Star Wars: Rebels, Episode 3, 'Droids in Distress' Review

10/15/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments

If you are looking for episode 2 of Star Wars Rebels, you won't find it.  Sparks of Rebellion is technically considered episodes 1 and 2, so episode 3 is the third episode, despite being the second release in the series.


Star Wars Rebels wastes no time in taking a deeper dive into the central characters.  Episode 3, Droids in Distress, jumps into Zeb's backstory, adding some surprising depth to the character and also showing the show may not hinge on themes that are as childish as some were concerned it would.

Rebels does a phenomenal job at jumping right into the fray, and it definitely feels like a continuation of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, taking the momentum of that series, and continuing in a new (but familiar setting.  So far, everything that was good about The Clone Wars is present, but where The Clone Wars was immersed in the world of the prequel trilogy, Rebels is wrapped in the sounds and visual aesthetics of the original trilogy.  I would say it's a must watch for any Star Wars fan.

The remainder of this review will contain spoilers for just about anything Star Wars.

Sparks of Rebellion did a good job of establishing the need-to-knows about each crew member of The Ghost, so this episode carries each of those characters, but also dives more into Zeb's backstory, and also brings back some familiar faces.

You have to eat to live, and you need money to eat.  The crew of The Ghost is in need of some new income, so they take on a mission to intercept another imperial shipment.  Along the way, our characters bump into R2-D2 and C-3PO—who happen to be on a similar secret mission themselves—and the seeds of an organized rebellion appear to be sewn.

As it turns out, the shipment is for some prototype disruptor rifles.  The same rifles used to nearly eradicate Zeb's people, the Lasat, and exile the remainder from their home planet.  Obviously, this makes the mission quite personal to Zeb, who shows off some of his warrior training as he takes on about 10 stormtroopers on his own, and goes face to face with Agent Kallus—who it turns out was instrumental in giving the order to exterminate the Lasat.

Ezra is an interesting character, who could easily be the weakest part of the show, but they manage to make him useful and use the other characters to elevate his maturity instead of having him drag everyone else down.  He apparently has a lot of innate force sensitivity, but no formal training.  He demonstrates the ability to tap into the force a few times this episode, but—according to Kanan—we'll see him start formal Jedi training (which we've barely seen on screen in any Star Wars installment to date), so it'll be exciting to witness, especially considering the fate of both characters are unsure after A New Hope.

One plot point established in the A New Dawn novel, is that Kanan and Hera have a romantic relationship.  This point gave me a bit of pause, because I feel like it would undermine the team as a whole, but their relationship is, fortunately, demonstrated as very assumed and subtle.  This romance could definitely serve for some interesting story down the road--especially in light of Kanan's re-emerging Jedi nature--but it is not a distraction at this time.

The end of the episode gives us another new face with Bail Organa, as R2 and 3PO are sold back to him, but it turns out R2 recorded everything and the episode closes with Bail asking R2 to show him the "rebels."  It's unclear if there is an organized underground rebellion at this time, but Bail is definitely interested in either starting one, or bringing the crew of The Ghost into the fold.

Tonally, Rebels continues to nail it.  It hits all the high points of The Clone Wars, but we get familiar sound effects and visual styles, but it maintains some clear ties to the style of the Prequel Trilogy, making the show--so far--a phenomenal bridge between two generations of Star Wars.

We're bound to continue to see some more familiar faces through the rest of the season.  Considering how well Rebels has connected the existing Star Wars properties, the idea of revisiting characters and places from the existing universe is definitely exciting.

Although not all faces have to be familiar.  We have yet to get significant screen time from new (and potentially franchise impacting) characters, such as the Inquisitor.  The show is definitely biding its time and not pulling every trick out of the hat immediately, so watching the slow build over the remaining episodes is very exciting.

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