The thirteenth episode of Star Wars Rebels, Warhead, for the third season did everything right for an episode stuck in the middle of a season. The connective tissue Warhead setup for the second half of the season is everything missing from the first half. This is exactly the type of episode, with the connection to Grand Admiral Thrawn, which keep the overall narrative for the show moving forward at a good pace. Warhead is a fun light hearted episode with Zeb, Chopper, and AP-5, but one which still advances a major overall story thread.
At the start of the episode Zeb is left in charge of the Rebel base as Hera and the rest of the squad go off for training. The Empire has sent out Infiltrator droids to look for the Rebels, and one lands on the world Phoenix squadron occupies. The start of Warhead is perfect with its usage of the same music at the start of Empire Strikes Back. There are a few similarities to the start of Empire in Warhead. The first is the sending out of the droids along with the music, but then Kallus’s reaction to one not reporting in is almost identical to Admiral Ozzel’s. Kallus says there are so many deployed they shouldn’t worry about one not reporting in until the next day. This is another instance in the episode which should be called back to in the future. Thrawn will be able to puzzle out that Kallus didn’t immediately investigate the disappearance of the droid and wonder why. Even though Zeb in the end was able to keep the base hidden, Thrawn knows he can narrow down where the Rebel base is by looking into the worlds the droids were sent to. This is a great through line to have for the second half of the season. The Empire and Thrawn have a plan to look for the base, which will force the Rebels into an eventual showdown with Thrawn.
The main part of the episode with Zeb, Chopper and AP-5 was fun. The Imperial Infiltrator droid was a fantastic callback to original artwork from Ralph Mcquarrie. The action and chase between the droid and Zeb was well done. Zeb’s plan to do damage to the Empire was great, and it was a good finale to see the droid blow up on the Star Destroyer at the end. The only small issue with the episode were AP-5 being annoying with his constant jabs at Zeb which weren’t funny, and the fact Zeb didn’t alert the entire base about the droid. There was no reason not to tell the entire base an Imperial droid was on the loose. It didn’t make sense for Zeb not get more help since if the droid were to get away it would force the Rebellion to evacuate the base. Even though it was Zeb’s fault for bringing the droid back this mistake should not have prevented him for asking for help. I can overlook this small gripe for the episode since the crew usually doesn’t ask for help from the other people at the base. Overall the main part was enjoyable, and a good half hour of entertainment.
The biggest takeaway from the episode is the show moving towards having more of a connected thread for the second part of the season. Thrawn hopefully will have a bigger presence and we will get to see why is such a master tactician. The Rebels should face some losses during the second half of the season, and the show might end on a darker note. The end of the second season wasn’t sunshine and roses either, but the first loss of the crew is one way to end darker. The next few episodes look to focus more on Mandalore. Trying to bring them into the Rebellion is something which will tie back to the sixth episode of the season, Imperial Supercommandos. The Mandalore story would have worked better all placed together, but bringing it back around for the second part of the season works overall.
The second half of season three is starting to shape up extremely well, and might be the strongest for the series overall. Let’s hope the strong connective thread of Thrawn, and not hunting for supplies, is the prevailing theme for the rest of the season.
Let me know what you thought of the episode. When do you think Kallus will be discovered and will he survive the season? Comment and let me know.