Life Day Strikes Back – The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special

The Rise of Skywalker (2019) generated a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced (or took their cries to the internet). The upheaval caused by this outrage was so great that it affected the very fabric of reality itself, rippling backwards through time and tearing open the hidden pocket of time when Life Day was last celebrated. The resurrection of Life Day caused the people of the universe to be transmuted into the form of children’s toys inhabiting a happier and more entertaining place, and thus the LEGO Star Wars universe was born. This is the secret legacy of The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special (2020).

Freshly awakened in this new reality, Rey (Helen Sadler) felt a deep ennui, a hint of the role she had still to play to complete the universe’s rebirth. Uncertain of what this feeling truly meant, she became distracted from training Finn (Omar Benson Miller) in the ways of the Jedi. Burying herself deeper in her texts, she became distracted from her path and Finn lost confidence in himself. The arrival of Poe Dameron (Jake Green) clad in a tacky green Life Day sweater caused her to retreat into meditation, leading to the rediscovery of a sacred Jedi text directing her to visit the Temple of Kordoku, where a blue-green crystal would allow her to unlock the past.

Travelling through the portal with BB8 in tow, she emerged in the swamps of Dagobah to witness Luke Skywalker (Eric Bauza) being trained by Yoda (Tom Kane). Escaping from a tentacled swamp creature, they travelled further into the past to meet Obi-Wan (James Arnold Taylor) and Anakin (Matt Lanter), before a hasty escape landed them in Luke’s cockpit while he was trying to engage his targeting computer and destroy the Death Star.

Things began to go wrong when they popped in on the second Death Star, just after Emperor Palpatine (Trevor Devall) had rejected the “Galaxy’s Best Emperor” mug given to him by Darth Vader (Matt Sloan). Following her to the Rebel base on Hoth, Vader became distracted by a battle against himself before pursuing Rey through an increasingly rapid series of time jumps (including a brief glimpse of Grogu and his Mandalorian carer), each time dragging just a few more people through with them until chaos broke out on Tattooine. An accident with the portal resulted in a young Luke being stranded in the Jedi temple with Rey while Darth returned to the Emperor with the crystal. Teaming up with a petulant Kylo Ren (Matthew Wood), the Emperor was miffed to learn that he’d been thrown into a reactor by Vader and really began ramping up on the passive aggression. Although more complications were to ensue, the Emperor’s decision to turn on Vader ultimately led him to cause his own demise while Rey and her friends tidied up their own continuity mess and returned to celebrate the renewal of Life Day.

So deep was the trauma caused by The Rise of Skywalker that, after the transmogrification of the populace, most of them sounded subtly different. Of the core group of characters, only Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), whose presence had almost been erased from those troubled times, retained her own voice – as if in recognition of the indignities which had been heaped upon her. The reason for the survival of two other voices is less clear. C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) may have retained his vocal character as an apology for the poorly justified mindwipe he’d recently received, but Lando (Billy Dee Williams) had barely been recognisable as the same man when he was last seen – perhaps this was the universe’s attempt to restore his lost dignity.

Many of the other voices stem from an earlier reality quake, when the Star Wars universe attempted to redress the damage of those troubled times known in legend as the Prequel Trilogy. Testing the waters with Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), this project of revitalisation flowered into Star Wars: Rebels (2014-2018), Star Wars: Forces of Destiny (2017-2018) and Star Wars: Resistance (2018-2020). While I have little personal experience of this period, the legacy of this era of renewed hope is evident in the voices which have echoed forwards to the LEGO times. Although The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special lacks the ambition of these animated universal grafts, it serves a useful purpose in putting darker times (however temporarily) behind us.

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