– Spoiler Review –
“Call to Action” is one of the darker (though not beating “Rise of the Old Masters”) and more riveting episodes of Star Wars Rebels yet…and it’s all mostly thanks to the appearance of the shrewd and calculating Grand Moff Tarkin.
Tarkin has grown to be an even more interesting character outside of his appearance in A New Hope, with his time in The Clone Wars and his recent novel expanding upon his terrible, but calculating legacy. Stephen Stanton voiced the character on TCW and while he distanced himself a bit from Peter Crushing’s memorable performance, there were definitely hints of it. Here in Rebels, Stanton goes full on Crushing for the most part and it’s absolutely great. It’s almost impossible to discern between the two and I can’t tell you how much that simply makes his appearance in “Call to Action” work, but once your hear it you’ll know what I’m talking about.
As has been the case all season, whenever the Inquisitor or Agent Kallus appear, I feel like the possibility of danger and loss for the Ghost’s crew increases in an episode. Which left me wondering how much would Tarkin’s appearance increase that feeling? The answer was a lot more than I expected, as Tarkin’s presence spells bad news for everyone on either side, which he quickly establishes early in the episode by having Taskmaster Grint and Commandant Aresko beheaded by the Inquisitor. While the Inquisitor menacingly standing behind the two officers was a dead giveaway for what could happen, I was still completely shocked by their deaths. Tarkin never messes around and it didn’t take long for him to set that tone, putting the fear he so covets into his subordinates. It also put the fear into me about what this new danger could mean for our band of rebels.
It’s unfortunate the crew of Ghost doesn’t know Tarkin’s in town, as they’ve decided to go on the offensive finally after the betrayal of Trayvis. Their plan is to take over a Imperial communication tower to send out their own message of hope after Trayvis publicly ‘apologized’ for going against the Empire, calling the crew a dangerous, deadly group of traitors and offered a bounty on them over the HoloNet. If the Ghost‘s crew has any hope of recruiting more members or gaining the support of the people on not just Lothal, but elsewhere, they have to prove they aren’t what Trayvis says they are. And while they know the job at the comm tower won’t be easy, everyone’s totally on board…besides Ezra. I was a little worried his reasoning would be a little too whiny for my tastes, but instead it surprised me: the last time the people he called ‘family’ spoke out about the Empire, he lost them and he’s worried that’ll happen now, too. Que foreshadowing, folks! Kanan reassures Ezra by admitting it could happen, but that sacrificing yourself for something bigger is a worthy cause. Que even more foreshadowing!
On one of the team’s scouting trips, Sabine, Ezra, and Kanan get caught by an Imperial probe droid they thought was disabled after Ezra sent a loth-rat at it. So now with Tarkin alerted, all of Kanan’s talk about sacrificing put a big old pit in my stomach, which leads us to the big attack on the communication tower. Their plan of attack is not only solid, but it works wonderfully (showing off Sabine’s skills, too) and the team is ready to place a spike in the system to take over the tower in no time at all. But the Empire arrives and quickly the team is forced to retreat, with Kanan pulling a Gandalf and basically saying the Empire shall not pass him to get at the rest of his team.
Kanan surprises the Inquisitor in their duel by not only being better, but by surrendering once his team is cornered. It buys Hera enough time to swoop in, coming to the team’s rescue. However, the odds are stacked against her and Kanan realizes asking them to get him could cost them everything and he makes the sacrifice he warned Ezra may be coming. Despite leaving Kanan in Imperial hands, the mission wasn’t a complete bust as the crew gets a chance to transmit a message out through the tower…until Tarkin blows the damn thing up. Tarkin’s final words to Kanan about him knowing how to win wars is a rather bone-chilling statement.
Here are a few other things:
- Interesting to note the talk of hope carries on from “Vision of Hope,” but instead of Hera rallying Ezra with it, Tarkin is the one talking about it. He wants to ensure hope doesn’t spread amongst the populace about a possible Jedi fighting as a rebel, basically calling it a cancerous concept. A great counterpoint to all the conversations on hope from last week.
- Tarkin’s insistence on the Jedi all being dead fits wonderfully with his statement in ANH about their fire being put out in the universe. Even after he meets Kanan he doesn’t seem to change his mind, since Kanan is nowhere near in prowess to the Jedi Tarkin used to work with during the Clone Wars. Though you could argue Tarkin’s delusional, as he did after all stay aboard the Death Star even knowing their was a weakness the Rebellion might be able to exploit, but he’s too cold a customer to be delusional, I think.
- The opening speeder bike sequence had some awesome moments, including Kanan sitting backwards on his speeder and shooting one of their pursuers. Looks like his moniker of Cowboy Jedi really rings true now (and that Loth-rat thought he was a cowboy, too).
- After the deaths of Aresko and Grint settled in, I couldn’t help but think, “Goodbye, David Shaughnessy!” who voiced both characters. I’m sure they’ll find him another role on the show, but it’s rare to lose both characters you voice in one episode.
“Call to Action” does a lot of things perfectly, like upping the stakes involved and cashing in on all its recent talks about hope and sacrifice. But with Tarkin around, sacrifice seems to overtake hope, and it’ll be interesting to see just what Kanan’s capture means for the crew of the Ghost. If one thing’s for sure, Lothal won’t be called home for much longer.
+ Grand Moff Tarkin (and Stephen Stanton’s performance)
+ Kanan’s sacrifice
+ Feels like a season finale
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.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“