The Rebels episode Ghost of Geonosis had perfect timing. After Christmas break, which all the fans probably spent watching Rogue One, the series came back with a double episode featuring Saw Gerrera. Forest Whitaker, who played the part of the radical revolutionary in Rogue One, honoured also Rebels by his presence and voiced Saw in this episode.
The fact that this all was a coordinated effort cannot be more obvious, nonetheless, it works. Now there wasn’t a single person in the audience who needed an explanation who Saw Gerrera was, and quite the opposite, everyone was probably curious to see a younger, less “damaged” (meaning not just externally, but also “internally”… although that judgment should be reserved for everyone to make on their own) version of him.
The Rebels meet Saw after they have been sent looking for his missing team. That is essentially the plot of the episode. Saw’s group had gone to investigate the Empire’s activities on Geonosis, where they had been building “something”. Throughout the episode, the hints regarding this “something” get more specific, and probably not very surprising for those who remember that it was originally Geonosians who had supplied Count Dooku with some mysterious, yet familiar-looking designs at the end of Episode II. The Rebels, however, for plot reasons, can’t really acquire the information in full. Instead, the focus shifts on information they are allowed to acquire, that is, why does it seem that there are no Geonosians on Geonosis anymore and what has the Empire had to do with it.
The episode handles it very well. The atmosphere of abandoned underground Geonosian tunnels is dark and nice and creepy. The part of the crew which stays aboveground is not in much better situation, however, and sandstorm cutting the communication between both creates an atmosphere of dramatic tension. Both teams get the chance to show some cooperation between their members. When Saw is added into the mix, his radical and ruthless approach stirs things even a bit more.
I liked the fact that despite being about Saw Gerrera, the episode wasn’t only about Saw Gerrera; not by a long shot. What I appreciated maybe the most of all was that every single character from the crew, including the “special guest” Captain Rex, got some amount of their own screentime. Also, basically everyone had the chance to express in some way their opinion on Saw and his methods. The relationship between Rex and Saw echoed nicely their shared experience as veterans of the Clone Wars. And last but not least, I believe this episode underlined more than ever Ezra’s personality trait of trusting complete strangers and trying to see the best in everyone, no matter who they are (up to the point of being susceptible to people like Hondo Ohnaka or “The Old Master”).
Ghost of Geonosis was, I believe, an episode even those who haven’t watched any Rebels thus far could watch (and then decide whether they wanted to watch the rest of the series from the beginning). The reason would be, of course, the fact that it provides more background to Saw’s character. The possibility to see him in action and to hear a bit about his past complements the character we have seen in Rogue One. (Much younger version of Saw also appeared in the Clone Wars series, where his character originally comes from, but we hear a short version of his youth in Rebels.) The episode’s plot also does not require any previous knowledge of the series. On the downside, it could be said that as a whole the plot did not really move the Rebels anywhere closer to achieving their goals. But this one, I’d say it was worth it.