Rebels Visual Feast: “Warhead” Review

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Garazeb Orrelios is one of the characters in Rebels who tend to get less space than other protagonists. This week, it has been amended, and all Zeb fans got an episode where he plays the main part. Warhead deals with him as much as with the droids, Chopper and his friend, AP-5.

Probe Droids Strike Back

The episode starts with majority of Rebels departing for their own mission, leaving Zeb in charge of the base. Despite the fact that Hera trusts him, his subordinates (represented by Chopper and AP-5) don’t seem to believe leadership and thinking are Zeb’s strongest qualities. Which, despite the usual trouble, gets disproved in the end. First, however, Zeb and his reluctant followers have to face and Imperial infiltrator droid, who had been sent, in the classic Episode V-esque way, to find the Rebel base. The lack of knowledge of what exactly they are dealing with proves almost fatal when Fulcrum informs them that the droid is much more dangerous than it looks on first sight.
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Despite the plot being relatively simple, it is the way Warhead delivers the story that makes it remarkable. Visually, the episode has many aesthetically beautiful moments and it is directed the way that captivates your attention. In the first few minutes, I thought I was watching a movie. The opening scenes, with the infiltrator droid landing, contain no dialogue at all, but the story just narrates itself. The very first scene, of course, is an homage to the opening scene of The Empire Strikes Back, where probe droids are sent from a Star Destroyer to seek for the Rebel base.

Terminators, Predators and Vampire Droids

Another of the interesting aspects of Warhead is its atmosphere. Somehow, there is the ever-present feeling of imminent threat, from the beginning to the end. When the infiltrator droid, looking harmless and innocent, strides through the desert on Atollon and spiders are surrounding it, you feel like you are watching a horror movie where the droid is the main character. Later, when Zeb and the droids have the infiltrator on the table or reactivate it, it feels like that kind of horror where the main characters are tampering with something they have no knowledge of and you dread the moment it wakes up. Finally, when Chopper is looking for the droid in the dark warehouse, when he fully knows that this droid needs to drain power from other sources – also droids – to replenish its reserves, well… then it’s like a vampire movie where all the characters, including the vampire, are droids.
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I have mentioned the visual aspect of Warhead and I have to bring it up one more time. Nightly sceneries, space sceneries, the view of the base from afar in the beginning – everything was beautiful and compiled in the way that stressed the visual aspect. The design of the infiltrator droid had a nice “retro” feel to it, and at the same time, it managed to feel threatening. The shots from its point of view also gave the episode another dimension. And I am probably not the only one who thought “Predator!” upon seeing the droid’s self-destruction mechanism. The homage to the 80’s sci-fi classic in the countdown mechanism’s design was obvious, although somewhat surprising to see in Star Wars.

What Would Fulcrum Do

Last of all, I cannot leave out how this episode deepened the relationships between characters once again. Zeb and the droids, of course, but also Zeb and the rest of the Rebels (and their trust in him) and last but not least, Fulcrum and the Rebels. Agent Kallus’s reaction to the whole situation and his response when the matter got resolved was something I was happy to see. It showed how much exactly Kallus is invested in the whole Rebellion problem and even in individual issues such as this one. His final scene with Admiral Thrawn was also very powerful. I would almost say that finally, we got a moment where Thrawn showed us a concrete example of how his schemes work instead of just vague, generic rant about strategy. The interaction between Thrawn and Kallus was also much needed, to further show us how the relationship between them works on an everyday level.

All in all, Warhead was a very good episode and we can only hope Rebels will keep the momentum.

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Rostislav Kurka
Rostislav is a Protestant theologian and a self-trained Sith, counting Jan Hus, Dorothee Sölle, Darth Revan and Darth Traya among his main influences. He hails from the hundred-towered city of Prague, where he had spent a large part of his life creating worlds and inspiring young generations to roleplay. His involvement in organising children's camps led him to accidentally writing a Lord of the Rings musical, which made him temporarily famous, and a Three Musketeer-Jedi fanfilm, which didn't. He has recently moved to the frozen waste of Finland, because that's it, the Rebels are there.