Star Wars Rebels – Season 2 Episode 16
“The Honourable Ones”
Star Wars Rebels does a story similar to Enemy Mine or any number of science fiction and fantasy TV episodes as Zeb is stuck on a planet with Kallus as his only companion.
There’s a reason that this story appears time and time again in fiction and it’s a really simple one; it works. In terms of setup it’s really easy to do and the characters simply being themselves can create so much compelling drama as they are forced together.
Nothing about this particular episode is new from a structural point of view but it doesn’t need to be as it’s a simple two character drama in essentially a single location. Zeb is the perfect choice to be stuck with Kallus as he has history with him in particular due to his role in the genocide of his people.
This history is explored as they are forced to work together to make sure they stay warm long enough to be rescued by whoever finds them first. The question over why they don’t kill each other is answered fairly quickly through Kallus being too injured to put up much of a fight and Zeb simply being above that. Dialogue isn’t needed to put this across as the two characters have been around long enough to understand the basic traits. Kallus is a self-serving coward and Zeb has a strict code of ethics that he abides by plus he wants to finish the fight that they started.
I like how the episode isn’t afraid to ask really complex questions about the Empire and their methods. Kallus seems to be a product of a training room that is pretty close to brainwashing as he doesn’t even consider what the Empire have done to the natives of Geonosis and actually believes that Zeb would get a fair trial if the Empire find them.
Kallus is naïve for sure and potentially represents many Imperial officers in that regard. They will be taught to follow orders unquestionably and stop seeing the people they are asked to kill as beings with any sort of identity. It’s a cold philosophy but it clearly works in terms of maintaining Imperial dominance of the Galaxy.
Imperial training isn’t complete brainwashing though as Kallus shows signs of questioning things he once took for granted. The fate of the Geonosians is a good case study for that as Kallus clearly didn’t consider it before Zeb brought it up and once he starts to think about it his perspective starts to change. He starts to consider all of the orders he has followed without really considering the consequences of what he was doing and his place within the Empire suddenly seems a lot less secure than before.
Further mention is made of the intentions of the Rebellion which slightly builds on the idea of them potentially becoming another Empire if they succeed in their quest to overthrow them. It isn’t developed in any significant way but the reinforcing of the idea suggests that it’s a theme the show might pursue at some point. I would have liked the intentions of the Rebellion to be used as a contrast as well as a comparison to the Empire so that the relationship between the two organisations could have been explored rather than focusing on the Empire.
Kallus and Zeb’s conversations start to get more personal starting with the origin of his bo-rifle. Zeb assumes that it’s a trophy of a kill he made but Kallus tells him that it was a gift for beating the Lasat Guard. This leads to a story of his entire crew being killed by a Lasat mercenary which led to the Imperial attack on the entire race. It’s definitely a harsh escalation but undoubtedly a powerful example for the rest of the Galaxy to observe.
Despite losing his entire crew, Kallus didn’t hold it against the entire species and was only doing what he was told when attacking their home world. I imagine there was some mental gymnastics done to justify his actions as being just part of his job in order to distance himself from the horrors he had a big part in committing.
Voice acting was of a really high standard in this episode. David Oyelowo had such an easy job with Kallus as all he had to be was charismatic and villainous. This was accomplished with ease and allowed Kallus to be a memorable if thin antagonist before now. This episode showed what Oyelowo could do with this character and added the necessary depth to him. Steve Blum compliments this perfectly by playing Zeb as playful but with lots of dignity. I like that he tries to hate Kallus but can’t quite bring himself to. This definitely sticks out as one of the best examples of voice acting in this show.
The episode was no slouch with action sequences. I really enjoyed the early set piece involving the construction of the Death Star and the battles against the creatures in the cave were really creative. Both Zeb and Kallus show themselves to be resourceful and actually make a good team. This episode generally fired on all cylinders.
I found the ending to be very powerful. Zeb receives a warm and friendly welcome from his friends who rescue him where Kallus receives a really cold reception when back on his ship. Kallus returning to his sparsely decorated room with none of his identity anywhere in it as he quietly contemplates the life he leads was really powerful.
There’s a real opportunity to give Kallus more depth and have him question his allegiance to the Empire while working with them. If Darth Vader doesn’t kill him for being incompetent at their next meeting then it’ll be interesting to see him asked to do something that will cause the death of innocent people. What will he do now that his eyes have been opened slightly?
An excellent episode that develops recurring villain Kallus in really fascinating ways. His role within the Empire and what his orders actually mean are topics explored in detail. More work could have been done to question the intentions of the Rebellion but this was a great character piece.
• the development of Kallus
• really creative action sequences
• Steve Blum and David Oyelowo’s acting
• focus on the Empire without comparing it to the Rebellion