Hello, what have we here?
On this week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels, we see the return of Lando Calrissian. “Idiot’s Array” reintroduces the smooth talking scoundrel with a classic case of “lost him in a card game” when Zeb loses Chopper to Lando while playing a high stakes game of sabacc. After a few of the heavier ‘fate of the galaxy’ themed episodes, “Idiot’s Array” was a welcome side story that showed us some great insight into many of the core characters as they were exposed to someone that the audience was already familiar with. We’ve already had a bit of this from Vader, Artoo and Threepio, Yoda, a hologram of Obi-Wan, and briefly Bail Organa, but this one was definitely the most substantial cameo to date. Like many of the others, it was also wonderful to hear the original actor reprise the role. Billy Dee is Lando, and even in animation, he doesn’t disappoint.
I have to admit that my initial reaction to hearing that Lando was going to be in this episode was pretty mixed. On the one hand, Lando has always been a character that I greatly enjoy, so seeing him during his early days was definitely exciting. On the other hand, too many cameos from major players tends to make the world feel small. I wonder if I would feel the same way if we weren’t already so landlocked to Lothal, but I’m having a hard time believing that so much important stuff happens on this backwater planet. Even Lando seems to agree with me when he points out “For some reason this planet has an unusually large Imperial presence”. When Lando casually mentioned that he knew Vizago, I found myself rolling my eyes a bit right alongside Hera. Of course you do.
Star Wars has always had three go-to themes: The conflict between the Light and Dark sides of the Force, the political intrigue, and the shady galactic underworld. It’s always fun to visit that last one, and that’s exactly where “Idiot’s Array” takes us. Lando has always been kind of the other side of the scoundrel coin, the antithesis of Han. Where Han is rough, Lando is smooth. Where Han is in debt and on the run, Lando is always hustling money out of people while convincing them he’s respectable. What’s interesting to me is while Han is always consistent, (he’s still very much a scoundrel even in his Rebellion days), Lando is constantly reinventing himself. He has always struck me as the type of guy who has a new scheme every week, and will drop it the second something more profitable comes along. It’s also important to remember Lando flew around in the Millennium Falcon back before she was even heavily modified. He was the guy wearing fancy suits and shiny bling while driving around in a jalopy and still acting like he was the hottest thing since binary suns. This is exactly where we find him in Rebels, only we can probably assume that by this point he has already lost his ride in a game of cards.
My favorite bit in the episode was Ezra’s complete turnaround when it came to his opinion on Lando. He could watch the scoundrel get under Zeb’s skin all day with a big smile on his face, but the second Lando starts hitting on Sabine, Ezra hates the guy. It was a little creepy watching Sabine field advances from a man who has got to be at least twice her age, but the smooth talking business man juxtaposed with skeezy conman is part of what makes Lando so much fun to watch. As for Sabine’s take on this situation, well, we artists can stomach a lot when talking to fans of our work. As far as favorite moments go, I would also like to make a shout out to Kanan’s response of “I don’t wanna know” when Ezra tries to explain the puffer pig, and Sabine jumping around like a Mando ninja in the fight at the end. It’s so cool getting to see her in action.
I’d say the strongest part of “Idiot’s Array” was its focus on Hera. Ten episodes in, Hera is the character who has had the least development so far. We see her early on in A New Dawn, and focus a bit on her story in “Out of Darkness”, but we still don’t know that much about her. What we do know is that she is the real Rebel Leader of the group and lands jobs through the mysterious “Fulcrum”, and that she tends to act as the mother of the crew. Her reaction to Zeb and Kanan losing Chopper was spot on (I’ll never get tired of Hera yelling at Zeb while calling him by his full name). Also, her complete acceptance of the circumstances of the con Lando was about to pull, even though it turned out to involve selling her into slavery, was just so cool. She really gave us the impression that she was just going along with this because she was fully aware she had the skills to get herself out of it. And also just to prove a point to Kanan. Watching Hera trick Azmorigan into sending his guards away, then beat him silly with a serving tray was just awesome. To then watch her do the same thing again to the guard and escape without breaking a sweat was downright outstanding. What’s even more telling about her character was her ability to come back aboard the Ghost, deliver some quick and dirty payback to Lando, and then turn around and protect him from Azmorigan in the next scene. Despite the fact that he probably deserved whatever he was going to get, Hera looks out for everyone.
Hera even gets some recognition from Kanan when he admits to her “your job’s a lot harder than it looks”, though to be honest, I never got the impression that Kanan ever took her for granted in the first place. I almost feel that this line was more for the fans who don’t think too much about Hera much when considering the crew and their jobs (though her complete lack of merchandising doesn’t help). While the loss of Chopper was the inciting incident of this episode, we didn’t get too much of him throughout, though what we did get was pretty hilarious. In the end when Chopper steals the fuel for the Ghost, he also gets the recognition he rightfully deserves from the rest of the crew. Honestly he probably needed it more than Hera did, as they do tend to take him for granted sometimes.
Personally, I feel that an original character filling this same role that Lando had could have had some real potential. While cameos are fun, I would have loved to see someone new mixing it up with the Ghost crew. My main reason for this is actually a simple one. This was the first episode where we really got to see Hera shine. We knew she was a fantastic pilot, but normally when the incidents go down she’s in the background somewhere. Not this episode. But even after everything she accomplished here, “Idiot’s Array” will be remembered as “the Lando episode”. That being said, of all of the cameos that we’ve had so far, this was definitely one of my favorites. Lando is the type of character who always has me weary when he arrives, but has me loving it by the end. Actually, that’s pretty much the core of my feelings for Timothy Zahn’s Scoundrels as well (if you haven’t read it yet,I highly recommend it).
So what do you guys think of Lando’s return? Will he be a one off cameo character, or will he come back again to give more trouble to our band of rebels? As for my feelings on the matter, I’m weary about the prospect. Who am I kidding though, I know I would love it.