An old friend returns to make trouble in “Idiot’s Array”.
By and large, Star Wars: Rebels is supposed to introduce a new, younger generation of fans to the franchise. There’s an all-new cast of characters who aren’t tied to down to pre-existing backstory and an attempt to explore Star Wars without tying viewers to a past continuity. But let’s be honest: There’s probably just as many long-time Star Wars fans watching the show, eating up lightsaber fights and seeing how this New EU turns out.
These are the fans who are going to appreciate “Idiot’s Array” on principle, simply for featuring a beloved character from the original trilogy. And unlike the last cameo episode, this one makes the character an essential part of the plot, leaving you wishing he’ll return for a future episode. The downside is that compared to recent chapters, “Idiot’s Array” is a bit weaker than we’ve come to expect, relying more on that nostalgia power instead of solid pacing.
Sure, that’s a little disappointing. But does the novelty alone still make this episode worth watching? Absolutely. Check it out on DisneyXD’s website or buy it on Amazon. Miss out on our recent reviews? Read up on the last episode, “Path of the Jedi” or check out all of our episode reviews. Now, on to this week’s episode!
Things seem to be finally slowing down for the Ghost’s crew which isn’t exactly good news; without jobs to take on the ship is running critically low on food. Unfortunately Zeb’s solution – winning extra credits through Sabaac games – backfires when he bets all the money he has and the droid Chopper and loses. Thankfully, the Sabaac player presents a tempting solution to the Ghost’s crew: Help pick up some cargo and smuggle it across an Imperial blockade, and he’ll return Chopper and pay them for their trouble.
And who is this Sabaac player? None other than a humble “entrepreneur” named Lando Calrissian.
That’s right, “Idiot’s Array” is playing the same game as “Droids in Distress” by making an iconic figure from the original trilogy a key part of the storyline. The main difference? Unlike C-3P0, Lando is essential to the plot and smooth as hell. Instead of being here for name recognition alone, he actually interacts and plays off of the Rebels crew in a way that makes him a real presence in the episode. And yes, that is Billy Dee Williams in the voice credits, clearly having a lot of fun revisiting his most recognizable role.
This isn’t the Lando who managed Cloud City or led the Rebels against the Death Star as a General. This is Lando the rogue smuggler, ready and willing to charm his way out of (and into) any number of dangerous situations. Most of the drama from the episode comes from the fact that he knows far more about what’s happening than the Ghost does, but isn’t quite willing to play his hand till the time is right. Which the Ghost’s crew certainly figures out, once Hera turns out to be Lando’s “payment” for the secret cargo.
Apparently Lando doesn’t have the credits to pay for the item he’s acquiring (or doesn’t want to pay), so he casually drops Hera into a trap while slipping her the clues she needs to escape. Thankfully, Hera’s sharp enough to pick up on what’s happening and is perhaps the only crew member to see through Lando’s facade, making her more than capable to arrange her own daring escape. Hera is perhaps my favorite character in Rebels so far, and it’s nice to put the lightsabers away and focus on the skills of other characters. While it doesn’t beat her blaster fight back in “Out of Darkness”, she has a few great character moments highlighting why she’s well-suited to be the Ghost’s captain.
Sadly, the rest of the crew isn’t quite so on the ball. Lando’s presence immediately effects the crew, especially the male cast members, who seem rather intimidated in ways they can’t quite vocalize. Meanwhile, Sabine is completely charmed by Lando, who uses his smooth tongue and knowledge of art to start earning her attention (and Ezra’s jealously).
The problem is these conflicts don’t really amount to more than surface tension that doesn’t actually go anywhere. Not to mention that Lando’s smooth operator gag is so eye-rollingly obvious, even in a children’s cartoon, that it’s amazing anyone’s buying it at all. Hera accuses Lando of trying to turn the crew against each other, but it’s not clear how he’d benefit from that – especially since it would risk sabotaging his own smuggling operation.
What Lando’s presence does accomplish is set the stage for a variety of slapstick sequences that could have been the highlight of the episode. For example, Lando’s cargo (some kind of puffer pig creature) escapes its confines and swells until it’s trapped half the crew in the cockpit – specifically those who don’t know how to fly and shoot at the same time. Ezra’s attempt to escape only makes the situation worse and reveals Ghost to the Empire, who promptly send TIE Fighters after them. It sounds like a great concept, but the execution falls a little flat. In this case, the actual fight sequence isn’t fast paced enough to feel like the Ghost is actually losing control. The unfolding physical humor that made “Fighter Flight” entertaining would’ve been perfect here, but the payoff ends up feeling lackluster instead.
That’s not to say “Idiot’s Array” isn’t fun. Billy Dee Williams remains charming to watch even if you are rolling your eyes, and it’s a nice break from Rebels heavy Jedi focus. In fact, Kanan and Ezra both surprised me by never using the Force once: Ezra only got out his lightsaber so he could use its blaster function. (Yup, definitely better than his slingshot.) You’ll probably have fun watching in spite of yourself, and there’s enough solid elements here that someone could make lightning strike when (not if) Lando returns in the future.
Bottom Line: “Idiot’s Array” is kind of like Lando during another infamous Sabaac game: A smooth talker with lots of swagger, but not enough good cards to win the Millenium Falcon. That said, it’s still a fun episode long-time fans will appreciate, with several great touches that one hopes will be better executed in future installments.
Recommendation: Billy Dee Williams. There, you’ve already decided whether you want to watch this episode or not.[rating=3]