STAR WARS REBELS Channels the Past But Spins Its Wheels

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Episode 314 “Warhead”
Written by Gary Whitta
Directed by Bosco Ng

[photos: Lucasfilm]

This week, we get an episode focused on Zeb (Steve Blum), who’s left in charge of the base while we get plenty of callbacks to the original trilogy. Because it’s about time we got more connections to the overall Star Wars universe.

Callback #1: Imperial Star Destroyers launching probes to search for the hidden Rebel base.

Callback #2: an Imperial infiltrator droid disguised to look like the protocol droid designed by Ralph McQuarrie.

Callback #3 (more of a cameo): Wedge and Hobbie showing up at the beginning of the show.

The infiltrator droid, EXD-9 (David Acord), was probably the best of the three, since it falls in line with the rest of the design aesthetic for Rebels from the get-go, using McQuarrie’s designs for a lot of the environment. Not too sure about the color of the droid, but that’s a minor quibble. Seeing it pop open like a Decepticon was a fun bit, too. But the infiltrator droid was just a means to an end.

The entire episode, again, feels like filler. Putting pieces in place to pay off later. At least, that’s what I hope they’re doing. Zeb and Chopper get some bonding time with AP-5 (Stephen Stanton), and the whole incident brings Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) closer to finding the Rebel base and the spy he knows is among his crew.

I still think having Agent Callus (David Oyelowo) as Fulcrum is not the best idea, but it plays to whatever plot the writers have developed for the season, I guess. And that bugs me about most of these episodes. They feel like Hand of the Writer, this goes here, that goes there, only to make sure some end point is achieved. The entire point of this episode was to get from point A (launching probes) to point B (droid comes back), with everything in the middle just filler.

Fun filler, to be certain. AP-5 and Chopper ganging up on Zeb is worth the price of admission. It just seems like while there’s an overall story arc for the season — Thrawn flushing out the Rebels and Fulcrum — the individual stories within the episodes sometimes don’t feel like they’re going anywhere.

It’s possible my expectations have been too high. As with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’d like the promise of a shared one-universe everything-is-canon mode to be more than just a cameo here and there. Yes, Saw Gerrera showed up last week, and in Rogue One, and before that way back in The Clone Wars, but that’s one example that points out the absence of same throughout the series.

And I still think they’re wasting Thrawn…

 

Star Wars Rebels airs Saturday nights at 8:30/7:30c on Disney XD.

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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