‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’ Ending, Explained: Did Mantis & Drax Save Christmas For Peter?


Written and directed by James Gunn, “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” opens with an animated flashback to show us how Yondu ruined Christmas for Peter Quill and the rest of the Ravagers as well. Although Drax enjoys the story very much, Kraglin, Mantis, and Nebula emphasize the gravity of the situation and why Christmastime can be depressing for Quill. And after establishing the fact that the Guardians’ base of operations is Knowhere and that Cosmo the Spacedog is a part of their team now, Mantis and Drax hatch a plan to “save Christmas.” Mantis feels that she should be the one to do the needful because she is technically Quill’s sister (thereby confirming everyone’s suspicions that she is the result of Ego’s many romantic affairs). But Drax ends up being the one to come up with the idea of getting Kevin Bacon (the actual actor) as Quill’s Christmas present because he keeps talking about the “Footloose” actor all the time.

Major Spoilers Ahead

Drax And Mantis Roam Around In Los Angeles While Trying To Find Kevin Bacon

Upon entering Earth, Drax immediately messes things up by not turning on the cloaking device of the Guardians’ brand-new spaceship, the Bowie (named after David Bowie, of course). That terrorizes a few humans. But you’d expect them to be used to strange, wild, otherworldly occurrences, right? Anyway, Drax and Mantis head to Hollywood Boulevard and come across people cosplaying as Ant-Man, Captain America, The Mask of Zorro, Captain Jack Sparrow, and a guy dressed as a truck. Drax gets surprisingly and hilariously agitated by the guy dressed as the budget Transformer (the technical term is GoBots) because, as per Mantis, GoBots are responsible for killing Drax’s cousin. I’m not aware of the lore. All I know is that while Hasbro made “Transformers” (which Marvel briefly adapted into comics), Tonka made “GoBots.” So, is this a reference to that, or does it hint that a species called GoBots actually exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Your guess is as good as mine.

Drax and Mantis go into a selfie session and earn a lot of money out of it, which ends with Drax beating the hell out of the GoBots cosplayer. Then they decide to spend all of it at a bar (which has a Kingo poster near it) and get massively hammered. When their high starts to come down, they realize that they haven’t come close to finding Kevin Bacon. A lady apparently tries to help Mantis by giving her a map of the houses of all the stars (the concept seems like a very obvious invasion of these stars’ privacy). But when the lady asks Mantis to pay up, she uses her mind-control powers to make the lady give up the Map and all her money. On their way to Bacon’s house, Mantis and Drax visit the houses of the following stars: Margot Robbie, Queen Latifah, John Cena, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m sorry I couldn’t identify another person where Drax and Mantis made a pit stop. His face appears right below Schwarzenegger’s on the Map to the Stars. If you can identify him, please feel free to let us know in the comments.

See More: ‘The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special’ Review – James Gunn Shows How MCU Can Be Heartfelt & Enjoyable

Drax And Mantis Literally Abduct Kevin Bacon

Kevin Bacon seems to be having a blast watching “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” It’s a real movie, and it’s available for free on YouTube. If you haven’t watched it, then do so. If Bacon is enjoying it and Gunn has included a reference to it, the movie deserves a watch. Sadly, Bacon’s movie night is hampered by Mantis and Drax as they try to enter his property as politely as they can. When that plan fails, Drax launches Mantis over the main gate, jumps over it himself, and they proceed to strut towards Bacon’s house. After picking up the Christmas decorations (an inflatable candy cane and an elf) in Bacon’s yard, they begin pestering him to come away with them. Bacon doesn’t take it seriously until Drax and Mantis literally barge into his house and attempt to kidnap him. But once he realizes that he is about to be abducted, he makes a run for it. And I have to say, Bacon is pretty agile for his age.

While pursuing Bacon, Drax loses his inflatable elf man and intends to go back to get it. Mantis, who has held on to her inflatable candy cane, gives him two choices: Drax can either go for the elf man and lose Kevin Bacon, thereby ruining Quill’s Christmas, or he can let go of the elf man and nab Kevin Bacon, thereby saving Quill’s Christmas. Drax obviously chooses the former, but Mantis forces him to choose the latter. Bacon manages to call the police, and they try to subdue Drax and Mantis. However, their efforts go to waste because their bullets seem to only tickle Drax, and they can’t keep up with Mantis’s agility and mind manipulation powers. Gunn manages to turn that into a character-building moment as Mantis teaches Drax (after he flips a cop car) that just because they are powerful, they shouldn’t go around killing people who are doing their job. Also, she adorably proceeds to give away her candy cane to the stranded cops as a sign of apology. And, well, then they trick Kevin Bacon into being more agreeable and abduct him.

‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’ Ending Explained: How Do Kevin Bacon And Peter Quill React? Is There A Post-Credits Scene?

On their way to Knowhere, Drax, Kevin Bacon, and Mantis have a pretty eye-opening conversation about acting, movies, and stars and how influential they can be despite being artificial in nature. Even when they reach Knowhere, things go pretty smoothly and beautifully because everyone there has done such a great job of decorating the whole place. But as soon as the Guardians unveil Kevin Bacon to Peter Quill, he absolutely loses it because he rightfully labels the act as “human trafficking.” Quill orders Mantis to lift her trance, which causes Bacon to go absolutely haywire. So, despite the Guardians’ best intentions, they ruin Christmas again for Quill since he has to live with the image of his childhood icon freaking out in front of him due to alien abduction. On Quill’s instructions, they get Bacon back on the Bowie so that he can reach Earth and be with his family again. However, that’s when Kraglin gives Bacon the lowdown regarding what he means to Quill and how much Quill looks up to him.

So, after hearing that Quill essentially saved the galaxy based on his character’s actions in “Footloose,” Bacon decides to hang back for a while and make the mood festive again on Knowhere. He joins the Old 97’s (who sing the hilarious “I Don’t Know What Christmas Is But Christmastime Is Here” earlier in the special presentation) to sing the original version of “Here It Is Christmastime” and brings the house down. The Guardians exchange gifts. Groot gets a Gameboy (because the one he had was destroyed in “Endgame”) from Quill. Nebula gives Bucky’s arm to Rocket Racoon (something Rocket has been yearning for since “Infinity War”). Cosmo gives a dead alien rodent to Kraglin. Mantis gives Drax an elf, which she probably picked up from the gift shop after Drax lost the one he had. Groot gives everyone wooden figurines that essentially recap the events of the TV special. The best wooden figurine is the one that Kraglin gets, where a toy Kraglin is holding another toy Kraglin, which is holding another toy Kraglin.

During the concluding moments of “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special,” Bacon gives the Guardians a big hug and hopes to return to Knowhere on Easter. When Quill asks Mantis why they went to these lengths to celebrate Christmas, she says that she wanted to make Christmas an enjoyable time for Quill again after Yondu ruined it for him. Quill tells her that Yondu’s tryst with Christmas didn’t end with him trashing the Christmas tree and ordering Quill and Kraglin to throw all the gifts into the garbage. In fact, he went back and opened the gift Quill got for him, a green doll, and gave Quill his signature blasters. That ended up being the first of the many tchotchkes on The Eclector’s dashboard, thereby indicating that Quill and Yondu secretly celebrated Christmas, with Quill gifting him a doll every year. The flashback shows the surrogate father-son duo blasting off into space while wishing the galaxy the best for the festive season. That familial sentiment is echoed in the present as Quill states that finding out that Mantis is actually his sister is the best Christmas present imaginable.

Although “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” doesn’t seem to be bothered with what’s going on in the multiverse, and it doesn’t even set up a new movie or a new show like every other movie and show in Phase Four have, it’s sneakily doing a few things. Firstly, it serves as an epilogue to the MCU’s Phase Four. While “Wakanda Forever” concluded things theatrically, the “Holiday Special” is doing the same on the small screen. Secondly, it shows where the Guardians went after “Thor: Love and Thunder” and on what note they are going to begin “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3.” It cements the fact that Knowhere is the Guardians’ new home, and Mantis and Quill are stepsiblings, yes. But it also gives the intergalactic team two new things to lose, thereby making their next mission pretty high stakes. Thirdly, it establishes Cosmo as the newest member of the team. And finally, it unveils Groot’s new form (he has had a new body type in every film since the first one).

Talking about Groot, the post-credit scene shows Rocket and Cosmo decorating him (in a T-pose) as a literal Christmas tree. Groot gets tired, and he puts his arms down and drops the trinkets and lights on him. Cosmo laments that Christmas has been ruined again thanks to Groot and Rocket, who either break the fourth wall or talk to a video recording device to say that they need to make another special now. Of course, that doesn’t mean we will be getting a holiday special anytime soon. But I won’t object to the idea of occasional holiday-themed TV specials with superheroes and aliens because it clearly allows the storyteller to focus on the characters and the genre instead of trying to fit into the overstuffed MCU tapestry and making yet another action extravaganza. Either way, it was nice to spend some time with the Guardians before Gunn (who is going to head over to DC) takes his lovable team of misfits for one last intergalactic ride in “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3.”

“The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” is a 2022 Drama Comedy film directed by James Gunn.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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