Star Wars Rebels has had a remarkable enjoyable first season, particularly once it buckled down and focused on what it does best–strong action, high stakes, and strong dramatic moments. Add to that some big, intriguing reveals, and you can’t help but have a successful finale, paving the way for what looks to be a heck of a second season, with the new big bad leading the Empire.
Of course, I’m talking about Darth Vader, and I’m genuinely surprised that the show is introducing him so early. I actually found that reveal more significant than the reveal that Clone Wars’ Ahsoka Tano was Fulcrum–partly because mostly everyone in the world predicted it. Still, it was wonderful to see her again, since the last time we did see her, Ahsoka had left the Jedi Order after everyone, including her master, abandoned her when she was framed for murder (more on this later). Needless to say, the appearance of Ahsoka at the same time as the appearance of Vader can only suggest some amazing things next season.
I digress though. I was a little worried early on in “Fire Across the Galaxy” because it the Ghost crew seemed to be acting rather silly in their early mission to snatch up a Imperial ship–especially Sabine, who was cracking wise and leaping around like a Jedi herself. That seemed off to me, but considering that Sabine hasn’t really been that well-defined of a character (and that she was mostly supposed to be a distraction), I accepted it. I did like the episode utilizing her skills as an explosive expert though, showcasing three different types of bombs to take out/distract the Stormtroopers. I can’t quite say the same thing about Zeb. Did he actually do anything in this episode? Honestly, I can’t remember.
The meat of the episode lies with Kanan, who throughout the season struggled with accepting his role as a Jedi, and for good reason. Once again, The Inquisitor reads Kanan perfectly, explaining how and why Kanan survived Order 66. Jedi Billaba, his master, was struck down while protecting him, and her last word to the frightened Padawan? “Run.” And that’s what Kanan has been doing all his life: running from responsibility, from fear of losing his loved ones, from his role as a Jedi. Ezra may be the show’s preteen surrogate, but this has always been Kanan’s story. (He’s the one getting the spinoff comic after all.)
Once the actual plan to rescue Kanan is put into motion, the episode really gets cooking. For one, I completely forgot about the TIE Fighter Ezra and Zeb stole back in “Fighter Flight,” so seeing Rebels return to that thread put a nice capper on one of the weakest episodes of the season (and even though all the colors on the TIE was a bit over-the-top, it did lighten the mood of the final battle a bit). Secondly, the Kanan/Inquisitor lightsaber battle was badass, with Kanan pulling a Devil May Cry-esque moveset, switching on the fly between blasting and wielding with Ezra’s lightsaber. More significantly, the battle had something that has been lacking in previous lightsaber battles in other Star Wars sources: it was distinctly reflective of the mental/emotional states of the characters. Previously, the Inquisitor could “control” these fights by preying on Kanan’s insecurities and fears; but after Ezra’s perceived death, Kanan gained the power and focus to win, by literally having nothing left to lose–that is, nothing for the Inquisitor to lord over him. There’s something powerful (and a bit scary) seeing a Jedi truly embrace the full power of the Force; even the Inquisitor was afraid for a moment during his beatdown.
As the Ghost crew attempts to escape the Empire ships, other rebel ships arrive to save them, and I have to admit, I did a little fist pump when they showed up–and may have felt a bit sappy when Hera and Kanan embraced each other like the lovers we know they are (it’s clear that the show doesn’t want to emphasize that too much, probably so not to alienate its young boy demo). Now the entire Ghost crew are aware of other rebel cells, and it looks like they’ll be mixing it up with them for future missions. It’s going to be great; see you all for season two.
- The final four episodes of the fifth season of The Clone Wars, starting with “Sabotage,” is the arc about how Ahsoka was framed. It’s definitely one of the stronger arcs of the show’s run, complete with a host of references to The Fugitive. I was sort of lukewarm on the endgame though, which we can talk about in the comments.
- Speaking of which, I finished all of The Clone Wars! I’m not sure how much the second season will reach into the first series, but I’ll point out references when I can.
- Thoughts on Ahsoka’s redesign? I’m pretty neutral, but we haven’t seen it in action yet.
- I am very much looking forward to Ahsoka and Kanan working together. That’s a dynamic that strong enough for two seasons by itself. Just, no “Hera might be jealous” storylines, please.
- THIS WEEK IN EMPIRE EVILNESS: Calling in Vader. These rebels have no idea how screwed they are.
- Hey, Chopper was useful for once! I think he’s just playing the long game.)