Episode Title: The Machine In The Ghost
Episode Writer: Greg Weisman
Short Story Author: Michael Kogge
Series: Star Wars: Rebels
Publisher/Copyright: Disney, 2014
And here we go! I think this is officially the first new story released for the rebooted Star Wars Expanded Universe. That honor was supposed to go to the upcoming novel A New Dawn, but the people over at Star Wars: Rebels jumped the gun a bit in promoting their new show. What we have here is a three-minute short, part one of a four-episode series of prequels to the actual show. Those same four prequels were also adapted by Michael Kogge into a series of short stories in the book Rise Of The Rebels. These prequels are meant to introduce you to the characters from the show in the context of an actual story as opposed to their earlier introductions that focused more on the production/character conception side of things. This time we meet Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, and C1-10p or “Chopper”. Kanan is a former Jedi Padawan who managed to survive Order 66 and has locked away his lightsaber, living on the run until he hooked up with rest of this crew. Hera is the pilot and owner of the Ghost, with her own unrevealed (so far) reasons for hating the Empire. Chopper may be the grumpiest astromech droid you’ll ever meet, but there’s no way he’s going to let the Ghost and her crew be blown to smithereens on his watch. There are links to the introduction videos above, and you can see the short below.
The actual video itself is so short that I can’t give much of a summary without spoilers. Basically, we find Kanan, Hera and Chopper alone in the Ghost being pursued by a quartet of TIE Fighters after being ambushed when they tried to raid an Imperial supply convoy. When the ship starts taking damage, Chopper has to balance conflicting orders from Kanan and Hera as to what to fix first before the TIEs blow them out of the sky.
Since I’m a huge Star Wars geek, I’m obviously excited about this upcoming show. A lot of the same people from the Clone Wars cartoon have been carried over, and as much as I gripe about that show it definitely did improve as things went along. Plus, you know, since they rebooted the timeline I can’t gripe about how much they screwed stuff up anymore–that other stuff no longer exists. I think the crew has learned a lot (they say they have) from that experience, and I look forward to seeing what they can do in this new time period. Regarding this particular installment, it was very fun. I really enjoyed the banter between Kanan and Hera, but Chopper was the real focus here, I suspect because Kanan and Hera will be getting much better introductions when A New Dawn hits shelves. We know that Kanan and Hera meet in that book, set in 11 BBY,* while the show is set in 5 BBY. This short could hypothetically be set anywhere in that interim period, especially since the rest of the crew is absent, but I’m placing it as close to the start of the show as possible given the characters’ unchanging appearance. Obviously, as more information emerges as to the status quo at the start of the series I can refine that further. Is the short story version worthwhile? It doesn’t really add much, aside from refining the context of why they’re being chased and pointing out that the guns Chopper fires are mounted on the Phantom, a smaller fighter docked to the back of the Ghost. You also get inside Chopper’s “head” a bit more to see what he’s actually thinking, but there’s really no need–he’s a very expressive droid, so it doesn’t add much to the experience. It’s not bad, I was just hoping it would be expanded a bit. Use the short as a jumping-off point or something, maybe even offer context as to whether this happens before the rest of the crew joins up or if they’re just off on another errand (I doubt this, since the Phantom is still present, but who knows).
CONTENT: Aside from TIE pilots being blown up, no violence. If you understand the binary language Chopper beeps in, I imagine his dialogue would be profanity-laden, but you can’t and so there is none. No sexual content.
*Star Wars dates are measured in years BBY or ABY, before or after the Battle of Yavin respectively. Effectively, BC/AD with Star Wars: A New Hope as the tipping point.