Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Star Wars Rebels reviews here.
Wow, so “The Honorable Ones” was definitely the best Star Wars Rebels episode this season—excluding “The Siege of Lothal” at least—and that’s saying a lot. A purely character-driven story that fleshed out heroes and villains alike.
The episode opened with a fantastic tie-in to both the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy, as the Ghost crew came upon the abandoned construction site of the Death Star, hovering above Geonosis. That alone was enough to send the Star Wars nerd within me into a frenzy, and the battle afterwards against the beautiful backdrop of Geonosis was absolutely dazzling. And that was just the first few minutes.
Mortal enemies stranded together in an inhospitable location and forced to work together to survive is a trope as old as storytelling, but like many such tropes, it’s often fruitful to explore. Especially with a pairing like Zeb and Agent Kallus. I mentioned two reviews ago that Zeb had been the least developed of the main characters, but these past few weeks have done a lot to remedy that. As for Agent Kallus, it’s always good when a villain emerges from one-dimensionality to become a more complex character, and that’s exactly what this episode did.
In fact, the Empire vs Rebel Alliance conflict in the original Star Wars trilogy was always depicted as very black and white. The villainous Empire was often one-dimensional, which worked for the purposes of the stories being told, but a little extra shading is always welcome, especially on a format like television, and even more especially post-prequels, The Clone Wars, and the Expanded Universe. It only makes sense that most Imperials were not blatantly evil and believed they were doing the right thing and fulfilling their duties.
“The Honorable Ones” took one such cog in the Imperial machine and fleshed him out, adding a few grey brushtrokes along the way. Agent Kallus was always more interesting than his fellow Imperial compatriots, with his subtle wry snark and semi-antagonistic relationship with the Inquisitors, not to mention being voiced by Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo. He was always destined for something more, and “The Honorable Ones” capitalized on that potential.
I had worried about how the episode was going to handle this, considering Kallus had been pretty ruthless so far, boasting about the Lasan massacre and coldly assassinating Minister Tua in previous episodes. But “The Honorable Ones” pulled it off really well, even addressing the Lasan massacre, including Kallus’s misguided prejudice against Zeb’s species, in one of the best scenes of the entire series. It may not have made him a sympathetic character, but it allowed us to understand him, a luxury not usually granted in these stories, yet one that turns good villains into great ones.
As for Zeb, the theme of honour continues to run strong. He had every opportunity to dispatch or at least abandon Kallus, but he instead worked with him for survival and actively saved his life quite a few times—honourable acts that Kallus reciprocated. Not only did he gain a different perspective of his longtime nemesis, but he revealed that he had accepted and moved on from the Lasan massacre, which is a major step for the character.
“The Honorable Ones” also ended brilliantly, displaying the stark contrast between the warm embrace of the Ghost crew and the uncaring indifference of the Empire after both characters were saved.
In the end, both Zeb and Kallus—as well as the viewers—gained a greater appreciation for the nuances that exist in every being, ally and enemy alike. Kallus has a lot to chew on, and I can’t wait to see where this leads.
Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)
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