We’re celebrating the holiday season with the greatest gifts Star Wars can ever give us: its characters! Here’s why Peli Motto is one of the best.
Peli Motto is a minor character in The Mandalorian, which is the best thing to be associated with Star Wars since the original movie. She doesn’t do a lot, but whenever she’s onscreen I find myself smiling, and she’s emblematic of the new show’s willingness to shake up the decades-old Star Wars universe.
Peli Motto is played by Amy Sedaris, a comedian with a long history of delightfully offbeat projects. Stranger With Candy remains one of the weirdest, funniest sitcoms of the past 25 years: it stars Sedaris as Jerri Blank, a washed-up, illiterate junkie-prostitute who moves back in with her parents so she can try and get her high school diploma. And she’s kept up that independent streak straight through to today. At Home With Amy Sedaris is a bona fide, Emmy-nominated hit for TruTV, with Sedaris winning over audiences with her predictably bizarre take on homemaking.
The very fact that The Mandalorian producers were interested in casting Sedaris tells you a lot about their approach to the show. Her casting fits in with a lot of other actors in minor roles. Oh, is that Saturday Night Live veteran Horatio Sanz getting tossed in carbonite in the series premiere? Did Mando just string John Leguizamo up to a lamp post and let bright-eyed creatures of the night feed upon his prone body? Yes it was, yes he did, and Amy Sedaris is here too, and it’s just great. Star Wars is one of the oldest, most profitable franchises in history, but with these choices, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni show they’re still willing to have fun with it.
Sedaris brings her off-center sense of self to the role of Peli Motto, who also lives near the edge. She’s clearly seen a few things in her time. When Mando kills the bounty hunter Toro Calican, who moments before was holding Peli hostage, she yells out to her trusty family of droids to dispose of the body. “All right, pit droids! Let’s drag this outta here! I don’t know, drag it to Beggars Canyon.” It sounds like she’s done this before, is all I’m saying.
But just because Peli knows her how to dispose of a corpse doesn’t mean she’s a bad person. In fact, she’s a complete sweetheart, immediately taking to Baby Yoda, frantically checking to see if he’s alright after a firefight between Mando and Calican, and even chastising Mando for leaving him alone for too long. Peli’s a tough customer, but she’s also a smart businesswoman, a capable mechanic, a natural mother figure, and someone Mando can rely on to help in his adventures across the galaxy, even if she doesn’t always help in the way he’s expecting. He may not have wanted to ferry Frog Lady on an interplanetary journey, but I think we’re all glad it happened, and it wouldn’t have had Peli not introduced them.
Come to think of it, Frog Lady is another great gift to Star Wars, but that’s for another article.