I ended last week wondering if I’d just end up talking about two episodes of Rebels this week. Well, turns out the show took that decision out of my hands when they gave me what turned out to be a secret three-part storyline. This time focusing on Ezra and Empire Day, the 15 year anniversary of the formation of the Galactic Empire.
We also learn it’s Ezra’s Birthday. Which I guess means Ezra was born on the same day in the galactic calendar as when Darth Sidious ordered the execution of Order 66 and crowned himself Emperor. Wow. Chosen one vibes much Ezra?
Season 1, Episode 07: Out of Darkness
Before we get to any of that though, we finally get our Hera/Sabine episode I’ve been wanting since the series started. Although they get bundled together rather than the episode solely focusing on one of them. But I’ll take what I can get.
As well as being the daring pilot of the Ghost, it seems like Hera is the crew’s intel expert. She’s the one with the secret contacts that leaks them the jobs they need to stick it to the Empire. The point of conflict coming from Sabine who apparently takes exception with how much information Hera withholds from the rest of the crew.
And so, Sabine insists on tagging along on the latest supply pickup from Hera’s mysterious contact Fulcrum, who is no doubt eventually going to be someone we recognise from the Clone Wars days when their identity is eventually reviled.
It’s through her insecurities that we get a little glimpse into Sabine’s past. How she was a part of the Imperial Academy on Mandalore, before realising that the Empire were lying and manipulating the Mandalorian people somehow before ditching her people and joining up with the Ghost.
As a conscience of her experiences, she comes across as pretty paranoid whenever she is in a situation where she knows information is being withheld from her. As always though, Hera puts on her calm mom voice and assures Sabine that she only keeps her fellow crewmates in the dark for both their protection and the protection of the crew.
I’ve seen Rogue One, I know how bad things can get with the Empire. Even if they’ve mostly shown themselves to be little more than bumbling oafs in this series.
Anywho, thanks to Erza, Zeb and Chopper’s continued childish bickering, they fail to notice a damaged fuel line on the Ghost’s micro shuttle: The Phantom and the two women get stranded on an old republic military outpost. Which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t find themselves in the middle of a Pitch Black situation.
As in they’re besieged by a bunch of monsters that can only come out in the dark. They hold them off for a while until the Ghost shows up and everyone escapes unscathed.
Just on its own, this really felt like a nothing episode to me. It established some previously unmentioned antagonism between Hera and Sabine and then just brushes it under the rug by the end as Sabine “learns to trust Hera’s word”
Honestly, if the Pitch Black asteroid hadn’t factored into the events of the following episodes as much as it did I would have been pretty down on this one.
Season 1, Episode 08: Empire Day
As I mentioned at this top, this episode and the one that follows surround the events of Empire Day on Lothal; the anniversary of the formation of the Empire. A day that seems to hold some special significance to Ezra, as it is preventing him from making any progress in his latest Jedi lesson. In forging a connection in the force with another living life form.
What’s holding him back is one of the things Ezra has been dealing with since the start of the series: his inability to really open himself up and be vulnerable in any way. Which in this episode we learn stems from abandonment issues he has surrounding his parents going missing on Empire Day after they broadcast pirate radio condemning the Empire.
Within this episode, the crew of the Ghost plan on blowing up a new experimental TIE Fighter that is being revealed to the people of Lothal. While laying low in the aftermath, they find themselves in the old Bridger household, finding there a Rodian named Tseebo.
Despite everything they’ve been doing, the Empire seem much more interested in finding this rogue Rodian than the people that bombed their parade. As it turns out, Tseebo is filled with cybernetic implants, all of which are equally filled with Imperial secrets. Thus the rest of the episode is a mad chase around the streets on Lothal, trying to get Tseebo and the valuable information he holds to safety.
Watching this episode, there was a note I wanted to make regarding production. The second part of this episode is a chase though-out the streets involving tanks, walkers and fighters. In which there is much chaos caused by the crew. And yet, despite all the crashing and explosions happening all around, there was this inescapable feeling of watching a child bashing their toys together throughout.
Let me explain. As Sabine ploughs this tank through the barriers and walkers that stand in her way, any collisions send tanks and walkers reeling, as as we see them flying away from explosions, the models look as pristine and clean as they did when they were first made.
There’s no deformation, no dirt or any kind of sign that these vehicles are actually damaged whatsoever. It feels like watching someone playing with a bunch of toys. I get that modelling damage is probably very time-consuming in a series like this, but it’s just so distracting when I see it.
At this point, Rebels is being made on Disney money, so surely they have a bit more budget to play with and cover these things. Right? This is just one more of those things I really hope is just an attribute of this being the early days of the series and will end up improving as the series goes on.
Season 1, Episode 09: Gathering Forces
Following on directly from the events of the previous episode, the Crew are aboard the Ghost and running away from Lothal with Tseebo in tow. Hotly pursued by The Grand Inquisitor himself in the new TIE revealed at the beginning of the previous episode.
The bulk of this episode details the crew laying a trap for the Empire back on the asteroid that featured in the first episode we talked about today. In the meantime, Ezra is being forced to work through the issues he has surrounding his abandonment issues due to Tseebo’s sudden reappearance in his life.
Funnily enough, it’s Sabine that’s trying to force the issue and bring the pair together to help Ezra come to some kind of peace with what happened to him in the past.
Once on the asteroid, Kanan’s plan is to force bond with the Pitch Black creatures from the first episode and use them to attack the Empire, masking their escape. Ezra, like he did at the beginning of the storyline struggles to open himself up. Fear is holding him back, not fear of the creatures, but fear of the truth of knowing what happened to his parents.
In the end, he forces himself to let go of his angst and forgive Tseebo, allowing him to connect with and control the creatures with Kanan and cause chaos amongst the stormtroopers that arrive on the asteroid. It goes pretty well, or it would have had the Inquisitor not been present alongside them.
Leading to another Lightsaber duel in which Kanan is, once again, sorely outmatched by the Inquisitor’s skill and power. Leaving it down to Ezra to try and save them both. Well, it’s actually more like the Inquisitor ends up orchestrating his own defeat. He eggs Ezra on again, trying to make him give into the dark side.
Here’s a thing I didn’t actually realise though. Kanan hasn’t mentioned the dark side to Ezra once. It’s not a concept he’s even aware he needs to be wary of. Thus he does give into the dark side in a rage and uses it to dominate one huge-ass creature and send it to attack the Inquisitor. Giving Kanan enough time to drag a semi-conscious Ezra out and escape the Empire.
In the meantime, Hera drops a now lucid Tseebo off with her contact Fulcrum and he passes the information onto Hera as to the truth behind what happened to Ezra’s parents. Information he doesn’t receive at the end of the episode as his brush with the dark side has left him feeling drained and fragile.
I was a little bummed out by this trio of episodes after watching just the first one. It was finally an episode featuring Hera and Sabine and it felt like a little bit of a throwaway episode by the time it was over. At least in terms of development of them as characters we still don’t know a ton about.
However, the way it ended up tieing up with the events of the following two episodes was really nicely done. Giving me a finale to the storyline that I actually really enjoyed with Ezra and his continuing growth in the force.
I’m going to be super honest. After these first nine episodes, I’m still a little bit on the fence about this series. There are aspects of it I certainly enjoy, but compared to the Clone Wars, that felt like it had this whole extra layer of meta commentary about the American Government of the time, Rebels feels a lot more simple.
I already went on that rant about how the speeder chase action sequence felt like it lacked any weight in terms of how the vehicles felt like they were toying being bashed up against one another. So far, it just doesn’t feel like there is anything to really sink my teeth into when it comes to this story, it just feels like a very standard Star Wars series.
Maybe that’s why it took me two weeks to write this part. I just wasn’t feeling it.