Ever since the start of the series, we’ve known Zeb to be the muscle of the group—the one they turn to when head bashing and some heavy lifting is needed. As a result, he’s often relegated to the background and pops in whenever additional force or assistance is required of him. The last time we truly focused on Zeb was in season two when he and Agent Kallus crash landed on the icy moon of Geonosis. Zeb, in a way, acquired a great asset for Phoenix Squadron that day because their interactions helped Kallus become Fulcrum later on. Since then, we’ve seen him take the lead once in “The Wynkahthu Job,” where he showed his great skill as a captain and in getting the job done. In the latest episode, “Warhead,” we see him take on that role again, but things don’t exactly work in his favor as he discovers that the damaged droid he brought back to the Rebel base is not exactly what it seems.
Right off the bat, it was great to see this episode start in a similar manner to The Empire Strikes Back. There’s a lone Star Destroyer, and from beneath it, these recon droids are sent to sweep various systems for Rebel activity. Unfortunately for Zeb, one of them arrived in their backyard. While he does have experience and various skills, as mentioned before, and Hera trusts him enough to be her Chief of Security, he also suffers from the same faults we do. We often make assumptions about our surroundings without fact checking, and as a result, we make mistakes. That’s exactly what happened to Zeb in this episode. He saw a droid that didn’t look Imperial, didn’t ask how or why it got there, and brought it back to the base thinking he just did something good. I don’t know if anyone else came away with a lesson from this episode, but I know I did, and it reminded me that one shouldn’t make assumptions without having all of the facts.
What I also really loved about this episode was the humor. It’s one of the many things Star Wars Rebels does very well. An AP-5, Chopper, and Zeb team-up is exactly what we need before things start to get more heavy toward the end of the season. AP-5, in particular, knocked it out of the park each time. His lines and delivery by Stephen Stanton, especially in response to Zeb, made me laugh out loud various times. This episode reminded us that AP-5 has a lot of personality, just like Chopper, K-2SO, and the many other droids we all know and love. I will reinforce my original thought from when he was first introduced and say that I adore AP-5 and Chopper’s relationship more than any other mechanical duo. Something about their interactions make them seem more genuine and relatable.
The recon droid (EXD-9), in comparison, was pretty lifeless and lacking in the personality that we’ve come to recognize in droids. In Rebels Recon, the Story Group’s Pablo Hidalgo mentioned that this particular model was being used as a tool by the Empire, whereas the Rebels see droids as part of a team, and in most cases, as friends. Personally, when EXD-9 was reprogrammed and sent back to the Empire, I didn’t experience a “That was so terrible, I can’t believe they did that” moment. I did, however, experience that many times throughout The Clone Wars as well as in “Blood Sisters” when Sabine used the programming and protocol procedures of the RX droid against himself. It’s really interesting how our minds (especially mine) operate when droids aren’t given any ounce of character, and as a result, I didn’t grow an attachment to it or exhibit any emotion when it was used as a weapon by the Empire and by the Rebels.
It was also exciting to see Agent Kallus again, going from an Imperial doing his job to operating as Fulcrum. It is a dangerous game that he’s playing, but I loved the smirk he had on his face when the Rebels succeeded. He even went as far as to say to Thrawn himself that the move the Rebels played was ingenious. There is a looming dark cloud over Kallus that makes my heart ache, but I really love how far he’s come. As for Thrawn’s plan, even though the warhead was used against him, it helped demonstrate that even the loss of a Star Destroyer won’t make him bat an eyelash. As mentioned in previous reviews, the man is ruthless to the core. That said, I did find it surprising that he would use droids with warheads that could potentially destroy the Rebels at the source without being there to witness it for himself in the event that it did happen. He seems like the type of person to experience that kind of carnage from the comfort of his window. Since that didn’t happen and with his search now narrowed down to 94 planets, I guess he’ll be experiencing that very soon…
Needless to say, “Warhead” was another great episode that fits quite nicely with the rest of the puzzle. It showed us that Thrawn is one step closer to showing up at the Rebel base’s front door, and it demonstrated how Zeb is a capable leader. He may not be perfect, but when he puts his mind into it, he can be just as strategic and efficient as the other characters in the show. That said, I hope we see more of him in this type of role as the series continues.
Make sure to tune into the next all-new episode on Saturday, January 21, 2017, at 8:30PM EST on Disney XD.
Also, stop by later this week for a new podcast episode from Rebels Chat.