– Spoiler Review –
Agent Kallus makes a startling (not really) reveal, Lothal has most definitely changed, and the seeds of what will eventually be Grand Admiral Thrawn’s grand plans are just beginning to show in Star Wars Rebels, “An Inside Man.”
Kanan and Ezra return to Lothal to meet up with a growing rebel cell on the planet and gather intel on potential targets for Phoenix Squadron to strike. The two Jedi are brought into an Imperial facility by Mr. Sumar, a friend of the Bridger’s Ezra rescued way back in S1, but things take a turn for the worse when Grand Admiral Thrawn shows up to investigate sabotage being done on the Imperial assembly lines by the Lothal rebels. As the Imperials hunt for Kanan and Ezra, the pair locates plans to a new, secret weapon being developed on Lothal: a TIE/D Defender aka a TIE with shields and higher maneuverability. With the facility on lockdown and Thrawn on location, the Jedi only manage to escape with the help of a unlikely (well, at least to them) ally: Agent Kallus, who reveals himself as the Fulcrum they’ve been dealing with as of late. The Jedi make it out with the new plans, confirming Lothal’s facilities are a must-hit target, and Thrawn begins his search for a mole within the Empire.
Lothal has certainly changed since the Ghost crew last visited, as it has come under a stricter, heavier Imperial rule. Seeing the Empire’s insignia hanging all over the cities calls to mind imagery of the Nazi’s swastika hung all over a conquered/controlled town, and effectively displays the iron rule the Empire now has over Lothal. There wouldn’t be a chance for the Ghost crew to make much damage, at least not like they used to, without the full backing of Phoenix Squadron now. As much as the Imperial presence has changed, so too have the citizens of Lothal, now gathering in rebellious cells and trying to instigate trouble and undermine the Empire in any way possible. We get to see some familiar faces, all fighters now: Ryder Azadi, the ex-governor of Lothal who was imprisoned at the same time as Ezra’s parents, first seen in S2, “Legacy“; Old Jho, the bartender last seen in S1; and Mr. and Mrs. Sumar, the farmers Ezra ended up rescuing in S1 episode, “Fighter Flight.” That episode is in stark contrast to “An Inside Man,” as “Fighter” was light in tone and Ezra and Zeb managed to fool around and still survive their encounter with the Empire while in “Inside Man” Kanan and Ezra have a much more difficult time getting away and Morad Sumar is killed at one point. Lothal and the show have both come a long way since S1 and it’s certainly made obvious in several different ways.
If you knew where to look, and I’ve certainly given you the option in the past, the idea that Agent Kallus is Fulcrum was old-hat by now. It’s still nice to have confirmation, especially for those who weren’t aware of fan work that unveiled his role, but the Ghost crew isn’t necessarily buying it, despite how far out of his way he goes in two separate situations to assist them. I’m still a little disappointed it seems Sabine, just as shocked as everyone despite getting Kallus’ help, never mentioned Kallus’ assistance in “Antilles Extraction” to Zeb, as I was looking forward to seeing how he’d react to that news; thankfully, he learns about Kallus’ help this time and his reaction kind of took me by surprise: in his more zen nature since his journey in S2’s “Legends of the Lasat,” Zeb is the least suspicious of Kallus, realizing his time with the mutton-chopped ISB agent in “The Honorable Ones” was basically Zeb recruiting Kallus to their cause. Either way, his reaction overall didn’t disappoint me, and it was very cool to see him realize just how powerful extending friendship even to one’s enemies could become so fruitful. Just as the team learns their new Fulcrum is Kallus, Thrawn deduces there’s a mole within their ranks, promising to find them and turn them into a double-double agent. However, Thrawn almost makes it seem like he already knows it’s Kallus, and a rewatch of the episode revealed some curious side-glances by Pryce and Thrawn towards Kallus as they discussed details on the secret weapon they’re building, almost as if they were testing him and feeding him information to see what he’ll do with it…or maybe I’m getting Thrawn paranoia. In any case, will we see the end of Kallus this season, possibly during a rescue attempt by the Ghost crew thwarted by Thrawn? Will Kallus set someone else up, like say Pryce, and to maintain his Imperial cover? Or will he be forced to visibly switch sides to the Rebellion? I look forward to and trust the show to do this plotline right in the season ahead.
Ezra gets a bit of a reality check this episode, as he learns what’s happened to his home planet and to those who are still living their the hard way. His reaction to seeing the cities of Lothal now cold and Imperial is frustration and sadness, as this is one of the many things he doesn’t have any control over but it might fuel his desire to continue gaining power to prevent more deaths and defeat the Imperials. He’s mostly given up the selfish quest for power this season (a bit too easily), but watching Sumar perish might not help; I did appreciate how Sumar understood asking Kanan or Ezra for help would’ve doomed them and the cause so he accepts his death as a sacrifice worth making, but it still pretty surprising to see him killed…though I guess I shouldn’t have been with the ruthless Thrawn around. Kanan, Ezra, and Chopper’s journeys through the facility were a series of fun little moments, culminating in an entertaining and unique AT-AT’s v AT-DP battle, different in its own right from the impressive battle in the early episodes of S2. I have no doubts the information they’ve obtained will be enough to get the other cells on-board for an assault on Lothal, which from the looks of the increased Imperial presence, won’t be an easy or small battle.
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise Thrawn was constantly on top of the unfolding events in this episode and I’m now pretty sure we’ve seen a big part of his eventual grand plan, because what’s a Grand Admiral Thrawn appearance without a grand, complicated, plan to be grander than everything we’ve seen the Imperials use against the rebels before? Since this is Thrawn we’re talking about, the first question is: are they really building those TIE/D’s on Lothal? In a way it doesn’t matter because even if they truly are, Thrawn says, and I quote, while explaining Sabine’s tagging of the Phoenix Squadron’s symbol, “…it’s a commitment, but to this world specifically. These rebels have an attachment to this place and will always return,” essentially pointing out he already has designs to bring them back and what better way to do that than to give them a target too good to pass up? And wasn’t that the same with last week’s cargo ship and the proton bombs: too good to pass up? I mean, what were proton bombs doing on a ship mainly full of treasure anyways? And the more I think about it, the more I’m surprised Hondo was able to disable the cargo ship in the first place, suddenly making me wonder if Thrawn purposefully had it be rather defenseless in a place he knew Hondo, a known associate with Phoenix Squadron, would happen upon it and attack. That Hondo needed more assistance and thus recruited his rebel friends would make the odd placement of the proton bombs suddenly seem more explainable and obviously intentional. A misleading target isn’t any good if your adversaries don’t have the means to attack it, and now they have the means and a target in a place Thrawn knows they can’t avoid. Sounds like the perfect web only Thrawn could weave.
Here are a few other things:
- Nicole Dubuc, the writer of early season standout “Hera’s Heroes” returned for this episode and I’m happy to see she continues to do great work for the characters and writes some really great Thrawn dialogue.
- The early speeder chase scene where Kanan and Ezra ride on the edges of Azadi’s speeder as he swings between the AT-DP’s legs and the Jedi chop the Imperial walker down? That was pretty neat in my book.
- I’ve got to say, the AT-AT crushing the AT-DP was a big surprise to me. It not only showed competency by the Imperials (the pilot was voice by Dave Filoni so it had to be a smarter one, right?) but it also was a move I didn’t know the machines had in their repertoire. It’s always cool to see old or familiar designs used in new and exciting ways.
- It’s a little thing, but very interesting that most of Imperial machines can be remote controlled by a datapad. I wonder if that’s just while they are in the facility or even after they’ve left for the battlefronts.
- I know the show is usually better than this, but Mrs. Sumar isn’t even given a name in the credits, instead referred to as “Female Citizen.” She’s been a character since S1, you’d think they could’ve found a name for her now, hey? If it’s any consolation, at least she got a speaking line this time around, as she didn’t get a single line in her sole S1 appearance, and she got to be a badass by riding on Azadi’s speeder and shooting a rocket launcher from there.
- Dave Filoni is a big fan of wolves, at this show was codenamed Wolf in the earliest days, and several wolves can be seen in the artwork projected in Thrawn’s room. Likewise, the mural containing what looks like a Mandalorian was first seen in The Clone Wars (and is on display in the second season’s artbook).
- Chopper and Kallus getting along was pretty funny.
- Having just gotten to play Star Wars: TIE Fighter for the first time two years ago when the series went digital for the first time, I recognized the TIE/D‘s right away but otherwise I wouldn’t have realized it was from Legends. They go a bit deeper into the Defender’s appearance here, and discuss Ryder’s role in the Lothal rebellion, in this week’s Rebels Recon. Also, don’t forget to check out the episode guide when it goes live with its always informative trivia gallery on Monday.
- The midseason premiere episode(s) (due to air in January) has been found out (by, say it with me, Jedi-Bibliothek): “Ghosts of Geonosis.” There’s been a lot of secrecy surrounding the planet post-reboot, but we know from Tarkin and Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel it was home to the earliest days of the project that would be known as the Death Star (and even the Geonosians “assisted” for a while in its construction). It was in Darth Vader#4 where we learned the planet had been irradiated at one point by the Empire and the crew of the Ghost visited the planet last season and saw the remnants of the facilities put in place for the superweapon’s construction. It looks like we’re going to get a more intimate look at the once thriving planet (promised last year) and early home of the Death Star, as “Ghosts of Geonosis” (a two-parter!) finds the crew actually exploring the planet instead of a flyby, and if you’re looking for the most likely place Rebels will crossover with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this is as good a place as any (if not the most likely so far). Maybe there’ll be a mention of what the crew finds in this episode in an offhand line of dialogue in Rogue One, something we’ll learn soon enough come December 16!
- If that won’t be the crossover, the mention that Phoenix Squadron’s attack will be assisted by another Rebel cell would be a great place for it, as the cell could be the one that Cassian Andor is involved with. It would seem General Dodonna leads Cassian’s cell, as he has possibly been seen in early Rogue One footage and in the S3 premiere they did mention Dodonna was getting the Y-wings they stole, which would be perfect in an attack on an Imperial facility on Lothal. Once again, we might know more when Rogue One hits theaters (which I’ll update this review by then).
Thrawn’s web to catch Phoenix Squadron starts to materialize, Agent Kallus is now officially Agent Fulcrum, and Lothal looks to be the center of Phoenix Squadron’s biggest attack to date sometime later this season, all of which was set up entertainingly and excitingly by “An Inside Man.”
+ A changed Lothal
+ Kallus reveals himself as Fulcrum
+ Thrawn’s (potential) web
STAR WARS REBELS REVIEWS:
Season One: Spark of Rebellion | Ep. 2: “Droids In Distress” | Ep.3: “Fighter Flight” | Ep.4: “Rise of the Old Masters” | Ep.5: “Breaking Ranks” | Ep.6: “Out of Darkness” | Ep.7: “Empire Day” | Ep.8: “Gathering Forces” | Ep.9: “Path of the Jedi” | Ep.10: “Idiot’s Array” | Ep.11: “Vision of Hope” | Ep.12: “Call to Action” | Ep.13: “Rebel Resolve” | Ep.14: “Fire Across the Galaxy“
Season Two: The Siege of Lothal | Ep. 2: “The Lost Commanders” | Ep. 3: “Relics of the Old Republic” | Ep. 4: “Always Two There Are” | Ep. 5: “Brothers of the Broken Horn” | Ep. 6: “Wings of the Master” | Ep. 7: “Blood Sisters” | Ep. 8: “Stealth Strike” | Ep. 9: “The Future of the Force” | Ep. 10: “Legacy” | Ep. 11: “A Princess on Lothal” | Ep. 12: “The Protector of Concord Dawn” | Ep. 13: “Legends of the Lasat” | Ep. 14: “The Call” | Ep. 15: “Homecoming” | Ep. 16: “The Honorable Ones” | Ep. 17: “Shroud of Darkness” | Ep. 18: “The Forgotten Droid” | Ep. 19: “The Mystery of Chopper Base” | Ep. 20: “Twilight of the Apprentice“
Season Three: Steps into Shadow | Ep. 2: “Holocrons of Fate” | Ep. 3: “The Antilles Extraction” | Ep. 4: “Hera’s Heroes” | Ep. 5: “The Last Battle” | Ep. 6: “Imperial Supercommandos” | Ep. 7: “Iron Squadron” | Ep. 8: “The Wynkahthu Job” | Ep. 10: “Visions and Voices” | Ep. 11: “Ghosts of Geonosis” | Ep. 12: “Warhead” | Ep. 13: “Trials of the Darksaber” | Ep. 14: “Legacy of Mandalore” | Ep. 15: “Through Imperial Eyes” | Ep. 16: “Secret Cargo” | Ep. 17: “Double Agent Droid” | Ep. 18: “Twin Suns” | Ep. 19: “Zero Hour“
Season Four: Ep.1/2: “Heroes of Mandalore” Part One / Part Two | Ep. 3/4: “In the Name of the Rebellion” | Ep. 5: “The Occupation” | Ep. 6: “Flight of the Defender” | Ep. 7/8: “Kindred” and “Crawler Commandeers” | Ep. 9: “Rebel Assault” | Ep. 10/11 “Jedi Night” and “Dume” | Ep. 12/13: “Wolves and a Door” & “A World Between Worlds” | Ep. 14/15: Series Finale “A Fool’s Hope” & “Family Reunion – And Farewell”