Star Wars Rebels: Zero Hour – Liveblog Review

What happens when three Tosche Station staffers get together virtually to watch the Season 3 finale of Rebels? We do a live (written commentary), of course! Did we like it? Did we throw anything at the screen? Did we finally get another Space Married moment? Hit the break to find out!

THIS IS YOUR FIRST AND ONLY SPOILER WARNING.

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Rebels Review: Secret Cargo

rebels logoMon Mothma seems to be everywhere these days: Empire’s End, Rogue One, and now an episode of Rebels. She is the heart of the Rebellion, and her appearance in “Secret Cargo” marks a huge step forward for the burgeoning Rebellion we’ve watched flourish these past seasons.

Rebels seems to finally be getting serious about bringing the story together since Sabine gained the darksaber, and “Secret Cargo” doesn’t stray from the trend. Not only does this episode advance the story of the Rebellion, it also displays the strong bonds between Ezra and Hera, and how much Hera has taught Ezra over the course of the show.

Thrawn, as always, makes a daunting villain. His theme is one of the strongest parts of the score, and it builds an entirely ominous atmosphere around the Admiral as he goes head-to-head with Hera’s smarts. Without such a strong character in Thrawn’s place, this episode—and others—wouldn’t have half as much of the good tension they have. He is almost always one step ahead of the Ghost crew. Even when they win, it never really feels like Thrawn has lost.

Mon Mothma is very Mon Mothma, as she always is. It’s easy to see the woman in this episode become the woman in Rogue One in the not-too-distant future. Her interactions with Hera are an interesting look into both their characters as they’re contrasted against each other. The pilot and the politician, both with the same ideals, but having taken very different paths in life. It’s nice to see two woman have a conversation which says so much about each of them, and about the Rebellion they’ve  both had a hand in creating.

There are some gorgeous shot compositions in this episode, and it’s refreshing to be reminded that the art direction in Rebels can end up with such nice looking episodes. I feel that lately there’s been a lack of good looking scenes in Rebels, but “Secret Cargo” more than makes up for it. This episode is good a reminder that Star Wars can be beautiful, since so many of the other episodes seem to be obsessed with showing us how grey and dull the universe is.

All up, “Secret Cargo” is a good, solid episode that tells the story it wants to tell. It’s quick, filled with spaceship-on-spaceship action and broken up with brief moments of strong characterization. I just wish the side pilots didn’t always feel so disposable.

Review: Star Wars #26

This is, obviously, the much talked about Yoda arc with just a dash of the fall out from the Rebels’ theft of a Star Destroyer thrown in. I’m rather torn, by the way, about how I feel about the use of Obi-Wan’s journal as an excuse to do stories like this. On the one hand, it feels unnecessary and Marvel could very easily get away with just going for it with these stories when they want to. On the other hand, Threepio’s inability to shut up at the start is downright hilarious and Artoo’s devotion to his friend is so sweet. You win some, you lose some?

We haven’t really touched on the Yoda aspect though. His introduction here is neat but I’m still hesitant to see how the meat of the story arc goes. The concept of a planet full of children is uhhhh strange to say the least. However, et me emphasize how glad I am that Marvel found a way to keep Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado in the Star Wars family for a little while longer because daaaaaaaang do they draw a good Yoda! This is such a good artist/colorist team up that I’ve loved for years and I’d honestly love to see them just art their way through the galaxy far, far away.

Also, if Jason Aaron ever wants to write a Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan series, please let him. His Qui-Gon was so perfect that I could actually hear Liam Neeson’s voice in my head while reading some of his lines.

In short, there’s nothing to necessarily dislike here. It’s just a matter of seeing how the rest of the arc goes.

Star Wars #26: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Chris Eliopoulos/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Dr. Aphra #1

dr-aphraIt’s finally here! Dr. Aphra #1! Okay, so we’ve only been waiting for a month and a half but it’s felt like forever. No longer in Darth Vader’s service, Aphra, her two murderdroids, and Black Krrsantan are back to their usual thing: finding and selling ancient artifacts for a profit with a side of violence. Except there’s one problem: her doctorate’s been revoked and now she can’t sells her loot for the usual high prices.

Dr. Aphra #1 is our first real chance (outside of her introduction in Darth Vader #3) to really get to see Aphra going after what Aphra wants. I love that this book immediately reminds us that she’s not one of those rogues with a heart of gold. She straight up kills a man and isn’t particularly torn up about it. (Hey, he had a thing that she wanted!) I’m glad that it’s Kieron Gillen still at the writing helm because that means we’re getting the definitive Aphra and Aphra backstory just as he always imagined her. I don’t think I’d trust anyone else to write her quite yet even though we still run the risk of her, you know, dying. Because it’s Gillen.

On the art front, Kev Walker takes over for this new book but we do get a taste of Salvador Larroca via the short story at the end. Adding a little something extra has been Marvel’s MO for first issues. It’s a nice nod to their previous collaboration and while I dig Larroca’s work, it’s nice to get a distinctly different style for this book. Thus far, I’m definitely a fan of Walker’s more comic booky style.

There weren’t a ton of surprises in this first issue. They mostly cover what we’ve already learned in interviews and solicits but it does very nicely introduce Team Aphra to new readers. In other words, it’s very much a first issue but I’m honestly so glad to be reading about her again that it could’ve been 22 pages of nothing but Aphra ordering drinks in a cantina and I would’ve been content. That said, I can’t emphasize enough how excited I am to see where this book goes. After all, we can’t have a Dr. Aphra book if Aphra doesn’t have a doctorate… right?

In case it wasn’t clear yet… yeah.  Dr. Aphra #1 gets my whole hearted endorsement.  Go snag yourself a copy.

Dr. Aphra #1: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Artist, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Editor/Jordan White, Assistant Editor: Heather Antos

Rebels Review: The Wynkahthu Job

rebels logoGary Whitta is, without a doubt, living his best life.  He not only wrote the forthcoming Rogue One but now he’s also responsible for two episodes of Star Wars Rebels this season.  Add all of that to how his episodes have featured Wedge Antilles AND Hondo Ohnaka and…well… Four for you Gary Whitta!  You go, Gary Whitta!

The Wynkahthu Job starts as most Hondo episodes do: he has a job for the crew of the Ghost.  It’s a job with the potential to leave him rich and the Rebellion with a lot of bombs.  The only catch is that they’re also going to have to work with Azmorigan.  (Yeah you remember: the squat red alien who tried to buy Hera.)  Needless to say, Hera’s not pleased by this turn of events (which Ezra was aware of) and, for some reason, doesn’t immediately go get another tray but instead puts Zeb in charge of the mission.  It’s not surprising that Ezra’s not happy and that the mission goes far less smoother than expected.  This is Star Wars after all. Continue reading

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.

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Rebels Review: The Forgotten Droid

rebels logoWith a potential new base found, the Rebels need fuel, and the Ghost crew is once more on the case. Heading to a well-guarded Imperial refueling outpost, Hera puts Chopper in charge of staying with the Ghost and monitoring Imperial transmission, but he instead gets distracted by a new leg strut at a nearby shop.

Chopper being Chopper, he ignores his orders and instead steals the leg. After being accidentally abandoned by the Ghost crew, he is chased by stormtroopers into an Imperial cargo ship, where he meets an inventory droid, AP-5.

In The Forgotten Droid, we learn a bit more about Chopper’s backstory and his character beyond the fact he is a somewhat malicious, unpredictable droid. He’s a veteran of the Clone Wars, where he was a military droid, saved from a crash by Hera on Ryloth. AP-5, too, is a Clone Wars veteran, having been a tactical droid during the same Ryloth campaign. The two droids bond over their war stories, and Chopper shows he can care about something other than himself, surprising even Hera. This episode helps to build upon previous episodes, such as Homecoming, with little tidbits of character history.

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Rebels Review: The Call

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The Call introduces the new best creatures to inhabit the GFFA: the Purrgil, strange space whale-cephalopods that interrupt the Ghost crew’s mission to steal fuel that is meant for the Empire, fuel that is desperately needed. 

Low on fuel, Hera is forced to redirect any non-essential systems, including heat and the lights. This gives the ship a very enclosed and almost claustrophobic atmosphere throughout the episode, as well as some pretty high stakes: they fail this mission, and the Ghost may never leave the ground again. The entire episode is quite dark aesthetically, not being set on any planets, but the overall tone is of hope and wonder.

Something that Rebels can do well—and The Clone Wars did well—is expand the universe in more mystical ways because of the animated medium. The Call shows how this can be done well, developing the ancient mythology of Star Wars through the Purrgil and their connection to hyperspace travel and the origin of hyperdrives. Star Wars has such an old galaxy that spans a few millennia, that any glimpses into the way things came to be are always quite interesting and refreshing. 

Not only does this episode expand on the lore of the universe, but it also broadens Ezra’s understanding of the Force and of his abilities, showing how much he has changed and grown since Rebels first began. No longer is he the bitter, selfish child on Lothal, but a calm, compassionate boy who has a deepening connection with nature and others around him, a connection that even Kanan doesn’t seem to have.

There’s something almost beautiful about seeing the way Ezra interacts with the Purrgil, and especially so when he finally understands what they’re doing. While the others are quick to either dismiss the Purrgil or consider them a threat, he wants to learn what causes them to act as they do and help them with their distress.

Hera and Ezra have rather subtle development in this episode, though Ezra’s is more obvious. Over the course of The Call, Hera seems to gain the sense of wonder that Ezra has to begin with, a kind of childlike curiosity at the mysteries of the world. Vanessa Marshall’s acting is, as always, amazing. Kanan, for some reason, seems even snarkier than usual, though he still stops to let Ezra explain himself.

The whole crew has grown a lot since the beginning, and it’s clearer in each episode how much they’ve learned to help each other. They banter, but they plainly care for each other, which is one of the strengths of the show. Though an episode not based around their ensemble so much, The Call still shows this in little ways.

Filled with great visuals and absolutely stunning shots, The Call is largely a mystical episode that ends on good feelings—something that is likely needed during this time in the season. Though it may not be a plot-heavy episode, it’s a gorgeous one that is a welcome moment of peace before the storm the rest of the season is bound to be. The Purrgil are a great addition to the GFFA, and this episode will probably make a good standalone in the same way many of the lore-expanding episodes of The Clone Wars did.

I am personally keen to see how Ezra develops further over the rest of the season, as The Call has definitely shown him as a wiser character than he once was. He’s a good kid, and he’s only getting better.

Rebels Review: The Protector of Concord Dawn

SabineWrenIt’s been and up and down season of Rebels for me. Every now and then, there’s a great character episode I love to pieces, but mostly it’s been Ezra, Ezra, Ezra and more Ezra. This episode was a whole lot more of the former than the latter.

Sabine had an episode to shine earlier this season, but for large chunks of the second season run it feels like she’s been sidelined. That definitely isn’t true in this episode. We get a little bit of everything. Attitude and characterization for Sabine, Madalorian backstory, and even Kanan proving that Hera is his anti-Idiot ball.

The crux of the episode is the Rebels are searching for a new hyperspace route since the Imperials are cornering them left and right. Sabine suggests a shortcut through Mandalorian space, which prompts her to leave with Hera and Phoenix squadron to secure safe passage. The Mandos aren’t happy to see them, a few members of Phoenix squadron are killed, and Hera is badly wounded. Thus sends Sabine on a Western-style quest for vengeance. VENGEANCE!

I could keep breaking down the plot and the set piece detail, but let’s get into what made this episode so great. Sabine finally, after really a season and a half, had a chance to shine. She’s been begging Kanan and Hera for a chance to prove that they should trust her, and in this episode she made it clear why everyone needs to stop doubting her. Sabine is more than just an artist and explosives aficionado. She proves she’s smart and more in control of her emotions and surroundings than anyone has given her credit for.

If there’s something I’ll take issue with in this episode, it’s going to be something that has bothered me all season. Every episode seems to find a new way to sideline Hera. This time around, it’s putting her in the medbay. As great as this episode episode was, imagine how much better it would have been if it was Hera in Kanan’s place. Just let Hera do something outside of the one token episode about her, please.

Overall this is probably my second favorite episode of the season, right behind Wings of the Master,  and one of the better ones in the whole run. More character focused episodes, please!