– Spoiler Review –
In Star Wars Rebels‘ latest, “The Honorable Ones,” Zeb and Agent Kallus must put aside their differences and pasts to survive a dangerous situation together. It ends up being a fantastic follow-up to Zeb’s “Legends of the Lasat” episode and provides some surprisingly good character development for Kallus.
Zeb is cut off from the crew when a nearly successful trap is lain by Agent Kallus in a Imperial construction facility above Geonosis. Fighting his way to an escape pod, Zeb is joined by Kallus just as the pod launches, where they continue to duke it out, eventually damaging the pod and crash landing it on Bahryn, an icy moon of Geonosis. Stranded together, the two must contend with each other, the elements, and the Bonzami (basically, dinosaurs!).
I’ll be honest: I’ve not found Agent Kallus to be a very compelling or interesting villain so far on this show (which should be evident in several of my past reviews). It’s a shame then, considering the caliber of talent they have voicing him, David Oyelowo, how he’s largely been the only competent Imperial the crew has faced that doesn’t have the Force, one of the few to get a name and face, and he has those magnificent mutton chops. All that changed in “The Honorable Ones,” where they finally put Kallus and his mostly wasted potential to some damn fine use.
A confrontation between Kallus and Zeb has been brewing since the ‘second’ episode of the series, “Droids in Distress,” (it’s the first if you don’t count Spark of Rebellion as an episode) where these two faced off in a grueling melee battle that didn’t go so well for Zeb. While they’ve had run-ins since, none of them have been on a such a close and personal level as what takes place within this episode. In the roughly season and a half since, Zeb has had some character development which peels away a layer or two of his hatred for the Empire/Kallus, as he’s learned to let go of the anger he harbors at himself for the decimation the Empire brought to his home planet, Lasan, once he realizes his species still has a future on Lirasan (as seen in “Legends of the Lasat”). Kallus however hasn’t had much (or any) character development, but had previously claimed responibility for the use of disruptors in the slaughter of Lasan, so seeing these two meet, especially now that Zeb has made peace with said tragedy, sounds like quite the interesting set up. Anyone who watched “Honorable” is likely to agree: it lived up to its potential, and then some.
At first their interactions are as you’d expect: Kallus exalting the efficiency and power of the Empire and Zeb countering with the rebellion’s growing strength thanks to people who’ve had enough of the Empire. While the first olive branch made between the two is Zeb’s decision to give mercy to the injured Kallus so they could ‘fight properly when he heals,’ Zeb giving the heated meteorite to Kallus sets the stage for their begrudging detente in the icy cave. And once Zeb’s attempts at climbing out to get the pod’s transponder on the surface fail and the two end up fighting off a bonzami together, they start to find some interesting middle ground between them. It starts with an argument about what happened on Geonosis, a planet once teeming with billions of bugs, now suddenly lifeless, starts making Kallus question his faith once he realizes the answers might not be something he wants to hear or can even rationalize anymore. Because, as he reveals some of his history, there’s been much that he has had to rationalize while fighting for the Empire.
Zeb makes a splint for Kallus out of the latter’s bo-rifle, though not before expressing anger at Kallus for taking it as a trophy. However, Kallus reveals it was given to him by a Lasat Guardsman who “died with honor,” something Zeb mentions is actually the “Bu-san kira,” (my spelling, by the way) their warrior way to give their weapon to a superior foe. Kallus only has hatred for the Lasat because his first mission ended terribly, as a Lasat mercenary on Onderon (working with Saw Gerrera!) wiped out his entire team, despite being injured, but left him alive. His hatred from that Lasat’s actions made him lie about being responsible for the slaughter on Lasan, where even he wasn’t quite ready for the massacre that happened as the Empire attempted to make an example out of them. As warriors, Zeb and Kallus both reach an understanding as they come to realize both sides have their reasons for fighting, even if they don’t agree with their methods or overall goal, an important thing to remember even in the days of the rebels against the Empire.
Zeb doesn’t exactly forgive Kallus, nor does he reveal anything about Lirasan, but his new found sense of purpose about the future of his species makes him extremely zen about the whole experience; Heck, he even basically offers Kallus asylum with the rebels, promising to treat him nicely when the Ghost shows up to rescue Zeb. It’s Zeb’s faith in his friends, his trusting nature, and tempting offer which force Kallus to think harder than he really wants to about his place in the galaxy, as his return to the Imperials holds only emptiness and a very apparent lack of friendship. Much like Zeb’s development after “Legends” has been a permanent change to his character, I extremely hope the same holds true for Kallus going forward. He now has the potential for more interesting storylines, as he could end up sacrificing himself to help save the crew in an impossible situation or he could become an important component in the growing Rebellion’s military structure. At the very least, he could at least go easier on the crew in the future, something which might put him under fire from his superiors. Either way, he suddenly went from mutton chopped villainy to interestingly layered person and I couldn’t be happier with the development…as long as something comes from it. At first I thought it might be too little, too late for Kallus, Oyelowo’s performance against Steve Blum’s, along with the excellent writing for the episode, make his delayed character development work very well.
This episode was an exceptional use of the ‘Enemy Mine‘ trope, something Star Wars has been focusing a little more on in recent years. In The Clone Wars S3, an episode titled “Heroes on Both Sides,” revealed that not all Separatists were General Grievous’ or Count Dooku’s, but instead people fighting for their ideals for a free galaxy who ironically saw what was coming from miles away because that’s exactly what Palpatine wanted them to see, as it gave them excellent conviction to keep the fight going. It was an eye opening experience for Ahsoka Tano and fans alike and signaled a change in storytelling chops for the show. In the exciting Lost Stars novel, the book gave us a look at the Galactic Civil War from not only the Rebel’s side, but from the Empire’s too. One of the main characters, Ciena Ree, is a hopeful, idealistic girl, who’s unflinching support of oaths allows the Empire’s condition to whittle away at her, leaving her full of simple rationalizations so she can even live with herself anymore (and it’s ‘twist’ ending has one of the best examples of the Empire’s conditioning, yet). It causes a great rift between her and her childhood love, Thane, and they are forced to work together on a handful of occasions, in heartbreaking fashion of course. I don’t mind Star Wars mining (I couldn’t help that pun if I wanted to) this again, as it’s given us some eye opening splotches of grey in the universe.
Here are a few other things:
- Wondering what happened on Geonosis? It was first revealed in Darth Vader #4, when Doctor Aphra and Vader visit the planet to procure a droid factory hidden underground, that Geonosis had been sterilized some time before. It’s still unclear when the bombing took place, but if you’re looking for a reason, you don’t have to look far: the Geonosians were the ones who came up with the Death Star and the Empire would literally do anything to cover up the construction of their superweapon, meaning the genocide of a species isn’t too far out of reach (It looks like we’ll revisit what happened on the planet later in the series, per Henry Gilroy in the Rebels Recon). We’ve known the Empire was building the Death Star, at one point, above the planet thanks to the novel Tarkin. And with Rogue One focusing on the theft of the weapon’s plans, could the Ghost’s crew be responsible for finding out about it in the first place? Could a crossover really happen, as hinted at back at Celebration Anaheim 2015? Either way, watching the new canon slowly connect has been an entertaining and rewarding experience!
- Ezra having to yell at Chopper for suggesting they would actually want Zeb back was another hilarious moment for the droid, who got to be heroic by taking down an Imperial astromech droid (who reminded me a bit of R3-S6, the traitorous droid from TCW‘s first season)
- It was nice to see Rex again, who hasn’t had much to do once he and Kanan made nice back in “Stealth Strike.”
- Saw Gerrera was in the S5 opening Onderon arc for The Clone Wars, where he and his sister where being groomed by Ahsoka, Anakin, and Obi-Wan to successfully take back their own planet without an invasion army by using guerrilla tactics and getting the people on their side. Steela was going to be the leader, as she rightfully should’ve been, but she tragically died in the arc’s final episode. It’s really neat to hear Saw is still fighting, though employing a Lasat mercenary with such brutality doesn’t exactly speak well for how he’s been as a leader since.
- Don’t forget to check out the official site’s episode guide for the entertaining inspiration behind the names of the icy dinosaurs and other such goodness.
The character focus Star Wars Rebels has taken as of late as only gotten astonishingly better with each passing episode and “The Honorable Ones” is no exception.
+ Zeb and Kallus coming to an understanding
+ Zeb’s consistent development
+ Kallus’ first character development
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. 17: “Shroud of Darkness” | Ep. 18: “The Forgotten Droid” | Ep. 19: “The Mystery of Chopper Base” | Ep. 20: “Twilight of the Apprentice“
Season Three: Step Into Shadows