“Double Agent Droid”
Chopper, AP-5, and Wedge have been assigned to break into an Imperial facility and steal the landing codes for Lothal. Wedge feels privileged to be leading this mission, but he quickly learns that it wasn’t his skills that got him this mission, but the fact that no one else wanted to be stuck in a shuttle with Chopper and AP-5. Things do not go as planned at the Imperial base, and Chopper may soon be the one who leads the Empire to Phoenix Squadron.
Wedge has always been one of my favorite characters and I’m glad that they used him here. It’s nice to see the secondary characters out front. It’s a small role that just as easily could’ve gone to Ezra or Zeb. However, much like Wedge’s role in the original trilogy, he’s there front and center, but it’s not about him. He is little more than the pilot here. It’s the droids who take the center stage in this episode.
C-3PO and R2-D2 have a classic bickering relationship. It seems to be the formula that a lot of droid tales are built on. Chopper and AP-5 are an inverse of the Artoo-Threepio relationship. Threepio and Artoo may bicker, but ultimately they are there for each other. Chopper and AP-5 are most certainly not. They could not be more opposite of each other. AP-5 is constantly rubbing his successes in Chopper’s face and neither trusts the other.
Thrawn and the Empire have begun to take notice that every time the Rebels infiltrate one of their locations, there always seems to be a droid there to help them. An Imperial monitoring ship catches Chopper and AP-5 entering and manages to hijack Chopper’s controls. I really liked that small details like this are finally getting acknowledged in the show. It’s hard to have a character like Thrawn who is so keenly aware of even the most insignificant details and not have him pick up on Chopper always being there. Especially considering that Chopper is such an unusual design. It would be different if he was your standard R2 unit, but his unusual chassis had to be noticed by someone eventually.
The Imperial monitoring ship is part of the Imperial Security Bureau and tasked with watching for this kind of detail. The main crewman on the ship is cybernetically enhanced, as is much of the crew. They are part of the Empire’s Big Brother. Monitoring communications and many other types of activities in the region. We see the dehumanizing part of the Empire as well as the constant monitoring for anything subversive or rebellious.
This episode was a mixed bag for me. There were a lot of things for me to enjoy. As I said before, I really enjoyed seeing Wedge in action, Vanessa Marshall gives a great performance as Hera, and we see clearly why you do not want to mess with Hera’s family. As much trouble as Chopper tends to cause, we do see how Hera genuinely cares for him, and the bond they share. It might even be stronger than her bond with any other character including Kanan. Stephen Stanton continues to give a great performance as AP-5, especially in the more surreal aspects of the episode’s finale.
However, AP-5 is also the source of things I did not enjoy about the episode. Frankly, I felt he talked too much. It was like he had his own running monologue for the show. It may have been different if he had another character to interact with, but by himself, it just felt odd. This is an episode that I think might have benefited from the first person camera that was experimented with previously. If we felt like much of this dialogue was going on inside AP-5’s head it may have played better.
The episode’s finale is a controversial one. But, I enjoyed it. It felt right in the moment. Seeing AP-5 floating out in space reminded me of one of my favorite Futurama episodes where Bender floats through space alone. Add in a little David Bowie “Major Tom” flavor and you get a very beautiful, serene moment. I appreciate the fact that the show still takes chances and doesn’t just rely on a formulaic approach to the characters. Droid-centric episodes always seem to be divisive among fans. They also tend to be the episodes that are a bit more out there in terms of story and content. This episode pushes the limits even further. This will not be everyone’s favorite episode, but it does help to set the stage for the finale, and gives us a brief moment of levity in an increasingly dark season.