[WARNING - This reviews contains SPOILERS for Star Wars Rebels season 3, episode 18.]
Star Wars Rebels season 3 is in the final stretch. Grand Admiral Thrawn is very close to locating Phoenix Squadron's base, at which point he can launch a full scale attack and wipe them out. Meanwhile, the Rebellion continues to grow, everyday expanding their ranks with new allies from across the galaxy. Both sides are preparing for war, and with only two episodes left before the finale, it won't be long until they meet in battle.
This week in 'Double Agent Droid' - written by Brent Friedman and directed by Steward Lee - the Rebels partake in a little espionage, sending AP-5 and Chopper on a secret mission. The plan is for the two droids to infiltrate an Imperial Security Base and steal the orbital clearance codes for Lothal. Escorting them to Killun-71 is Wedge Antilles, and it's a job he quickly regrets taking as AP-5 and Chopper do nothing but bicker - as usual.
Once inside the base, Chopper is flagged as an unauthorized droid, leading an Imperial controler to believe he's the the Rebel spy droid that Thrawn ordered them to be on the lookout for. After being reprogrammed for Imperial control, Chopper is sent back with the intention to infiltrate the Rebels and uncover the location of their base. However, AP-5 quickly notices something isn't right with the cantankerous little astromech, but no one will believe him! With the future of the entire Rebellion at risk, it's now up to AP-5 to put a stop to Chopper's sabotage.
Droids Get No Respect
The role droids play within the Star Wars universe is a topic of debate. Being that they are mechanical, are droids little more than appliances? Mindless robots programmed for a task and little else? But then why do so many exhibit such vibrant personalities? They have artificial intelligence, so where does that rank them among other sentient species? If they have intelligence, exhibit individuality, then aren't they kind of... alive? If so, does that make them pets? Servants? Or worse, slaves?
'Double Agent Droid' isn't exactly concerned with droid sentience or their inalienable rights, but it does reinforce what seems to be a universal truth in the galaxy - droids don't get any respect. Whether they're Imperial or Rebel, it doesn't seem to matter. Droids exist to serve a purpose, to follow commands, and only on rare occasions, do other lifeforms seem to care about what happens to them.
Both AP-5 and Chopper are droids who appear to be well aware of their lot in life, and it's informed the way their personalities have manifested. Whether it be AP-5's pessimism or Chopper's sarcasm, both act the way they do because of years of disrespect. And while it can be argued life is better for droids who work for the Rebellion - as AP-5 observes, referring to another Imperial inventory droid as a mindless drone - it isn't as if the Ghost crew initially give him much credit, refusing to believe his suspicions about Chopper. And their ignorance of Chopper's changed behavior also points to a general disregard for droids, a mistake which almost costs them everything. What's a droid got to do to get some respect?
"Don't Mess With My Droid"
Not everyone treats droids as expendable, and if there was anyone who'd notice something wasn't right with Chopper, it's Hera. It was Hera, after all, who saved Chopper when the Y-Wing he was assigned to crashed on her home planet, repairing him as best she could with whatever spare parts were around. The two share a close bond, not so dissimilar from the bond we later see between Luke and Artoo. And once Hera realizes someone has been tampering with her droid, well, it isn't pretty.
After stopping the decoding and transmission of vital Rebel intel, Hera decides to turn the tables on the Imperials. Using the same frequency with which they were controlling Chopper, she sends a signal back, overloading their systems and, ultimately, destroying their ship. She sends the signal along with a stern message - "Don't mess with my droid!"
So while Hera, like just about everyone in the galaxy, likely considers herself Chopper's "owner" or "master", she at least does treat him with decency. Hera cares for Chopper, and in his own, strange way, he cares about her. It's no wonder these two are still palling around together come Rogue One.
'Double Agent Droid' is a little lighter fare than recent episodes of Star Wars Rebels, thought it too is occupied with Thrawn's hunt for the Rebels and them narrowly avoiding capture. And after joining up with Phoenix Squadron late last season, AP-5 is finally beginning to feel like a part of the team - even if he'd rather just be left alone, drifting in space with only the neebray for company.
Star Wars Rebels season 3 continues next week with 'Twin Suns' @8:30pm on Disney XD.