On Rebels, Chopper Gets A Fwiend And The Rebellion Gains An Ally

Greetings, fellow human! Note that this is not a full review. If you like that, cool, but here we take a look at a couple of aspects of each episode and discuss them. Best read after having watched the episode, and as always SPOILERS from here on out.

In this episode of Rebels, entitled The Forgotten Droid, Chopper gets a fwiend. And indeed that’s pretty much the only thing that happens and thus the only selling point. As I demonstrated to my not-a-Star-Wars-fan sister. Over and over again. I made it her special hell.

It was at this point that they started singing Hakuna Matata, and everything became right in the world.

Building

The benefits of telling a story in a TV show instead of a film is that you’re allowed to do so much more and do it in vastly different ways. The purpose of this show, as I understand it, is to demonstrate how the rebellion came to be. This usually takes the form of showing our Spectres fighting small scale battles against the Empire, or demonstrating said Empire to be cruel and ruthless and thus making it worthwhile to overthrow them, or highlighting how various people came to be a part of the rebellion. But there is another way – one that is quite important but not quite as flashy, and when done right is done subtly. It’s also something that many role-playing gamers may know well: resource building. This is the gradual accumulation of resources through various means. Sometimes it’s as simple as ‘Press Enter to accept Cmdr Millicent into your team’ – the most common of recruitment drives known to military the world over (I assume). Sometimes it’s stealing supplies or ships so that you have an armada with which to advance ‘The Cause’, and certainly you may recall one of the previous episodes where the rebels captured the ship carrier that played such a central role in this episode. That was one of the more obvious examples of resource building (or RB for short).

RB is an absolutely necessary component to this kind of show, and the kind of story it’s trying to tell. As Zarm, a regular commenter on this website (hi Zarm!), made mention several weeks ago in the comments, Phoenix Squadron has a … let’s call it a quick turnaround. They frequently experience losses of manpower and resources – and simply showing that, week after week, does strain viewer credulity. But by indulging in RB, by demonstrating where those pilots and those A Wings come from, lends weight to their use in action scenes. They’re no longer Redshirts, or background objects to make the action seem tense, but actual beings whose presence has narrative importance. And those A Wings are no longer cheap bits of machinery that are easily replaced (that is to say, they may be, but I wouldn’t know), but that they’re valuable resources that the Rebellion has struggled hard to acquire, so that the loss of a single snubfighter has the potential to severely impact the Rebellion’s fighting strength. To briefly give a historical example, we saw this during the Second World War, during the Battle of Britain. Daily the Luftwaffe would send wave upon wave of fighter planes to harass military bases, damage industrial and civilian areas and in general be a nuisance. They had hundreds, if not thousands, of aeroplanes at their disposal – but the continual loss of planes or pilots was not something they could afford or sustain. Compare that to British and Allied pilots who, if shot down, could return to work the next day – simply because they had been shot down above friendly territory whereas if the Luftwaffe were to be shot down then they could expect a lengthy stay in a POW camp. And beyond that, these Allied pilots could fly in new planes supplied by the ATA. Their shot-down vehicles, too, would be salvaged and reused – if not as planes then as something else of value to the war effort.

By now you may have spotted something wrong with my line of thinking, and don’t worry, that’s on purpose*. This episode wasn’t about A Wings or Phoenix Squadron. It was about AP-5, the eponymous forgotten droid (yeah I said it, fight me), as well his supply ship joining the Rebellion, swelling its ranks with another ship, but more importantly the presence of AP-5 provides the Rebellion with much needed insider intel as well as a useful tactical mind. It was a great way of introducing what could potentially be a key asset to the Rebellion – and it was also done in a fairly subtle way.

*Mostly

It’s perhaps unkind but true to state that this show has not, on many an occasion, been the most subtle in its storytelling. Probably most viewers could spot a mile away any plot twist or character development before it had time to take full form (as evidenced by the return of Ketsu Onyo as she aided the Rebellion. I’m sure many called that she would come to aid the rebels).

Who knew tactical geniuses had such cool shades?

Speaking of subtlety, if I may be forgiven for drawing a negative comparison (I loathe to do this, usually because it’s often tacky and unecessary), I’d like to draw your attention to another show: Star Trek.

I do apologise

I do apologise

Star Trek: Voyager was rather notorious by utilising a form of RB. For those unfamiliar with the show, the premise was that the starship Voyager was, via a Deus Ex Machina device known as The Caretaker, flung to the other side of the galaxy, and it was the job of the crew to make the 70,000 light-year journey home. This sounded good – until you realised that at the end of every other episode saw one crew member or another say ‘this new technology ought to take a few years off our journey’. It was about as subtle in its resource building as Zeb in a gun factory. Rebels has a similar task at hand: it must build the Rebellion up into something that looks capable of taking on an entire fleet at the end of Return of the Jedi. And, like Voyager, it must also do quite a large amount of RB on a near weekly basis.

But unlike Voyager it occasionally takes great pains to hide this fact, usually by making them into character-centric episodes. In the past we’ve had episodes like the B Wing episode, or the Ryloth episode, where the gaining of new technology was obviously the goal from the start, but the focus was almost entirely on its characters. In the former, we explored Hera’s back-story and her love of flying. In the latter, Hera had to overcome her backstabbing, traitorous father* in order gain a base of operations for her squadron. But Forgotten Droid surpasses these attempts, because once again the narrative focus is not on the need for supplies (this quite literally takes place in the background), but Chopper and AP-5. It’s through a heart-warming sharing of character background that key information is dropped, like Chopper’s military experience and Apey’s tactical expertise. And later we’re shown that AP-5, a lowly navigator droid, knows that the Rebels’ safe port is in fact a trap. How he knows is not explained – but for now that’s not important. What is important is that he knows. These scenes are brief blink and you’ll miss it moments, but ones that delivers possibly vital information.

*Not bitter at all. Honest.

Exactly what did Chopper do to get Hera looking so unresponsive? Dude’s evil, I tell you.

But this does come with negatives. Earlier I made a point of the necessity of demonstrating where Phoenix Squadrons gets its pilots and war materiel. I made this particular example because it focuses on the events and people in the show itself (see, I wasn’t losing it!*). As things are, Rebels tends to focus its world- and resource-building for the benefit of the movies rather than for the show itself. This is understandable – particularly as we once had an expanded universe that gave us back-stories on a number of characters who were seen for a whole two seconds on screen. Again it’s understandable and to a degree I accept this as both necessary and good. But at the same time, especially in the case of RB, I do feel that the show could do better by focusing on building up its own resources. This is mainly because the series itself has, in the second series alone, greatly expanded its scope, so that it could be thought of as a universe in its own right – and one that doesn’t really need to feed another universe, or even feed off it. (I’m terrible at metaphors, so for clarity the other universe I’m mentioning is the movie universe).

*Well, I am, but not that time.

It’s a young show so of course it needs to learn on its big brothers and sisters (to haphazardly mix metaphors), but it’s quickly moving beyond that necessary crutch to a point where it can stand on its own two feet, and at that point it ought to learn away from RBing for the movies and just concentrate on itself.

Michael Dare

P.S. I suck at metaphors.

Bringing Maz Kanata to Life

 Some awesome material courtesy of Lucasfilm about the upcoming TFA Blu Ray – check it out!
Lupita Nyong’o is now sharing a brand-new bonus clip from the upcoming Blu-ray & digital release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens! You can take a look behind-the-scenes with Lupita as the 1,000-year-old smuggler, Maz.

Plus, starting today, the official Star Wars app also has a new emoji featuring Maz! To download or learn more about the app, visit: http://strw.rs/SWAppMaz or Lupita’s Instagram page at:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived in Digital HD April 1st and Blu-ray & DVD April 5th.

Star Wars Updates, Upgrades, and Expansions – CCC Ep. 042

This week its a whole slew of new as Fantasy Flight Releases their newest wave of X-wing and announce their next Force pack for the card game and some new ships for Armada.

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On The video game side of things, we talk more about the Uprising update after getting some time with it as well as VR in Battlefront? Check it out now to get filled in on all the details and the Hilarious shenanigans of Michael Morris and Nathan P. Butler.

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Rebels 217 “The Forgotten Droid” — Ion Cannon #53

Join your hosts Tom, Stephen, and William as they discuss the 17th episode of Star Wars Rebels Season Two, “The Forgotten Droid.”

Ion Cannon

The Ion Cannon Podcast is your source for entertainment reviews from a galaxy far, far away, including Rebels, the sequel trilogy, spin-off films, and more.

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A Trooper’s Point of View – Building a TIE Fighter Pilot

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Last year at this time I had a crazy idea pop in my head that just a mere two months before Celebration Anaheim I wanted to make a new 501st costume.  I really wanted to bring some kind of Legion costume to the convention and I didn’t want the hassle of flying with my armor.  So I decided to make something that was entirely soft goods that could be folded up and put in my suitcase.

I decided to make a Reserve Pilot/Imperial Crewman costume.  Basically, it’s a black jumpsuit, boots, belt and gloves.  It’s called a Reserve Pilot, because you have all the costume bits of a TIE Pilot without the helmet or hard armor.

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Now, two months is not in any way shape or form a realistic time frame to research, source, plan and build any kind of Legion approvable costume, especially not when you are also trying to finalize a cross country trip.  Somehow I managed to get it done.  I premiered my Reserve Pilot at Celebration and had a blast.  It’s nice to have a costume I can sit down in.

Fast forward to today, and I am finally working on my full and proper TIE Pilot outfit.  I ordered the armor and patiently waited a month for it to arrive.  The happiest day in any trooper’s life is the day that the Big, Brown Box shows up on your doorstep.  It’s also the most intimidating time of the process.  I laid out all the pieces to make sure everything was there, and then began to scratch my head and realize that I had no idea what I was doing.

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Researching your costume is important.  Let me say that again.  Researching your costume is important.  Especially with armor.  Once you cut that plastic it’s very hard to go back and correct a mistake.  Most everything is fixable, but you may end up doubling or tripling the amount of work you need to do for one piece.  Measure twice, measure again, check your sources, measure one more time, then cut.  Most armor makers send things out in a rough cut form.  The pieces have been cut down to the point that they will fit in the box.  It’s up to you to then trim them down to size.  This is where the research comes into play.  The various Legion detachment sites are a great tool for research, as well as any of the traveling costume exhibits.

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Cutting armor is actually easier than you may think.  Most armor is made out of a plastic like ABS or HIPS.  These cut pretty well with an exacto knife, lexan plastic shears or a dremel.  I prefer to use the exacto knife or shears primarily.  A dremel is a great tool and I highly recommend having one if you are working on these type of costumes, but for a lot of the cutting and trimming, I feel like it’s overkill.  Plus the smell of melting plastic is awful and it makes a HUGE mess.  With an exacto knife you don’t need to cut all the way through the plastic, simply score the plastic, and then you can bend and snap the piece off.  It makes for a fairly clean cut.  Regardless of the method, you end up with a lot of excess plastic, it’s helpful to keep these.  The excess pieces can be useful for fixing things or making plates to attach snaps to.

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Once you have your pieces roughly cut you may need an idea of how the different pieces will fit together, I have found that blue painter’s tape is a great option.  It’s not so sticky that it will leave a residue.

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This is where I am at now, spending my evenings on the couch watching TV and trimming out armor.  Slowly but surely it is starting to take shape.  One of our larger trooping events is coming up at the end of April and my goal is to have the armor be wearable, not necessarily approved yet by that time.  Deadlines are important, but it’s also helpful to make sure they are realistic deadlines.

Next month I should have completed pieces and will be going over fitting and wearing the armor.