– Spoiler Review –
Space Whales Purrgil invade Star Wars Rebels‘ “The Call,” an episode which looks into one of the strange corners of the Star Wars universe and displays Ezra’s increasingly intuitive ability to connect with creatures through the Force.
Rebels‘ second season is a much different beast than season one was, as the first season was shortened and had the pressure of finding and hooking an audience, while season two has the luxury of a longer season and the freedom to expand the universe without as much pressure. Because of its creative freedom, season two has taken us down a more intimate and unique series of events, which gives us episodes like “The Call” and all the character-focused ones we’ve gotten so far this season. It’s a different pace and flow then what brought many into the Rebels fold, so this season’s change might not be everyone’s cup of blue milk. While I’ll agree having such a pulse-pounding and stakes-rising opener like The Siege of Lothal only to follow it up with a less urgent pace for the rest of the season was a little jarring at first, “The Call” and many other episodes have proven in S2 that taking the time to focus on these characters and their relationships strengthens fan’s bonds with them and entertainingly opens the universe in ways only the books and comics used to do. So while I might agree “The Call” didn’t have a whole lot of urgency, it made it up in character and mythology.
Ezra has, for the better part of these first two seasons, grown in his abilities as a burgeoning Jedi. His biggest asset is his special gift to connect rather instinctively with creatures, much like how Quinlan Vos has the gift of psychometry, and in “The Call” that ability really comes to good use when the Ghost crew encounters a herd (? or pack?) of purrgil, basically sentient space whales. Ezra’s ability allows him to hear them, while everyone else kind of calls him crazy since they can’t, but Kanan understands the kid has a different connection to the Force than he and that Ezra might actually be on to something. Considering the Jedi from Kanan’s upbringing didn’t tend to enjoy his endless questions and came off a little arrogant, as if their Padawan’s couldn’t know something they didn’t, it’s utterly fantastic to see Kanan buck that trend and support Ezra when he’s possibly tapping into something Kanan honestly doesn’t understand. Seeing the fall of the Jedi can really help one consider what all led to it, and while arrogance certainly wasn’t an important factor in their fall, it didn’t help at all.
Thanks to Ezra’s connection to the purrgil, the mission goes from disaster to complete success. From helping them save energy for the Mining Guild’s attack by knowing not to attack the peaceful animals, leading them to their destination in the asteroid belt, to saving the day when the Guild had them outgunned, outnumbered, and outmaneuvered, Ezra is this mission’s true MVP. As benevolent as his connections with creatures has mostly been, especially in this episode where he comes to a mutual understanding with the purrgil, the potential for it to turn against him still hangs over every attempt as the fyrnock summoning in “Gathering Forces” is still fresh in my (and probably his) mind. With the show focusing so much on his ability, could it be to set up a big moment where he saves everyone from a giant threat like Darth Vader or will it only lead to someone/something taking advantage of it and turning Ezra against those he cares about? With Kanan and the whole supportive space family at Ezra’s side, it’s harder and harder to imagine the latter happening but opening oneself up so strongly and quickly to other living things won’t always be as poetic and peaceful as “The Call” suggests.
As for the purrgil themselves, initially I was a bit skeptical of them being introduced to Star Wars at all, but they slowly grew on me as the episode went on. Hera’s speech about the destruction the creatures have caused, unwittingly of course, grounds them pretty quickly in the ‘reality’ of the universe; Vanessa Marshall’s heartfelt voice acting has a habit of doing that. Seeing them fuel up, slowly changing into colorful and less docile beings, was also wonderfully handled by the animation team and made them rather memorable, rather quickly. Ezra’s understanding of them and how they showed their sentience by helping the young Jedi and his friends only endured me to them more. But what really got me intrigued and happy to have the purrgil as part of canon is their ability to jump to hyperspace! Never would it have occurred to me that sentient species could’ve been inspired by nature to achieve something that seemed purely technological until now. It’s a nice reminder that Star Wars is, and always will be, more science fantasy than science fiction.
Here are a few other things:
- The action scenes here are exciting, while the dive towards the refinery was one of my favorite bits of the episode.
- Kanan wearing a Loth-cat covered stormtrooper helmet (thanks Sabine!) while waving his lightsaber around on top the Ghost was a stellar image. So too was Ezra on his purrgil stead. And the more I see it, the more frightening that Loth-cat helmet gets.
- How about them purrgil eating Yushyn, that unique looking but jerk boss of the refinery? Justice is a dish best served by space whales.
- Don’t forget to check out the official site’s episode guide to see the latest Rebels Recon, where they discuss Ezra’s ability and Pablo Hildalgo makes a distinction between Wild Space and the Unknown Regions.
- I get the Mining Guild wanting to protect its goods, but why exactly would they attack a ship helplessly floating amongst a pack of purrgil for no apparent reason? It’s not like the Ghost was provoking them up until that point and you’d figure they would’ve issued some verbal warnings instead, something even the Empire does in these type of situations, or is the Mining Guild that paranoid they just shoot first, ask questions later? An answer or at least one throwaway line of dialogue would’ve been nice to establish the Guild’s initial violent reaction.
- UPDATE: Something I didn’t mention, but is also a great point: why was the crew so quick to commit violence in return for the Mining Guild’s actions? You’d think disarming the guards and explaining why they were there, and give them the option to surrender, would’ve been as equally easy for the crew to do as the Mining Guild to issue warnings before attacking. Eleven-ThirtyEight’s latest Rebels Revisited looks at that very issue in great detail.
- It’s also never quite explained why the Ghost is so low on fuel, but my guess would be despite knowing which day they were supposed to be in the asteroid belt to steal the latest fuel shipment to the Empire, the field was so large and their scanners so ineffectual thanks to it that they kinda ended up using up more fuel than anticipated. However, I’m a little surprised a pilot as skilled as Hera would ever allow them to run out/not have more on hand just in case, but a lack of fuel for everyone is why they’re stealing shipments in the first place I guess.
Star Wars Rebels‘ “The Call” fuels (see what I did there?) the imagination by keeping the open sense of wonder (and fantasy) fresh in the universe.
+ Purrgil bringing in an extra dose of science fantasy
+ The good and bad potential of Ezra’s gift
– Mining Guild attacking for no apparent reason at the outset
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. 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: Step Into Shadows