Star Wars is a cinematic icon, but it is much more than its movies. Blaine and Josh dive right into the middle of Star Wars Rebels, the fantastic animated show on Disney XD, and will be reviewing Season 2 as it progresses. 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 show.
Approaching Geonosis, the Ghost crew is shocked to find that their scans indicate there are no life forms on the once-thriving planet. The desert land stands vacant, lifeless, haunted by some unknown evil. The rebels decide to dock on an Imperial construction module that orbits Geonosis in hopes that they can find some answers to this perplexing mystery. In place of answers, however, the Lothal rebels find themselves in an Imperial trap. Stormtroopers, led by the crew’s longtime enemy Agent Kallus, ambush our heroes and threaten to overwhelm them. Zeb and Kallus engage in a one-on-one confrontation and become separated from the main battle, while the rest of the rebels, being greatly outnumbered, are forced to flee the construction module. Zeb attempts to use an escape pod to get away, but Kallus continues to prove a tough foe, and the two enemies find themselves stranded in an underground cave on one of Geonosis’s icy moons.
Although Kallus is wounded in the crash landing (and thus easy to defeat), Zeb reluctantly shows him mercy, even fashioning a splint for the Imperial Agent; and in spite of their seemingly irreconcilable differences the two are forced to work together to survive the moon’s harsh conditions. Further complicating their situation are the Bonzami: giant, carnivorous rhino-like creatures that live in the moon’s cave and love the thought of having an Imperial Agent and a Lassat for a hearty meal. Working together, combining strength and wit, Zeb and Kallus are eventually able to escape the icy pit. On the surface of the moon, they are able to send a distress signal, but they do not know who will answer their call first. If the Ghost crew comes to the rescue it certainly does not bode well for Kallus, and if the Imperials arrive first, Zeb is likely doomed. Fortunately for our favorite cranky Lassat, the rebels are the first responders. Kallus stays behind, waiting for the Imperials, and Zeb leaves with this crew. And while the two may not part the best of friends, they, at least, understand one another better than they did before their icy adventure.
Perhaps the first thing worth mentioning about this episode is the added depth and nuance we see in Agent Kallus. Up to this point in the series, Kallus has been what is referred to in literary terms as a flat character, an individual who exhibits little variance in personality. Instead of displaying a spectrum of emotional depth, flat characters—although they certainly can serve a vital function in fictional works— are typically more simplistic and one-note individuals. A common problem with this is that flat characters often make for boring villains, people who are too maniacal and thoroughly depraved to bear any semblance to reality. Conversely, the best bad guys (and girls) are ones with whom we can identify on some level. Therefore, one of the ways in which this episode is so integral to the narrative arc of Rebels as a whole is that it adds depth to Agent Kallus, making him more of a round character than he has been in the past. As Kallus and Zeb sit in the moon cave and discuss the mass-slaughtering of the Lasat on Lasan, for the first time we see Kallus show some remorse for and sensitivity to the grief and destruction the Empire has brought upon worlds and people groups. Moreover, we see him pass up multiple opportunities to kill Zeb.
The high point of Kallus’s character development, however, comes at the end of the episode, where, having been rescued by the Empire, he is left to contemplate the kindness and humanity of his enemies. The last shot of the episode shows Kallus slouching on his bed, wracked by grief and inner turmoil. He wrestles to reconcile the villainous depiction of the rebels—with which he has been indoctrinated by the Empire–with his experiences with Zeb on the Geonosian moon. “The Honorable Ones” leaves a lingering question in our minds as well: Will Kallus become an informant for the rebels? Could he possibly be the one who helps the rebels acquire the plans for the Death Star? While it will take some time to know for certain, his current trajectory suggests an affirmative answer to these questions. But even if Kallus doesn’t change sides or ally himself with the rebellion, having a character this intriguing and complex within the Empire is just another reason for us to love the amazing Star Wars universe. I personally am very enthusiastic about the creative team’s consistent push for more narratives that refuse to allow us to see the empire as a faceless, nameless force of evil, encouraging us instead to see the humanity in even our worst enemies.
This week’s episode also leaves us to dwell on the mystery that surrounds the disappearance of the Geonosian people. There are subtle indications that the Empire committed genocide in order to keep secret the construction of the Death Star, which presumably took/takes place in close proximity to Geonosis. This mass destruction serves as a backdrop against which Zeb and Kallus’s unlikely alliance shine even more brightly. We don’t know the full story yet, but producer Dave Filioni has assured us that we will learn more about the terrible fate of Geonosis in future episodes.
On a macro-level, it seems like we’re starting to see more tie-ins to the larger narrative arc, and next week’s episode, “Shroud of Darkness,” sounds like it will continue that trend. So be sure to check back next week, as Josh continues our coverage of Star Wars: Rebels.
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.
- Zeb has to work with Agent Kallus in this episode, one of his greatest enemies. Can you think of a time when you had to work alongside someone you didn’t consider a friend? How hard was it? Were you able to overcome your differences like Kallus and Zeb?
- How might Christ’s commands to love our enemies and neighbors be similar to what Kallus and Zeb have to do in this episode?
- Was it easy for Zeb and Kallus to work together? Will it always be easy for us to show love to those with whom we disagree?
STAR WARS REBELS TRIVIA
- This episode marks the first appearance of the Bonzami.
- According to the Star Wars databank, the Bonzami were named after the Zamboni. Any hockey fans around?
- The Imperial Construction module is intended to look like a Death Star and is based off early McQuarrie concept art of multiple, smaller Death Stars.