Disney is billing this episode as the first of a two-parter, the second one (and the season finale) airing next Monday. Truthfully though, “Call to Action,” “Rebel Resolve,” and “Fire Across the Galaxy” might as well be a trilogy, since they all have to deal with the capture and rescue of Kanan. It might be best to think of “Rebel Resolve” as the table-setting bridge between “Call to Action” and “Fire Across the Galaxy” anyway, since it’s primarily focused on finding clues to Kanan’s whereabouts. It also tries to delve into the fallout of the Ghost’s crew interplanetary-wide message, but unfortunately it doesn’t have the impact as it should.
I admire the attempt, though. Coupled with the destruction of the communications tower–which the Empire blames on the rebels–there’s an opportunity to explore the tense, tenuous situation that the idea of a rebellion on the Empire hotbed of Lothal could cause, particularly among the soldiers and the civilians. This is where the failure of establishing Lothal as the important central location the Empire claims it is comes into full view. With very little understand of what the people of Lothal actually feel about either the Empire or the rebels, it’s difficult to gauge how much an effect that the message has, let alone whether the people are still scared of the Empire or not (Vizago mentions a lockdown being bad for business, but what effect does this lockdown have on the planet as a whole?). Tarkin certainly talked about denying the people their “hope” and “symbols,” but we’d really need to see some kind of social barometer to that effect.
It also feels like Hera takes a small step back in her character here. Hera has always had a firm head on her shoulders, a pragmatic idealist who believed in fighting for something bigger, but always manages to pay attention to the details. She was also in love in Kanan (although that was never overtly on display). I know she had a talk with Fulcrum, who told her to stand down against any attempt to save him, but, I don’t know… that doesn’t seem like something Hera would do? At the very least she’d keep some kind of ear out for any particular method to save Kanan. Suggesting that this what Kanan would’ve wanted isn’t really true–have you seen the guy in action?
The other thing that seems awkward is the crew’s absolute acquiescence to Hera’s demand. Sure, they sneak out against her wishes, but there should be more of a “fight” here, something that’s a lot more conflicting that Ezra’s pleas. This close to the season finale, there should be something that looms larger than a more vicious Empire. Much of that is due to how flat the other characters have become, despite their showcase episodes. Zeb is still the muscle, Sabine is the encouraging, if cliched, rebel, and Ezra is still clinging (a bit too hard) on keeping the “family” together. There’s nothing else really going on here with this dynamic, which limits any real conflict outside the one receive. I mean, was there any doubt that Hera would give into Ezra’s plan?
There are a few nice elements here, though. The opening action sequence is fun and a bit meaningful, a whole lot of explosions and shootouts that ultimately lead to nothing (and Zeb’s last minute rescue of Chopper was nicely rendered). I also enjoyed how the Ghost crew rescued Chopper in the end, via some upside-down, slick-ass flying–floating-in-space-Stormtrooper-fodder be damned. Yet outside of those genuinely great action sequences, all we really have for a real conflict is the yelling match between Ezra and Hera, which lasted for two minutes. This episode main goal was setting up future conflicts: Ezra’s favor owed to Vizago; Kanan’s rescue from the ominous-sounding Mustafar; Fulcrum’s reaction to Hera disobeying him (and that’s a stretch).
“Rebel Resolve” is certainly not a bad episode, but with its focus on table-setting and lack of broader, Lothal-defining stakes (as well as the lack of internal group conflicts), it’s also a mediocre one. Here’s hoping the season finale takes the necessary steps to end on a high note.
- The finale won’t be on the Disney XD website prior to its TV broadcast. I’ll try to request a screener; if I don’t get one, the review will be posted late.
- I hear the identity of Fulcrum is out there on the ‘net. I’m going to avoid spoilers until I see it actually occur on the show. That way I can review the revelation with a bit more, um, catchet.
- “Hera, none of use want to give up on Kanan.” “And you think I do?” Um, yes? Since you literally did earlier in the episode? I mean I get what they’re trying to do here–Hera’s internally conflicted about this–but this could’ve been handled better.
- Hera reveals to the crew that Kanan has no idea what she and her rebel pals are up to. I’m sure they knew this already, but if they didn’t, they didn’t make anything of it. Likewise, revealing that Ezra and Kanan were Jedi to Vizago didn’t have much of an impact, either.
- THIS WEEK IN EMPIRE EVILNESS: Torture is always bad, although it’s something the Empire’s been doing they were known as Republic. So nothing particularly evil here.
- I jest about Chopper being an Empire plant–kind of–but holy crap, Chopper kicking that other droid out of the shuttle was a dick move. It was meant to be funny but that actually soured me quite a bit, turning my annoyance to actual hatred of the character. If anyone on the Star Wars Rebels crew is reading this: Chopper needs some serious retooling.