Meet Zeb Orrelios: ‘The Mandalorian’ Makes A Meal Out of a Snack

We dig into 'The Mandalorian' Chapter 21 and inspect what the Zeb Orrelios cameo could mean for the franchise's future. More Rebels, please.
The Mandalorian Chapter Zeb Orrelios

Star Wars Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry examines The Mandalorian Chapter 21 and Zeb Orrelios’ surprise cameo.

Pew pew pew was the order of the day in The Mandalorian Chapter 21. The pirate king Gorian Shard finally returned after his season three premiere, laying siege on poor High Magistrate Greef Karga’s renovated Nevarro. Backed into a corner, Karga does what any good royal would do. He uses his droid to record a holographic plea for help.

Initially, we all probably expected Din Djarin to be the first to get the signal, but instead, reoccurring New Republic lifesaver Carson Teva got the call. Throughout The Mandalorian, we’ve seen Paul SunHyung Lee‘s nameless role grow into something a little meatier. It’s the Star Wars way; minor characters catch the audiences’ eyes, piquing their curiosity and a desire to see them molded into action figure plastic.

Teva brings the S.O.S. to Din Djarin after R5-D4 snitches on their secret address. The Watch doesn’t want to intercede, but Din Djarin and his reluctant pal Paz Vizsla convince them otherwise. They’re tired of hiding in caves, watching their loved ones get munched on by ravenous reptilian beasts. Plus, if they help Karga from his bind, the rich muckety-muck might peel them off a piece of his land for them to set up a home base.

The Mandalorian Chapter 21’s back half features some of the season’s best action so far, with the Watch bringing death from above, obliterating Gorian Shard’s goons. They’re easy to cheer on, a batch of leftovers finding honor in defense of others. However, while the blaster fire brought glee, it was hard to celebrate after the naughty little cameo the episode dropped earlier. Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios’ live-action introduction, like the Hyperspace whales that came before him, stirs tremendous curiosity and leaves us wanting much more than we got.

Let’s rewind a bit. When Carson Teva took Greef Karga’s message, he did so inside a New Republic bar adorned with the armor of their fallen enemies. Hearing Gorian Shand’s boldness in attacking an Outer Rim planet immediately set off alarm bells. Teva can sense an Imperial uprising, one that we know will lead to the First Order. Even though Nevarro hasn’t signed the New Republic charter, Teva thinks they should get involved and squash any villains testing their authority.

From behind, a Lasat pilot strolls into frame. Immediately, every Star Wars: Rebels fan gasped. Could it really be him? Zeb Orrelios, the gargantuan badass who brought the pain every single week as a Ghost crew member. Then, we hear Steven Blum‘s voice, and our hopes are confirmed (then, we jump to the credits and happily discover that the character is indeed labeled “Zeb”).

The tall drink of water doesn’t have much to offer The Mandalorian Chapter 21. He gets a few lines in, mostly supplying condolences to Nevarro’s good people. Zeb scoffs when Teva tells the former Rebel he’ll ask Coruscant, the former Capital planet, for help. The New Republic is swamped, and just as the Old Republic got caught up in bureaucracy and blinded themselves to a secret evil on the march, so too have they. The Lasat wishes the hopeful pilot luck and returns to his drink at the bar.

Zeb Orrelios’ hatred for the Empire began when they decimated his home planet. Like the Mandalorians, he found a righteous cause in service to something higher. If not his people, then those like him who had suffered heartbreak at the hands of others. Alongside Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, Sabine Wren, Ahsoka Tano, and others, Zeb was a critical Rebellion agent. He was there on Lothal when Bridger, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and a herd of Purgil space whales warped into oblivion.

His appearance in The Mandalorian doesn’t confirm much. Mostly, it reveals that he survived the war against the Empire and stayed on with the New Republic as a fighter pilot. We’re Star Wars fans, so we’ll take a snack and make it a meal, and a live-action Zeb is enough to get us through until his next appearance, which will hopefully be more than a walk-on.

We hope to get a full Star Wars: Rebels reunion in the upcoming Ahsoka Tano series starring Rosario Dawson. We already know that her show will feature live-action appearances by Ghost shipmates Sabine Wren and Hera Syndulla. With Zeb briefly appearing in The Mandalorian, it sure seems he should pop up there alongside his old crew.

At the same time, do you want to wait? Heck no. Let’s get more Zeb today. For those non-Rebels fans watching Chapter 21, the pointy-eared alien barely registers. That’s not fair. At least when Black Krrsantan lept from Marvel Comics to The Book of Boba Fett, he got several episodes to strut his stuff. Rebels maniacs know Zeb’s an essential Star Wars ingredient, so we need Lucasfilm to throw him some serious screentime love now.

The Mandalorian Chapter 21 concludes with Teva discovering an abandoned shuttle that once housed New Republic prisoner Moff Gideon. Close inspection reveals how Mandalorians were involved in the prisoner escape, which means the hunt for Din Djarin’s enemy could wrap up season three and do so in a punishingly painful way. The Imperial scum will undoubtedly reveal himself soon, and he might be enough to wake the New Republic from its bureaucratic slumber. Teva will throw down with Djarin, and we should cross our fingers that Zeb will get in on that fight as well.

It’s hard to muster how much enthusiasm is out there for the Ahsoka series. Longtime animated TV fans are already on board, but the broader Star Wars fandom seems less sure. The Mandalorian‘s third season has the opportunity to drop some cliffhanger bombs and hype up what’s coming down the pike. Moff Gideon in league with Thrawn is an enticing possibility, and if Thrawn is involved, you know Zeb will get his butt off that barstool asap. He certainly has Ahsoka’s number on speed dial.

The Mandalorian Chapter 21 is now streaming on Disney+

Brad Gullickson: Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)