This article contains spoilers for Star Wars Rebels Season 3, Episode 12-13
Star Wars Rebels is back from its holiday hiatus, and in a big way!
Following up on “The Honorable Ones” from season 2, “Ghosts of Geonosis” takes our rebel friends back to the Galaxy Far, Far Away’s second most important “dust ball,” where “stupid sand gets everywhere” (Sabine’s complaint is a clever call-back to Anakin’s similar gripe in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones). On Geonosis, they team up with Saw Gerrera to try and discover what secret weapon the Empire was, until recently, building. But when Imperial forces arrive, the investigation becomes a fight to survive – for not only Gerrera and the Ghost crew but also “Klik-Klak,” the sole surviving Geonosian.
Anyone who’s seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or who has read its prequel novel, Catalyst, already knows the answer to this two-part episode’s biggest question. That “circle within a circle” Klik-Klak draws isn’t just a Geonosian egg or the Empire’s “gear” logo; it’s his best attempt at picturing a certain technological terror the Rebel Alliance will soon recognize all too easily.
But “Ghosts of Geonosis” still leaves viewers with questions, including:
1) So what in the world happened to Saw Gerrera?
I wondered whether we’d have some idea after this episode about the circumstances that led to Saw’s partially robotic appearance in Rogue One, but he survives this adventure bodily intact. Still, given his tactics in the Geonosian tunnels, it’s not hard to imagine himself causing his own injuries in the future. The explosion he set that took out those battle droids and that Droideka was mighty big and mighty close!
Even though Saw stayed physically whole, “Ghosts of Geonosis” shows us he’s mentally and emotionally broken. His grief for his dead sister Steela threatens to consume him. It fuels such hatred for the Empire that, as Ezra points out, it’s sometimes hard to tell whether Saw is any better than the enemy. (His torture of Klik-Klak, brief though it was, reminded me of the Inquisitor’s torture of Kanan in season one’s “Fire Across the Galaxy”).
This time, optimistic Rebel spirit and noble Jedi philosophy kept Saw back from a moral abyss every bit as deep as the shaft in Geonosis’ surface. But we know this freedom fighter will face darker times ahead. Whether Star Wars Rebels will tell those stories remains to be seen.
2) Will we see more dissent within the Rebel Alliance’s ranks?
As Rogue One did, “Ghosts of Geonosis” presents viewers with an arguably more realistic view of the Rebellion than the original film trilogy ever did.
Senator Bail Organa (voiced by Phil LaMarr, doing a dead-on Jimmy Smits impression) tells the Ghost crew that Alliance command decided to send them to Geonosis only “after some debate.” And Hera and Kanan tell Ezra at the story’s end that not all parties in the Alliance hold the same values or fight the Empire for the same reasons.
Unlike the Empire, the Rebellion doesn’t strive for monolithic conformity. The diversity of its adherents’ backgrounds and skills enrich it. Stories like “Ghosts of Geonosis” and Rogue One remind us that diversity also presents challenges. People don’t always agree about which goals are important, or how to go about achieving those goals.
This more nuanced depiction of the Rebel Alliance may feel, for now, more like something out of Star Trek than Star Wars. But ultimately, it enhances the believability of this fictional universe, and affirms that the benefits of diversity—bringing down an Empire based on darkness and fear—more than make up for its struggles.
3) What happens to Klik-Klak?
According to the official episode guide, the Rebels creative team looked to writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s movie District 9 (2009) as a model of how to make “an insectoid alien… something other than creepy.” They succeeded! Despite being saddled with a “cutesy” name (shades of Ahsoka in The Clone Wars’ first season), Klik-Klak emerges as a highly sympathetic character. I’d bet my last Republic credit we’ll be seeing Klik-Klak action figures and bobble-heads before too long!
Because I’m also a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth books, I might have guessed the Rebels team was creating their very own Gollum: A small, physically repulsive subterranean dweller, obsessively concerned with a “precious” object (those Geonosian queen eggs are “very rare,” we’re told), who lives only by the mercy of those more powerful than he.
Saw Gerrera argues the rebels’ mission takes precedence over Klik-Klak’s life and the Geonosians’ potential rebirth. Ezra and Kanan insist Klik-Klak and his race deserve a second chance at life.
This argument reminded me of Gandalf’s conviction, in The Lord of the Rings, that Bilbo was right to spare Gollum in the tunnels beneath the Misty Mountains, all those years before:
It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need… [D]o not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
—The Fellowship of the Ring, chapter 2
Clearly, Klik-Klak is no villain, as Gollum ends up becoming (despite Frodo’s best efforts to redeem him). But it’s still interesting to contemplate what part, if any, Klik-Klak might have to play before all is said and done. As Kanan tells Saw, “The galaxy is full of surprises.”
What surprised you about “Ghosts of Geonosis”? Let’s talk about these episodes in the comments below!