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.
Geonosis. The birthplace of the Death Star, both actually and conceptually. The Ghost crew has taken multiple trips to this famous Clone Wars era planet since the show began, the most memorable being their Season 2 trip to Geonosis where they discover the Geonosian population has disappeared from the planet and only construction modules of some project remained in orbit. This seemed to confirm what had been somewhat directly mentioned in the Darth Vader comic series by Marvel that the entire planet had been sterilized to keep the Empire’s construction of the Death Star a secret after the project was moved to Scarif, which we find out from Rogue One.
What we hadn’t known previously was one particular Rogue One character had a lot to do with the Empire’s move from Geonosis. The visual guide of Rogue One tells us Saw Gerrera, played in the movie by Forest Whitaker, came close enough to discovering what the Empire was building on Geonosis to move the project to Scarif and under the direct supervision of Orson Krennic. And sure enough, the connections between the two rebel groups who have seen what took place on Geonosis collide in this two-part episode of Star Wars Rebels.
The Ghost crew is briefed by Commander Sato and Rebel Leader Bail Organa, so they know this is a serious mission. Famed rebel Saw Gerrera, whose role is reprised by Forest Whitaker, He’s gone missing while investigating with his team on Geonosis, and now the Ghost crew must covertly try and find Saw and his team. Apparently, Saw has never been able to let go of his near discovery of the Empire’s secret project. Interestingly enough, Chopper almost unwittingly stumbled upon the information to what the Empire was building when they visited Geonosis, but his download of information was cut short by the appearance of an Imperial Droid and stormtroopers under the command of Agent Kallus.
These two crews who have come close to finding out have found themselves in a position to discover what the Empire was up to, yet again. When Kanan, Ezra, Chopper, and Rex finally find Saw, he is the only one left from his team. Apparently, there is still someone on Geonosis and there is a repurposed droid army protecting the planet. What they eventually discover is one Geonosian drone worker, Klik-Klak. Ezra forges a connection with Klik-Klak, a gift of his we have seen throughout the show, and discovers Klik-Klak is repairing the droid army, as well as protecting something previous to the preservation of the Geonosian species: a queen egg.
The second part of the episode brings in the Empire as they detect the Ghost crew’s activity on the planet and try to stop them, but more importantly we begin to see Saw’s reputation as an extremist. He abuses Klik-Klak, threatens to blast the queen egg to get what he wants, and even tortures the “bug” to get the information he desires. Saw has lived most of his adult life in resistance and war. In fact, Dave Filoni has called him the original “rebel” of Star Wars. He resisted the Separatists on his homeworld of Onderon during the Clone Wars and remained a rebel after the Clone Wars ended and the Empire occupied his homeworld. He carries the scars of war on his physical body and emotionally, which we see when a holo of Steela drops from his pocket during a struggle with Klik-Klak. Saw struggles with showing any compassion to the Geonosian as he holds Steela’s death at the hands of Separatists, which the Geonosians were a part of. It takes Ezra’s faithful confidence in finding a better way and more compassionate way to handle Kilk-Klak that eventually will stop Saw from any more aggressive behavior.
The rebels do eventually escape off-world, but in a rare moment, they do not fully succeed in their mission. The evidence they found of the Empire’s genocide of the Geonosians falls off the ship during their escape and all that remains are video and photographic evidence of the gas canisters. More importantly, the episode begins to paint a clearer picture of Saw Gerrera. He may have been stayed from extremism by a more compassionate group of rebels, but the seeds of what will break Saw and leave him with a cybernetic leg and lung damage have already been shown.
Saw adds a different dimension the to Rebellion Against the Empire. The Ghost crew is a close representation of what most of us believe the Rebellion should and has been like. Virtuous, principled, compassionate, and the continued legacy of the Jedi. However, as Rogue One showed us, there is a darker, amoral side to the Rebellion. Men like Saw, who is eventually at odds with the Rebellion and leaves because of his extreme ways, and also General Draven and Cassian Andor, show a commitment not to fighting evil, but to eradicating a repressive government, even if their methods might be slightly immoral or even criminal.
At first, we might give pause to those who would fight fire with fire, especially those of us who adhere to a strong Christian ethic of grace, mercy, and divine justice. However, such tactics may prove to be necessary when your opponent is stooping lower than even your most vicious acts. Throughout history, even the most virtuous movements have wrestled with how to utilize the shadowy elements of resistance and rebellion. One only has to take a cursory look at American History to see our most treasured and beloved figures during the Revolutionary War and Civil War utilized questionable methods of war in order to fight for a freater, virtuous cause. Star Wars is rather new to exploring this issue, but it is something I am very excited to see looked at more as Saw and maybe even Cassian make their way into more Star Wars storytelling.
And yet, Ezra’s character and even the entire Ghost crew offers a better way. Even while Star Wars is exploring new territory, the moral core of what we have always associated with Star Wars remain intact. Through Ezra’s desire to connect with others and abundance of compassion, they manage to complete their objective and the even more important objective of preserving a species. His actions against someone who has historically been an enemy to Saw and the Jedi emulate Jesus’ compassionate charge to love our enemies. Not only is it a more righteous path to follow and a modeling of grace, but it allows us to view others empathetically. This was the Jedi way as defenders of peace and justice. My hope is that while Rebels adds these grayer shades to the Rebellion, they keep the Jedi way of compassion and sacrifice as the shining sun at the heart of the Star Wars universe.
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.
- What are Saw’s motivations for treating Klik-Klak so poorly? Do you understand where he is coming from at all? Why or why not?
- Do other people hurting us justify us hurting them? Is there such a thing as righteous violence or using necessary force?
- How do you think Ezra offers a better way to treat our enemies or potential enemies? What results from Ezra’s actions that were better than what Saw could have accomplished through pain and torture?
- Klik-Klak’s egg functions as a lot more than a moral lightning rod in this episode. In the Darth Vader comic series, Vader and Doctor Aphra meet a Geonosian queen, Queen Karina. Since Klik-Klak’s egg is the last remaining queen egg, it can be deduced this egg contains Queen Karina. So cool!
- Ever been to Disney and seen Star Tours? Then you probably recognize the jetpack-wearing stormtroopers. The rocket troopers in this episode are based off the ones from Star Tours.