Rebels Review: Kindred and Crawler Commanders

I own it. The Force mysticism threads that run through Rebels just don’t work for me.

When this series began, I was hopeful we’d be seeing more of the Rebel cells and grassroots resistance of the to the Empire. To be certain we’ve got that in chunks here and there, but so often this show just gets bogged down by asking questions about the Force that likely will never get answers. That’s certainly fine, but it worked better in The Clone Wars than it does in Rebels. At the very least, it worked better in the first couple seasons of Rebels than it works now. We came into season four with a setup that it’s finally time to see the Rebellion mustering. Every now and then we start getting glimpses that we’re going to finally see more of the early Rebel Alliance.

But then we get derailed to go on another trail to Mortis-up the Force again. What does any of this mean? Who knows, but here are some nifty visuals.

After four seasons, it seems that Rebels was a bit of a mislead. What was a show that had a great chance to show how rebellion and resistance is built off the blood, sweat, and sacrifice of regular people who have decided to stand up against tyranny has fallen into the same Star Wars storytelling trap that’s plagued the franchise since the Expanded Universe of the 90s and ultimately doomed it by the end. The Force is a crutch, shoehorned into places it doesn’t really need to be, overshadowing the most important thing about the show: the characters.

Random bullet point thoughts on Kindred…

  • The character design on Rukh is fantastic. I’m not sure if that’s ever how I visualized him while reading the Thrawn trilogy, but seeing him on screen was this sort of “Oh!” moment where you see the look, how he moves, and it’s all just perfect. Warwick Davis’ voiceover work fits perfectly to boot.
  • Female TIE Bomber pilot! Yes, the creative teams need to work more women into the Rebellion roles, but I’m glad we can leave the old “Empire is sexist” trope of the 90s EU back in the 90s.
  • Through the last couple episodes, I’m admittedly enjoying Ryder pointing out the insanity of Ezra’s Talk to the Animals act, while Zeb pretty much responds “Oh yeah, it’s weird, just go with it.” I’m going to start calling Zeb “Lampshade” from her eon out.
  • Hey Kanan and Hera finally-

Okay let’s break this out from the bullets.

Yes, Kanan and Hera finally kiss, and we get acknowledgement that there’s something there. Unfortunately based on Rebels Recon, it sounds like they’ve never acknowledged their feelings nor even been in a relationship. This certainly seems to fly in the face of how they’ve interacted in the past, but I’ve got a bigger issue with this. There was a chance to show a healthy relationship, and that relationships can thrive even during challenging times. I’m glad they finally acknowledged something, but it’s hard not to feel that this has been mismanaged since episode one. Not to mention the way Kanan went about discussing what they should do after the Rebellion was a pretty blatant setup for something we like to call Retirony. Stay tuned, I have a feeling other writers here will be circling back to this topic.

Moving on, Crawler Commanders was an episode that was just kinda… there. Certainly fine and enjoyable on its own, but it felt like it was more stalling for time than anything. Hera gets back to Yavin IV to argue for beginning an attack on Lothal to stop the TIE Defender fleet. She’s barely in the episode, but does at least have a good moment in the end where she passionately argues and wins over high command. Meanwhile on Lothal, the gang has recovered from their Lothwolf induced Force trippiness to set up operations on the other side of the planet. Trick is, they need to get in touch with Hera, so they engage in a plot to overtake a mining vessel to use its long-range comms.

Aboard, they get into some trouble with an unruly Trandoshan voiced by Seth Green (who was rather fun, it must be said). They free some slaves, stave off an Imperial inspection, and re-establish communication with Hera and Yavin. She tells them a Rebel assault is incoming, and they’re to prepare the ground attack.

Crawler Commanders was a fine episode on its own, while Kindred was a mix of good and extremely frustrating moments. Much like Rebels as a whole. As we get closer to the half-way mark, Season 4 is feeling sort of… aimless and confused. It doesn’t seem to know if it wants to keep being a continuation of The Clone Wars, or if it wants to bridge to Rogue One and A New Hope. The worst thing, though, is it’s constantly choosing between these two points. Rebels has struggled to be its own thing and focus on its own characters since the beginning, and these episodes are an encapsulation of that. The focus always seems to be on everything but the Ghost crew and their growth. Instead, look at the latest shiny Force thing over here and that cameo over there.

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