Star Wars Rebels premiered with an hour long movie, “Spark of Rebellion,” but the first actual episode of the series dropped on Disney XD tonight. “Droids in Distress” brought a few familiar faces into the series and featured plenty of Firefly-esque action. And there’s one giant easter egg for Disney fans!
Whatever else Star Wars Rebels does, it will always keep a piece of my heart because it made a character from Star Tours canon. Posters for Star Tours appeared in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but this is the first time we’ve seen a similar transport service in action. Our rebels boarded a shuttle going from Lothal to Garel, and the pilot was none other than RX-24, a/k/a Rex. Just like the Disney Parks ride! He’s even voiced by Paul Reubens and everything. Be still my heart.
That fangirl moment aside, “Droids in Distress” featured a moment where saw a seed of the Rebel Alliance planted. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The crew of the Ghost needs money because hey, fuel for the ship and food for its crew is sort of necessary. They decide to take another job with Vizago (Keith Szarabajka) even though he’s definitely a sketchy character. The gig starts on a Star Tours shuttle and for a moment, I thought the rebels were going to pull a train job style heist. Not quite though. The theft happens on Garel.
The plot to learn the location of the weapons is elaborate. Chopper acts more annoying than usual – and it’s hilarious – in order to get all the droids on board sent to the back of the transport. That includes the translators for Amda Wabo (Steve Blum), the Aqualish traveling with Lothal’s Prime Minister (Kath Soucie). Those translators just happen to be C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2. Well, Threepio translates while R2-D2 is there being helpful.
With Threepio out of the way, Sabine (Tiya Sircar) volunteers her assistance with translating for the Prime Minister, and she learns the locations of the weapons they’re going after. So far we’ve seen that Sabine knows Basic, Shyriiwook, the Aqualish language, and she’s able to understand R2-D2’s beeps and boops. She blows things up and she’s a linguist. Most impressive.
Before we get off the shuttle, take a look at these Ralph McQuarrie art nods. This passenger resembles an early concept design for Han Solo (a similar looking character was also in Tarkintown in “Spark of Rebellion”):
And see that droid in the back right? He’s a near copy of McQuarrie’s concept art for C-3PO:
Once on Garel, the rebels swoop into the correct vault while the Prime Minister and Wabo go off on a goose chase. They’re busted before too long, but Ezra (Taylor Gray) gets to show off some of his thieving moves. It’s clear he’s already at home as part of the team, and he’s made himself valuable. After a brief fight that features Zeb (Blum) kicking lots of Stormtrooper butt, the Ghost hightails it back to Lothal with R2-D2, C-3PO, and a bunch of dangerous T-7 ion distruptors aboard.
The hand-off to Vizago doesn’t go smoothly. Halfway through unloading Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo) and a small Imperial force show up because silly C-3PO sent a distress signal. Vizago runs without paying, and the rebels decide to destroy the powerful T-7 ion disruptors rather than leave them for the Empire to grab. Turns out R2-D2 and Threepio were on a mission to take the weapons out of circulation anyway so R2-D2 and Sabine work together to destroy them and use them against the Stormtroopers and walkers after them. Agent Kallus nearly takes down Zeb, but Ezra uses his Force powers to shut callous Kallus down. Whew.
Let’s pause before we get to the amazing ending and take a closer look at what we learned tonight. The show addresses the fact that Zeb is one of the last Lasat, and it turns out that T-7 ion disruptors were responsible for killing many members of his species. Zeb’s reaction to seeing the weapons says it all, and I wanted to punch Kallus on one of his stupid mutton chops for needling Zeb about the incident. It’s a mark of excellent storytelling that I already feel so protective of Zeb and everyone on Ghost.
Then there’s Ezra. He and Chopper offer up plenty of humor, and it balances the times when Ezra acts a touch whiny. And he is acting that way just a little, but it comes across as more endearing than annoying. He is super excited about starting Jedi training, despite knowing that it’s not a safe time to be a Jedi. While part of that desire to learn definitely comes from being so young – if you were a kid, I imagine learning you have Force abilities would be about the coolest thing ever – but when he saved Zeb, I think he also realized that learning to control his skills could benefit others.
Now, about the last couple of minutes of “Droids in Distress.” The rebels return C-3PO and R2-D2 to their owner Bail Organa (Phil LaMarr), and he kept his identity a secret, paid the rebels (no one’s starving, whew!), and then turned to R2-D2 to learn more about the crew of the Ghost. At this point, it’s likely Bail, Mon Mothma, and others have already loosely formed the Rebel Alliance because it’s only five years before A New Hope. But, it’s hard to imagine that the actions of our rebels don’t eventually tie into the organization that will take down the Empire and seeing a hint of that gave me chills.
What did you think of “Droids in Distress?” Head to the comments and let me know.