Review: Star Wars Rebels: Gathering Forces

rebels logoThere’s no time for the crew of the Ghost to think or even breath as they’re chased off of Lothal. With them should go any lingering doubts about Disney’s willingness to go dark in a kids show because wow has this two-part arc proven them wrong.

This review contains spoilers.

With Tseebo and the rest of the crew on board, the Ghost flees Lothal with half a dozen TIE Fighters hot in pursuit, the Inquisitor amongst them. The Ghost makes the jump to lightspeed but not before the Inquisitor tags them with a tracking beacon. Left with no better option, Kanan and Ezra detach the Phantom from the Ghost and abruptly fall out of hyperspace near the base filled with those sunlight-fearing creatures while Hera and the rest take Tseebo to Fulcrum. As expected, the Empire tracks them there and after a lightsaber duel and some impressive use of the Force, Kanan and Ezra only just barely manage to escape, leaving the Inquisitor and his exploded ship behind.

Gathering Forces takes all of the momentum that was built up in Empire Day and keeps on rolling. It shrinks the story’s scope a fair bit as the rest of the crew takes a backseat to the Force users but doesn’t neglect any of the plot lines started in Empire Day. It’s hard not to feel invested in these characters even though we’ve known them for less than a dozen episodes and that’s a testament to the skill and abilities of the creative team.

This episode brings up a lot of potentially interesting questions and possibilities in regards to Ezra and the Force. First, this episode certainly hinted quite heavily that Ezra will struggle with the dark side in the future (and the Inquisitor would be more than happy to help him down that path.) If this is the path that they choose to go down, it certainly will be a wild ride and one that I think I support seeing. Second, while Ezra does seem to be a ‘sink or swim’ learner, I suspect that this can only go so far and that he’s going to have to start learning more whilst not in life threatening situations for fear of the previous point. Third, Kanan seems to be quite content to be his own sort of Jedi who doesn’t slavishly follow the Order’s rules and methods and he’s content to train Ezra to be likewise. This leads right into the next point as there was something in both this episode and the previous one that felt off to me. To be more specific, using the Force to control animals and then use them as attack nek dogs reeks of the dark side and it’s something that I hope the creative team is aware of and that has consequences further down the line. Finally, if the Inquisitor is able to track Kanan through the Force, he might want to see if there’s anything that can be done because that’s going to be a problem.

Moving away from the Force front, Gathering Forces definitely wasn’t weak in its other areas. It was nice to see the relationship between Ezra and Sabine progress from his awkward one-sided crush and for viewers to really get a chance to see them as friends. Her gift of the cleaned up holodisc at the end was quite sweet. This episode also continued the mystery of Fulcrum’s identity. Not even Zeb gets to meet this mysterious Rebels which begs the question of whether it’s just Hera who deals with him/her/it or if Kanan does too. It will also be quite interesting to see what sort of information Zeebo is able to give to the rebels and if Hera’s crew ever receives any of that intelligence back to carry out missions for this fledgling rebellion.

On an artistic note, the animators absolutely outdid themselves in this episode. I don’t think we’ve ever seen someone fall out of hyperspace before and it’s gorgeously animated especially in regards to the lighting. The lighting in the scene where the Inquisitor has both his and Kanan’s lightsaber is also very well done. Honestly, everything about this episode was well done from the animation to the voice acting to the story. Rebels just keeps raising the bar for itself and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Also? That was one hell of a cliffhanger to leave us on until January. WHAT HAPPENED TO EZRA’S PARENTS?