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That's a wrap on 'Ahsoka.' (Or is it?)
The latest 'Star Wars' show left a bunch of threads for future stories. PLUS: 'SNL' returns with its full cast, and Roy Wood Jr. leaves 'The Daily Show.'
Hello! This edition of Popculturology is wrapping up another week. The late-night shows are back (love seeing Seth Meyers and the Late Night crew on TV again) and pretty much everyone made it through the week without getting deposed as speaker of the House.
You’ll notice my thoughts on the season premiere of Loki are missing from today’s newsletter. While it’s great to see Disney+ shows dropping at a reasonable time now, a 9:30 p.m. premiere is a touch too late to turn around for an edition of the newsletter the following morning.
After falling behind on the show, Caitlin and I binged through the final batch of Reservation Dogs episodes this week. What a beautiful show. (That also had Bigfoot and aliens!) I’m glad we got to enjoy it for three seasons and creator Sterlin Harjo was able to end the show on his own terms.
Oh, I watched Shane Gillis’ new Netflix special earlier this week. Beautiful Dogs, the special from the former Saturday Night Live castmember (calling him “former” is generous), left me feeling dumber as a human being. I recommend avoiding it at all costs.
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‘LONG LIVE THE EMPIRE’
Ahsoka dropped its series finale (season finale?) on Tuesday. The show, while often uneven, wrapped up several storylines that had been lingering since Star Wars Rebels ended in 2018, bringing characters like Hera Syndulla, Sabine Wren, Ezra Bridger and Thrawn into live action.
Overall, I liked the show. It definitely took some time to get going, especially as it insisted on presenting characters like Ahsoka and Sabine as unexplainably different than how we had always known them. There’s character development — and then there’s just being confusing.
This era of Star Wars storytelling exists in a weird spot. The Ahsoka finale opened a world of possibilities when it comes to this era, but any stories that follow it (Dave Filoni’s film wrapping up The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and Ahsoka, for example) will still butt up against where we find the Star Wars universe in the sequel trilogy.
What’s next for Ahsoka? Bested by Thrawn, the title character now finds herself stranded in a completely different galaxy alongside Sabine and those turtle creatures. She seems content, though, trusting that the Force has them right where they belong. Appearances by Morai, Ahsoka’s bird friend who represents the Daughter (oh boy, are the next few years of Star Wars going to be a fun one to explain to people who didn’t watch the cartoons) and Anakin Skywalker in Force ghost form would reassure me too.
I don’t think saving Ezra was worth it: Look, I loved seeing Ezra reunite with Sabine and then Hera and Chopper. But when it comes down to it, this was a bad trade. A very bad trade. When Ahsoka began, Ezra was lost — but Thrawn was too. The cost of bringing Ezra home: Thrawn’s return and the loss of Ahsoka, one of the most experienced Jedi still alive. Ahsoka weirdly never touched on how Sabine wanting to find Ezra wasn’t worth putting Thrawn back in play too.
Home sweet Dathomir: And Thrawn’s not the only one back in play. He brought the Great Mothers back with him along with a ton of mysterious caskets. Thrawn setting up shop on Dathomir, a planet deeply connected to the Dark Side, doesn’t bode well for the galaxy.
Defeated Anakin’s apprentice, defeated by Anakin’s children? I’d love to not be right on this one, but CGI versions of Luke and Leia are on their way. After outplaying the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker, why wouldn’t the children of Anakin Skywalker be the final line of defense for the New Republic? If we’re getting a movie pitting Thrawn and the Imperial Remnant against the New Order, Luke and Leia’s absence would be a giant hole in that story. If only Lucasfilm would come around to casting new actors to play these legacy characters.
Baylan, the Mortis Gods and what lurks on Peridea: Once again, Ray Stevenson was one of the coolest new additions to Star Wars. His passing leaves massive shoes to fill, assuming Lucasfilm brings in a new actor to continue Baylan Skoll’s story. Based on how Ahsoka ended, I don’t see how they don’t recast. You don’t show a fallen Jedi standing on a massive statue of the Father (another Mortis God) as he’s beckoned by some unknown force in the distance. (My money is on Abeloth, the unofficial Mother of the Mortis God trio.)
Is Anakin back for good now? I have this feeling that we haven’t seen the last of Hayden Christensen in Star Wars. With the Mortis Gods seemingly set to play a large role in the future of Star Wars storytelling, Anakin is intrinsically connected to those characters — and may even have assumed their mantle in the Force.
So, uh, Shin … I was shocked that there wasn’t a bigger payoff for Shin Hati. I guess that’s where a second season of Ahsoka could go?
Is there a second season of Ahsoka? Good question. In a deleted tweet on Tuesday, Lucasfilm called “The Jedi, the Witch and the Warlord” the series finale of Ahsoka. According to Deadline, “Ahsoka Season 2 is more of a reality in the conversation, though nothing is locked yet.” The question seems to be whether Filoni’s film serves as the conclusion to Ahsoka’s lingering storylines or if there’s room for another season before that film. This is the problem with any cinematic universe — it’s unclear where shows and movies begin and end, leaving fans unsure of what to expect next.
NEWS, NOTES AND TRAILERS
SNL sets premiere with entire cast returning
It’s a great time to be a Saturday Night Live fan. After wrapping up last season three episodes early, the iconic series announced that it’ll return for its 49th (!!!) season on Oct. 14. (Don’t worry, Deadline reports that SNL has “the full blessing of SAG-AFTRA” when it comes to having its castmembers participate in the show.)
Everyone from last season is coming back: All sixteen castmembers from last season are sticking around for the new season. The show was firing on all cylinders as it got deeper into last season, so I’m thrilled to see what this group can do with yet another year under their belts. (And with several years of distance from SNL’s celebrity cameo era.) This will also be Kenan Thompson’s 21st season as part of SNL’s cast.
Promoted: James Austin Johnson and Sarah Sherman have been bumped up from featured status.
Chloe Troast joins the show: With the full cast returning, it’s going to be a crowded roster for Chloe Troast, the one new castmember, to break through. Troast should already be familiar to Please Don’t Destroy fans and will appear in Please Don't Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain, their upcoming movie.
Pete Davidson returns as host: Originally announced as the host of the third-to-last episode of last season, Pete Davidson will make his SNL return for the first episode of Season 49. If you’re doing the math at home, this will be the 19th episode since Davidson left SNL. From the April 18 edition of Popculturology:
Of the 38 people who have both been part of SNL’s cast and hosted the show, and removing the handful of castmembers who either hosted while they were part of the cast or before they were part of the cast (the early years were messy and the period where Lorne Michaels was gone played by its own rules), only Billy Crystal pulled off the castmember-to-host move quicker, returning just twelve episodes after he left the show.
Davidson squeaks by Kristin Wiig on this list, beating her back to the hosting role by an episode.
Drew Barrymore writers bail
While things are going great for SNL, it’s a tougher environment at The Drew Barrymore Show. After Drew Barrymore bumbled her way through an ill-fated attempt to bring her show back during the dual strike, three of her writers will not be returning.
Chelsea White, Cristina Kinon and Liz Koe have declined offers to remain a part of The Drew Barrymore Show.
‘I can't come up with [what] Plan B is while still working with Plan A’
While the major late-night shows are up and running after the writers strike ended, The Daily Show is still without a permeant host. After it sounded like either Hasan Minhaj and Kal Penn were close to landing the show’s hosting gig, Comedy Central is reportedly restarting its search for Trevor Noah’s replacement.
One person who won’t be in the running: Roy Wood Jr.
“I can’t come up with [what] Plan B is while still working with Plan A,” Wood told NPR. “The job of correspondent ... it’s not really one where you can juggle multiple things. [And] I think eight years is a good run.”
Comedy Central really fumbled the ball here. Wood is a beloved member of The Daily Show and recently hosted the White House Correspondents Dinner. It seemed like Wood was the no-brainer pick as the next host of The Daily Show.
Chris Rock directing and producing an MLK Jr. biopic
Chris Rock will direct his first feature film since 2014’s Top Five when he takes his place behind the camera of an upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. biopic. The film will be based on King: A Life, a biography by Jonathan Eig. Steven Spielberg is set to executive produce.
🔪 More Murders
I haven’t watched the most recent season of Only Murders in the Building yet. With Hulu announcing that the show has been renewed for a fourth season, it looks like I have some catching up to do.
How Ryan Reynolds Helped “Jake From State Farm” Sneak Into the Kelce Suite During an NFL Game (Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter)
Musk is nearly done destroying what made Twitter Twitter (Philip Bump, The Washington Post)
Michael Lewis’ Front-Row Seat at the Sh*t Show (Ben McKenzie, Slate)
AND FINALLY …
‘You’re telling me one man did this. And the only thing you know is he’s a beekeeper.”
Jason Statham as a beekeeper who also has John Wick powers? There better be a scene where he summons his bees to fight an opponent.
That’s the end of this issue of Popculturology. Thanks for reading. If you don’t already subscribe, please hit the “Subscribe now” button. Tapping the ♥️ at the bottom of each post also helps the newsletter.