Star Wars Rebels began airing in its usual time slot last night at 9pm on Disney XD with its very first regular sized episode: Droids in Distress. How does the next episode hold up after such a fantastic pilot? Read on for a spoiler filled review and find out!
The Ghost is running low on funds so they agree to take a job that involves intercepting a shipment of highly dangerous weapons to the Empire. The job seems simple enough until Zeb discovers what the weapons are… and two familiar droids wander into the path of the Ghost’s crew.
Whereas Spark of Rebellion did a fantastic job of bringing viewers in with everything we’ve come to expect from Star Wars, Droids in Distress sets the stage for how Rebels will proceed from here on out. Spark of Rebellion gave us a heist, a space battle, some lightsaber theatrics, and some good old fashion banter. Droids in Distress scales back a little bit and focuses more on a singular heist and how they see it through. It focuses on day to day life aboard the Ghost and how everyone interacts. It takes a moment to let us get to know a few of the characters better. And it does all of this very well.
The time jump between Spark of Rebellion and Droids in Distress feels a little bit abrupt although it’s never established how long it’s been. My best guess is that it has been at least a week if not a few. There seem to be more established dynamics between Ezra and other members of the crew that wouldn’t have just sprung up in a day or two. This leads into the one thing about the episode that I didn’t necessarily like. What felt a little weak was the initial inclusion of Threepio and Artoo. Even after the final reveal, it still doesn’t quite track for why they are working for the Empire at the start. Both of these things felt a bit jarring and like I’d missed something.
What Rebels does do well though in addition to telling an overall enjoyable story is really delve into their characters. There are plenty shows that might just offer up a handful of lines about a character’s tragic backstory and leave it at that. Rebels, on the other hand, lets Zeb’s tragic backstory really inform his actions throughout this episode. It’s impossible to not feel his anguish as he sees the weapons that slaughtered his people. His heartbreak really makes the audience sympathize for him and make him feel that much more real. (It also gives us a lot of insight into what a complete and utter jerk Agent Kallus is but that’s not nearly as important.)
Twice, Rebels pulls two tricks or rather two characters out of the bag that will be sure to thrill Star Wars fans. First, we’re treated to seeing RX-24, the droid pilot best known for being the pilot in the Star Tours ride and also known as Captain Rex, at the helm of a shuttle between Lothal and Garell. It’s a fun little shout out to the fandom and certainly gives hope for other relatively obscure elements of the Star Wars universe to make their way in to Rebels. The second cameo was a much more expected one: Bail Organa. Bail’s inclusion was beyond wonderful for an Alderaan fan along with being a great sign for Rebels bringing in other established characters from this time frame. I can only hope that we’ll see plenty more of Bail Organa in the future especially since he seems to be keeping an eye on the various groups of freedom fighters.
A few assorted thoughts about the episode:
- It’s incredibly fun to watch Chopper and Artoo interact or rather squabble. (I disliked the Droids arc of The Clone Wars but I could watch an entire episode of these two teaming up to fight the Empire.)
- Has there ever been a more “totally Space Married” exchange than “Can we discuss this later?” “That’s fine, love, but we will discuss it.”
- Vizago is clearly trying to be this show’s Hondo but I’d prefer Actual Hondo Ohnaka.
- Zeb’s duel with Kallus was fantastically choreographer and had the right amount of dialogue mixed in.
- The use of the Star Destroyer at the start and Tantive IV at the end is just fantastic. Absolutely bloody fantastic.
At the end of the day, Droids in Distress is a great follow up episode that really delves into its characters, adds in sly winks to the fandom, and cements the show as a must watch for any Star Wars fan.