Rebels gives its viewers a chance to catch their breath this week after a heck of a brutal ride the episode prior. Breathing doesn’t mean the creators slacked in any way shape or form though with this week’s episode: Breaking Ranks.
The Ghost is already taking advantage of Ezra’s young age as they send him undercover into the Lothal Imperial Academy as a stormtrooper cadet. Hera and Kanan remain aboard the Ghost while Zeb and Sabine are the backup boots on the ground as Ezra tries to steal an essential decoder. Lucky for him, he discovers an ally in a fellow cadet, Zare Leonis who definitely has his own agenda at the Academy.
Breaking Ranks does a fantastic job of bringing the intensity level down a few notches without sacrificing anything in terms of story and even moves the overarching plot forward. It not only makes good use of the characters we already know but introduces another who will clearly be used further in the show since they’re devoting a series of young adult novels to Zare. Everyone on the team had their role to play in the job. Even the writers’ use of Agent Kallus and the Inquisitor in this episode was spot on with how they only appeared for maybe a few minutes each. As for Zare, I was left wanting to know more about him and what happened to his sister from the moment he was introduced to the very end so mission accomplished there.
The main storyline was well done with Ezra being the Ghost’s man on the inside. They brought the viewers into the moment at the right time and didn’t leave them feeling bogged down in exposition. That said, I am curious as to how long and how much previous groundwork it took to get Ezra into the Academy especially given that this was a time sensitive mission. I did enjoy getting to see Ezra and Zare work together to obtain their objective but I also think that Ezra reeeeeeeally needs to start keeping his Force abilities much further under wrap or else he’s going to get himself into more trouble than the Ghost can get him out of.
The b-plot of this episode wasn’t lacking either. I think I actually preferred it. Once Ezra decides to help his fellow cadet, Hera and Kanan are left with no choice but to continue the mission and deny the Empire the kaiburr crystal. And hey—they really didn’t even need the rest of the team because both pilots had everything completely under control. It was a really well done space battle and wow can Hera fly! This part of the episode was also a nice little insight into how their first few years as partners probably went before Zeb and Sabine joined their crew.
What was especially interesting about this episode was how we learned that the Imperial Academy(s) have “special criteria” handed out by the Inquisitor. The Academy instructors have been told to keep an eye out for Force sensitives so he can then take them into custody. Sounds like we’re seeing a follow up from Sidious’s interest in the Force sensitive children in Clone Wars and maybe, just maybe, a version of something that rhymes with Emperor’s Schmands.
As always, we here at Tosche Station are still waiting for an episode that lets Hera and Sabine get the spotlight more. Ezra’s decent enough but we want the ladies! That said, this episode did an AMAZING job of including visual diversity. Of the three cadets introduced in the episode who played a main role, two of them were people of color, which was incredibly heartening to see. So well done, writers: keep it up on the diversity front.
Rebels continues to impress with its handling of character, plot, and entertainment value and I’m excited to see what they do next.