On the D/L – Star Wars Rebels
Season 1 Episode 2 – “Droids in Distress”
The second episode of Star Wars Rebels starts off with our heroes running away from a Star Destroyer that is shooting at them. Something of a homage to the original Star Wars which started much the same way. Following this they accept a job to steal some weapons and sell them on for enough credits to keep the ship running. Naturally none of this goes according to plan and Agent Kallus intervenes.
I found it really interesting that the episode explored the ethical ramifications of the job they accept. Their mission is to acquire some T7 Ion Disruptors, a weapon that causes Zeb some trepidation as he has personally witnessed those weapons be used to commit atrocities against his people. We find out that Zeb is one of the last of his kind and that’s a pain that he barely hides. He suggests that they should get the weapons out of circulation rather than have them used in further brutal attacks. This begins something of a domino effect as we see that each of the characters have some kind of a personal hatred for the Empire. We find out Zeb’s here so I’m sure that more will come out about the other characters as the series progresses.
There are some guest characters from the film franchise in this episode in the guise of R2-D2 and C-3PO as well as an appearance by Bale Organa towards the end. This felt very much like a stunt to me as the appearances felt a little shoehorned into the narrative. The story really didn’t need the two droids to appear and I feel it’s a bit soon in the series’ life to be showing characters that we know. I’m happy enough with the group that we’ve got and I’m enjoying getting to know them. Bale Organa’s appearance was good but I’m confused by him mentioning the word “Rebels” as if it never occurred to him before, there’s quite a few stories about how the Rebel Alliance got started and it being summoned by this small crew of people will just strain credulity.
The action in this episode was excellent. Zeb’s fight against Agent Kallus was incredible and the personal stakes fueling the battle made it even better. Kallus was the man who gave the order to attack Zeb’s people and he knows that revealing this will give him the upper hand in a fight. Sure enough Zeb’s anger gets the better of him but a force push from Ezra saves him.
Emotional instability is at the heart of this episode and it gets a lot of people in trouble such as Zeb’s aforementioned anger making him sloppy in battle and Ezra’s outburst that causes him to use the force. I like that this helps Kanan to decide to make Ezra’s training a priority, it’s well known among Star Wars fans that unchecked emotions can be bad for force sensitive people so it makes sense that Kanan would want to monitor this and prevent Ezra’s descent to the dark side before it’s too late. Of course according to Yoda, Ezra is too old to be trained but seems that there’s little choice given that the Jedi are all but wiped out.
Despite all the heavy handed themes the episode keeps everything light and it never stops being fun. The characters are a blast to watch and interact really naturally. They are all likeable in their own ways and I want to learn more about them. When the episode approaches darker subject matter it’s handled well and still fits into the overall tone of the narrative.
A well executed Star Wars story with strong character moments and exciting action scenes. The inclusion of characters from the Original and Prequel trilogy is unnecessary this early on and feels like an awkward wink to the audience. The episode managed to juggle dark subject matter with a fun story where all of the characters play to their strengths.