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The Phantom Menace Character You Didn't Expect To See In LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special

All you need is one look at Rey and Darth Vader locked in lightsaber combat on a desert world to know that the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special will be unlike any Star Wars story you've ever seen, at least outside a child's bedroom.

The special has shaken free of the canonical constraints of the Lucasfilm Story Group –– and the variety acts of the original, much-derided 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special –– to tell a story that mixes and matches from throughout the series' long timeline. But while the headline moment may be the cross-generational crossing of the swords, this is Star Wars, where no fleeting glimpse or background moment is too small to inspire an action figure or a spin-off. So it makes perfect sense that fans keyed into the background here and noticed a pair of stormtroopers appear to be hitching a ride on podracing legend Sebulba's giant orange rig, which had previously been glimpsed sans pilot in the background of one of the first promotional shots released. 

What's Sebulba doing in the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special?

Now we know the cocky, cheating podracer who debuted in Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace is making the jump along with his signature craft. What is he doing there? Why are Rey and Darth Vader fighting for that matter? The big-picture answer is the same: The production made the decision to eschew a strict separation of the different eras from the films, drawing inspiration from how readily kids integrate their LEGO sets into their play.

"My son literally just dumps his bucket out," executive producer James Waugh told Entertainment Weekly. "We realized that was a play pattern that could actually inform the fun of this show."

Hence a story featuring a visit to a Jedi temple that throws Rey across the series' timelines, allowing her to meet, say, a young Luke Skywalker or a young Kylo Ren or three different Obi-Wan Kenobis. This anything-goes approach to a crossover is one way to tackle one of the silliest pieces of Star Wars lore in a manner that allows it to be treated with the appropriate lack of respect.

When the canon is this bent in on itself, it's anyone's guess as to what Sebulba might actually be doing in the background of Rey and Vader's duel. Carpooling in the most aggro way possible? Fulfilling his quest through time and space to enact his revenge against Anakin Skywalker? Giving the sound team a chance to mix in that shoes-in-the-dryer effect his podracer's engines made?

Star Wars fans can find out when the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special debuts on Disney+ on November 17.