“Idiot’s Array” is somewhat difficult to approach for a review. This is partially due to the fact that the episode would be pretty forgettable if it weren’t for the dead-on perfect portrayal of Lando’s character. So I have to consider that the episode was kind of ho-hum, while at the same time introducing a spectacularly executed character. The agony! But fortunately, I break things down into categories, so let’s take them one-by-one, shall we?
This episode puts us in the middle of a really simple story, when it comes down to it. We’re introduced to a swaggering scoundrel – Lando Calrissian – who’s looking to smuggle some “mining equipment” onto Lothal. Using the crew of the Ghost as pawns, he cons the hideous alien Azmorigan out of the cargo and accomplishes his goals. The plot is simple, straightforward, and lacks any real intrigue or surprises. That’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable; it’s just nothing special. The twist that Lando’s “mining equipment” is actually a puffer pig (a pig/pufferfish crossover, just without the spikes) was quite fun, and regardless of how silly this particular creature is, I thought it was a good addition to the story.
But that’s really all I can say about the story. The real value of this episode resided in the characters…
Lando. I was very, very excited to see Lando appear in this episode. As one of my favorite Star Wars characters, I was eager to see how they would handle his character – as well as how Billy Dee Williams would step back into the role after so many years. I was not disappointed at all. Lando was perfect. His design, his costume, even his body language were perfect. Lando’s inclusion – like R2 and C3P0 in “Droids in Distress” – was definitely in the vein of fanservice. However, unlike the droids’ cameo, Lando blended perfectly into the mood of the show, as well as the cast in general. Lando felt right at home with the crew of the Ghost – almost as though Lando was always meant to be a part of the cast. That’s probably not the case, but the fact that the writers incorporated his character so well into the main cast is impressive, to say the least. He filled a void of real tension among the leads – finally adding some real grays to the mix. Unfortunately, it seems like if anything, Lando will be only an intermittent addition to the cast.
Hera also got a lot of the spotlight in this episode, partially because Lando seemed to have quite a bit of respect for her. It seemed as though – in his mind, Hera was the only “real” threat to his schemes, and he tries to use his wiles (though somewhat unsuccessfully) on Hera to win some brownie points from her, as well as undermine Kanan’s role in the team. Hera of course picks up on Lando’s game, and brings the foot down on him. I really like how Hera continues to be such an essential member of the team. She’s not clearly “in-charge,” as evidenced by the fact that Kanan “doesn’t need her permission” to make a deal with Lando, but she does have an awful lot of authority. The crew respects her and listens to her, and Kanan – obviously a capable pilot – readily admits that he’d rather Hera be at the wheel. Hera is a perfect counterpoint to the all-too-common trope in television and Hollywood that “strong female lead” equals “masculine” or “obnoxious and nagging.” She doesn’t need to be a martial-arts expert or abrasive to be the strongest character on the show.
Artistic Style & Music
Like its story, the art seemed to take the back seat in this episode. While the show continues to look very good, “Idiot’s Array” had no “wow – that’s beautiful!” moments like some previous episodes.
The music didn’t particularly stand out, either, and actually represents something I thought felt genuinely “off” about the episode. They use music from Cloud City in “The Empire Strikes Back” as Lando’s theme song – music that I always associated with Cloud City, and not specifically with Lando. It felt strange hearing that formal-sounding music being applied to a rough-around-the-edges, younger version of Lando.
I did appreciate the design of Azmorigan, who I immediately recognized as being based off unused Jabba the Hutt concept art. Using classic concept art not only ensures that the design isn’t “corrupted” by modern (and therefore somewhat un-Star Wars) sci-fi conventions, but it also means that he’s the kind of alien that could have been a guy in a rubber suit; it’s something outlandish, but still within the realm of physical possibility – a hallmark of Star Wars alien design.
I have little to add, really. That is, besides a tip-of-the-hat to Dave Filoni’s continued respect of the Expanded Universe. Angsty Star Wars fans erupted (and still complain) that the Expanded Universe has been declared non-canon. But Dave Filoni has given us hope that regarding concepts from the Expanded Universe, the mentality is – at least so far – “innocent until proven guilty.” That is, the Expanded Universe will continue to be mined for ideas until its concepts are explicitly retconned by new Star Wars material. The iconic Expanded Universe game of Sabacc is no exception. We only briefly see the game being played on-screen in this episode, but it appeared to follow all the established rules. The values of the cards, as well as the hands were all faithfully represented. Zeb’s cards added up to 23 – a perfect Sabacc. And Lando’s cards read 0, 2, and 3 – an Idiot’s Array, exactly as detailed in EU sources. Good job, guys – good job! I can’t wait to see what other Expanded Universe concepts are canonized in the future.