A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The interconnectivity of narrative universes has become quite the trend, evidenced most strongly by the film and television properties Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes. In one sense, it makes the respective universes feel more connected and lived-in. In another, it can create a narrative hindrance for stories trying to grow organically as the amount of variables needing to be taken into account grows significantly. One of those variables is unfortunately timing of marketing, which is the last thing a story ought to take into account but the timing of the two-parter “Ghosts of Geonosis” is indicative of Disney wanting the return of Saw Gerrera to take place immediately after the events of Rogue One. That return has been hyped up quite significantly as there was the intention of drawing in the audience from Rogue One who wanted to know more about Gerrera (as he was arguably wasted in the film). It was that timing and hype that unfortunately helps contributes to this lengthier episode ultimately coming across as an entertaining disappointment, but a disappointment nevertheless. The critical problem here lies with a lack of proper and consistent character development, which should have received priority billing considering that the episode functions as two episodes put together, divided only by an overtly dramatic “To Be Continued…” title card. Ezra and Saw specifically suffer the most in this department, which is problematic because “Ghosts of Geonosis” tries quite ardently to make their previously nonexistent relationship the climactic crux.
The major problem with Ezra is that he continues to be inconsistently drawn, as if the writers have an overarching idea of where he needs to be but aren’t exactly sure of how to make that journey be imbued with a logical character progression. Or perhaps they are willing to interrupt that progression for the sake of dramatic tension at specific junctures. Either way, the results are unfortunate, thinning the dramatic tension while also making the return of Ezra’s struggles with the dark side feel less compelling as a result. Here Ezra is more or less the funny team member version of himself, which is fine but it simply isn’t compelling enough to force the contrast between himself and Gerrera, which the episode presents as being critical to the development of the overall climax to a problematic degree. That there isn’t a specific climactic sequence the episode is seemingly aiming for creates a circumstance where the climax is instead created between Ezra’s sympathy for the surviving Geonosian adult and the lone queen egg he has kept guarded and Saw’s insistence on getting intel on what happened to the rest of his crew on the planet. The battle lines with Saw are handled quite poorly as it is because the mystery aspect of the episode simply takes precedence over proper character development. “What happened to the Geonosians?” is an odd mystery to pick because the show has already laid out genocide as the cause so to have that be more important than giving Saw clearly defined goals hurts the episode overall quite a bit.
In Rogue One, Mon Mothma noted that Gerrera was an extremist but the film never thought it was necessary to explain exactly what that meant or even how it came about. Rebels, having the opportunity to flesh out that backstory, does the exact same thing, increasing the level of disappointment in a lengthy episode that promised better. Extremism is a touchy word in terms of how it can be properly defined because it is inherently tied to various political perspectives so Rebels decides to showcase Gerrera’s extremism by torturing a Geonosian who is ostensibly the last living adult of his species. It’s the most direct way the show could display Gerrera’s extremism and also the laziest way because there isn’t any proper establishment of how that would come about, what led him to that place. He just is and sorry to note, but simply telling the audience over and over and over again that “he’s an extremist” doesn’t actually provide any logical reasoning as to what a specific character is doing. It’s a label that is in this circumstance an extremely lazy shorthand for writing a proper screenplay. As if to make matters more maudlin and suitably worse, the Empire enters the picture and suddenly everyone has to get over their differences and fight. Saw suddenly believes that the Geonosians deserve a chance, a statement that puts a smile on Ezra’s face. It’s cliched and worthy of all the eye rolls, but the worst moment was when Ezra was preaching to Saw that he was no better than the Empire. That’s a rich statement coming from someone on the precipice of being seduced by the Dark Side, someone who used fairly horrifying powers to, for example, walk an AT-ST and its crew over the bridge, ensuring that everyone would be killed in the process. The unfortunate part is that the episode seemed to have forgotten about that as well.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Saw started his own Rebel cell. Give me that story instead, with different writers.
+Destroyers in the sand
+Kanan and the bridge
+“Yeah, but he’s no Skywalker.”
+Nice to see a female person of color as an Imperial officer
-“Then you’re no better than the Empire.” Give me a ****ing break
Above Average (Total)
Episode Title: Ghosts of Geonosis: Part I
Written by: Dave Filoni & Steven Melching
Directed by: Saul Ruiz
Episode Title: Ghosts of Geonosis: Part II
Written by: Dave Filoni & Matthew Michnovetz
Directed by: Mel Zwyer
Image Courtesy: Star Wars Rebels Wiki
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