Rather than leaving us to wait a full summer for the return of Star Wars: Rebels, Disney XD announced the premiere of a new show: LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures. The series, set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, focuses on the Freemaker family, a group of siblings and their droid as they are accidentally thrust into an adventure with millenia of history behind it, and, the fate of the galaxy ahead of it. Is the show worth your time, or is it just a silly filler while we wait for “the real deal” to come back? Read on to find out!
The LEGO Freemaker Adventures, the latest series from Disney XD, follows the story of the Freemaker family: older sister Kordi (Vanessa Lengies from Glee), Zander (Eugene Byrd, Arrow), and the young Rowan Freemaker (Nicolas Cantu), who travel on their ship, StarScavenger, to gain parts to keep their shop alive. This shop both sells new ships and repairs old ones, usually with the parts they find floating in space. The three siblings have a droid named Roger (aptly named for a B-1 battle droid!), a veteran of the Clone Wars, reconstructed from mismatched parts. I want to say this first: the characters are great, and I ended up liking every single one of the main characters by the end of the episode. This rarely happens (I still don’t care much for Zeb in Rebels), so it was cool to connect to the characters so quickly. The series takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, giving the series a unique time to play before the second Death Star is built.
The first episode doesn’t actually start with the Freemakers. Instead, we’re introduced to Darth Vader and the Emperor. Darth Vader is presenting his idea to the Emperor: a second Death Star, designed to replace the first one. The Emperor berates Vader for this plan, asking if he remembers what happened to the first one and wonders why he thinks a second would be a good idea. This fits in with the way that he tests Darth Vader in Darth Vader #1: he mentions that Vader is the last one alive to take the blame, and in Freemaker Adventures, he specifically shows him a holo of him getting blasted out of the sky in the Death Star trench. While the Emperor was a bit over the top, it was still an interesting exchange. Vader, in response, offers up a Plan B: the kyber saber. Palpatine is excited about the idea, though he isn’t sure what the kyber saber is or does.
After this scene, we are finally introduced to the Freemaker family. We join them in the middle of a battle between X-Wings and TIE Fighters where the Rebels are trying to take a troop transport. Kordi thinks it would be a great idea to take fresh parts from destroyed ships in the middle of combat. She advises Rowan to not blast anyone and attract Imperial attention while they work. Toward the end of the battle, an overexcited Rowan accidentally blasts the Imperial ship to pieces, revealing their ship in the middle of the battle, causing all eyes to fall on them despite their best intentions to stay out of sight. The space battle is really well done. It’s a fast moving battle, and it feels like something you’d see in Rebels or The Clone Wars. The character moments between the crew of the StarScavenger interlace the battle without distracting from the action around them. As they bring in the parts they captured (including a TIE Pilot and Rebel Pilot), they find out that they’ve been locked out of their shop by their landlord. The landlord demands payment for rent, otherwise he would send the family out of the airlock.
Desperate, the Freemakers search for any ship they can get ahold of to sell. We’re introduced to Zander’s ability to build, from seeing him build a ship and being shown his Z-Wing fighter. He is reluctant to sell these, so the family is again in trouble. In a final gamble for parts, they ask Roger about his opinion on the worst battle in the Clone Wars. His answer is quick: Nal Kapok. The family heads to Nal Kapok to steal parts from any ship that they can find. Kordi and Zander go looking for parts, unaware that the Empire is already on the planet. Since they are scavenging on what they assumed to be an uninhabited planet (perhaps due to the extreme violence of the battle?), they don’t assume to run into any Imperial trouble. Rowan leaves the ship, accompanied by Roger (a “decorated Clone Wars veteran now demoted to babysitting!”), to warn his siblings that the Empire was on the planet and wouldn’t be happy to find anyone else there. Instead of finding his siblings, he feels a calling from underneath the surface of the planet. He wanders over, only to fall into a pit where he finds a kyber saber hilt.
As he is attacked by a dianoga, he is saved by a Jedi Knight named Naare. After introductions (and Rowan’s completely understandable excitement about seeing a lightsaber), Naare tells the story of the kyber crystal: Millenia ago, Jedi Master Baird Kantoo wanted to design a weapon suitable for the Jedi. He fused kyber crystals together into a blade; this saber was extremely powerful, sending light beams out of the blade (think Legend of Zelda when you have a full heart gauge). These beams could destroy asteroids….or a planet (similar to how kyber crystals power the Death Star’s superlaser). Thinking it too powerful, Kantoo destroyed the blade, scattering its parts around the galaxy with trusted Jedi Knights.
Without spoiling too much of the remainder of the story, Naare convinces the Freemakers to join her cause to find the crystals before the Emperor can use it for evil, hoping to using Rowan’s unique ability to sense the kyber crystals. This sets up a fun premise for the series, giving it a real sense of purpose. Now, this series is not canon, so a sense of purpose may convince even the most ardent canon fans to watch it anyway. But, I purposefully wrote this review without mentioning that it is non-canon up until this point for a reason: the show still feels deeply lodged in Star Wars lore. The story feels like something that could have come out of the canon, especially out of the Legends canon, so don’t let the fact that it isn’t canon bug you: it’s a fun series, but it still feels deeply invested into Jedi lore.
Now, while it has its serious moments, there are still aspects of LEGO humor throughout. As I mentioned before, the Emperor is cartoonishly evil. Zander “rolls up his sleeves” to get to work, but being LEGO, he has no sleeves. The show really feels like you were watching kids play with their LEGOs. AT-TEs, STAPs, TIE Fighters, X-Wings, totally made up ships, all seem to fit together like a glove when everything is made out of LEGOs. Seeing Stormtroopers fight Jedi, and seeing droids, humans, troop transports, dianogas altogether just seems right when all of the characters and ships are made out of LEGOs. You’ll feel like a kid again seeing some of your imaginary battles played out in your head.
One of the best aspects of the show is actually that the humor works for even the most jaded adult fans of Star Wars (aka, me). Roger, voiced by Matthew Wood, brings some familiarity, levity, and fun to the show. As a B1 battle droid, Roger has the same voice as the droids did in The Clone Wars, making it feel as if part of the series was still alive in this show. When Roger finds out that Naare is a Jedi, he runs away screaming “JEDI!!”, an actually humorous moment from prior knowledge of The Clone Wars. Roger has most of the funniest lines from the episode, at one point saying, “it’s a good thing that my programming doesn’t allow for ‘I told you so!”s”.
In the end, the LEGO Freemaker Adventures is a fun ride, which has deep enough story,devoted to Star Wars lore that feels at home with the current canon, even if it does exist in a “different universe”. Telling the story in LEGO form creates a lot of fun opportunities for crossovers between the eras without feeling forced, and the characters are well-developed enough that you’ll come back for more of the family themselves, let alone the fun plot! It’s also a funny story, and the humor feels less forced than it did in Phantom Menace and early episodes of The Clone Wars, making me laugh out loud more than most prime-time comedies do these days. Based on the pilot alone, The Freemaker Adventures is a fun jaunt worth checking out.
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