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SYFY WIRE Star Wars Weekly

Star Wars: Squadrons takes flight, a new look at The Mandalorian, and big Disney layoffs

By Bryan Young
The imperial pilot lineup in Star Wars Squadrons video game

Time again for STAR WARS WEEKLY, the SYFY WIRE series that rounds up the most important news of the week from a galaxy far, far away. 

Think of us as your own personal Star Wars Holocron.


Star Wars: Squadrons is out now! The virtual reality flight simulator has been unleashed on the world for us to experience for ourselves. 

The game has scarcely been out a day and you can already watch all of the cut scenes from the canon story of the single-player campaign. It follows the intertwining stories of the Empire and the New Republic in the last days of the war.

A big part of Star Wars: Squadrons' appeal is that it supports cross-platform play. No matter what system you’re playing Squadrons on (it's available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC), you can get in the cockpit of your favorite fighter and fly with your friends. At $39.99, the game is relatively cheap, too, compared to other AAA games. With the low cost to play and the ability to play with anyone, as long as the gameplay is smooth and intuitive, it’s going to be popular to jump into.


An interesting thing about the way The Mandalorian was produced is that it had a quantifiable impact on its carbon footprint. By shifting so much of the location shooting to one place because of its virtual shooting rig, Lucasfilm was able to prevent a lot of travel, set construction, and general expense. This kept costs low but also had a benefit for the Earth. 

In order for them to accomplish such a feat, though, that meant they had to move much of Industrial Light & Magic's post-production work to a pre-production phase. 

Rob Bredow, senior vice-president and chief creative officer at ILM, spent some time talking about it to Variety as part of their recent sustainability event.

You can watch the conversation here for a lot of fascinating talk about how The Mandalorian is produced. 


Last week, merchandise exclusive to Galaxy’s Edge in Disney parks became available to purchase outside the park for the first time, though not too far outside the park.

This week, though, some of the merchandise made its way online as well thanks to the ShopDisney Star Wars Trading Post. Most of the merch you can currently buy online is costumes and lightsabers, which might leave fans who aren't going to Galaxy's Edge in the middle of a pandemic wishing there was a wider selection. Still, it’s nice to see that something is available, and we’re promised more in the coming weeks.

This all came just before an announcement that Disney would be laying off tens of thousands of park employees because of the pandemic, despite the fact that CEO pay has been restored and stock prices for Disney have recovered significantly since the initial wave of closures due to the virus. 

It's unclear how many of those 28,000 workers will be cast members who took an active part in the Star Wars universe, acting on Batuu, but what is known is that this will have a negative impact on many people and many families.


Star Wars has always been political, right from its very first film. Today, actors from that film wade into politics with regularity, particularly Mark Hamill.

For Americans on both sides of the political divide, the first presidential debate was painful to watch and I think Luke Skywalker himself summed it up perfectly for fans of Star Wars, comparing it on Twitter to the Star Wars Holiday Special.

It’s a pretty apt description. If you’ve never seen the Star Wars Holiday Special, this would be a perfect time. Or you could do that instead of watching the next presidential debate. Though with the president being diagnosed with COVID-19, there’s no guarantee there will be another debate. 

In either case, here is the special in its entirety for your viewing (dis)pleasure. 

Hamill isn’t shy about his political opinion and has been using his voice to support what he would refer to as the forces of good. To that end, he’s also endorsed a number of candidates in races across the country from Joe Biden all the way down the line. Scott Huffman, a Navy veteran running for Congress in North Carolina’s 13th District, picked up Hamill’s endorsement and is even hosting an event with him. For $100, you can get into an online chat between the candidate and Luke Skywalker himself. It’s tomorrow if you wanted to join.


One bit of joy I’m able to find in an increasingly bleak world is Star Wars reaction videos. Not the over-produced and exaggerated reaction videos that are inexplicably popular on YouTube, no — I mean the genuine article. People who are seeing an incredibly emotional moment in Star Wars for the first time. There are many videos of parents filming their kids watching the reveal in The Empire Strikes Back. There are fewer of the brilliant heartbreak of Order 66.

But my favorite at the moment is this returned missionary coming home to witness Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for the first time.

If you’re not crying with her, I wonder if you’re a droid.

 Until next week, may the Force be with you!