I’m about a week late on this, and for that I apologize. Luckily, there was no new episode of Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD last night, so I’m still managing to get this out before the new one airs. Fair warning: there are some spoilers ahead.
By my own definition, I’d classify “Idiot’s Array” as a filler episode — not seemingly adding to the over-arching story set up in “Spark of Rebellion,” and carried through “Rise of the Old Masters,” “Empire Day,” “Gathering Forces,” and “Path of the Jedi.” A lot of times, being perceived as “filler” can have negative connotations (sometimes those are well-earned and other times it’s an unfair assumption). But when an episode is as fun and charming as this one, being a “filler” episode isn’t such a bad thing.
In “Idiot’s Array,” Zeb ends up losing Chopper by betting him in a game of Sabacc against Lando Calrissian. Lando offers the rebels a chance to get their droid back, if they’ll do a smuggling job for him. The job takes them to a meeting with the crime lord Azmorigan where Lando acquires a puffer pig to smell out precious minerals on Lothal — something he wants to do since the Empire has banned private landowners from mining for some reason. Once Lando and the crew arrive back on Lothal, they find themselves in a showdown with Azmorigan and his goons.
When I’d heard Lando was going to be on Rebels, I was worried that they were cramming him in as a bit of fan service. That very well may be the case, but in the context of the story, it actually works. It helps a lot that they have original Lando actor Billy Dee Williams voicing the role, even if his slower line reading does hint at Mr. Williams advanced age. Still, his vocal work is as smooth and charming as ever, making up for the pacing. Between the writing and Billy Dee’s delivery, Lando feels like Lando, and it was a lot of fun seeing the con man side of the character that Han Solo described in The Empire Strikes Back.
I was honestly surprised at how much was packed into the story, with the opening bar sequence on Lothal, a tour of the Ghost for Lando, the dealings with Azmorigan, running the Imperial blockade of Lothal, and then the finale back on Lothal. Compared to previous episodes, it felt like they managed to get twice as much show into its twenty-ish minute run time. It reminded me a lot more of Clone Wars in that way (well, at least late Season One and Season Two episodes of Clone Wars) and felt like a breath of fresh air, despite the series’ focus remaining with Lothal.
Also, it was a great examination of the dynamics of the Ghost’s crew. The writers did a great job of using Lando as a foil to pick apart the rebel team, and then see exactly why they work so well together. Plus, Hera really got to shine throughout, stressing that while Kanan may be the Jedi, she’s truly the leader of our heroes.
That’s a whole lot going on for a “filler” episode, which is why I think I enjoyed it so much. It didn’t contribute to the big picture, but it fleshed out a lot of the smaller character details while being a lot of fun.