Star Wars Rebels: “Ghosts of Geonosis” Season 3 Episode 11 Review

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It’s strange. Just a month ago, Star Wars Rebels seemed aimless in its third season. Neither Thrawn nor Maul brought a much needed narrative punch to the series. But now, we’ve all seen Rogue One (and if you haven’t, continue reading after you’ve seen it) and are aware of Saw Gerrera’s role, the indications of how certain Rebels characters exist in the film’s timeframe, and the larger Rebellion at hand. What does that mean for Rebels now? The show is still a few years behind Rogue One, but it can start setting up that film and the original trilogy more directly. “Ghosts of Geonosis” is a huge indicator that these characters will play a large role in the future of this saga. But will it be an exciting role?

Here’s the thing about Saw Gerrera (Forrest Whitaker continuing his probably pretty sweet deal with Disney): his arc on Clone Wars wasn’t particularly memorable and he’s not even close to being the most interesting character in Rogue One, let alone being in it for very long. On a surface level, his inclusion in Rebels absolutely makes sense, but the attention he’s given here, so soon after Rogue One‘s release, feels entirely corporate. You can honestly feel it in the writing. “Ghosts of Geonosis” doesn’t boast the best script or general story structure Rebels has ever showcased.

The basic idea is fine. The Ghost is assigned to go find a missing rebel cell, led by Gerrera, on Geonosis, the planet where the Death Star plans were first seen all the way back in Attack of the Clones. But the execution feels forced. Rex and Saw painfully recall their past relationship, which is present in just one episode of Clone Wars (Ahsoka would have honestly been much more effective than Rex here), too many times. Hera’s worry about Saw’s reputation would have felt much more organic had she not been proven correct just seconds after stating her concern. The whole execution of Saw’s character just felt so purposeful, more about connecting him to all the other places we’ve seen him rather than building a bridge between them.

There are some strong ideas here that would build Rebels into being the series it wants to be, were they not thrown away. The last living Geonosian is obviously revealing the Death Star to Ezra, Kanan, Rex, and Saw. Considering the Rebellion only truly learns of its capabilities in Rogue One, it makes sense that they wouldn’t get to fully understand where the Empire’s WMD is heading technology wise, but how cool would it have been if the crew of the Ghost, plus Saw, were the ones to discover the Death Star. It could still happen, but the tease here with no payoff is just frustrating. The same goes for the proof the crew finds for the Empire wiping out the entire planet of Geonosians. Hera’s plan is to bring the proof to the Senate, which would surely arise concern and give way for the Emperor to demolish them in A New Hope. But the proof is lost, leaving the Ghost with photographs that Bail Organa says will increase interest in the Rebellion. Cool, but there was a chance to really flesh out this universe. But maybe Disney is waiting for a novel or comic to do that instead.

I have to say, I’m starting to turn against Disney’s Star Wars. Most of what we’ve gotten since they took over Lucasfilm has been good, if not great, but there’s something missing. George Lucas’ Star Wars saga, including Clone Wars, was effortless. It was far from perfect, no one would question that, but it felt natural. RebelsRogue One, and Force Awakens are unquestionably better than, say, Phantom Menace, but you can also feel in all of them how hard they’re trying to be classic Star Wars. It’s all over “Ghosts of Geonosis.” Maybe Disney still feels the need to win over fans. It was understandable and forgivable in Force Awakens, but now they risk damaging the saga and turning it into a brand. Sure, Star Wars has never been shy about slapping itself on a lunchbox, but the content itself never felt like it was trying to sell you on anything. So far, Disney’s products have been a sales pitch to fans. A damn good one at that. But for the company to put its mark on the saga, something has to change. That’s the only way for Star Wars Rebels and Episode VIII to reach the heights of the franchise’s history. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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