On this Very Special Episode of Star Wars: Rebels, Zeb and Agent Kallus realize they aren’t as different as they thought. Or something.
The moving pieces in this episode are more set dressing to facilitate some lightspeed character progression for Zeb and our favorite inept Imperial agent, Kallus. A raid by the Ghost crew goes badly, and they’re forced to leave without Zeb as things get hot and hairy when Kallus’ men reveal that yes, it’s a trap. Zeb punches out on an escape pod with Kallus hitching a ride, but things go south and they wound up landing on the moon below the station.
Did I mention that moon belongs to Geonosis? Yeah.
So they crash onto an -extremely- cold part of the planet and have to work together to not die of exposure. Or the giant dinosaur thing that wants to eat them badly. It’s really not a good day for Zeb and Kallus. Forced to cooperate, they manage to activate a locator beacon, haul themselves out of a cavern, not get eaten, and learn some valuable lessons about themselves along the way. When rescue shows up, Kallus chooses not to be rescued by the Ghost crew and Zeb chooses not to force the issue and take him prisoner. Later, Kallus is rescued by the Empire and there’s a quiet moment in which he seems to reflect, alone, that maybe Zeb isn’t so bad after all, and maybe the Empire isn’t as great as he thought.
The moving pieces in this episode were a lot of fun, as they always provide Zeb with some chances for witty one-liners. I admit that the odd-couple setup for Zeb and Kallus had me interested, and I appreciated that this episode took the chance to do some background building for Kallus and just what he did to the Lasat. Unfortunately for me where it fell flat was Kallus suddenly having… well, a heart. Throughout the show, he’s been this (forgive me) cartoonish,
mutton chop mustache twirling, kind-of-but-really incompetent villain. There wasn’t a whole lot leading up to this contemplative and has a heart Kallus.
I think, though, that leads into a bigger issue I’ve had with Rebels this season. Every week is, to borrow from X-Files parlance, a Monster of the Week episode. There hasn’t been a real overarching story that connects the episodes together. Each week is sort of a one off. Maybe if Rebels this season was constructed in a more Carter or Whedonesque fashion (Connected episodes with the Monster of the Week episodes punctuating them on occasion), Kallus having a heart works better. More consistent arcs that dole out the character development in smaller chunks makes an episode like this one feel more believable.
There’s precedence for animated shows like that. Young Justice, Avatar: TLA, Legend of Korra. Unfortunately, those shows seem to be magnetically linked to the cancellation axe. It’s a bummer, because as good as Rebels is (and it’s very good), it just feels like it could be better and more cohesive as a whole.
If it was, episodes like this would have carried more weight and felt a little less like it was just out of left field.