Rebels Review: Iron Squadron

Last time I reviewed Rebels, it was for a Maul episode. This time it’s an episode with a group of ragtag kids out to fight the Empire. Even with the inclusion of Thrawn in this episode, I feel it’s again way out of my wheelhouse. Despite the fact this episode left me saying “meh” when it was over, there were a lot of cool bits of backstory and plot elements I hope return in later episodes.

First, there’s the relationship between Mart Matin and his uncle, Commander Sato. I love that these two characters are related; Mart is one of the first biracial characters I recall seeing in Star Wars, and I appreciate that it’s not even addressed in the show. It just is. I’m also super interested in the fact that Mart and Sato don’t have the same last name even though they’re related through the paternal line. Did Mart take his mother’s last name? Or, perhaps, another father’s?

Then there’s the relationship between Sato and Thrawn. Their interactions lead me to believe that Thrawn and Sato have a history together. Has Thrawn fought him before? Was Sato previously part of the Republic or Imperial navy? Sato is a character we don’t know much about right now, and I’d love to see him show up in the novel Thrawn and emerge as an adversary for that character.

Let’s talk about Thrawn in general in this episode. He sends Admiral Konstantine to take care of the Iron Squadron with one light cruiser. Thrawn’s order is half a request, half a threat, as he implies Konstantine should have no problem taking care of the Iron Squadron on his own. Of course, the Iron Squadron gets help in the form of the Ghost crew, who fly in at the last second to help them escape. That’s the moment Thrawn himself jumps into the system, supposedly answering Konstantine’s distress call–which was actually Konstantine calling to tell him he’d succeeded in capturing the Iron Squadron. Oops. The episode ends without showing us Konstantine’s fate, and I’m kind of hoping Thrawn made good on his threat and got rid of him permanently. So far Thrawn’s three appearances have all ended with the Rebels escaping, and showing him punish a subordinate would do well in making him seem like a credible adversary.

That’s not to say that Thrawn isn’t a big threat. If he’d jumped into the system a few seconds before, he could have captured the Ghost and the Iron Squadron easily. The fact that he didn’t points to him having a long game in mind. We’ve got a lot of episodes left this season, and I can’t wait to see what that long game is. I trust that the writers will make him as threatening as he was in Legends, and hope the slow build-up will have an immense payout.

This episode had some good character moments with Ezra trying to convince the Iron Squadron to leave the system with the Ghost crew. I’m not the biggest fan of Ezra (that’s an understatement), but he was definitely using his powers for good here. I loved Kanan using the gunnery turret even though he’s blind. And seeing three Lucasfilm employees tuckerized as members of the Iron Squadron was super fun.

This episode wasn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t bad in any sense of the means, and did a good job showing the threat of the Empire on specific planets. I’m looking forward to seeing how these plot points pay off down the line. Especially when it comes to Thrawn. Although I root for the Rebels in the long run, I can’t wait to see him victorious.