– Spoiler Review –
Star Wars Rebels‘ latest, “The Antilles Extraction,” finds Sabine undercover at an Imperial Academy, helping a familiar face (or two) defect from the Empire. Overall the episode was another solid one thanks to it keeping Sabine in the spotlight, introducing Wedge to the Rebellion, and Agent Kallus’ surprise.
After a shipment of relief supplies and its fighter escort are gunned down by a couple of highly skilled Imperial pilots, the rebel group our crew belongs to is hurting for pilots of its own. Another Fulcrum (a name given to all informants) reveals a few Imperial pilot recruits at the Skystrike Academy are looking to defect. Commander Sato assigns Sabine the mission, with Ezra and Kanan as backup, something that irritates the younger Jedi (and it’s not because he doesn’t trust Sabine to do a good job). While undercover at the academy, Sabine quickly identifies the defecting pilots, including two recognizable names like Wedge Antilles and Derek “Hobbie” Klivian and hatches a plan for escape. Unfortunately for them, Governor Pryce and Agent Kallus are there hunting for the defectors as well, and the first escape attempt goes rather poorly. Pryce is set to interrogate Sabine and only after a great little fight between the two is Sabine able to free herself and the two other pilots, while getting a surprising (or is it?) bit of help from Kallus himself. Welcome to the Rebellion, Wedge and Hobbie!
We knew Sabine was going to be getting a bigger role this season and I was happy to see it begin early on, but even happier to see she stayed the focus throughout the episode even with a Kanan and Ezra b-plot. While I feel like “Blood Sisters” was still a better episode over all in terms of character growth for Sabine, what “Extraction” lacks in that department more than makes up for it by showcasing the ex-Imperial/ex-bounty hunting Mando’s various skills, including an aptitude for finding solutions to any situation and keeping a level-head throughout. Well, not always level-headed, as she’s got enough snark to kill a gundark with, from her comments about protocol while in the training simulator pods to her bites against Governor Pryce in their encounter near the end, but for the most part she’s a cool customer. It’s episodes like this one that makes me wonder why she wasn’t just the main character in the first place, unlike Ezra, as she’s certainly a more nuanced person with a unique history and impressive set of skills that help her thrive despite not having the Force. If there’s only one more thing I can say about the awesomeness that is Sabine, it’s that she had the best moment of the entire episode: After Sabine knocks out Pryce, escaping and rescuing Wedge and Hobbie, they try to tell her they were totally going to be the ones rescuing her and she knowingly smiles and says, “That’s cute.” She’s proven to be more than perfectly capable in the past and I’m happy to see her continue that trend here and kudos to the show for how they’ve been keeping her that way too.
Wedge Antilles is a well-loved character of the Legends continuity thanks to his role with Rogue Squadron and Wraith Squadron (and beyond) as expanded on by the books and comics. He hasn’t had as big of a role yet in canon, as he’s played a supporting but increasingly more important character in the Aftermath Trilogy, with the first entry keeping him largely injured and out of the action while the second has him as a possible love interest for main character Norra Wexley (sorry Wrentilles shippers!) and showing him form Phantom Squadron (which in Legends was a fighter squadron made in honor of Wraith, which is a nice little wink and nod for its usage in canon). But now “The Antilles Extraction” shows us his defection from the Empire, with middling results. First off, his background has changed slightly from an independent trader who joins the Rebellion only after his girlfriend dies due to an Imperial attack, to a cargo pilot who joins the Empire in an attempt to be something more than a junk hauler and quickly learns he’s joined the wrong side (though, according to Aftermath, the Empire has at one point hurt family, friends, and even a girlfriend, but those aren’t the only reasons he wants to join the Rebellion). This helps makes him a better, more easily to sympathize with character, as he’s not finally thinking the Empire is really worth fighting against only until his girlfriend dies. It initially felt weird that Wedge, Hobbie Klivian, and Rake have already decided they wanted out of the Empire, as it almost made Sabine’s job look too easy because she really didn’t have to convince the pilots to leave, more that she just had to break them out. In a little one-on-one talk with Sabine, Wedge explains he and his fellow pilots want to defect simply because their training has asked them to give up their moral code in service of the Empire, which is something they simply don’t want to do. Other material, like Battlefront: Twilight Company and Lost Stars, have fantastic looks into how the Empire drills recruits down until they just do as ordered for the glory of the Empire, and while it wasn’t as pronounced or as well-portrayed as it was in those two books, “Extraction” does a decent enough job to make it clear how it starts in training here. Add in Wedge not wanting to sacrifice his morals and his new, less ‘woman in a fridge’ trope-laden history, and suddenly he’s becoming an even more well-rounded character than before. In the end, it was a neat to see Wedge (and Hobbie) join the Rebellion and it being thanks to the Ghost crew (specifically Sabine), but it lacked tension since their fates were already known and their reasons for leaving were understandable but predictable…which could be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view.
In the novel Aftermath, Wedge said he was recruited into the Rebellion by Fulcrum, which initially most people assumed (including me) meant Ahsoka since we only knew of her as Fulcrum. This episode reveals the Rebellion uses the codename Fulcrum for all their spies/informants, and the one who got Wedge’s message certainly isn’t her. Instead, it seems to be none other than Agent Kallus, as was uncovered by fans shortly after the Rebels S3 trailer dropped in July. With that information in-hand, I figured Kallus would be helping out in some way, shape, or form, but I never suspected he’d do it so blatantly as he does here. The moment Kallus and Pryce arrived, I liked the idea that we’d get to see a duplicitous Kallus in action, as he was using his position in the ISB combined with his knowledge from being a Fulcrum to ensure he would be there to see the rebels get the defecting pilots to safety. He’s always been a smarter villain, though had been evil for evil’s sake a little too long, so I loved how he didn’t do a thing about Pryce’s actions (like killing one of the defectors) despite his intentions to help the rebels, as he seems to know the right time to intervene because doing anything to halt Pryce would’ve thrown suspicion on him in an instant. It’ll be interesting to see how long he can keep the act up, the if/when/how of him being found out, and what happens to him after that. “The Honorable Ones” was a big episode for Kallus and Zeb last season, resulting in the two enemies gaining a mutual respect for one another, and Kallus’ comment to Sabine as he helps them escape, about how he’s even with Zeb, was some really great payoff to “Honorable;” The bigger payoff will be the revelation to everyone that he’s Fulcrum. I was a little disappointed that the episode ends without Sabine telling Zeb what Kallus said and I’m hoping we get to see the moment when Sabine explains what happened (or at least some comment from the crew in a follow episode if we never see said moment).
Not only were Kanan and Ezra relegated to the b-story this week, but their scenes didn’t overshadow the importance of this being Sabine’s episode all-the-while being used as something purposeful for master and student to go through. Ezra doesn’t like that Sabine is picked for the mission instead of him, but it’s not because he doesn’t trust her to get the job done. Instead, we’re still dealing with Ezra’s fear of his friends being hurt again and by having to stay back, unable to quickly assist Sabine if she needs help, puts her fate out of his control. Kanan senses this tension and manages to talk Ezra down, but this is certainly an issue which will crop up again as he’s quite not over his desire to gain the power/have control to ensure his friends are never hurt again.
Ever since her appearance in “Step into Shadows,” Pryce has interested me quite a bit. I wrote a whole article about what we know so far about her and what she’s been up to before the premiere. She’s back in this episode and continues to prove she’s not someone to take lightly or someone to ignore as a character despite names like Thrawn being uttered once again. She’s pretty ruthless, ordering the death of one defecting pilot once she captures them in a trap during Sabine’s first attempt to free Wedge, but also dangerous physically, as she holds her own for a bit in a pretty intense but quick fight with Sabine. Why she put herself in charge of fettering out the defecting pilots alongside Agent Kallus is never completely answered, but she’s looking to be taking a more hands-on role with affairs these days and that certainly excites me as a fan of this character. If I had to guess, she was probably anticipating the rebels would come to Skystrike and figured she would go in an attempt to capture them or at least gain more information about the crew she’s hunting, possibly to give to Thrawn for him to use in his battle against them. Seeing as they directly threaten everything she’s built for herself so far, it’s no surprise she wants to take care of them as personally, if possible so she knows the job has been done (and having Thrawn around is a sure-fire way to see it happen, too).
Here are a few other things:
- Just from that final shot of Vult Skerris only (the older chap who chased Sabine, Wedge, and Hobbie at the end) glaring menacingly at the escaping rebels, I hope this means we’ll see the talented pilot return to cause trouble for the rebels.
- Sabine blowing on the credential chip after it not working initially was definitely humorous, but it also brought me right back to my N64 days of having to blow on the cartridges to get the game to work from time to time.
- A while back we learned Gary Whitta, who wrote a first draft for Rogue One, had written a Star Wars Rebels episode. “Extraction” was certainly written by him, but it seems from his recent comment that he wrote more than one episode of Rebels. When the news first broke that he wrote for Rebels, the assumption was his episode would have some crossover with Rogue One and while “Extraction” doesn’t seem to, it’s possible his other episodes could.
- The official site’s episode guide is now live and the trivia gallery is full of interesting tidbits, especially regarding the debut of several classic ship designs, as well as some of the points I’ve made regarding Fulcrum and Gary Whitta. As for Rebels Recon, it dives into how this episode was almost about Biggs Darklighter!
- A big thumbs up to the inclusion of several background characters being obviously female, compared to it always seeming like we only deal with male stormtroopers/officers.
- Thumbs down on introducing Rake, a black TIE fighter pilot trying to defect, and to kill him off in the same episode.
- I might not agree with his speculation, but Hound’s Tooth Blog seems to think Wedge will die in Empire’s End, the final Aftermath Trilogy entry.
While “The Antilles Extraction” might have lacked a little tensin for Wedge’s extraction, it was still an entertaining episode that showcased Sabine’s skills and put the new and improved Kallus in action already.
+ “That’s cute” – Sabine’s response when the boys thought they were going to rescue her
+ Welcome Wedge and Hobbie!
+ Kallus’ duality
– Tension took a break this episode
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. 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” | 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”
A New Dawn (Novel)