– Spoiler Review –
After a rather rollicking premiere, now Star Wars Rebels settles into series mode. “Droids in Distress” gave us our first look at how the show will work as a series, providing more character development, R2-D2 and C-3PO, and the first hint at how the crew of the Ghost might just connect to the (eventual) larger rebel movement.
Much like Spark of Rebellion, “Droids in Distress” wastes no time with exposition and instead throws you into the middle of the action. While the crew does discuss their lack of supplies after a botched op, we’re very quickly thrown into their plan to resolve said issues thanks to another job from Vizago (seen briefly in SoR).
Everything that worked wonderfully in the premiere carries over to “Droids,” from the snappy interplay between our lead characters, a more dangerous villain, and the adventurous spirit of the original trilogy. In fact, I’d say it can’t be ‘in the spirit of’ anymore, as Rebels is owning that vibe and making it it’s own.
The crew of the Ghost, minus Hera, hops on a transport ship separately, pretending to not know each other. Their marks are Minister Maketh Tua and Amda Wabo (an Aqualish), being followed by two very familiar droids for translation purposes. I was worried having C-3PO and R2-D2 in Rebels would feel forced, especially this early in the series, but instead they provide their usual entertainment (and become more important than one could possibly imagine). Wabo is facilitating a weapons shipment to the Empire and to intercept it, the crew puts together a funny little show resulting in Artoo, Threepio, and Chopper banished to the back of the ship. A meeting between those three droids certainly does not disappoint, resulting in good ol’ fashioned astromech on astromech violence and I stand by my assertion that Chopper is making damn fine case for best astromech ever.
Sabine and Zeb, seated just behind the marks, take over for translation duties. Sabine had shown in the premiere she understands Wookiee and droid-speak, and it seems Aqualish is another of her talents. Better yet, she even speaks some it and I couldn’t help but laugh when she does. Sabine plays up being an Imperial Academy student really well, being so eager to help, and Tiya Sircar makes it sound like Sabine (and herself) are having a blast playing the minister for a fool. Her scenes here help make up for her slightly smaller role in the premiere.
After Sabine purposely mistranslated the location of the shipment, the crew sets off to liberate the weapons. Ezra sneaks in, using the Force to jump across the building tops (take that, Neo). What they find in the crates visible shocks and enrages Zeb, as the weapons were used to wipe out most of his people on his home planet of Lasan. From the animation and the voice acting, Zeb’s visible pain from these weapons continues to show there’s deeper moments and heart to be found outside the fun and humor dominating Rebels‘ tone. However, Threepio manages to ruin the day and the Imperials attack the crew, who get away with the distruptors.
In the escape, Artoo and Threepio stowaway on the Ghost. As the crew discusses what exactly they should do with the weapons, Artoo starts to eavesdrop on them, especially when they mention being happy to deny at least the Empire the weapons. Artoo and Threepio reveal they’ve been on a secret mission to divert the shipment of weapons too and their master would happily pay the crew for them. Kanan decides against it and they continue to sell them to Vizago, even though Zeb is not happy with the decision.
This is the only part that confused me: Threepio sends out a distress call to Governor Price, which Kallus and the Imperials intersect, but if Threepio knew his mission with Artoo was to prevent the shipment of weapons to get to the Empire, why would he contact anyone besides his master? It’s not out of character, but the logic behind it is the confusing part. However, if he’s supposed to be keeping his ‘master’s’ identity secret, then the call to Price makes more sense. In the end though, we get an awesome action sequence and some background info on Kallus.
Kallus reveals his bow-rifle to Zeb, and how he ordered the distruptors to wipe out the other Lasats, enraging Zeb as they battle it out with the bow-rifles. The anger Steve Blum conveys in the growls and words of Zeb is chilling, and his battle with Kallus is wonderfully choreographed. It’s surprising just how good Kallus is with the weapon, getting the upperhand on Zeb, only for Ezra to intervene with the Force.
The final scene finally reveals Senator Organa (Phil LaMarr returns to voice the character) as Threepio and Artoo’s master and gives us an image unsubtly referencing A New Hope. The brief moment we get with Organa after Kanan leaves provides the first big hint on how the crew of the Ghost could one day get involved with a bigger rebel movement.
Here are a few other things:
- The transport the crew boards is being piloted by an RX-24, a droid I’ve actually seen in person before. In fact, there’s a chance you have too, seeing as it’s the droid pilot from the Star Tours attraction at Walt Disney World! Even crazier: Paul Ruebens (a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman), who voiced the RX for Star Tours, reprises his role here. Never saw such an inclusion coming and it’s highly welcomed.
- I’ve found myself saying, “Karabast,” Zeb’s exclamation when surprised or in a crisis, in my conversations already.
- The more I hear the team use their ‘Spectre’ code names, the smarter I think that idea is.
- Why Kallus and the Empire wanted the Lasat’s wiped out is a question I can’t wait to be answered.
- Vanessa Marshall continues to shine with how Hera can go from lighthearted to serious, as her scene filling in Ezra on why Zeb’s so angry about the distruptors well played.
- The score continues to amaze.
- Kanan’s reluctance in training Ezra was surprising, but I guess having to train the next generation of Jedi might sound daunting. And the fact that Hera was more eager for it to begins shows how much she believed in the Jedi while they were more prominent.
- UPDATE: The official site’s episode guide is up, along with another Rebels Recon episode, audio clip played over Zeb’s antics in “Droids”, concept art, and trivia gallery.
- UPDATE 2: This being the Disney XD series premiere of the show, it brought in 1.03 million viewers, a first in the channel’s 15 years on the air. And here we were all worried the episode airing online a week early could be a set back.
If each week can be full of as much heart, adventure, fun, and background tidbits about our group and their enemies, Star Wars Rebels is shaking up to be a great series to watch. The focused approach, staying with just our main crew of six, is this show’s strength and “Droids in Distress” really helps show off why.
+ Fun adventure filled with deeper moments
+ Kallus vs Zeb
+ Hint at rebellion-filled future
– Threepio’s decision
STAR WARS REBELS REVIEWS:
Season One: Spark of Rebellion | Ep.3: “Fighter Flight” | Ep.4: “Rise of the Old Masters” | Ep.5: “Breaking Ranks” | Ep.6: “Out of Darkness” | Ep.7: “Empire Day” | Ep.8: “Gathering Forces” | Ep.9: “Path of the Jedi” | Ep.10: “Idiot’s Array” | Ep.11: “Vision of Hope” | Ep.12: “Call to Action” | Ep.13: “Rebel Resolve” | Ep.14: “Fire Across the Galaxy”
Season Two: The Siege of Lothal | Ep. 2: “The Lost Commanders” | Ep. 3: “Relics of the Old Republic” | Ep. 4: “Always Two There Are” | Ep. 5: “Brothers of the Broken Horn” | Ep. 6: “Wings of the Master” | Ep. 7: “Blood Sisters” | Ep. 8: “Stealth Strike” | Ep. 9: “The Future of the Force” | Ep. 10: “Legacy” | Ep. 11: “A Princess on Lothal” | Ep. 12: “The Protector of Concord Dawn” | Ep. 13: “Legends of the Lasat” | Ep. 14: “The Call” | Ep. 15: “Homecoming” | Ep. 16: “The Honorable Ones” | Ep. 17: “Shroud of Darkness” | Ep. 18: “The Forgotten Droid” | Ep. 19: “The Mystery of Chopper Base” | Ep. 20: “Twilight of the Apprentice“