For a series called “Rebels”, I’d kind of thought that the show would be much more focused on, well, y’know… The Rebellion. What we’ve ended up getting has been much more Jedi focused than I’d expected.
If anything, the “Rebellion” we’re seeing here feels like this tiny little pocket of troublemakers pretty much contained in and around the planet of Lothal
There have been so many different conflicting stories about the birth of the Galactic Rebellion over the years of the expanded universe. I still don’t know how much Disney are planning on telling that story in this series, or if the crew of the Ghost eventually just meet up with the greater Rebellion further down the road.
So far though, this series has felt a lot less like Rogue One to me and a lot more like a series about a Jedi in hiding. Let’s get into it though:
Season 1, Episode 10: Path of the Jedi
This is a very mystical Jedi type episode. Kanan informs Ezra that he’ll be undergoing a test to see if he really is Jedi material or not. Thus he takes Ezra out in the Phantom and tells him to trust the force and allow it to lead him where ever it is he needs to go.
The episode follows Ezra on his vision quest experience, traveling through an old Jedi Temple and coming to terms with his feelings and why he really wants to become a Jedi deep down. Experiences visions of the Dark Side and the voices of great masters along the way. Including a cool (but I feel unnecessary fan servicey) cameo from Frank Oz as Yoda.
I did like this episode. Not only does it double down on what we learned about Ezra in the first episode, how he wants to help people and bright some light into the lives of people living in a time of powerful darkness, we also get to see some more development from Kanan.
As mentioned previously, Kanan was never exactly the finished article, still a Padawan when his master died and he had to escape Order 66. So teaching Ezra is as much a training exercise for himself as it is for his student.
Both coming to their personal revelations and growing from them thanks to the heavy handed advice of the disembodied voice of Yoda. Listening to Ezra’s reasoning for becoming a Jedi, it sound incredibly similar to the things a young Anakin wanted in The Phantom Menace.
This is one of those things where, the more we dig and expand upon the established lore, the less the original movies make any sense. Yoda knowing there are at least two more Jedi out in the Galaxy eight years before Luke shows up on his doorstep kind of makes that “last hope” stuff lose a little bit of its weight.
But what are you going to do. Because as much as it irks me, hearing Frank Oz return as Yoda still puts a warm feeling inside me, as his interpretation of the character instantly feels so much more wise and sagely than the Clone Wars Yoda ever did.
In the end, Ezra passes the test and is rewarded with his own Kyber Crystal. Allowing him to make his own, rather unique looking, Lightsaber. Lifting it in reference to the original Star Wars poster to end off the episode.
Season 1, Episode 11: Idiot’s Array
I just got over complaining about forced cameos didn’t I? Oh well, here’s the Lando Calrissian episode.
When this one got going, I couldn’t help but look up where this all slots into the new timeline again. So these events take place eight years before we meet Lando in Cloud City during Empire Strikes back, but take place five or so years after the events of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Although when this episode was being made I don’t think that movie was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye.
This episode begins with Zeb and Kanan getting themselves into a whole heap of trouble by losing Chopper in a game of Sabacc with Lando, who is on Lothal for some, never mentioned, reason. At the very beginning of this series, I had described Kanan as a Han Solo analogue for the series. When things got going though, he ended up being something pretty different.
He turned out to be much more Jedi-like than I was expecting. Well, that is until this episode where he does seem to revert to that scoundrel arch-type I first pinned him as. Okaying Zeb’s plan to use Chopper as a bet in his card game.
It’s extra weird, coming off the back of the previous episode where he was totally in Jedi mode throughout. I just guess that he’s just going to fill the role the writers require of him in any given storyline.
It’s cool that they got Billy Dee Williams back to play Lando in this episode, but the smuggler is still a creep. Smooth talking and manipulating everyone around him into getting what he wants. Which is ripping off a Jabba the Hutt inspired alien called Azmorigan (voiced by James Hong) for a puffer pig.
Really, he’s lucky that Hera is absurdly mature and level headed, because pretty much everyone else on the crew would have thrown him to the red, disgusting wolves when the plan falls in around them and turns into a fire fight.
In the end Lando really does come out on top. Despite the fact that it seems like Chopper has managed to steal some fuel from the smuggler and get one over on him, he ends the episode by saying (to nobody in particular) that he knew all along and that was the only reason he didn’t pay them.
Here’s my thing about Lando Calrissian. He’s a smooth talker, a criminal and a manipulator yes. But he’s also a good guy deep down. We only know that in the original trilogy because events around him cause cracks in his façade and we get to see what he is really about by the end of the movie. Here, we don’t really get that.
So he’s ultimately not that likeable unless you know him from prior context of the movies and the fact that it’s Billy Dee again. Within this context of this episode alone he just seems like a smug git.
Season 1, Episode 12: Vision of Hope
This episode revolves around Senator Gall Trayvis, a character we’ve seen a few time over the course of the first season so far. We’ve seen him hijacking Imperial broadcasts in the background to give messages of hope and resistance against the Empire.
Something Ezra seem especially interested in this episode. Maybe it has something to do with his own personal revelation about his parents who vanished doing something similar eight years prior. Once again we begin with Ezra training using his own new Lightsaber.
I mentioned it’s unique design previously, well as it turns out, it’s a Lightsaber that also doubles up as an Ion Blaster. It’s pretty damn clever to be honest, both disguising the weapon as a blaster, but also giving him extra options in a pinch.
During his training he has a vision of the future. And through the course of the episode we learn just unreliable and, quite frankly, dangerous Jedi force visions can end up being. Seriously, every time we see Jedi get visions of the future, they end up hurting the people that had them rather than help them.
And like the young Jedi before him, Ezra rushes into the events of the vision headfirst. Well, not before getting a little info from his contact within the academy: Zare Leonis. Y’know, I thought this kid had been sent off-world to find out what happened to his sister. y’know, after she mysteriously disappeared.
Well he mentions leaving soon, so maybe they just pushed back his leaving date a little while.
Anywho, the crew find the Senator who is visiting Lothal and try to save him from an Imperial trap, only to reveal himself to be a part of the trap all along and simply using his transmissions to draw out rebellion and snuff them out.
Something Hera seems to realise before anyone else, giving him an empty blaster and allowing him to reveal his true nature before punching him out. Seriously, Hera is just so much more competent than everyone else on the crew. It’s a good thing she doesn’t come out on missions very often because she’s just solve all the problems before they even happen.
It seems like Ezra has been training enough with his Saber that he feels confident enough to use it in a fight, or at least hold off the pot-shotting of a bunch of Stormtroopers. Allowing them all to escape.
I know that this is a kid’s show and everything, but there really was no reason to leave the lying senator alive before escaping. I’ve noticed this a few times, that the main characters are really too soft hearted when it comes to the people they tangle with. Leaving them alive over and over.
It’s a far cry from the kind of Rebel we saw in Rogue One. Cassian Andor is ruthless in taking people out if they could become a detriment to the Rebellion down the line. Given what damage he’s already done, letting Gall Trayvis live is a really dumb move from the crew. Again though; children’s cartoon.
The episode ends with both Ezra and Hera lamenting the betrayal of Travis and doubling down on their hope that things will eventually get better… Y’know Hera, this would be pretty perfect timing to let Ezra in on that information you got from Tseebo about what happened to his parents… You just going top continue keeping that to yourself then eh?
Last part I kind of lamented how Rebels didn’t really feel like it was a series that had anything to say compared to Clone Wars. I still think that honestly, but it has its own charms that Clone Wars sometimes felt like it lacked.
Events of previous episodes really do feel like they have an impact on the ongoing story. We revisit characters and events that I honestly felt were going to get long forgotten as the series forges forward and different writing teams make new stories.
It does feel like an ongoing narrative in a way that Clone Wars never really did. That was more of an anthology series, whereas in Rebels we really are seeing Ezra grow and mature as a Jedi in training.
I enjoyed these three episodes more than the three last week I really struggled to muster an opinion on. The first one being my favourite. And look where we are now, already approaching the end of season 1. The next part will be the final three episodes of the first series of Rebels.
Honestly, it still feels like we’re in the early stages of setting up this series. While Ezra has grown as a character, none of the rest of the crew of the Ghost feel like they’ve gotten any attention. Sabine and Hera hardly getting any development or backstory between them compared to everyone else.
Plus, almost all of the series has taken place on or around Lothal. I’m wondering what kind of tone the end of the first season will leave us with. I guess I’ll voice my thoughts about the future direction of the series next week.