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Rebels Review: 3.06 – “Imperial Supercommandos”

Fenn Rau returns, we learn a little more about what’s happened on Mandalore since the Empire took over, and Sabine finally gets a jetpack. “Imperial Supercommandos” serves not only as a sequel to season 2’s “The Protector of Concord Dawn,” but doles out a little more insight into Sabine’s backstory.

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“The Protector of Concord Dawn” was a fine, if unremarkable episode. I never really bought Rau’s reasoning for allowing the Rebels safe passage through his system, though, and the character of Rau didn’t really click with me, so I wasn’t desperately awaiting a sequel. I’m happy to report, however, that — with some caveats — I found “Imperial Supercommandos” to be a fairly strong episode.

Following Rau’s capture by the rebels, the rebels have lost contact with the Mandalorian colony of Concord Dawn. Fearing a trap, Sabine, along with Ezra and Rau, investigate, only to discover that the Empire, presumably in retribution for allowing the rebels safe passage through the system, has destroyed the colony. Owing perhaps to the superior martial capabilities of the Mandalorians, the Empire sent not Stormtroopers, but a group of Mandalorians who now work for the Empire, the eponymous Supercommandos. Ezra, predictably, is captured, and Sabine and Rau form a tense alliance to rescue him.

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Sabine is one of the more enigmatic members of the Ghost crew. Compared with the others, we know relatively little about her backstory. The revelation last season that she was Clan Vizsla was interesting, but didn’t tell us much about her character. “Concord Dawn” did show us she’s still proud of her heritage, however, and we see that here as well. She tells Rau in the teaser that she’s been spending time with him in an attempt to convince him to join the rebels, and that’s likely true, but it’s also likely she simply enjoys spending time with another Mandalorian. Her reaction to Gar Saxon and the Supercommandos (playing the Concord Dawn cantina, one night only!) isn’t as strong as Rau’s, but she still seems disturbed by the idea of Mandalorians willingly collaborating with the Empire.

She’s grown since last season, as well. In “Concord Dawn,” she’d sought revenge on Fenn Rau for the injuries he’d inflicted on Hera (I guess she just didn’t know the two rebel pilots he’d killed very well). There, it had been Kanan’s moderating influence which had convinced her not to kill Rau. Here, she’s the one trying to talk Rau out of vengeance. Maybe she’s just trying to make sure Ezra doesn’t get killed in the crossfire, and maybe she’s a hypocrite, but I think it’s more likely that she’s matured a bit over the past year.

Rau becomes a little more interesting to me here, as well. The “appear to abandon our heroes only to have a change of heart and swoop in to save them at the last minute” move was agonizingly predictable, even for what’s ostensibly a kid’s show, but it’s interesting watching his reaction to Concord Dawn’s destruction. At first I took his claim that he could have stopped the destruction of Concord Dawn if he’d been there as mere arrogance, thinking he, one man, could have fought off the Supercommandos where his soldiers could not. When he realizes that the Supercommandos had always planned to kill him, however, it becomes clear that he thought he could have talked the Supercommandos out of their slaughter, which is an interesting position for a Mandalorian soldier to take. Granted, even when you factor in episodes from The Clone Wars, our knowledge of Mandalorian culture is sketchy at best, but even so, it’s nice to see a Mandalorian who’s not a childish ball of “I wanna fight!” rage like Pre Vizsla, or a dyed in the wool pacifist like the Duchess Satine. Rau has obviously embraced the more martial aspects of Mandalore’s culture and history, but he’s not a mindless brawler, fighting for the sake of fighting. It makes an interesting contract, and I hope his joining the rebels at the end of this episode means we’ll be seeing more of him — and more of him interacting with Sabine, whose youth and occasional recklessness makes another nice contrast with Rau.

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The episode ends with an exciting and inventive flying chase through a series of canyons, with Ezra holding onto Sabine for dear life as she tries to jetpack away from the Supercommandos. In addition to just being delighted Sabine finally has a jetpack, I found the sequence to be extremely well-conceived and executed. In preparation for this episode I rewatched some of the Mandalorian-centric episodes of The Clone Wars, and apart from giving me some necessary context, I was struck by how different the action sequences in TCW feel to those in Rebels. Particularly in that last Mandalorian arc in season five, the action is breathlessly frenetic in a way which makes the action in Rebels seem almost stately. Put it another way, the action in TCW feels like something you might find in a modern action film, while the action in Rebels feels more like something from the ‘70s or ‘80s — in other words, like something from the original Star Wars trilogy. It’s an interesting comparison, and I assume it was done deliberately. Stately or no, however, the jetpack chase is exciting and well-designed, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Additionally, it feels like we don’t get that many hand-to-hand fights in Rebels, but here we get two — one between Rau and a random Supercommando, and one between Sabine and Saxon. Both are well-done, and serve to show just what capable warriors the Mandalorians are. The scene with Rau in particular struck me; if that had been a random Stormtrooper, the poor fool probably wouldn’t have even put up a fight. In Mandalorian vs. Mandalorian, however, Rau has to work for it. Likewise, it’s nice to see Sabine holding her own in a close-quarters brawl and not just relying on flipping around and blowing stuff up.

Some confusing dialogue and a hackneyed plot point can’t sink “Imperial Supercommandos,” a thoroughly entertaining episode which actually manages to develop Sabine’s character — something the show has struggled with in the past — and give us a little more insight into one of the more popular and intriguing Star Wars cultures.

RANDOM OBSERVATIONS:

“I don’t really get the whole Mandalorian thing.” Me either, Ezra.

The Imperial Supercommando armor is a nice design; a nice combination of Mandalorian and Stormtrooper armor that creates just the right amount of menace.

“I was using tactics! It takes longer!” Sabine is maturing!

Ezra surfing on Chopper entertained me to no end.

Any bets on what Ezra’s next alias will be? He’s already used up “Jabba,” and “Lando” can’t be far behind. Maybe he’ll start telling people he’s Gar Saxon.

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