earth is fine? The Universe is fine? We didn’t get to see it restored, but we’ve spent much of the last five episodes before this being told that the Flux has, at this point, destroyed almost the entirety of the universe. And it’s just fine!!!! It was always going to be, but I feel like Doctor Who should’ve shown us the universe being made fine again. That’s an important detail to show!
  • Speaking of important details: what happened to the millions of people trapped in Azure’s Passenger forms? Di implied that the one she was being kept in was empty save for her until Vinder showed up, and now it’s full of the Flux itself, so I really hope there was no one inside it. But there were multiple Passengers, so I hope someone got those people out off-screen at some point. Once again, an important detail to show!
  • One of the most frustrating things about this finale was Yaz feeling like she’s been stuck in the same loop with the Doctor since she joined team TARDIS. After coming into her own last episode to show what she’d learned, to end her and the Doctor’s arc with once again making a promise to let Yaz in just feels like a cyclical waste—especially when Yaz ends up feeling like one of the most sidelined characters of the episode. Even Jericho gets more to do, thanks to his heroic sacrifice!
  • Shout out to poor Karvanista though, who gets a real rough go of it here when we get to learn that not only did Division put a poison-releasing bomb in his head should he ever talk to the Doctor about their past together, but that the Sontarans committed genocide to take control of the Lupari fleet’s shield wall, leaving him all alone in the universe... until Vinder and Bel decide to hang out with him. If there’s one thread from Flux we pick up on next year before Chibnall and Whittaker exit the series, it’d be nice to see those three again. Maybe we’d actually get to find out what the Grand Serpent’s deal is!
  • Even when they’re now slotting themselves into the “tradition” of showing up for New Year’s Day specials—as you can see in the trailer for “Eve of the Dalek” below—did we really need the Daleks showing up? Or the Cybermen? Feels like appearance for the sake of it, really. It doesn’t really help that their appearance is hinged on the entire Sontaran gambit, either, making them feel like an ancillary excuse to bring in the other classic monsters.

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Kevin Feige Says Charlie Cox Is the MCU's Daredevil, But What Does That Mean? @ io9

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock in Netflix’s Daredevil.Image: Netflix

The upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home tells the story of how Peter Parker and Doctor Strange accidentally mess up their reality by breaking open the multiverse. So much of the speculation about the movie has focused on which other Peters Parker, as portrayed by previous Spider-Man actors, might team up with Tom Holland’s webhead. But according to a new report, No Way Home might also be poised to pull in a familiar hero from a not-so-far-flung branch of Marvel’s cinematic (corporate) multiverse: In a recent interview with CinemaBlend, Marvel head Kevin Feige spoke about the MCU’s future and seemingly confirmed Matt Murdock’s imminent return with actor Charlie Cox reprising the role.

“If you were to see Daredevil in upcoming things, Charlie Cox, yes, would be the actor playing Daredevil,” Feige said. “Where we see that, how we see that, when we see that, remains to be seen.”

Feige dancing around the idea of Matt Murdock’s imminent return, especially when there are many rumors that he’ll cross paths with Peter Parker in the latest Spider-Man movie, is interesting in and of itself. But Feige’s comments also open up longstanding questions about the MCU’s relationship to Daredevil and Netflix’s other live-action shows that feature Marvel characters.

Back in 2013, when Marvel and Netflix first announced their plans to produce four new series, both the MCU and Marvel Studios were very different. Marvel’s films were already box office phenomena, and the studio had made some progress in the TV space with Agents of SHIELD, which started off featuring much closer ties to the MCU proper. But Marvel found that Netflix could be a space to develop episodic content aimed at mature audiences, and over the course of multiple seasons, develop the live-action profiles of classic characters who might not easily fit into larger-than-life action of the films.

When the Netflix/Marvel project first began, neither magic nor the multiverse were very important elements of the MCU’s world. But as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Punisher released, it was hard not to notice the invisible barrier that seemed to be keeping them all from fully-acknowledging their existence within the MCU. For years, Feige insisted that while there was a possibility for the Defenders to crossover into the Avengers & co.’s turf, the production timing of Marvel’s various projects kept it from becoming a reality.

That line of reasoning made a certain degree of sense for a while, but then Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, Marvel Studio’s most-ambitious crossover projects, proved how the studio could wrangle the vast majority of its actors together.

Netflix and Marvel both got a lot out of their collaboration, but in the time between when it was first announced and when Punisher’s second and final season aired, the battle for streaming real estate had become far more intense. According to The Wrap, Netflix’s desire to own more of its content outright and the high cost of licensing the rights to Marvel’s IP were contributing factors to its decision to part ways with Marvel back in 2019.

It might not have seemed as if Marvel gained anything by letting those shows come to their respective ends. But in the time since Matt Murdock and the rest of the the Netflix gang faded into void of cancellation (but not on-screen death), they’ve all taken on a mystique and developed a fervor around them that contrasts with how they were once seen as the B-team. Marvel’s let those bits of fan-favorite IP go fallow for so long, all the while building up a whole new television production arm wholly-focused on new series, which in turn has created a level of hype around them that likely wouldn’t have been the case if they’d immediately been dropped into the movies. As annoying in the moment that might be to fans, that’s the sort of long game move that can lead to box office smashes when executed well.

What remains to be seen in the case of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil (who might just show up in Spider-Man: No Way Home) is how well this sort of team-up works from a storytelling perspective, both in terms of how it serves the film, and how (if at all) addresses the past.

Daredevil is now streaming on Netflix, and Spider-Man: No Way Home hits theaters on December 17.

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The New Matrix Resurrections Trailer Declares War @ io9

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

We just got a new trailer for The Matrix Resurrections less than a week ago, so getting another new trailer today can only be... déja vu? Much like the last one, this newest trailer melds old footage from the original trilogy with shots from Resurrections in the same “the more things change, the more they stay the same” vibe, but everything looks incredible.

There’s so much action—guns, rocket launchers, crashes, Neo (Keanu Reeves) still knowing kung fu—in this trailer it honestly feels like the movie may be just one action scene peppered with the once (and future?) One stuck in a “strange, repeating loop” where he’s haunted by moments from the original movies. The way Resurrections literally repeats scenes from The Matrix, even implying that old Neo might interact in some way with young Neo, is fascinating to behold. I’d be worried that the film will end up being too repetitive, except Bugs (Jessica Henwick) says, “Maybe this isn’t the story we think it is.” She might as well be talking to the audience, promising Resurrections will build off The Matrix, not just ape it.

Bugs’ line “The most important choice in Neo’s life... is not his to make” is also tantalizingly vague. The most important choice the character made in the original movie was pointedly his own: Taking the red pill that freed him from the Matrix, instead of the blue pill that would have allowed him to remain inside the virtual world. Since Resurrections seems to be putting Neo through the same paces, and previous trailers have made it clear he doesn’t remember anything about his previous life/incarnation, it stands to reason that he’d face the same choice again. And since we also saw him taking mountains of blue pills in the first trailer, I can easily see members of the human rebellion feeling the need to shove the red pill down his throat, rather than asking politely.

Directed by Lana Wachowski, The Matrix Resurrections stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Christina Ricci. The movie arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on December 22.

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The Boys-iverse Expands Yet Again With the Animated Series Diabolical @ io9

Image: Amazon Studios

Amazon Studios has gone boy crazy! Er, Boys crazy! First the streaming giant confirmed a live-action spin-off show set at “America’s only college for superheroes.” Then today it announced that an animated, eight-part anthology series titled Diabolical is on the way from The Boys’ executive producers and writers, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

Diabolical isn’t a new series, but rather a collection of short films set in the superhero universe of The Boys, which I will now be calling the Boys-iverse. “Ever since we saw the animated film The Animatrix, a series of short animated films set in the universe of The Matrix, we’ve wanted to rip it off. Today that dream has come true,” said Rogen and Goldberg, referring to the 2003 collection made by a bevy of top anime studios. (It’s also exactly like the recent Star Wars: Visions anthology.) Diabolical is animated by Titmouse Studios, the studio behind Star Trek: Lower Decks, the new Animaniacs series, and The Venture Bros.

While the actual content of Diabolical hasn’t been announced—one might assume it has something to do with supervillains, although in the Boys-iverse the superheroes themselves are already basically supervillains—the names of the people making the shorts have been released, and it’s an impressive list: Shang-Chi’s Awkwafina, The Boys creator Garth Ennis, New Girl’s Eliot Glazer and Broad City’s Ilana Glazer, Invincible’s Simon Racioppa, Rick & Morty’s Justin Roiland, Brooklyn 99's Andy Samberg, Archer’s Aisha Tyler, and of course Rogen and Goldberg.

“Surprise! We’re almost finished with eight episodes of our animated series, Diabolical. We gathered together some incredible creators and we gave them one rule… just kidding, there’s no rules. They blew the doors off it, delivering eight completely unexpected, funny, shocking, gory, moist, emotional episodes. You think The Boys is nuts? Wait till you see this,” said Diabolical executive producer Eric Kripke, who’s also the showrunner of The Boys.

Diabolical will premiere on Prime Video at some point in 2022, as will The Boys’ other spin-off. But since the animated episodes are nearly finished and it has a real title, I suspect Diabolical will be premiering first.

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A Message From Your New Editor @ io9

It’s me. I’m a fishman now.Image: Lucasfilm

Hello, readers of io9! As you became aware last week, io9's wonderful deputy editor, Jill Pantozzi, ascended to a good place of her own and said goodbye after four years guiding the ship. Which means it’s time for a new pair of hands at the helm, or at least hands that will wave at the person at the helm, telling them to go fast.

So hi! Yes I, James Whitbrook, am io9's new deputy editor. I’ve been writing at the site since 2014, when I was recruited by our beloved leaders, Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz, who decided they were so sick of me commenting that they’d let me have a go at the actual thing. And here we are! Let me tell you, it is a bizarre experience to have gone on this journey, through the incredible leadership of Charlie Jane, Annalee, Rob and Jill, to see trusted friends and voices of the site come and go, to be sued by Hulk Hogan, then bought by Univision, and survive to this day. They didn’t even have new Star Wars movies scheduled when I started working here! I guess we don’t have many right now either, but still!

I hope that my history with the site lends a sense of ease to this transition period for our readers, the people who have kept io9 trundling along this wild road. Our readership has never been afraid to speak its mind, to share concerns, to celebrate the nerdy things we all love, and make it worth building a site to attract them to in the first place. I have been at io9 long enough to know what it means to our readers. I’ve also been here long enough to know that change is often met with a healthy level of apprehension—whether it’s a new Doctor on Doctor Who, a truckload of Marvel announcements, or a new editor at your favorite website. As io9 moves forward, I will guide this ship confident I am making a site that has people excited to check in every day, and who will hold us to the same high standards as always.

There has never been a bigger or better time to be writing about sci-fi and fantasy, and the cultures and companies creating it. There is so much stuff—perhaps too much stuff—to talk about, share, critique and celebrate. But it’s also a time when there is great cause for concern. Corporate awareness of the fandom cultures we love is at an all time high, and the massive businesses behind our beloved franchises are working to exploit that loyalty and translate it into revenues: The return of the walled gardens of studio-owned streaming platforms; the way studios control access and create narratives to drown out criticism and create feverish, endless hype; the way the creators of the characters we love have been exploited as studios make billions and offer little in return. In the age of media oversaturation, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the businesses behind the media we consume.

As much as io9 is a voice that celebrates the things we love, I hope it will also help our readers understand the way our favorite shows, books, comics, TV series and games get made. A place that fosters a healthy sense of community, and creates solidarity with the creators that bring these wonderful, silly, heartbreaking, petrifying worlds to life. A place that will always celebrate loving these adventures and characters—and hold them to the fire when we want them to be even better.

Above all, I hope you’ll join me and the rest of our team through it all. My eternal thanks to the best commenters a website could ask for—let’s get back to it, shall we?

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Star Trek Discovery Reviews: “Anomaly” + “Choose to Live” @ Bureau 42

You’re about to read an unfair review. My decision to consider a few episodes at a time (due to the story-arc heavy nature of season four) ran into difficulties right away, as Discovery followed the season premiere with one of the weakest episodes and one of the strongest episodes. I stand by my comments, but the scores will be a bit divided in areas other than acting and production, both of which remain strong. Feel free to adjust the scores accordingly (or search for absent tachyons).

Titles: “Anomaly” and “Choose to Live”

Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi, Christopher J. Byrne
Written by Anne Cofell Saunders, Glenise Mullins, Terri Hughes Burton

Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burnham
Doug Jones as Commander Saru
Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly
David Ajala as Cleveland “Book” Booker
Anthony Rapp as Commander Paul Stamets
Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber
Sonja Sohn as Dr. Gabrielle Burnham
Bill Irwin as Su’Kal
Chelah Horsdal as Federation President Laira Rillak
Blu del Barrio as Adira
Ian Alexander as Gray Tal
Oyin Oladejo as Lt. Joann Owosekun
Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer
Oded Fehr as Admiral Vance
Ache Hernandez as Kyheem
Raven Dauda as Dr. Tracy Pollard
Vanessa Jackson as Lt. Audrey Wiilla
Rachael Ancheril as Cmdr. Nhan
Patrick Kwok-Choon as Lt. Gen Rhys
Sara Mitich as Lt. Nilsson
Hannah Cheesman as Lt. Cmdr. Airiam
Ronnie Rowe as Lt. Cmdr. R.A. Bryce
Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves as J’Vini
Ache Hernandez as Kyheem
Tara Rosling as T’Rina
Annabelle Wallis as Zora
Oded Fehr as Admiral Charles Vance
Luca Doulgeris as Leto
Khalil Abdul Malik as Credence First Officer
Andreas Apergis as Guardian Xi
Mimi Côté as Qowat Milat Nun
Giovanni Spina as Provost Sta’kiar
Linford Mark Robinson, Katherine Trowell as Starfleet Captains
Fabio Tassone as Voice of Book’s Ship Computer


The crew of the Discovery assists with two serious problems, the first of which connects directly to yet another galaxy-threatening problem.

High Point:

The main plot of “Choose to Live” is classic Trek, science fiction centered on an SF mystery and a moral issue. The first has an explanation that makes sense; the second has a resolution that isn’t easy. The main story gets cluttered by the subplots, but they have been handled effectively enough that the episode holds together.

Low Point:

“Anomaly” is a lot of confusion and doubletalk interrupted by other plots, with an explosive finale that should have far weightier implications for the characters than I suspect we’re going to see and an introduction of a story arc that feels too much like previous nu-Trek story arcs.

“Choose to Live,” while a strong episode, is not perfect. The decision to take along Tilly makes some sense, but one of the stated reasons is because she puts people at ease. My wife and I cracked up when we heard that line. Tilly does not put people at ease. Tilly, even now, annoys the frack out of nearly everyone.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 The first is a mess without a lot of original concepts; “Choose to Live” brings back an interesting if problematic (and derivative) group from Picard and some interesting SF ideas that have been handled with some originality.

Acting: 5/6 Discovery benefits from the core cast and generally strong supporting actors. I’m a huge fan of the classic series, but the expectations for performances in series television were different in the 1960s. I don’t mean that the acting is bad in those old shows (though sometimes it is), but performances were stylized in a way that seems odd to the younger audience the newer series has to draw in order to be successful.

Even “Anomaly,” which I did not like, works better than it should thanks to the cast.

Effects: 6/6 “Choose to Live” features an affecting close-up of one of the aliens and “Anomaly,” despite dubious science, has impressive visual effects that would have been impossible to do convincingly in the past. Once again, Discovery delivers a range of visual effects…

Production: 6/6 …and high production values that, when used in service of the plot, work very well.

Emotional Response: 4/6 “Anomaly” should get maybe a 3 for its general confusion, much of which is pointless, while “Choose to Live” would receive a 5. Feel free to adjust the final scores accordingly.

Apply the same math to the next two categories.

Story: 4/6: I’d give “Choose to Live” a 5 despite the predictability of the “artificial body” subplot. Hallmark goes SF, saved by convincing performances.

Overall: 4/6

In total, “Anomaly” and “Choose to Live” receives 32/42

Lingering Questions

1. Twenty-first century television has demonstrated the viability and power of story-arc-driven shows. I keep asking myself, however, if these episodes are improved by being a part of a story arc. The central premises of “Choose to Live” would have worked in any prior Trek series. The premises aren’t equally good, but either could generate an episode. My question isn’t whether Discovery should have an arc this season, so much as whether the current incarnation of the series is best served by one. Is it necessary or even a good idea this season?

Also, a note to writers: the future of the universe/galaxy does NOT have to be at stake for a story arc to work. Stop making everything about THE FATE OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!!!! We have apocalypse fatigue about now, and it doesn’t make the fictional stories more interesting. Make me care about the fate of Lt. So-and-So and I’ll watch.

2. My wife finally stated aloud what has been bothering some viewers about the dialogue. We understand they’ve adjusted the tone of the series for contemporary expectations, and neither of us blink at the use of obscenity and slang in The Expanse. They suit the series and its characters. With Trek, broadcast standards 50 years ago resulted in a stylized dialogue that the initial subsequent shows embraced. It felt lofty, and we imagined this is what the people of the Utopian future might sound like. Granted, Discovery has arrived centuries in the future in difficult times. However, they always sounded like this.

How does anyone else feel about the Starship Pottymouth?

And what will Strange New Worlds sound like?

3. Tig Notaro confirmed she appears in this season. Is anyone else missing Jett Reno?

Updates From Batgirl, The Last of Us, and More @ io9

Barbara’s ready for the spotlight.Image: DC Comics

Jada Pinkett-Smith returns to The Matrix in new Resurrections footage. The latest Scream team look back on Ghostface’s legacy. A familiar face returns to Fear the Walking Dead. Plus, Riverdale goes classic for its 100th episode, and get a look at what’s coming in the back half of Hawkeye. Spoilers now!

The Munsters

Rob Zombie has our first look at Sylvester McCoy as Igor in The Munsters.


Brendan Fraser (who’s rumored to be playing Firefly in Batgirl) celebrated his birthday on set with a flame-decorated cake.

The Matrix Resurrections

Jada Pinkett-Smith returns with an all-new, all-different look in this teaser for another Matrix Resurrections trailer coming later today.


The cast and crew of Scream discuss Ghostface in a new featurette.

Bloody-Disgusting also has a slew of character posters for the new film’s incoming cast. Head over there to see the rest.

Photo: Paramount
Photo: Paramount
Photo: Paramount
Photo: Paramount

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Leatherface comes to Netflix in the trailer for the latest Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Studio 666

While recording a new album, The Foo Fighters are possessed by demons in the first teaser for Studio 666.

The Last of Us

In a recent interview with the Guardian, The White Lotus actor Murray Bartlett revealed Nick Offerman has been cast in HBO’s The Last of Us TV series.

We filmed it in Calgary. A lot of my scenes are with Nick Offerman. Playing off him was awesome.

Fear the Walking Dead

On last night’s episode of Talking Dead, Kim Dickens revealed she’s returning to the series for the second half of season seven, and next year’s now confirmed season eight.

Supernatural Academy

Deadline reports Peacock has ordered a “YA” animated series based on Jaymin Eve’s Supernatural Academy books, from writer Gillian Horvath, executive producer Allen Bohbot and 41 Entertainment. Following a pair of sisters—one raised in the human world, the other in the supernatural—at a boarding school for witches, the show’s voice cast includes, Larissa Dias, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Vincent Tong, Cardi Wong, Shannon Chan-Kent, Bethany Brown, Brian Drummond, Barbara Kottmeier, Alessandro Juliani, Ali J. Eisner, Diana Kaarina and Kathleen Barr.


Appearing as a guest on the Scott Hasn’t Seen podcast (via the Direct), Tatiana Maslany confirmed her She-Hulk will be “all CG”.

It’s all CG… I’m in mo-cap the whole time. I’m on platforms with mo-cap where I have a little head on the top of my head…

Locke and Key

Production has officially begun on the third season of Locke and Key.

Legends of Tomorrow

The seventh season finale of Legends of Tomorrow is titled “Knocked D0wn, Knocked Up,” according to co-writer Keto Shimizu on Twitter.


Spoiler TV has a brief synopsis for the season finale of Invasion, “First Day”.

The world, still reeling from global destruction, faces a new and unforeseen dawn.


Meanwhile, Rachael Harris guest-stars as Sam’s mom in the synopsis for “Sam’s Mom”—the appropriately titled January 6 episode of Ghosts.

Sam and Jay travel to where Sam’s mother, Sheryl (Rachael Harris), died to see if she’s now a ghost. Also, Sasappis divulges a secret to his fellow ghosts that he overheard Sam and Jay discussing, on the CBS Original series GHOSTS, Thursday, Jan. 6 (9:01-9:30 PM, ET/PT) on CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+*.

[Spoiler TV]


TV Line has photos from the “The Jughead Paradox”—the 100th episode of Riverdale airing December 14. Click through for more.

Photo: The CW
Photo: The CW
Photo: The CW
Photo: The CW
Photo: The CW


A new Hawkeye TV spot promises its “biggest surprises are yet to come”.


Yellowjackets celebrates Halloween in the trailer for next week’s episode, “Blood Hive”.


Finally, Angela learns Dexter’s true identity in the trailer for next week’s episode.

Banner art by Jim Cook

Announcing book 21 @ Bureau 42

Become a Patron!

The formal announcement of Book 21: “A Kidnapped Santa Claus”.

Send in a voice message:

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Author: W. Blaine Dowler

Doctor Who Wants to Ring In the New Year with Some Daleks @ io9

Image: BBC

Having just brought back those Weeping Angels a few weeks ago, Doctor Who is ringing in 2022 by calling in some old(er) foes in the form of the Daleks. Having spent most of Flux out on the sidelines, that emotionless master race is back to terrorize Jodie Whitaker’s Thirteenth Doctor and company in the holiday special fittingly titled “Eve of the Daleks.”

Picking up after the events of this week’s finale to Doctor Who: Flux, the Doctor and companions Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) find themselves teaming up with newcomers Sarah (Aisling Bea) and Nick (Adjani Salmon) to fight off the Daleks. Trapped in a storage facility crawling with Daleks and caught in a time loop, it’s a race to survive and hopefully make it to the New Year. The trailer doesn’t do anything you haven’t seen before when it comes to time loops—see one ad where it repeats and shows its characters in more dire situations, seen ‘em all—but it’s still pretty intimidating to see a row of them bust out their cannons and start blasting.

“Eve” will be the first of a trilogy of specials meant to close out Whitaker and Chibnall’s time on the series. The second special is meant to release not terribly long after the first one, and then the final special will be much later in the year. From there, Chibnall will be replaced by returning showrunner Russell T. Davies, and the new Doctor is currently being kept a secret. In a brief statement on the Doctor Who website, showrunner Chris Chibnall teased the time traveling madness to come in the holiday special:

“We all need a little romance in our lives around New Year. Less so, Daleks. But Aisling Bea and Adjani Salmon’s characters will have to deal with both in a New Year’s Eve from hell. Together with Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, it’ll hopefully prove the perfect New Year’s Day tonic.”

Doctor Who: Eve of the Daleks will air on BBC on January 1.

Image: BBC

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Come Talk Your Doctor Who Hopes, Dreams, and Fluxes in the Season Finale Discussion Zone @ io9

Will it be... a gOod time?Image: BBC

We’ve only had six weeks in the TARDIS this time around, and at last: Flux is about to come to its final end. Come talk about Doctor Who’s present and future with us as we await it, why don’t you?

“The Vanquishers” has a lot to touch on before it can bring this weird, truncated adventure to an end. After all, Kate Stewart’s got a Sontaran invasion of Earth and dog guys in the sky to contend with. Yaz, Dan, and Professor Jericho are still stuck in the early 1900s, even if they do now have the help of a Liverpudlian miner big on building tunnels that just so happen to connect to different points in time. The Doctor might have the Most most she’s ever had to deal with, reeling from the sudden revelations, and death of, her adoptive mother turned Division head honcho Tecteun, with Swarm and Azure now breathing down her neck in Division’s secret base in the gaps between the multiverse. And just when she was so close to gaining the Gallifreyan fobwatch filled with her past memories stolen by her own mom!

Oh, and then there’s the apocalyptic eradication of most of time and space itself. And zillions of people being held hostage inside a host body. And whatever’s been up with the TARDIS all season long to make its insides so weird.

Suffice to say, “The Vanquishers” seems like it’s going to have to follow in the chaotic steps before it seen in the premiere in order to not just satisfyingly touch on and conclude all these arcs, but do so in a way that actually feels earned instead of “The Halloween Apocalypse”’s vomiting of ideas. Is it a bit much to even start wondering what kinds of teases we’ll get for New Years Day, and beyond that, what’s in store for the 13th Doctor’s final hours?

Come share your thoughts about what you want out of Doctor Who: Flux’s finale below—our full recap of the episode will be live tomorrow.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home's Villainous Trinity on Returning to Their Evil Roles @ io9

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel

Since it was first reported nearly a full year ago, one of the big things on everyone’s mind in regard to Spider-Man: No Way Home are its villains. The returning baddies of Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus from Sam Raimi’s original trilogy and Jamie Foxx’s Electro of the Amazing duology are caught up in some multiversal madness that spells potential trouble for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.

At Brazil’s CCXP this weekend, the three actors got the chance to talk about their experience returning to the roles they inhabited in the relatively early days of Spider-Man fever that’s swept the world. The initial pitch sold all three of them, but what really appealed to them all was that No Way Home’s characters would be similar to what came before, but different in some aspects. “It’s a return to something I did before with that kind of history,” Dafoe said, “but there’s a spin on it, and that appealed to me.” Foxx echoed his costar’s sentiment, saying that producer Amy Pascal explained how he’d be a little more “hip” than his first run at Electro and to his gratefulness, wouldn’t have to be blue.

Dafoe teased that there’d been “upgrades” provided to his Goblin costume, and the other villains have undergone similar redesigns for No Way Home. Instead of being on-set props like they were in 2004's Spider-Man 2, Doc Ock’s tentacles are now done digitally, while Foxx called his new look as not trying too hard. “I relate it to R&B,” he said. “Back then, you had fringes or shoulder pads, but now you can just sing.” For Dafoe, there was a comfort in the ease of being fitted compared to the original Spider-Man’s eight-hour test: they just scanned him, created the costume from the scan, and adjusted accordingly.

More than anything, the actors are just excited to play these villains again, who they all say have their own arcs throughout the film. “In a lesser environment, us as villains, we would just be functionaries who exist just to get the plot going,” Molina said. “But here, we’ve got real storylines, and they’re real people.” With that classic sinister smile, Dafoe teased that Green Goblin would “make a case this’s not just about some abstract muscle twirling power grab.”

Spider-Man: No Way Home arrives in theaters on December 17.

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Bureau’s Breakroom’s Television Table – Week beginning 2021 December 5 @ Bureau 42

There are a lot of old favorites returning this week, but first Doctor Who’s Season of Flux comes to a close.  The Flash’s event season continues, and I admit I hadn’t quite realized it was an event season until this description, and we get guest stars a plenty.  Guest stars continue to show up, as Riverdale is visited by a fan favorite Netflix witch.  The Wheel of Time has multiple faceoffs.  The Blacklist is the only other show to give us a description, telling us about an old crime family in therapy.  Hawkeye and Discovery also have new episodes, which don’t need descriptions to get me interested in them.  Adding to the list of description-less shows I am thrilled to watch, The Expanse returns for season six.

[All synopses (and titles) from below the cut, except when there really aren’t any. (If a show’s synopsis is a spoiler to you, do not click Continue reading →)]


Doctor Who: Flux – S13E06 – The Vanquishers – In the final epic chapter in the story of the Flux, all hope is lost. The forces of darkness are in control. But when the monsters have won, who can you count upon to save the universe?

The Flash – S08E04 – Armageddon (4) – Barry is shocked when Eobard Thawne returns in the most unexpected way, and with a tie to a loved one. Damien Darhk offers advice to Barry but there is a catch. An epic battle begins with Reverse Flash pitted against The Flash, Team Flash, Batwoman, Sentinel and Ryan Choi.

Riverdale – S06E04 – Chapter Ninety-Nine: The Witching Hour(s) – As Bailey’s Comet passes over Rivervale, Cheryl and Nana Rose revisit the tragic stories of the Blossom women through the years. Meanwhile, the once-in-a-lifetime celestial event prompts Cheryl to summon a familiar face to Rivervale – Sabrina Spellman.

Hawkeye – S01E04 – Episode 4 – [No Description Given]

Lost in Space – S03 – [Ten Episodes, final season] – Trailer

The Wheel of Time – S01E06 – The Flame of Tar Valon – Moiraine faces the consequences of her actions. Mat faces the darkness in himself. Egwene faces the most powerful woman in the world.

Young Justice: Phantoms – S04E10 – Episode 10 – [No Description Given]

Star Trek: Discovery – S04E04 – All Is Possible – [No Description Given]

The Blacklist – S09E06 – Dr. Roberta Sand, Ph.D. – The Task Force investigates a therapist who may be the key to the resurgence of an organized crime family. Red conducts an investigation of his own.

The Expanse – S06E01 – Episode 1 – [No Description Given]

Spider-Man and The Rock Join Fortnite, Because Why the Hell Not at This Point @ io9

Image: Epic Games

It’s a shame that Nintendo used the tagline “everyone is here!” for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, because it may be more apt for Fortnite. After the end of Chapter Two yesterday, the online gaming homunculus of IP rebooted itself today with Chapter Three that brings in the biggest star on the planet at the moment: Spider-Man.

Like other Marvel heroes during Chapter Two, the wallcrawler is now a playable character if you buy the battle pass, and the Daily Bugle is one of the locations you can explore in the game’s new island. (It doesn’t sound like J. Jonah Jameson’s podcast will be there to comment on your every action, sadly.) With Spidey being a part of the game’s cast, Chapter Three introduces swinging mechanics to help you get around quicker, because a game that doesn’t let Spider-Man swing may as well not include him at all.

Spider-Man isn’t the only IP being added to the game. The armored character The Foundation, who first appeared in Chapter Two’s sixth season, is voiced and modeled after Dwayne Johnson. Johnson will eventually be a battle pass item, along with Marcus Fenix and Kait Diaz from Gears of War. Johnson’s involvement was revealed yesterday during Chapter Two’s “The End” event, and it’s weird to see him both smooth as hell and in Fortnite, period. With the expensive CG cutscene marking his debut into the game, it feels like we’re inching closer and closer to a reality where a Fortnite movie is a thing. You can watch it in the video below.

Like with the last several Fortnite events, it’s really something to watch this all play out as a narrative set piece. Even as someone who has only briefly touched the game, there’s a real sense of finality here as the players all watch the Cube Queen and the Pyramid are are both destroyed and the island becomes flipped, turned upside down. With a new island to explore, there’s surely going to be more IPs and reality weirdness that await Fortnite’s constantly hungry fanbase over the next year or two.

[via The Verge]

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Morbius' First Clip Won't Sate Your Desire for Blood @ io9

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel

It’s been a little tough to figure out just what kind of vibe that Morbius is going for. Is it a tragic tale of a doctor desperate to save his life and losing his soul in the process? Is it a solo vampire story in the modern day, something we haven’t seen in movies in quite some time? The answer turns out to be...well, both of those, but also a bit of a throwback to the early 2000s era of superhero movies.

The film’s first clip shows Jared Leto’s Michael Morbius go through a cargo ship of armed soldiers, all of whom are terrible and you know are gonna get it right from the jump because the first soldier dismissively calls Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona) “nurse” instead of her actual title of doctor. On some level, it’s kind of cool to see Morbius bound and use super speed through these guys, in the same way that it’s fun to see Venom leap and lumber his way through San Francisco. Sony’s non-Spider-Man movies have apparently found a niche in feeling like they were made back in the early days of superhero movies where things were allowed to be a bit more looser, goofier, and all over the place in terms of quality. It has the potential to be charming in its retro vibe.

Buuuuuuut, for a guy nicknamed the Living Vampire, it also feels like they should be allowed to shed some blood? It’s more than a little weak sauce watching a soldier clutch his neck after it’s been sliced and there’s not really any blood. It’s the same problem with the Venom movies—there’s only so much that they can imply and it feels like they’re being held back from at the very least, being a bloody good time at the theater...if you’re masked up or feel safe, of course.

Morbius comes to theaters on January 28, 2022.

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Weekly New Releases – December 7, 2021 @ Bureau 42

Shirobako: The Movie
Comments Anime film serving as a sequel to the Shirobako anime series, where the staff of Musahino productions have to make a film to help keep the studio afloat. This was released by Shout Factory, as opposed to Sentai Filmworks, who released the TV series. Consequently, this film has not been released with a dub (while the TV series has).
Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue
Ultimate Aang and Korra
Comments Contains complete series of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, with art cards depicting characters from the series.
Ultraman Gaia
13 Minutes
21 Hours at Munich
Comments Made-for-TV movie about the Munich Olympic hostage crisis made in 1976.
Adventures of Snow White and Rose Red
Amityville Cult
Andy Griffith Show
Angels with Dirty Faces
Ape vs Monster
Comments Blaine: I’m sure that this is, in no way shape or form, a cheap movie designed to cash in on King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Beavis and Butt-Head Do America
Blue Monkey
Cry Macho
Cry Macho/The Mule 2 Film Bundle
Dear Evan Hansen
Dune (2021)
Comments Available on physical media January 11, 2022.
Final Justice
God’s Not Dead 4 Movie Collection
God’s Not Dead: We The People
Hard Target
Harold and Maude
John Bunny: Film’s First King of Comedy
Karate Kid
Comments Includes the 3 Ralph Macchio films.
Krampus – The Naughty Cut
Last Shoot Out
Life Below Zero: Next Generation
Long Goodbye
Monkey King: Reborn
Nova: Bat Superpowers
Number Seventeen (Kino-Lorber)
Comments An early Alfred Hitchcock film
One Night in Miami… (Criterion Collection)
One Shot
Rick and Morty
Ride with Norman Reedus
Ron’s Gone Wrong
Street Fighter
Comments This is the video game movie.
Walk in Her Shoes – An Homage to the Life and Legacy of Harriet Tubman
Werewolves Within

Finally, the picks of the week. Alex says, “On the anime front, I’ll be picking up the Shirobako movie. However, otherwise, One Night In Miami is very much on my to-watch list, and I also intend to get that as well.” Blaine says, “nothing I’ve seen jumps out at me, but Dune (2021) is very near the top of my ‘to watch’ list.”

Bing Crosby May Buy Half Interest in the Bar (Duffy’s Tavern #8) @ Bureau 42

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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Trailer Offers Up a Multiverse of Magnificence @ io9

Image: Sony Animation/Marvel

When Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse arrived in theaters three years ago, it shattered expectations of what superhero movies, both live action and animated, could be. The follow up to Miles Morales’ big-screen debut was always going to be a big deal after the success of the first film, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse looks like it’ll be catapulting off the character’s recent momentum both from the film and last year’s excellent game in some interesting ways.

After successfully saving the multiverse and becoming his world’s Spider-Man, Miles (Shameik Moore) is relaxing at home when he’s visited by Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) looking to hang out. While Miles is grounded, Spider-Man very much isn’t, and he can’t pass up the opportunity to hang with a friend from another universe he never thought he’d see again.

Now experiencing multiversal travel for the first time, it’s understandable how Miles would freak out like a costumed pinball. But just as he’s getting used to the sensation of swinging through another universe (and in a different animation style befitting the reality), he’s attacked by a Spider: Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099 (Oscar Isaac). After showing up in the credits of the last movie, he makes a pretty explosive entrance here by trying to wrangle Miles as they tumble from reality to reality. We know that he won’t be the only Spider-hero around: Spider-Woman, aka Jessica Drew (Issa Rae) is expected to show up at some point during the two-part adventure.

Oh, that’s the other big thing about Across the Spider-Verse. It’s the first half of a larger story, and Part Two will arrive in the near future. But first, we have to get Across the Spider-Verse (Part One), and that’ll be on October 7, 2022.

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The Animation Guild's Contract Negotiations Get Delayed to 2022 @ io9

Image: Netflix

This past October saw the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) threaten to go on strike for better residuals and protections for on-set breaks. Though things came to a tenuous agreement, members of IATSE Local 839, aka The Animation Guild (TAG), were separate from those discussions. Now in their in their own quest to ensure that animation writers receive fair pay for their works, their efforts have been temporarily put on pause.

Guild director Alexandra Drosu confirmed to Deadline on Friday that an agreement wasn’t reached, so negotiations between TAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) will continue after the holidays have ended. Talks began on Monday and extended through the week, with the expectation things would resolve before the weekend ended. Previously, TAG’s agreement with AMPTP had expired back in July and later extended to the end of October.

In their negotiations for a new contract, TAG have been taking to Twitter to advocate for animation writers to be paid on par with the writers of live action productions and highlight the pay disparity between the two mediums. Currently, animation writers have a weekly minimum of $2,064 (unless it’s a show covered by the Writers Guild like The Simpsons), whereas live action writers’ pay falls somewhere between $4,063 and $5,185. If you follow anyone who works in animation on social media, including high profile creators like Gravity Falls’ Alex Hirsch and DC Super Hero Girls’ Lauren Faust, chances are you’ve seen them ask for fans to show their support with the hashtag #NewDealforAnimation.

In the wake of their discussions for better pay, TAG has pointed out how animation managed to avoid coming to a complete standstill like the rest of Hollywood during the first year of the pandemic. “We are a valuable part of the industry,” wrote TAG in their pinned tweet. “We do the same work as our live-action counterparts, and it’s time our pay reflected the end of the day, we’re all doing the same job.”

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Raised by Wolves 2's Trailer is Gorgeous and Just Creepy as Hell, Man @ io9

Image: HBO Max

Back when HBO Max was getting its feet off the ground in 2020, one of its big shows at the time was Raised by Wolves. Though some found Aaron Guikowski’s series about android parents tasked with raising some important human children to be a bit of a slog, the show was renewed for second season just a few episodes into season one. The first trailer for season two is here, and it looks...pretty creepy, which makes some sense since Ridley Scott is an executive producer on the show and directed its first two episodes.

“Perhaps we are becoming too human,” muses Mother (Amanda Collin) at the end of the trailer as she stands in a dark corridor and is covered in (presumably) blood. You may recall that at the end of season one, Mother gave birth to a snake baby that is somewhere on the planet and gets no mention in the trailer, save for a snake painting on a mug. It’ll surely be another threat for the family consisting of Mother, Father (Abubakar Salim), and their kids, as they’re all now part of an Atheist society that’s formed in Kepler-22b’s Tropical Zone. Whatever paradise they think exists here won’t last long, since Marcus (Travis Fimmel) is seemingly devolving into one of the creatures that the family encountered during the first season. In his quest to bring “purity” to Kepler, he’ll be doing it through some good old fashioned violence.

As someone who missed out on Wolves when it first premiered, the trailer does its job well enough that I’m interested in checking the show out closer to its February premiere. Outside of its tone, it looks really good, something you can always count on for HBO’s genre dramas most of the time, and it’s not a bad time for some weird sci-fi. So sure, sign me up for that in a couple of months.

Raised by Wolves 2 premieres on HBO Max beginning on February 3.

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There Were Two Pills for Jessica Henwick: The MCU, or Matrix Resurrections? @ io9

Image: Netflix/Marvel

One of the brightest and most underused spots of the relatively short-lived Marvel/Netflix partnership was Jessica Henwick. As Colleen Wing in Iron Fist, Henwick brought a lot of charm to a show that was in real need of it during that first season and let her shine in season two. Just as the show was priming her for bigger and better things as the brand new Iron Fist, it was canceled along with the rest of the Netflix shows. These days, it’s not uncommon for former Marvel actors to come back, but Henwick’s return to Marvel could’ve happened sooner than expected.

Since Henwick’s a part of the upcoming Matrix Resurrections as new hacker Bugs, she told Entertainment Weekly that she was torn between the sci-fi revival and her former superheroic life. She’d been offered a chance to screen test for Shang-Chi & the Legend of the Ten Rings, just as she’d also been asked by Warner Bros. to do a chemistry read with the actors who would play Morpheus for Resurrections. “It was a real red pill, blue pill moment for me,” she recalled. Since both studios knew about the other’s offer, they both said she could only audition for one or the other. Pretty risky when you don’t know if you’ll get either role.

In the end, Henwick went with Resurrections since the Wachowskis’ universe was less of a sure thing. “I just knew it was now or never...I knew that joining The Matrix is not an opportunity that you get every day,” Henwick said. Though she described her time with Marvel TV as “wonderful” and said she had a great working relationship with them, she’s also aware that Marvel just will never stop making movies. The possibility of her returning to the MCU as either Colleen or a different character a la Gemma Chan is essentially always open to her, it’s just a matter of time.

Until that day arrives, she’s happy with choosing Resurrections, and found working with director Lana Wachowski to be an interesting experience. Wachowski would do what Henwick called “360 degree” filming: in one moment, she’d be filming Keanu Reeves, and then turn the camera onto another actor. “You’d better hope you were in the scene and ready to go.” And in the moment when the cameras weren’t rolling, Wachowski would take the cast to dance parties or art excursions to help bring everyone together. After all, nothing brings people together like dancing in a club and then pondering an artist’s intent behind their painting.

The Matrix Resurrections releases in theaters and on HBO Max on December 22.

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Jon Bernthal Thinks MCU Punisher Can't Be Another Family Friendly Quip Guy @ io9

Image: Netflix/Marvel

While Disney+ has had no problem putting out MCU shows this year, there’s still a vocal legion of fans who yearn for the stars of the once mighty Netflix series to get their due. Primarily, this hope has reserved for Charlie Cox’s Daredevil and Jon Bernthal’s Punisher, and while Cox has rather gracefully talked about MCU Daredevil while also reminding folks that he’s just an app away, Bernthal’s made a fairly more decisive statement.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bernthal talked about how he still carries a passionate torch for the role that helped catapult him to his current stardom. “He’s really in my heart, man. He’s really in my bones,” he said, describing himself as “enormously protective” of Frank. Though he hasn’t played the character since 2019, he’s still found himself grateful for getting to explore Frank’s darkness in the limited time he had, and he described Frank as having a “deep meaning and resonance” in him. 

When asked about the possibility of returning to Frank’s bloody combat boots in the MCU proper—since that’s a thing anyone can do now—Bernthal was emphatic in that it couldn’t be sanded down to fit the usual MCU tone. “I think if there’s any let up on that character, you do a disservice to the character, to every iteration of the character...and to all of the unbelievable fans of the character,” he said. “It needs to be that level of’s not about whether you do the character; it’s about whether you can do it right, and I’m only interested in doing it right.”

Even though he’s not saying it directly, it’s evident that Bernthal has some skepticism in how the MCU will tackle the Punisher when he eventually shows up. Thus far, the films and shows have largely been family friendly affairs, and even some of their heavier material like What If or Eternals sometimes brushes these instances off or loops them back around to standard happy endings that also set up sequels. Time will tell if Disney is willing to let the MCU truly stew in the darkness that made Daredevil, Punisher, and Jessica Jones compelling to watch for multiple seasons, or if their rendition of Frank Castle will just be a good guy with a gun.

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The Robinsons reveal what they wanted, and got, from the 'Lost in Space' finale @ Syfy Wire

The Robinsons reveal what they wanted, and got, from the 'Lost in Space' finale Tara Bennett Sat, 12/04/2021 - 10:00 The Robinsons reveal what they wanted, and got, from the 'Lost in Space' finale Tara Bennett Lost in Space 304 PRESSLost in Space 304 PRESS

After a very long hiatus, Netflix’s reboot of Lost in Space has completed its three year arc and now we know if the Robinsons, the robot, and everyone we care about made it to Alpha Centauri and their “happy ending” after a lot of space based drama.

Intellect and Romance Over Brute Force and Cynicism @ io9

Sweet freedom.Image: NBC

Some of you may remember the quote “intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism” from Craig Ferguson’s outstanding tribute to Doctor Who on the old (and far superior) The Late Late Show. But thinking back—on what is to be my last day running io9—I think it sums up how I’ve felt about working here for the last four years.

I lost count of how many times I told the staff I needed to talk to them as a group—about something totally innocuous—and several of them would blurt out “oh god, please don’t tell us you’re leaving.” I’m gonna let their therapists unpack that but when it finally came time to make an exit announcement a reality… well, let me just say it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my lifetime. I’m sure today is going to come close.

I’d wanted to work at io9 for ages. Even though this blog and my personal “The Nerdy Bird” blog were launched at almost exactly the same time, I yearned to be part of a super cool team. Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders are some of the coolest around. While I never worked side by side with them, I did get to meet them and several io9 alums I already knew “from online” at the site’s fifth anniversary party. Still, even as I was running the Mary Sue, I hoped one day to join them “at the office.” There were a few Sliding Doors moments in the ensuing years where I discussed with the folks there about joining up. I often imagine what life would be like had I started working at io9 earlier but the world works in mysterious ways and I like to think I came on at just the right time.

I’d previously freelanced for Rob Bricken at Topless Robot (I also contributed to its sister site: RIP, Heartless Doll) and we often had conversations about him wanting to find the right place for me at io9. It finally happened toward the end of 2017, as Katharine Trendacosta was leaving for another opportunity. I was over the moon. Of course, by that time, io9 had been merged into Gizmodo “thanks” to some things we won’t talk about and I was greeting a rather large team when I showed up to the offices for the first time. It was daunting trying to remember everyone’s names but in time I got to know the personalities of everyone who made up io9. Fast forward a bit and, “thanks” to some other stuff we won’t talk about, Rob left and I was promoted to Deputy Editor. I was a little scared (they never filled my old position so I’ve been doing two jobs), very excited, and more than a little pumped for the times ahead. Rob, you fucking nerd. Thanks for being in my life all these years and for everything you’ve done for me.

You might already know this if you’ve stayed with me this far but… these people are amazing, this site is amazing, and nothing will ever compare to my time here. If you’ve kept up on company news, you can imagine why I (and too many others) started contemplating leaving this behind a while ago. I truly do not want to go, I have to go—for me. That said, making the final decision was agonizing because of my people. I’ve been called “Blog Mom” for a good reason, I’d do anything for them; they’re not just talented journalists, they’re some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure to call friends. I’m going to say some sappy and probably silly stuff about them now, so turn away if you can’t handle that.

Autumn, our social master, it’s been a joy getting to know you. You’ve persevered through some rough times in your neck of the woods here and never once gave up your enthusiasm for spreading io9’s great works. I can’t thank you enough for that. You are joyful, enthusiastic, and helped make us shine. Plus, you came into Slack with zingers when we were all least expecting it and destroyed us. That’s talent. In case you forgot, tell your mom “thanks for the socks.”

Beth, Beebo, whatever your name is. It wasn’t the same without you. People didn’t tend to quit io9 because we love it so much and I’m sorry your hand was forced. Your work ethic and creative mind knows no bounds. The videos you made for us and the ones we worked on together were so good (and underappreciated). You questioned me a lot but I think that helped me evolve in my managerial role. Plus, your ridiculous holiday movie multiverse pitches couldn’t have been written by anyone else. I blathered on about you enough in your roast so allow me to move on.

Charles. Charles! You’re unbelievably gifted and I can’t wait to see where you go in your career over the next few years. But I want to thank you for hanging in there with the rest of us and putting up with more bullshit than anyone should have to with a grace they didn’t deserve. When I first started, I wasn’t sure we’d get along but as we got to know each other and began making little connections, I was so happy. I’d made a really cool friend with someone who was talented to the point of ridiculousness. Frankly, you should have ditched us. I’m glad you didn’t. I’m glad I had the chance to edit you. I’m glad for the many side-Slacks. I’m glad for the joys we shared. For the heart to hearts and the laughs and the witches. Let’s get you on that Cindi interview asap.

Cheryl, what can I say except… your dog is the greatest thing I’ve ever set eyes on. Ok, there’s more. You made my life a little easier on a daily basis as my right-hand woman and for that, I’m forever grateful. I loved getting to bond with you over our tastes in TV and music. I loved finding out about what you did in the dark times before io9. I loved your countless nicknames for Leroy, you don’t know this but I cataloged them all (also, yours is the ONLY Instagram story I watch). Every time I thought you for sure had to have run out of ideas for horror lists you came up with five more unique ones. How? HOW? Lol. I’m gonna miss you way too much. I know you’re not going anywhere but still! I guess the last thing I’ll say is: at least we’ll always have the good seasons of the X-Files.

Germain, my main movie man! I know we sort of knew each other before I started here but getting to know you (and your cats) better has been a joy. I will forever be in awe (aka jealous) of your art collection and the ability to get so much of it up on your walls. You are so damn good at your job. Your interviews are always unique, you really know how to get the goods. It was always a pleasure to edit your reviews… your many, many, many reviews. You’re a non-stop machine, I truly don’t know how you do it. Keep it up, give the cats a hug, and don’t forget to sweep the leg (or the oxford comma).

James, sod off, you bloody git! Did I use those correctly? I can’t believe I’ve edited you for four whole years and I still can’t break you from putting the punctuation on the outside. It’s impressive. You’ve been here longer than me and really helped me settle in at io9. You were the quickest to make friends with because we have so much in common but I will never understand your love of [insert like 1,000 things here]. I can’t believe I let you get away with as much as you did, from terrible jokes and shitposts to inappropriate jokes and sentences the size of paragraphs. It’s really, really hard to leave your daily presence because you’ve been a tremendous partner and friend. Being able to work with each other through some of the most stressful, the happiest, and the silliest times has been an honor. Continue to boldly go. Now piss off and go eat a disgusting chip butty.

I’d be remiss here if I didn’t mention just a few more people (I told you, everyone here is the best). Evan, I’m so bummed I didn’t get to work with you longer but holy shit am I excited for what you’ve done since. Continue kicking ass. To my weekend warriors over the years, Julie, Courtney, Valerie, and Justin, my unending thanks. I’ve done weekends and they’re not easy but I never once had to worry about work on the weekends because of you all. That was a gift. To our many video producers, thank you for making us look and sound good. It’s not the same without you.

To the Gizmodo Prime and the Earther crew… uhh, sorry, there are just too many of you. You’re like ants! Always showing up to ruin a picnic, but in this case, the picnic is horrendous companies or politicians trying to get away with shit so it’s a good thing you’re here. You’re the best reporters in the business. Keep it up. To Alex Cranz: fuck you, eat shit, etc. To Marina: for the love of god, write about Mission Impossible and take care of yourself.

Allow me to circle back to “intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.” My folks, it’s the best way to live. Try to remember that when times are tough here. Anyway, I’m not dead… I just won’t be around as much! For now, it’s time to go. Hope everyone remains badass.

Farewell, to blog mom.Gif: Gizmodo

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Two Disney Legends Are Tackling an Animated DC Movie @ io9

Metal Men might get its own movie thanks to two Disney legends.Image: Shane Davis/DC Comics

It’s not every day that two of the most famous directors in animation history jump into the world of comic books, but that’s about to happen. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker, who made films you may have heard of like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Moana, are looking to make an animated movie based on the DC series Metal Men.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news and add the pair has teamed up with writer Celeste Ballard (Space Jam: A New Legacy) on the project. Clements and Musker wrote a treatment and are looking to direct but there’s no word if this would be Warner Bros. theatrical or for HBO Max.

Now, obviously, Metal Men isn’t one of DC’s premiere titles but the concept certainly has some real potential and has been brought back to life over the years. Created in the early 1960s by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru, the story followed a brilliant scientist who created six intelligent robots (who, despite the title, were not all men) bestowed with powers centered on the specific metal they were made of: gold, iron, lead, tin, mercury, and platinum. Tones shifted with the characters and there’s no word on what Clements, Musker, and Ballard have planned, but one would imagine, if you look at the director’s previous works, a family-friendly adventure with heart and humor seems likely.

According to the trade, this isn’t the first time Warner Bros. has tried to bring Metal Men to the big screen. A live action version was in development in the early 2000s with big-time names such as Lauren Shuler Donner (X-Men), DC mainstay Geoff Johns, and even Barry Sonnenfeld (Men In Black). That didn’t materialize (get it?) though, and with Warner Bros. really going through its DC properties to spread across all its mediums, this feels like a version that has a good shot of solidifying. Yup, another metal pun.

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The Week's Best Toys Are Ready for Battle and Sinister Facial Hair @ io9

Image: Lego, Hasbro, and EXO-6

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of the latest and greatest in nerdy toys and merchandise. This week: Hawkeye sets its sights on some action figure goodness. Lego heads to the Clone Wars and to the Multiverse (of Madness) in two new sets, and NECA dives into two slick takes on RoboCop. Check it out!

Image: Lego

Lego Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Gargantos Showdown​

Before we’ve even gotten the first trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that’s scheduled for a May 6 release next year, Lego has beaten everyone to the punch with a first look at the upcoming addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The 264-piece set gives us not only our first look at the Lego version of the sea creature Gargantos, but America Chavez as well, who joins minifigures of Doctor Strange and Wong. The $30 set will be available for purchase starting January 1, 2022.

Image: NECA

NECA Ultimate Battle-Damaged RoboCop with Chair and Ultimate RoboCop Figures

Along with another year of responsible masking, social distancing, and vaccine booster shots, 2022 will also bring with it the 35th anniversary of the original RoboCop movie, and NECA is all ready to commemorate the occasion with a pair of 7-inch RoboCop figures that will be available starting next April. Pricing isn’t known yet, but the figure-only version will probably be the cheaper option, with gleaming armor, an alternate head featuring Peter Weller’s likeness, and a Cobra Assault Cannon that can be stored in a working spring-loaded leg holster. The pricier option includes all the same features and accessories plus battle-damaged armor and the chair where RoboCop would go for diagnostics and to chow down on baby food.

Image: Hasbro

Hasbro Marvel Legends Hawkeye Kate Bishop and Clint Barton

With Hawkeye now streaming on Disney+, Hasbro has given us an early look at the inevitable accompanying action figures from the show, starting off with, of course, Hawkeye! And Hawkeye! Yes, unsurprisingly both Clint and Kate will lead the charge for figures from the series, and both will come with a trusty bow, quiver, and alternate hands for either fisticuffs or bow-aiming. Beyond early renders, no details on the figures—decked out in gear inspired by David Aja and Matt Fraction’s beloved Hawkeye comic run—were revealed, other than that fans can expect the Avenging Archers to take aim at your wallet some time in 2022. Now here’s the real question: why doesn’t one of them come with Lucky the Pizza dog?

Image: Lego

Lego BrickHeadz Ahsoka Tano

With a satisfying run and story arc in The Clone Wars animated series, and the Togrutan’s first live-action appearance in season two of The Mandalorian, Ahsoka Tano has developed quite a following among Star Wars fans, and it was only a matter of time before she’d be caricatured in Lego’s addictively collectible BrickHeadz series. The new 164-piece, $10 set won’t officially be available until January 1, 2022, but you can d’awww! all over it on the Lego site right now.

Image: EXO-6

EXO-6 Star Trek Mirror Universe Spock Sixth-Scale Figure

It’s impossible to identify exactly where the “Beard of Evil” trope originated, but Leonard Nimoy helped perpetuate it for another generation by sporting a goatee while playing the corrupt mirror universe version of Lieutenant Commander Spock in Star Trek: The Original Series. EXO-6 is introducing its first mirror universe Star Trek figure next year with this sixth-scale evil Spock featuring not only that nefarious goatee and over 30 points of articulation, but also accessories that include a phaser, a full fabric uniform, and swappable hands in various poses. Pricing and a specific release date aren’t known at this time.

Image: Canon

Collectible Canon Bear with Miniature Canon 5D Mark IV Model Camera

Got a photographer in your life who needs a hug as they watch companies like Sony slowly eat away the market share of longstanding camera makers like Nikon and Canon? The latter has created an adorable 8-inch tall plush companion who comes not only dressed for an afternoon of sports photography with a pocketed vest, but also an impressively detailed miniature replica of a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR with a removable 24-70mm lens and a matching Canon EOS strap around its neck. It’s available now for $60, but not recommended for kids under 14 if you were hoping to inspire a future shutterbug with it.

Image: Lego

Lego Architecture Singapore

The complications from the ongoing covid-19 pandemic have made international travel less and less appealing, but most of us have probably long tired of our local haunts. If you’d like to visit an exotic locale without first getting a cotton swab jabbed up your nose, Lego has updated its Architecture series with a new 827-piece set celebrating the city of Singapore with a skyline that includes Marina Bay Sands, Lau Pa Sat, Supertree Grove, the OCBC Centre, and One Raffles Place, all situated alongside the Singapore River. The set will officially be available starting January 1, 2022, for $60.

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Chucky's Don Mancini on Why Horror's Creepiest Doll Keeps Coming Back @ io9

Oh, he ain’t dead. Far from it.Image: SYFY/USA Network

Chucky will be back for more butchery and wisecracks—a second season of the hit SYFY and USA Network horror series starring the killer doll from the Child’s Play movies was announced this week. The finale of season one just aired, so there won’t be new episodes for awhile, but that didn’t stop us from hopping on the phone with Chucky creator Don Mancini to learn more.

What follows is a lightly edited and condensed version of our conversation.

Cheryl Eddy, io9: When did you find out you were getting a season two, and did that affect the ending of season one at all?

Don Mancini: Just a couple of weeks ago—right around the time it was announced—is when we knew. I had learned from working with Bryan Fuller on Hannibal and Nick Antosca on Channel Zero that you want to construct something that is going to be satisfying as its own entity, in the event you don’t get another season—but at the same time, could function as something where you’re planting the seeds for season two. Ideally you want to do both simultaneously. So that was our goal. That’s all. We wanted it to work both ways just in case, because you can’t take anything for granted.

io9: What’s next for Chucky? Will we be seeing Glenda or Glen or any other fan-favorite characters? I guess what I’m asking is, what can you reveal about season two?

Mancini: I’m working on the script for episode one at the moment. But you know, there is a [story] bible, and I just pitched the season to the studio and the network, and I think we’re all excited about where we’re going. But I can’t say too much about it other than to stay tuned—and a lot of the characters that fans love and would like to see again, you just might see them.

io9: Will the characters that were new in Chucky (and managed to survive the season) be a part of season two?

Mancini: That’s also a matter of about which I’ve been instructed to say... stay tuned for! I mean, it’s television. We want to have fun with it. We want people to anticipate and wonder and voice what they want. That’s part of the fun of the storytelling process with the audience, and that’s one of the things I love about TV as opposed to movies where it’s kind of happening in real time. You have this dialogue going on with the audience and the fans, and I really enjoy that. It’s really fun. But this is part of it: that kind of suspense and anticipation of wondering what’s going to come through.

Jennifer Tilly being fabulously evil on Chucky.Image: SYFY/USA Network

io9: Speaking of the fans, what kind of feedback did you get from Chucky fans about season one, and what is your relationship like with them?

Mancini: Well, you know, I listen and I monitor stuff. One of the things that I wanted to do with the series was bring the tone of the whole thing back into something that was approximate to Child’s Play 2, because I know that’s basically everyone’s favorite movie of the franchise. And I get that—I love that movie, too. So I wanted to do that, and related to that, we tried to make [Chucky’s look] identical to [his look in] Child’s Play 2 because I knew that’s what the fans wanted. So I listen to all of this, and I think about it, and I take it into account. But at the same time, part of the fun of it is subverting those expectations. It’s not just about, like, giving everyone what they want—of course, that wouldn’t even be possible—but I’m just always interested to hear what they like and characters that they like and what they like about those characters, because I’m a fan of it, too. I’m a fan of other cultural artifacts as well. And so I know how it works; it’s fun to participate in.

io9: Have you gotten any reactions from Hackensack, New Jersey, where the show takes place?

Mancini: Actually, I haven’t! But I’m super interested because I wondered, you know? Maybe they’re just too busy. Maybe they’re oblivious. I feel like at some point over the last eight weeks as the show was airing, I did Google Hackensack just to see, but I didn’t come across anything. I think the Hackensack that we depict is kind of interesting—and, of course, it’s a Hackensack of the mind. No relationship whatsoever to the real Hackensack, New Jersey other than its, you know, physical location and its very existence.

io9: It’s practically a character in season one.

Mancini: Hackensack for me, I established that in Bride of Chucky because I needed a place for the characters to go—they needed to have a destination for their road trip. And I like the word “Hackensack” because it just phonetically sounds like a place where a serial killer would be from, because it’s hack and sack—it just sounds violent. It sounds like stabbing! But beyond that, I was a huge fan of Richard Donner’s Superman, where of course Eve Teschmacher’s mother is from Hackensack [Laughs]. When Lex Luthor sends the two missiles flying, one of them is going to the San Andreas fault, and Superman can only stop one. And then the other one’s going to Hackensack, New Jersey and Miss Teschmacher says, “But Lex, my mother lives in Hackensack!” and he glances at his watch and then just shakes his head and walks away. That’s why it’s Hackensack! [Laughs]

Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind), Jake (Zackary Arthur), and their little friend.

io9: What do you think Chucky, the character and horror icon, brings to the table in 2021 that’s unique?

Mancini: I think that over the years with the movies we’ve done, we’ve found that we can plug him into different subgenres and different tones and now even different media, and he can work. He’s a very versatile character, and I think he’s evolved that way. I mean, part of it, hopefully, was good writing. You know, sort of deliberate planning. But he has evolved in such a way that it was partly because I just wanted to keep myself amused and entertained as a writer. And so when I was writing the different movies, I just wanted to reinvent it so as not to do the same thing over and over again. But I think that that has really helped us.

So to answer your question, I think that Chucky has this versatility as a character and that allows us to plug him into different kinds of metaphoric subtext. Because you always need that; it has to be about something. The monster needs to be a metaphor for something. When we started out in the ‘80s with the first Child’s Play, Chucky was a metaphor for consumerism run amok, say. But in this first season of the TV series, we used Chucky as a metaphor for bullying, which is a really potent issue in the zeitgeist, particularly as it pertains to teenagers, knowing that [teenagers were] going to be our our main characters. It’s important have that, and to set a stake in the ground so that everything, no matter how absurd it all gets, it remains rooted in some kind of reality. Beyond that, with this one specifically, I wanted it to have some real-life, 14-year-old angst and pain. I think that’s one of the reasons people liked it—and that’s something that I knew that the television format would provide an opportunity [for], to build in some real heart. I think we’re all—all the writers and directors and producers—we’re all super happy that that seems to have landed. People really seem to like these characters and the adventures they went on and the emotional arcs that they experienced.

io9: The tone of the show is unique because you balance gore with some very campy humor. But then there’s also those emotional moments, as you mentioned.

Mancini: Yeah. I think it’s just like, the different colors go well together. The different flavors go well together. For me, I’m always doing that with the movies, too—mixing more grounded, naturalistic stuff with the camp that inevitably comes from Tiffany and Jennifer Tilly. Finding the balance between horror and naturalism and comedy and stylization on the other two ends of the spectrum, that’s very interesting to me.

Will Tiffany return for season two? Mancini won’t say, but it sure seems like a good guess.Image: SYFY/USA Network

Chucky’s first season is now streaming on Peacock; Chucky season two will hit SYFY and USA Network sometime in 2022.

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New Texas Chainsaw Massacre Will Be Hipsters vs. Leatherface @ io9

Saw is family!Photo: Yana Blajeva / ©2021 Legendary, Courtesy of Netflix

As the world turns, another Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel arrives, doing its best to recapture the grim, grimy magic wrought by the 1974 horror classic. But the next entry in the series, which arrives on Netflix in February, borrows a page from the current Halloween films by billing itself as a direct sequel to Tobe Hooper’s original. It will also introduce a new kind of prey for Leatherface (Mark Burnham) and his cannibal family: hipsters!

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Fede Álvarez—aka the guy who did a pretty darn good job with that 2013 Evil Dead reboot; he also made 2016's Don’t Breathe—says 2022's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which he co-wrote and produced, is the product of people who are huge fans of the franchise, including himself. As such, it’ll attempt to do justice to the film that started it all. “We wanted to come up with a very simple premise [with] a powerful domino effect. Everything is set up in the right place—all you have to do is push the first domino and everything will happen effortlessly.”

Elsie Fisher as Lila, Sarah Yarkin as Melody, Nell Hudson as Ruth, and Jacob Latimore as Dante.Photo: Yana Blajeva / ©2021 Legendary, Courtesy of Netflix

Those dominos include, of course, young city folk, including Castle Rock’s Elsie Fisher, who cross paths with Texas Chainsaw’s backwoods killers, still lurking after 50 years. “I think the first movie really hit a nerve when portraying that culture clash between the countryside and the city. Back in the ‘70s, the hippies were representing the youth of the city,” Álvarez said. “This time, they’re more like millennial hipsters from Austin who are very entrepreneurial and have a dream of getting away from the city and back to the countryside. They’re trying to gentrify small-town America—and let’s just say they encounter some pushback.”

Sarah Yarkin, who plays Melody, elaborated a bit on her character’s role in all this: “Me and my business partner Dante [played by Jacob Latimore] are these young hip people that come to this ghost town in Texas and try to get other people to come there and make it the next hip place to be. Our fatal flaw is that we ignore the history that came before us.”

Here’s the official synopsis, since it includes some key information about a character we haven’t seen in decades: “Melody (Sarah Yarkin), her teenage sister Lila (Elsie Fisher), and their friends Dante (Jacob Latimore) and Ruth (Nell Hudson), head to the remote town of Harlow, Texas to start an idealistic new business venture. But their dream soon turns into a waking nightmare when they accidentally disrupt the home of Leatherface, the deranged serial killer whose blood-soaked legacy continues to haunt the area’s residents — including Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré), the sole survivor of his infamous 1973 massacre who’s hell-bent on seeking revenge.”

Other Chainsaw sequels not titled Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 have failed in the past. However, that does sound like a potentially great set-up, and you know most of the movie will probably be running and screaming and chainsaws buzzing and guts flying everywhere—which would make us tune in no matter what. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (because that’s the title, of course) is directed by David Blue Garcia from a screenplay by Chris Thomas Devlin, with a story by Álvarez and Rodo Sayagues and a list of producers that includes original Chainsaw writer Kim Henkel. It arrives on Netflix on February 18.

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The Weirdest Things Star Wars' Boba Fett Got Up to After Escaping the Sarlacc @ io9

Fett had quite the life in the EU, but not all of it was self-serious badassery.Image: Jason Felix/Del Rey

Later this month, Boba Fett will make his play as a major new face in the Star Wars underworld in his very own Disney+ show, The Book of Boba Fett. But while this will be our “official” look at what Boba got up to after escaping digestion, it’s not the first time Star Wars has pondered what the infamous Bounty Hunter got up to after cheating death. In case you weren’t aware, not all of those exploits were exactly kickass.

He Fell Into the Sarlacc Pit Again

Image: Ron Frenz, Tom Palmer, Tom Mandrake, Joe Rosen, and Glynis Wein/Marvel Comics

We all know Boba got out of the sarlacc, but the version of it we remember in the EU is actually his second escape, because his first attempt was woefully funny. The 81st issue of Marvel’s classic Star Wars comic revealed that Boba managed to claw his way out of the monstrous pit just after Return of the Jedi, but was blighted with temporary amnesia following his traumatic ordeal... and immediately kidnapped by Jawas, who are very dumb and assume he’s a cyborg. Naturally, said Jawas also manage to kidnap R2-D2 out of Mos Eisley—who was there with Han and Leia, with the former trying to literally get his bank account reopened after being strapped for cash due to his time in carbonite. This meant that when Han went to rescue the droid, he was horrified to discover Boba aboard the Jawa’s sandcrawler... even if the bounty hunter had no idea who he was. After the duo worked together to liberate Artoo, Han took pity on Fett and tried to help him escape... only for Leia to scream Han’s name enough that Fett’s memories resurfaced, leading to him immediately try to murder Solo. Han escaped with Artoo, leaving Boba and the out-of-control sandcrawler to literally drive right back into the sarlacc’s waiting maw. Womp, womp.

Being Best Man at Dengar’s Wedding

Image: Stephen Youll/Del Rey

The second time Boba got out, he was nursed back to health by everyone’s favorite second-string bounty hunter, Dengar. It kickstarted a partnership that saw the duo become so close that Boba was invited to be Dengar’s best man at his wedding to his girlfriend Manaroo, who had convinced Dengar to not just kill Boba where he lay after escaping the sarlacc. This might not sound all that weird, but honestly, who doesn’t want to picture the thought of Boba Fett—the alleged biggest, baddest bounty hunter in the entire galaxy—not just at a wedding, but acting as Best Man? What was his speech like? Did he wear formalwear over his armor? Did the helmet stay on at all times? The EU was so good at diving into so much Star Wars nonsense, but we need to know more!

... In Fact, Just Teaming Up With Dengar in General

Image: Cam Kennedy and Todd Klein/Dark Horse

Alas, Boba’s bromance with Dengar was quite short-lived, in spite of their growing closeness. It didn’t help that they were actually quite comically bad together. Their partnership ended after just four years when, re-confronting Han Solo for the first time on the moon Nar Shaddaa, he chased him all the way to Byss. But an overconfident Boba mistimed escaping past the planet’s shielding systems, sending his and Dengar’s ship (more on that shortly) bouncing off it and blasting off like they were Team Rocket knockoffs. The incident lead to the duo breaking up, but it was at Dengar’s behest. What a way to get dumped!

Trying to Keep a Low Profile in the Highest Profile Way Possible

Image: John Nadeau, Jordi Ensign, and Dave Nestelle/Dark Horse

Boba used the inconvenience of being partially digested to his own benefit when he escaped the sarlacc, spending his first few years free trying to keep a low profile, accepting discreet jobs. But when a former Alliance operative turned bounty hunter named Jodo Kast acquired his own set of Mandalorian armor and was presumed to be the returned Fett, Boba staged the most ridiculous gotcha to clear his name. Operating under an alias, Boba hired Kast to claim a bounty on a man named Satnik Hiicrop... who was just Boba operating under an alias. Boba Fett hired the man the galaxy thought was Boba Fett, to kill Boba Fett, who was there to kill—well, you get the picture. Boba naturally hoodwinked poor Jodo, who was left to get killed by his own exploding jetpack.

Also, it has to be noted: Boba wasn’t flying the Slave I at this point anymore, as the ship had been locked up and impounded after falling into Rebel Alliance hands. So, Boba got a new ship, a Pursuer-class enforcer rather than the identifiable Firespray of old, and what did the most famous bounty hunter in the galaxy name it to keep his low profile? Slave II. Come ON, man.

Got Into a Pensioner Fist Fight With Old Han Solo

Image: Chris Trevas/Del Rey

Boba would keep fighting well into his old age, nearly a decade and a half after he escaped the sarlacc. But beaten and drowning in medical debt from preventing a cancer that could develop from his partial digestion, he crossed paths with Han Solo once more, both men wizened by their age. Boba, coming off a tough bounty that secured him the funds to get a clone leg that could replace his current cybernetic one, promptly got into a fistfight with Han in an attempt to prove that he could still finish the fight with his most infamous target. Ultimately, both men were enough past their prime to draw each other into a stalemate, agreeing to put their long history behind themselves and move on.

Played the Yuuzhan Vong for Chumps

Image: Tsuyoshi Nagano

Okay, this is silly, but also actually cool, because the Yuuzhan Vong—the extragalactic alien invaders who played a major role in the post-Jedi story of the old Expanded Universe, and are responsible for, among other things, literally dropping a moon on Chewbacca (slash the planet Chewbacca was on at the time)—deserve to be made chumps of. By the time the Vong invaded the Star Wars galaxy, Boba had managed to work his way up to the fabled position of Mandalore. He stood ready to defend his people from the alien threat... or would’ve if the Vong hadn’t come to him first, offering an alliance in exchange for Mandalore being kept off-limits. Boba agreed, but only because what he actually wanted to do was play the Vong—the man loves hoodwinking people—gather as much data about them as possible, and warn the New Republic of what was about to come knocking on their doorstep.

This tactic continued for several years into the Vong war, with Mandalorians acting as mercenaries to assist Vong invasion forces while also moonlighting as trainers for Republic forces in repelling them. It took the dumb aliens almost the entire conflict to realize Boba hoodwinked them, attacking Mandalore in the final year of the war, but they were handily repelled, and Boba’s forces helped liberate the galaxy world by world from their clutches.

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At Least 3 of Spider-Man: No Way Home's New Posters Aren't Entirely Design Nightmares @ io9

A terrible trio.Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

The recent Spider-Man movies have all had a bit of an ongoing joke to them, except it’s nothing really to do with the films themselves. No, it’s that, outside of a few choice options (we see you, Homecoming chillaxing Spidey poster), most of Sony’s posters for Homecoming, Far From Home, and now No Way Home have, uh, certainly had a look to them. Three new ones, at the least, try to push back against that bad rep... emphasis on the try.

International Doc Ock Poster

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

As we get closer to Spider-Man: No Way Home’s December 17 release date, our only new looks at the film right now are coming in the form of posters. Case in point, a trio of new posters today framed like Tom Holland’s Spider-Man squaring up against three classic returning villains. Here he is with Doc Ock, which mostly works because thank all of our gods for Alfred Molina, frankly.

International Electro Poster

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Here he is up against Jamie Foxx’s Electro, who’s looking very different from his Amazing Spider-Man 2 self, wearing what looks quite like an Arc Reactor. Bits of Tony Stark’s legacy: not just for Peter Parker to wear long after his death.

International Green Goblin Poster

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

And lastly, here he is up against Willem Dafoe’s updated Green Goblin.

They’re.... fine! Well, they’re fine-ish. They may be one awkward photoshopped layer over the other, but there’s at least an attempt at some kind of dynamism here. You have the focus on the villains rather than Peter, it’s a dramatic angle on a confrontation instead of them just squaring up at each other from opposite sides of the poster. It’s all right! Especially when most of the other new posters also coming out alongside them are, well... take a look for yourself.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Main Poster

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Good god, it’s the many-headed beast of bad poster design! Basically each Spidey movie in Jon Watt’s trilogy has been blighted with one of these “many heads” collages for a poster, but No Way Home ups the ante by wrapping several of its poster ideas around turning Doc Ock’s arms into a portal-esque framing device. It’s like someone there went “They love Endgame’s portal bit, right? What if the portal was... Doc Ock’s arms?

Spidey Suit International Poster 1

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

While the bulk of the posters for No Way Home have focused on putting Peter back in his Iron Spider uniform, at least these international character posters remember that he’ll have other suits in this movie. Here’s the Black and Gold suit we’ve seen Peter wearing with some mystical, presumably Doctor Strange-linked artefacts as he battles his multiversal foes. Fine suit, but once again, what is it with this movie’s poster aesthetic and portals?

Spidey Suit International Poster 2

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

And here it is with Peter’s black-and-red Far From Home creation, which seems like it’s pretty much immediately being ousted in No Way Home to make way for the hybridized ‘Integrated’ suit that mashes it up with the Iron Spider. Tony Stark’s long shadow continues to be as hard to shake as a No Way Home poster without some kind of trippy circular nonsense going on.

No Way Home IMAX Poster 1

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

The film’s tie in posters for its partnership with IMAX isn’t great either, because you either get Peter swinging his way through Inception...

No Way Home IMAX Poster 2

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Or you get “What if Homecoming’s ferry scene, but... the IMAX logo?” Like, these are always gonna be kind of bad, because the focus has to be on the IMAX logo to remind people at an IMAX theater that they’re going to be watching things in an IMAX supported format. IMAX!

Anyway, Spider-Man: No Way Home is out December 17. Just avert your eyes in the lobby from these nightmares as you find your way to your seat.

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Fellowship of the Ring's Mirror of Galadriel Scene Is Still One of the Trilogy's Finest @ io9

Galadriel offers Frodo a view of things that were, things that are, and some things... that have not yet come to pass.Screenshot: Warner Bros.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring turns 20 this month, and as our thoughts linger there and back again, we’re reminded of just how many of its moments remain so brilliantly memorable decades later. But one of its most haunting and tragic scenes still lingers as a clear standout in Peter Jackson’s trilogy: Frodo’s encounter with the Mirror of Galadriel.

At the point when the Fellowship reaches the safe harbor of Galadriel and Celeborn’s protection in Lothlórien, it is battered and bruised both physically and spiritually. Having just fled Moria and mourning the loss of its lynchpin in Gandalf, all seems hopeless for the group, not just in getting to Mount Doom and completing their quest but being able to even stay together as a singular unit. As the Fellowship spends the night in melancholic thought, licking its wounds, Frodo finds himself alone, until he chances upon the Lady Galadriel herself, and is given the chance to peer into her magical font of foresight, to see what could become of the world should the Fellowship and its ringbearer, in particular, should falter.

What makes the Mirror of Galadriel sequence so stunning is not what it has to say about the temptation of the One Ring—the horror Frodo is asked to confront given the vision of Galadriel’s desires, should she succumb to his offer and take its burden from her—but the way it amplifies the tragic loneliness that comes with bearing a ring of power. Few people Frodo has encountered up to this point, not even Gandalf really, can relate to the isolation of being a ring bearer. But Galadriel, the keeper of Nenya, can—and those fears of isolation, and the need to just get through the will-sapping process of carrying the trinket to its doom in Mordor, are what drives Frodo and Galadriel to steel themselves for their respective tests in this brief moment together. Sure, there’s dire warnings of Boromir’s faltering temptation to take the ring to Gondor and the promised doom of the Scourging of the Shire—an event from the books otherwise left untouched in Jackson’s trilogy after its glimpse here—but what drives Frodo and Galadriel alike in this moment is that melancholic, mournful loneliness.

Screenshot: Warner Bros.

The first vision Frodo sees in the Mirror of Galadriel isn’t the Shire’s dire fate should he give up, but the faces of his friends and their crushing disappointment. What Galadriel wants, should she become the Dark Queen is more than power, but to be loved, as terrible as it would be, by the people she could enthrall with its might. The two ringbearers are tempted by the chance to not have to face their tasks alone, even as Galadriel urges the young Hobbit that he must leave the Fellowship behind in order to stand a chance of completing his quest. Not that he gets a say in that matter ultimately, with Sam forcing himself along for the ride out of his love for his friend anyway—but that’s only after.

In this moment in the shade of Lothlórien, Frodo has confronted and steeled himself to the idea of having to put aside his need for company to face a task that only he can do. If the price to pay for bearing such terribly powerful artifacts is loneliness, it’s one that has to be paid—Galadriel putting aside her yearning to be adored is rewarded with her getting to remain herself, and pass into the undying lands to be with her people. Frodo’s acceptance is rewarded with getting out of the Battle of Amon Hen in one piece before the Fellowship’s undoing can be his own... albeit with the ever-faithful Sam in tow, rather than truly alone.

But Sam’s wrinkle to the lesson Galadriel has Frodo learn is, in turn, part of what makes Fellowship such a beautiful, earnest adventure movie in the first place. Frodo’s greatest trial in the movie is to accept that he and he alone can carry the One Ring’s burden, that the tragedy is in the loneliness he will feel in order to do so. But he also doesn’t realize until Sam wades into the waters of the Anduin after his best friend that some bonds of friendship, some loves, ultimately, are too strong to let such a tragedy stand. Even if Frodo is prepared to take on his grand quest alone, he has a friend who’s more than willing to share the load of such a sad and lonely task to fight against that prescribed melancholy.

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Peacemaker's New Trailer Shows the Softer Side of the Trigger-Happy Idiot @ io9

Big booms and big thoughts await Peacemaker.Screenshot: HBO

Well, this is somewhat unexpected. While John Cena stole The Suicide Squad movie’s spotlight by portraying the biggest, stupidest, most lethal moron in the semi-elite Task Force X, it looks like HBO Max’s upcoming Peacemaker show will show us the melancholy behind all the idiocy and gunfire.

We got a hint of this in the first trailer for the show, released at October’s DC FanDome event, when Danielle Brooks’ Leota Adebayo mentioned “there’s something about him that’s... sad.” This new trailer leans into that hard—first, we get more of the rocky relationship between Peacemaker and his emotionally abusive father Auggie (a perfectly cast Robert Patrick). But then, the anti-hero defies Clemson Munn (Chukwudi Iwuji) to murder a bunch of kids without an explanation. It’s a noble choice by the antihero, but it looks like it’s also going to land him—and America, maybe—in hot water. Maybe that’s why we got so many shots of him looking forlorn and even flinching as he remembers a certain bit of gunfire.

It’s not really what I expected from the Peacemaker TV series, and it’s not what I really wanted from it, either. As Freddie Stroma’s Vigilante so aptly puts it, “Cut it out with the introspection. The mind is a den of scorpions better left running from, not towards,” especially when that mind is Peacemaker’s. However, if there’s anyone who’s going to successfully explore the emotional core of an imbecile who shoots first and asks questions never (well, almost never), that person is undeniably The Suicide Squad director James Gunn.

Peacemaker also stars Steve Agee as John Economos, Jennifer Holland as Emilia Harcourt, Annie Chang as Sophie Song, Lochlyn Munro as Larry Fitzgibbon, Christopher Heyerdahl as Captain Locke, and Nhut Le as Judomaster. The show premieres on January 13 on HBO Max.

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Chucky Season 2 Could Bring Back a Familiar Face @ io9

Chuckys of the world, unite!Screenshot: Syfy

Scream 2022 director Tyler Gillett is already planning out who could survive and return for a sequel. Get a new look at what’s next on Amazon’s Wheel of Time. Plus, Doctor Who prepares for the finale of Flux, and Servant will return for season four. Spoilers away!

Run Rabbit Run

Sarah Snook has replaced Elisabeth Moss in the lead role of Run Rabbit Run, a horror-thriller from director Daina Reid about “a fertility doctor whose firm grasp on the cycle of life is put to the test as her young daughter begins to exhibit increasingly strange behavior.” According to Deadline, Moss was forced to exit the project due to “scheduling reasons.”

Where Evil Lurks

Variety reports Shudder has acquired Where Evil Lurks, the latest horror film from Terrified director Damien Rugna. The story is said to “unspool in a remote village where two brothers find a demon-infected man just about to give birth to evil itself. In a time when exorcism look to be of little use to ward off evil, after warning the neighbors in town, they decide to get rid of the man but merely succeed in helping him to deliver the inferno.” Click through for concept art of the film’s monster.

Shazam: Fury of the Gods

In conversation with Collider, Zachary Levi stated he believes Shazam: Fury of the Gods is an inarguably “better” movie than its predecessor.

I will say that I genuinely — and this is not just lip service — I’m really proud of the first one, I think we made a really, really good movie. I think the second one is better. I think that we had more time, we had more budget. We had, essentially, the entire cast returning, and we all knew our characters a little bit more; we could kind of sit into them a little bit more. Henry Gayden, who wrote the first script, wrote the second, and he did a fantastic job doing so.

Everything just clicked even a little bit more and a little bit more. And also the kids have grown up a little bit more, so even the sensibilities of them become even slightly more mature which brings it closer to my or other people’s adult minds, so there’s even more connection there, I think. The action’s great, the comedy’s great, the relationships are great. The bad guys, Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu, are fantastic. I’m very proud of it. I want it to come out sooner than June of 2023.


In a recent interview with Total Film (via Syfy), Scream 2022 director Tyler Gillett confirmed at least a few of the new characters will survive the film and could potentially return in Scream 6.

This new cast of characters is so wonderful. The legacy cast, they’re so wonderful. I think what we discovered, and what [screenwriters] Guy [Busick] and James [Vanderbilt] did, is they found a real reason for the next story to exist. We know that there is more gas in the tank. There are more stories to be told in Woodsboro, and about these characters, for sure.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Kang appears in the reflection of Ant-Man’s shattered helmet in a recent image of a crew shirt seen on social media.

Hocus Pocus 2

Elsewhere, a new set video sees the crew of Hocus Pocus 2 singing “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow” to Better Midler on her birthday.


According to Spoiler TV, creepy baby show Servant has been renewed for a fourth season at Apple TV+.


In conversation with Fandom, Don Mancini appears to confirm Glen/Glenda (Billy Boyd) will appear in the second season of Chucky.

This is probably one where I’m not allowed to say too much, but I love those characters. I think it’s probably safe for me to say that you haven’t seen the last of them.

In the same interview, Mancini also stated actress Perry Reeves is interested in reprising her role as Kristen de Silva from Child’s Play 3.

Perrey Reeves is down for coming back! I haven’t talked to Perry Reeves in a long time but I really liked her. She was cool back in the day and she just seems super nice. And I saw she recently posted something where fans were asking her ‘Would you want to be on the show?’ and she was incredibly gracious and enthusiastic, saying, ‘Hell yeah I’d like to!’

However, it would seem Mancini currently has no plans for either Andy’s mother, Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks), or Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon), the cop who originally killed Charles Lee Ray.

There is some possibility. Do you want to see them?

Dexter: New Blood

Dexter battles a fellow serial killer (who may-or-may-not be Clancy Brown) at the previously established abandoned summer camp in the synopsis for episode eight, “Big Game.”

Dexter fights for his life in the woods of Iron Lake, leading to a confrontation in an abandoned summer camp. Is there a better place for a serial killer to confront another violent killer? Harrison finds himself at a crossroads between two father figures who can lead him down two very different paths. Meanwhile Angela starts to make some disturbing discoveries of her own.

[Spoiler TV]

The Wheel of Time

Spoiler TV also has photos from “Blood Calls Blood,” the fifth episode of Wheel of Time. Click through for more.

Photo: Amazon
Photo: Amazon
Photo: Amazon
Photo: Amazon

Doctor Who

Finally, Doctor Who’s Flux arc concludes in the trailer for Sunday’s season finale, “The Vanquishers.”

Banner art by Jim Cook

Watch Marvel's Simu Liu Geek Out About His Favorite Star Wars Jedi @ io9

The force is strong with Simu Liu.Image: Marvel Studios

Star Wars fans are known for having passionate opinions and Shang-Chi star Simu Liu is no different. On the latest episode of Hot Ones, the new Marvel hero was asked about a photo from his Instagram where he was wearing a red Sith Trooper helmet, which lead to the question of who his favorite Jedi is. The answer is probably controversial, but certainly well reasoned.

It’s gotta be Qui-Gon Jinn,” Liu said on the show. “This whole idea of the Jedi during the Old Republic, you look at those council scenes where everyone’s so stuck-up. They’re all just like, ‘These are the rules, we don’t ever break the rules,’ and by the way, [that’s] very hypocritical too, because the Jedi are supposed to not want power. They’re like, ‘We have no thirst for power,’ and there’s literally a council that oversees everything that’s in the highest part of Coruscant.”

It’s true that... wait. He has more? OK, sure, go off king.

“I just love that Qui-Gon is a bit of a maverick,” Liu continued. “He doesn’t care. He’s like, ‘Sorry, I’m gonna train this kid.’ And ultimately, that kid is gonna grow up to become Darth Vader and overthrow the entire Republic, but still, you gotta admire the guy that can see through the hypocrisy of the Jedi Order. They think they’re the good guys—they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re so good,’ but really were the instruments of their own demise, in a way.”

In fact, Liu’s nerd out was so complete he ended it by saying “Sorry, I’ve already… you get me on a Star Wars tangent and I will show you my true colors.”

That he did and the moment is just so pure and wonderful. There’s something just magical about seeing someone you might geek out if you ever met geeking out about something themselves, especially if it’s something you’re passionate about too. And Liu is without a doubt passionate about Star Wars. You can watch the clip, which is all cued up, below.

Liu’s film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is now on Disney+.

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Star Wars: The High Republic's Grand Work Is Going Up in Flames @ io9

Ah yes, the consequences of their actions.Image: Jama Jurabaev/Del Rey

As the next chapter of Star Wars: The High Republic draws near, The Jedi Order and Republic Chancellor Lina Soh are going to learn that reaping can be much, much less fun than sowing.

We’ve already had plenty of teases that the next stage of The High Republic novels and comics would portend rather dire things for the titular Republic—mostly because all the new stories have very ominous titles and the only artwork we’d seen was of Starlight Beacon, the Jedi/Republic hub on the Outer Rim of the galaxy, exploding violently. But now, in new artwork revealed on, we know that the High Republic is going to become quite low for Starlight itself.

Because it’s going to crash, you see. Womp, womp.

Image: Del Rey

The new cataclysmic artwork comes from Jama Jurabaev, and will be an exclusive wraparound cover for the out of print exclusive edition of Star Wars: The High Republic—The Fallen Star (you see what they did there), the new novel from Claudia Gray that will headline this incoming phase of novels and comics. Sure, it’s probably sad for all those Jedi to watch Starlight Beacon go down, but hey, maybe don’t let the Chancellor of the Republic become obsessed with her legacy being wrapped up in “Great Works” projects with some big colonialist vibes that put forward an image of enlightened opulence in the Republic as it expands its borders and military aims? It’s a good way to get a bunch of disgruntled folks to bloody your nose, metaphorically or otherwise. But enough about that, don’t be sad, you also get a beanie with the Jedi’s mantra “For Life and Light!” on it with every purchase!

Image: Pascal Blanché and Gonzalo Kenny/Del Rey

Also revealed were two more exclusive editions of The Fallen Star for Barnes & Noble (which also includes a pull-out poster) and Target, the cover art for which you can see above, as well as one for Daniel José Older’s upcoming YA novel Star Wars: The High Republic—Midnight Horizon exclusive to Walmart, which will also feature a Q&A with the author:

Image: Del Rey

The next chapter of The High Republic begins with the release of The Fallen Star on January 4, 2022.

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Station Eleven's New Trailer Reveals a Strangely Uplifting Apocalypse @ io9

Screenshot: HBO

Despite the fact that most of the world’s civilization has died off from a super-flu, the survivors who star in HBO Max’s adaptation of Station Eleven seem to be in pretty good spirits about the whole thing. In a new trailer, one man (played by David Wilmot) even says to the group of survivors he’s with, “We have shelter. We have food. This is the best thing that could have possibly happened.” He’s really looking at the bright side of the end of civilization!

While there aren’t a lot of other smiles to be found in the trailer, post-pandemic life still seems to be reasonably benign for the survivors. There are traveling musicians, a museum of civilization that was, and... well, if you’ve read Emily St. John Mandel’s bestselling, Arthur C. Clarke award-winning science fiction novel that inspired this TV adaptation, not everything is hunky-dory in the apocalypse, despite how peppy the trailer’s music is.

Here’s the official synopsis, in case you missed it: “A post-apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines, this limited drama series tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.”

That’s a very noble mission statement for the last remnants of humanity to have. However, if children are being exposed to people without eyes and can discuss them with total nonchalance, then they’re likely seeing a lot worse, too. It certainly seems like someone’s got a tight grip on some of the worst of what’s been lost, too, and the apocalypse isn’t quite as great as everyone makes it look.

The 10-episode series Station Eleven premieres on HBO Max on December 16. It stars Wilmot, Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel, Daniel Zovatto, Matilda Lawler, Philippine Velge, Nabhaan Rizwan, Lori Petty, Gael Garcìa Bernal, and Danielle Deadwyler.

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New Omicron Covid-19 Case in U.S. Linked to Anime NYC Con [Updated] @ io9

Costumed attendees take a break during Anime NYC at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City on November 20, 2021.Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP (Getty Images)

As the United States begins to identify the emergence of the newly discovered Omicron variant of covid-19, a new breakthrough case of the strain in Minnesota could be a point of concern for the return of large scale conventions.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced to reporters today that a new case of Omicron has been discovered in Minnesota. It’s one of the first reported cases of the variant after a case in a Californian resident was revealed, marking the initial sign that the new, purportedly more transmissible strain of covid-19 had already begun making its way into the country. However, what has become a point of both light mockery and wider concern is the confirmation that the Minnesota resident, a fully vaccinated adult male, recently traveled to New York state for Anime NYC, and could’ve contracted the virus while attending.

Anime NYC took place from November 19-21, and official covid guidelines shared for the event stated that attendees needed to have had at least one dose of a covid vaccine authorized by the FDA or WHO, and all attendees, guests, and exhibitors over the age of two, as well as all staff and crew, had to wear masks at all times except “when eating or drinking [or] by panelists while socially distanced on stage.” According to the CDC and Minnesota public health officials, the man began showing symptoms of the virus on November 22, before testing positive for Omicron on November 24. As of now, the person’s symptoms, which were mild, have resolved. But while direct contact tracing is underway through the CDC and public health officials, New York City released a separate statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio in the wake of the news, encouraging attendees of Anime NYC to seek immediate testing for the virus and to practice further spread prevention methods such as social distancing.

“We are aware of a case of the Omicron variant identified in Minnesota that is associated with travel to a conference in New York City, and we should assume this is community spread of the variant in our city,” de Blasio’s statement reads in part. “We are working closely with the State and the CDC, as well as the Javits Center’s event organizers, and our Test and Trace Corps will be contacting conference attendees.”

It may be easy to joke about con crud and government officials having to talk about anime around this particular case (it’s, at least, somewhat lighter than the last time U.S. officials had to talk about anime publicly). But the arrival of the Omicron variant, depending on how research into the mutation ultimately tells us just what makes it different from prior strains of covid-19, could be a cause for concern for the convention industry. Con organizers big and small have been hit hard by the pandemic and events like NYCC and the recent “Special Edition” of San Diego Comic-Con, had only just really beginning to ramp back up again with vaccinations rates leading to increased confidence in large scale events.

There’s much scientists still don’t know exactly about Omicron, although early reports seem to suggest optimism that current prevention methods—masks, vaccination, and booster shots—will work against the new variant. But if its transmission rates outpace previous concerning mutations like delta, the convention circuit is going to have to get serious about monitoring just who is attending events in the near future, and how guests interact with each other safely.

Update 12/3/2021 1.15PM EST: Anime NYC has now released its own statement confirming the Minnesota resident’s attendance of the convention, and steps being taken to reach out to attendees in line with the City of New York’s Test and Trace corps’ operations for contact tracing.

“All attendees should receive an email or call from the NYC Test and Trace Corps or their local health departments with further information and recommended next steps,” the statement reads in part. “You are strongly advised to get tested.”

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To Love Animal Crossing, Let Your Neighbors Go @ io9

Raymond the cat walking around with something important on his mind.Screenshot: Nintendo

Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons becomes a different sort of video game the more time you spend playing it. After completing an initial handful of tasks meant to turn your newly settled island into a place where other people want to live, and inviting a selection of neighbors to move in, the game backs off and gives you the freedom to just... chill out. At least that’s how it seems at first.

As a social simulation game with a focus on small acts of kindness and taking one’s time, none of Animal Crossing’s stakes are particularly high. Though collecting bugs and fish and beautifying one’s island are some of its core elements of gameplay, interacting with other villagers is truly the main “point” of the game because they’re designed to be the most dynamic thing about your new neighborhood. Different villagers will squabble with one another, catch colds, and come over to your house in moments when they need a bit of a pick-me-up. As your bonds with them grow, they’ll take to calling you by nicknames and gifting you with items to show you how much your friendship means. It can all be quite the lovely, serotonin-releasing experience if you don’t mind small talk.

In cases where the villagers living on your island are people you actually get along with, this facet of Animal Crossing is a feature built into the game to keep you coming back day-to-day. But as anyone who’s spent time playing Animal Crossing can attest to, it’s not hard to end up living with a bunch of villagers whose presences turn the game into a stressful chore instead of the calming escape it’s meant to be.

Screenshot: Nintendo

Once you’ve settled a certain number of villagers, and opened different shops and the museum on your island, Animal Crossing really gives you the space to spend your time however you’d like. The game doesn’t force you to spend hours meticulously reshaping your island by hand, but gaining the ability to carve out new rivers and build up new mountains feel like some of the biggest goals you’re meant to be working toward once the game’s “main story” ends. Animal Crossing islands are like bonsai trees in how, through patience and painstaking attention to detail, you can cultivate them into intricate works of art whose forms are reflections of your aesthetic sensibilities. But once you really hunker down and set to transforming your island into the sort of digital paradise that brings you joy whenever you turn your Switch on, Animal Crossing’s design will remind you how important it is to understand that other villagers are part of the landscape, as well.

When you first begin playing New Horizons, it can be difficult—if not impossible—to imagine what kind of place you’re going to eventually want to turn it into or where things should go. Though you have the ability to choose where your island’s first buildings will go and where your neighbors will live, their identities are randomized, meaning that there’s no way of knowing who exactly is going to try to move in. Animal Crossing’s gods may smile upon you and send one S-tier villager after another your way, but it’s far more likely that you end living near at least a few folks who you absolutely cannot stand for one reason or another—a situation many people can relate to.

More so than chunks of the island itself, unwanted villagers are perhaps the biggest obstacle that Animal Crossing throws your way, but unlike tedious reconstruction projects and the time they take to complete, the difficulty with other villagers can be a bit more abstract. It’s easy enough to force current residents to pack their things up and leave your island using Amiibo cards to invite new specific characters to come visit and eventually take the vacated spots. Villagers will also sometimes express to you that they’re ready to leave the island, and you can wish them farewell knowing that someone else will be there soon. But what can be difficult is getting to a point where you’re comfortable following through on that decision.

After falling prey to the New Horizon craze in the early days of the covid-19 pandemic, I quickly found myself living on an island that I enjoyed, but never quite loved. Various works-in-progress like laying down sidewalks and giving everyone fenced-in gardens became sources of stress that kept me away from the island, and being able to see the true source of my frustration: the island’s residents whose vibes were just off. It’s hard to think about building outdoor monuments and excavation sites when your mind’s partially occupied worrying about a house that’s simply in the way and occupied by someone you wish lived somewhere else.

Screenshot: Nintendo

Free as Animal Crossing mostly lets you be in its endgame, its insistence on slow-paced play remains rather consistent throughout in a way that makes the process of switching up your island’s roster a somewhat lengthy process that can involve a few days’ worth of real-time waiting. Between the time, space, and mental energy it sometimes takes to pull a “better” villager, trying to do so can be a frustrating experience that ends up turning the game into a source of stress rather than relaxation. In situations where you’ve got a full island as well as construction projects dependent on people’s houses being rearranged, trying to make sure that an especially obnoxious villager gets the message that they should be looking for a new place to live can be a sore spot. It makes the game as a whole feel like more work than it’s really worth. Animal Crossing can certainly be that if you let it, and if you refuse to accept that the game doesn’t truly want to give you complete control over everything, but it doesn’t have to be.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons doesn’t warn you that you may suffer from bouts of intense decision paralysis while playing, even though that’s very much the case once you’ve been at it for a while and start thinking about getting creative. When it comes to things like planting flowers, the best way to get over that hurdle is to just try it out and see how you feel, knowing that it can always be undone with a few button presses. With villagers, though, the best course of action truly is to simply let them go, understanding that the beauty of whatever is going to happen next lies in it being unknown. Even when they’re getting on your nerves, saying goodbye to your Animal Crossing neighbors can be a daunting task, because there’s always the possibility that their departure’s just the first step towards someone even worse moving in. Looked at in a more optimistic light, though, letting those villagers go is one of the most freeing things you can do in Animal Crossing, and one that’s almost certain to make playing it feel fresh whether you’re an old timer or just setting out.

Animal Crossing is in stores now.

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LIGHTSPEED Presents: 'When Sri Left the Ruined City' by Donyae Coles @ io9

Illustration: Grandeduc / Adobe Stock

io9 is proud to present fiction from LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE. Once a month, we feature a story from LIGHTSPEED’s current issue. This month’s selection is “When Sri Left the Ruined City” by Donyae Coles. You can read the story below or listen to the podcast on our website. Enjoy!

When Sri Left the Ruined City

Listen, listen, hush, listen. You’re wrong about the war. You’re wrong about why the world is changing. Why it is dying all around us.

That the Gods, many and unknowable be they, wanted this: That’s what you were taught, that’s what you believe. That’s why they gave the Memra their fire beasts and the drawing light that they wield so wildly. That’s why the Reach sings those great stone men into being to crush that flaming war machine and all the little magics that fall underneath it.

But why? Ask yourself why your mama could make thread dance or a cook fire that never burned the stew. Ask, ask, why your cousin can find whatever small thing is lost. Why some slum-born nobody should be able to breathe a light so bright it burns your sin away. Gods’ gifts. That’s what you were taught. That’s what you believe. And that part is right, but it’s got no doing with the war. Forget what you believe, listen to what I know.

This is how it began.

Sri never ran to the Tower. Work was long and would be there when she got there but she ran that day. Ran right from her pallet on the floor in the little room she kept nestled in what used to be called the Dusts, all through the City and right up to the Tower. She wasn’t alone, of course, everyone ran that day but only Sri went up.

What City? The City with the Tower. You know it. Hush, listen and you’ll know more. Already you are knowing more. I can see it in your eyes, sweetlings, now hush.

Her breath dragged from her lungs and out of her open mouth in a panting rhythm like a dog but her mouth was dry, her spit stolen by her desperate dash through all of those other desperate bodies that day. She took the first of the great stone steps to the Unspoken One’s Head as undignified as the dying dog she sounded like. But then, to a God, what is a mortal?

Her body burned around her from the effort, her form, mortal and weak was unfit by the Priest’s measure for the job she had set out to do when she heard the clang of the alarm bells that morning, but she hadn’t asked the Priests and they hadn’t stopped her when she bolted past them and took to the stairs. So dog or not, she went.

Just as well, she hadn’t the time to stop.

The taste-scent of them, the Unspoken, hit her tongue. Rich and warm, a spice that couldn’t exist anywhere on the planet and certainly not in the dark pit of the God Tower.

The pit, the stairs, you must be confused. Of course. You little sweetlings, your mamas and the mamas before her and the mamas even before that wouldn’t remember what that place, this place, looked like before. But listen well, I know, I remember.

What? I told you, you know the City. Don’t call it by that name, not with me, sweetlings. It is the City. It has always been the City. It will always be the City.

Here, listen. The tower was built by Irx long ago, long before Sri and she was long ago from us. You follow that thread at least? It’s not like the towers built by men. This one didn’t spiral up to the heavens, no. To look at it from outside you wouldn’t have called it a tower at all. It was short and squat like a frog, but inside, even so, inside you had to travel around winding, wide stairs, more stairs than you would think if you were standing outside. Because it was God-built and when you’re inside a space built by Gods you are not in space for human understanding. This you will understand, the most important lesson but not yet, not yet.

So you follow now, sweetlings, you can tie that image and let me tell you what he done did. It’s not part of Sri’s story, that’s the important thing you know, but to understand the lay of it, you have to know this old tale. Forgotten by everyone but me and the Gods, I suppose. So now you’ll remember it too, keep it alive for what it is.

The why of it is lost. Whatever came between the Unspoken and Irx isn’t important. Only that when they battled, it was Irx that won. Mayhap the Unspoken was too soft but it didn’t matter then, doesn’t matter now. Irx tore them to pieces. He built his tower, dug out a hole in the ground so deep it went down to where there was another, older city that everyone had forgotten. Irx cast the Unspoken’s body down and strung his head up over it. And that was where Sri ran, up those wide steps while everyone else went down to that deep, dark forgotten place.

She passed the Altar of Irx but did not pause to pay reverence as she should. It would not have mattered, it was clear that Irx was not listening. That whatever favor he had paid humanity before, the long years of worship since had not bartered any further light from him.

We are just wardens, Sri thought in that long ago, clearly seeing the role of her people in the great Gods’ wars. They were meant to hold the Head and so long as that happened, Irx did not care for them. She slowed, the steps slippery from the mist caused by the Unspoken’s tears. The air turned from dry to wet as she passed the altar, thick with the scent of them, but such was the power of Irx that not even the Unspoken’s tears could pass his altar.

Will he come for me, for what I mean to do? The thought came, pressing at the back of her head, the base of her skull like a dull throb, an ache, but she did not stop, she forced one careful step in front of the other.

What? What? Am I Sri? Oh no! You’ll make me choke on my tea, you make me laugh so hard! No sweetlings, not I. These old bones are just for the tales, the telling, and you, young ones, are interrupting with silly questions. Now hush, listen, before I take your sweet bones, add them to my collection.

She moved around wide puddles that had collected where the floor sank, damaged from the Unspoken’s rage when they still raged, long before Sri. The tower did not fall; it had cracked and buckled but it would never fall. That’s what Sri had been taught, that is what Sri believed.

Her eyes caught the dancing lights that moved in the watery depths of the puddles, far deeper than they should have been. They beckoned her to drink, to dive in. Such was the way of the Unspoken’s sorrow. She ignored them, as she had been taught. To gaze into the depths was to invite the displeasure of Irx.

She wondered if the old priests had lied. If they had seen what wonders waited in the tears of the Unspoken. She wondered if that was why their borders had been breached, why murder had come to their land. Why the Far Kingdom had attacked them. She didn’t know, and it didn’t matter.

What sweetlings? What was the name of the Far Kingdom? I do not know and it does not matter. They were some other from somewhere other and now would be someone other all again. It is not important. Hush. Listen.

She knew that Irx protected the land. She knew their borders were sovereign and God-touched. She knew no harm was able to cross it. It was what she had been taught, what she believed.

But harm had come. Their borders had been crossed. The army had made its way to the City, they would be in the Tower soon. The priests and the last of the people who sought refuge had gone down into the nameless old city. They would pray that the beasts that had sprouted from the decaying body of the Unspoken and roamed there would not eat them, that Irx’s light would protect and guide them. But Irx’s light had already left them.

Her lot, she had decided as soon as she heard the brash clang of the bells tolling the fall of the City, would be thrown with the Unspoken. They were a God, a captive one, but surely they had some power, some remaining essence that could save her, save her people she reasoned. The pools and their secret wonders were proof.

So it was that she took the stairs, as she did four times in every eight days to clean floors before the God (though they be cast out, they be divine and deserved some consideration but never more than we give Irx, so she had been taught, so she believed).

The light changed as the glow of Irx was replaced. The Unspoken’s light shone differently than Irx’s. Softer, more green than the white of Irx. When they slept, the stairs fell dark and the trail of their tears shone, lighting the way. Sri saw it from time to time and she stared in wonder at the glowing path their pain created for the priests did not condemn this act of looking.

The steps ended and she found herself bathed in that light as she stepped into the great hall of the Unspoken.

There, above the pit that led all the way down into the forgotten place the Priests and the City went to, hung the Head of the Unspoken One.

Huge, it took up enough space to fit a hundred worshipers, that did fit so many when it came time for the Great Punishment. When men and women from the City came to spit on and throw refuse at the piece of divinity that hung in their midst. It was as Irx wanted, she had been taught. On those days the Unspoken kept their eyes closed and when all the others had left, she used her long brush to wipe away the refuse from their face. When they smiled in return, it felt like a tiny sun had erupted in her chest. By morning the garbage from the City would be cleaned and she would sleep soundly all the next day and night, her dreams filled with strange things.

They looked human, like Sri, like us, in many ways. The head had a familiar shape but there were too many eyes, all mismatched. They dotted their forehead and chin, blinking in some rhythm only the Gods knew and flashing strange colors that eyes could not be. They dripped near constant tears that ran in a channel past their wide nose and down their chin. Their ears were long, animal-like, and pointed toward the sky. She had seen their teeth, too many for a mouth but their lips smiled sweetly at her and she had seen the eyes stop crying. Their skin was purple, blue, green depending on the light.

Their neck was a pulpy mess of flesh and bone where it had been taken from their body. Even after eons it still looked painful, but no blood dripped from it. And pierced throughout their face, the chains. Metal that was not gold hung in thick links attached to brow and lip and nose and ear holding the head up. The chains strung all the way up to the ceiling that no man could reach and back down to some strange crank that Irx had left there.

Maybe Irx meant to release the Unspoken someday but Sri had never been told if he did and she did not think on it.

They heard her when she entered. Their many eyes focused on her and she felt, as she always felt, small in their gaze.

“The Far Kingdom has attacked us,” she said, blurting out the words like a child. She had never spoken to them before. Four days in every eight she came and cleaned. She sang songs while she worked, not to them - it was forbidden, but she sang and they could hear. But she never spoke to them. It was forbidden to be so direct, so she had been taught.

Their many brows twisted, glittering with the hoops that snared them as their lips pulled into a small frown.

Bold merely for making it so far, she walked to the edge of the floor, as close as she could be before the gaping hole that led to the far below. Close enough to reach the God that hung suspended on divine chains that hadn’t moved since Irx had left their plane and returned to the Godlands. “They are overtaking the City. They’ve taken it. They will kill everyone. I need,” she paused here, unsure how to go on, her voice faltering. “I would like your help,” she tried again, more humble, she was only human.

Their brows rose this time, eyes wide, their tears stopping in their surprise. It had been an eon since any mortal had asked them for anything.

“I’ll give you whatever you require. You’re a God. I have to pay the proper tributes. I don’t know what they are, no one knows anymore but tell me, I’ll give you anything,” she promised without thinking. Without really threading that she hadn’t really asked for anything. But she made her pledge even so.

Their frown lifted and a soft expression came over them, a small, gentle smile. Why had Irx battled them? Why do we punish them, she thought, charmed, for the Unspoken was charming. Is charming, to be true about it. She reached out then and did something else she had never done. Something that was likely forbidden, but the priests had never spoken against it because no one would dare.

She touched them.

She placed the flat of her hand on the Unspoken’s chin, just so. Their skin felt soft, like the finest of fabrics. A warmth like the spring’s sun filled her body, starting with her hand and running a path through her, and she knew that the priests had been wrong to side with Irx, to warn her away from gazing into their collected tears. The priests had been wrong about many things. The Unspoken sighed, a sad, content brush of strange scented air.

“Please,” she whispered wishing she had spoken to them before, that she had touched them before. She looked into their eye, the one closest to her, felt their heavy gaze, wondering if it would crush her if they held their full power and not just a fraction locked in their many weeping eyes.

They blinked slowly, just once with every eye and she relaxed, felt tears bubble up in her. They smiled softly; the flesh moving under her hand, as they looked to the wall where their chains led.

The God Machine, the great machination of Irx.

She nodded, she understood. Of course, what could they do chained as they were?

She crossed the room as she had every day that she cleaned. The light of the Unspoken shown into the corners of the space, illuminating the gears that lined the wall, spiraling up and outwards. Even their light could not reach the ceiling.

Their tears had rusted the machine. What had once been dark metal now flaked orange-red. She swallowed the fear that it wouldn’t move and found the lever, human-sized, as if it had always been meant for her hand. Strange, she thought, that a god would leave something for a lowly man to use.

The rust flaked off under her palms and gritting her teeth, she threw her weight, such as it was, against it. Sri was a small thing, truth be told. Insignificant but enough for what was needed then. The machine groaned and then gave. The lever pulled out of her hand and she fell back as it spun, the ancient chains clanking and groaning. She turned in time to see the Unspoken drop, loosed from their prison and swallowed by the darkness. The chains that had held them swayed long and slack into the shadow.

Did I make a mistake, she thought, dropping to her hands and knees before the pit.

The Tower shook. The scent of her fear spilled from her.

The Tower shook again, the great chains that held the Unspoken rattled, pulled taut, and with a great crash something came free from the great machine and the chains, fully loose, rushed through the gears, breaking and crashing as they flew up the wall to the ceiling and then before Sri’s wide eyes, down into the pit. Again the world fell still and silent.

She sat, her body growing stiff and cold in the tear-damp room but she couldn’t bring herself to move. She waited, staring into the dark pit, the hairs on the back of her neck pricking up in fear. “Please,” she whispered, praying in the desperate way of mortals in hopes that they would hear, would answer. “I’m sorry. I should have freed you sooner. I should have noticed before.” The words fell from her mouth into the darkness and she hoped that they could hear her, understand her regret.

The tower shuddered and she held her breath. Again the floor vibrated as something large hit the walls far below her.

“Please,” she whispered again into the darkness and it answered, the tower rumbling as a massive hand reached from it, gripping the side of the pit.

The skin of the hand was purple, blue, green. Seven fingers attached to a palm. Another joined it on the opposite side, framing Sri inside of them. Hands ringed the hole the Unspoken had fallen into for a moment before the god lifted themself from the darkness and for the first time Sri saw their full form. The first mortal or immortal in an eon to have done so.

Many arms sprouted from a long torso topped with a slim throat and there the face that she had grown so used to, had touched so recently. On every wrist they wore a manacle that shimmered like gold but was not gold, was not any metal that Sri would know. The manacles led to heavy chains, familiar in their make if not their color. The chains lead back to the Unspoken’s head clipped as they had been through flesh and bone, running from brows to ears, nose and lips and she understood then what Irx had done to hold them. Through some trick that only gods could pull, Irx had wrapped the Unspoken’s chains around their machine, had used what they adorned themselves with to hold their body and their head separate from each other. A fury she did not understand ripped through her as the Unspoken came further into view.

They pulled their body from the darkness, their head reaching the ceiling, and in their divine glow she could finally see it, so far above it may as well have been the sky itself.

Massive claws tipped with talons balanced on either side of the hole as the Unspoken pushed against the ceiling. Stones fell, large, impossible stones and Sri knew that the Priests had been right at least about the Tower. Irx had built it but they were wrong about how long it would stand. The Unspoken would topple it. Sri screamed, all that bravery that had led her feet and hands there gone as the stones smashed around her, tumbling through the floor leaving large holes.

The Unspoken paused, glancing down. She felt it, the same pressure, as if their focus were a weight on her.

They reached down, one strange hand wrapping around her form and she squeaked in surprise as they lifted her, holding her close to their chest, buried in a forest of arms. The strange spice scent filled her nostrils, a warmth that felt like summer, winter’s fire, and something else low in her belly filled her.

She heard the ceiling shudder, more stones crashing until the great Tower gave one last sigh and the facade fell. She watched, safe, from the cover of the Unspoken’s many hands for a moment as below them, the floor broke away. A fleeting thought for the people who were trapped underneath before they lifted her with them and Sri, the poor cleaner laid eyes on the Godlands.

What she saw, I cannot say. It is not known by anyone but Sri and the gods above what wonders she saw on that day. Whatever the Unspoken showed her, she never spoke of it, not in all the years since. What is known to us poor mortals, to me and now to you sweetlings, is that she went. And even if I don’t have all the pretty bits of the story, I know what happened, what Sri learned, the parts that matter. Listen well, my sweetlings, I’m going to tell you now.

The Great and Holy Irx (a god still no matter of what happens next, we honor the divine, sweetlings) sat quivering before the Whole and Angry Unspoken and Sri understood all she had to.

She understood why they had not come to save her people, that their worship had never mattered to him because before his greatness, they were all nothing. Nothing at all. To him, all that mattered was that the Unspoken stay locked and held down by the press of their own body in the snare of their own chains as revenge for whatever it was that Gods took revenge for.

And because Sri understood that, she understood that all the prayers and tears would not bring Irx to help her people. That they were doomed, doomed below. But sweetlings, what happened to them is another story. Another tale. Let’s get through this one. Irx would never help them and the divine they had been so close to, the being they could touch, they had thrown garbage at and kept chained.

In any case, the Unspoken destroyed Irx and became a single God in an empty universe that should not be empty and this next part, we know. I know and now you will know. But they had felled the usurper and the others, down below, trapped as they had been trapped, would begin to struggle to break their own chains. Sri could hear them faintly, calling in all the ways that gods call.

The Unspoken lifted Sri’s poor form. The chains that had imprisoned them hung delicately about their face. They reached one finger over her and touched her head. Her eyes fluttered closed, a warmth spun in her, reaching out from her core and spilling into her body. The air shifted and it felt like someone had wrapped their arms about her before the softest of kisses covered her. Just as quickly as the feelings had come they faded, leaving only a murmur of warmth along her skin.

Her eyes opened slowly to the Unspoken’s smiling face. A new weight sat on her shoulder and she looked down to find a chain over it. She followed it with her fingers until it disappeared into the base of her skull. She looked up at the god again, tracing the chain with her eyes back to their throat.

My acolyte, my voice, she heard in a way that felt more like a memory. Like something she knew to be true. Blessed with their chain, she had become something more than human but less than god.

They smiled again before passing her form down through their hands. Lower and lower she traveled until the last hand opened up and she stepped off their palm back into the tower. The hand pulled up and away and above her the normal sky filled the air.

Alone and cold she picked her way down the ruined Tower. The pools of water were empty, dried up. The god gone, they held no more delights. She wished she had looked when they were still alive and full of magic. She wished she hadn’t listened to the Priests.

Slowly she traveled to the main floor where the heavy doors made from thick steel that could only be opened by the arms of a thousand men stood broken from their hinges on the floor. If the Far army had been there, there was no sign of them now. There was no sign of anyone. No soldiers or her people who had chosen the depths.

She climbed over the doors and walked out into the City, traveling away from the Tower. Buildings lay broken and ransacked but dirt and weeds had grown over it all as if the war had been long ago. They didn’t lay in ruin, it had become ruins and Sri realized that she had been gone a very, very long time.

She heard laughter. People, she thought, excited, turning her body to the sound, her walk becoming a run as she followed the laughter and shouts through the remains of winding streets that were familiar in the way that bones are familiar. The shape known but the parts that made them something you loved gone.

She came to a group of children playing in an open lot, their mothers standing and sitting against the far wall, engrossed in their own conversations. Their clothes were different from hers. Simple dresses where her people had worn robes and leggings. Their hair was twisted into thick braids, not the thin ropes that adorned her head.

They must have seen it too. One woman stepped away from the wall, wary. “Where ya from, girl?”

Sri meant to say here. To explain she lived in the City. To ask what had happened to the Far army, to her people. “The Tower,” came out.

“That ruin?” the woman snorted. “Girl must be touched.” The woman shook her head and then motioned for her to come closer. “Come on then, we’ll get you fed and cleaned up. Keep you until we can find your people.”

Sri heard a soft jingle, the click of link against link and did as the woman asked.

Her name was Vosgi. She explained Sri to her husband while she sat in a chair like a child. Vosgi’s own children watched wide-eyed as the woman sat a bowl in front of her and she ate like an animal, slurping the stew up, her body only remembering all at once that it needed food, water, a pot. That it was not something divine but human, so human.

Sri let herself be led to a bath where the woman sang soft songs and undid her hair. Out of the braids it fell much longer than she remembered it. The water turned murky.

“What happened to the people that used to live here,” she asked quietly, her reflection wavering in dirty water.

Vosgi laughed. “No one’s lived here for centuries before we came here and settled. It’s good land. The stone’s worth something. Honest work to be had.”

“And your gods?” she whispered.

The woman snorted, squeezing water out of her longer than she remembered it hair. “Gods, what about them? We pray, that’s it.”

Sri felt the chain tug on her, pulling at the back of her mind. When she slept, clean and fed by a stranger, she dreamed soft, warm dreams of living stars.

She woke when the night was still and dark, a soft ringing, a gentle push. She slipped out of the bed and padded with her quietest steps to where Vosgi’s children slept. Gently she woke the boy and shushing him led him from the house.

You may think, sweetlings, that you wouldn’t have gone. You world-weary young, just out of your training pants, but you would have as surely as anyone would have. The Sri that came back from the God Lands was a Sri that gives no man a choice but to follow. Or boy as the story goes.

She took him out into the ruins that used to be her city before her world ended, following old paths buried under rubble, waiting, waiting for some sign. She stopped, her neck bending, the sound of chains jingling and clinking in the air and she turned, expecting to see the Unspoken’s smiling face but finding only empty air. Something in the rubble of a building sparkled.

Curious, she moved toward it, the sound of the chain following her every step as she lifted her legs and body over a half-crumbled wall into a kitchen where the stove had fallen in. An idol to Irx sat broken beside it. She moved a few bricks while the boy followed her path.

The space looked different. In the light of the stars she could see from what should have been just stone with nothing growing, something strange and twisted had sprouted. The new plant seemed to glow in the starlight as whatever had waited in the pools of tears that once trailed down the tower steps had glowed.

“What is it?”

She could hear the wonder in his voice, the sound of a child who had never been told that such beauty was evil, that such light was wrong. She kept digging until she couldn’t. She had gone as far as she could. There, in a crack she saw something shine. Frowning, she reached forward but she couldn’t get more than her fingers past. Whatever waited inside slipped through them like sand.

She sighed.

“What are you doing? Let me help!” the boy said, eager in the way that children are to be involved, his hand slipped through the crack, lizard quick, and pulled back, grasping something in his fist.

She caught a flash of it as he opened his hand. A small thing, a bit of tangled string around a stone, maybe? But at the sight of it she sighed.

In front of her the boy went still, staring at his palm, his eyes wide, the pupils grown to their fullest before his eyes closed and he smiled. When he blinked, he looked around, confused. Whatever it was, it had left them.

Or at least left her. The boy ran back to his home, feet sure over the stone. She wondered what he would dream now, what he would be able to do. What gift he had been given for freeing a God.

She turned away from the City. There was nothing there for her now. Her purpose was forward. To free the Gods. To find their acolytes.

To help the world remember. To end the age that Irx had begun.

As she walked through the remains of the City, she thought about the Unspoken, she thought about her people that they hadn’t saved. She thought of denying them. But then she remembered the smile of the boy and the warmth in her and she couldn’t.

The priest had been wrong. Her people hadn’t understood. The gods were varied and many. Her god was singular. Irx had wanted it all for himself. He had emptied the heavens for that taste of a connection. But Irx had been wrong too. As wrong as the Priests. As wrong as she had been for so long before the Unspoken blessed her with the gift of Vision.

The world no longer remembered the gods when Sri left the ruined City. And Sri, the last mortal who knew them, found them wherever she went. And the more people she helped, the more people learned to look. And the more they learned to look, the more the Gods called to them. And the more they called, the more things changed. Like the tide pools full of tears, the gods spill power so that we will notice them, and we do. And the more men found them, found that power, the more they forgot what it was to be with other men. It’s easy to forget to be a person when you’ve been held by a God, sweetlings. Remember that, thread it, tie it to you.

And that, my sweetlings, is how the world began to die, why it is dying even while we live in it and breathe. But, now you know the truth, you know the tale and perhaps there are gods left to bestow their gifts on you too. Maybe you’ll find one to help you survive all this. Maybe I’ll replace this old story with one of yours. Only the Gods know, my sweetlings, and we may thread them but we will never know them.

Now off with ya, these old bones are tired. Let me go to my dreams. And I leave you with yours.

About the Author

Donyae Coles has had a number of works appear in various podcasts, magazines, and anthologies. She has recently sold her debut novel, Midnight Rooms, but a list of her short works can be found on her website, You can follow her on Twitter @okokno.

Please visit LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE to read more great science fiction and fantasy. This story first appeared in the May 2021 issue, which also features work by Adam-Troy Castro, Carrie Vaughn, Sofia Samatar, E. Lily Yu, Filip Hajdar Drnovšek Zorko, Sharang Biswas, Aimee Ogden, and more. You can wait for this month’s contents to be serialized online, or you can buy the whole issue right now in convenient ebook format for just $3.99, or subscribe to the ebook edition here.

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Of Course The Book of Boba Fett Will Explore What Happened to Him After the Sarlacc @ io9

Be like Boba: get your Bacta booster ASAP.Screenshot: Lucasfilm

What, you thought Star Wars would leave something about a character’s backstory unexplained?

We’re just under a month away from the Disney+ series The Book of Boba Fett, and in true Star Wars style as of late, we know barely anything about the series other than the vague idea that Boba Fett and Fennec Shand will be setting up shop in Jabba’s palace to take the expired Hutt’s criminal enterprise for their own. Will there be adventures beyond Tatooine? Will Boba and Fennec deal with the lingering Imperial remnants they faced in The Mandalorian? What other familiar Star Wars faces will show up (because that’s the other thing Star Wars is into these days)? Will there, for the love of god, be books?

We don’t know. What we do know, however, is that Lucasfilm is not going to miss the opportunity of doing a Boba Fett show after the events of Return of the Jedi and not tell us how the bounty hunter is not currently a giant sentient pit monster’s dinner for the next 1,000 years. “There will definitely be a number of answers,” Temuera Morrison told SFX magazine (via GamesRadar). “Some long-winded answers. Some short and sharp answers. Some colorful answers. We’re filling a lot of gaps.”

Of course with Boba, even with his penchant for showing up everywhere he possibly can, there are still many areas of his life left untouched, especially in the current Star Wars canon, so this makes a lot of sense. We’ve already seen cryptic shots in recent footage of him recovering in Bacta and seeing visions of Tuskens, which could all potentially suggest we’ll be looking back at how he crawled out of the Sarlacc and found himself that nifty gaffi stick he was beating the snot out of stormtroopers with when we met him again in The Mandalorian season two. Plus, it’s Star Wars. For better or worse, the series is fascinated by not just its past, but archiving the details of it as much as it can. At least, it seems, beyond the sake of telling us that Boba got out of Sarlacc saliva, Morrison’s co-star Ming-Na Wen teased that the trauma Boba faced in his seeming slow death will become something of a bonding point for him and Fennec, who was likewise rescued from certain doom after being left in the sands of Tatooine to rot. “And you know, Boba died–or we thought he did–in the Sarlacc pit, so I think that both of them share those near-death experiences in common,” Wen told the magazine. “They both have a vulnerability that they understand.”

“He’s someone she respects and they have definitely bonded with him saving her. It allowed her to realize that she might be better off not being solo anymore,” she continued. “She sees her alliance with Boba Fett as a very smart move, in the sense that she’ll have somebody watching her back. And even though it might be an extra baggage to have to align herself with someone else, the reward for her at the moment is greater.”

Of course, The Book of Boba Fett has a lot more it could dive into beyond the titular bounty hunter’s immediate past, given it’s set in that interesting time frame about five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. It’s time of great upheaval in the wider state of the galaxy far, far away; the Galactic Concordance—the official peace agreement between the Imperial remnant and the New Republic that put an end to the Galactic Civil War—was signed just a year after Return. Much of what we know about the New Republic in this time is about the consolidation of its forces, transferring military and law enforcement primarily over to planetary governments.

Sure, Book of Boba Fett will be focused on the main man himself and the criminal underworld he wants to rule, but that could also mean brushing up with the long arm of the new law in the galaxy, making its exploration of the past a bit more interesting than simply covering Boba’s cheating death. The Book of Boba Fett begins December 29.

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