In the immortal words of Adam West’s Batman, “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!” But other days, you can, and our friends on Star Wars Rebels show us how in the series’ latest episode, “Warhead.”
The bomb in question is a proton explosive hidden inside EXD-9, an Imperial logistics droid and, I predict, the next big Star Wars action figure hit! Why? Because the droid is Star Wars’ equivalent of a Transformer!
EXD-9 is definitely “more than meets the eye.” In “infiltrator” mode, it looks like an older model protocol droid – a beautiful nod to Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art for C-3PO, a look inspired by the feminine robot in Fritz Lang’s landmark 1927 silent sci-fi film, Metropolis. (Chopper’s design owes more than a little to this McQuarrie painting, too!)
But when EXD-9 changes to show its more aggressive side, it’s “armed to the teeth,” as Zeb says, and is slightly reminiscent of K-2SO from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: a similarly lanky build, similarly pale, piercing eyes… but none of K-2’s witty, sarcastic banter to mitigate its menace!
Borrowing a page from Greek mythology, Zeb, Chopper and AP-5 turn EXD-9 into a Trojan droid. The Empire’s plan to find the Rebels’ base literally blows up in its face
“Warhead” is straightforward action-adventure, without the moral ambiguity or philosophical layers of last week’s mid-season premiere. But it left a few questions to think about until next week’s episode.
1) Why wasn’t Zeb immediately suspicious of EXD-9?
Yes, yes, “because plot.” But seriously! An unknown droid shows up, and Zeb puts it to work right away, giving it unfettered access to the base’s secrets? Maybe Ezra was right to complain in “The Wynkahthu Job.” Zeb doesn’t acquit himself all that well as base commander pro tempore!
Phoenix Squadron knows the Empire is after them. Why doesn’t Zeb default to suspicion and caution? He seems more interested in scoring points at AP-5’s expense (“He’s better at your job than you are!”) than in keeping Chopper Base safe. Hera may think twice before leaving him in charge again.
2) Did the Empire keep using infiltrator droids?
I loved the way “Warhead” opened with an homage to the opening sequence of The Empire Strikes Back, in which we see a Star Destroyer scatter some of those “thousands of remote probes” Darth Vader is using to search for Luke Skywalker, including the probe that lands on Hoth. But these scenes’ similarity made me wonder whether the Empire abandoned infiltration droids after the rebels on Atollon used EXD-9 against it.
Halting its use of E-XD droids makes sense. Now that the Rebellion has seen one old-style protocol droid modified to be an intel-gathering “suicide bomber,” it would surely suspect any more. But the Star Wars universe knows no shortage of droid models. Why would the Empire rely exclusively on “probots” when it could adapt and weaponize old astromechs, for instance, or old Gonk droids, or even mouse droids?
Perhaps some future episode, novel or comic book will tell other tales of Imperial droids in disguise.
3) What consequences will Agent Kallus face from the EXD-9 incident?
Frankly, both Kallus and Phoenix Squadron are lucky that EXD-9 didn’t return to Agent Kallus’ Star Destroyer. The Rebellion would be short another Fulcrum had things turned out differently! (Incidentally, have we seen that holographic symbol for Fulcrum before? And does it remind anyone else of the facial markings on the presumed late Ahsoka Tano? Did the Rebellion design this logo in tribute? Excuse me, I have something in my eye…)
Ever the sinister optimist, Grand Admiral Thrawn tells Kallus that the rebels’ sabotage of the infiltrator droid actually helps the Imperial cause by limiting the range of Thrawn’s search for their hidden base: “Now I know they are almost certainly on one of the 94 planets surveyed by my infiltrators. The rebels have won this battle, but the war will be ours.”
The ending of “An Inside Man” left me confident Thrawn knows Kallus is acting as a double agent. I wonder if Thrawn makes his statement to Kallus as an implicit warning… or, perhaps, as bait. Maybe he hopes Kallus will make another move, to warn the rebels that the Grand Admiral is closer to finding them than they may think. Either way, I suspect Kallus’ days as a “Fulcrum” are numbered—and they may not end well for him.
What did you think of “Warhead”? Let’s talk about the episode in the comments below!