Tales of the Jedi, Andor 8 & 9 + Black Adam, 2022 Horror & Run Sweetheart Run director Shana Feste | Crooked Media
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November 04, 2022
X-Ray Vision
Tales of the Jedi, Andor 8 & 9 + Black Adam, 2022 Horror & Run Sweetheart Run director Shana Feste

In This Episode

On this episode of X-Ray Vision, Jason Concepcion and Rosie Knight battle with Yaddle! Starting in the Airlock (2:50), Jason and Rosie dive deep (deeep) into a galaxy far, far away to discuss both Tales of the Jedi and Andor episodes 8 & 9, recapping all six Jedi vignettes, Andor episode 9, and discussing divergent paths, complicity, and power politics. Then, in the Previously On (1:25:07), Jason and Rosie explore the DCEU’s Black Adam and offer some 2022 horror recs for those of you looking for excuses to eat your leftover Halloween candy. In the Hive Mind (1:59:21), the horror conversation continues as Rosie interviews Amazon’s Run Sweetheart Run director Shana Feste about moving into the genre space, working with talented actors, and more.


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The Listener’s Guide for all things X-Ray Vision!

Wendell & Wild (2022) – directed by Henry Selick, co-written by Jordan Peele, available on Netflix.


Papers, Please (2013) – a video game developed by Lucas Pope about an immigration officer in a fictional eastern european country.


Pacific Heights (1990) – Directed by John Schlesinger and starring Melanie Griffith, Matthew Modine, and Michael Keaton.


Heart-Shaped Box (2007) by Joe Hill


JSA Comics Recs from Rosie

All Star Comics #3 (1940) – First Appearance

JSA: Strange Adventures (2004) – Golden Age homage by SW’s Kevin J Anderson

JSA by Geoff Johns (2017 collected) – Most influential series on Black Adam’s JSA

Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985) – Pulled the JSA back into the main continuity




Jason Concepcion [AD]


Jason Concepcion Warning this podcast contains spoilers for Andor episodes eight and nine, plus The Wonderful Tales of the Jedi, plus Black Adam, plus a bunch of horror movies that came out in the year 2022. Folks, folks, if you don’t want to be spoiled from that stuff. Watch yourself. Be careful.  Hello. My name is Jason Concepcion. Welcome to X-ray Vision, the Crooked podcast, where we dive deep into your favorite shows, movies, comics and pop culture. In this episode, in the Airlock, it’s a big Star Wars episode where we will be discussing Tales of the Jedi, all six wonderful vignettes of Tales of the Jedi. Plus Andor episodes eight and nine. In the Previously On, we will be discussing in theaters now the reorganization of the power hierarchy of the DC franchise with Black Adam. Plus, Rosie is going to take us into the year 2022 in the horror genre. Don’t miss that folks. Spooky season is not over. But but horror is always with us. And in the Hive Mind, Rosie’s interviewing Run, Sweetheart Run director Shana Feste. If you want to jump around, as always, check the shownotes for the timestamps. And joining me today, she’s the number one fan of horror, the number one fan of giant nuclear lizards. Number one, comics historian. Rosie Knight. How are you, Rosie?


Rosie Knight I’m happy. I’m glad to be here. And we are like we’ve been so busy, but it’s it’s Star Wars time, baby. And we’re going to be we’re going to be diving in.


Jason Concepcion We’re stepping out of the airlock and into a galaxy far, far away to discuss Tales of the Jedi and the really crushing it right now, Andor, which just aired there, episodes eight and nine. Let’s start with Tales of the Jedi, which I’ll be flat out, had me crying at the end.


Rosie Knight Yeah, I think he’s.


Jason Concepcion Had me crying.


Rosie Knight I think Dave Filoni has spoken about how the tone, even though it’s animated, you just have to be aware you’re going into this, you’re going to cry. It’s going to get rough. It’s going to be emotional. And they said some of that, you know, was impacted by COVID and the tone of things. I think they were creating this along the same time as The Mandalorian. So it’s really interesting to see that juxtaposition. And I mean, wow, this is just this is Dave with like full creative freedom. He is getting to add characters, context and depth and moments to these characters from the prequel era, from these stories that he loves to tell. We’re back to the Clone Wars animation style, and each episode is just absolutely heartbreaking.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, I don’t, obviously this is George Lucas’s world. This is George Lucas’ story, the prequels, the fall of the republic. You know, the Clone Wars. Those are those are his sandboxes that he’s had banging around in his head since, you know, the late 60s, 70s.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion But for my money, the reason. That that period of galactic history has the emotional depth, the tragic depth that it has, is because of Dave Filoni and and these tales.


Rosie Knight George knows that. He knows that.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. I agree with you. And these tales which span the birth of Ahsoka Tano to her escape from Order 66, which give us a different kind of view of the Jedi deliberations. The Jedi Council, Count Dooku in particular, are just incredible. Incredible. Like it like to make a flat out villain like Dooku, you know what I mean? You watched Clone Wars.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion Like this is a bad guy, and of course, the novelizations have done a lot of work in this regard with Dooku, who is a rich kid who had a very complex upbringing, came came from a very different kind of place that many of the Jedi Masters did, as a as a as a child of wealth and privilege, comes to it with a very different worldview. And so, but the kind of layers that Tales of the Jedi added to him. I mean flat out Count Dooku is making some points throughout these episodes.


Rosie Knight This is one of my favorite kind of Star Wars stories where a creator in that world recognizes how easy it is to go on the path of the light and the path of the dark, and how it’s only one decision or one small series of events. And so to have Ahsoka’s path and to see how Ahsoka became the hero that she is, and then to have it juxtaposed with Dooku’s path to the dark side. And actually in these episodes, you know, specifically episode four, we get to see his Mace Windu moment, the moment that he killed the person that truly turned him to the dark side, you know, and to get. It’s so interesting to me because the Clone Wars always did this. So did rebels. Like it builds a context outside of what we know from the main canon films and even the main canon books. It draws from some of the you know what we know now as legends that used to be the expanded universe, but I’ve never really seen someone use these kind of tight 15 minute long shorts as a way of basically weaving in these kind of moments and tapestries and adding to the story. I mean, the Dooku stuff, I was very interested when I heard it was mostly Ahsoka and Dooku, and then I watched it and I was like, Oh, okay, I get it. This is a tragedy. It’s a Sith Lord is always a tragedy. Somebody turning to the dark side is always a tragedy. And now we get to see the tragedy of Count Dooku we get to see what drove him there. And we also get to see very interestingly, he’s not the only person who had problems with the Jedi Council. We see other people who share his issues. We see Yaddle, you know, big respect, love Yaddle. Everyone loves Yaddle, you know. But like we see Yaddle. We see, you know, Qui-Gon Jinn. Qui-Gon Jinn, who has always had a different philosophy from the Jedi Council, who for a long time. You know, sorry, Pablo Hidalgo. I know you hate this terminology, but like he was considered a grey Jedi, someone who could use both sides of the force. Like lots of fans wondered if that was Qui-Gon was. So to build on this idea that Dooku was seduced to the dark side. For his imagination, for his vision, for what the Jedi Council could be. For his. Confusion around the way that things were run. That is very interesting and is very much made text here. It’s it’s a really interesting selection of stories. And I feel like this is a great use of animation to build out these stories. And obviously it’s beautifully animated like Clone Wars. That is an animation style that at the time was controversial, but now we’re all like big fans of. It gives us a nostalgic feel. We get to see these characters envisioned in a way that is familiar to us. You know, we’re back at it anyway again, with the newest season that came out recently on Disney Plus in the Bad Batch. So yeah, just great stuff.


Jason Concepcion Let’s go through the episode. So episode one Life and Death, we see the birth of Ahsoka Tano up through her early toddlerhood. We see her father, Nak-il, announcing the birth of his daughter to the village. The mother, Pav-ti, presents the baby to the village elder. And we know immediately, you know, you know, without having to hear anything who, this child is. Then a year later, Pav-ti’s taking her child on a hunt. She is teaching the young Ahsoka the importance of the life that is all around them, the kind of web of nature that surrounds and supports their village. Child Ahsoka is delighting in all of this. They they hunt a Kybuck, which they see. And in this moment that really mirrored, I think, quite consciously, Bambi, the opening of Bambi.


Rosie Knight Oh yeah, definitely.


Jason Concepcion Quite evocative of that. They track the kybuck. They, they, Pav-ti shoots it and then has Ahsoka confront death, confront the animals death and says, you know you we don’t be afraid of death. It’s like essentially saying it’s part of life. You have to learn to face your fears. And then as they’re preparing to take the kybuck back to the village, they’re interrupted by a kind of saber tooth predator. Pav-ti fights the animal. This goes on for some time, but eventually the villagers come to to their aid and they’re shooting at this saber tooth that then picks up Ahsoka and runs off.


Rosie Knight Peace. It’s gone.


Jason Concepcion Peace. It’s gone into the night. The cats takes Ahsoka back to its lair, which is littered with bones, and the cat is kind of like leaning in for the kill, we think. But also is very curious about the child. And Ahsoka’s completely fearless. Just touches the cat on the nose and then something is exchanged. Because of course we understand that Ahsoka is force sensitive and it in this moment that would have surely become legendary in this village.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Ahsoka comes riding back in the night on top of this cat, as all of the villagers are just like, Oh my God, what is this mean? Of course, the village elder knows what it means. It means Ahsoka is a Jedi.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Just a great way to start this story.


Rosie Knight Also like, I love this kind of expansion of. Because, you know, is Ahsoka a Jedi? Well, she didn’t end up becoming a Jedi. You know, she went on her own path. But I love this idea that in some communities and cultures in the galaxy, if you are force sense,  you are a Jedi.


Jason Concepcion Yes, immediately.


Rosie Knight It’s that.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight It’s what we got hints of in the end of The Last Jedi, which is like this is doesn’t have to be some elitist school that you must study with. If you are if you have the force, if you are one with the force in the forces, one with you, you are a Jedi. And I really love that. It’s very powerful moment and definitely like big cute baby Grogu baby Yoda vibes with the way they animate Ahsoka she’s she’s a beautiful little baby full of force sensitivity is is a really fun kind of positive opening and then it’s just like, boom, episode two, Sad.


Jason Concepcion Episode two, Justice. Count Dooku, a young Jedi. And it is it’s quite a thing to see a young Count Dooku, arrives with his apprentice, Qui-Gon Jinn, to resolve a hostage crisis on a planet. A senator’s son has been taken captive. They arrive on a grim at a grim village where absolutely no one is happy to see them there. At a local watering hole, Dooku is asking for information. Say. You mean to know who attacked the senator? Where that where the senator’s son is? The villagers believe that the Jedi are on the senators side and fairly so. Right. And believe that therefore. They’re there as his henchman essentially.


Rosie Knight Yeah emissaries, like.


Jason Concepcion Yeah and so and they and it’s very clear that they hate this senator, Senator Dagonet, whose policies, you can just look around and look at the miserable state they’re all all in, whose policies have, you know, turned their lives into a kind of gray hell, and it turns out, does not take long to figure out that the entire village has conspired to kidnap the senator’s son. Dooku and Qui-gon Jinn Go are taken to the son because the villagers, honestly, they want what the Senator is doing to them to be known. They want it out there.


Rosie Knight This is the point of why they kidnaped the son. And as we learn, the senator’s son does not completely disagree with them.


Jason Concepcion I mean, there’s some serious you can call it Stockholm Syndrome. You can call whatever you want. But the son absolutely.


Rosie Knight There’s empathy.


Jason Concepcion Empathizes with these with the with the people saying, you know, essentially, they have a point they have a point about you know, of the reason they did this. I understand it. And just as he’s kind of like explaining this to Dooku and Qui-gon Jinn, Dagonet arrives at the head of a column of troops. Dooku and Jinn go out to confront them. Dagonet didn’t know that Jedis were in the area and so he’s like, Hey, great, you’re here. Arrest the villagers and let’s let’s enact my revenge. But Dooku is like, No, I’m going to defend them because they actually have a point. Your your policies are terrible.


Rosie Knight Yep.


Jason Concepcion A gunfight takes place. Many of the townspeople are gunned down during it. Dagonet says, I will destroy this town and make an example of it. We see the darkness emerge at Dooku, who is we’re about to learn. Tired of the kind of status of the Jedi Council of late.


Rosie Knight And how it props up dictators, which is essentially what.


Jason Concepcion It’s doing.


Rosie Knight Dagonet wants.


Jason Concepcion How it seems certainly more concerned with its own survival as an organization. You know, than doing justice in Dooku’s mind.


Rosie Knight Yeah, like, they will they will uphold the status quo.


Jason Concepcion Yes.


Rosie Knight To keep their place. And it’s the constant question in any kind of morality tale of like the good of the few versus the good of the many. But in this case, it’s very obvious that the Jedi are truly ignoring. The good of the many, even like even though it’s just one town he said he will. Many others like this is a man who is greedy. So Dooku you know, she chokes him out with the force. I’m not I’m not saying he’s wrong.


Jason Concepcion I’m not saying he’s necessarily wrong. He’s obviously playing with powers and with the side of the force that are better left alone.


Rosie Knight It’s one of those.


Jason Concepcion That said.


Rosie Knight Yeah, it’s one of those moments where you see, even though his intentions might be right, using the dark side of the force is having an impact on him. That will rule out his future.


Jason Concepcion It will pull you further and further into the dark side for sure. So Qui-gon Jinn goes and frees the son of Senator Dagonet and is like go out there and talk to your and explain to your father right now because my master is about to do a thing that he will regret forever. And so Dooku releases the senator, and then later he wonders to Jinn if there will ever be justice in the galaxy, because things are just kind of like there’s so much corruption. There is corrupt senators, clearly. And this is you know, I thought I found this to be a very trenchant idea. Like when, when at what point? You know, obviously, it’s it makes sense. You don’t want the the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Right. Like, if you have something that’s pretty good, you can reform it, but you don’t need to scrap the entire thing and start over. And that is the place where Dooku finds himself philosophically. Can we even reform, if the Jedi are just here to protect the status quo? Or do you tear the whole thing up? And we’ll obviously we we will. We understand where Dooku goes because of the prequels and we see that journey here. Episode three Choices. It’s years later, Mace Windu and Count Dooku are on a mission. There has been an attempt on a senator’s life on Raxus and a Jedi Master, Katri has died defending the center. Mace wants to play by the rules and not get involved in local politics. We’re just going to come here, do our job and leave. And Dooku obviously is like well, something something injust has happened here right? We should figure out what it is. Should we not, like, investigate? Dooku and Mace are taken to see Senator Larik. Larik says that the rebels some rebels had contact with, some separatists had contacted him, which is why he returned to Raxus. He wants peace. And then Larik says that he and Katri went to meet an informer who is going to tell them about this kind of movement that was burbling. And that’s when they were attacked. Immediately, the Jedi realize that Larik is hiding something. Mace wants to be, wants to say, okay, well, we can. Let’s just do our business here. And then we’ll go back and we’ll inform the counsel about what we’ve learned. Why, whereas Dooku is like, No, the senator is lying. We need to figure out what he’s lying about. We we are here. We should do it. The Jedi in the Senator go to the attack site that that Senator Larik leads them to. And he tells a story. There were multiple attackers. They ambushed from the woods. They were shooting at me. But of course, the story doesn’t add up. And suddenly Larik is runs away from them and the guards cut him down. They realized that it was the guards who are involved in this attack. Droids appear this big fight. Jedi’s handle it easily. And eventually what we learn is here is another corrupt senator who’s been exploiting his people and the people had captured him with the intent of forcing him to enact more favorable legislation, you know, more friendly legislation, more generous legislation that would actually benefit his constituents into the Senate. And and for this reason they don’t trust the Jedi they say the Jedi claim peace, but they only keep law and order for the rich and powerful. And this is something that really resonates with Dooku, who I you know, ironically and maybe because of his background as a rich kid, it really resonates with him.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm. He sees the truth in it. He sees the truth in it. And it’s a perfect follow up to what we already saw, where he’s seen this. And we can imagine over the intervening years that Count Dooku has seen many corrupt, wealthy people who are not looking after their towns, who are not looking after their constituents. We’ve seen it in many different Star Wars stories. You know, it’s the nature of the 1% of the way that people stay rich, the idea that there cannot be a good billionaire, because if you were a good person, you would never need $1,000,000,000. You would have given much of it away before you ever became a billionaire. So it’s a really interesting thing. And obviously, again, for Dooku, this is another one of those sliding door moments or ripple moments where his his divisions with what he sees as the right thing to do, get further and further away from the Jedi.


Jason Concepcion Mace wants Dooku to explain himself to the council. Dooku, meanwhile, wants to know from Mace like, Do you agree with the direction that the Jedi are going in? Do you agree with what we’re doing? It’s that conversation is unresolved until years later. After the funeral, Mace gets the late Katri’s, Master Katri’s council seat and promises to speak to the council about Dooku’s concerns. Whether that ever happens? Unclear. I want to say like, you know, I think The Last Jedi got a lot of shit for among many, among many other things that were not legitimate, this is more of a taste thing. Was Luke’s cynicism about the Jedi in their mission and you know, one of the great contributions, honestly, of Filoni’s work in this area is an understanding of just how imperfect, how flawed, how deeply flawed the Jedi, as an organization have bwwn.


Rosie Knight Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, I wrote an article at Nerdist, after The Last Jedi came out about one of the things that resonated the most to me, which was like, you know, we talk a lot about the rule of two and the Sith and this kind of horrific idea that there can only ever be one Sith and one apprentice. And when one Sith Lord, you know, basically you have to kill someone to gain power. But nobody ever really talks about the fact that the Jedi is arguably a very abusive space where they train children from birth.


Jason Concepcion Steal them from their parents.


Rosie Knight They steal them from their families. Don’t save the families, leave their families in slavery, then train them to kill, to be to not have any feelings, to not love, to not hate. And in many cases, it is the relationship between the Jedi, the Padawan and their master that enables somebody to corrupt them into the dark side. And I felt like The Last Jedi did such a great job of exploring that and looking at the way that Rey breaks that cycle when she won’t take Kylo’s hand, you know? So I think it’s really a great point that you made that a lot of that was actually seeded by the deeper exploration of these things in longform storytelling by Dave Filoni in The Clone Wars, in the expanded universe, of course, in the books, because there you have time to see all these different perspectives. And that’s why, you know, people used to complain about the prequels and be like, Oh, it’s too much bureaucracy. Who wants to know about space politics? Like, there’s too much talking about trading routes. But now, you know, 25 years later, 30 years later, you have Andor, which is a very talky show, all about the interior politics. And people who grew up on the prequels are just like, wow, this is actually something that speaks to me. This is the conversations that we want to have. It’s not black and white. It’s not. This is a morally complex situation with a clear bad guy, but also the good guys aren’t always doing the best job for the people at the bottom.


Jason Concepcion I mean, maybe it’s just because I watched them back to back, but Tales of the Jedi and Andor feel very much of a piece, obviously covering very similar periods of time.


Rosie Knight Tonally, visually like vibesy. Yeah. Definitely.


Jason Concepcion It felt of a piece one, you know, from a more adult slash, you know, air quotes, mature perspective another one from a more you know obviously it’s animated, more traditional Star Wars perspective, but both dealing with this kind of tragedy of the loss of democracy and institutional decay, etc.. Episode four, The Sith Lord. It’s the early days of the separatist conflict. Dooku arrives at the Jedi Temple. He slips into the archives using a code associated with Master Sifo-Dyas. Dooku then erases. Dun, dun, dun. Dooku then erases all records dealing with the planet Kamino. You know, we know that Sifo-Dyas was the name on the receipt for for the millions of clone troopers purchased from the  genetic scientists on Kamino. Clearly Dooku we can surmise from this is working with Palpatine at this point and is working to cover any kind of connections. Cover the tracks between Sifo-Dyas and the Planet Kamino. Jocasta Nu, keeper of the archives, tells Dooku that Dooku’s apprentice, Qui-Gon Jinn has encountered a Sith Lord somewhere on the outer rim. And this is big news.


Rosie Knight Dun dun dun.


Jason Concepcion The Jedi Temple is abuzz with oh, my God, a Sith Lord, the Sith Lord? Jinn and Yaddle go to address the council. Dooku stops them on their way in and wants information about the Sith Lord about the attack and the attack happened on Tattoine. Jinn is sure it was a Sith Lord. Yaddle, meanwhile, is, you know, a product of the kind of Jedi thinking of the day. She says, like, we shouldn’t raise the alarm about this. Let’s not fly off the handle. In fact, let’s not spring into action at all until we know more. We need to investigate more. We need to look into this more, which is kind of. Which is the really sadly unfortunate line, from Yoda on down, of the Jedi Council during this time was, we’ll, look into it. We need to look and look into it.


Rosie Knight We’ll do an investigation.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. They will never, of course, learn more about this. Later, Dooku meets Yaddle in the gardens. This is sometime later. And he’s talking about how he used to bring his apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn here to see the tree, because Jinn was a city kid from Couscant, and never seen a tree this size. And we understand now that Jinn is dead. He lost his life, of course, at the hands of Darth Maul. Yaddle trails Dooku across Coruscant because she’s kind of suspicious of the way that Dooku has been acting lately. And she trails him to an industrial rundown section, of Coruscant, and she sees him meeting with a hooded figure. We know this is Palpatine. We hear them arguing. Dooku believes the senator has gone too far. Whatever his schemes have been, surely Dooku agreed with them in principle, but he never imagined that someone so close to him, Qui-Gon Jinn, his apprentice, who who he clearly had very, very deep feelings for. Which is like such a, such a melancholic, sad wrinkle to all of this is seeing the effect of seeing Qui-Gon Jinn’s death on Dooku.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And also as well that links back to this this kind of symbiotic, codependent, abusive in some ways because of the systematic nature of the Jedi, the kind of these unbelievably intense relationships that these people get into. And then when somebody is killed, where is the support for that? What is the fallout from that? And we get to really see that here. Like we knew the canon of who, you know, Qui-Gon Jinn’s master had been. But like, this is a moment of getting to see him in all his humanity and feeling the loss rather than just, as Jason said earlier, like a big, big, bad, you know.


Jason Concepcion It’s a much warmer relationship than I think we that anybody expected.


Rosie Knight Yep.


Jason Concepcion Just from from Dooku’s reaction.


Rosie Knight Absolutely.


Jason Concepcion And it’s up and it’s so malevolent and perverse the way Palpatine uses that pain to draw Dooku deeper in. So Yaddle confronts them and she says, listen, well Dooku whatever has gone on to this point, join me now. We can deal with all of that later. Join me now. Let’s stop Palpatine. Palpatine, meanwhile, says, listen, you want to the Senate is corrupt. We know that like that’s a truth. You were never going to cleanse the corruption of the republic with Yaddle. Who is, and the the rest of the Jedi, who are just here to protect the status quo. Stay true to me. And together we will bring down the corrupt Senate. There is a fight. Dooku seemingly crushes Yaddle with this huge metal bay door. Palpatine fucking loves it. He’s like, This is great. You’ve proved you’re loyal to me. But of course, Yaddle is alive. She managed to stop the door. Just bone chilling. Incredible moment.


Rosie Knight It’s so great. There’s this brilliant moment. And you’re just like, oh, my God, this is it. This is the. The Yoda moment. This is the comeback, this is the force. But sadly, as we know, both, you know, Yaddle and Dooku’s fates that we’ve kind of gleaned, we know that that’s not going to last for long. But it’s such a great moment when she pushes up the door with the force.


Jason Concepcion But the exertion leaves her very vulnerable and weak. Dooku, you know, Palpatine is like, you have to finish the job. That’s how I’ll know you’re loyal to me. And then we can bring down the the Republic together. And Dooku says the thing that is motivating him. I only want to bring peace and order to the galaxy.


Rosie Knight Always ends badly. That wish.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. It always does. You know it is. In fairness to him, he sees quite clearly how the bureaucracy and corruption of the Senate is really this is working against justice. That that said, this is not the way to do it. But, of course, Dooku is too far gone now. He strikes down Yaddle.


Rosie Knight That’s the moment, that’s the moment that you are committed to the dark side.


Jason Concepcion There’s no coming back.


Rosie Knight I know. And the thing I find so heartbreaking is like they do such a good job here where you really get to see that Yaddle is morally aligned with Dooku in some ways. And yet Yaddle.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, she’s like. She’s like, I agree with you.


Rosie Knight It’s true. This sucks. And also she’s like, I love this. This is one of the moments I found strongest where she said, It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. If you make the right choice now.


Jason Concepcion Do it now.


Rosie Knight That is all that matters is that you make the right choice. You come with me and we make this right. That is so ,you want him to take that option so badly. And you just. Yeah, you know, it’s not going to happen.


Jason Concepcion I found myself wondering, had Jinn lived, would Dooku have gone all the way down this path.


Rosie Knight Right? I feel like that’s what this episode wants us to send off,.


Jason Concepcion To really understand that that was the, that was the heartbreak.


Rosie Knight That’s the final straw.


Jason Concepcion That was the final thing that drew him even deeper, even though, perversely, it was Palpatine that caused that to happen. Episode five, love this episode, Practice Makes Perfect. Clone Wars raging. Jedi Jedi Anakin Skywalker arrives late to watch his apprentice Ahsoka Tano go through some lightsaber training. Kenobi, Windu and Yoda are there. Yaddle is nowhere to be seen because she’s dead. And you have to wonder was anybody ever like, Where the fuck is Yaddle?


Rosie Knight I know all. Is it like, is the Yoda, are the Yoda species, is there a tendency to just, like, breeze off and go and live in a swamp? So everyone’s just like, yeah, maybe just travelin.


Jason Concepcion Because I would love to know what the reaction to Yaddle just being gone.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Now, like nobody ever asked. Um. We watch Ahsoka goes through this training with various training droids inside of a laser sphere that is steadily shrinking and it is quite clear that she is eminently skilled. But Sky Guy doesn’t like the test. He thinks, you know, droids, they’re predictable. They’re not like they’re not like living opponents who are random, who attack in ways that you can never expect. You need a real test. So he takes her to a hangar somewhere on Coruscant and puts her up against clone troopers led by Rex, in which they surround her and shoot stun bolts at her again and again and again and again. She’s she’s getting hit by these bolts and passing out for an hour. For another hour. Again, again, again. And over time, Ahsoka gets better. She gets more immune to the stun bolt. She’s getting faster. She can go minutes and minutes without getting hit, but she still does get hit. And after this, we see Rex and Ahsoka. After Ahsoka has taken the ship out of Rex, it’s the Knight of Order 66. And we understand all that has led up to this moment that allows Ahsoka to survive Order 66 with all these blaster bolts coming at her like. So the concept of a Mary Sue is something that has been talked about specifically with Star Wars. It is just for the people who don’t know what Mary Sue is. Mary Sue is a genre of criticism that is essentially misogynist.


Rosie Knight Yes.


Jason Concepcion Okay. But it is couched in these kind of academic terms, which says that, basically that the the the power levels of a female protagonist are unearned and they’re unearned and they’re often unearned. Not just in Star Wars, but in other stories. And they’re often unearned because we as a culture are kowtowing to these like kind of like woke woke elites.


Rosie Knight Yeah. Inverted commas on those, of course.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight I guess so. So basically the simplest way to explain it, this is what I always say is like, think about the chosen one trope Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter. And then if the chosen one is a woman in any story or someone who’s not a CIS male, they say they’re a Mary Sue. It’s that simple because guess what? Luke, that bitch wasn’t doing nothing. He sooting wamrats doing nothing. He didn’t have no training. A training for three days. His master died, rather than just tell him the truth.


Jason Concepcion Like zero training.


Rosie Knight You know, Harry Potter. He’s just living in a base. He’s living under some stairs. He’d never been trained. But, yeah, but I love the obviously I think a is a great example of Dave Filoni. You know, people did critique her, but like, she’s always been a great character with a lot of depth. But this is a really nice space of like here you want to talk about.


Jason Concepcion You want to know why Ahsoka is  such a badass?


Rosie Knight I’m not just.


Jason Concepcion Here is why.


Rosie Knight Here is why. Also not just that this was one of the shorts where I saw quite a few people being like, This one’s quite routine. Like it’s just her training. I was thinking like this to me.


Jason Concepcion I completely disagree.


Rosie Knight To me this is like so this is actually incredibly deep because what they’re really saying is not only is this why she’s a badass, but also like, here is the love that Anakin had for her. Even though he became Darth Vader, he made this one choice that seems like a simple, offhanded, almost egotistical choice, because Anakin’s like, I know better than the Jedi do than how to train you.


Jason Concepcion Almost like too hardcore core.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Like there’s points where you like. Like there’s points where you want to be like Anakin. Enough.


Rosie Knight You can see the man who’s going to become Darth Vader inside the ego and the narcissism. But it is this choice, and it is this obvious training that Ahsoka clearly kept up over the years that then led to her being able to evade capture on Order 66, not just because of the training, but because of the relationship that she created that is so powerful and cool and such a good idea.


Jason Concepcion I agree.


Rosie Knight And also, like.


Jason Concepcion It hit me emotionally so hard.


Rosie Knight Right?


Jason Concepcion You know, because it’s just like it just draws a line through her training.


Rosie Knight Yeah and her journey.


Jason Concepcion Her relationship with Anakin.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm. Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion The fact that that is.


Jason Concepcion Listen, it’s her, her ability, her skill. But a lot of that is because of what she learned from Anakin. That being the reason that she survives is amazing.


Rosie Knight Yeah, it’s amazing. And also, let’s just say we talk about this a lot when we talk about Star Wars, and we’re always, like, cracking jokes and ragging on them. Yeah. But like Order of 66, they were pretty bad at it. And like, there’s a lot of people where it just turns out, Oh, that Jedi survived. That Jedi survive.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight This is one of the few examples where we actually really know why. Like, we now know how Ahsoka survived the relationships that made that possible, the skills that she learned to do it. It’s it’s very cool. And I think I like the episode anyway because I like anything to do with Anakin. And so I think that’s such a great.


Jason Concepcion I think it’s an.


Rosie Knight Addition to Anakin’s cannon. But that final push forward to Order 66, that really just clinches it.


Jason Concepcion There’s another layer to it, too, that I found myself thinking about, which is. You know, because you’re watching this and you’re like Anakin, stop. Enough. She’s. She’s passing out for an hour, and it’s like.


Rosie Knight And it’s not good for her brain.


Jason Concepcion Back into it. Yeah, you’re just going to throw her back into it. But a part of me wonders if. Some. Piece of Anakin as he’s being seduced by the dark side understands that.


Rosie Knight Oh I love that.


Jason Concepcion He is going to have to face something that that no one understands is coming.


Rosie Knight That makes so much sense. He can sense it somewhere in his heart. He knows.


Jason Concepcion He feels it coming.


Rosie Knight He can feel that something. He doesn’t know if it’s Order 66, but he knows that Ahsoka will have to fight something. Oh, that’s so good. I love that.


Jason Concepcion You’re going to have to face it like this.


Rosie Knight Something more real than droids. That is such a good read.


Jason Concepcion Because why else, you know, like, why else why just her? Why not any? Like, why not say, hey, shouldn’t we do this for everybody?


Rosie Knight Yeah, let’s just go grab the other trainees, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


Jason Concepcion And it’s both generous and selfish, you know, it’s like the two sides of Anakin at once. He wants this person that he loves and he cares about to have the utmost tools and skills to survive this threat that maybe he only darkly imagines coming. But also, it’s that selfishness, too, because he doesn’t. He’s only sharing it with her.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Episode six, Resolved. We’re on Naboo. After the fall of the republic, we were watching the funeral of Princess Amidala. Bail Organa, in watching the funeral procession go by catches a glimpse of a hooded figure. It’s Ahsoka Tano. He catches up to her somewhere in the city and he tells her he shouldn’t have come here. There is nothing you could do, Ahsoka. Just. She took the risk because she wanted to pay respects to her friend. Bail gives Ahsoka a communicator and he says, Listen, if you ever want to get back into it, you need me. You want to get into the fight, call me, she says, like I’m. That’s it. I’m done fighting. My heart is broken. Everyone I know is dead. My master is dead. Everyone’s gone. She slips away from the city and then out into space in a Y-wing piloted by Rex. And then we go to a farm on some planet somewhere. It’s maybe years later. We don’t know. Ahsoka is living an anonymous life amongst the field hands there. And then one day she uses her powers to save a girl’s life. That girl invites Ahsoka over to eat with her and her fellow workers. The workers are arguing about politics and we see that. The rise of the empire and its power is very, very it is a contentious subject out there with some saying, well, the empire, it’s better, right? You know, it’s less chaotic. We you know, like while others are saying, yeah, but what have we lost?


Rosie Knight Yeah, the boot on the neck is going.


Jason Concepcion The boot on the neck. As the girl lets Ahsoka know that she knows that she used the force to save her life. And Ahsoka is concerned because she’s thinking maybe I have to run again. She and the girl go on a delivery run, and when they come back, they find the farm in flames. Ahsoka has been betrayed. One of the kid who is like, I love the Empire. It’s great. Everything’s more stable now. Has ratted them out. Understood that Ahsoka was a Jedi and and called the Inquisitor Force. A hooded Inquisitor is there is about to murder Ahsoka’s betrayer for essentially like he thinks calling in a false alarm. But Ahsoka arrives, saves a day, easily cuts down the inquisitors, because of course it does not serve reality for these people to be that trained or that powerful. She takes care easily, and the next day Bail Organa arrives to take the survivors away. And there’s, like, this chilling. Oh, I just had goosebumps. Where he’s like, you kept the communicator. She’s like, yes. And he’s like, are you. Does that mean you’re ready to get back in the fight? And then she thinks about it for a very, very long time and then nods very quietly. She’s back in it. And it was just a cool. Also the the scene where she is facing down the inquisitor gets the flames of that farm is. It’s just absolutely incredible. And like all of this, we should add as a setup to the Ahsoka series is perfect. Loved it. I loved I loved every episode. This was great.


Rosie Knight Yeah, it’s really good. And I think there’s been like a lot of. I’m not sure if this is canon or not, but like I’m not sure if it’s been confirmed, but the character that she faces down with this story is, is, is like based on E.K. Johnson’s Amazing Ahsoka book. It’s kind of like loosely adapted. And it and the character is credited as an inquisitor, but it’s like, is it the sixth brother who was in there who’s in the Star Wars comics because they don’t say his name? You know, Disney doesn’t tend to credit unless they say the name. So it’s really fun to see them building in more of this non-legends Canon book stuff which we know has shaped so much of this. And I think it’s really cool to see something like Ahsoka, which a lot of fans might not have read becoming canon into this world. It’s kind of the Harlequin thing, right? Introduced into introduced in animation becomes part of the comics, then becomes a huge fan favorite in the movies. This is like that where it’s like Ahsoka’s introduced in animation, the book comes out. Ahsoka is now using that lore in the world of the animation where she was introduced. It’s really fun stuff. So yeah, this was just really good. And I mean, Ahsoka is Dave Filoni’s baby and he loves her. But she is also like probably one of the most popular Star Wars characters of all time at this point. So it’s really nice to see them embrace that and expand on it here in a kind of unexpected way. And this obviously feels very timely knowing that we’re going to get a live action Ahsoka, you know, so let us know more about her and learn more in this space.


Jason Concepcion Up next, Andor. Andor episodes eight and nine, Narkina 5 and Nobody’s Listening respectively. This show continues to be.


Rosie Knight Wow, wow, wow.


Jason Concepcion Some of the best Star Wars ever.


Rosie Knight Blowing me away.


Jason Concepcion Blowing me away. And again, the most radical, maybe Star Wars ever since the first one. And certainly is incredibly timely. Is incredibly unbelievably timely Star Wars. Okay. So quickly, on episode eight, Narkina 5 five, written by Beau Willimon, directed by Toby Haynes. Cassian, after his arrest, finds himself on an imperial prison labor colony called Narkina 5, where he and the rest of his fellow prisoners are forced to compete in assembling machinery for the empire. You know, these gangs of prisoner men are pitted against each other to see who can get the highest score. And, you know, highest score continues to be in prison. Congratulations. The lowest score gets microwaved in your cells. Sorry about it.


Rosie Knight Yeah. You will get fried at the end of every day until you can no longer work. And if you’re number one, you get some flavor in your food slush. It’s incredibly depressing, but also incredibly realistic.


Jason Concepcion And incredibly realistic. We meet Kino Loy, the floor manager, who is a fellow prisoner who is basically the prisoner that has been put in charge of the other prisoners in order to keep this train running. It’s very clear that the empire. They’ve got a vast war machine that they are spinning up, but they also don’t want to spend that much money on their manufacturing.


Rosie Knight No they’re cheap.


Jason Concepcion Or even overseeing. They, you know, to put other prisoners in charge of the other prisoners. And then as soon as we get more, you can just microwave these. It’s quite obvious from this, why Andor was so easily like like why he was arrested in the first place?


Rosie Knight Yes.


Jason Concepcion Because they’re.


Rosie Knight They are people to make workers.


Jason Concepcion Just arresting people. They need a work force.


Rosie Knight And the way that the prison runs is very interesting, which is there are not very many. The guards do not have weapons in the same way they do not have troopers. They do not. What they have is an electrified floor that they can electrify at any time. And all the prisoners walk around in their bare feet. And it is incredibly brutal. And essentially we learn through this episode, in the next episode that the Empire is creating a casserole industrial complex in order to build for the military and potentially for private companies, which is exactly what is going on in America. Right. It’s absolutely devastating. And it is so well done.


Jason Concepcion It’s incredibly well done. Bix is attempting to contact Lucent via radio. But Luthen is not answering because he’s you know, he’s raised his security level ever since the raid and he’s scared that his transmissions are being monitored. Guess what? They are. Meanwhile, he has gone to meet an old compatriot, our friend our friend Saw Gerrera.


Rosie Knight Still one of the most sensible people in the whole of the galaxy. He is proving it once again here that he knows what is up.


Jason Concepcion Arguably the first leader to really understand what the empire was about way before anybody else really understood it. To the point that everybody else around him who would eventually come along to his kind of thinking, were like, you’re you’re too radical, you too extreme.


Rosie Knight And also he say, I’m not putting my men at risk. I’m not going to join up with your little rebellion. I don’t know who they are. I don’t know your little friend or what he’s up to. And I’m not going to put my people at risk. And he’s absolutely right. And that is almost instantaneously proven. I love to see Saw getting his juice here and to see Forest back in this role, which he just absolutely smashes.


Jason Concepcion Saw Guerrera declines Luthen’s offer of a meeting with another rebel contact. Another rebel leader. Saw is like, I don’t, to Rosie’s point, I don’t know who that guy is. I don’t know what kind of mission you’re proposing. That guy, by the way, who you’re mentioning to me, was a separatist during the Clone Wars. So like basically, like why am I going to ally with someone who is a proto fascist anyway?


Rosie Knight Yep.


Jason Concepcion Like, I don’t, I don’t trust him, period. And I’m not putting my, my, my people at risk. So go fuck yourself. Vel and Cinta to go to Ferrix to find out what’s where is Cassian? They feel like that’s the loose end that is dangling out there. Everybody’s very worried about their own personal safety, the security and the security of the rebel network. They have to find Cassian to button that up. And of course, Cassian, unbeknownst to anyone, has been, you know, swallowed whole by the imperial machine on Narkina 5. Meero, Dedra Meero question Syril Karn about Ferrix but doesn’t want to get involved with him any further than that. He is, of course, very, very eager to help. We’ll talk more about that after the events of Episode nine. And then Meero leads a task force to Ferrix itself, where she apprehends Bix and other people who knew Cassian and that kind of.


Rosie Knight And we see that she is a she. This is you know, I’ll take there’s we were right there’s we were wrong. I had wondered whether her deep interest in the understanding of what was going on with the rebels was a signal that she was perhaps aligned with them or interested? No.


Jason Concepcion Absolutely not.


Rosie Knight We see that she is a nightmarish fascist who loves to torture, who loves to maim, who loves to cause pain, and who is now, because of the uselessness of most of the rest of the empire, being given a free rein to do that, it is really hard to watch stuff and she is just a nightmare fascist.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. In Episode nine, Nobody’s Listening, written by Beau Willimon. Directed by Toby Haynes. So ISP supervisor Dedra Meero has Bix in her grip and she wants Bix’s cooperation. She will obviously torture her to get it. She wants to uncover the rebel network. She wants, you know, names. She knows quite a bit right up to whoever Bix’s buyer is. And she has quite a lot of information from Salomon PAC, one of Bix’s fellow townspeople who clearly Dedra has tortured to get information from. So she knows that Bix has met with her buyer, who is Luthen at least six times. And so she wants details. She wants to know who bought the stolen imperial equipment? Where did they get it? Where did it go? Dates, names, etc.. Bix says, I don’t know. You know, I met with this guy. I would, you know, it’s all anonymous. I don’t I don’t know. She tries to kind of play him off. Dedra does not believe any of this. And of course, Bix notes, Well, you’re not going to believe anything I say, right? And Dedra’s like, No, you’re absolutely right. Meet my torturer, Dr. Gorst. We go to the prison factory on Narkina 5. Cassian continues to toil with his jail compatriots on the production line. In this endless competition, you’ll feel this member of the team. It will be out after 41 shifts. Right. But he’s also fading. He’s the oldest. He’s not in good health.


Rosie Knight He might be senile. It seems like doing the work is given him some kind of arthritis he’s struggling to use his hands. It is the first hint of the truth of this prison system, which is just like the real prison system in America. You’re not supposed to leave, especially not if you are in a labor camp. You are, you are not supposed to leave. You are there. You are worthless body. The title of this week’s episode, Nobody’s Listening, is something that Andor realizes as he goes on.


Jason Concepcion Cassian kind of rearranges the the work that they’re doing to kind of pick up the slack for Ulaf and then gives the credit for that reorganization to another of his.


Rosie Knight And he thinks that he is. He thinks he’s dropping him in it and getting him in trouble. But Andor knows it’s actually going to look good for this other guy. Great little moment.


Jason Concepcion We learned from Dr. Gorst that the method of torture, which the empire is incredibly excited about, is the most perverse and diabolically evil thing that you can imagine. It is the weaponized death cries of an alien species from Dizon Fray recorded mid-day massacre by the colonial imperial forces. And the sounds are known to have a powerful mind breaking effect.


Rosie Knight Especially the babies.


Jason Concepcion That’s the thing. These recordings that they have lightly layered and edited and looped, are specifically the cries of the Dizonite children who are now extinct, and the Dr. Gorst puts the headphones on Bix’s head and presses play. It’s horrific. Just one of the most chilling things that’s ever happened in Star Wars, period. Point blank. It’s just it’s just it’s despicable.


Rosie Knight And also, like, again, we’re going to keep going back to this because this is what makes this series feel so radical. This is taking the notion and the nature of what the original Star Wars was about, which is kind of imagining, you know, telling the story of the the people in the Vietcong going up against this imperial force, but imagining they were American. Well, guess what? America is incredibly well known for? That is torturing people that they want to get information out of and torturing prisoners. People that they’ve imprisoned without any due process also shouldn’t be torturing anyone. But like this is again, another thing Tony Gilroy is not afraid to say. Yeah. This is, you know, the thing we’re supposed to think of here immediately and it’s very evocative with especially with the doctor is Nazi Germany and the experiments that they did.


Jason Concepcion They want us to.


Rosie Knight And that is the way our mind is supposed to go. But this is also talking about America and the country that we live in and the things that all governments do. When they want to find things out the way that they will treat people and dismiss people and destroy people and the way they do it. The headphones where we can’t hear the sound but you can see Bix reacting to it is so effective.


Jason Concepcion Well, it’s about complicity, I think, Andor. It’s about, is it possible because surely there are people within the imperial system, right, that don’t actively work in any kind of like weapons procurement or in or the industrial prison complex or the torture complex. They are just there, you know, whatever trading natural resources or working in, you know, in, in cleaning the various facilities or something like that. The question Andor asks is, is it possible to be to have clean hands, if you are associated with or working for or helping in any way to support a regime that will do this?


Rosie Knight Mm hmm. Yeah. And it’s also really interesting because, you know, Saul, super producer Saul, just put into the chat, like talking about, you know, are these the people who built the Death Star. And so that leads into this other really interesting question, which has been a conversation, you know, for fans since the first Star Wars came out. But also, like, you know, there’s a joke in clerks or whatever, which is like when the rebels blew up the Death Star, how many, like, innocent people died? Who that was just their day job. Well, now there’s an even more tragic bent to it, which is how many people who were working there actually didn’t have a choice at all.


Jason Concepcion Slave labor.


Rosie Knight Who were slave labor. Who were kidnaped like we know happened, you know, with the first order to make their stormtroopers. Yeah. It’s so sad and.


Jason Concepcion Absolutely tragic.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Back on Narkina 5, we understand that Cassian has been steadily preparing some form of escape. Like he goes to the bathroom during a shift and then takes, like three saws at some kind of pipe, you know? And I guess the the the hope is that over weeks and months that eventually this will go somewhere.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Meanwhile, the imperial goons come down, Cassian and another inmate take note of 1) how many they are and what they’re wearing and what this means about what surfaces inside the facility are deadly and what aren’t. And. Cassian kind of decides. Our best chance is we strike when they’re coming down here, we can strike when they’re here. Meanwhile, Bix is absolutely broken and it’s unclear how much longer she can resist giving up Cassian and the information about him. We go to Coruscant, where Mon Mothma is speaking out against the Empire’s new public order legislation in the Senate. But things are simply far too gone, she’s shouted down by the rest of the senators.


Rosie Knight Those motherfuckers are corrupt like they are. I mean, they are just shouting her down. It’s done.


Jason Concepcion Well, I mean, here’s the thing. You know, like everybody wants to be on a winning side.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion You know, and I mean.


Rosie Knight Ain’t that the truth. Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Ain’t that the truth? So it’s like if. Not making any excuses for people who throw in with fascism, imperialism, etc., or authoritarianism, you know? I’m not saying it’s like an easy decision to be like, I’ll give up my entire life and go on the run, I guess, to the outer rim at the same time, you could see the formulation where people are like well, fuck it. Who’s who is confronting this? Who’s fighting this? Who? What? What force can possibly overthrow this? It’s either get with the program or get dead. And so everybody has made their decisions. The Senate is completely, whatever it was, the imperfect thing that it was during the Clone Wars, during the Republic era. It’s gone, and Mon Mothma is just in despair about it. As she she gets in her car to leave and her driver tells her, Oh, I’ve been told to tell you, your cousin is back in town. She’s waiting for you at the embassy. We know that her cousin is going to be Vel. Back on Narkina 5, rumors are spreading. Apparently something has happened down on level two. What happened is kind of unclear. Kino Loy is like everybody shut the fuck up. Just get on task, okay?


Rosie Knight Yeah, he’s close to being legt out. He has. That’s how they manipulate him. It’s this idea of turning. Almost like turning snitch, like turning prison guard on the people who he’s looking after. They know he doesn’t want to get fried. Any only has 217 shifts left when we meet him. For a comparison, Cassian has like 202,817 or something. So, like, he is just so he feels like he is so close to getting out and he’s so close to getting Olaf out who only has 40? You know, he feels like there is an end in sight and that puts blinkers on him. To just say, keep your head down and you’ll be okay.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. Stay on program and and we’ll get out. Later that night, Cassian is kind of probes Kino. You know he’s like, Hey do you ever think about escaping? Kino’s like, Are you crazy? I’m not gonna fucking talk about this. It’s like, you know how many guards are on the level, like, what’s going on? And then this is where the title of the episode comes from. He goes, Listen, you think they make the effort to listen to us? They have us in the fucking palm of their hand here. They fry us at will. You think they’re actually going through and going the extra mile and sitting there listening to the microphones?


Rosie Knight They don’t need to.


Jason Concepcion  right now? There no one is listening. No one cares. Kino just rolls over and tries to go to sleep. Mothma finds Vel at her apartment talking to her daughter. And of course, this is very anxiety inducing. As she when her daughter goes away, she’s like, What’s going on? Where’s Luthen? What? Like, what are you up to? What are you doing? Vel is up to something. It’s very clear she wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t. But what that is, what Luthen has in store, what the network is doing. She won’t say. There are things in motion and they’re risky, but she won’t say anymore. Dedra, our good friend updates Major Partagaz. She believes there’s a connection to the rebel activity on Ferrix and the raid on Aldhani. Partagaz is like that’s very interesting I want you to follow that and meanwhile we find that Dedra is using Marva as bait for for Cassian Andor. Back in the prison, rumors of a massacre are intensifying and it seems like it’s true. 100 men cooked. Could it be? Could that have happened? Is the empire that depraved? But it’s important. Kino tells them, Listen, we need to act like we don’t know anything. We haven’t heard anything because we have a better chance for survival if we just act like we’re completely ignorant to what’s going on. We go to dinner with Syril and his mom, and later on after that he waylaid Dedra outside her office. And it’s clear that he has become obsessed with her.


Rosie Knight Yeah. She’s like his fascist, like God. Like he wants to be a part of it. He thinks they’re on this same kind of crazy mission.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, it’s now people. I’ve seen people be like, who? What kind of characters? Who is this? I gotta tell you. The people that you see online who just, like, stand for random billionaires.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion You know, who are like, yeah. Oh, you don’t. You know, like, for whether it’s Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos or whoever who just kind of like mindlessly that is this person.


Rosie Knight Yeah. Also.


Jason Concepcion That’s who Syril is. He is that it’s not even. It’s not even particularly about Dedra. It’s about this fascinate. He feels powerless.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion And so he wants to feel like he’s part of this growing power. He wants to be on the winning team. And he wants to prove himself by catching this guy who is thumbing his nose at imperial power, which he so, you know, devoutly worships. And he feels like Dedra and him, they’re kindred spirits in this. She understands.


Rosie Knight Yeah. It’s it’s, you know, it’s phenetical. It’s it’s you know, we see it. We see it online. It’s, you know, Saul just pointed out, I was going to say he’s a he’s a guy on H. He’s the Riddler. And Matt Reeves is Batman. He is someone who is so obsessed with his own role in this war that he sees coming, that he will do anything. And he has become horribly obsessed. And what I found very interesting about this interaction is Dedra is horrified. She


Jason Concepcion He grabs her. He physically grabs her.


Rosie Knight And he’s in her face. And she is like, I could literally have you killed, like, fuck off. But the thing I find really interesting that I can’t tell and this is a really great bit of ambiguous storytelling. Will she see that he could be a terrifying, terrible weapon that she can wield? Or is there something about his behavior that means that she constantly pushes him back? That’s what I can’t see next.


Jason Concepcion I don’t I found it very ambiguous as well, the way she responds to it, like, why not have this guy put away?


Rosie Knight Isn’t this what you want?


Jason Concepcion Yeah, but. But clearly, for whatever reason, she doesn’t. And I. I’m really eager to find out what her angle in all of this is. And also, I am eager and hopeful that whatever end waits, both Dedra and Syril, it is.


Rosie Knight Horrible.


Jason Concepcion Horrible and the end.


Rosie Knight The end end end. Yes. You know what? I always I’m like, God bless this being a prequel because I’m like, I never heard of these people in the modern day times.


Jason Concepcion I hope to fuck they got blown up in some Rebel attack. You know, inside ISB, Dedra gets some very, very exciting news. A rebel pilot using a stolen Imperial Nav unit has been captured. We go to Mon Motha’s apartment. She’s meeting with her, her banker, her money launderer,Tae, who she contacted a few episodes ago to help her out with moving funds around and helping with this donation scheme that she’s using to access money. Their money laundering program is in a spot of trouble. There’s been a big movement of money and the only way to cover for it is to deposit more money in to kind of cover the hole that has been left by this money has been moved to the rebel alliance, we assume. So this means Mothma needs like 400,000 credits somewhere. She needs to get it from somewhere to put the money in her bank account so she can cover these tracks. The only way to get that kind of money is from apparently a Chandrilan  crime lord, Davo Sculdun and Tay has it all set up. And while it’s clear that Mothma, we don’t get a definitive yes or no at the end of this conversation, but this.


Rosie Knight It’s happening, sorry.


Jason Concepcion It’s going to happen, folks. Dedra has turned up some solid leads from the torture of this rebel pilot. And this pilot is one of Anto Kreegyr’s network. This is Kreegyr is the man who Saw Guerrera wisely, it turned out, refused to meet. And probably saving Saw Gerrera’s network in the process of deciding I don’t trust this. So I think they’re sloppy and they’re a separatist. I’m not dealing with them. Good, good read on the situation from Saw Gerrera. We learned that there’s apparently going to be a rebel raid on spell house. So the ISB is trying to figure out how they can cover the arrest of this pilot to make it look like something else happened to the pilot so that the rebels go through with this raid and they can scoop up this entire network on spell house. Back on Narkina 5, Ulaf collapses. Men carry him back to the bridge into his cell and eventually a medtech is called. But of course, rather than treat the man, he just injects him with a euthanasia, euthanasian drug.


Rosie Knight Basically gives him a lethal injection.


Jason Concepcion And says he should be thankful because worse things could have happened. And this leads Kino to be like, okay, so do you know what happened down on two? And Kino learns that the rumors of a massacre are true.


Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah, yeah. Basically, like, the thing that is so bleak is the reason the massacre happened is the empire hasn’t actually been letting people out of prison. It’s been taking them off one floor and funneling them back into another floor. But this time the people on two recognize that the new guy was someone from.


Jason Concepcion Clerical error.


Rosie Knight Yeah, it was a they’ll say clerical error. But the real truth is you’re never getting out of prison. You’re if you get released, you’re going straight back in just on a different floor.


Jason Concepcion So they microwaved the entire floor. And this point, Kino realizes we’re never getting out of here. None of us are getting out of here. It doesn’t matter how many shifts you have left, you can have one shift left. You’re not getting out at the end of that shift.


Rosie Knight And the end.


Jason Concepcion He tells.


Rosie Knight It’s so good.


Jason Concepcion He tells Andor. He’s like, okay, there are 12 guard, never more than 12 guards on the floor. And you realize, okay.


Rosie Knight He’s Kino Zen baby.


Jason Concepcion He’s in baby. This show continues to be absolutely fucking incredible.


Rosie Knight Yeah. Seven, eight, nine. That has been for me. The real. This is a show of arcs and seven, eight, nine to me has been like that is my arc where I just think they are doing the most powerful stuff and getting it right. I am. I’m always trying to learn more about the realities of the prison system and about like abolition and and the ways that prisoners are exploited and how we can hopefully change it in the future. And it’s really interesting because I saw the new Henry Selick Netflix movie Wendell and Wild, which is a kid stop motion animation movie. And I saw the Arrow Cinema and that is an anti private prisons movie. The villains in the movie are people creating private prisons to create a school to prison pipeline in their neighborhood. And it was kind of amazing to then a couple of days later watch these episodes and see that this is another story where people are contesting that and talking about that and shining a light on that. You watch these episodes of them in the prison in Narkina 5 in these horrific labor spaces, which ironically probably much cleaner and kind of seemingly better run than the real ones in in prisons. Now, you know, I mean, you have companies like in America is Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Victoria’s Secret, the US military, which is very realistic here, who use prison labor, that is indentured servitude, you know. And it is just kind of mind blowing and to me, hopeful and radical to see these stories coming out now where they are shining a light on that. And I hope that when people watch these episodes and if they watch Wendell and Wild, which is very beautifully animated and Jordan Peele is a co-writer on it, I hope that when people see that and say, oh, that’s horrific, like they realized that that is actually a reflection of something that’s really going on, which, as we always say, is one of the most powerful things about storytelling and especially genre storytelling.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, this, this episode really made me think about the video game. This video game came out in 2013 indie game called Papers Please. And it is about you play as this border inspector, immigration inspector.


Rosie Knight Wow.


Jason Concepcion Fictional authoritarian country in the year 1982. And you basically have people come up to your booth and you have to stamp their papers and decide whether they get in or not. And there’s various alerts happening about, you know, terror, quote unquote, terrorist attacks and whatever. And the thing that really. The mechanic is primarily you stamping papers, you know, examining them and stamping them. And the thing that that it made me realize is part of what is so insidious about like a power like the empire or like in this game is how it makes you complicit with everything you do. Like stamping the papers makes you.


Rosie Knight It seems like you’re not doing anything, but you are, like, upholding a system.


Jason Concepcion You’re literally signing your name on everything that happens. It’s like, yes, these, these men are prisoners and one might say, well, they still have a choice. They could decide to get to die. Like, you know, the fact that it’s the.


Rosie Knight Illusion of choice.


Jason Concepcion It’s the illusion of choice, right? The fact that this system is making them complicit in the building of weaponry. We don’t know what these are, right?


Rosie Knight We don’t know yet. But I think we can. The way that they look and the shape of them, we can assume that they are building something that will be used as weaponry or military or maybe to build space cruises or stuff. I think the most interesting thing will be and I’d love to see this and again, something we’ve got hinted at in The Last Jedi is obviously we know this is being made for the empire, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of it ended up in the hands of the rebellion, because that was always the the problem. That was like people are being exploited on both sides, you know? Yeah, I just I love that that Paper’s Please as well. Like it’s the you know, we’ve talked about this so much, but like it also reminds me of, um, you know, Shadows of the Colossus, where it’s like you shadow of the closest way you end, where you think you’re the hero the entire time, but really you’ve been complicit in this horrific genocide, and you kind of learn that as you go along. And I really. I just feel very grateful that people are telling these stories that will hopefully put people into the mindset to learn more about this stuff. And to its, you know, the time radical imagination comes up in a lot in abolitionist conversation, which is like, imagine something better. And sometimes to imagine something better, people need to realize that something bad is already going on. And I think that this is a really great use of sci fi and analogous storytelling to talk about these kind of things, whether it’s this rise of fascism or the way that prisoners and incarcerated people are exploited. And it’s just I was I was totally blown away. And that final moment when Andor says to him, so how many gods are on each level? And Kino just turns around and says, Never more than 12. I was just crying. I was like, Oh my God. This is just, also, going back to what we talked about before. You are essentially now at a situation where you are supporting incarcerated people and breaking out of a government prison. I’m saying


Jason Concepcion Is what you know, this is again. The things that this show very effectively argues for are completely rad, like in the context of pop storytelling, are immensely radical. Immensely radical.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion One of the like, you know, one of the things that I’ve always thought about vis a vis Star Wars is that there’s a lot of crime. You know, you have this empire that has, you know, more or less come to force on a program of law and order, right. Perhaps to the goal, of course, stop all these wars. Right. Stability, etc.. So why is it that. These crime families are so vibrant and I think something that. Something that Tay said, this meeting with Mothma and Tay, really kind of hammered home what it’s all about. And that’s, first of all in this extremely authoritarian structure, they’re still, there are still people who like to say some say something about well, you know, when we when we this crime lord comes, what am I going to you know, what are people going to think? And Tay’s like people are going to think the same thing they think about everybody else, which is you want to take care of yourself. You want to take care of your money, you want to you want to, you know, you want to make sure that you have the things that you need and you’re going to break the rules a little bit to get them. And that really tracked for me in the sense that it’s another form of of leverage that the empire has over you.


Rosie Knight Yes.


Jason Concepcion Which is this, I’m sure the empire understands and the Emperor understands the ISP understand that there’s various powerful senators, etc., that are money laundering and all this kind of stuff. That’s very useful if you should ever need to like arrest them. Right. You could do it at any time, you know, they are looking to protect their assets. They’re going to do it extra legally. They’re going to move money around, maybe offshore, off planet or to some other outer rim galaxy hidey hole and what better piece of leverage to swoop them up if they step out of line with the imperial program? Right. You’ve got now you’ve you make make people break the rules so that you can arrest them at any time.


Rosie Knight And also.


Jason Concepcion Is part of the imperial program.


Rosie Knight Isn’t it? Isn’t that also, again, a reflection of the way that the system does work? There’s one rule for people on the lowest rung of society.


Jason Concepcion Yes.


Rosie Knight And then there’s one for the top. So it’s like. Even people who maybe are more politically aligned and that you agree with, you might be shocked when you find out in real life that they are trading stocks without, you know, selling stocks based on political knowledge they have or because, you know what? Once they become comfortable and want to be in that space and stay in it, it’s much harder for them to say, well, you should stop doing this thing that’s illegal when they are also doing it. So it’s, it’s, it’s I find it very interesting how textual this show is being.


Jason Concepcion Greed is such a is such a handmaiden to dictatorship because it’s really like, you know, people are willing to go a pretty long way to make sure their taxes stay low, you know.


Rosie Knight And to stay comfortable and to. It’s the ultimate it’s the ultimate way of breaking down, you know, solidarity as you blame someone else and say they have a better life than you. Or the reason your life is bad is because of them. While at the same time there’s people living, you know, it’s the it’s the page from, you know, Batman. I think it’s from the long Halloween or year one. And Batman says, you know, you’ve eaten well, you’ve been fed, but now there’s a problem because I’m not going to let it happen anymore. Those people, they’re wealthy, they’re rich, they’re the empire. Also, there’s a really great part of this show that is exploring that with the people that surround Mon Mothma, the people who make money off the Empire and are willing to stay quiet and not notice the horrors that they are because of how comfortable their lives are, which I just think is really interesting.


Jason Concepcion There’s an aspect of of the yet you participate in society meme, which is that this is a product. This story is the is the jewel one of the jewels in a corporate crown. Yet the million billion dollar corporate entity that is. You know, inextricably part of the fabric of a lot of the injustices that are there being foisted upon people right now, which is which leads to the other, you know, part of the thing that I think about with this story is like, you know how do you how do you reform and is it possible to reform like is it possible to reform a system that seems like it’s grown beyond anybody’s control? And that in effect, I mean, I think this is what I oftentimes think about, like the our own like Western neo liberal system, global system is that it’s just kind of grown beyond anybody’s any one person’s ability or group of people’s ability to meaningfully affect it. It’s like a beast that’s been set loose just doing what.


Rosie Knight They have to do. The beast of capitalism. Yeah, it’s a really interesting because I think that’s why even in the scope of being owned by someone like Disney, you know, of of being part of this corporate machine, it is pretty cool when somebody can tell a story that might inspire a lot of people to get together and say, Well, I think this is bad in this fictional space. Maybe it’s also bad in a real space. But like you say, it can become very overwhelming to begin to think about what that real definitive change would look like. And I think that’s why something that’s really powerful that people can do is to be in community with other people, to do mutual aid, to help your neighbors. Like, guess what? You can’t solve the homelessness crisis unless you’re really rich. Go and buy some houses and give it to people or repatriate land. But like you can give, you can give, you make people lunch and you can go and you can give it to them. You know, you can make a difference to one person, to two people, to three people. And that can kind of be the start.


Jason Concepcion That is one of the strongest takeaways I had from this episode. Um, when Cassian is inspiring his fellow inmates to pick up the slack for Ulaf, you know, Ulaf is holding them back, and it could potentially be deadly to all of them. But instead of acting with, you know, venom or like or some kind of grievance that Ulaf pulling all of them back towards the bottom of the ladder, he’s instead like, okay, you move over here, you come over here, you’re able to do this better. Let me do this. And then and that’s exactly the thing you’re talking about. All of which is to say is.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Andor is incredible.


Rosie Knight It’s so good. And like that last moment with Kino, that’s Kino understanding that even if he is not willing to be part, to risk himself and put himself out there, he can share this information he has that might allow someone else to do it and help other people. It’s really good stuff.


Jason Concepcion Can’t wait to continue to talk about Andor as the season moves on. Up next, some news we’re going to talk about, 2022 in horror. And we’re going to be talking about the DC movie debut of The Rock in Black. Adam.


Jason Concepcion <A.D.>.


Jason Concepcion Okay. Let’s start with a quick conversation about DCEU’s latest entry, Black Adam, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Teth-Adam, Aldis Hodge as Hawkman. Pierce Brosnan who’s wonderful as Dr. Fate. Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher. Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone. And Sarah Shahi as Adrianna Tomaz. I thought this movie was I actually there’s parts of this movie that I thought were like, really good. I got to say, Doctor Fate.


Rosie Knight Doctor. Fate. Let’s talk.


Jason Concepcion Doctor Fate was great.


Rosie Knight And the JSA and something I will say that Dwayne has been saying from the beginning. I interviewed him for Black Adam for about Black Adam, for the Den of Geek, this cover feature I did. He is very excited about the JSA and I feel like you can tell that comes through like Doctor Fate movie when that’s the biggest question. When you come out of this movie, as you say, I want to see Pierce Brosnan in that movie. You know, his chemistry with Aldis Hodges, Hawkman, is great if they want to do it. Team up of the two of them. Even though you can tell that the movie has likely been through many forms and many edits.


Jason Concepcion Many, many.


Rosie Knight You know. Which which which. Potentially makes it a little bit harder to understand the character, backstories and the connections between them. The performances of the JSA especially, they sell it like you, you know, they care about each other. I want to see I loved Quintessa as Cyclone. And I also think whoever it was at Warner Brothers who designed the cyclone costume A, I loved it works so well with Maxine’s personality, which is that she is a theater nerd, loves the Wizard of Oz like and also is this legacy hero from, you know, the first DC female DC hero who was the original Ma Hunkel. People forget that and that because she was in a humor book. But I think the way that Cyclone’s visuals were brought to screen, that’s one of the first original new ways that I’ve seen a superpower portrayed on screen in a really long time. There’s nothing else that looks like it, and that’s very hard to do 20 years into the superhero spectrum.


Jason Concepcion That is the thing that really struck me about, in addition to Brosnan’s wonderfully.


Rosie Knight Like perfect casting. The perfect casdting.


Jason Concepcion Is how cool his powers lived, the costume, the way they were.


Rosie Knight The fractal crystals.


Jason Concepcion The fractalness of it, the alien magic ness of it, where it seemed very very, you know, for lack of a better word, not to not to evoke a different kind of comedy, but look very strange.


Rosie Knight Look, Pierce had always wanted to play Doctor Strange, so I’m glad that kind of leaning into or I should say Pierce was a big fan of The Doctor Strange Comics. But yeah, I thought Doctor Fate was such a stand out. I loved how much they just committed to the weirdness of that power and of that hero. He is possessed when he puts on the helmet. The helmet possesses him and he sort of is its vessel. That is so cool. I thought that Noah and Quintessa were very sweet together. That was great young camp chemistry that I would love to know more. I thought it was a good twist on expectations. We had seen the trailer where we see this huge X mansion inspired area with a big black bird looking plane coming out of it. And we kind of assume that would be Doctor Fate’s space and he would be the Charles Xavier of the JSA. But it’s actually the other way around that it’s Hawkman. That’s Hawkman’s a compound and the JSA are, you know, his creation along with potentially Amanda Waller. I find that a little bit.


Jason Concepcion That was.


Rosie Knight Hard for me to swallow. But yeah, there’s some there’s some canonical issues within them.


Jason Concepcion And I was like, let’s make let’s make Waller Nick Fury after the fact decision. Is very like it’s very clear to me.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion It’s very clear to me that those scenes with Viola Davis, the scenes were filmed like in a day. Like maybe at her house.


Rosie Knight It feels like it because I mean, look, Nick Fury as the head of Shield, definitely a war criminal. But Amanda Waller is like a legitimate war criminal who consistently sends people to their deaths. And at the beginning of James Gunn’s very good and I think frankly underrated, as you will know, if you listen to the podcast Suicide Squad movie, she literally sends out a whole team just to die. She is evil. And that is the joy of Amanda Waller. She is a complex, horrible character who does terrible things for what she believes to be the greater good. So when Hawkman’s entire personality is based on not killing great, great conflict to introduce there against someone like Teth-Adam who just loves to kill people.


Jason Concepcion I mean, love, loves more than anything else to kill people.


Rosie Knight Dwayne Johnson. Did you know he wanted to kill so many people? Now you do. He loves that. He’s killing so many people.


Jason Concepcion I want to talk about the things I liked about it before I get to that. But fuck, man, I mean, I don’t know that we need quite so many jokes like as a guy’s body is like crashing to earth. It turned into liquid that like Teth-Adam is like winking and being like, Hey, did you like, you know, Hawkman, man is like, Oh, we need to question that guy. And then Teth-Adam looks at the guy he just threw 20 miles away. Like, as their little speck of a body is like falling to earth, and and Hawkman is like, Oh, did you kill that guy? And Teth-Adam is like, Woops, you know, like I don’t know that we quite needed that many things.


Rosie Knight Yes, I ironically I actually think I, I love, I love the Shazam movies so much. Like I loved the Shazam movie. Like the I loved everything about it. And I wish I would like to have seen a world where. This Black Adam and that darkness and that anger was kind of in-juxtaposed with the other side of Shazam. I think that’s really interesting to have those powers together. Hopefully it’s something we’ll see in the future, though. Technically, maybe the Superman thing kind of erases the canon of Shazam. I’m not sure. I will say this is a very I think this is a very fun movie and it’s very zeros to me. It’s very errors like Tim Story Fantastic Four, like big explosions, crazy effects, funny like mic-drop, kind of like needle drop moments, you know. Of course it’s called Black Adam. They have a man in black needle drop. Like, it feels like you’re watching like, a zeros blockbuster.


Jason Concepcion I will say I think that I liked it more than I was expecting to. Is it a good movie? Your mileage may vary. I will say this. I think that this movie is. I think they did a really good job in being conscious of the weaknesses of the movie. Like, listen, Black Adam, The Rock. You’ve seen a Rock movie. You know, The Rock is never going to be in a role in which he’s The Rock’s character is. You’re ever wondering, oh, is The Rock’s character going to make it? I don’t know. Like this The Rock’s character is getting his ass kicked.


Rosie Knight So in this case, The Rock is immortal.


Jason Concepcion That’s right.


Rosie Knight No question.


Jason Concepcion And they did a really great thing, which was being again, being conscious of that kind of weakness is the emotional center of this movie, is the relationship between Hawkman and Doctor Fate. And like they don’t give it a ton but it’s you feel it there in all of their scenes. And that’s the emotional throughline that balances out the fact that Black Adam is just out here throwing.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Dudes.


Rosie Knight I know.


Jason Concepcion Like, through fucking window.


Rosie Knight I actually love.


Jason Concepcion And electrocuting them.


Rosie Knight I wish they had been. I think one of the things that’s most inventive aside from, like I said, like I love the cyclone powers where it’s like MAXINE.


Jason Concepcion It looks so cool. Yeah.


Rosie Knight Is a gymnast and is you never really seen anything like it and it’s so cool. Aside from that, I thought something that was quite cool. I until it became like, you know, mass murder which you’re kind of again my, my comic book brain was battling with my enjoyment of blockbusters brain because I know this stuff is so intrinsic into my soul that I was doing a lot of like, would that work? Would that, could that be? But one thing I thought was really cool, I actually did really like the fact that when he punches someone, they like kind of cartoonishly Looney Tunes fly away. But then I did realize after he did it like 100 times, it’s because if you punch someone and you, you couldn’t make it PG 13 if he just punched a hole through someone and they died in front of you, you know? So it’s a very interesting combination. I will say something I find very ironic because you talked about the heart of the movie, which I totally agree with you. I think the JSA and especially Hawkman and Doctor Fate is this beating heart of this movie. I find it very ironic that they didn’t want to have the rock and black Adam in Shazam, but then they essentially introduce like a kid sidekick character, which basically could have just been Billy and Shazam, you know.


Jason Concepcion So, yes.


Rosie Knight I found that very interesting. I also I have to say. In the annals of movie sequels. I am usually a kid sidekick fan. I love when RoboCop gets like a kid sidekick in RoboCop two and you’ve got like the weird, you know, drug plotline, the Frank Miller kind of inspired one. And then I love John Connor, obviously icon of my life, first crush. This child sidekick did not hit in the same way for me.


Jason Concepcion I didn’t. Yeah, same here.


Rosie Knight I wish there’d been more of that focus on Hawkman and Doctor Fate and the JSA, but I also understand the nature of trying to make a giant blockbuster in something that I have a lot of empathy for is this is something that we have followed very closely. This movie came out and was that Warner Brothers an incredibly complex time?


Jason Concepcion Very, very.


Rosie Knight So the fact that it came out and we kind of went to the cinema and saw and enjoyed it is sort of a miracle. With everything that’s going on there, I’m very interested to see what happens next. Because to me. Where does my brain cannot help but go to? Where does this movie sit in the existence of the James Gunn-iverse that is about to happen.


Jason Concepcion Well, I mean I’ve I’ve talked to you and super producer, Saul and super producer Chris  about this off line and different things. But I understanding the the close relationship that The Rock has with this source material. The kind of antipathy that he seems to have for the Shazam series. And the fact that this is like now a huge part of the ongoing DCEU. Man, I would not be surprised if there is some. If we a year from now, a year and a half from now are hearing like rumored reading, rumored reports in the Hollywood Reporter from anonymous sources, sources.


Rosie Knight Anonymous sources.


About some kind of conflict, anonymous wizards, some kind of conflict between Gunn and The Rock about the direction of black Adam and others. It feels like that could happen.


Rosie Knight I’m I’m very intrigued. And obviously we have to talk about it like the the post-credits scene that tells you a lot about where. Whoever was behind this movie and whoever made the decision, which it sounds like was very driven by the Rock and and Danny Garcia, his his ex-wife, the.


Jason Concepcion Rock takes flat out says you’ve been we were working for years to make this happen.


Rosie Knight And Dani, who is his his ex-wife, who is his business partner, who is, you know, Danny Garcia. She is Henry Campos talent manager. So we can imagine how that came about. It it it suggests to me that they are leaning into a certain part of the DCEU that I believed was probably in its in the past in the review window. But we see we see Henry Carvill and he’s Superman. And he comes in, he’s like, what do they go do? Like, Don’t be a bad guy.


Jason Concepcion Let’s have. Let’s have a talk.


Rosie Knight I just have to be the guy, the nerd guy, because that is who we are. But like. I do not believe for any one second, yeah,that Superman would ever even be in the same room as Amanda Waller. The suicide squad goes against everything that Superman believes in, everything he was taught by his beloved parents. I will say this is the Superman is you know, he has a different suit, but he’s not in the black suit. He’s not in the kind of more the more classic suit that we’ve seen him in before. This is a more blue and red suit. This, though, bit comic book. But this is still a superman who has killed many people. So I guess it’s a different Superman. But to me, I feel like Amanda Waller could not call Superman. That is my feeling.


Jason Concepcion Amanda Waller could not call Superman. And moreover, again, like you laid out all the reasons why this is, you know, kind of a different Superman. But Superman would also not, at the behest of Amanda Waller, go to meet Teth-Adam, like Black Adam, a guy who had just got done killing three, four or 500 people, like some of them on television. So like Superman would not be like, yeah, you’re right, Amanda. I need to go meet with this guy and have a heart to heart with this mass murderer.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion He’s Black Adam.


Rosie Knight Also, he, you know, he he says something, I think, along the lines of like, oh, nobody’s made us this feel worried before. I’m paraphrasing, but he’s like, Nobody has had this much conversation. But does Black Adam not technically have the same powers of Shazam? So shouldn’t Shazam. It’s I find it. I will be. This is this is my take away. I’ll be very interested to see how the ramifications and ripple effect of things that come from this movie end up impacting things going forward. Because there are some things to me that don’t necessarily immediately appear to gel. But you know what? I’m also open to it. Like,.


Jason Concepcion This is the world we live in. Let’s see what happens.


Rosie Knight The IP. I want to see more of the JSA. Um, I think Henry Cavill. I understand why they cost him a superman. I would love to get to see him as more of a classical style Superman instead of like the break in somebody’s next star Superman. So who knows? You know, I’m interested and this is obviously like a big passion project for Dwayne, but I’m very interested to see how a man, James Gunn, who made a Superman is a murderer horror movie called Brightburn. I’m very interested what the to see what the DC universe looks like under him post this medium.


Jason Concepcion I am as well. And again Black Adam. It was pretty good.


Rosie Knight It’s fun, man. Go see it in the cinema. Like eat a popcorn and watch The Rock punch people through walls and listen to Smashing Pumpkins. Okay. My only I will say. Something this movie does,. I’ve been waiting for these zero’s throwback movies to do, because these are very like zero-y throwback superhero blockbusters. Right?


Jason Concepcion X-Men two.


Rosie Knight Exactly. This movie, Smashing Pumpkins was a good start, but it should have. When the main character accidentally brought The Rock a.k.a. Black Adam back to life. They should have played Bring Me to Life by Evanescence. I need them to commit. I need them to commit to the new meta.l morbius, that movie, more people would have enjoyed it if they had just put new metal in and made it be like, yeah, this is like Queen of the Damned. This is like, we’re really going back there. So Black Adam on the right way, but let’s let’s embrace the Zeros even more if we’re going to do it, let’s do it, baby.


Jason Concepcion Up next. 2022 in horror. Spooky season is over. But the terror, the terror never leaves us, Rosie.


Rosie Knight It never leaves.


Jason Concepcion So now we’re going to talk about some of your 2022 horror highlights. It’s been a great year for horror. I haven’t seen everything.


Rosie Knight So good.


Jason Concepcion The stuff that I’ve seen is great. Where would you like to start with some of the best 2022 horror movies?


Rosie Knight You know what? Let’s start. It’s one of the ones that we both seen. And it was I feel like one of those big funny word of mouth hits ends up being the number one movie on the weekend. It was released because of great timing by the studio. Let’s talk about Barbarian.


Jason Concepcion Oh, gosh, by the way, see it now on HBO, Max, if you have HBO Max in the service, you can watch it right now.


Rosie Knight If you haven’t seen it, skip this part.


Jason Concepcion In the warm embrace ofo you’re home?


Rosie Knight Yeah. Just don’t even, like. Just don’t even listen to us saying we liked it. Just go watch it first and then come back. This movie is so great. Made by Zack Creggor totally took me by surprise. Georgina Campbell in the lead role with Bill Skarsgard, who is basically our modern scream queen. He’s delightful.


Jason Concepcion Really is our modern scream queen.


Rosie Knight He is a horror darling. He was in The Brilliant Villains, which I love with Mike Monroe. Obviously, Pennywise, you know, is I’m not going to even get into spoilers with this movie because the truth is that you just got to go and watch it. But it’s a very interesting take on the idea of an Air BnB horror movie and the horrors of just letting someone into your home. I saw it at a screening with an interview afterwards with the cast and crew and Zach Creggor had this really interesting origin story for it, which was kind of reading a book by a security expert about all the red flags that women are taught to ignore in their lives and how they come into play every day. So the movie is so great. There’s all these different layers. Who is the barbarian? Who is kind of the hero? What do you do when you’re put in an unbelievable situation? It has a lot of political subtext that I really enjoyed. Georgina Campbell is brilliant. She’s a really brilliant British actor and I’m so glad that she’s getting her shine here. Justin Long is also in the movie. That’s all I’m going to say.


Jason Concepcion Wonderful. Yeah.


Rosie Knight But he’s another one that is. And he is, he’s actually the queen, the modern scream queen. If we look back to like Jeepers Creepers and Taschen, all the great stuff he’s been in, that one is a riot. It’s a shame you can’t you actually can still see it in a theater. I have to say, I think a lot of AMC’s is still showing it. It’s kind of been a slow burn, but it’s so wild. You will not guess where it’s going.


Jason Concepcion You won’t.


Rosie Knight And if you like to dig into the kind of analogous nature of it, I think it has a very a lot of interesting things to say about the state of kind of where things are not just on like a feminist, misogynist, whatever level, but also just like really interesting things about America and kind of.


Jason Concepcion Living space.


Rosie Knight Living spaces and the monsters of America and kind of what the horror stories of America are. I Yeah, I thought that was just a great surprise.


Jason Concepcion About like middle class striving for a better life, through real estate. Like, it reminded me of Pacific Heights. I don’t know if you ever.


Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, my God.


Jason Concepcion South Pacific Heights. Oh, it reminded me in the set up, in the kind of way different things would unfold, it reminded it gave me that same kind of feeling of living space, the terror of a living space in the hopes and fears and dreams.


Rosie Knight And letting someone into your space. Pacific Heights also streaming, free actually. Pluto, Tubi, and I think very that’s a really great double bill suggestion so yeah that’s one of them are the next two I would definitely say.


Jason Concepcion Folks you’re in for it with these.


Rosie Knight X.. X by Ty West and Pearl. I am a Ty West like die hard superstan on from the old when like when you know mumblecore was a thing and it was like all the guys who are like You’re Next, then Horrible Way to Die and all these kind of old horror movies coming out in like the 2010 ish onwards. And so I was really excited for this. I got to go see it at The New Beverly. It was really cool. Ty West did a Q&A afterwards. X is a Story, A Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired exploitation horror about a group of people who go to record a porn movie in Texas. Somewhere.


Jason Concepcion Somewhere.


Rosie Knight And it’s Kid Cudi. Scott Mescudi is in it. Brittany Snow, she’s incredible.


Jason Concepcion Mia Goth.


Rosie Knight Mia Goth, who is doing double duty in that movie. And you will learn why as you watch it. And also, Jenna Ortega, who I love coming up, is one of my favorite like genre people. I think she’s so great and it is really fun. It’s really weird. I think it’s quite.


Jason Concepcion Super weird.


Rosie Knight Super weird. There’s a great moment where they there’s like a there’s a musical scene but not like a musical sequence. It’s just them all singing the sex is filmed really interestingly. I personally felt like had a lot of cool stuff to say about sex and aging and and desire. I think that is quite divisive. I’m not sure I’ve ever sees it that way, but I.


Jason Concepcion I think feeling there’s something like so powerful about feeling desired and that is taken away from you. That exploration of what happens when you don’t feel like when you when a person doesn’t feel desired anymore.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Is part of the really intriguing exploration that underpins this super wild horror flick.


Rosie Knight And gory like this is not some this is not some, you know, hereditary s like slow burn like this is like.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. You’re going to see it.


Rosie Knight You people are getting eaten by alligators, people are getting murdered, people’s heads are getting caved in like it is real, real gory and it is wonderfully edited. It’s really cool. And then Ty West and Mia Goth came up with this idea on the set and they filmed it directly afterwards. They filmed a prequel that is a completely different style of movie called Pearl that’s set in the 1920s, and it stars Mia Goth as Pearl, who you will meet when you watch X. That is an absolutely wild fever dream of a movie. It’s beautiful. It looks like Wizard of Oz inspired is strange. It’s kind of this exploration of a serial killer, of somebody who is so disenchanted with life and can’t imagine anything better for themselves. It’s a so good that is an unexpected new franchise. And there’s also going to be a third one coming out soon that sadly they haven’t already made, called Maxxxine with three Xs, which is going to continue on a story of one of the characters from from X. So those were just a total. Wonderful surprise for me. I love a movie that homages and other movies. Well, I felt like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre stuff was done really well. I think Pearl is a great curve ball some. I love both of them, but I think a lot of people probably just like one and that’s also great. Like, I love that it can exist in that way.


Jason Concepcion These movies are also prime examples of how, as these big event movies, superhero movies have kind of monopolized the box office, there is this vibrant ecosystem of smaller genre movies. Mainly horror, like predominantly horror, that are the other thing that is really thriving in this post-COVID age of streaming.


Rosie Knight I think about a lot, I don’t know if people saw I know it was supposed to kind of spark off this new space. I’m not talking about Dark Universe before I say the next thing and you think is what I’m talking about. R.I.P. to that. But Leigh Whannell, one of the co-creators of Saw, he directed a remake of The Invisible Man with Elisabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. And it was unbelievable. It was this dark domestic thriller. It was high tech. It was this totally new take on The Invisible Man that it cost $5 million to make, and it made $100 million in its opening weekend. That happened just before COVID. And I was worried that was something we might not get more of. But actually, as Jason pointed out, I actually think a strange effect of huge superhero movies is that we are now getting more low budget. Indie horror is because horror can make money at the box office, but often you.


Jason Concepcion Can make it cheap.


Rosie Knight You can make it cheap. Especially Invisible Man was, you know, was actually made in Australia. I got to visit the set and.


Jason Concepcion Barbarian, like Barbarian is a great example.


Rosie Knight Yes, exactly. And but on Barbarian, I think they filmed it in like somewhere in Eastern Europe. I’m not 100% sure where, but.


Jason Concepcion But the old the old hostel.


Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, yeah.


Rosie Knight But still scared to go there. But like, I love that point because I remember being on that set and Lee was saying, you know, if you film in Australia, you can film for $5 million and your DP is like the DP of Lord of the Rings or something like that. You can have this incredible cinematic talent, but you’re making the movie for a lot cheaper, and that enables you to. Kind of go in these different directions. Nobody probably thought of making an Invisible Man movie that was about like domestic abuse and and emotionally abusive relationships. But he did it. And it’s such a great movie, and I kind of love seeing that so many of these movies are in that space. Like, the next movie I’m going to talk about is like. I was like a little bit more expensive, but it’s Jordan Peele. So he’s earned his money. He’s made his cheap movie.


Jason Concepcion Absolutely.


Rosie Knight But I loved Nope. I would say some people probably don’t think. Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Well, it’s yeah, it’s definitely not like.


Rosie Knight I’d say it’s a genre movie.


Jason Concepcion It’s a genre movie. It’s like. It’s like a fun, house Spielberg movie is the way I would.


Rosie Knight I love that.


Jason Concepcion It’s got the elements of Spielberg with Wonder and aliens and like larger than life forces interacting and intersecting with, like, domestic life.


Rosie Knight Mm hmm.


Jason Concepcion But it happens in ways that are a little bit more open ended than.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Certainly a Spielberg movie and very, very weird. I liked it a lot.


Rosie Knight I loved it. It might be it might be edging up. I mean, I like all three of Peele’s horror like movies so far, but I love them. But this is edging up for me. This was definitely this is still out there for me for like the coolest movie I saw all year. Like, Keke Palmer does an Akira slide. The costume design is brilliant. The character who also this whole movie is like a love letter to Fry’s, which if you’re from well, in L.A., that very iconic and the Burbank fries actually plays a massive point. But they did have them all over the country. They were themed US electronic stores and then nope, the Fry’s UFO themed electronic store, which sadly shot during COVID, is a major plot point. There’s so much of this movie I love, and the kid who works in that shop in the movie is wearing all these. Like, he’s wearing like an earth and he’s wearing all these, like, cool, underground, weird band T-shirts. This just is very cool. I love this unique take on what it’s about. If you don’t know, go watch it. Yeah, I thought that was a lot of fun. I also saw Bodies, Bodies, Bodies. Again, I think that’s probably quite a divisive movie. I thought it was great. It’s very silly, very committed to the bit and does what I think is one of the most unique sticking the landing like watching a movie. Even if you feel like.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. Yeah.


Rosie Knight Even if you feel like it’s a parody or it’s like a little bit too much. It’s very much in this, like, Gen Z social satire. So that might not land for you, but it is, once you get to the end of the movie, is absolutely worth it. And I was just I thought the cast was great. I thought it was very enjoyable. I saw it at like Universal Studios with my friends and I was just like, yes, good, enjoyable, well done to that movie and nice to see A24. It’s kind of doing something a bit different, like a slasher movie and yeah, yeah, I thought that was really great. Like, why don’t you talk about the old Black Phone?


Jason Concepcion Oh, up next, it’s a Black Phone directed by Scott Derrickson. Based on Black Phone by Joe Hill. The the horror and suspense writer Joe Hill, son of Stephen King. This is kind of a imagine the Sixth Sense meets a child serial kidnaper story and you have Black Phone. I. You know, in a lot of ways, it’s the most down the line of the movie we’ve talked about. It’s the most traditional kind of horror set up movie. I could have imagined renting this movie in, like, you know, as a kid.


Rosie Knight Yeah. It also has that Spielberg-ness to it. Even though Spielberg never went this deep into horror, it’s like. That nostalgia of being a kid and the horror of being a kid and the relationships you make with other children and your kind of interactions with the supernatural as a kid.


Jason Concepcion But it’s it’s underpinned by a really like a truly creepy performance from Ethan Hawke.


Rosie Knight Icon.


Jason Concepcion And and some really, really just wonderful visual scares. It is in. So again, is in some ways the most, like the most.


Rosie Knight It’s the most horror.


Jason Concepcion The most horror of these movies. But it’s also like very, very much worth your time with just the right amount of twists on the kind of standard formula to make you sit up and go, Oh, that was pretty interesting. I quite enjoyed it. And again, a real tour de force like scary performance with Ethan Hawke that you’re not used to seeing this kind of performance.


Rosie Knight And Joe Hill is a really scary author, if you like horror books. I remember reading he has this book called Heart-Shaped Box and that book like, legit, I remember having to stop reading it at night because it was creeping me out so much. So I’m glad that he’s also the co-creator of Lock and Key, which is a comic book that I love, and I really enjoyed the adaptation too. So yeah, I mean, that’s just really the tip of the iceberg. I think those are some of the best, but there’s like Smile, which was just such a huge sleeper hit in the box office and people were just terrified by it, which good for them. Prey, obviously, we loved it. We talked about it. It was great. Again, kind of more of this different kind of horror. There’s also, I mean, one of the best TV shows on at the moment, full stop, maybe the best I don’t know I waver on it, but is Evil, which was a smash hit on CBS. The first season was like constantly one of the top rated shows. It was so successful they moved it to Paramount Plus of course because streaming but it’s basically the story of a woman who is like a psychologist who is a cynic, played by Katja Herbers, and a priest who is played by Mike Colter. And they are teamed up to assess supernatural events.


Jason Concepcion It’s a it’s a classic X-Files-ian  set up.


Rosie Knight And they basically are there to assess supernatural things for the, for the church, for the Catholic Church. But I will say, this is one of the few shows I’m I’m always. Oh, you should just jump on more of it. No, I will say I had watched a random episode of Evil and I didn’t get it when I watched it in the context of the series, it’s one of the most horrific episodes of TV I’ve ever seen. Like this is a show that veers between the moment I really understood evil was there’s a scene where they’re doing an exorcism and that wearing Blues Brothers sunglasses and it’s like completely ridiculous. And the other person on that team who is maybe my favorite character is called Ben and he’s played by Aasif Mandvi and he is so good. And the show is just consistently one of the best, most inventive and complex shows. And it doesn’t side with either side. It’s just about the evil of humanity, the evil things people will do. And it’s always kind of questioning the nature of evil, but it also has unbelievable practical effects. Super creepy storytelling is just so good, and season three is all up now on Paramount Plus, and it’s one of the best seasons of TV I’ve seen. I’m one of my favorite horror things that I’ve seen this year. It’s it’s really it’s really good. You should watch it.


Jason Concepcion Well, up next, we’re going to keep the horror conversation creeping and rolling with your interview with Shna Feste, a director of Run, Sweetheart, Run.


Jason Concepcion <A.D.>


Rosie Knight I was lucky enough to talk to Shana Feste, who is the director of Run, Sweetheart, Run, a movie that is now streaming on Amazon Prime, ostensibly about a young, single mother who has to go on a dinner date for work and then finds herself running through the streets of L.A. from this horrible, nightmarish figure that she went on a date with. Me and Shana have a great convo about it, but one thing I will say is that the conversation and the movie. Delve into sexual assault, harassment, emotional abuse, including some of Shauna’s own experiences with that. So just a warning. If that’s not something that you want to listen to or feel comfortable with, you can jump around in the show notes with the times. But if you do want to listen, this is the interview with Shana, which was just a really great chat about a really exciting movie starring one of my favorite actresses, Ella Balinska.Hey Shana, it’s so great to have you on X-ray Vision. We’re just so happy. I was such a big fan of this film.


Shana Feste Oh, that’s so cool. Thank you.


Rosie Knight It’s such a joy. So I guess starting off, I was just wondering, what was kind of your origin with horror? Was it something that you loved when you were a kid? Was it something you kind of always grew up with or was it something that you came to a little bit later in life?


Shana Feste Well, I think as a kid, my dad was completely inappropriate and played me everything he wanted to watch. So I was like, you know, or watching Freddy Krueger and, you know, all the classics, Texas Chainsaw Massacre with him and having, like, the craziest nightmares of my entire life, not care at all, because he just wanted to watch those movies. So I think in the back of my head, they were always like a love and intrigue of horror. But then I think. I think my career was guided in a way where it was like when I moved to horror, you know, like, here’s a YA story you should check out or here’s a love. What about a Nicholas Sparks love story for you? It was kind of an I actually really wanted to get into genre, but it wasn’t until Blumhouse that actually they gave me the opportunity to do it.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And what was that like for you to not only see that that’s not true at all, then women make horror and you can make horror, but also to then get to make it about a story that is so much about womanhood and the everyday kind of experience of a lot of women?


Shana Feste Well, I don’t think I could have made any other horror, to be honest. When I think of you, I have to have a personal connection to whatever I’m doing. So if you were to ask me what my biggest fear was, it wouldn’t be Chucky or, you know, the ghosts in my room. It would be men is my biggest. That’s what I am most scared of in my daily life, sadly. And I love men. I’m married to one. I have two sons, you know, they’re great. But the reality of it is, you know, I grew up in Los Angeles and not a day went by where I was suffering some kind of like indignity, whether it was a billboard that I passed of a, you know, a girl giving a blowjob to a Subway sandwich or a guy calling me on the bus or letting a plumber when I’m alone in my apartment and feeling really uncomfortable, whatever it was, it’s such a lived experience as a woman, right?


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Shana Feste And that I had a really strong personal connection to. So I knew that’s what I wanted to. That’s what I wanted to say if I was going to make a horror movie.


Rosie Knight Yeah. I mean, horror has always been this space for this great analogous storytelling and stories that are really about kind of bigger issues. And it’s is yeah, it’s quite wonderful to see a story that so plays into that and is also a very L.A. story because of the way it’s set. So could you talk a little bit about the origin of the actual idea for Run, Sweet? Obviously these personal experiences, but when did you get to this idea of kind of the date gone wrong, taken to the most extreme degree?


Shana Feste Yeah, well, I went on a date that went wrong, when I was in my twenties and it was in the Hollywood Hills and it was, you know, I was a broke student at UCLA and this guy looked amazing on paper and I was in my cute little black dress and we went back to his place and it went bad. And I had to get out of there. And this was before cell phones, so I didn’t have a cell phone. I don’t even think I had my purse. I just ran. I was living in West L.A. near UCLA, and I ran home and it was probably about I started at one in the morning and I got home at probably 6 a.m..


Rosie Knight Wow.


Shana Feste And some of the things were about things that actually happened to me on that run. But it was it was a terrorizing experience from A to B and nothing came out of it. You know, it just went the next day I went to work and I went to my classes. And you just had to press on?


Rosie Knight Yeah, it’s just really shocking how many people have those stories.


Shana Feste Yeah.


Rosie Knight It’s rare to meet someone who doesn’t, you know, who, who doesn’t have that horrific story.


Shana Feste You know, when we were there’s this part where Sheree looks at Clark Gregg’s computer, and I just started gathering crew. I was like, Hey, was there ever a guy in your life that maybe you never that did you wrong and you didn’t go to the cops or something happened, but who did you wrong? And it was so horrifying to see how many women were like, Oh, put this name on, put this name on. And here we were having this little victory of putting these names on his calendar thinking. And I was like, This is the justice that we’re getting right now, even though it did actually feel like some kind of justice, because we could put the name on the paper. And it was from, you know, women that were in electric and grip and catering and PAs.


Rosie Knight Yeah, and so was that. This is obviously like an incredible personal kind of tale for you, but was there something cathartic in putting it to screen and kind of changing how that story ends?


Shana Feste Yeah. I mean, you know, I’ve been sexually assaulted a few times in my life and I’ve never gotten revenge. No, not even legally. It hasn’t happened. And I always think about why I am a writer and director, and it is because I get to write my own endings and the ending that I wish I could have lived. Not that I wish I could be a murderer. Well, maybe. I mean, I do.


Rosie Knight Who knows?


Shana Feste But, yeah, it has to feel good, right? It feels good to rewrite your own ending. And, you know, there’s a reason that ultimately Ethan is more powerful than we ever expected, because that is really what the patriarchy feels like to me. It doesn’t feel like the guy that, you know, he goes to jail and it’s over and you’re done and you’re right. You live the rest of your life really great. It’s not that way at all. It’s the seeds are everywhere that you wouldn’t even know. And and it always surprises you. The power. Yeah. You know, we had a we have a world leader that the world might end because of toxic masculinity at the moment, you know, like, it’s everywhere and it feels incredibly powerful and impossible to defeat.


Rosie Knight Yeah, I love that. I felt like that was a very real kind of representation of how hopeless and kind of powerless we can feel in those situations, even if the person is not exponentially powerful in a way we weren’t expecting. So when it came, I am, I’m like a huge Ella Ballinska fan, so I yeah, I when they actually emailed me about watching the movie for the first time, I was like, send it over, baby. I was like, I think L.A. is so great. So and finding a lead who can be vulnerable, who can be strong, who can be absolutely believable when we get to that third act turn, how hard was that and how did you know that Ella was the right person to play Cheri?


Shana Feste I mean, it was impossible, to be honest. How do you find an actress that can do all of those things? You know, her arc. I always think I have so much respect for actors in horror because they have to do the impossible. You know, it’s not like they’re talking about getting a divorce in a small room. You know, they are going from here to here. And that constant adrenaline and the constant trauma that Ella had to carry from day to day, you know, we shot in L.A., nights, 18 nights in a row.


Rosie Knight Wow.


Shana Feste She was physically and mentally exhausted by this role. You know, it was so demanding on her body. You think it was of course, it was the year that L.A. had like the most cold winter ever.


Rosie Knight Of course.


Shana Feste Dressed with no shoes and were shooting in L.A. and those locations were not glamorous. You know, she’s running down alleys where we’re looking for needles, you know, on the ground and trying to get rid of the best we can. But she just went for it. And and also she could play. What I really wanted to do is have that kind of turn where you’re like, is this a romantic comedy? You know? Yeah, this is is this aspirational? And she could play the hero in a romantic comedy and she could play a hero in an action film and the hero in horror film. And so it took her it took an actress like Ella to accomplish all that was pretty amazing to watch.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And I wonder, could you talk a little bit about that, that kind of cold open and that journey of, like, this dream date that seems like it’s going to go every way that we all wanted, which is like, you’re broke and you need you. Suddenly there’s like this handsome guy in your life who lives in this really expensive house and couldn’t this be wonderful? And then that great first use of the run, you know, and kind of the choice you made to tell the story that way?


Shana Feste Well, I think with these men that look so great on paper that hold these positions of power, the scariest thing to me is what happens behind closed doors. Right. So that is why I literally have him say, you know, the camera’s not going to see this and that’s where they are, their true self. And it’s terrifying.


Rosie Knight Yeah. I love that moment where we can just hear. We can’t see anything. The door is closed and then we see Cheri and we know.


Shana Feste You know, you don’t need to you don’t see any of that. And and that was the one you know, that was one insecurity I had initially about directing a horror film is I love the violence. Like, how am I going to shoot accounts of being a survivor? How do I want to treat this? For me, I thought the most challenging aspect as a filmmaker is to create something that felt really terrifying but without actually seen a ton of the violence, you know, seeing the aftermath. And then we had an incredible sound designer and an incredible cinematographer. I always think of, you know, Rosemary’s Baby. If we had seen that, we would not be nearly as scary. I had little laser eyes or whatever, you know, in our head is always so much scarier than what we see on screen.


Rosie Knight Yeah, even. Even like the most classic horror movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there’s actually, like, barely any blood. Halloween is no blood, you know? So there’s these kind of different versions. Something I loved about this is we don’t often get to see, you know, I’ll call that horror revenge rather than that people would call them rape revenge movies or whatever. But like, we don’t usually get to see movies about women getting assaulted without having to watch the assault first and be like, This is why it’s okay that she’s getting her revenge. But I really I felt like that was very refreshing. So I’m really glad that that was a choice you made. And then we get you know, it’s not unclear how evil Ethan is at any point. We get to see all the different ways that he is evil. So could you talk a little bit about Ethan and casting Ice back as kind of and how you have to find that balance between charm?


Shana Feste Yeah.


Rosie Knight Kind of creepiness. And then somebody that you can believe is this supernatural, powered being.


Shana Feste Yeah. Well, I mean, Pilou is like a dramatic actor. He is like, it’s in Denmark, you know, he’s he’s the top tier. And I’m not scared of a lot of actors. Let me just say that, you know, they’re they’re not terrifying presence to me. But Pilou when I was watching Game of Thrones, I never did. I think as a director, you do this a few times in your career where you like pause something and look someone up and I’m like, Who is this guy?


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Shana Feste He is terrifying. And and then, you know, as I was about to, you know, interview him for the role and we were going to have a meeting, I started watching his other work and I’m like, what is this? He’s like this dramatic actor playing a father crying and like, he can literally he’s like, Ella. He’s one of those actors that can do it all. But he’s really terrifying. I mean, truly, completely terrifying. And the nicest person and the most gentle, sweet puppy dog of a guy in real life. So I’m kind of fascinated by how he can channel that, like inner psychopath, because you think of someone does it that well are they like secretly are really dark person but I don’t think he is I think he’s just like this really dope actor. And, you know, the combination of him and Ella was like a really formidable pair and I think she was genuinely terrified of em. So a lot of it was just kind of reacting for her.


Rosie Knight Yeah. I mean, I think some of the stuff that you do really brilliantly is building in the power and access that he has before we find anything out about who he is or what he represents, the moments of, you know, in jail, the places that he can open doors to, I mean, that’s the scariest thing is this idea that you cannot get away from him even if you’re being incarcerated, he can still be there because he knows how to open every door.


Shana Feste Well, it’s relentless. It’s a relentless attack. And that’s what I feel like. It feels like to go through this as a woman. It feels relentless. You do not get a break. There’s never a time where you feel like I had a great week. You know, you’re just on guard and most of the time scared. And I think even with, you know, part of the reason I did that episode in the jail was because there was there was a man who had tried to rape me in an alley. He was my next door neighbor. And he didn’t I was able to fight him off. But I called the police and, you know, a few hours later, they showed up. He was my neighbor and they took him to jail. And then an hour later, I saw him again at his house and I said, well, this guy was trying to rape me, but he didn’t. But he was he would have if I wasn’t able to fight a man, but he didn’t. So we can’t charge him for that. And I thought, Wow, the law is not on our side. I do not feel protected. And I had to get a restraining order. And eventually the police, which he broke the police made it my problem and they said, you should do it. If you’re scared, you should move. And so here I was, I was 25 broke and I had to find a new place to live. And as I was leaving that neighborhood, I remember looking back and thinking, what about all the other women walking their dogs? Because that’s what I was doing. When he attacked me. I felt like I was leaving them behind, you know, it was such an odd feeling. So I, I made fliers and put them on trees and that that was the moment where I felt like I, I am not protected by the law when it comes to this. I don’t feel safe.


Rosie Knight Yeah. I mean, it’s it’s arguably a one of the bigger issues in the generalized system of like how do you stop a crime? And do the people who are supposed to keep us safe actually stop crimes or do they come in after things have already happened? One of the other things that I found really wonderful about this movie is it feels like I’ve watched a lot of movies, like horror movies especially. So I’m not going to make a generalized statement, but to me it felt very rare to see a single mother as a final girl in this movie, or to recognize that a single mother can have a sex life, can want to date, and then can also be strong enough to to fight off this supernatural threat. So could you talk about that choice? Because I thought that was really kind of some people might not know it, but to me, I thought that was really powerful.


Shana Feste Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. It was a single mother that I didn’t want there to be any shame of her going into his house after having a date. You know, that was her choice. It was a choice I’ve made in the past. I think every one is made in the past. So I’m so glad that you did not judge her, and I hope no one does. But it was really important for me and Effie Brown, who is our producer, and Ella, for there to be a black final woman. Yeah, and I’ve been. You know a lot of that, and I’m really proud that my movie does have that. And we collaborated with some really amazing writers on this, Kelly Tyrrell and Keith Adkins, to really bring the authenticity to that experience. And that’s one of the most proud elements I have of the film, is that we have a black final girl. She’s a single mom and she’s a complete badass and also isn’t you know, she in a lot of horror films, we have the black woman asking the white woman, Are you okay? Like, Can I do something? Are you okay? And then she’s killed or something. And the white woman goes on to survive. So thank you for noticing that.


Rosie Knight No, I mean, I thought it was brilliant. There is I’ve written a lot about final girls and there is a distinct lack of black final girls and final women of color. And it was wonderful to see it. Allen now joins a rare a rare group, which I love. You know, it’s like Brandy and Sanaa Lathan are like two of the only ones. So it’s a pretty rad group to be in. Yeah, no, I love that. And I love that you went out of your way to make sure that it was an authentic situation. Because I feel like in a movie where people are fighting off, you know, we’ll do a spoiler warning before this and this will run when the movie is out so people can watch it afterwards. But when people are fighting kind of vampiric threats, it would be easy to just be like, Oh, it’s just any other experience, it’s just any woman. But I think that’s why the movie comes off so well, is because there was thought put into it on kind of every level from that choice to not show the sexual violence and not go the exploitation route to the choice to also I mean, how cool is it to have a movie that they did a very good job not telling me anything about this movie. So when I first thought about it, I thought it would be kind of like an after hours, kind of like journey through the night, like quite, you know, then the beginning really is like that where you really feel that horror of the evening. But I think it’s very cool that it gets to end in this totally, almost like outrageous supernatural adventure place that we don’t get to see a lot of women in, let alone a lot of black women going to be in those roles. So could you talk a little bit about that arc from this kind of really gritty personal story to exploding out into this bigger supernatural space?


Shana Feste Yeah, well, I think I you know, this isn’t a documentary about my experience. You know, like I wanted this to be a really thrilling, fun ride. I mean, the biggest compliment when people watch this movie is they say, Oh, my God, it was so much fun. Yeah. You know, that’s what I wanted it to be. It is fun. We have great music and sexy lighting and L.A. locations and yeah, it goes to a big, crazy place. I love the operatic nature of the third act, and it felt really right when I was telling it. It it kind of I kind of wrote it in a fever dream. And it was one of those that I wrote very quickly. And as I was writing, I just kept going and making it kind of more wild and taking my experience and timesing it by multiplying it in front of me to create something which I think is really unique and and the collaboration. I feel like, you know, Effie Brown is an incredible producer and she said something that I will never forget, which is you can’t make a movie about us without us. And that really, really rang true for me. So she introduced me to these writers and we had the we had the opportunity, with Amazon’s full support, to go back into the film.


Rosie Knight Oh, I love that.


Shana Feste Yeah, really tell it the way that we wanted to and in the most authentic way possible. And so that’s something I’m also just really proud of and grateful for.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And you sort of you touched on, you know, Rosemary’s Baby and that idea of like things being scarier when you don’t see them. What were some of the other horror movies that you kind of revisited and looked at when you when you were making runs, VR Run.


Shana Feste I mean, I, I’m still like an eighties baby. So I was close to watching the John Carpenter films, and those are the ones that felt so visceral to me. And the color palette was so unique. And also our score here. Yeah. Done by Rob feels like it’s like, nostalgic in the best way. And we all kind of decided on this incredibly specific color palette and of the film, you know, L.A. is constantly in circles and pillows and squares for more masculine shape. We played a lot around with the colors, red and green, and it’s a very limited color palette, which, you know, you just don’t get to do something as stylized when you’re making some of the films I’ve made in the past, the little teen love stories that just got me to flex allow me to flex a different muscle as a director, which is so fun.


Rosie Knight Yeah. One of the things that I really loved about the movie that I thought because this is exactly my kind of movie I love. I love all the things you talked about, the eighties horror. I love movies with strong women who are actually well written and complex and and get to be have different sides to their life. But one of the things that I thought was so cool was the use of Run throughout the movie. Like you talk about stylized. That is such a cool, interesting and kind of unexpected choice. It feels a lot more like it’s from a weird like Danish kind our house, like of horror. So could you talk a little bit about having that there is that kind of visceral reminder of what she needs to do.


Shana Feste Yeah, and I think that was one of the most controversial aspects of the film. While we were making it, our our team was very divided into whether we should show that or not. And actually, when we went to Sundance, it wasn’t in the show. And that was always one of those things, like when Amazon purchased the film and we were doing these reshoots and I was like, Do I actually get to get closer to the director’s cut? Can I get closer and add some of these things back that are really important to me? And one of the most things that the thing that I was most excited about, about those runs is that in the end it’s turned around on him, right?


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Shana Feste And, and that just felt so satisfying to me. And also, you know, I use the camera a lot to hide what he’s doing. But also I thought a character this powerful should control the camera as well and control what we see at all times. And literally, you know, he has his hands on that camera and is moving it what he wants us to see. And at the end, the moment where Ella reclaims the camera.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Shana Feste After his final run, I mean, we, we try to figure out how to shoot that 1 million different ways. And that was that was one of those moments when I watched it. And I can’t stand watching my own films. I’m like, just a mess and I’m just pooling mistakes. I only see mistakes. Yeah, but when I watched that final moment, I, like, get, like, the chills. I’m like, Oh, I think I did that right. I did that.


Rosie Knight Right. Yeah, I loved it. I’m the same. We do this podcast every week and I cannot for the life of me listen to it. If Jason does something by himself, I will listen to that part. But when it’s my voice, I’m like, I can’t do it.


Shana Feste And you’re so lovely and you just ask the best questions. You’re so good at this.


Rosie Knight Thank you. I appreciate that. And you are a wonderful filmmaker, but I feel like it’s just inside us.


Shana Feste I remember at Thanksgiving, I did a film called Country Strong way back and it was on like, you know, Netflix again. And someone’s like, Oh, Country Strong was on. It was like so like everybody looked at me like, what’s going on? I mean, I see my films once, like when I make my final edit and then I never can watch it again.


Rosie Knight Yeah, it’s it’s a wild it’s a wild situation that we’re all and hopefully the next generation will be able to love. That will be the one good thing about like Tik Tok and Instagram is they will actually be able to enjoy this stuff that they made once.


Shana Feste I totally agree.


Rosie Knight You know, you got the screening tonight. You’ve obviously already screened a version of Sundance, but soon it’s going to be out there for everyone to see on, you know, one of the biggest platforms. Is there anything that you’re kind of most excited for people to see?


Shana Feste I mean, I’m really excited for people to see. Once again, I feel like I’m an actor’s director and I’m excited about the performances. You know, we have working with Shohreh, this cast, Dio and Clark and Betsy, we just have everybody brought it, you know, they just brought it and it was so fun directing them. So I’m really excited to show everybody the performances and to also get such a wide platform for this movie is freaks me out. Like if I talk about it too much, that like the world will be watching this movie. But I’m I’m just excited to have found a way to tell a personal but really fun, thrilling horror film.


Rosie Knight Yeah, that’s wonderful. And when. When we interview people, if we get the chance to them, we sort of say to them, like, what’s the one piece of media where it can be a book or a comic or a movie? If you could just keep one piece forever, that kind of led you on and you could just only keep one. What would it be?


Shana Feste Wow. Okay, that’s a hard question to answer, but I think it would probably be the film Five Easy Pieces for me.


Rosie Knight Oh, wow.


Shana Feste So I love, love, love a good antihero. And I love the storytelling back then. So yeah, that’s what it would be for me.


Rosie Knight I love that. Thank you so much. And I just appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. It was really wonderful and congrats on the movie.


Shana Feste Thank you so much. I really appreciate you. Thank you very much. Thank you.


Jason Concepcion Big thanks to Shana Feste and Rosie Knight for joining us on an X-ray Vision. Rosie, what do you have to plug?


Rosie Knight Uh, it’s coming up to the holiday season. I will plug. We talked a little bit about Andor. I will plug do some mutual aid, find out what your mutual aid networks are. If you are in L.A., there’s so many brilliant places that you can do homemade meals, you can drive, you can drop off food, check out I share a lot of different spaces where even if you don’t live in L.A., you can donate money, find out how you can help people who live around you, food drives, baby stuff, all that kind of stuff always needed. And there’s loads of great people in your neighborhood already doing it. So I’m sure if you search mutual aid, you’ll be able to find it. I share a lot of resources do that. It will make you feel really good for Thanksgiving and hopefully you can make it something that is a part of your regular life as you go forward into the New Year. And as always, you’re going to find me here and Rosie Marks on social media.


Jason Concepcion L.A. community fridges, another one that I support. I think it’s great you can do there’s a list if again, if you’re in the Los Angeles area, there’s a list of various goods, mostly pantry goods, hygiene products that that communities need, that you can drop off at these various locations and they really, really help people and it kind of cuts out the middle. Yeah, personally.


Rosie Knight That’s a great one.


Jason Concepcion You are, you are helping people directly.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And community fridges is great because you can go to anytime, whenever it works for you, you don’t have to schedule it. You can just go there, drop stuff off, you can help clean the fridge. That is a great call and I’m sure that there are people around the country also doing other similar community fridge programs.


Jason Concepcion Our next episode on November 11th is the big MCU, Wakanda for Black Panther, Wakanda Forever. We’re going to Wakanda. We’re picking up the vibranium episode. Very excited to see this movie. I can’t wait because I just can’t wait. Subscribe to the show on YouTube. Follow it @XRVPod on Twitter and check out our Discord to meet and hang out with other fans who are listening to the show. Like yourself. Want to discuss some of the things that we talk about here on the show in a in a environment that is safe and where you can meet other people who feel and think like yourselves wonderful conversations there. Rosie and I are there interacting with everybody. Come see us. Five star ratings. We love. Them. We need them. We got to have the five star reviews. Here’s one from Judson F: Jason and Rosie rule. Thank you so much.


Rosie Knight Thank you.


Jason Concepcion Rosie and Jason are great together and separate. It’s refreshing to hear their enthusiasm and knowledge regarding all the media we love. So great. Thank You Judson.


Rosie Knight Thank you, Judson.


Jason Concepcion X-ray Vision is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Chris Lord and Saul Rubin. The show is executive produced by myself and Sandy Girard. Our editing and sound design is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Delon Villanueva and Matt DeGroot provide video production support. Alex Reliford handles social media. Thank you Brian Vasquez for our theme music. Thank you. I’ll talk to you later. Goodbye. Hey, Mike. I’m here to talk about my guy, Saw Guerrera today. You know, I think a lot of people thought maybe Saw, that Saw had gone too far, particularly during the Clone Wars period. People like Saw, it’s a little too extreme folks. You don’t know too many crazy things. And certainly leading up to the battle of Yavin, when Saw was using boy gantlet to, you know, just kind of read people’s minds maybe in a not exactly a way that it was kind of kind to people, certainly that maybe some people might have said that was torture. Well, I got to tell you, on my with the latest things that have been revealed about the empire, we all understand that maybe, boy gantlet was the kind of response that you had to make, considering the the genocidal tapes that the imperial forces are playing for the people that they’re trying to torture to get information from, Mike. It’s some of the worst things I’ve ever heard in my life, Mike. And then and I got to tell you, I watched the Yankees lose this season, though, and I listen to Michael Kay, you know, call every single game. I thought I’d never hear anything worse than that, Mike. And then I heard about the dinner the night, the massacre by the imperial forces and the way they recorded those tapes and they them for people to break their minds, Mike, I think, is terrible. I’ll take my answer off the air. Thank you.