I know I’m only six episodes into the series at this point, but I’m already getting the sense that Rebels is much more of a different kind of series than Clone Wars was trying to be. I’m getting much more “Saturday morning Cartoon” energy from this series than I did Clone Wars, which felt a little more mature comparatively.
I know it’s hardly a fair comparison at this point, me thinking about the much more matured Clone Wars compared to the earliest episodes of Rebels, but I just can’t help coming back to the Disney influence over this series, bringing me back to the time shortly after the acquisition and my worries for the future of my expanded universe.
The three episodes I’m talking about today do feel like a more settled version of the crew, having settled in to the groove and seemingly like they now have the dynamic between them that’s going to carry them forward. At least for the short term anyway.
Season 1, Episode 04: Fighter Flight
One thing I have noticed about Rebels is that while the series is taking a more liner approach to its narrative than Clone Wars did, it doesn’t feel like an ongoing story either. Episodes take elements from the previous episode and give them a passing mention. It gives the episodes a feeling of being self contained stories while also taking past events into account.
This episode is yet another story of bonding between Ezra and Zeb. Which feels like a beat we’ve hit repeatedly in the brief time we’ve spent with these characters so far while the likes of Sabine and Hera continue not have much to do.
The pair start the episode bickering and fighting one another like children. To the point where Hera sends them out to the town on Lothal on a supply run, while also telling them to pick up a fruit that doesn’t exist on the planet. Basically a wild goose chase to the get the pair out of the ship and everyone’s hair for a while.
Low and behold though, they do find the fruit, only to have it snatched from under them by the Empire, who is buying the entire crate. For some reason… Thanks to a bad case of showing off, Ezra tries to steal a fruit and gets caught, forcing him and Zeb to steal a TIE Fighter to flee the empire.
On their way back to the ship, they catch wind of a an old couple who were friends of Ezra’s parents being arrested from their farm by the Empire. For some reason… Using his newfound sense of selflessness and heroism, Ezra talks Zeb into mounting a rescue using the TIE and the pair forge a bond of brotherly teamwork by the end.
If I didn’t think it before, now I am 100% sure that Hera is the mom of the ship. If anything, this episode really seems like it’s trying to solidify the nuclear family dynamic between the crew of the Ghost, With Hera and Kanan as the parents, Ezra and Zeb being the unruly kids and Sabine being the cool cousin.
I’d say she’s the aloof sister, but considering the ongoing thing with Ezra clumsily trying to flirt with her and bombing big time every single time, I’ll keep it as unweird as I can.
There’s also another small subplot with Ezra trying to us the force for basic tasks, and failing over and over until push comes to shove and he really needs it to save the elderly farmers at the end. It makes me wonder how quickly they’re planning on progressing Ezra’s Jedi training throughout the series. I kind of get the impression they’re in a little bit of a rush to put a Lightsaber in his hands, but I’d like for it to be a slower burn for him if possible. God only knows we have enough instant-prodigies in the franchise already.
In the end, this feels like a bit of a nothing episode for me. Fun for the sake of fun, but other than building up the friendly antagonism between Ezra and Zeb even further, nothing of consequence really happens.
Like, whatever the Empire is getting up to never really gets explained. We see them trying to buy a dusty old farm on a backwater planet for some reason, then we see them buying a whole case of rare fruit. Later still we watch them going back to that same farmer to arrest him and his wife to take their farm anyway.
Why do they do any of these things? shrugs They’re just being evil for the sake of being evil. There’s much more of a moustache twirling vibe to everything the empire does in Rebels compared to most of the villains from Clone Wars, who all at least had some gravitas. The again, I suppose the Empire we’re dealing with so far at the equivalent of the B-1 Battle Droids from Clone wWrs, who were very much the same level of goofy 80s henchmen energy as we’re seeing here.
Season 1, Episode 05: Rise of the Old Masters
This was my favourite episode of the three. It deals with the true start of Ezra’s training with Kanan, starting off with the incredibly ill advised location of atop the Ghost hovering high in the clouds of Lothal. And considering Ezra’s in the super early stages in his training, this doesn’t seem like an especially great idea.
Something I was continuously thinking right up until Zeb and Chopper pelt the defending Ezra with a barrage of projectiles that knock him off the ship entirely, forcing Kanan to use the force to save him and lift him back onto the ship.
After this shared frustration, the crew intercept a report that Jedi Master Lumniara Unduli is still alive and is being held in custody by the Empire. Seeing an opportunity to hit two birds with one stone, Kanan forms a super ambitious plan to break her free from Imperial encasement. To save a Jedi and get Ezra a more qualified teacher. Nobody tell him what happened to Lumniara’s last Padawan.
His plan that seems to go super well right up until it doesn’t. The whole thing was a trap and it’s revealed Lumniara is already dead, her corpse being used as one more form of propaganda through some Force illusion trickery. At which point, we meet the Inquisitor properly, who chases Kanan and Ezra from the base, who narrowly escape thanks to some ingenuity and a bit of luck from Hera.
There are two mains takeaway from this episode for me. First off is that it seems like Kanan has just as much to learn as Ezra does, maybe even more. During their early training sessions, I couldn’t help but think that he was a pretty bad teacher. Easily frustrated, giving poor instruction and very fast to pawn the job off onto another Jedi when it seems like that option is available to him.
We spend a lot of time with Ezra, wrought with self doubt and overstretching to try and prove himself to Kanan, which only ever makes things worse. But pretty quickly, the episode itself makes the point that Kanan is no teacher. I mean it makes sense, he was just a Padawan himelf when Order 66 came down.
Something we see first hand in the first episode of The Bad Batch.
He never finished his own training, so the onus of him having to train another, even more wilful kid in the ways of the force is a big ask. To the point that this is an episode of growth for him more than it is Ezra. Which I like a lot.
The second big takeaway is the Inquisitor himself. This guy rocks. He’s a Pau’an I think, which just makes him a scary looking individual even at the best of times. But that, coupled with his well spoken manner and excessive politeness to offset his monstrous appearance makes him all the more intimidating.
Which isn’t really debated by how much more of a match he is for the duo of both Kanan and Ezra. Slowly and calmly advancing after them as they scramble just to stay alive. He weirdly reminds me a lot of Freeza from Dragon Ball. This excessively polite villain, almost to the point of sarcasm who is much scarier smiling at you than snarling at you.
Collectively, these two things strike me even more powerfully at just how much inspiration the Jedi: Fallen Order video game from Respawn takes from this series. Kanan and Cal Kestis have more and more similarities in their situation and the things that happen to them as the series goes on.
And while both this series and that game are the main places we see Inquisitors in the new canon, I never expected to see that cool-ass spinning disk Lightsaber used by him like it was in the game.
This episode was great. Although I find it kind of funny that I was all revved up to see a series based around the rebellion that takes a step away from the Jedi, only to get hyped up by a very Force heavy episode. Guess I’m just a mark the same as all the kids this show is made for.
Season 1, Episode 06: Breaking the Ranks
This final episode feels something more familiar. Although starting us off in much more unfamiliar setting. We open with Ezra having infiltrated an Imperial Academy with a bunch of other prospective kids (teenagers?). He’s there to steal an encryption disk from Agent Kallus so the crew an intercept and destroy a shipment of Kyber the Empire are transporting in secret.
During his time there, Ezra makes a couple of friends, including Zare Leonis, a kid who has also joined the academy with ulterior motives. He is there to try and find his sister; a former star pupil at the academy who mysteriously went missing.
After accomplishing his mission Ezra discovers that the most promising cadets are sent away with our old friend the Inquisitor. Presumably to be tested and trained as future prospective force sensitive assassins under the personal command of Darth Vader himself.
Continuing his newfound bout of selflessness, Ezra elects to stay behind and liberate his friends from the Empire and save them from the grizzy fate that would no doubt meet them if they found their way into the grasp of the Inquisitor.
Which they mostly do. With the exception of Zare deciding to stay behind and go with the Inquisitor at the last moment in order to learn the truth behind what happened to his sister.
This episode was decent. I notice that we have a couple of reoccurring Imperial officers now; Cumberlayne Aresko and Myles Grint, a couple of half witted officers who come off far more comedic than intimidating. A lot of Bulk and Skull or Jessie and James energy emanating from them.
Aresko is the gaunt snob with a very dry manner and Grint is the brutish, dull minded one with the more common accent. I’ve noticed them pop up over and again in the series, and given that they’re both from Lothal, I suppose it would make sense that they’d be both stationed there. I can’t say they’re the same breed of evil elitist that the officers seemed to be throughout a show like The Mandalorian. Rather, they seem like the only more competent than the grunts characters who are there to get fools made of them week after week in terms of their status in a television show.
I’m fully expecting Zare will return in the future as well, although whether he’ll be a friend of an enemy remains to be seen. As I’ve already mentioned, this series seems to be the inspiration for a lot of the Jedi: Fallen Order video game, and if the process of breaking the minds and brainwashing individuals into becoming Inquisitors from that holds true, there is a high likelihood that Zare will find out what happened to his sister. Only to fall victim to the same process himself, becoming a new Pawn of the Empire to throw at the crew of the Ghost.
We’re early days yet, but the good stuff in the show is pretty good. Like I said, the second episode was by far my favourite, mostly because it was filled with events that felt like they were going to be of importance going forward in the series. And the introduction of the Inquisitor, who is a very cool villain in my eyes.
The other two felt pretty throw away, Saturday morning cartoon fodder that comes and goes and doesn’t really leave much of an impression in the greater story. But maybe I’ve been watching too much anime and my expectations of what this series is kind of warped.
Although knowing some of the characters and events that do eventually end up taking place throughout this series, maybe I’m just overeager to get to the “good stuff” as the series matures.
These episodes continue to focus on Ezra, who is very much our defacto main character in the series so far, but also gives us a bit of development for Kanan as the Padawan survivor and his ability to become a teacher himself. Sabine and Hera still don’t get much of a focus. They’re the over competent, underdeveloped women of the show so far.
An element I’ve been feeling watching a lot of the MCU lately. They both seem like the most together and in control members of the crew, but that doesn’t make for especially compelling storytelling. I’m looking forward to them getting more of a focus.
Although there is one character I feel like I might have come to something of a conclusion about?
I think Chopper might be evil. Or at least chaotic neutral. Several times throughout this episode, he seems to relish in making Ezra’s life a living hell. Sabotaging his bunk to stoke the flames of his and Zeb’s shared antagonism and then in the following episode almost kills Ezra by knocking him off the ship and then seems amused by the whole thing when Kanan saves him at the last minute using the force. Then to add insult to injury, he laughs right in Ezra’s face when the kid is depressed because he thinks Kanan it trying to dump him off on another Jedi.
I mean, I can’t say he’s an R2-D2 clone at this point. R2 is a bro for life, Chopper seems like the kind of friend who would push you into traffic “for the crack”.
Anyway. I guess it looks like these posts are always going to be long like this one. I might drop down to two episodes a week rather than three to save myself some time to write anything else. I know I feel afowl of this last week and missed an update. Stay tuned next week I guess as I decide if I’m going to cover episode 9 or not along with seven and eight.