– Spoiler Review –
At first glance, a Chopper-centric episode seems like something one could probably write off or feel okay with missing as we near the end of the season. But Star Wars Rebels has proven time and time again its focus on character is not to be missed, as that focus has given us wondrous moments with the ensemble cast of the show and “The Forgotten Droid” is no different. Heartening, funny, and sprinkled with season long plot hints, like how the Inquisitors might be tracking their band of rebels and possibly ending the search for a base, Rebels‘ latest is another entertaining episode.
Seeing as the team working on Rebels is largely the team who worked on The Clone Wars, it should come as no surprise that a droid-filled episode would be just as good as the ones which focus on the flesh and blood characters. While the D-Squad arc in the 5th season can be hit or miss for many (I find more I like about it than I dislike, but it won’t ever be on any of my top ten lists), the few episodes devoted to Artoo and Threepio were oddball but utterly entertaining. “The Forgotten Droid,” feels like a perfect mixture of the D-Squad arc and Artoo and Threepio genius from TCW: it takes droids banding together to complete a mission vital to the rest of the war from D-Squad and the bickering humor between an astromech and a protocol-type droid from Artoo/Threepio adventures to create a heartfelt story about how friends can be found in all different places and the importance of kindness in all types of situations/people.
Distracted by the possibility of replacing his mismatched leg, Chopper is accidentally left behind by the crew as they make a hasty getaway with much needed fuel for the fleet (I guess as a way to show the fleet is getting so much bigger, especially with the inclusion of the light cruiser, they already need more fuel despite getting some only a few episodes ago in “The Call”). The rascally little droid finds himself in an Imperial cargo ship, where he’s quickly found by AP-5, a dour-sounding droid in charge of the ship’s manifest. Years of servitude, and its pride in those years despite being mistreated, cause AP-5 to chase down Chopper once he uncovers the stowaway on board. But the two find themselves bonding once they dredge up memories of their wartime services in the Clone Wars, as Chopper reveals the kindness he’s received since the war and AP begins to realize his mistreatment over the years after being demoted once the Empire took over the Republic isn’t something to be proud of. Reluctantly, AP starts to assist Chopper with taking over the ship, and they quickly become friends in their fight for acknowledgement and freedom.
In “Homecoming,” Cham reveals Hera found Chopper during the Clone War, but here we get a little bit more on the story. Chopper was once an astromech for a clone Y-wing, but it was shot down in a battle on Ryloth, which is where Hera came across him and rescued him. His loyalty to her and the cause, despite coming off as a grumpy homicidal maniac, makes a lot more sense now that she took him after he was disregarded as scrap/left for dead. However, we’ve seen his hidden loyalty all throughout the series already, so showing more of his empathy was a nice touch, as such behavior from him has been few and far between (its last big appearance was in “Legacy,” as he puts a supporting claw on Ezra’s knee). His kindness and empathy take center stage as he helps AP free himself and fight against his oppressors, making it fairly unsurprising how quickly these two become friends to the point they mirror Artoo and Threepio’s bickering couple routine by episode’s end (the look on the crew’s faces was hilariously priceless as the two began to instantly fight upon AP’s recovery). As important as focusing on those aspects of Chopper’s personality can be, the episode’s hints at a droid’s free will/sentience in the Star Wars galaxy was far more interesting. It doesn’t dive too deeply into the subject, but it builds on the previous knowledge we’ve had on how a droid’s mind works, as despite being programmed they can seemingly add new programs to it themselves (i.e. like free will) due to external input/interaction with the world around them.
But this episode wouldn’t have been possible without AP, brought to life by the always excellent voice actor Stephen Stanton (most notable for Tarkin in both Rebels and TCW) and the writer Matt Michnovetz. But it’s Stanton’s tribute to the late, great Alan Rickman (which he confirmed was on purpose) with the dour-sounding voice for the droid that takes the cake, as at first I was wondering if they actually got Rickman to record before his death, considering the lead-time for production on the show. The performance sells AP’s slow change from Empire’s stooge to Rebellion savior as well as the friendship he finds in Chopper’s surprising kindness. He’s already become another welcomed and memorable droid to the canon, as well as hopefully a recurring character in the show. Chopper could use someone else to annoy other than the rest of his crew.
Something I failed to mention in “Shroud of Darkness” was Kanan’s comment about how the Inquisitors are tracking them where ever they go. Since we hadn’t really seen it happen much throughout the season, I didn’t place too much importance on it. Even later that episode, when the Inquisitors arrive on Lothal, I took the Seventh Sister calling it a hunch a little more literally than I should have. Because once the Yost system*, recently selected by the fleet as their best possible base location, is revealed to be a trap by the Empre, suddenly their ability to track the crew and fleet became serious business in my mind. To me, it all seems to point at possibly a mole or traitor somewhere in the fleet’s mists…but who could it be? Introducing a new character to be the mole wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing so late in the season, but it would hit a lot harder if it was someone we knew. I’m ruling out the entire Ghost crew, and I’m pretty sure Commander Sato wouldn’t be it, so that leaves a very small pool of already introduced characters. I absolutely loved seeing Ketsu Onyo again, but is her return here and suggestion of Yost only for it be a trap coincidence or on purpose? Could she not be as reformed as she’s leading everyone to believe? I really hope I’m wrong, but the Empire is keeping tabs on these people somehow, either because of a mole or a new tracking technology (which would honestly feel cheap at this point), so the blame for that has to fall on someone’s/something’s shoulders. There’s one more option, which is pure speculation based on a mostly unsubstantiated rumor, but who better to be revealed as the mastermind tracking the rebels as none other than a certain Legends Admiral?
Here are a few other things:
- *Yost is the system the planet they were looking to take as a base is located. The planet was Berzite, as per the concept art gallery in the episode guide.
- The planet AP and Chopper find for the fleet as a base is named Atollon, where they seem safe…for now.
- Chopper’s antics were hilarious as usual and his blatant disregard for his own safety makes any action scene he gets into unpredictable. I love how he manages to beat up an Imperial officer twice using everything at his disposal, including the leg he so desperately wanted.
- The latest Rebels Recon tries to uncover the mystery of Chopper’s voice.
- The fuel depot the crew stops at in the beginning is absolutely gorgeous!
Who knew friendship and kindness would be so intrical and important to a Chopper-centric episode? And that it would be this good? “The Forgotten Droid,” simply should not be forgotten as an episode worth watching on Star Wars Rebels.
+ Surprisingly heartfelt story driven by droids
+ Chopper and friend save the fledgling rebellion…for now
STAR WARS REBELS REVIEWS:
Season One: Spark of Rebellion | Ep. 2: “Droids In Distress” | 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. 19: “The Mystery of Chopper Base” | Ep. 20: “Twilight of the Apprentice“
Season Three: Step Into Shadows