FILM

12 Nature Documentaries to Celebrate Earth Day (Without Going Outside)

April 22nd is Earth Day, which means it's time appreciate the beauty of nature (from the safety of your home)

Netflix

It's Earth Day!

That special time of year when we take some time to appreciate Mother Earth in all her splendor, and it would be so nice to get out into the sunlight and enjoy some nature. But it's a trap! Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, your best bet of not catching/spreading the coronavirus is to stay indoors. So whether you're fully quarantined or just practicing social distancing, these nature documentaries can remind you of the outside world without risking any contact with other people.

Dancing With the Birds

Dancing with the Birds

Netflix

Is there anything that defines the beauty of nature more than birdsong? The sound of twittering and chirping filling the trees can make even an urban landscape feel connected with nature. But singing is just one of the ways that birds have of seducing each other as the weather changes. The birds-of-paradise that live in New Guinea and parts of Australia prefer a different kind of performance. With brilliant jumping, twisting displays of iridescent plumage, they dance for the future of the species. And for the future of your species, you will stay inside and watch them do it. Dancing With the Birds is also the only documentary on this list that your cat is likely to enjoy as much as you will.

Moving Art

Moving Art

Netflix

Oh wait, forgot about flowers. Flowers are the defining beauty of springtime, and in "Flowers" episode of Moving Art you can watch every variety and color of flower grow, bloom, follow the sun, and sway in the wind—almost like you were actually outside! The soothing imagery and wordless orchestral soundtrack make for great background viewing while you count out squares of toilet paper to make sure your roommate isn't exceeding their ration.

Planet Earth

Planet Earth

BBC

If you haven't seen Planet Earth, you've been missing out. There's nothing outside your door that could compete with this collection of some of the most spectacular sights in the natural world, all narrated by the incomparable baritone of David Attenborough (because we aren't heathens, and Sigourney Weaver can't say "water.") Until recently it was streaming on Netflix, but now you have to pay for it, so...

Our Planet

Our Pla

Netflix

Our Planet is Netflix's answer to Planet Earth, complete with spectacular sights and David Attenborough's narration. It's almost as amazing as the BBC classic, and it won't cost you anything but a Netflix subscription

Koyaanisqatsi

koyaanisqatsi

Koyaanisqatsi

In the Hopi language, koyaanisqatsi means life out of balance, so you can probably guess that the entire film is just 86 minutes of nature imagery juxtaposed with surreal scenes of urban life and destructive industry set to a score by Philip Glass—duh. The only word spoken in the entire film is the title, repeatedly chanted in a voice that sounds like it's summoning dark spirits to bring on the end times. If quarantine has you in a particularly apocalyptic mood and really hating human civilization, then Koyaanisqatsi is the perfect way to celebrate our long-suffering planet.

Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell with a bear

Grizzly Man

The story of Timothy Treadwell is a cautionary tale on the dangers of underestimating a deadly threat—and of going outside. For 13 summers Treadwell camped in the wilds of Alaska and convinced himself that he could hang out and pal around with giant Kodiak bears without issue. Without giving away Grizzly Man's tragic twist ending (he's eaten by bears), you can count on this documentary to remind you of the majesty and wonder of nature while also making you thankful that you live indoors.

Blue Planet

Blue Planet

BBC

Imagine living in the dark depths of the ocean where strange creatures with glowing appendages subsist off thermal vents and nutrients that descend from the sunlit waters above, and they never have to wash their hands. Blue Planet is a documentary series that explores every aspect of life in and around the seas. Episode two, "The Deep" is particularly beautiful and eerie, and invites you to imagine the isolation of an angler fish that may go its entire life without seeing another angler fish.

Chasing Coral

Chasing Coral

Netflix

Chasing Coral would normally be a pretty depressing documentary. It follows a team of researchers documenting the disappearance of the world's vital coral reefs as a result of human industry. But if there is a silver lining to the current pandemic, it's that the reduction of human activity is mitigating the pollution and damage that we usually unleash upon the Earth's fragile ecosystems. If dolphins have started swimming in the suddenly pristine canals of Venice, then maybe some of the world's endangered coral will also see some benefit from this break humanity is taking.

Madagascar

madagascar

BBC

Remember international travel? People used to get on planes and fly all over the world to see exotic locales and experience natural wonders unlike anything they could see at home. Well forget about all that, because it's gone. The closest thing in our new reality is sitting really close to your TV while Madagascar (the documentary, not the cartoon) plays. And maybe you can smear some banana on the screen to pretend you're feeding the lemurs.

The Universe

The Universe

Netflix

It might seem strange to think of distant space as a part of "nature," but just as the moon pulls at the oceans, when we examine the workings of the universe we discover the interconnectedness of all things and gain perspective on the scale of human struggle. Also, imagine if you were out in space right now—no way you would get infected! The Universe is an ideal escape from the world.

Encounters at the End of the World

encounters at the end of the world

IFC Center

If it seems like the COVID-19 virus has turned the world into a barren waste, Encounters at the End of the World is a good reminder that there is an entire continent that remains completely unaffected—largely because it was already a barren waste. This exploration of the inhabitants and landscapes of Antarctica is the work of Werner Herzog, whose moody philosophical musings are the perfect narration for the end of the world.

Ghosts of the Mountains

snow leopard

Netflix

Snow leopards are rarely seen by human eyes. They live in remote mountain climates and maintain solitary existences cut off even from other snow leopards. In other words, they are masters of social distancing. Watch Ghosts of the Mountains and be like the snow leopards.

CULTURE

From Baby Groot to Baby Yoda, Why Infantilized Characters Are Cultural Setbacks

TLDR: Baby Nut is a fascist and a threat to civil liberties.

First, we were bewitched by Marvel's Baby Groot in 2017, then Disney's Baby Yoda became our new god in 2019, and during the 2020 Super Bowl we witnessed the sprouting of an infantile, talking legume: Planters Peanuts' Baby Nut.

But do we want to adopt these infant forms of beloved cultural icons–or become them? Do they satiate our compulsion to parent or be parented, ourselves?

youtu.be

As a marketing tactic, advertisers have been using mascots as brand ambassadors since the advent of visual media. Decades of research have revealed that mascots boost sales and public image by humanizing a product and banking on the public's emotional investment in the character. Samantha Hess, brand manager for Planters, said that the concept for Baby Nut was bizarrely inspired by Game of Thrones' Jon Snow: "There is this renewed appreciation for these fictional characters after their death, and then they come back with a renewed sense of purpose to what they're doing, which helps to set up something bigger and a little bit different."

But recently we've amped up a worrisome trend that's been tracked by nail-biting social scientists for decades: the infantilization of American consumers.

To start with, look at the last decade of unprecedented success for children's and comic book movies. With every release we've asked, "Who is this for?" but masses have flocked to them, making superhero movies and remakes of Disney children's classics the most profitable releases nearly every year; in 2019 alone, comic book and animated movies accounted for 9 of the 10 highest grossing films (and seven of the top 10 in both 2018 and 2017). For another, frankly more perplexing, example, remember a few years ago when adult women suddenly wanted to be mermaids? "I Am a Mermaid" merchandise was worn as if womanhood was one long, unedited Disney Channel movie. And with a spike in the popularity of tattoo chokers and emo music, the resurgence of '90s pop culture was synced with millennials hitting adulthood hard and, apparently, experiencing crushing nostalgia for childhood.

But the trend goes back further. In his 2014 article "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture," The New York Times' film critic A.O. Scott critiques film and TV of this millennium for demonstrating that "adulthood as we have known it has become conceptually untenable." He asks, "Who or what killed adulthood? Was the death slow or sudden? Natural or violent? The work of one culprit or many? Justifiable homicide or coldblooded murder?" As a critic of the media landscape, he says he's watched "over the last 15 years as the studios committed their vast financial and imaginative resources to the cultivation of franchises...that advance an essentially juvenile vision of the world. Comic-book movies, family-friendly animated adventures, tales of adolescent heroism and comedies of arrested development do not only make up the commercial center of 21st-century Hollywood. They are its artistic heart."

Is this just art providing escapism, so business as usual? Not quite. Social theorist Jacopo Bernardini argues that one of the four primary reasons why infantilizing cultural artifacts appeal to the masses is because of the "nostalgia effect, trying to find stability in past experiences, because [an] adult already knows how it is to be a kid or a teenager" and, judging by 21th century media, nobody knows what being an "adult" even means anymore.

"I Don't Wanna Grow Up: I'm a Toys R Us Kid"

So, what happened? Cultural rewinds are part of the natural cycle of fashion and style, but they're also birthed from frustration and stagnation, be it economic or social. Bored social scientists have found that we, as a culture, are especially prone to indulge in nostalgia during times of transition, of upset and instability. So how has pop culture's absorption of recent social, political, and economic turmoil resulted in the so-called "death of adulthood?" Or in the killing and rebirthing of classic pop characters?

Bernardini would attribute companies' babifying of their icons to "the role of marketing in the infantilization of the postmodern adult." For one thing, today's media-saturated, Very Online world run by our robot overlords has not only rerouted our brains to work like mini-optimized search engines; it's also encouraged our desires for immediate gratification, shortened attention spans, and emphasized impulsivity over practicality. In other words, we're being socialized to stave off adulthood. In Simon Gottschalk's book The Terminal Self, he argues that "our everyday interactions with these computer technologies have accelerated and normalized our culture's infantile tendencies."

In fact, the American National Academy of Sciences once suggested that modern teenage development doesn't end until age 30, while the USA Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine has suggested that practical adulthood begins around 34 years old. What this translates to, in terms of our consumer habits, is a booming market targeting kidults, a term first used in The New York Times in 1985 to describe a biological adult whose lifestyle affords them the leisure and resources to indulge in the hobbies of childhood and exist in a protracted adolescence, whether that means occupying one's time with cartoons and video games or drowning oneself in glitter and flip sequins. Bernadini describes a kidult as "an archetype of an encouraged regression, to facilitate the promotion of goods which are only apparently addressed to young people and children." To companies, that means "kidults are a perfect target for the seller. They have a large number of desires and the real ability to make purchases," adds social psychologist Maryna Dvorynk.

To put it that way sounds alternatingly condescending and banal, or even a little precious (after all, who doesn't yearn for the innocence of childhood?). But Dvornyk questions the cultural impact of this kind of marketing on our collective psyche: "Media communication, and especially advertising, nowadays seems to promote a kind of collective regression: Needs should be satisfied immediately because it is imperative to take here and now everything that life, or rather the consumer's society, promises to give us." In terms of marketing and the insidious ways brands creep their tentacles into our collective psychology, Dvornyk adds, "Youthfulness–like beauty, success and money–becomes an object that is possible to own. In other words, youth, a biological condition, seems to have become a cultural definition."

How the Kidult Became the Standard of the 21st Century

So, are we manipulated into buying goods and services that remind us of being a child in order to find reprieve from adult existential crises? Of course–look at how many crises today's adults are facing and, consequently, how difficult the transition from childhood to adulthood has become these days. Current young adult Americans came of age during two recessions and a shrinking middle class, a "forever war" in the Middle East, climate change crisis, and the starkest political polarity since the Civil War. But without haranguing about sacrificial economics and the ravages of industrial society at the cost of individual identity (okay, a little bit of haranguing), it's a mundane truth that scarcity is the god of invention. With millennials earning an average of 20% less than baby boomers (despite meeting expectations to earn a college degree and taking on their share of the nation's $1.5 trillion student loan debt crisis), labor opportunities are becoming both harder to find and less concrete. We can work online from home but often with the trappings of the gig economy, so millennials have gained a reputation for job-hopping, with three times the number of millennials switching jobs each year than non-millennials. Of course, that's largely due to today's job market, which is uniquely unstable compared to when prior generations transitioned into adulthood. And that's not to mention the entire work ethos of industrialized western society, which is dehumanizingly simple: You are what you do (for your paycheck).

Furthermore, it can seem like today's youth live in abundance, with techy shortcuts to solve every problem and more options than they know what to do with. But that's part of the problem; as Dvornyk notes, "Adulthood is being dangerously delayed by a generation who are overstimulated by a media-saturated society and overwhelmed by choice, which makes them unable to settle down, capable only of temporary alignments before they grasp onto the next bright opportunity." In a culture obsessed with constant self-optimization and upgrades (down to the way millennials were parented to prioritize "optimizing" themselves, according to the critic Malcom Harris), society's expectation to "correctly" enter adulthood is to streamline one's education into a career–to do everything, achieve in all areas, and have it all. In reality, financial analysts note that "millennials have taken longer to launch their careers than previous generations, and some have failed to launch their careers altogether, while progress toward equity in education and the labor market has stalled." So maybe millennials really are the worst for having invented Instagram and fostering in an age of selfies, FOMO, and "social media sites...shaped by infantile aesthetics and affects"—as some cultural analysts say—but it's because we inherited an unstable social reality where "stable identities have become unmoored by free markets" (and also, admittedly, Instagram really did f*ck up everyone's mental health).

So we turn to pop culture to ground ourselves, our shaky sense of selfhood and misfitted place in the world–or so say more bored social scientists who study our consumer habits in hopes to finally understand why we keep watching DCEU movies despite knowing they will always be terrible. Dvornyk critiques, "In our information-cluttered world media becomes the lifesaver and means to propagate values, trends and principles that comprise the symbolic universe of ethical choice." She adds, "Such communications legitimize immaturity or childish behavior and promote youth lifestyle." In pop culture, youth isn't just a commodity; it's a coveted identity.

Baby mascots

Enter baby mascots. As Dvornyk goes on to say, "The postmodern adult...chases the aesthetics and lifestyles of young people, lives in a state of continuous present, postpones or eludes those stages that used to mark the social recognition of maturity as well as the responsibilities and the preclusions involved." Traditional models of social maturation mark parenthood as the final transition into adulthood. But as U.S. birth rates decline due to millennials opting not to have children, not being able to afford to have children, or waiting until later in life than prior generations, today's culture suspends adulthood in a chrysalis stuck between carefree childhood and the responsibilities of child-rearing. The result is a generation of reluctant kidults who in many ways feel pressures of adulthood at younger ages while paradoxically being socialized by corporations and media to hide from adulthood behind performative youth: a cycle of palliative consumerism and nostalgia used to escape time. Putting Baby Nut aside, we love baby mascots who are designed without agency to speak for themselves (Baby Groot and Baby Yoda) and who fit into larger, cultural narratives (the superheroes or anti-hero on a quest to defend innocents). The ideal baby mascot is basically an avatar of our twin desires to nurture as well as be nurtured: We are all Baby Yoda; Baby Yoda is us. Or, as The Washington Post put it, "Baby Yoda is blank. And that means Baby Yoda, in a sense, is ours."

"Synth Culture": Is Baby Nut Fascist?

Unfortunately, the collective belief that "we are what we consume" is a lie, as most of "popular culture" is manufactured by a few corporations whose sole aim is to sell products. As psychologist Jim Taylor writes, "A more accurate phrase [than pop culture] is 'synth culture' because it is a synthetic product created by corporate conglomerates rather than being an expression of the shared experiences of real people."

Are our beloved characters just cash cows and damningly cute idols of escapism and consumption? Actor and screenwriter Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Star Trek Beyond) attributes this double appeal to the nefarious nature of capitalism, even citing French philosopher Jean Baudrillard to say: "Put simply, this is the idea that as a society, we are kept in a state of arrested development by dominant forces in order to keep us more pliant. We are made passionate about the things that occupied us as children as a means of drawing our attentions away from the things we really should be invested in: inequality, corruption, economic injustice, etc. It makes sense that when faced with the awfulness of the world, the harsh realities that surround us, our instinct is to seek comfort, and where else were the majority of us most comfortable than our youth?"

For proof, one need only to return to the creation of Baby Nut. Mike Pierantozzi, an ad executive at Planters' agency VaynerMedia, shared that the idea for Mr. Peanut's death was inspired by the virtual bloodbath at the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame. Pierantozzi told CNBC, "When Iron Man died, we saw an incredible reaction on Twitter and on social media. It's such a strange phenomenon." He added, "We did the unthinkable: We created [...] an idea where Mr. Peanut dies and dies specifically sacrificing himself for his friends, which has always been a tenet of who he is and what he does — he always puts others first." Despite being met by the Twitterverse's collective "wtf that is a fascist legume," Planters wasn't playing around when they employed such blatant pathos to gain attention; Baby Nut merch was available just hours after its "birth" in the company's Super Bowl commercial.

Did it work? Sort of. We certainly love to hate Baby Nut (for many right reasons, spanning from the transparency of such a manipulative cash grab at Baby Yoda's popularity to the fact that "it's all so dumb" and "shamelessly shilling Baby Nut merch"). But the marketing strategy Planters based its "hair-brained" scheme on is demonstratively effective, considering the astronomical demand for Baby Yoda merchandise, Baby Groot's sizable role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's success, and Baby Nut inspiring disturbing fan art and at least one manifesto to murder all brand mascots.

If our collective maturity as a culture—and, possibly, our civil liberties—are at stake, then what can we do? While some may be able to resist the pull of Baby Yoda's large black eyes or Baby Groot's happy little smile, the rest of us seem doomed until we either have children of our own or topple capitalism's stronghold on American media. The least we can do is withhold our consumer power and abstain from buying a company's babified products or streaming their babified content on their streaming apps (but do we have the willpower when Baby Groot dances? Oh, how he dances).

Corporate brands cultivating soulless personalities on Twitter is bad enough. Brands creating intricate backstories to superimpose narrative arcs onto their mascots is even worse (you know Mr. Clean was adopted and that he's gay, right?). But because Grimes and Elon Musk are having a baby, because we can attend concerts of our favorite dead idols' holograms, because future pop stars will be nothing but computer algorithms, and because our society's cultural tastes are careening towards post-humanism—maybe the truth is that we just want to escape time and slip into the glossy alternate reality of ad space, where Gushers candy turns children's heads into fruits and Lisa Frank's technicolor tigers run free. Yes, Mr. Peanut–the 104-year-old gay cannibal and Planters mascot–has died and been reborn: We're now living in a world with Baby Nut, Baby Groot, Baby Yoda, and soon, even Baby Sonic.



TV

Baby Yoda Choked a B*tch & Storm Troopers Vape

"The Mandalorian" Episode 7 Review

Let's get right to it. Baby Yoda is a sadistic little sexist.

14 minutes deep in Episode 7 of Star Wars: The Mandalorian, the show's protagonist arm wrestles Cara Dune (Gina Carano), a female ally, onboard his starship.

Seeing this, Baby Yoda reaches out and uses the Force to choke Cara. She immediately pulls back from the match, clenching her throat, desperately trying to free herself from the attack. But Baby Yoda tightens his grasp to finish the job.

Courtesy of Lucasfilm

This is a dark moment for any series airing on the family friendly Disney+ service. Only when Mando (Pedro Pascal) intervenes, reprimanding Baby Yoda, does the tiny monster release his Force hold on the powerful warrior Cara Dune, suddenly rendered helpless.

Many will make useless attempts to defend B.Y., claiming he was just trying to protect the Mandalorian. But let's be real. Force choking is established in the Star Wars universe as a DARK SIDE technique.

Previously we've seen Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader use this power to abuse his underlings and to accidentally kill off Padmé. It doesn't come from a wellspring of loyalty or heroism. It bubbles up from a dark abyss of rage and perversion.

It's clear that if uninterrupted, The Child would have choked Cara to death, and he probably would have liked it.

And if just thinking about that scene was as good for you as it was for me, it's time for a reflective and satisfying smoke break. Luckily, Storm Troopers (or more specifically, Scout Troopers) brought the vape.

Scout Trooper Vaping Cloud God

Some ignorant fools will claim the smoke there is actually just exhaust coming from a building in the background. But those of us who live in reality know vape clouds when we see them.

This dude is about to start blowing smoke rings. And if you're a true fan, you know that there is precedence for this sort of thing in the Galaxy.

In Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) Obi-Wan is offered "death sticks" while clubbing, an illegal product which StarWars.com defines as a "highly addictive substance, delivered inside luminescent sticks [which] was a favorite among desperate addicts and foolish thrill-seekers." Sounds like some real bomb ass loud dank to me.

Obi-Wan being offered Death Sticks Get Lit

Of course these instances of drug use and misogynist violence are not the only highlights of the episode. For instance, Baby Yoda uses his Force abilities to heal Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) after Karga is attacked by a poisonous, flying bat monster.

Just when things are starting to look grim, Baby Yoda breaks out a never-before-seen force ability to save the life of a man who was planning to betray them to Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), and had previously tried to kill the Mandalorian to deliver Baby Yoda to "The Client" (Werner Herzog).

So, just to clarify, when it's a woman who has shown herself to be a strong, independent, upstanding warrior, the little creeper (who, don't forget, is in his 50s) tries to choke her out. But, then, when it comes to Greef Karga, a man, presented until now as an enemy, he tenderly erases all wounds with his devil magic.

And this is The Child we're all supposed to adore and worry about? This demonic little creature is the one we're supposed to be rooting for while the Mandalorian kills dozens of people whose only crime is trying to deliver this scourge into a secure facility?

Why shouldn't we want Werner Herzog to suck out all of Baby Yoda's evil goo to sell for a profit? Mando always says "this is the way" to justify saving The Child, but maybe "the way" needs to be revisited to add some exceptions for Sith demon spawn.

Anyway, it's a great episode and probably my favorite so far. 9/10.

TV

Why We Need Baby Yoda to Run for President

The star of Star Wars: The Mandalorian may represent a new hope for 2020.

When former New York Mayor and current media oligarch Michael Bloomberg officially joined the Presidential race last weekend, he brought the total number of Democrats vying for the nomination up to 17.

While many people have been deriding this excess for months now—calling for a culling of the herd and deriding the chances of anyone outside the top three to five contenders—I'm not actually opposed to the idea of another candidate entering the race. Don't get me wrong: Michael Bloomberg is obviously either a moron or a spoiler candidate intending to subvert the will of the people. But if the right person entered the running, it could actually make things a lot simpler. A candidate who could truly engage and excite voters—someone exactly like Baby Yoda, and no one else in the universe.

baby yoda 2020 president

Axios first brought this possibility to my attention when they released a breakdown of article engagement based on the candidate featured. Baby Yoda easily surpassed them all. Why? Because Baby Yoda is a uniter. His power doesn't come from wealth or exclusive influence, but from the Force that connects all living things and binds the universe together.

yoda frog gif Though he may miss out on PETA's endorsement

He's a political outsider, from a galaxy far far outside the Washington beltway; and unlike your average politician, Baby Yoda doesn't waste his time on empty words. He doesn't make a dubious promise to save the Mandalorian from a giant rhino monster. He just gets the job done and asks for nothing in return. He has the wisdom of 50 years of life, but the youthful energy to chase down a frog creature and swallow it whole. His large, soulful eyes communicate trust and optimism, even when circumstances look bleak, and they can inspire loyalty even in cold-blooded killer or a Werner Herzog. Also, his healthcare plan most likely involves using his force powers to magically heal our wounds, which is pretty rad. If all that weren't already enough to win your vote, he's not half-bad to look at either.

winston churchill Pictured: Precedent for a baby/leader

Now, I know what you're thinking: How can a baby be a world leader? But would you ask the same thing of Winston Churchill? Considering that Baby Yoda is 50 years old, he more than meets the age requirement for the job, while also being—unlike Bloomberg, Biden, Sanders, and Warrena long way off from the decline and diseases of old age. And while his father spent a long time in the Dagobah system, Yoda was originally from California, which should make Baby Yoda a natural-born citizen.

As for finances, Baby Yoda has the backing of Disney+, which is expected to spend $350 million on marketing next year, which is nearly enough to rival the $500 million that Michael Bloomberg is planning to throw away on his doomed and absurd candidacy. Compared to that, Baby Yoda running for president suddenly seems pretty reasonable.

baby yoda campaign poster

So, while some of the deadlines for some primary races have already passed, it's not too late for an exciting new candidate to sweep in and reignite the American public's engagement in the political process... As long as that new candidate is Baby Yoda. Everyone else should give up and go home.

TV

Baby Yoda Sex Revealed and Other Questions Answered in Episode 3, "The Mandalorian"

The asset in the floating bassinet is at it yet again. Spoilers ahead!

Lucasfilm

Episode 3 of The Mandalorian premiered this morning on Disney+, providing revelations about our hero's moral compass, the intentions of the imperial remnant after the bounty, and most importantly: Baby Yoda.

Titled "The Sin," the third installment of the 8-episode season opens with the titular Mandalorian (yet unnamed aside from the nickname "Mando") traveling in his Razor Crest gunship to deliver Baby Yoda (whose species and name remain unknown, aside from "the Asset," so "Baby Yoda" it is) to the imperial remnant (a.k.a. "the Client").

Baby Yoda plays with a metal ball in the cockpit of the Mandalorian's starship. "That's not a toy!" (But wtf is it?) Lucasfilm

Quick facts we knew about Baby Yoda (the true protagonist of this series) coming into this episode:

  • Baby Yoda is 50 years old but is still in his/her infancy given that the species is known in canon to live for roughly 900 years and ages very slowly.
  • He is definitely "Force sensitive," as revealed at the climax of Episode 2.
  • He is highly sought after by a mysterious group linked to the First Galactic Empire (which appears to have been existing in secret since the Empire was overthrown approximately 5 years before the events of The Mandalorian).


Meme of Baby Yoda claiming to be the protagonist of the series.


Popular fan theories about the possible origins and significance of Baby Yoda:

  • Baby Yoda is the child of Yoda and Yaddle (the only other being of Yoda's species seen in Disney Star Wars canon, depicted briefly on screen as a member of the Jedi Council in the prequel trilogy).
  • Baby Yoda is actually a clone of Yoda himself.
  • Baby Yoda (and all members of the species) are actually born of and by the Force, not traditional methods of reproduction.
  • Baby Yoda's Force-rich DNA will be extracted and potentially used to revive Emperor Palpatine, explaining the Sith Lord's anticipated return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker set to release in theaters less than a month from today.
  • Snoke is the true client seeking Baby Yoda for some reason, as it is confirmed The Mandalorian will explore the origins of the First Order.
  • Baby Yoda is simply a random member of Yoda's species and a brilliant merchandising ploy.

So what do we learn in Episode 3?

First, let's discuss the title of the episode: "The Sin." In the first act of Episode 3, it would seem the "sin" is that Mando actually delivers Baby Yoda to the Client, accepts his enormous bounty in the form of Imperial-pressed Beskar steel, and bounces. Many fans didn't see that coming. Surely Mando would have formed too strong an attachment to Baby Yoda to betray him, especially considering Baby Yoda saved his life from a Mudhorn. However, the amount of Beskar paid for the delivery of Baby Yoda was insanely valuable (even in USD) and enough to complete and repair Mando's amor. Plus, we learn later that basically every bounty hunter in the parsec was after this bounty. Mando's delivery basically made him an instant celebrity (and target).

By the end of the episode, however, it seems the true sin is that of the Client. Mando eventually has a change of heart before leaving the planet on his next mission and returns to the Imperial hideout to rescue Baby Yoda. During the heist, it becomes clear that the Client intended to kill the cutie pie or at the very least it is heavily implied that Baby Yoda would be cloned or weaponized in some manner.

In my opinion, the real sin is that Baby Yoda doesn't get more screen time in this episode.

So what are the main takeaways? For one thing, Baby Yoda is definitely a child and is definitely male. That might seem like an obvious point, but many fans speculated the possibility that the 50-year-old bounty truly possessed the wisdom, perception, and knowledge of a 50-year-old but was simply trapped in a slowly aging body. Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi), a member of the Imperial remnant who wears the insignia from the cloning facility on Kamino, appears to have vast knowledge of the species and alien biology in general. When Mando comes to rescue Baby Yoda, Dr. Pershing first assumes that Mando is there to kill Baby Yoda and immediately begs, "Please don't hurt him. It's just a child."

Dr. Pershing in The Mandalorian Leave Baby Yoda alone! He's just a boy! Lucasfilm

Secondly, Baby Yoda is believed by the Empire to possess a "necessary material" which can be "extracted." Before raiding the Client's lair, Mando uses a tool on his rifle capable of picking up audio from long distances to spy on the imperials. He intercepts a conversation between Werner Herzog's character and Dr. Pershing, in which the former orders the doctor to "extract the necessary material and be done with it." Dr. Pershing protests, "He explicitly ordered us to bring it back alive." It's unclear who "He" is in this sentence, but perhaps this hints at the Palpatine and/or Snoke tie-ins that fans have theorized.

Finally, Baby Yoda is now, much like Mando, the parsec's most wanted. Escaping the planet with Baby Yoda basically forced Mando and his Mandalorian counterparts to wipe out a small village. I'm talking mass homicide. In a galaxy where news travels fast and hunting criminals seems to be a popular profession, there is no doubt that word of the events of Episode 3 will be widely known very soon. Moreover, the aforementioned conversation between Herzog's character and Dr. Pershing makes it clear that there is a bigger, more powerful baddie out there that seeks Baby Yoda.

Luckily for Baby Yoda, Mando is an extremely talented warrior, and Baby Yoda is now the most important being in his life. Mando not only mowed down (and disintegrated) countless people to protect Baby Yoda, he also endangered his fellow Mandalorians. Then again, perhaps Mando is lucky to have Baby Yoda. The 50-year-old infant has magical abilities that are sure to come in handy, and he shows a clear preference for Mando over anyone else. Perhaps Baby Yoda is intelligent enough to recognize that Mando is the only person in the galaxy trying to protect him or her. Or maybe Baby Yoda's Force abilities allow him or her to sense some larger significance or purpose that Mando will eventually fulfill in the big picture. In the end, Mando left with both Baby Yoda and his baller new chromed out amor, so I'd say it was a pretty solid day overall.

Baby Yoda enjoys eating a frog. That's a GOOD BOY!Lucasfilm

Release schedule for upcoming episodes of The Mandalorian

  • Episode 4 - Friday, November 29
  • Episode 5 - Friday, December 6
  • Episode 6 - Friday, December 13
  • Episode 7 - Wednesday, December 18
  • Episode 8 - Friday, December 27
CULTURE

Werner Herzog's Interview in "Variety" Is a Sapiosexual Wet Dream

Werner Herzog is our philosopher of the end times.

If you've never seen Werner Herzog's 2005 documentary Grizzly Man, allow us to tease it for you:

Herzog pieces together real footage taken by Timothy Treadwell, a young and zealous grizzly bear enthusiast who takes to camping among packs of wild bears as often as he can, because he believed he could gain their trust and be accepted among them. While Treadwell said his ultimate goal was to protect wild bears from poachers, Herzog's interviews with park rangers, bear experts, and Treadwell's friends and family unfold an eerie picture of the last five years of Treadwell's life. Spoiler: Treadwell and his girlfriend were both killed by a grizzly bear in 2003 while camping too late into the season. Treadwell's rolling camera captured the audio of their deaths. Herzog's treatment of Treadwell's life story earned him acclaim and some criticism for the macabre subject matter.
But that's Werner Herzog's wheelhouse. Older than the baby boomers, the 77-year-old director, screenwriter, author, actor, and opera director has cemented a place in New German Cinema and among millennials favorite philosophical weirdos. Wired called him "The Luddite Master of the Internet"; though he rejects social media as a "massive, naked onslaught of stupidity" and refuses to use a cell phone except in emergencies, his work has slowly taken on subjects like the future of technology, and he's begun acting in more mainstream projects after appearing in 2012's Jack Reacher as Tom Cruise's nemesis.

Now Herzog's come to Disney+. With the streaming platform kicking off with much fanfare, at least $375 million in marketing alone, and technical errors on launching day, its lead original series, Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian, is at the center of attention. Aside from being the first live-action TV series for the Star Wars franchise, it presents Herzog playing a villainous character. Yet, as Herzog told Variety in a recent interview, he's never seen a Star Wars movie. In fact, he barely watches films. He does, however, take an academic—nay, philosophical—interest in Wrestlemania and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, presumably in order to study the 2019 zeitgeist and, you know, track its moral and artistic decline.

Herzog's fascination with the most absurd and uncanny aspects of modern existence already makes him Twitter-perfect, but his takes on reality TV and streaming services could make him as beloved a weirdo-philosopher as Slavoj Žižek (but with less saliva.) We (along with Twitter) have to honor the too-pretentious-to-be-true pop culture commentary Herzog has given us while starring in the Hollywood franchise he's either surrendered to or he's infiltrating in order to dismantle it from within, culminating in an explosive documentary to be released just before climate change ends the world in 2030.

No, He's Really Never Seen a "Star Wars" Film

Herzog allayed fears that he was too unfamiliar with the Star Wars franchise to do justice to a part in The Mandaloriani: "You shouldn't feel upset that I haven't seen the "Star Wars" films; I hardly see any films. I read. I see two, three, maybe four films per year."

He added, "I assume much of it was motion-controlleld cameras and green screens," which was enough to convince him that Favreau probably knew how to handle The Mandalorian artfully.

He Watches "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" Even Though They're "Vulgar"

This is the absolute best ad for Keeping Up With the Kardashians since Kim's 72-day marriage to Kris Humphries.

He Doesn't Give a Sh*t About Disney Live-Action Remakes

When asked if Herzog gave any f*cks about Jon Favreau's prestigious filmography (seriously, what?), Herzog responded: "I do not know what other films he has made." When informed that Favreau "made 'The Lion King' earlier this year with Beyonce and Donald Glover," Herzog said: "Well I like 'The Lion King,' but the animated version 30 years back or so. That was a wonderful film, the music was particularly great, Hans Zimmer's score."

Is this shade at Favreau? No. Is this shade at Beyonce or Donald Glover? No. Is this 100% Werner Herzog sitting in a chair in a room surrounded by books à la the first 5 minutes of Good WIll Hunting and not realizing there's been a Disney film released since 1990.

Disney (and Amazon and Apple) WILL Soon Rule the World, So Just Surrender Now

Herzog ends the interview by noting that the only streaming platform he's signed up for is Criterion. But now that the world will soon be run by Disney, Apple, and Amazon, he appropriately closes the interview by saying: "You're right. I have no choice but to sign up for Disney Plus and Netflix. I shall go do that now."