Hallowe’en has come early.
To kick off its ‘Hallowstream’ Event, Disney+ offers its latest gift in the form of Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales, it’s latest entry into the long-running animated franchise. Following last year’s Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, Tales continues to lean into the holiday-themed material with an episode devoted to the Dark Side and its minions.
Terrifying Tales takes place after the events of The Rise of Skywalker as Poe Dameron and BB-8 are forced to make a sudden landing on the volcanic planet of Mustafar. Standing at the base of Darth Vader’s iconic hideaway, they soon discover that Graballa the Hutt has bought the castle so that he can repurpose it into a luxury hotel. While they wait for their ship to be repaired, they are intrigued by the mysterious Vanee (Tony Hale). Once working as Vader’s loyal servant, Vanee spins three eerie tales that are linked to the past and leads them deep within the castle’s walls. As his sinister plan is revealed, Poe, BB-8 and young mechanic Dean must face their fears and defeat an ancient evil from taking hold once again.
Taking a page from Marvel’s What If…? series, Terrifying Tales spins its own web of Jedi stories that may (or may not) have happened amidst the Star Wars canon. True to other Lego Star Wars animated fare, the series pops with silliness and fun, even as the proverbial ‘terrifying tales’ themselves focus on the more villainous characters in the universe. Just like it’s Marvel cousin, the show frees up its storytellers to tell stories without the burden of overarching storylines and continuity. As a result, there’s a gleeful freedom within this particular episode that sets it apart from other entries into the Lego franchise. (I mean, how much fun is it to see the story of impetuous farmboy Luke joining the Empire so he can live his dream as a great pilot?)
Concerned parents may find it important to know that these ‘terrifying tales’ hardly live up to their name. Although there are a few minutes of shadows and spookiness, ‘terrifying’ is hardly the word to describe these lighthearted adventures. (Although, it’s worth noting that these particular animators clearly love The Shining as it influences some of the better jokes within the episode.)
Since it’s leaning into the Dark Side of its stories, the show puts a heavy emphasis on stories about fear and power. (Again, lightly and playfully, of course.) However, Disney does admittedly surprise here by taking the opportunity to talk about the nature of courage as well. As Dean is exposed to Vanee’s ‘terrifying tales’ of the past, so too is he tempted to fall into their fear. Even so, Poe uses the moment to speak into Dean’s life. Acknowledging his own fear, the pilot let’s Dean know that everyone experiences it but what matters most is what you do with that fear. To him, fear can be overcome when you lean into it and believe that you are stronger than it says. (“Without fear, you can’t have courage,” Poe says.) In this way, Terrifying Tales does a good job of helping kids recognize that fear is a normal part of their experience and empowering them when it strikes.
Goofy and entertaining, Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales is a suitable addition to the Lego Star Wars universe. Featuring fun side stories about some of the franchises favourite villains (Kylo Ren origin!), the episode is lighthearted enough to kickstart a month of Hallowe’en specials and spooks. But the best part is the fact that Disney doesn’t leave its kids wallowing in fear but shows them the path to courage along the way.
Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales is available on Disney+ on Friday, October 1st, 2021.