Ben: Two major things happened “between” this episode and the last episode: Hera apparently got a promotion after basically cussing out Mon Mothma and the other Rebel leaders, and a squad of X-wings came out of nowhere. I understand the need for narrative velocity in a show that only lasts twenty-two minutes and has a cut-down episode count for its last season, but c’mon. It’s been almost a year since we learned that Hera was even getting a promotion, and now that the show has reached that point it happens off-screen?
It’s pretty obvious at this point, and should have been obvious before, that they’ve had to trim a few corners narratively to get to the finale at the end of this season. Again, this is a trimmed-down season as it is, and they’ve already crammed a lot in. But some of the corners that they’ve cut are the wrong ones, in my opinion.
On the other hand, this episode gave Thrawn a pretty solid victory, which I think has gotten lost in a lot of the discussion about it. He successfully predicts not only the attack, but that the Rebels would be tenacious enough to pierce the blockade despite everything, so he kept most of his fighters in reserve and then slaughtered the Rebels when they thought they had already been through the worst. He even had Rukh capture multiple downed pilots, including Hera herself. That visual of seeing all of the X- and Y-wings raining down on the city was really, really nice.
Anyway, all of these are observations, not necessarily anything solid to chew on. I feel like we don’t know enough about what happened to Kanan to really say anything about that, and we know Hera will get out alive one way or the other so there’s not a lot of suspense around her being captured. The only real stakes for the cliffhanger lie in exactly what Kanan has resolved to do in order to rescue his space wife. And we even know that that won’t be truly drastic because I highly doubt that anything would happen to him this far before the end of the season.
Mike: I see your challenge, Ben, and here I am to Say Something About Kanan.
No, I don’t have much to contribute as far as speculation on where his new wolf pals are taking him (though I’ll note that I cracked up at their chosen method of getting his attention), but on my second viewing of that scene I experienced a sudden moment of appreciation for how far the character has come, and what he brings to this show, and the canon, that we don’t get as much as I’d like.
The lead-in to that moment, Kanan breaking off from the mission plan to go storming half-cocked into Capital City (are we really sticking with that name?) and rescue his girlfriend, is as typical a Star Wars moment as you can get—figures no less prominent than Luke and Anakin did the exact same thing when their own loved ones were in danger. Ezra has made similar calls himself time and time again. But after a brief moment of aggravation, he pauses, centers himself, and responds, “I understand. What must I do?”
That never happens. To many viewers it’s probably infuriating—leave Hera to her fate so you can follow clues from some weird ghost animal? Fans want to see their heroes buck expectations and make their own rules in the name of sympathetic drives like love, but Jedi aren’t supposed to work that way, and it’s the rare Star Wars character who can remember that in such a tense moment. If Ezra is the Luke of this show, Kanan has finally left his “cowboy Jedi” conception behind and become a true Obi-Wan figure, surrendering his mortal desires in recognition of the larger role he has to play.
Sure, I could quibble with the convenience of Kanan having some grand destiny on Lothal when the series has worked so hard to position the planet as Ezra’s burden—and I may yet when we know more about the nature of that destiny. But in the heat of the moment it was a thrill to at last see Kanan unequivocally cross this threshold. He wasn’t an Obi-Wan figure four seasons ago, but slowly and deliberately, Star Wars Rebels has successfully made him one. Ezra doesn’t know how lucky he is.