Rebels Review: Twin Suns

“Twin Suns” featured the long-awaited rematch between Obi-Wan Kenobi, now a hermit on Tatooine, and Maul, once a Sith, now a wanderer bent on getting his revenge. Ezra is also along for (most of) the ride, because this is Rebels so of course he is. Whether or not this episode lived up to the hype will depend on your certain point of view. As for me? Well, I was…whelmed.

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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.

Rebels Review: Through Imperial Eyes

When I saw the teaser for “Through Imperial Eyes,” featuring the POV shot of Agent Kallus waking up, I was momentarily thrilled. Was Rebels going to do an entire episode from Kallus’ point of view? Would they be so bold?

Then I remembered that (a) this is a kid’s show, and (b) TV shows of any stripe tend not to get experimental until their 6th or 7th seasons and they’re hurting for ideas (see: the one-shot experiment in The X-Files’ 6th season episode “Triangle,” or the live episode in The West Wing’s 7th season). And indeed, the shot in the teaser was the only POV shot in the entire episode.

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Rebels Review: An Inside Man

rebels logoThis week it’s a return to Lothal, and yet another return to Ezra, kiddo, why are you like this?  All up, An Inside Man is a pretty classic undercover episode with Kanan and Ezra infiltrating an imperial factory on Ezra’s home world with the assistance of Ryder Azadi. Fulcrum has told the Ghost crew there’s a new weapon being developed and it’s up to them to find out more. Unfortunately for Ezra and Kanan, the malfunctions caused by rebel sympathizers at the factory haven’t gone unnoticed, and Thrawn has come to find out why.

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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

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Rebels Review: 3.06 – “Imperial Supercommandos”

Fenn Rau returns, we learn a little more about what’s happened on Mandalore since the Empire took over, and Sabine finally gets a jetpack. “Imperial Supercommandos” serves not only as a sequel to season 2’s “The Protector of Concord Dawn,” but doles out a little more insight into Sabine’s backstory.

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Rebels Review: 3.04 – Hera’s Heroes

rebels logoIt’s no coincidence that the episode that stars Hera and gives Thrawn his first real spotlight is my favorite of the season so far.

Hera’s Heroes brings the crew of the Ghost back to Imperial-occupied Ryloth. They’re able to help Cham out of a tight corner but Hera is dismayed to learn that a priceless family heirloom has been left behind when the Empire took over the Tann province. When she decides to undertake a personal mission to retrieve it, everyone offers to help. It’d be a challenging yet easy mission if any other commander but Grand Admiral Thrawn was there and that’s where the trouble begins.

For months now, we’ve been hearing Timothy Zahn say that he feels really good about how the Rebels is using Thrawn. Some naysayers have protested that he’s just saying that because Disney’s making him et cetera et cetera. After this episode? There is no doubt in my mind that this is the Grand Admiral Thrawn on the screen. Everything about his encounter with Hera as he systematically deduced her identity (and Ezra’s) was note perfect and I literally had chills running down my spine on multiple occasions. This is absolutely the Thrawn from the books that we know and love from his excellent manners to his interest in art to his ability to be downright terrifying if you cross him.

This was also a great spotlight episode for Hera. Often, our dear Captain Syndulla has to take a backseat to the rest of her crew. Every time we learn more tidbits about her past, the more intrigued I am. There’s something fascinating about how Hera grew up as both the daughter of a prominent local hero and as someone who was forged by war. She’s so dedicated to the Rebellion that she clearly feels guilty about involving her crew with a personal mission even though she’s helped each of them many times in the past. Add that to how easily she can slip in and out of the Ryloth accent as the mission requires it and, well, it’s getting harder and harder for people to just define her as ‘Space Mom.’  It also certainly says something that Cham’s so easily willing to trade himself for Hera not just because she’s his daughter but also because he knows the Ryloth Rebellion would be in very capable hands.

Kevin Kiner’s work continues to be incredible and we do not deserve him. Every time I think his score can’t possibly get better, he surprises us. Thrawn’s theme is sinister yet not overtly so. The use of the percussion is just fantastic. Rebels is damn lucky to have him.

A few assorted side notes:

  • Even Chopper has a tragic backstory! His moment with the Y-Wing was sad and almost (dare I say it) adorable.
  • Any day that Chopper gets to blow things up is a good day.
  • I’m digging Sabine’s new look more and more with each episode.
  • The real tragedy of the episode is that Ezra doesn’t even get to keep the Scout trooper helmet.
  • Thrawn pronounces Hera’s name slightly differently than we usually hear. I’m wondering if that’s just his accent or a subtle callback to how twi’lek names were pronounced in Legends.

Overall, Hera’s Heroes is a fantastic episode written by new writer Nicole Dubuc. Not content with just putting Thrawn on the screen, Rebels is definitely bringing their A-game this season and I am happily along for the ride.

Rebels Review: Holocrons of Fate

rebels logoLast week Rebels came back with a vengeance, aka the canon reintroduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn. This week the threat took on a decidedly more dark side tone in the form of Maul. Last time we saw him, he was escaping Malachor. Now he’s back and on the hunt for Kanan and Ezra, but mostly the Sith holocron. He takes the Ghost crew captive in order to persuade Kanan and Ezra to give him not just the Sith holocron, but Kanan’s Jedi holocron as well. Apparently, combining the two will provide seeeekrits. After a “fun” quest in which Kanan and Ezra have to learn to work together again in order to reclaim the Sith holocron from Bendu, they rendezvous with Maul, combine the holocrons, and all hell breaks loose.

Let’s talk about those secrets, shall we? This episode gives us Bendu’s awesome line from the Season 3 trailer: “Once a secret is known, it cannot be unknown.” In this case, both Maul and Ezra want the Sith holocron because they want to learn the key to destroying the Sith, but for very different reasons. Maul wants revenge. Ezra wants to protect his found family. (He seems to be making a turn away from the dark side already, which I’m kind of disappointed about. I hope we see more of him using the holocron.) They both see different things: Ezra sees planets, and then exclaims “twin suns”; Maul escapes the base muttering over and over, “he lives!”

I didn’t think I’d have many feelings about this episode. I wasn’t a big fan of the way The Clone Wars treated Force mysticism, although I’m glad to say I like Rebels’ take a lot more. The character of Bendu, delightfully voiced by Tom Baker, made what could have been an eye-rolling episode a lot more palatable. I like when the Force is a mystery, a riddle, a puzzle, and it definitely is that way with Bendu around. I also liked that this episode continued to explore the repercussions of what happened on Malachor, both with simple things like Ezra explaining to Kanan what he’s seeing and more complicated matters like the two of them learning to work together again. Not only that, but Maul is free and continuing his mission to wreak havoc in the galaxy.

But the real meat of the episode comes at the end, in which a shrug-worthy story (for me) becomes Super Important. Ezra sees twin suns, but doesn’t understand what it means. We all know, of course: the key to destroying the Sith is safely hidden on Tatooine in the form of Luke Skywalker. It seems like Maul’s vision was a lot more specific, because his exclamation of “he lives” can really only refer to one person: his old nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

I admit, I’m excited for the implications. While I never read “Old Wounds,” I love the idea of that story. And if they had to bring back Maul (grumble mutter forever about how I like his story arc in TCW and Rebels, I just wish Lucas hadn’t CUT HIM IN HALF specifically so he couldn’t come back in the future, but then he changed his mind and we still don’t know how Maul survived a bisection, but I digress), the least they could do is give us one final Obi-Wan and Maul showdown on Tatooine.

Of course, there is one other option. Maul wants to destroy the Sith. The holocron showed him Obi-Wan, who has defeated a Sith in combat. Instead of wanting revenge on Obi-Wan, what if Maul goes to him with a proposal: help me destroy Vader and the Emperor, and I won’t kill you.

Obi-Wan, of course, is not stupid. Unlike Ezra, he wouldn’t take Maul’s word at face value. He knows Maul cannot be trusted. Once Obi-Wan refuses Maul’s offer, knowing he has to stay on Tatooine to protect Luke, then Maul’s vengeance would take over and we might see a that final showdown.

Or I could be wrong about all this and Rebels takes the straightforward revenge route from the beginning. Or perhaps we won’t see this story in Rebels at all because this show is about the Ghost crew.  Could we get a Maul/Obi-Wan rematch in a book? Or, dare we hope…a standalone movie? When it comes down to it, the only way I’ll forgive Robo-Maul is if that arcs ends with a rematch.

Whatever happens, Rebels continues to deliver solid storytelling. I just hope this particular ball isn’t dropped.

Why Thrawn Needs to be in Rebels

thrawnIf you ask people who the most well-known Legends character is, you’ll probably get one of a few common answers: Mara Jade, Revan, Starkiller, Jacen or Jaina Solo. Probably the most well-known antagonist (if not the best antagonist) from the Legends universe is Grand Admiral Thrawn, aka Mitth’raw’nuruodo, created by Timothy Zahn for the first post-Return of the Jedi novel Heir to the Empire. Thrawn did not survive his eponymous trilogy, but his legacy lived on in other novels and games. Perhaps it’s because he was one of the first breakout Legends characters, perhaps it’s because he wasn’t a Force user, perhaps it’s because of his similarities to Sherlock Holmes — whatever the reason, Thrawn struck a chord with many readers. Even though he’s now a “Legend,” the Thrawn trilogy is still considered some of the best in the Expanded Universe. And many people have asked to see him make the jump to the new canon.

Spoilers for Aftermath: Life Debt under the cut.

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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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