It isn’t clear if “Vision of Hope” is going to be a turning point of Star Wars Rebel’s first season, but does seem like it. The Ghost crew finds themselves in an extremely bad spot by the end of the episode, but has Hera says, there’s always hope. Other shows would probably have ended on a down, dark beat, but this iteration of Star Wars is inherently positive, and even in the aftermath of the episode’s big reveal, it still emphasizes that the team isn’t about to give up.

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The big reveal, of course, is that senator-in-exile Gall Trayvis, he of the secret transmissions that further the rebels’ cause, was working for the Empire the whole time. It’s an ingenious plan, to be sure–what better way to control a rebellion than by being part of the leadership that manages it–if slightly predictable. Well, predictable to us, we being savvy to the tricks, beats, and rhythms of television betrayal tropes (I mean, Trayvis questioning whether the Ghost crew was working with other rebellious groups was a dead giveaway). But I can certainly see younger audiences being shocked at the discovery; I wish I was young again just to experience those kinds of revelations.

Really, though, I should’ve recognize the inevitable betrayal earlier, right when they re-introduced Zare Leonis, who stayed behind as part of the Stormtrooper cadet program way back in “Breaking Ranks.” A thousand credits says Zare becomes the new inside-spy for the Ghost crew, and it’ll interesting to see a younger, more reluctant person as the go-between. Heck, there’s already trust issues, as Ezra has yet to tell Zare his real name. There’s a lot of potential for some real conflict here; as of now, he’s only here to confirm what Kanan already suspected: the Empire is baiting them into a trap.

I had my reservations about this episode at the beginning. It felt as if it was running through the same kind of beats we’ve seen over and over again: Ezra struggling with some aspect of Force training, Kanan frustrated at it all, and a typical run-and-gun-type mission where the team has to escort an innocent person to safety, completely with simplistic quips and jabs at each other. Certainly nothing is wrong with that, but it does kind of feel like we should be moving forward in some way. This isn’t quite the show that can thrive on amazing action sequences or hilarious interactions.

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Trayvis’ treachery gives the episode the kind of spark it needs, but more importantly, it showcases once again how awesome Hera is. Hera is idealistic deep down, but she never lets that idealism cloud her instincts. We got a sense of that back in “Out of Darkness,” and here she recognizes Trayvis is full of crap almost immediately (while I think she expected something was up when they first meet the senator, she pretty much realized it when Trayvis was faking being out of breath). Yet she continued to hope that Trayvis was still on their side, like Ezra, but never let that belief blind her to the evidence. Handing Trayvis the uncharged blaster was her way to confirm it, which he did, and it earned him a fist to the face.

Hera’s practical resolve contrasted nicely with Ezra’s visions. “Vision of Hope” laid bare the disparity between the optimism of “dreams” and the tangibility of realism, using emotions as the linchpin. Ezra placed so much hope into those visions, into the Force–into Trayvis’ helpfulness and connection to his parents–and he isn’t wrong when he claims that he should be trusting the Force. But as Kanan says, his emotions clouded those visions, another lesson the young Jedi learned the hard way. Hope should a motivator, not a guiding principle.

That’s the subtext to that final conversation between Hera and Ezra at the end of the episode. I wish it was longer, akin to the kind of close, character-revealing conversation she and Sabine had in “Out of Darkness,” but we do learn that Hera, too, was shocked by the senator’s double-cross, but more importantly, it never killed her hope. She still believes they can fight the Empire, that there are answers still out there, and that tiny moment of silence between them means that Ezra still believes, too.

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STRAY OBSERVATIONS:

  • THIS WEEK IN EMPIRE EVILNESS: Everything. The whole episode is an elaborate Empire plot.
  • Speaking of which, I’m still convinced Chopper is an Empire plant. He nearly cuts off Kanan’s head when he enters the sewers, and is apparently disappointed to find the crew alive on their escape.
  • A small but noticeable nitpick: when the Ghost crew run out of the Old Republic Senate building with Trayvis in tow, there’s a Empire ship that arrives, causing the crew to fire at it. A few cuts later, the ship is completely gone. Did I miss something or was that just a glaring mistake?
  • Took me longer than expected but I finally finished season four of Clone Wars. Better than two and three, the season smartly dropped all “political” episodes and focused on galactic craziness, like season one. It also brought back Maul for what seems to be a season five big bad (and a big bad is something this show needed for a while).

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