Star Wars Rebels Review: “Kindred” & “Crawler Commandeers”

Star Wars Rebels Kindred
Credit: Lucasfilm

– Spoiler Review –

I’ve decided to do one review for the double episodes they’ve been airing each night for Star Wars Rebels this season, whether they are billed as a two-parter or not, so below you’ll find reviews for “Kindred” and “Crawler Commandeers,” which aired together. For “Kindred,” it’s quite the start to the hour, finally giving fans something they’ve been asking for, along with plenty of action and more hints at the endgame, while “Crawler Commandeers” is the fun before the storm episode we’ll need before next week’s midseason finale.

Kindred

Star Wars Rebels KindredAs Kanan’s renewed insistence on rekindling whatever he and Hera Syndulla had before they switched focus to being Space Parents and helping the galaxy has picked up this season, the Kanera moment fans have been dying for finally comes: Kanan and Hera kiss! I hollered out my enthusiasm when it happened, especially since it was Hera who made the move. The past several episodes Kanan has been approaching the subject, but either Hera’s been too focused on the mission or the Space Kids interrupt at the wrong time. In “Kindred,” Kanan puts his feelings back on the table, with no regrets, and while they are denied a kiss once again, she decides to make a commitment to something normal between them again, moments before she’s set to run Thrawn’s blockade of Lothal with a patched together U-wing. It would’ve gotten quite ridiculous for the show to continue to play with viewers over their eventual kiss any longer and they played the moment even better than I expected. It ended up being less about them finally kissing, but rather what finally spurs it on: the hope from their recent successes has allowed them to take the time to even consider what the future can hold, and being together seems to be something which will strengthen their resolve in the fight ahead. The Kanera kiss is here, folks, and it was fantastic. But now that it has happened, a new tension builds: will this be a thing that can last? We all have the same hope, I imagine, but also the same growing dread. Let’s enjoy this while we have it though (*goes and replays the scene another 100 times*).

Star Wars Rebels Kindred
Credit: Lucasfilm

First revealed back at Celebration in April, Warwick Davis joins the show as Thrawn’s assassin, Rukh, and “Kindred” is his first appearance. It’s a mostly memorable one, as his modulated voice, tracking skills, and combat abilities paint him as a legitimate threat right away. The Noghri design is intimidating but interestingly proportioned, and I love how Rukh runs like an ape because of it. There isn’t a lot that’s made clear about his relationship with Thrawn, how he came into service for him, or any background information of that matter, but his abilities and skills are enough to make one intrigued even if they didn’t already know his Legend’s history. He does have some history though, as Governor Pryce’s reaction to hearing Rukh’s name from Thrawn, after he admonishes her for allowing the TIE Defender to be stolen/the perpetrators getting away, was full of dread and shock at the same time. We’ll be seeing Rukh again this season, and from his appearance here I’m certainly curious for more, beyond wondering what/how they’ll incorporate his Legend’s backstory.

After the Loth-wolf mentioned Kanan’s real name in last week’s “Flight of the Defender,” myself and the rest of Rebels fandom has been curiously picking at the show to understand just what it could all mean. “Kindred” dives a little deeper into that, as the Loth-wolves get their meeting with Kanan and though there are more questions than answers, we might have a direction to point said questions. Leading the rebels away from the approaching Imperials overrunning their temporary base, the Loth-wolves take them into a cave, only to open up a portal of some type that shifts them halfway across the planet. It was some strange mystical Force stuff like we’ve not seen before, and while one could try to make sense of it or analyze the images associated with their portal walking, I think Ryder Azadi sums up my feeling best after they got to the other side: “I’m not even going to ask how we got here.” I’m confused and intrigued by it, but it’s less about the how and more about the why.

Star Wars Rebels KindredKanan and Ezra are taken into a chamber where cave paintings tell a story that the Loth-wolf seems to want them to understand (UPDATE: the official site’s episode guide included the full BTS image for the cave painting and it looks like it includes Yoda and even Ki-Adi-Mundi. Hmmm…). Last week I theorized the Loth-wolf was helping Ezra get back alive because both he and Kanan have an important part to play in an upcoming event, potentially tied to the fight for Lothal. The Loth-wolves and their connection to the Force, something Kanan theorizes is much deeper and purposeful than most animals (though them opening portals and disappearing into thin air could’ve already told you that), are helping lead the Jedi towards understanding their purpose in the Force. The final cave painting that is highlight looks A LOT like the Jedi Temple on Lothal that Kanan and Ezra have already visited, once even with Ahsoka Tano, but has since been found by the Empire. The painting is cracked in half, either something that was already there when painted or happened once they lost it to the Empire, but either way the Temple is part of a more sinister purpose for Lothal by the Empire. My best guess is: mining for kyber crystals. Here’s my evidence: In the Servants of the Empire series, which explores Zare Leonis’ adventures on Lothal parallel to the show, mining for crystals is mentioned (you can read a lot more about that here in my Curious Case of Governor Arihnda Pryce article); before Maketh Tua’s death in the S2 opener, she convinces the rebels she wants to defect by promising to reveal the Empire’s true intentions with the planet and we’ve yet to get that answered; the construction spheres Hera so deftly maneuvers around (and through) here were the same ones the Empire had over Geonosis while building the Death Star; both S1’s “Breaking Ranks” and S4’s “In the Name of the Rebellion” have featured the kyber crystals being blown up by rebels; and most importantly, we know there are kyber crystals in the Lothal Jedi Temple because that’s where Ezra got the one for his saber. So are the Jedi meant to make a final stand and prevent the planet’s crystals from being perverted, hence Jedha being stripped in Rogue One instead? There’s plenty of potential for me to be wrong here though, but we won’t have to wait terribly long to find out anymore.

Here are a few other things:

  • Hera punching through the blockade and the speeder chase were both exciting, short action sequences. Hera’s a boss pilot and I think it’s less about which ship is better between the Ghost and the Millennium Falcon (which Hera got Han to admit was inferior!), but rather who’s the better pilot.
  • That look on Thrawn’s face when he hears Hera broke through the blockade gave me the chills.
  • Dave Filoni’s latest sketch? Kanera, of course!
  • The Rebels Recon for both episodes covers “Kindred” a lot, including interesting details on Warwick Davis’ performance of Rukh and Filoni discussing why it took so long for the Kanera kiss (because they felt the relationship wasn’t the most important part of these characters). As for the “Kindred” episode guide, its trivia gallery teases a connection between the Loth-wolves and whatever Maketh Tua was going to warn the rebels about, while it revealed a bigger section of the cave paintings, as I mentioned above.
  • One the excellent fan artists out there, Ksenia Z, drew this gorgeous shot of Kanan and the Loth-wolf!
  • Keeping reading below for thoughts on “Crawler Commandeers!”

“Kindred” delivers on the Kanera kiss fans have always wanted in a big way, while it points inquiring fans in a potential direction for the show’s endgame and how the Jedi characters might be involved.

+ KANERA KISS!!!!#$&#(&!@#$&)@!#$& YYESSS

+ Directions for the questions regarding Kanan/Ezra’s destiny i.e. the show’s endgame

+ Rukh seems like quite the threat…

 …though could use some more background soon besides “he’s from Legends, guys!”

Crawler Commandeers

Star Wars Rebels Crawler Commandeers In some ways, “Crawler Commandeers” reminded me of not only of S1’s “Fighter Flight,” as both episodes have the crew stealing a ship they’ll use later, but even more so of S3’s “Double Agent Droid” episode, as both serve as entertaining, lighthearted episodes before the storm, and they also feature Hera getting a badass moment.  After busting out of Lothal’s blockade, Hera delivers the TIE Defender’s flight recorder to Yavin IV, where Mon Mothma, General Dodonna, and Senator Organa quickly realize the effectiveness of the threat, but debate if they can even spare anything after their recent defeat. This has been a point brewing since “In the Name of the Rebellion,” and it takes a passionate, fiery speech (ALL HAIL HERA, Queen of the Ghost, Breaker of Jedi Hearts, Badass Pilot) from Hera about not acquiescing to fear of failure again and showing the Rebellion’s spirit can’t be broken which finally convinces the leaders to approve an assault on Lothal to halt the TIE Defender’s construction. In some ways Jyn Erso hits the same points in her speech before the assault on Scarif and I love the idea two women have spurned action in the Rebellion when others were too afraid to fight. While I have a bad feeling about the Rebellion’s attack on Lothal (not even due to the apocalyptic image of the fighters falling out of the sky on Lothal’s capital in the second trailer), this was a really awesome moment for Hera, showing her resolve to making a difference in the world, not letting her family down, and fighting even when they’re down. Not just an amazing pilot, but a great leader as well, and maybe things will go well enough with the assault (they blow up the factory despite losing?) to earn her the ranking of General.

Star Wars Rebels Crawler Commandeers
Credit: Lucasfilm

While I found the situation with Seth Green’s Trandoshan Captain Seevor to be funny in parts, I’d say it was the episode’s only real low aspect. His eventual death in the refinery comes after he slips on Ezra’s lightsaber and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to laugh or question Ezra’s moral decisions by not helping the creature avoid death. I did like how Ezra channeled a bit of Obi-Wan by waiting patiently for his opponent to come to him, but overall the battle and its outcome felt unnecessary. The better sequence was actually between the Trandoshan slaver and Zeb, a phenomenal bit of choreography that used both of the fighter’s natural skills and abilities, plus the light-whip, in entertaining ways. It had a bit of Indiana Jones feel to it, as they tumbled about and yet kept fighting no matter the predicament they found themselves in. Sabine even got a memorable scene where she swiftly takes out two mining guild droids while patrolling the crawler with her jetpack.

While the music and all the confident smiles from the crew at the very end certainly set us up to believe good things are ahead for the Rebellion’s assault on Lothal, I couldn’t help but feeling this is a misdirection and things won’t be as happy as we hope. But I’ll take this moment of brightness before potential darkness and savor it for as long as we have it.

Here are a few other things:

  • I had kind of wondered what happened to Vizago after “The Occupation,” and I like how he got a bit of an arc this season, coming around to help the Rebellion and even become Captain of the Crawler for whatever purpose the rebels have for it in the assault ahead.
  • Mon Mothma letting Hera do her thing was an exceptionally cool little moment, as she realized she couldn’t effectively argue the attack and decided to let Hera try. Smart, solid choice Mothma!
  • The episode guide for “Crawler Commandeers” reveals the design of the Crawler is a homage to the World Devastators in the Legends Dark Empire comic series from Dark Horse. I did think it looked a little familiar but never would’ve guessed that. Also, it reveals a neat Easter Egg to Indiana Jones in the episode, which hey, I did say the fight with Zeb and the Slave Master seemed straight from those films!

Star Wars Rebels Crawler Commandeers

Enjoy the smiles and good times from “Crawler Commandeers” while they last folks…it won’t be long before everything changes.

+ Hera convinces the Rebellion to man up and fight

+ Zeb’s fight with the slave master

 Captain Seevor’s death had some tonal problems

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

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

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

RELATED REVIEWS:
Kanan (Comic)
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)

A New Dawn (Novel) | Thrawn (Novel)