Star Wars is a cinematic icon, but it is much more than its movies. Blaine and Josh dive deep into the universe of Star Wars Rebels, the fantastic animated show on Disney XD, with reviews of the third season of this exciting series. As a show aimed at kids, but also clearly for the kid in every adult Star Wars fan, they’ll also have a discussion section to talk about the themes covered in each episode.
In Warhead, Zeb, Chopper, and AP-5 are left behind on Atollon while the rest of the Ghost crew conducts a training exercise. Zeb soon encounters an protocol droid and takes him to their base, where he is revealed to be an Imperial E-XD infiltrator droid on a reconnaissance mission. The droid’s humanoid form morphs, revealing a deadly arsenal cloaked beneath his once unassuming appearance, and thus Zeb and his droid companions must work together to hunt down this deadly Imperial menace. But when cantankerous Lassat does manage to shut down the E-XD unit, he and his companions are greeted with another surprise: The droid is wired to explode, destroying a large portion of Chopper Base. The mission quickly changes, as Zeb, Chopper, and AP-5 hurriedly work together to wire the Imperial droid to return to its ship and then detonate. The plan works. Zeb and his droid friends have kept Chopper Base from being discovered . . . or so it seems. As Warhead comes to a close, we see Thrawn informing Kallus that he has, thanks to the E-XD droids, narrowed down the location of the Ghost crew. Foreboding, dirge-like organ music dominates the soundtrack as the episode comes to a close, reminding us of what happens to a rebel group when the come face-to-face with Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Warhead is the kind of episode about which I suspect many fans have and will continue to express some degree of frustration—dissatisfaction, even. It’s not a major story arc episode, and right now (after that incredible mid-season trailer) it seems like many viewers are ready to skip ahead to the so-called good stuff. That’s understandable. Additionally, Warhead is not particularly replete with insightful character development. (Yes, I know we see Zeb get a little “brain over braun” time, and we also see him—sort of—get along with his droid friends; but for the most part, this episode leaves our characters in the same place they were at the beginning.) So on the surface, it seems like Warhead would be an unsatisfying episode, a bit of a letdown after the previous week’s journey to Geonosis. But I don’t believe that’s the case.
One reason that I really appreciate Warhead is because it showcases some fantastically memorable and hilarious interactions between Zeb and AP-5, with the latter carrying the weight of the entire episode on his droid shoulders. As you’d suspect, there is plenty of snark and banter to go around, and it’s very nice to see the talent of legendary Star Wars voice actor Stephen Stanton shine with full intensity. And while this episode may not provide us with a ton of in-depth characterization, it’s this kind of playfulness and levity that makes us want to spend more time with these characters. Additionally, episodes like Warhead help create an emotional connections that cause us to care when we inevitably see them undergo hardships.
Second, Warhead once again proves that the Rebels story group understands how to treat the character of Thrawn. This season has been a slow-burn, with the creative team steadily ratcheting up the tension, and that is exactly who Thrawn is. It make perfect sense that the Ghost crew isn’t battling Thrawn every other week like they’ve done with previous villains. Thrawn is no Vader, or Inquisitor; he presents a different challenge. He’s a tactician, a strategist, and a planner. And the final moments of this episode are pitch-perfect insofar as they heighten our anticipation by giving this iconic villain his due diligence. While it may not be as flashy as “Ghost of Geonosis” or as touching as “Hera’s Heroes,” you can be certain that Warhead will deliver its emotional payload in weeks to come.
Star Wars Rebels is a family show. Parents love watching as much as their kids. Infusing the spiritual with the fantastic and adventurous, Rebels continues the spirit of what makes Star Wars great. In order to foster the young minds and hearts of your Reel World Theologians, each week there are questions you can use during or after the show to talk about with your kids. Enjoy the show and then enjoy conversation, but always remember that story is powerful and Star Wars Rebels is not mindless.
- How do you feel about having to wait to see Thrawn reveal his ultimate plan?
- Why do AP-5 and Zeb not get along?
- At the end of the episode, AP says that he was impressed by Zeb’s strategy. Do you think Zeb’s perception of AP has changed at all?
- The appearance of the E-XD droid (before it morphs into an assassin) is based on Ralph McQuarrie’s early concept art for C-3P0.
- This episode was originally conceived of as a parallel story in another episode.