Fair warning: Droids in Distress has yet to air on DisneyXD so there are SPOILERS ahead!!!
Episode 3 – Droids in Distress – Slow down people
Droids in Distress begins with our heroes in a bit of a quandary. They are short food, fuel, and supplies, and are out of money. Kannan contacts their fence, Cikatro Vizago, who wants them to intercept a shipment of supplies bound for Lotal.
The crew hitches a ride on a transport bound for Garrel (?), where the cargo is located. The cargo is owned by an Aqualish names Amda Wabo who intends to sell the cargo to a local Imperial official, Minister Tua. The Minister does not speak Aqualish and we are introduced to her interpreter, who is of course See-Threepio (C-3PO), and of course Artoo-Detoo is in tow as well.
The Ghost crew hatches an inventive plot using Chopper to create a distraction, prompting the ship’s captain RX-24 (of Star Tours fame) to order all droids to the back of the craft. Without an interpreter Tua is left helpless in her efforts to negotiate a deal with Wabo for the cargo. Zeb steps in and offers the services of Sabine, who claims she’s a linguist in training at the Imperial Academy. Sabine intentionally flubs on her interpretation of some of the details of the exchange sending the Minister and her party to the wrong loading dock when the shuttle lands.
The crew eventually discovers the cargo is a shipment of T7 disruptor rifles the Minister hopes to use as prototypes to build back on Lothal. Zeb is horrified as these rifles were used years ago to wipe out his people, the Lesat. An exciting action sequences ensues as our intrepid crew steals the rifles with the Imperials in hot persuit. The crew manages to escape, along with Artoo and Threepio and head back to Lothal.
There’s a wonderful series of moments as the crew has to decide what to actual do with the rifles. While Kannan sympathizes with Zeb, the crew is short on money and makes the decision to sell the rifles to Vizago. Zeb is not happy and takes out his frustrations on Ezra, kicking him out of their quarters. Hera gently explains to Ezra the history of the Lesat and asks Ezra to be sympathetic. While this is all going on, Artoo, for a reason revealed later, has begun to to surreptitiously record the activities of the crew.
Meanwhile, Minister Tua contacts Agent Kallus, alerting him to the theft of the disruptors. Back on Lothal the crew finalizes their deal with Vizago when Kallus and his forces suddenly show up. Vizago quickly leaves the scene taking part of the cargo with him, leaving the crew of the Ghost holding the proverbial bag.
The finale is classic Star Wars with most of our heroes contending with approaching Stormtroopers and AT-STs, and Zeb and Kallus engaged in a mano y mano duel to the death. Zeb and Kallus exchange verbal barbs between blows, making for a great old-school Hollywood vibe during the fight. Of course we learn during their epic duel that Kallus was responsible for bringing the T7 disruptors to Lasan and is ultimately responsible for the extinction of Zeb’s people.
Kallus eventually gets the upper hand on Zeb, and is ready to deliver the killing blow when Ezra, in a very dramatic moment, reaches out with the Force, pushing Kallus away. Our heroes destroy the remaining disruptors, and escape the clutches of the Imperials in a rousing conclusion.
1) Finally, Sabine gets to show that there’s a little more to her character than just being a sassy explosives expert with a penchant for graffiti art. Sabine shows much more depth this time around, and even a terrific sense of humor. She’s starting to come across to me as the practical member of the crew; she certainly believes in “The Cause,” but she knows the groups limitations, and is willing to speak up when she thinks they are getting in over their heads. Hopefully, the writers will explore her background soon.
2) Paul Rubens (Pee Wee Herman), reprises his performance as RX-24, otherwise known as Captain Rex from the old Star Tours ride at Disneyland. It’s a wonderful little nod, and my daughter even let out an audible little squeal when he appeared. More importantly, “Rex” is an example of a call back that works because he actual is part of the story. Unlike other nods, RX-24 doesn’t appear to be thrown on screen just to elicit a fond memory from the audience.
3) The best nod of the episode though was saved for last. We discover in the end that Artoo was actually on his own secret mission for Senator Bail Organa, recording the activities of the crew of the Ghost. Bail is once again magnificently played by Clone Wars veteran Phil LaMarr. Again, here is another “call back” that works because, although we don’t know it, Bail has been actively involved in the adventure. In a final nod, Bail kneels in front of Artoo, inserting a memory disc inside the little Astromech droid like his daughter would do some five years later in A New Hope. It’s a great little moment that bridges the trilogies.
1) To the producers of Rebels, please stop with the overabundant use of John Williams’ music, allow Kevin Kiner some freedom. It’s great to use queues here or there, or suggest hints of bars of music from both the Prequel and Original trilogies, but enough with the wholesale lifting of entire sections of Williams’ scores. There were a couple of wonderful moments when Kiner was starting to developing a theme or a musical idea (like his brief use of the Rebels theme when our heroes escape the docking bay), but then the Williams adaptation steps in and whatever music Kiner was developing is lost. FREE KEVIN KINER!!!
2) I’ve already grown weary of Cikatro Vizago after two episodes. Vizago is the Ghost crew’s fence who hires them to steal the T7 disruptors in this adventure. For those familiar with The Clone Wars, Vizago is nothing more than a pale imitation of that irascible pirate scoundrel, Hondo Ahnako. Same accent, same attitude, and spouts off dialog Hondo would say: “My friends, I hope you live to bargain another day, and if you don’t… eh…” The only thing missing is Vizago owning a pet Kowakian monkey-lizard. I hope Vizago dies a horrible, and gruesome death soon, and is replaced by a mildly original character.
3) My biggest problem with Droids in Distress is the pacing; there’s simply too much going on in this episode. For the first 14 minutes we get the opening of the adventure, are introduced to Artoo and Threepio, learn a little about the history of the Lesat, and finally have a great little action sequence involving the heist of the T7 disruptors. With only 7 minutes or so left in the adventure, Agent Kallus finally appears. He seems almost rushed and forced into this episode. Its almost as if writers realized that the Stormtroopers were so incompetent and the episode needed a rousing conclusion, so let’s stick Kallus in at the very end. It comes across a little contrived. I’d much rather have seen this episode expanded over two parts. It ultimately would have given Kallus’s appearance some additional weight, and he would not have felt shoehorned in just for the sake of having a real villain.
Overview: A solid episode marred by pacing issues, which gives us some great insights into Zeb and Agent Kallus. But these ideas need to been expanded upon, not truncated. Ultimately this episode would have been better served as a two-parter, focusing on the heist in the first episode, and Kallus’ pursuit in the finale. As it is, we really don’t get a chance to feel as much of an emotional connection with Zeb, or the gravity of the plight of the Lesat, as we could have had the story been given time to breathe.
7.5 out of 10
May the Force Be With You