Rebels Review: Heroes of Mandalore

Breathe… just breathe. It’s the premiere of Heroes of Mandalore, the first episode of the final season of Star Wars Rebels. We’re not ready to say goodbye to this show but we sure are excited to start watching this season. In typical Rebels fashion… boy were there feelings.

Spoilers after the jump.

So… let’s get this out of the way: we watched the first half of the episode together at Celebration. Have any of us truly recovered from the cliffhanger at the end of first episode?

Bria: No. Just… oh god no. It’s hurt for six very long months and it still hurts now. I am still very much not okay. Thank goodness they resolved the cliffhanger in the first few minutes of the second half but OH SWEET FORCE WHY. That entire panel was emotional whiplash and while I suspected that Ursa survived because of a trailer shot, I was devastated at the mere idea that Sabine might have lost her mother and brother in one fell swoop. DAMN YOU, FILONI.

Nanci: I was annoyed at having to wait six months for the conclusion. I’m even madder after seeing the second episode. I mean, I am relieved that Ursa and Tristan Wren did not die, but COME ON, REBELS. That was just a rude trick.

Brian: Oh god. Yeah. That wait was painful, and it’s obvious why everyone left that panel with this shell-shocked look of horror on their faces. But yes, I’m with Nanci. I’m happy they aren’t dead, but that was a mean bait-and-switch.

What did we really like about the episode?

Bria: I love that it was a Sabine centric episode. The strongest episode of last season (and arguably, one of the top 5 episodes of the entire show) focused on her. Her reunion with her father and her realization that her mother and brother weren’t dead were particularly touching. She’s not just one of my favorite characters in the show but also the one who feels the most fully realized. That’s probably also a testament to Tiya Sircar’s acting. On the other side of the battle lines, I also really liked Thrawn’s brief appearance in this episode. In contrast to the New Idiot Saxon, he seemed to understand the ramifications of using the weapon and his disdain was noteperfect.

The fight scenes in the first half of the episode were also incredibly well choreographed and the music paired with them was (as always) perfection. I think that these sorts of fight scenes that can only really happen later into a series especially since you could see how (at least half of) the Ghost crew worked together; something that only happens with time.

Nanci: I think I liked the first part better than the second. Part One was a really good extended heist sequence. Meeting Sabine’s father was great, and seeing the results of her work for the Empire was devastating. Ezra is always more palatable to me when he’s not portrayed as perfect, so his jetpack antics worked for me. Sabine gets better and better as the series goes on.

Brian: I’m on record saying that Hera and Sabine episodes are the most interesting episodes of Rebels in my book, so this pair of installments already wins points with me. I think of all the characters on the show, Sabine’s arc has been the most developed and impressing. She’s grown more than anyone else on the show, and these episodes drove that home. Also will agree with Nanci that this was one of Ezra’s more tolerable portrayals. He seems to work better when he’s playing second fiddle to Sabine.

What didn’t we like as much?

Bria: *sigh* I know I’m going to get flak for this but I’m really not pleased with how everyone bowed down before Bo-Katan as the new Mandalore. Okay sure her sister used to be the Duchess and sure she turned it down at first but… Sabine Wren deserves to lead her people and I don’t care that she made this horrible weapon. She was a child and did what she could to stop fix things once she realized what was going on. All of my notes from certain parts of the episodes are just capslocked rage. It’s really incredibly how a what? 18 year old girl is the most mature person around.

Also, I’m not sure if this was my TV or the service provider but the music during the battle at the end was far too loud and even overpowered the dialogue a fair bit.

Nanci: The second episode seemed bogged down to me, but perhaps that was a result of the emotional whiplash. Another problem for me is that I just don’t care about Mandalorians that much. I get that Mandalore is supposed to be a strategic planet for the Empire, but I’m much more interested in what’s happening in the Rebel Alliance. Also, the resolution of Bo-Katan as Mandalore felt rushed, and was pretty much a conclusion of a Clone Wars arc rather than its own storyline. Still, I enjoyed these episodes, even if they weren’t my favorites.

Brian: The Bo-Katan resolution does feel rushed, and at times I have a hard time reconciling that it’s her now wielding the Darksaber and leading Mandalore, when it did seem like things were setting up for Clan Wren (not Sabine necessarily, but someone from her family at least) taking that leadership role. This is another instance where it seems Rebels is being used a bit too much as a belated Clone Wars series finale.

What are we hoping to see this season?

Bria: Space Married confirmation. Preferably not right before Kanan dies. (That holo message between Hera and Kanan was great but boy did it feel like a tease.) Also, resolution to the Ahsoka Mystery Box already. Please. I’m not asking all that much.

Nanci: More of the Rebel Alliance, if you didn’t get that from my last response. Agreed on a Space Married confirmation–you can show us vaporized Mandalorians but not a kiss between Hera and Kanan? C’mon now. I would like to see LESS storylines left over from The Clone Wars, please. (I am probably in the minority here.) But if we must resolve something from TCW, please, for the love of the Maker, tell us what is up with Ahsoka and don’t be all vague about it. Oh, and please don’t kill Thrawn. We need him back for more villainous antics throughout the Original Trilogy.

Brian: Wedge Antilles, Ezra dies, Space Married, Kanan dies, Rebel pilots, Baron Fel, Ahsoka mystery box. (We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning.)

Any last thoughts?

Bria: I did not expect to love the relationship that Sabine and Fenn Rau have so much and yet here we are.

Nanci: The Season Premieres of Rebels have all fallen flat to me since “Spark of Rebellion,” because boy what an introduction that was, but I’m hoping Season 4 continues the strong military focus of Season 3, gives us resolution to these characters we know and love, and leads us into Rogue One in a believable fashion.

Brian: These two episodes were decent but not exactly big attention grabbers for me, which is a bummer because Sabine is one of my favorite characters on the show. I think she does better playing off the Ghost crew, though. I just hope we don’t spend too much more time wrapping up Clone Wars stories and focus more on wrapping up Rebels.

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