This week’s episode of “The Mandalorian” (“Chapter 21: The Pirate”) is the best of the season and easily one of the best episodes of the entire series, full of rousing fun, featuring beautifully choreographed action and big, heartfelt moments. It also had a cameo appearance by a character that might be familiar to diehard “Star Wars” fans – he’s furry, he’s purple and he is a member of the New Republic’s X-Wing squadron. But who is he, exactly? Read on to find out.
Spoilers follow, for this week’s “The Mandalorian” and several other key junctures in the “Star Wars” universe.
This character isn’t identified by name. What’s his name?
His name is Garazeb Orrelios, more commonly known as Zeb.
Who is Zeb?
Zeb is a former Captain of the Lasat high honor guard, who rose up against the Empire during the Rebellion. This led to the near-extinction of his people, who are all furry, purple monsters. Having survived the attempted annihilation of his people, Zeb later joined the crew of the Ghost, a small freighter carrying out covert missions for the Rebellion. On the Ghost, he served under the call sign Spectre 4. Zeb is clearly looking for revenge against the evil Empire. At the time of “The Mandalorian,” set several years after the events of “Return of the Jedi,” it seems that Zeb has joined the New Republic as an X-wing pilot. He’s undoubtedly looking to make sure the Empire doesn’t rise again.
What is Zeb from?
Zeb is one of the main characters in the animated series “Rebels,” which was co-created by Dave Filoni, who is an executive producer of “The Mandalorian.” “Rebels” is a follow-up of sorts to Filoni’s beloved animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and ran for 75 glorious episodes between 2014 and 2018 on Disney XD. (You can watch them all now on Disney+).
Zeb’s look has a fascinating connection to older “Star Wars” history, as it was based on early artwork by concept artist Ralph McQuarrie of the character that we would eventually know and love as Chewbacca. (See below.) In “Rebels” and on “The Mandalorian,” Zeb is voiced by actor Steven Blum. Before the show debuted, Blum talked to IGN about the role, saying: “I think I actually screamed when I was booked to play Zeb. It is literally a role of a lifetime. I’ve been lucky enough to play some major superhero roles in my career, but to be given the chance to play a new character in a ‘Star Wars’ series? Brain explosion. As if working on a Star Wars series – in any capacity – wasn’t enough to cause a grown man to squee, Zeb challenges every acting skill in my arsenal and beyond. His character design is amazing. I get to vocally take on ape-like physical power and abilities, a wicked sense of humor, intelligence and integrity, and so much more that I can’t yet reveal. The attention to detail from the entire production team is inspiring. Every bit of minutia is carefully crafted to satisfy the most discerning fan of the franchise. I’m humbled and honored to be a part of the Rebels crew. I promise I will dig as deep as I’m allowed to give you guys the performance I would hope for as a fan. Get ready, guys. You’re in for one helluva ride.”
And he was right – it was one helluva ride.
Where else has Zeb appeared?
Zeb has appeared in mobile games like “Star Wars: Galactic Defense,” “Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes,” comic book series “Thrawn,” kids’ book “Ezra’s Wookiee Rescue,” and tie-in book “The Rebellion Begins.” And the crew of the Ghost is referenced in two live-action “Star Wars” movies – “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (where the crew is being called over an intercom at a Rebel base) and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” where you can see the Ghost in the squadron of spaceships that show up to help defeat the Emperor and his forces.
What happens on this season of “The Mandalorian?”
This season of “The Mandalorian” has been a bit of a meander, as our hero (Pedro Pascal) and his young charge Grogu, who were reunited during the events of “The Book of Boba Fett,” are bumbling around and falling into adventures. There was the Mandalorian’s attempt to clear his name with his tribe by bathing in the eternal waters under Mandalore (where he spots – or does he? – a living Mythosaur, a creature central to the Mandalorian culture) and teaming up with Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) to rescue a young member of the tribe. We did get a sliver of Grogu’s backstory last week and saw how he survived Order 66, with the help of a young Jedi played by Ahmed Best.
This episode, “The Pirate,” has introduced much more conflict and story than had previously been explored this season, both with a group of troublesome pirates who return to exact revenge on Navarro. The pirates are led by Gorian Shard, voiced by Nonso Anozie, who bombards the town. The Mandalorian and his Mandalorian pals (including Bo-Katan), show up and save the day, deciding to start a new home on the outskirts of Navarro. And in the final moments, we see Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), the big bad of previous seasons, could still be alive – and in the possession of some Mandalorians. Drama!
When does “The Mandalorian” stream?
“The Mandalorian” streams every Wednesday on Disney+.