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STAR WARS REBELS Recap: Zeb and Kallus Find Common Ground

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “The Honorable Ones.” Jump into hyperspace and away from this page if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

A relatively short first season of Star Wars Rebels meant the entire crew didn’t get their due; there simply wasn’t time to explore everyone’s backstory and motivations. As a result, some characters were flat—Zeb probably suffered the most. That’s been changing in season two, and “The Honorable Ones” added so many layers to the Lasat. If you would have told me Zeb would be the focus of two of the best episodes of Rebels so far (this and “Legends of the Lasat”), I would have laughed and I would have been wrong to do so. “The Honorable Ones” wasn’t just about showcasing Zeb, it weaved together character development with the bigger picture to become the most well-written episode of the cartoon so far.

The crew of the Ghost stopped by Geonosis to investigate work the Empire was doing in orbit and discovered the planet had no signs of life. As Rex pointed out, Geonosis was overrun with bugs during the Clone Wars, so this was odd. But the empty planet actually ties directly to the Darth Vader comic from Marvel: in the comic, Doctor Aphra talked about the planet being sterilized before the Battle of Yavin and, yes, the Empire was responsible. They constructed the Death Star above Geonosis, and that’s what we’re seeing here. Having both the Vader comic and the Death Star come up in Rebels is an excellent example of the sort of connections Lucasfilm’s Story Group can pull off to make the epic Star Wars puzzle fit together better and in a more vibrant way. Adding Rex’s and Kanan’s memories in about the planet on top of our memories of it from Attack of the Clones only adds more shades.

As it turned out, however, the seemingly abandoned Empire construction project was a trap, and the Ghost fell into it. They all escaped Imperial clutches except for Zeb, who stayed behind to give the others time to get out, but his sacrifice landed him in a sticky situation with Agent Kallus. The pair crashed onto a Geonosian moon in an escape pod—during an exhilarating, dynamic space battle where AT-STs shot from a hangar at Ghost—and things went in an unexpected direction. Well, maybe not entirely unexpected given the title of the episode, but I certainly walked away with feelings for Kallus I never thought I’d have.

Steve Blum and David Oyelowo’s voice work as Zeb and Kallus combined with the dialogue and impressive work from the animation team (specifically the folks doing facial rigging) made for moving, believable awesomeness. Zeb and Kallus didn’t become best buds—because they shouldn’t have—but they did come to an understanding. It started with Zeb respecting Kallus enough to not take him out while he was injured and incapable of a fair fight, and it continued when Zeb saw a few cracks in Kallus’ tough facade.

As the situation on the moon went from bad to worse (when the freezing cold swept in and hostile creatures arrived), Zeb kept it together while Kallus more or less panicked. As far as I can remember, we hadn’t witnessed Kallus lose his cool yet, despite the fact that he’s been made the fool by the rebels several times: he’s always so collected and in charge, but not here. He was injured and probably scared Zeb was going to kill him; he was a mess. Zeb’s brute strength came in handy, but it was his calm demeanor that helped him and Kallus survive to fight again. The twist was fascinating.

Zeb is hot-headed and likes to bash stormtroopers’ heads—it’s what he does. But he let reason rule and showed compassion towards Kallus. He could have cuffed him, treated him miserably, and exacted revenge upon him in a number of ways while they waited for a ride. Instead, Zeb was kind. Well, kind-ish.

Also rather amazing was watching Kallus realize Zeb was poking holes in his beliefs—holes he couldn’t ignore. He admitted he never questioned the Empire’s orders or what happened with Geonosis. He said what happened on Lasan wasn’t supposed to be a massacre, and he seemed ever so slightly ashamed about it. He wasn’t ready to sign up with the Rebel Alliance, but he left the Geonosian moon with a grasp on the bigger picture. The sadness in Kallus’ steps when he walked back onto an Imperial ship and no one asked about him or displayed concern was palpable and squeezed my heart. This was a character we’ve never seen another side of, and they’ve softened him a little.

Giving a villain shades of gray instead of leaving him or her as purely black isn’t always the best route. I know people argue characters who are unquestionably evil are boring, but I think they’re wrong. I don’t think every baddie has to have the possibility of redemption in order to be interesting. However, in the case of Kallus, it made him a richer foe and will certainly affect future encounters between him and the Ghost crew.

I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Kallus’ crisis. Though The Clone Wars went perhaps too far with lumping every story into longer arcs, it benefited from connecting episodes and Rebels could too. The spark started in “The Honorable Ones” will be stronger if we see Kallus wrestling in the next installment and not weeks from now.

Favorite quotes:

  • “We’re in the usual mess.” – Kanan
  • “I never asked questions.” – Kallus
  • “Karabast. What does that even mean?” – Kallus

What did you think of Agent Kallus and Zeb’s unexpected camping trip? Did you find yourself feeling a bit sorry for Kallus? Head to the comments and let me know your thoughts on the episode.


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