The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is on Disney+ now, and if you’re done wiping away the tears, let’s break down the ending and what it means going forward.
We’ve not had a proper Guardians outing since 2017’s Vol. 2. Sure, they’re pivotal to the events of Avengers: Infinity War – if only Star-Lord had kept his cool! – and they popped up in Thor: Love and Thunder, but it’s not the same.
Before he leaves the MCU for good, James Gunn has kicked off his long goodbye with the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, a festive, emotional treat. You can read our review here.
While far lighter than Werewolf by Night, the special has significant narrative progression for the space-faring group, so let’s run through the ending.
By the end of the special, Kevin Bacon gets over his hysterical fear of Nowhere after being abducted by Drax and Mantis, who removes all of the delusions and manipulations of her powers from his head.
Upon hearing how Peter hasn’t had a good Christmas since he was taken from Earth, he performs a song for everyone – Here It Is Christmastime – while they give each other presents, including Bucky’s bionic arm, wooden sculptures, and a dead alien rat (that last one is from Cosmo, of course).
Mantis eventually makes her dreaded confession to Peter: Ego, his murderous celestial of a father who purposely gave his mother cancer and wanted to take his power so he could rule the universe, is also her dad. “Wait, so does that make you my sister? Mantis, that’s the greatest Christmas gift I could ever get,” he says, and they share a heartfelt hug.
If you cast your mind back to Vol. 2 when Mantis was introduced, we learned she was Ego’s adopted daughter. “Ego found me in my larva state. Orphaned on my homeworld. He raised me by hand and kept me as his own,” she said.
However, he had little affection for her beyond her ability to help him sleep, describing her as a “pet” or a “flea with a purpose.”
Now, what about the big emotional kicker? At the beginning of the special, Kraglin recounts a story of Yondu hating Christmas and ruining the festivities for a young Peter – but that’s not how the story ended.
Yondu discovered Peter’s present for him in the bin, a little Baby Yoda-esque ornament, and was so touched by the gift that he gave Peter one of his own: his signature pair of blasters.
The special ends with young Peter and Yondu teasing each other and laughing in the cockpit of the spaceship before flying away, all under the poignant lyrics of Fairytale of New York: “I could have been someone. Well so could anyone, you took my dreams from me when I first found you. I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, can’t make it all alone, I’ve built my dreams around you.”
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is available to stream on Disney+ now. You can sign up for Disney+ here.