Jay: THIS WAS THE EPISODE I WANTED SINCE SEASON ONE.
Let me explain. I always wanted a Sabine-centric episode like this. We got a few, but I wanted to learn about Sabine the same way we learned about Ezra. We got her story teased instead: Imperial Academy references early on, and we knew she was a Mandalorian, and something happened with her family. But that’s it. The episodes were as tight-lipped about Sabine’s background as Sabine herself was. And despite our impatience, it makes perfect sense: Sabine doesn’t just volunteer this information. It’s a slow burn, once she gets to trust you.
But here there was a payoff and boy was it a payoff. This episode was elegantly simple: the training was the entire plot, so it could focus on character work. It meant there was room for it to be an ensemble episode: Ezra, Kanan, and Hera all got great character moments in addition to Sabine. And we learned a ton about Sabine, featuring some of the finest character work yet seen in this show. For my money, this was the best episode in the series to date.
We saw the characters engaging with their histories and biases, engaging with each other — having flare ups and drama. And goodness, if there was any episode to get on the day of the Women’s March, this was it. In addition to Sabine’s history, I love that Hera both called Kanan on his crap and also helped Sabine out as well.
Goodness, what an episode. » Read more..
Mike: While last week’s two-parter obviously had a much more overt link to the larger narrative of the Rebellion in the form of Saw Gerrera, this episode struck me as having much more to say about the war itself, via the Empire’s differing approach to finding rebel bases here compared to the opening of The Empire Strikes Back. At first I wasn’t crazy about the idea of an Imperial probe droid stumbling upon Atollon so soon, and I’m still not a fan of the possibility that the Phoenix cell will eventually flee Atollon for Yavin (though that’s another topic entirely), but as the episode unfolded I caught lots of key details that changed how I saw what was happening.
First of all, of course, it’s not a probe droid—not technically. This thing is designated an “infiltrator” droid, and rather than immediately report its findings, it’s designed to blend in at any potential base for an indeterminate amount of time. While both it and the probe droid have self-destruct mechanisms, the infiltrator’s is substantially more powerful. I could be wrong, but this suggests to me that it may well have been designed to transmit its findings to the Empire and then go ahead and detonate itself anyway.
Why wouldn’t they want the standard probe droids to do that, too? Paradoxically, I think the more bad-ass infiltrator model implies that the Empire, even Thrawn, isn’t taking the rebels as seriously yet as they are in ESB. Where probe droids appear to be more basic models built to cover huge areas of space without actually engaging in hostilities, the infiltrator plays a more delicate game, and could have taken Chopper Base out all on its own—or at least, that’s what it’s designed for. » Read more..
Pablo Hidalgo is one of those folks worth following on Twitter for the more trivia-inclined Star Wars fan. He’s noted numerous times in the past that things and events would start to pay off more and more, that we as fans would begin to understand some of what Lucasfilm have been building toward. In the tweet I linked specifically, he was talking about Hera mentioning Mustafar at the end of Star Wars Rebels’ first season as the planet where Jedi go to die, which we learn in Rogue One is because that’s where Darth Vader has taken up residence. But that’s far from the only way Rebels has tied in to the other Star Wars media emerging around it.
Something Pablo and the other members of the fabled Story Group™ have been focused on facilitating is a new, unprecedented level of collaboration between the creative minds and licensees who have their hands on different aspects of the universe. Ideas, characters, story beats and many other things have cross-pollinated from comics to video games to books to film and TV. For the most part, in the previous continuity, this sort of thing was limited to cameos, Easter eggs and the odd reference while authors kept their own stable of characters and events in their corner and George Lucas’s work largely held a monopoly on center stage. Any collaborations were made at an author level, with friends sharing ideas, or ad-hoc retcons that bent things over backwards to try and make ideas fit together that were never intended to. Now, it’s very different.
This week in “Ghosts of Geonosis”, we not only had Saw and Rex reuniting, tying things back to The Clone Wars with their reminiscing on the conflict on Onderon and the death of Saw’s sister, we had a dizzying amount of other call-outs to events and stories in the future, most of which were laden with dramatic irony for the audience: Saw’s growing fanaticism. The lone Geonosian queen egg. Bail Organa appearing with Sato. And of course, the symbol of a circle within a circle. All of this is being coordinated from the top down, story ideas that were created, established at certain points in the timeline, and then seeded out among comic writers, filmmakers and other creatives so they could construct their stories around it as if it had already happened. » Read more..
Star Wars Rebels is now at its annual mid-season break, which we usually take as an opportunity to review the first half of the season and speculate some into what might be to come in the latter half. “Visions and Voices” throws some of that out of the window by packing quite a lot of foreshadowing into a single episode that sets up many events of the next part of the show.
This season has been busy building two plots at once: a new foe that the Rebels are going up against just as the disparate cells are beginning to unite, and following up on the events of season two’s conclusion. While most of the season to this point has been concerned with the game of chess that Thrawn is playing and looking forward to his plan to destroy the Rebellion, there has been a lot of follow-up on the events at the end of season two, both in terms of the character dynamics and in terms of the plot itself changing.
Kanan is blind, and withdrew himself from the others so he could find peace with his condition and with the Force. Ezra has grown, but has entrenched himself even more deeply in his obsession with destroying the Sith. We saw some of these effects at the beginning of the season as Bendu was introduced, the Sith holocron came into play, and then Maul was brought back onto the scene. » Read more..
As this column has gone on, we’ve done a lot of discussion and writing on how Star Wars Rebels deals with its characters. With the ongoing plots and stories revolving as much around the journeys that Ezra, Kanan, Hera, Sabine and Zeb have been on as they do around, well, the plot, it stands to reason that we’ve spent a lot of time talking about them. A character that we talked about some but not as often as the others (mostly because he hasn’t featured as much since the end of the first season) is our stalwart Imperial Security Bureau frenemy Agent Kallus.
Kallus popped up again in this season early on as a bit of arm candy for Governor Pryce and under Grand Admiral Thrawn’s shadow, buddying up close to the two of them and seemingly back in good Imperial graces after his rather inauspicious rescue from one of Geonosis’s moons in “The Honorable Ones” back in season two. While his-first-name-is-Agent Kallus has not been the most visible of threats in the show’s later stages, having him come back and Thrawn taking him under his wing promised some interesting new developments to move forward.
At the same time, though, we started getting hints that there was more to Kallus this season than just back to being an Imperial lackey. Our first hint was back when Sabine was helping Wedge and Hobbie escape from Skystrike Academy, assisted by a new Fulcrum and by Kallus himself in a turn of events that stunned Sabine. At the time, it seemed like Kallus was just repaying Zeb for saving his life, and he seemed to intimate as much, implying that it was a one-time deal and not to expect any further assistance. » Read more..