– Spoiler Review –
Star Wars Rebels‘ “Flight of the Defender” has plenty of exciting action with the titular TIE, but a tease for the show’s endgame is what will stick with viewers for a very long time.
Let’s cut right to the chase: After Ezra and Sabine crash in the stolen TIE Defender they originally were only doing recon on, they are stuck avoiding an Imperial search party in the open plains of Lothal on foot. All episode, Ezra has been seeing a white Loth-cat and white Loth-wolf, but Sabine hasn’t been, right up until a Loth-wolf approaches them and puts her to sleep. Don’t worry, it only gets crazier. The Loth-wolf proceeds to offer them a ride, helping them evade capture and get back to the crew safely. Ezra asks the Loth-wolf why it helped them and it says what sounds like, “doom.” However, and this is important, having the subtitles on (thanks to Johnamarie Macias for the tip!), he actually says something else entirely: “Dume.” If your mind is not immediately blown, let me refresh your memory: Kanan Jarrus’ real name is actually Caleb DUME. Yes, that’s right, the Loth-wolf is referring to Kanan. Is your mind blown now? Yes, I nearly fell to floor, questioning the universe as well, wracking my brain for what this could all mean. My best guess at the moment is thus: Kanan has a vital part to play in some moment ahead, be it the liberation of Lothal or another part of the Rebellion’s effort, and he’ll need Ezra to help him get there, so the Loth-wolf was a manifestation of the Force that assisted them in hopes of getting these two to their destiny. Heck, even Dave Filoni’s tweet today could be taken as a hint the moment’s significance is something similar to what I guessed. And yes, I’ve also taken this to be one of the heaviest hints yet we’ll see Kanan die before the series ends…and maybe he becomes a Loth-wolf? I doubt that last bit, but I don’t the former point: Kanan’s death is looking more and more likely, though I wonder what that means for Ezra. Is his death assured as well? How intertwined are their fates, if the Force is willing to manifest as a Loth-wolf to ensure they are together again? We’ll see more of the Loth-wolves going forward, so expect the questions, with some answers, to continue until the very end.
Ezra’s connection to animals is surprisingly deep and even stronger while on Lothal, something I don’t think we’ve ever had the chance to see happen because there have not been many Jedi who are so tied to their home planet. The prequel-era Jedi took the children away from home early so they wouldn’t form connections of any kind, so we’re finally seeing some of the connections that can form if a Jedi has a chance to make them. It’s almost by no effort at all on Ezra’s part that the Loth-cats help create a distraction or that the Loth-wolf seeks him out, so connected is he to the planet around him and its wildlife. In him they must sense his hope and determination, something not too hard to believe considering the Loth-cats growled at the TIE Defender passing over them, and they could be naturally attracted to his sense of security and purpose. How this ties into the episodes ahead and Ezra’s destiny remains to be seen, but it’s intriguing to watch.
Grand Admiral Thrawn, with Governor Pryce at his side, has returned to the forefront of the show. Seeing as the TIE Defender is his brainchild, it only makes sense he’s on hand for the latest round of upgrade testing, and I absolutely enjoyed his reactions to the entire situation that unfolded before him as Ezra and Sabine ended up stealing the Defender. He regards everything with a detached amusement, while confidently staring down the Defender as it barrels right at him in Sabine’s capable hands. My favorite moment had to be his remark, “Fascinating,” after watching Ezra jumping around the base, evading capture and death, who casually waves at him and says, “Hey.” I couldn’t tell if Thrawn was being sarcastic with his remark or not, and that’s the beauty of Lars Mikkelsen’s delivery of the Grand Admiral’s dialogue. And only Thrawn would see so many upsides to the rebel antics this episode: the Defender being stolen becomes the perfect opportunity for a test run, while he considers Ezra’s meager piloting abilities as the perfect showcase at how his new ships will make anyone a better pilot.
The in-atmosphere TIE battle was exhilarating, and seeing Imperial ships battle one another, especially the TIE Interceptors against the Defender, was a true treat. The animation has felt like it’s gotten a slight boost all around, the look of concern on Hera’s face about her space children is chilling, while the way their in-atmo battle whirred around Lothal’s rocks and through the clouds was breathtaking. How Ezra slammed the brakes to get behind the Interceptors and the Defender breaking the sound barrier were excellent little touches and moments that added to the scene’s tension, beauty, and excitement. I might even go so far as to say it was a better in-atmo battle than some of the scenes in The Force Awakens, and for sure the series’ best ship combat to date.
Here are a few other things:
- There’s a fun fan theory that the loth-wolves could actually be the fallen Inquisitors, and while this is also something I doubt, it’s bolstered by how the Grand Inquisitor has already helped Kanan in the Jedi Temple on Lothal, so maybe this is where his spirit went after its poisoning by the Sith.
- The episode guide is live on the official site, but neither its trivia gallery or the double coverage Rebels Recon dive into the loth-wolf’s use of Kanan’s real name. Not that I expected it to, but one can always hope.
While the TIE Defender shenanigans will certainly rope you in, “Flight of the Defenders” big tease of an endgame is what makes this a truly special Star Wars Rebels episode.
+ “Dume” WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?
+ TIE Defender v TIE Interceptors
+ What the Loth-wolf?
+ Thrawn’s nonchalance
All images via Lucasfilm.
STAR WARS REBELS REVIEWS:
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. 7/8: “Kindred” and “Crawler Commandeers” | Ep. 9: “Rebel Assault” | Ep. 10/11: “Jedi Night” & “DUME” | Ep. 12/13: “Wolves and a Door” & “A World Between Worlds”
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. 9: “An Inside Man” | 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 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 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”