– Spoiler Review –
Star Wars Rebels‘ final season gets another high octane hour with, “In the Name of the Rebellion,” which doesn’t manage to upstage the premiere but matches it in nearly every way possible, while deepening the series’ connective tissue with Rogue One. If this is the level they’ll maintain all season, we’re in for quite the final treat.
For every moment of action, there’s an equal moment of conversation which thrills nearly as much throughout “In the Name of the Rebellion.” Sure, the majority of them sit at the beginning and end of each half of the hour, broken up with the exciting action sequences, but I’d almost argue the conversations are the more important part of this episode because the debate these characters have is an important one: is compromising the moral high ground excusable if it means destroying the greater evil in the process? Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera are two sides of the same coin on the matter: Mothma makes the necessary decision not to go off saving every planet who needs it from the Empire, though to those used to action this can feel like inaction and a desertion of those they are trying to protect. It’s a tough call, and shouldering the burden of knowing countless worlds will stay under the Empire’s heel has its toll, but Mothma knows when the Rebellion can and cannot take action in their current state. In a way, she’s compromising some morals by letting worlds suffer, whether it be due to lack of strategic value or lack of the Rebellion’s preparedness/willingness to strike (this is closer to her portrayal in the Aftermath Trilogy); Saw, on the other hand, has no qualms with doing whatever it takes to get results, never worrying about the long term effects of his decisions, willing to roll with the outcome. This can sound appealing, as taking any action compared to waiting around and biding one’s time until the perfect time to strike, can feel cathartic as others suffer while you wait. Their chat, heard almost in full in this clip released last week, is excellent not only for the content, but also thanks to Genevieve O’Reilly and Forest Whitaker acting the hell out of it. I hope this isn’t the last we get to see of these two titans philosophizing about their actions in the war, as it was downright chilling here, and provides plenty of mull on.
Ezra wades into the discussion, of course, and this is probably the only aspect of “Rebellion” that I felt falters a bit. I understand where he’s coming from, as he’s still hoping to help Lothal like they promised at the end of season 3 before Thrawn showed up and kicked their asses, but Mothma, rightfully so, tells Ezra that Thrawn’s victory has brought their lack of preparedness to light and they can’t move forward at this time. There’s some subtext within her discussion with young Ezra about the Rebellion being gun shy after Thrawn’s attack, providing depth to the scene in Rogue One where Jyn tries to rally the Rebellion but not everyone can agree to the fight. So when Ezra sees Saw offer an opportunity to fight, to hit back, he sticks too earnestly to that point of view, though I can’t necessarily blame him it’s a natural reaction, wanting to hurt the Empire after having been defeated and left unable to help those in need. But the only reason Ezra agrees with Saw is because he’s saying what Ezra wants to hear, which got a little overboard in the beginning of the hour due to this meaning he’s not listening to literally his entire family structure, his Jedi Master, or the de facto leader of the Rebellion, people he should trust more. He learns his lesson by the end of “Rebellion,” but I had imagined/hoped his willingness to listen to those who tell him what he wants to hear wouldn’t be a problem this season after the events with Maul and what Obi-Wan told him in “Twin Suns.” But from Hondo, Maul, and now Saw, it doesn’t look like Ezra will ever fully learn. Maybe this is the point, and his willingness to trust issues are a potential clue for how the character’s fate will pan out, or maybe it just allows us to go on these journeys in the first place.
In fact, part of the debate of this episode, on destroying an Imperial outpost versus tapping into it, becomes moot when Ezra bumbles the stealthy approach to the mission (pretending to be an Imperial officer when they could’ve easily routed the message to the actual officer) and Saw appears. blowing it up anyways, robbing anyone of making a tough decision, but thankfully that’s not the case in the latter half of the hour. Once stuck with Saw on his obsessive mission to uncover the Empire’s Geonosis secret, they run into the quandary of thwarting the Empire and/or saving a group of scientist prisoners. This is when Ezra finally understands Saw for what he really is, taking a stance and coming to the realization that what he didn’t want to hear was the right choice, once again.
Just like Ezra was along for Sabine’s ride in “Heroes of Mandalore,” Sabine’s along for Ezra’s in this one, as even though she offers some criticism or alternatives to Saw and Ezra’s ideas, she’s stuck having to deal with their rash decisions. She’s not there for comedic effect though, and she’s an important part of the journey regardless of what’s happening around her. And she certainly had agency, even willing to scrub the mission’s original goal and blow up the antennae due to the situation unfolding at the time, but Saw beat her too it.
Saw Gerrera in “Rebellion” is closer to his Rogue One appearance than when we met him in “Ghosts of Geonosis,” both physically and mentally. He’s graying and has more scars, and his borderline obsession is now full-on, a singular drive and purpose he’s unwilling to waver from, no matter the costs. Whitaker adjusts his performance accordingly, hitting that sweet spot between “Ghosts” and Rogue One, injecting Saw with the right amount of restlessness that makes him seem like he could go off at any moment. The episode even goes so far as to offer a minor glimpse at the tortured soul underneath Saw’s decisiveness, as he’s a man who’s lost everyone and his reaction was to lose his soul in an attempt to make it right, but pity for him is fleeting (as it should be).
While Hera, Kanan, and Zeb only factor into the beginning half of the hour, their presence is both welcomed and full of memorable moments on their own. Considering Zeb was completely absent from “Heroes,” it was great to see him back and a part of the welcoming committee for his family to the Rebellion on Yavin IV, and later he got involved with the action scene of the first half. Hopefully there’s more of him in the episodes ahead, as this was nice, but not enough.
Of the latter three, it’s Kanan and Hera that really shine this episode. Hera’s reaction to hearing Kanan call out to her on Yavin IV, and quickly hiding it with excitement for the rest of the crew, was just one moment of many in the Kanera feels department. Kanan later consuls her as she’s torn between agreeing with Ezra’s desire to strike back and following the orders of tapping into the outpost, trying to help her keep on the level path despite the losses they’ve taken. It seemed a little odd that Kanan wasn’t a little more focused on saying similar things to Ezra, but I imagine this was his attempt at letting Ezra figure it out for himself/trusting the Force to show his padawan the way. But “Rebellion” reaches peak Kanera when they “trust fly” through the clouds, Kanan using the Force to tell her when to avoid rocks and Hera willing to take his directions and react without second guessing him. Deep trust like that doesn’t come easy and speaks to their bond and previous, more involved relationship before their current situation. It’s a short, tense, and gorgeous moment for these two and is easily my favorite Kanera moment to date on the show, though I’m sure it’ll be beaten later this season.
The action sequences, much like in “Heroes,” were spectacular. The aerial drop and antics on the antennae dish were full of many different moving parts, while the aerial action with the Ghost and the TIE Defenders was thrilling and exciting (for reasons I mentioned above). The second half doesn’t have scenes as big in scope as the first, but the tense battle with the Death Troopers around the kyber crystal to Chopper’s big, hilarious takedown of some stormtroopers were just as exciting. There was plenty of good comedy without going overboard this episode, especially thanks to Chopper, from his face plant landing on the antennae dish to his war cry as he moves in to secure the shuttle for the prisoners. Come for the debates, stay for the bright lights, amazing explosions, and generous bits of humor.
Here are a few other things:
- Lots of good connections to Rogue One beyond Saw: the U-wing in action, the scientists being carted around for secret projects, Director Krennic getting a name drop, the Death Troopers, the moment with Mon that helps set up the Rebellion’s reluctance.
- The kyber crystal here was about the same size as the one in The Clone Wars‘ “Crystal Crisis” arc and the explosion was bigger, and more deadly, than the one in Rebels‘ “Breaking Ranks.” I’ll never get tired of seeing a giant kyber crystal explosion.
- It’s a small thing, but there were several, small throwaway lines that added continuity with “Heroes,” something that annoyed me in earlier seasons when the show didn’t reference past episodes all that much (especially when it’s so easy and quick, as shown here!).
- This episode marks the first time (as far as I can remember) that a female voiced an Imperial trooper of some type on the series (there have been officers), and they made her the Commander of the Death Troopers! Even better yet, this voice actress was none other than Jennifer Hale herself! She’s been no stranger to Star Wars fans over the years, from Bastila Shan in Knights of the Old Republic to various appearances in The Clone Wars, but calling her the Commander in tonight’s episode was a fantastic little wink at her role as Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect video game series!
- I do believe this is the last we’ll see of Brom Titus, but he’s escaped more destruction that I imagined before. Same goes to Slavin, who has the most disgusting name for an Imperial, though his Star Destroyer didn’t explode as much as I imagined it would.
- Seeing a Mandalorian ship on Yavin IV was wacky, but awesome, while I really loved finally seeing the whole crew there!
- The amount of new character models was not only refreshing to see, but it also helped to make the Rebellion on Yavin IV feel larger, as well as the rest of the galaxy when the prisoners were full of new designs too.
- Maybe it was just me, but the kyber crystal’s song sounded a little bit like the space whales aka purrgil in S2.
- Well, the airing schedule for the show changed after last week’s multiple showings (which ran from midnight onto 8pm CST), probably thanks to fans rightfully complaining about being exposed to spoilers and also a likely lack of viewers at the early morning showings. It still goes live on the DisneyNow app at 11pm, 11:30ish CST the Sunday before, but it’s only going to air at 8pm going forward.
- I had no illusions there wouldn’t be a crossover with Solo (aka the Han Solo film) this season on Rebels and Dave Filoni put any speculation of that to rest (though “Rebellion” did name-drop Corellia).
- Speaking of Filoni, he dropped two sketches during the episode on Twitter: Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera.
- UPDATE 10/24: The official site’s episode guide, including the Rebels Recon, is up! The trivia gallery is extensive once again, including revealing what I had called earlier, that Brom Titus finally met his end at the rebels’ hands. The Rebels Recon is another packed one as well, including Steve Blum (Zeb) and Vanessa Marshall (Hera) geeking out about being on Yavin IV, while Pablo Hidalgo is back answering all our burning Rebels questions.
Despite some moments of irritation with Ezra, “In the Name of the Rebellion” is just as epic as the season four premiere, dealing with the moral quandaries of war while providing plenty of flashy, enjoyable action.
+ Moral debates about war
+ Fantastic action again
+ Trust flying
+ Rogue One connections galore
– Ezra makes some questionable decisions/forgot his lesson on trusting people who tell him what he wants to hear
All images via Lucasfilm.
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. 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”
A New Dawn (Novel)