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Star Wars Rebels

Ghosts of Geonosis (Star Wars Rebels - S03E12-E13) - Television

Series: Star Wars Rebels

Title: Ghosts of Geonosis (Parts 1 & 2)

Season: Three

Episode: 12-13

Original Air Date: January 7, 2017

Runtime: 22 minutes per episode (2 episode arc)

Credits: Review & Text: Mike Taber; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

“Stupid sand. It gets everywhere.” SPOILERS. 

The recent trailer for the second half of Star Wars Rebels season three understandably got a lot of fans excited. “Ghosts of Geonosis” should serve as a reminder to temper our expectations. I’m not trying to say this was a bad episode, because it wasn’t. However, it was just…okay. “Ghosts of Geonosis” introduces a lot of intriguing ideas but doesn’t do very much with them. This special two part episode returns to Geonosis, deals with an Imperial genocide and the last member of an alien race, contrasts the extremist Saw Gerrera with the Ghost crew, and inadvertently stumbles upon the Death Star. All of those are fascinating ideas that have a lot of dramatic potential. Unfortunately, this episode only provides a shallow examination of those ideas. Despite the extra-long running time, “Ghosts of Geonosis” didn’t fully develop its most intriguing ideas.

   

Bail Organa contacted the Ghost crew and gave them a top secret mission. After the Ghost crew reported that the Geonosian population had disappeared last season, Organa sent a rebel team led by Saw Gerrera to investigate what had happened. The rebel alliance lost all contact with Gerrera’s team and Organa wanted the Ghost crew to find out what happened to Saw and his team. Returning to Geonosis, especially after learning the Empire may have killed the entire population, offered a lot of potential. While the rest of the crew waited on the ship, Kanan, Ezra, and Rex ventured into the Geonosian catacombs in search of Saw. The catacombs were littered with the helmets of rebel soldiers. I really enjoyed the initial search of the catacombs. It was very atmospheric and creepy. We quickly discovered that the threat was actually a group of still operational battle droids. I was a little disappointed by this reveal. It made sense, but they didn’t pose much of a threat and it retroactively deflated the impact of “The Last Battle.” Saw Gerrera appeared, voiced by Forest Whitaker, and destroyed the battle droids. Considering that we are only a couple years away from Rogue One, I was hoping for a Saw Gerrera that was a little more unhinged. When we learned that Saw and his team disappeared on Geonosis, I was hoping that we would get a Colonel Kurtz situation where the Ghost crew would be searching for a Saw that had been driven mad and finally broke. Those unstable and extremist elements of Saw’s personality were still there, but they felt a little tamed down for the show during most of the episode. I’ll discuss Saw’s extremism in more detail later in the review. The Saw we met in Rogue One was a man who had been mentally and physically broken by decades of fighting. Yet here we are two years away from Rogue One and Saw has all of his limbs, doesn’t have a breathing problem, and was at least coherent if not entirely stable. Apparently Saw was broken by two years of fighting, not decades. That felt disingenuous and slightly at odds with what we saw in Rogue One. So for me, Saw’s portrayal in this episode didn’t entirely work. However, I did enjoy his relationship with Rex in this episode. Rex is the one that trained Saw in Star Wars: The Clone Wars so their friendship felt genuine and earned. I felt like they missed an opportunity for an Ahsoka mention though since she had the lead role in Saw’s training.

   

Saw informed the rebels that a Geonosian had been maintaining the battle droids that killed his team and argued that they had to hunt him down. Meanwhile, Sabine and Zeb discovered a shield generator that the Geonosian had been using. Sabine and Zeb’s shield generator detour didn’t add anything and was nothing but a way to fill the extended running time. The time wasted on this detour could have been used to further develop the episode’s more promising ideas. It was also disappointing that Hera was once again relegated to sitting on the ship while everyone else did something interesting. The only thing I liked about this portion of the episode was the visual of the Destroyer Droids rising out of the sand. Saw and the others spotted the Geonosian on the other side of a chasm. The way Kanan used the Force to hold up a bridge so the others could cross was a great moment that demonstrated his growth since the series began. It also reinforces the notion that he and Ezra have to be out of the picture before Rogue One and A New Hope though. You can’t have a Jedi that powerful running around with the rebel alliance just off screen. I loved Rex’s “But he’s no Skywalker” line too. It was a smart, character based callback that didn’t feel forced (Rex and Saw both knew Anakin) and it was genuinely funny. Between that line, his relationship with Saw, and some great action moments Rex might be the stealth MVP of this episode. It feels like the writers forget about Rex sometimes, but he adds a lot to the show when they do use him. Saw and the others captured the Geonosian and disabled the remnants of his droid army.

   

Saw roughed up the Geonosian, but Ezra decided to play good cop and named the Geonosian Klik-Klak. I really liked the Klik-Klak character, but that’s a terrible name. Pardon the pun, but it really bugged me. It’s the kind of annoying name that Ezra would come up with and it didn’t help that they repeated it every ten seconds for the rest of the episode. Ezra (insulting) asked Klik-Klak what the Empire was doing on Geonosis and Klik-Klak drew an image of the Death Star in the sand. Of course the audience knew what the image meant, but none of the characters did. I thought it was a little frustrating at first that the audience was so far ahead of the characters, but the more I thought about it the more it worked. There’s something compelling about the rebels being so close to discovering the Death Star and just missing it. How many lives could have been saved if they had learned about the weapons existence now? Ezra noticed that Saw dropped something and discovered that it was a hologram of his sister Steela. He returned it to Saw who said it was all he had left. It was a powerful moment if you watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars and take into account that her death was partially Saw’s fault. He shot down the gunship that lead to Steela’s death. Rex also pointed out to Ezra that those gunships were built by the Geonosians. While that fact adds some tragedy to moment and contributes to Saw’s mindset in this episode, I don’t like that it was treated as an explanation for Saw’s harsh treatment of Klik-Klak. Saw searched Klik-Klak’s home and discovered an egg. Klik-Klak was defending the last Geonosian queen egg. It was the only chance for his species to continue. Kilk-Klak and his storyline were my favorite aspect of this episode. The Geonosians were almost solely responsible for the construction of the battle droids and the carnage they inflicted on the galaxy so I thought it was fascinating that they created a sympathetic Geonosian in Klik-Klak. Too many times in science fiction an alien race will become defined by one characteristic which is just unrealistic when you look at the divisions and differences that exist in our own world. The Geonosians are no longer simply the bad guys. In Klik-Klak you have a Geonosian who is simply afraid and trying to ensure that his species survives a far greater evil. Perhaps Klik-Klak even fought for the Separatists during the Clone Wars, but I appreciated the attempt to create a more sympathetic Geonosian and how that blurred the lines. It’s not black and white, which continues Rogue One’s job of creating a morally grey area during this time period. I’m also glad that this episode further explored the idea that the Empire committed genocide and killed the Geonosian population. Klik-Klak allowed us to see the aftermath of this horrific event. I only wish these ideas were given more time to develop.

   

An Imperial cruiser arrived and sent a team to capture the rebels. Saw wanted to take Klik-Klak back to the rebel base and interrogate him. Saw then proceeded to torture Klik-Klak and threatened to destroy the egg if the Ghost crew didn’t let him take Klik-Klak. Saw argued that the enemy didn’t show any mercy so they shouldn’t either. That’s the unhinged extremism I expected from Saw. Threatening to destroy an egg that is the species’ only hope for survival is indeed very dark and I’m surprised the show allowed Saw to go that far. In addition, I thought this was one of Kanan’s best episodes. When the series began Kanan was trying to bury his past as a Jedi, but now he has fully embraced those Jedi ideals. The way he calmly sensed Klik-Klak in the tunnels and argued the Geonosians didn’t deserve extinction and deserved a chance to live on showed the ideals of the Jedi Order live on through him. So contrasting Saw’s beliefs with Kanan’s worked. It was interesting and that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that once the Empire arrived this interesting ideological debate was swept under the rug and Saw’s change of heart was very rushed. The rebels discovered that the Empire had used giant poison gas canisters to wipe out the Geonosians. After seeing this, Saw changed his mind and thought that the Geonosians deserved a chance to rebuild their society too. I certainly understand why Saw would see the error of his ways in that moment, but again it felt rushed. The scene with the Imperial jump troopers was a lot of fun and was honestly a highlight of the episode but it came at the wrong moment. It interrupted the key ideological debate of the episode and ensured the Saw’s change of heart wasn’t given enough time to develop properly. Klik-Klak was freed and ventured further into the catacombs with the egg giving hope that the Geonosian people can live on. The Ghost made quick work of the Imperial cruiser sent to investigate them but they lost the poison gas canisters that would have been the proof of the Geonosian genocide that the Senate needed. There is a lot to like about this episode, but it was held back by some shallow storytelling, a mixed bag portrayal of Saw Gerrera, and filler elements like Sabine and Zeb’s shield generator detour.

   

What Worked

  • Great episode for Kanan and Rex
  • A sympathetic Geonosian and the aftermath of an Imperial genocide
  • Solid, enjoyable action scenes

What Didn’t Work

  • Shallow storytelling
  • Saw’s portrayal
  • Sabine and Zeb’s generator adventure
External Links:
Added: January 14, 2017
Category: Star Wars Rebels
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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