Star Wars: Rebels Revisited – Part 9: Blades and Broods

I’m not going to say these two episodes were a downturn from what has been a very good series so far. But they are something of a stumble, and an unforced one at that. I’ve made it no secret that despite this being a show about a cast of characters, some of them have been getting served much more than others. This felt like a chance to rectify that, and I don’t feel like they ended up being quite up to snuff.

Season 2, Episode 07: Wings of the Master

Seems like we’re finally getting another Hera focused episode. Let’s hope it’s not just our one of the season. In this episode, the Rebels are trying to make a supply drop to the starving people of Ibaar, a world it seems like Agent Kallus is purposely choking under Imperial pressure for the express purpose of drawing the Rebellion out.

The first run on the blockade ends in failure and the remaining ships are forced to flee.

It’s at this point that Rex brings up on old Mon Cal shipbuilder contact on Shantipole. One who has been working on something that could give the Rebels an edge against Imperial blockades. Although, despite the interest and investment Hera has in seeing this mission succeed, she doesn’t volunteer herself for the mission.

For some reason, Kanan just puts her name forward without talking to her about it. He justifies it later by saying that they can’t get past the Empire without this new ship and he wants the best pilot in the Rebellion flying it. I mean, okay. But what write it that way? It’s taking what little agency Hera has as a character in the first place and just tossing it to the side to make it all seem like it’s the idea of Kanan.

Just have her be the one wanting to take the gamble on this new ship and potentially leave the fleet without her getting back in time because “it’s worth the risk”. I don’t get why the writers did it this way at all, it’s almost as if they’re trying to shield Hera from ever doing anything wrong, ever. But that makes her a less interesting character.

Back to the episode though. Throughout the run of the series up until this point, I’ve noticed something about the technology. I really can’t remember if I’ve brought it up before. But a lot of the Empire’s ships and equipment still looks like it might be in the proto phase of what we eventually come to recognise.

While we’ve seen TIE Fighters and AT-ATs as we recognise them from the movies, some cruisers, walkers and shuttles are a little different than the iconic vehicles we recognise. I suppose this is happening on the side of the rebels as well, as when Hera arrives on Shantopole and meets Quarrie, we learn that the prototype he has been working on is what he calls the “Blade Wing”. Emphasis on that first letter if you know what I’m saying.

He initially rebukes Hera. For some reason. Only to change his mine when she speaks about her past for the first time this in this series. How she watched the Republic ships during the Clone Wars and was overcome with a desire to be up there. A compulsion to be in the sky, and it’s where she truly feels like she can be herself. So much so that she left her family on Ryloth to fight the Empire.

This is history I’m already kind of familiar with seeing as I have already watched the Bad Batch. Thanks to my ass-backwards way of consuming Rebels I had kind of hoped we might have gotten a little more out of Hera and her reasons for leaving her home and parents. But nope.

Rather, the grumpy old man lets her take the ship, they collectively assault the Blockade the and Hera is able to destroy an Imperial light cruiser in a single passing run when flying the B-Wing. As Kallus says, something that feels like it should be impossible. And that’s the episode pretty much.

It’s like I said in the very beginning when I started talking about Rebels; Hera seems like the most competent and adult member of the cast by a wide margin. Even in this episode, she is more than capable of saving the day right from the beginning. If they had the B-Wing at the start, the entire episode would have been a moot point. The only thing holding her back are the people around her.

Which I kind of feel is a bummer. Since I’ve started talking about Rebels, I’ve heard other critics comment on one of the series’ weaknesses are how underdeveloped Hera and Sabine remain throughout the course of the entire series in favour of focusing on Ezra and Kanan acting like dumbasses all the time. I now feel like I’m starting to see the complaint in action.

I like Hera a lot, but she already seems like a completed character. There’s nothing about her that seems to need top develop nor change, which is fine, except when you want to focus an episode on her and there’s nothing for her to do but wade through the muck to show that she’s the one that’s going to save the day, despite everyone around her.

I suppose, in that respect, she’s very much like Princess Leia. which as I said in the very beginning of the series is the character she was very clearly inspired by.

Season 2, Episode 08: Blood Sisters

Right after we get a Hera episode, we get a Sabine episode. Are they trying to fill a quota here or something?

In this episode, Sabine is sent on a solo mission to pick up an information courier for Bail Organa. Well, it’s supposed to be a solo mission, but Ezra butts in and tags along. I guess he’s there to re-establish that Sabine is the brooding, loner, tortured artist type. Although past dozen episodes seem to have forgotten that character trait.

He continues to give off awkward little brother energy until they find the courier. It’s a Gonk Droid, which they only find after being super conspicuous in the landing bay all afternoon. So conspicuous that they get ambushed, not by the Empire for a change though, but by a Bounty Hunter.

And it’s someone Sabine recognises. Her childhood friend Ketsu Onyo; a fellow Mandalorian who escaped the Imperial training camps with her. Although it sounds like they have something of a tumultuous relationship with one another, one that comes very close to them opening fire on one another upon meeting.

It’s almost this cool, western-style standoff. If not for Ezra’s presence and need to insert himself into every situation with smart ass comments and his weak-ass flirting game. Their reunion very quickly gets interrupted by a platoon of Stormtroopers before it can get violent. Sabine and Chopper grab the Gonk and jump back onto the transport it arrived on, leaving Ezra behind and making a break for the rendezvous.

Only for them to be assaulted by Ketsu again and their hyperdrive fried. Leading to a series of trickery and one-upmanship between them as they try and trick and juke one another. One that ends with Ketsu managing to get her hands on Chopper and proposing a trade.

I suppose I should get into the shared history between these two now. It seems like these two were as good as sisters at some point, having escaped Mandalore together and become Bounty Hunters together. For Sabine, this really couldn’t have been a very long career considering she’s like what, 16? It was a bond that came to an abrupt end when Ketsu abandoned Sabine and “left her for dead”.

Y’know, like how Sabine literally just did to Ezra. But let’s not dwell on that. If it was an intentional move, the show never draws any attention to that fact.

Ketsu. looking decidedly not Mandalorian these days (in terms of her armour), joined up with the Black Suns and became a mercenary working for them. Despite their shaky past, and Ketsu’s apparent greed, it takes very little for the pair to reconnect and for them to fall back into their sisterly ways. Because as soon the Empire shows up to arrest the thief of the stolen transport, they’re working together like there was never any bad blood between them.

The pinch point comes when Sabine gets knocked out on the transport while Ketsu is aboard her own ship with both Chopper and the Gonk. She very quickly tries to abandon Sabine again, but gets roundly rebuked by both droids. And as it turns out, there wasn’t even a rush to get away anyway, as she has ample time to run across the boarding tube, pick Sabine up and get back to the ship and escape no problem.

By the time the episode ends, Ketsu has made the full face turns and happily hands the Gonk over the R2-D2 and then returns Sabine to the crew of the Ghost. All saying that she’s glad Sabine had managed to find a new family and a new cause to fight for. Even lamenting she fact that she doesn’t have that kind of relationship anymore. Although having no resentment in her when saying it.

This episode was okay, not great though. I like Ketsu and the idea of Sabine having a friend who represents what her life could have been. And not necessarily for the better. But it felt like Ketsu’s turn was very fast and not especially motivated either. You could argue that she always felt like a sister to Sabine and melted as soon as they met up again. But if that was the case, then she would have abandoned her in the first place, and then been very quick to try and abandon her again in this episode.

This felt like an episode being strong-armed by needing to fit into 20 minutes. And ended up rushing through it’s story. Which ended up making the characters arcs presented within feel like they swung to big too fast. It’s a shame, but there were some good bones in there for the core of an ongoing “best of frienemies” type of relationship between the pair going forward.

And based on how it ends, that doesn’t feel like it’s going to be the case.

Verdict:

Compared to the episodes I’ve watched so far in season 2, these pair felt like two of the weaker ones. Which sucks because they’re two episodes focusing on Hera and Sabine; two characters I’ve wanted to more focus on since the show started. Both of them felt undercooked to me, the first being that Hera herself doesn’t really develop any throughout the episode, and the second one felt a little inconsistent in Sabine and Ketsu’s actions.

Sabine seems to have a grudge against Ketsu for abandoning her, but then does the same thing to Ezra. But then, by the time they meet one on one, she seems to have totally forgiven her and wants them to be friends again. Which might work on its own, if not for Ketsu’s flip flopping between being an emotionless bounty hunter and Sabine’s bestie again in the space of moments.

I feel like there is much more to these characters than we’re getting to see here: Hera’s relationship with her freedom fighter father and how they feel about one another given their respective choices in life, as well as her choice to leave Ryloth. And Sabine’s history with the Mandalorians as a people and how they exist now, under the Empire.

Why aren’t these the stories we’re getting into? Because the ones we are getting with them feel undercooked and weaker by comparison to the stories that are focusing on the Jedi. And I know these people can write good stories without Jedi in them. I’m a but bummed by these two episode. I just have to hope that the rumours about these two in the series going forward are a little overblown.


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