Review: Star Wars Rebels “Droids in Distress”

"Droids in Distress"

TWG contributor Elisa (EA) and I (JM) wrote up our review for “Droids in Distress.” We joined forces and combined our thoughts into one post. See anything with which you agree or disagree? Leave it in the comments section below.

General Thoughts About the Plot

EA: One thing I really enjoyed about this episode is the fact that they had to make money. It may sound incredibly mundane, but the fact that the main characters aren’t swimming in money and require an income to keep themselves going is fascinating to me. It helps push the feeling that they’re normal people with normal problems, on top of all the rebelling they have to do against the Empire.

Next but not least, it was great seeing R2-D2 and C-3PO. I’ve always enjoyed seeing them, and by now, they’re as much staples of Star Wars as Anakin/Vader, if not more so. It does make me wonder, though, just how much R2 managed to record of the Ghost crew, and what exactly he may have captured of them. This potentially is setting up Bail Organa to return later on in the series, possibly becoming one of the pieces that leads to the crew of the Ghost being part of the fledgling Rebellion.

JM: Being that “Droids in Distress” was the premiere of the series on Disney XD in its new day and time slot, it made perfect sense to reintroduce two classic characters into the story to ensure solid numbers in viewership and to keep the momentum from “Spark of Rebellion.” The episode touched on how the Empire wronged and nearly exterminated Zeb’s people, bringing heavy topics, such as genocide, into the story. With Zeb being the focus, Ezra’s Jedi training took a back seat, reflecting how Ezra himself felt throughout the episode. It’s not until Ezra saves Zeb, however, that Kanan realizes the boy’s raw potential in the Force, prompting him to begin training as originally promised. These events alone demonstrated how the episode flowed extremely well.

The appearance of Bail Organa brought about many emotions, given his connection to the prequel trilogy and his eventual fate. His interest in the rebels as well as the involvement of R2 and 3PO does make the galaxy feel somewhat small, but the possibility of creating an alliance with them thwarts any of those concerns.

Written by executive producer and brilliant storyteller Greg Weisman, the episode naturally turned out to be quite exceptional, combining serious themes with small shots of humor, much like A New Hope. The character interactions, especially between Zeb and Ezra, made for an entertaining and touching episode.

General Thoughts About the Characters

"Droids in Distress" Kanan Jarrus. Credit:  Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.
Credit: Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.


EA: Compared to Spark of Rebellion, Kanan wasn’t so much a part of the focus for this episode. Despite that, he had some very strong moments. From playing the part of a normal passenger who only wants a quiet ride to taking command during the final scenes of the episode, Kanan showed a wide range in his personality. Though, it was his concern for Zeb that won me over most.

Considering who he was and where he came from, Kanan had lost a lot of people in his life. As Sabine told Ezra, the Ghost crew is a family, and in such dangerous times, I wonder if we’ll see how Kanan may respond to seeing one of his friends, one of his family, come to harm in a way worse than what happened to Zeb.

JM: The most notable aspect about Kanan in this episode was his concern for Zeb. The sentiment wasn’t unique to him, since the rest of the crew also felt troubled, but being that he’s the resident Jedi, you witness his attachment and the bonds he shares with the others. It raises the question whether he’d be the Anakin or Obi-Wan type. Would his feelings and emotional concerns ruin him, or does he have his emotions in check?

"Droids in Distress" Hera Syndulla. Credit:  Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.
Credit: Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.


EA: Though her moments were few, Hera continued to be a supportive voice of reason. The way she called Ezra to the cockpit and spoke to him about Zeb was very personal but also motherly. This particular scene and the one that followed also made it clear that she had no qualms with speaking up to Kanan on someone else’s behalf if he wasn’t doing something he should be.

JM: As described many times before, Hera is the heart and soul of the team. She is the voice of reason, and that trait of hers played a major part in this episode. When she called Ezra to her, she explained Zeb’s backstory to him (and to the audience), making him understand and be more aware of his actions and thoughts toward the Lasat crew member. Without Hera’s involvement, Ezra may not have saved Zeb in the manner that he did. Meaning, the emotion that fueled his Force abilities may not have been as strong as they were in that moment. Hera’s voice of reason was instrumental for Ezra to understand, feel, and react in a protective way.

"Droids in Distress" Chopper. Credit:  Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.
Credit: Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.


EA: The whole scene on the transport with him poking Ezra was gold, and given the droid’s personality, it really feels as if that is something Chopper would gladly do on his own anyway. I hope to see more of Chopper having to cause distractions or being a part of a ruse; he has so much personality and it really shines every time he’s on screen.

JM: Chopper’s personality is, by far, the most entertaining to watch. For a droid built with so many old parts, he’s very lively and expressive–more so than R2-D2. It was great to see him working as part of the crew, poking Ezra and being a general nuisance to initiate the next stage of the plan. It was also amusing to see him take initiative when he later had to stall R2 and 3PO. The stubby droid is highly resourceful, making him exceedingly reliable.

"Droids in Distress" Zeb Orrelios. Credit:  Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.
Credit: Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.


EA: In this episode we see a lot of Zeb, and as the story progresses, it touches upon his past. His reaction to the weapons they recover, coupled with Hera’s comment to Ezra about Zeb knowing what T7’s do to a person, gives the feeling that what happened on Zeb’s home planet was more than his people simply being mowed down by normal blaster fire, and that it was something far more horrific. Considering a crate of these weapons did escape the crew by the crafty Vizago, it will be interesting to see if these terrifying and powerful weapons will return at a later time in the story, and if so, in what context.

We’ve been able to see, so far, that Zeb has fighting skills, but the fast paced and intense fight he has against Agent Kallus showed that both of them are incredibly skilled. Not only that, but due to what Kallus said, he seemingly set himself up to not just be an antagonist for the crew, but also a much more personal villain for Zeb.

JM: Everything about Zeb’s design fascinates me. The way his ears drop, pick up, or twitch adds to the adorable factor. As for his background, it breaks my heart that his people suffered near extinction because of the Empire’s thirst for power and control. It must be devastating to know that you and a few others are all that’s left of a great people. The animators and Steve Blum brought forth those emotions. When he faced Agent Kallus, he let those feelings get the best of him, reacting first and putting himself and the rest of his team in danger. It’d be interesting to see whether those weapons would appear again down the line. Would Zeb fall into a swirl of emotions again, or would he exhibit more control?

"Droids in Distress" Sabine Wren. Credit:  Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.
Credit: Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.


EA: I like that we see that she knows other languages. It makes me curious just how many she does know, and how her knowledge may play in future episodes. I also love the fact that she is so into explosions that R2’s knowledge of how to make the T7 Ion Disruptors explode encouraged her to extend an open invitation to him about joining their crew.

JM: My favorite thing about Sabine is how there is still an air of mystery surrounding her. We know she’s Mandalorian and that she was in “school,” according to Vanessa Marshall’s Q&A session during NYCC’s Star Wars Rebels panel. It’s intriguing to know that she speaks several languages on top of her many other skills.

"Droids in Distress" Ezra Bridger. Credit:  Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.
Credit: Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.


EA: I’ve found Ezra likable from the very beginning, but still, he continues to grow on me. From his comment about wanting to learn Jedi stuff to his adorable expression when asking if there was ever any doubt, every instance has wholly endeared this boy to me.

A scene near the middle of the episode makes me wonder if Ezra doesn’t quite realize that he is using the Force when he’s doing his jumps. Instead, believing he is merely focusing and concentrating before doing a difficult task. The only reason I speculate on this is due to his expression during the final conflict when his actions protect Zeb. He’s shocked and staring at his hands to the point where Hera is required to get him back onto the ship. I look forward to seeing what sort of training Kanan is going to do with Ezra and what sort of rules he’ll impart on his new padawan, especially considering that Kanan is not much more than an unruly and overgrown padawan himself.

JM: I’ve mentioned this in the second episode of “Rebels Chat,” but it is my belief that Ezra is more powerful than Kanan (Anakin and Obi-Wan parallel). When he saved Zeb and Force pushed Kallus away from him, both he and Kanan were shocked to see that kind of power emanate from him. The scene was goosebump inducing, because up until that point, you saw Ezra do small things, like sensing his surroundings and leaping onto the Ghost. That push revealed only a fraction of his true potential. It brings to question what else he is capable of doing.

"Droids in Distress" Agent Kallus. Credit:  Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.
Credit: Disney XD, Lucasfilm Animation, Lucasfilm.

Agent Kallus

EA: Under the professionalism, lies a man far worse than what he may first appear. Spark of Rebellion showed a hint of that man when Kallus so callously kicked a trooper to his death thanks to a comment he had made. Though, that was different than what we saw towards the end of the episode. Kallus took great pleasure, smiling and laughing when he answered Zeb about where he’d gotten his weapon from and telling him about the devastating order he’d given while on Lasan. Kallus clearly had no shame about his part in nearly wiping out Zeb’s species, and the ferocity of the fight he and Zeb engaged in showed that he had no qualms with trying to pick off whatever Lasat may be left.

While the Inquisitor is clearly the villain for Kanan, and by extension Ezra, Kallus has firmly placed himself as Zeb’s foe. It will be interesting to see how Zeb and Kallus continue from this point.

JM: Kallus in unlike any of the other Imperial officers because he actually goes forth and fights on the ground with the rest of the troops. He doesn’t seem like the type to hang back and let others do the work for him. He finds it fulfilling–and dare I say, joy–in his work, which makes him all the more terrifying. Given his fight with Zeb, one can see the thrill and adrenaline he got from being in that kind of position and power. He is “callous” and cruel, doing his job without any remorse or second thoughts. Something tells me that this won’t be the last time Zeb and Kallus face off. Zeb is the avenging type, and neither will give up until the other is out of the picture.

Favorite Scene

EA: There was a lot to like and love in this episode, but I think my favourite portion has to be the crew on the public transport. Chopper poking Ezra and making a scene, Sabine talking about her Level Fives and translating, and finally, to the scene with the droids in the back; it was all so great.

If I could only pick one segment of that, though, I think it would have to be Chopper and Ezra. The two of them interacting is a real favourite of mine. I also loved the animation in this scene. The facial expressions of Ezra and Kanan were extremely enjoyable, and Chopper shocking Ezra and trying to shock Kanan really made me laugh.

The other scene I just can’t not talk about has to be Zeb going up against Agent Kallus. The fight between them is amazing to watch, and it makes me excited to see these two meet up again.

JM: My favorite scene is when Ezra uses the Force against Agent Kallus. The shocked reactions, the music, and the buildup to that moment truly make it a fantastic and memorable point in time.


EA: My only dislike would be on the fact that I want more Sabine and Hera, and the two of them interacting. Though, considering what’s been shown in previews, they’re going to have an opportunity to do just that and I really look forward to it.

JM: It’s not so much a dislike about something in the episode, but a minor dislike toward the reaction that has popped up around the appearance of a particular character: the RX series droid. Fans in the community keep referring to him as “Captain Rex,” which, from my understanding, makes sense because he was a character in the Star Tours ride. However, given that there was a Captain Rex in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series, it’s very confusing. I’d rather continue calling the droid RX and separate it from the fact that there is already a Captain Rex within the same universe.

Final Thoughts

EA: As I mentioned above, Kallus has positioned himself to be Zeb’s personal villain, just like the Inquisitor is for Kanan and Ezra. I can only hope that Hera and Sabine will be given the same sort of treatment as the story progresses.

Though he’s probably been mentally scarred by Zeb beating him up by now, the idea of Baron Valen Ruhdor being Hera’s piloting equal intrigues me. Saying that, unless there is more happening there, he’s not going to cover being a personal villain as much as the Inquisitor and Kallus.

I suppose only time will tell, and I eagerly await for more.

JM: As previously mentioned, “Droids in Distress” is the premiere episode of the series on Disney XD. The story and the characters remained consistent, following the Spark of Rebellion one-hour special. The episode was both entertaining and heart wrenching, and I hope we see many more episodes like this in the future. The one thing to keep in mind, however, is that the rebels are, first and foremost, a family. There will be “family” based episodes with more childlike tendencies and themes. Like everything else in the galaxy, there has to be a balance. I’m looking forward to seeing a variety of episodes that deal in darker tones as well as more stories that call out to our inner child. “Droids in Distress” had an equal amount of those two approaches, and I look forward to the next.

5 comments on “Review: Star Wars Rebels “Droids in Distress”

  1. Marc Morini

    I am not going to lie, this episode made my day just because Rex from the old Star Tours ride was in it. He is canon now!

  2. It was hard for me to like the opener when Threepio and Artoo were part of it. Whenever they weren’t really there, I liked it. But as soon as they were back, I was cringing and huffing/puffing in annoyance. Oh, well. Nothing I can do BUT it did bother me that, like you guys said, it kind of set up Bail Organa to return to Rebels.

  3. Jon Hodges

    Good article :)

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