Don’t get to the Chopper…
Well, this episode isn’t trying with the humor, so why should I?? I WANT to like Chopper, I really do, the idea of a Star Wars version of Bender from Futurama is amusing, but Chopper just isn’t cutting it (chopping it? Ah whatever), and this episode didn’t help. Seriously, this was a tough one to enjoy. To be fair, “The Forgotten Droid” is mostly hurt by placement and timing (I mean, it’s still not very good). After a steady succession of dramatic and heavier episodes building to the end of this season, an overly goofy and lighthearted episode just feels way out of place. Especially when about one out of ten jokes are even chuckle worthy.
Apart from timing, this week’s episode had a lot working against it, and surprisingly the biggest problem isn’t Chopper himself but the over abundance of really lame humor. Fortunately, some of the jokes later do hit the mark, but not enough to excuse certain other puns which are too many and too often. And that’s all kind of sad because the goofiness ruins what otherwise could have been a mostly good episode, in a middle of the road sort of way. The idea of Chopper going on his own misadventure, befriending an imperial droid, and inadvertently saving his allies is fine, but the writers either can’t resist the urge to throw in these oh so whacky antics, or some middle manager at Disney is to blame.
So let’s talk about Chopper himself, I appreciate what the writers have been going for with him, I just don’t think it’s worked consistently. Charmingly cantankerous and even hostile anti-heroes are often very enjoyable characters, but that’s IF they’re bringing something useful to the group or have some kind of character arc. Nearly everything Chopper supposedly does right in this episode is purely by accident or actually done by his new friend AP-5, and somehow Chopper gets the credit. And despite Chopper expressing his fondness for Hera, she seems to finally be reacting to his antics with disdain and due consequence. It is nice to see Hera willing to sacrifice him because of his own selfishness and untrustworthiness, but given how she expects this behavior from him one has to question why she keeps him around or trusts him in the first place. We also get a little backstory between them… And it doesn’t really add any substance to their relationship, nor with his new droid pal. They were in the Clone Wars, Hera fixed him, and apparently she didn’t do a very good job.
Of course the real meat of the story is the relationship between Chopper and his new equally caustic imperial droid friend (counterpart?). Some of the banter between AP-5 and Chopper later becomes enjoyable, but having him constantly parrot back Chopper’ dialogue for the sake of exposition got really grating. This angle worked in the Clone Wars with R2-D2 and C-3PO firstly because they’re beloved and established characters, and secondly because they proved their worth as more than just pieces of machinery but as characters with a heart and soul of their own. Chopper is just a one-dimensional jerk. Even the only nearly moving part where AP-5 sacrifices himself is instantly undercut when he’s repaired in the next scene. I guess he’s here to stay, which I’m lukewarm about because while he was a fairly interesting character his voice got a little hard to listen to after a while.
As for the potentially good stuff… the rest of the Ghost crew look to be on a rather exciting mission and are all working as a team, which is always more interesting than one or two characters going off on their own. Too bad it’s in the background while most of the episode focuses on endless exposition from AP-5 translating Chopper, a lot of bad jokes, and some of the most worthless non-threatening imperials yet. You know, the stormtroopers more than usual just suck in this episode. And our main antagonist, the imperial freighter captain is far too cartoonishly oafish and as AP-5 put it “useless.”
Considering the run Rebels has had, I’m actually impressed its taken this long for an episode to really be this bad. Previously “Fighter Flight” was my personal worst, but even that one had more redeeming qualities. While this one does have its moments and isn’t terrible, “The Forgotten Droid” ruins a run of great episodes in a season that had been struggling to find its footing for a while. The season finale is going to have to be pretty spectacular to make up for this one.
-The episode put me in a bad state of mind early on with its jokes, and they just don’t let up. Puns like Zeb calling Chopper “shopper,” (GET IT? Because he wants to go shopping! lolz) might have bee forgivable if he wasn’t so proud of that joke and repeated it moments later… I expect better humor from Zeb.
-Sabine’s girlfriend Ketsu returns as one of the rebels out of the blue. I would have noted that in the review but it’s a pretty superfluous cameo. Except maybe not, since someone has to be luring them into this trap on the Yost system… Hmm
-I would be more forgiving of these bumbling imperial officers within the context of the story if a certain Sith Lord was around to be less forgiving, if you know what I mean. The main imperial bad guy this week makes Aresko and Grint look like Grand Admiral Thrawn by comparison.