– Spoiler Review –
“The Mystery of Chopper Base” is the penultimate episode of Star Wars Rebels‘ second season. It continues in the season’s fashion of staying character-focused and doesn’t worry itself about setting up events for the finale, instead raising the emotional stakes involved for everyone (and the viewers). The episode handles that aspect expertly by cranking up the foreshadowing and making viewers contemplate heartbreaking thoughts on how the crew may never be the same after the finale, which I’m not so sure I’m ready for now.
There’s a lot of obvious foreshadowing throughout “The Mystery of Chopper Base,” but I’d like to point out a couple ones I felt might not be/could be stretches I’ve made. With the episode having the team find out the real threats are below the surface, in regards to the krykna spiders threatening their ‘perfect’ base, it also felt like it was a metaphor to how the emotional problems facing our characters are just below the surface as well. Throughout the episode, especially in regards to Kanan, he constantly finds him overlooking or missing the problems lying underneath Hera’s obvious displeasure with him. Also, I took the episode’s events, where the entire team is willing to put themselves at risk to rescue one of their own (in a trap lain by spiders, nonetheless), as foreshadowing: their connections with one another can be just as dangerous for them as it is one of their defining strengths, making me wonder who’ll be used against who (or what emotional baggage will be brought up) with Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka on Malachor (outside of the obvious Vader/Ahsoka stuff).
“Chopper Base” highlights the show’s animation by having a character’s facial expression speak volumes instead of them having to give a monologue on their feelings. Hera’s face gets run through the gamut here, whether its fear, worry, anger, happiness, and even sadness, and it’s coupled with more excellent voice work from Vanessa Marshall. The way she expresses her displeasure with Kanan’s choice to leave with Ezra, just when everything started to come together, might be obvious to us and Sabine, but it flies right over Kanan’s head. There’s still a lot of the young Caleb Dume in him, even after being recently Knighted, as he was forced to mature much quicker than most after Order 66 struck and destroyed his life. He’s come a long way since then, but there’s still that child inside, which leads him to thinking joking around with Hera is fine even while she’s struggling to find any confidence he’ll survive against the Inquisitors as well as it causes him to miss the real issue Hera has with his mission in the first place.
In a nice connection to the season opener, The Siege of Lothal, Kanan admits to Hera he now understands the need to be part of the larger Rebellion and how much good it does, whereas in TSoL he didn’t like being part of the militaristic structure and instead wanted to be back doing their own thing (like he signed up for in A New Dawn). But as much as she wants him to stay, he feels like if he can’t get rid of the Inquisitor problem, everything she and the Rebellion built will be destroyed. Unhappy with his decision, and still worried beyond belief about his chances of survival with Ezra, Hera stubbornly decides to try getting used to not having Jedi around by splitting the Jedi off from the rest of the group in their search for Rex. To survive the whole event they all have to come together anyways, further hammering home how much better they all work as a group. By the end of the episode Sabine has enough of the tension between Kanan and Hera, finally getting him to truly confront her for what could be their real, final goodbye.
Whatever they are, whatever they were, their friendship and how much they care for one another runs so deep Hera figured they’d always tackle their issues together. He was there for her when she needed him the most in her confrontation with her father (in “Homecoming”) and now she wants to be there for him while he faces his greatest battle yet. But she’s too important to leave the growing Rebellion and with Ezra (and Ahsoka) he doesn’t need her in the fight ahead. So he does what little he can, trying to assuage the one thing she worries about most by making a promise both of them know he might not be able to keep: that they’ll see each other again. Cue the waterworks, as the most touching Kanera moment to date on the show takes place, as they take comfort in each other’s embrace…possibly for the last time (and as the history of hugs in the Star Wars universe shows, all signs point to things probably not going so well). The first time I watched the episode, still processing everything Kanan and Hera exchanged throughout the episode, their hug didn’t hit me too hard. The second time, with the realization it could be their last before everything or anything could change, nearly got the tears dropping.
As much as this episode was about Kanera, so too did it focus a bit on Ezra and his own interactions with others in the group and with himself. In an almost as touching moment as the Kanera hug, Ezra and Zeb share in the beauty of the sun setting on their new base, listening to some in-universe music (finally! been dying to hear more than just cantina-fare) and sharing a drink. It’s not all about relaxing with those two, as Ezra voices his doubt about the mission ahead with Zeb, where he admits he’s not even sure he’ll return (and much of fandom feels the same way, including me!). Zeb does his best to dispel the kid’s doubts (something Kanan has been attempting to do by relentlessly training him), but if his inability to connect with the spiders is any indication, neither of their efforts have been enough. But when Ahsoka appears at the end, she tells him how just when you think you know the Force, it has a habit of showing you how little you know about it. So while it might seem like his doubts could be clouding his ability, I think instead it’s really that as much as (we and) the characters have seen him grow in the Force, this foreshadows we’ll find out just how little he actually knows (which could have dire consequences considering he’s hanging out with Maul, some Inquisitors, and Darth Vader in a Sith Temple. Like anything in that situation could ever go wrong!).
Here are a few other things:
- There’s quite the contrast between the beginning and the end of this episode, as it starts with upbeat music laced with the Force theme and it ends with ominous music laced with Imperial March/Vader’s theme.
- Happy to see AP-5 is still with the crew/didn’t suddenly disappear after the last episode!
- It was nice to have another female pilot…just a shame she had to die like the last one.
- Got to ask this but: why didn’t they just call for help from the others in the base when being besieged by the spiders? I understand the episode would’ve lost a lot of tension if they could’ve just chilled around and waited for help, but it didn’t seem like the creatures could get in (minus the one Rex kicks out the airlock)/I doubt help would’ve take long to arrive.
- Surprising no one, the man who said, “Call me…Old Master,” in the mid-season trailer, has been revealed as…Darth Maul, who’ll be joining this season in the finale. EW has an entertaining clip from the episode and an interview with Dave Filoni and Sam Witwer, where they discuss what it means to have Maul still alive at this point. Filoni even mentions he’s developed a full-fledged backstory for Malachor in the new canon, which now I’m dying to see/hear it to compare it to the tale fans of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords know so well.
- If “Chopper Base” didn’t get you in an emotional wrecked state for the finale, I can bet the video put together by Lucasfilm to highlight Ahsoka and Anakin’s history will.
- Don’t forget to check out the episode guide over at the official site, where the trivia gallery reveals this is the first time we’ve seen (Updated, thanks to Pep-no pointing out my error reading the trivia) normal
traininglightsabers in training mode on screen ( wait, so thankfully those younglings in Attack of the Clones haddidn’t have fully-powered lightsabers? !!? That seems irresponsible a bit, no?) and shows the McQuarrie artwork which inspired the design of the spiders, while the Rebels Recon lays on the dark undertones for what lies ahead (especially for Ezra).
“The Mystery of Chopper Base” tugs at the emotional heartstrings viewers have grown for the characters over the course of the second season’s character-driven efforts, showing the change of focus and pace might pay off in ways no one was expecting. Will things ever be the same after next week?
+ Emotionally driven
+ Kanera galore
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. 20: “Twilight of the Apprentice“
Season Three: Step Into Shadows