– Spoiler Review –
Star Wars Rebels has slowly gone darker over the years and “The Occupation” brings that home both literally a figuratively, forever altering the planet Lothal in unexpected, emotional, and compelling ways.
My favorite aspect of “The Occupation” is how the show paints its title across the planet of Lothal, turning everything we’ve known about Ezra’s homeworld on its head since being introduced to it in season one. Lothal has always had an Imperial presence, but it’s expanded and deepened as the show went on, but even S3 only showed us increased Imperials and some banners with the Imperial symbol on them. But now in S4, the streets are littered with Imperial propaganda, wanted posters, and a heavy Imperial presence, including the elite Death Troopers. The watering hole popular with the locals and those opposed to Imperial rule, Old Jho’s, is now an Imperial owned establishment, the new owner being vaunted Imperial pilot Baron Valen Rudor and the old owner executed for treason (whoa…). Curfews keep the locals from gathering under the cover of night. And the planet is being consumed for its doonium, something Governor Arihnda Pryce has found her planet has an abundance of during the events of Thrawn.
It’s an effective, stark contrast to Lothal’s original portrayal, adding emotional depth and heightened stakes to Ezra’s quest to save his planet, something the Rebellion can’t quite commit to at this point. Their reluctance was eloquently put by Mon Mothma during “In the Name of the Rebellion,” something Ezra understands but doesn’t agree with, the rest of the Ghost crew goes along with, and me as a viewer understood and agreed with. But now that we’ve been shown how drastically Lothal has changed since Thrawn swooped in, I’m more inclined to side with Ezra that the planet needs the help now, something the Ghost crew is more than willing to go along with now that they are stuck on the planet after their latest plans go awry. I also have zero doubts this is all part of an elaborate plan of Thrawn’s to lure Phoenix Squadron back, as he mentioned in S3 he knew they would always return. What he’s up to with his TIE Defenders remains to be seen, but Ryder Azadi seems to suggest stopping them now means the difference between winning and losing the war.
First catching glimpses of this week’s Kanera moment in the second S4 trailer, it’s been one of my most anticipated moments between the two. It was unfortunately already revealed, in full, as a preview clip, and it’s another of many close calls for these two nearly getting to kiss. I do feel like Kanan has been laying it on thicker than normal and part of me has to wonder if it’s due to him knowing what lies ahead for him. Has he seen one possible future and knows he won’t live much longer? Or has the stakes of the war and their increased involvement pushed him to act? And for Hera, she’s never fully dodged out of any of these moments, but you can tell she’s just been too distracted by their missions and the war to make an effort of her own. I do believe we’ll finally see them kiss, but I have a bad feeling it’ll come either just before Kanan’s death…or just after. But hey, maybe he doesn’t die at all and it’s a ‘goodbye for now’ kiss! One can dream, one can dream.
One of the biggest surprises of all the Season 1 references, and no I’m talking about the fun with the silly puffer pigs again, was the return of Jai Kell! We last saw Jai going into “Rebel defector protection” after being broken out of the Imperial Academy on Lothal with the help of Ezra and Zare Leonis in “Breaking Ranks” due to his Force sensitivity. Zare got his own series of books, Servants of the Empire, detailing the before and after of his time during the show, while Jai’s been missing ever since. He’s returned to Lothal to help the resistance against the Empire and certainly doesn’t seem to have had any Jedi training, but boy has he grown quite a lot (much more than Ezra’s own character models suggests he has). He assists the Ghost crew escape an Imperial trap and now I’m left curious about the road ahead for him. Will he survive their efforts to free Lothal? Will he join up with the Rebellion? Jai Kell just sounds like a great name for a Jedi character, doesn’t it? This was a pleasant surprise with lots of potential, while also paying off a moment from the very beginning of the show.
Here are a few other things:
- The action sequence, with the crew running around the sewers, was another solid one for the season. The bit with the probe droids prowling in the dark was creepy.
- With Ryder Azadi is Ezra’s family friend Sumar’s wife and she has yet to receive a name. But it’s great she’s still around and she did get to take down an AT-AT last season in revenge for Sumar’s death, so there’s that.
- You know how serious Hera is about this mission if she left the Ghost in control of Rex and (Hot) Kallus. Their little convo on who was actually left in charge was funny, while Sabine’s comment to Kallus about who they all trust also provided some good laughs. I do enjoy they aren’t glossing over his time as an Imperial and still giving him shit for it.
- Ezra’s still trusting Hondo for details and Vizago for smuggling deserves a face palm, but using the puffer pigs as a blackmail-ish reason for Vizago not to betray them gives me some hope for Ezra.
- There’s been plenty of crossover with Rogue One, especially last episode, but the hovertanks being on Lothal was nice addition to that.
- It’s minor, but seeing the Ghost crew in new outfits was really refreshing. I understand it’s expensive, so I’m happy they splurged here a little bit.
- This episode aired the same night as ep. 6, “Flight of the Defender,” and serves, in some ways, as a Part One to it.
- The episode guide on the official site is up and doesn’t have as extension of a trivia gallery as the previous episodes this season. The Rebels Recon tackles both this episode and “Flight.”
The way “The Occupation” turns everything we’ve ever known about Lothal on its head, while adding emotional stakes to Lothal’s need for liberation, is another solid and unmissable notch in Star Wars Rebels‘ final season.
+ Lothal forever altered
+ Payoff from previous seasons
+ Return of Jai Kell
– Still trusting Hondo, Ezra?
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)