I faced about three weeks of technical difficulties (read: no Wi-Fi and no access to Disney XD), but my reviews are back! Ever since LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures started to move forward from setting up the plot and context of the LEGO canon, I’ve been more and more excited for the continuing adventures of the Freemaker family. This episode tones down a bit of the goofy humor and tries to stuff the 22 minutes with more plot and more adventure. Does this shift in tone work for the show? Read on to find out!
The tone of “Peril on Kashyyyk” felt a lot different than the past episodes have. It felt a little more rushed and a little less funny. (Maybe it felt rushed because there didn’t seem to be time made to fit in more humor?) For what it’s worth, I can’t tell if the show was aiming to change its tone, or if it just wasn’t as funny as earlier episodes were. There were still a number of gags: Kordi is still obsessed with making money, and she defends this episode’s macguffin (a wroshyr wood dashboard) with her life. Rowan’s attempts at communicating with Wookiees in Shyriiwook, with mixed results, was as cute as it was entertaining. The episode did have a stronger plot (and a more time intensive one), so they may have had to sacrifice some of the jokes in order to fit more storytelling in. I didn’t mind what I perceived to be a shift in tone, but I (shockingly, for some) wouldn’t mind it if the show continued with the slapstick comedy style it started with.
This episode started off innocently enough: the Freemaker family, down on their luck again, are commissioned by a crazy rich man, Inacio Worton, to fix his crazy expensive ship. As fun as it was to see an N-1 Naboo Fighter a few episodes back in “Zander’s Joyride”, Worton brings a less interesting ship, more remniscent of Return of the Jedi than the Prequels. This is still a strong point of the show: the Original and Prequel Trilogy meet and blend perfectly in the LEGO format. An earlier episode can bring in a Naboo fighter in the same episode as a Star Destroyer and mix perfectly (and as Ryan reminded me: Shattered Empire did this very well, too!). This episode can bring us to Kashyyyk and show us a ship with OT-level sensibilities and blend them in such a way that it feels like probably the most coherent universe to date. Inacio commissions the Freemakers, offering them a huge sum of money, to build him a custom dashboard made out of wroshyr wood. Kordi is keen on accepting this bid, even after she hears that Kashyyyk is being held under a blockade and that they were only offered so much money because they would have to run the blockade in order to earn it. With blockade running being shown as a critical skill for pilots in The Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Phantom Menace, it was cool to see Kordi being trusted with piloting skills we’ve seen Anakin or Hera accomplish.
The blockade brings our minds to the main canon, reminding us of the Wookiees that the Ghost crew saved or the coming story on Kashyyyk to be told in Aftermath: Life Debt. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: this series could easily be nested into the main series. I loved seeing the inclusion of the Wookiees and their unfriendliness to humans because of their interactions with the Imperials administering the blockade. Not only are we shown more of the plight of the Wookiees, but the day-to-day operations are being handled by the Trandoshans. This is another cool nod to the canon, and a cool acknowledgement of the ripple effect of The Clone Wars on any further Star Wars stories.
Though the blockade seems like it can’t be broken, Kordi is obsessed with getting the wood for Warton so they can pay their rent on time. Thankfully for her, the blockade is being overseen by Lt. Durpin: an Imperial who’s completely and utterly unconcerned about getting a promotion or attracting literally any attention from the upper brass. At all. Though his crew insists he deserves a promotion, Durpin fights them tooth and nail to make sure that he doesn’t receive any notice. This way, he tells his staff, nothing bad could possibly happen to him. The only Imperials who are killed in action are those who are promoted and fail. His fear of Darth Vader, though funny in the show, is actually a good point I would love to see developed in a canon piece. This episode aired while Entertainment Weekly posted a week’s worth of updates on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, so it was interesting to compare Lt. Durpin with Dir. Orson Krennic, who is apt to fight for the attention of those above him. Because of his attitude toward promotions, and keeping everything quiet, he accidentally lets the Freemaker family cut through the blockade because he doesn’t send enough ships to stop them in order to not draw attention to the problems he’s facing. It was a clever way to help them break the blockade without running the risk of making the Imperials seem too silly.
When the Freemakers land, they immediately run into Wookiees, much to the dismay of Roger when they begin to take him apart! The initial disastrous meeting is, well, kind of resolved, by Rowan, who’s middling grasp of Shyriiwook allows him to cut a deal with the Wookiees. Though Rowan doesn’t speak Shyriiwook very well, he convinces his family to forego the use of an RA-7 translator droid and trust in his ability. Kordi learns that you can download translation programs, and downloads the program into Roger’s memory, but Rowan uses Roger’s fear of Wookiees as an excuse to show off his skills, keeping Roger out of the conversation. Rowan’s meager skills in talking to Wookiees allows him to cut a deal with them, but doesn’t quite get the details right: according to him, the Wookiees will give the family some worshyr wood as long as they rescue his daughter from the Trandoshan slavers who occupy the planet working for the Imperials.
The mistranslation comes when it turns out that there wasn’t a princess at all, but a prince! This prince is excited to help the Freemakers get out of the Trandoshan stronghold. The stronghold is safe, for now, as long as the prince is still held prisoner as no Wookiee would dare attack the compound if they might accidentally get the prince stuck in the crossfire. By escaping the compound, the prince knows he can help the Wookiees push for their freedom from the Trandoshan overlords. The prince and Rowan have an immediate rapport, and an immediate thirst for adventure. During their escape, Rowan notes that there is a kyber crystal in the compound! The only problem is that he senses the crystal too late: the Wookiees have already mounted their offensive.
Now, because a lot of fans might be interested in watching the episode, but since it has such a limited release I won’t spoil any of the show (somehow, there are still nine whole minutes to go!) I could note some more interesting aspects of the storyline, with nine more minutes to go, but I would wait until it is more widely available to view to discuss it. But I will say this: all of the storylines are wrapped up in a totally believable way. The show is committed to telling good stories as much as it is to humor, but the stories never end in anything…too unbelievable. (Well, once you put aside the sinking Cloud City when it’s thrusters were turned off. But even that doesn’t seem to be *too* outside the realm of believability.) This is another strength of the show: though the humor is accessible to kids, the story is definitely enjoyable enough for adults.
It might have been evident from the post above, but I wasn’t completely in love with this episode as I have been with the last few. I loved the story, and some of the gags were funny, and I would love to see Lt. Durpin literally translated into the canon universe exactly as he was presented here. The problem for me is that some of the gags grew old: Kordi, obsessed with money, is more concerned about protecting the worshyr dashboard than her family for a while. While her redemption in the episode was nice, it almost made her too…unlikeable for a while to want that redemption. She definitely needs an episode focused on her sooner rather than later. I was also really disappointed that Naare played such an insignificant role in this episode. Other than these two dislikes, I didn’t have a lot of other real concerns. I just, honestly, wasn’t as in love with it, and I’m not sure if my feelings as a whole have cooled or if the show has naturally settled into a different, lower bar.
With an episode jam-packed with a heavy plot, fun new Imperial characters, and the continuing search for the kyber crystals, The Freemaker Adventures shows very few signs of slowing down their very pro-Star Wars and pro-fun narrative. This episode may not have been the best episode, but it was a good episode following a lot of great episodes. The show is still very much worth watching, even if they stay on this ever so slightly lower level.
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Darth Vader: The Shu-Torun War