Everyone loves Porgs. Well, everyone except Chewbacca, who increasingly seems to have a complicated relationship with his new companions in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, batting one off the Millennium Falcon's console and maybe even snacking on it. Not since the Ewoks has the franchise introduced such overtly marketable creatures. Yet when it comes to these flightless, semi-aquatic birds, nobody seems to care about their potentially cynical conception; they're cute, they sound funny and those big eyes make Baby Groot look ugly.
They were long rumors that Luke's exile home of Ahch-to had cutesy inhabitants, and after an animatronic tease in the D23 sizzle reel, we finally got to see them in all their adorable glory with Force Friday II. Needless to say, people fell in love at first sight; Porgs were a must-buy despite no footage of them at the time, and subsequent in-movie reveals got more hype than details about Rey and Luke. But is this all a lie? Are Porgs really something insidious?
John Boyega recently described the creatures as "freaky", saying they override the Falcon and in the process making them sound more like mynocks than Ewoks. And, thanks to a new Thanksgiving TV spot, we get a new angle, with Chewbacca knocking away the Porg that in the official trailer was seen giving a high-pitched imitation of a Wookiee roar along with him.
This was rather shocking. The Porgs have been trumpeted as an essential part of Chewie's subplot, presumably a visual counterpoint to his emotional distress following the death of Han Solo; they were properly revealed by the children's book "Chewie and the Porgs" and all along have been his cuddly companions. But now? Now he's batting them away like they're a pest. And we're reminded of worse: in the D23 reel - something released pre-Porg hype - we got a behind-the-scenes shot of Chewbacca in the Falcon with feathers sticking out of his mouth.
Other feathered creatures exist in Star Wars (note the reference to ducks in the original film's script and The Phantom Menace), but on Ahch-to, there are only Porgs. Only one conclusion can be made: sure, there's enough lacking context that the movie could have an alternate explanation, but that Chewbacca eats a Porg is the most likely.
From there, and with the TV spot smack, we're left with a very different view of these cutesy screamers. They're not Chewie's friends who he brings along for the final battle on Crait, but pests that infest the Falcon much to his annoyance. That's a big realignment. Although, really, what do we actually know about Porgs? All the plushies and Funko Pops don't really do anything beyond aesthetics. Diving into the scant supplementary material you see their co-existence with Ahch-to's Caretakers is symbiotic; from their presentation in various tie-ins, the planet's whale-like primary lifeform eating the more parasitic beings is not out of the question. That the EW exposes from Anthony Breznican have directly brought attention to this twice definitely backs that up.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is, primarily, about the dichotomy of Rey and Kylo. The Porg hype greatly supersedes their actual prevalence in the film, and is that - like the debate around Reylo - part of Lucasfilm's plan? Are they getting everyone on the side before pulling the rug and playing a mother!? We won't know until December 15, but it's looking that, like Jar Jar before, maybe Porgs are the key to all this.