– Spoiler Review –
The first Sabine-centric episode, “Blood Sisters,” quickly became one of my favorite episodes of the series, so Star Wars Rebels‘ latest, “The Protector of Concord Dawn,” had a lot to live up to by focusing on her again. “Protector” might not beat out “Blood Sisters,” but it comes awfully close, which is saying quite a bit.
One of the best aspects of “Protector” is our lack of knowledge regarding Sabine. We’ve come to learn quite a bit about her this season, we know her to a certain extent where we can confidently say what type of person she is, and the Force knows I (and many more) want to learn a lot more about her, but keeping us in the dark helped this episode. Sabine’s family member, best friend, and motherly-type Hera has been injured to the point no one was sure she’d come out alive, something Sabine blames herself for just as much as she does the Mandolarian Protector Fenn Rau from Concord Dawn for shooting Hera down. And while Sabine’s bloodline is all Mando, as she’s Clan Wren, House Vizla*, which she announces to the Protectors when they find her snooping around their base, her family aboard the Ghost (and the rebellion she fights for) is more important to her than blood. It can be an awfully hard thing to leave blood relations behind and seek out a family one actually feels they can be apart of, especially if one’s culture places blood relations above anything else, and knowing Sabine has made such a choice shows just how strong of a person she is. Even with all the above in mind, we still don’t know how far she’ll go in avenging an attack on her family, meaning us fans nor even Kanan could rightly predict most of her actions within the episode. That unpredictability lends itself to some tension throughout, but once the episode is over you’ll quickly realize you shouldn’t have had any doubt in Sabine in the first place.
Pairing up Sabine and Kanan this episode turned out to be much better than expected, especially since I was slightly worried it would focus too much on him over Sabine (which for the most part it doesn’t). I’d say the Kanan and Sabine dynamic was a little better than the Hera and Sabine in S1’s “Out of Darkness,” but Sabine and Ketsu Onyo in “Blood Sisters” still takes the jogan fruit. Just as viewers find themselves unsure of Sabine’s actions, Kanan doubts her ability to think clearly even though he had just told her he trusts her, but eventually he too learns those doubts have been misplaced. Sabine is seemingly out for blood, urging military action against the Protectors to make them pay for hurting Hera, and while Kanan vocalizes his support of such action, he still tries to take a mission to Concord Dawn by himself. Sabine tags along of course and he reveals to her he’s still trying to reach out to the Mandos diplomatically to gain allies/a new hyperspace route. Even if every bone in his body is aching for action for what they did, he does what Hera would want instead thanks to his feelings for her, which manifest in a potentially bad way as his concern for her is to the point of distraction, seeing as he can’t even sense Sabine sneaking aboard the Phantom to tag along. He’s chastising Sabine for not thinking clearly, when he should be applying that advice to himself since he can’t obviously think clearly as well. Whatever Kanan and Hera’s relationship status actually is, if her being in harm is enough to make him blind to the Force, I can almost understand why the prequel-era Jedi forbid relationships, but I think Luke eventually proves love is important to being a Jedi so hopefully Kanan can get to come to a similar understanding…soon.
With Sabine and Kanan both being headstrong and stubborn at times, they quickly find both of them being that way doesn’t always mix. He takes his diplomatic approach and fails, while Sabine takes her explosions and one-on-one combat approach and mostly succeeds, though Rau still has a chance to escape. It’s not until they start working together that they find the best solution to their problems, resulting in a successful mission. In the end, it’s what Sabine takes from Kanan, about controlling her impulsive desire to create beautiful explosions and not rush to make others pay dearly for hurting family, which shows she’s willing to grow and learn how to better fit with her family. Her few years as a member of Black Sun couldn’t have been pretty, as she alluded to with Ketsu back in “Sisters,” so to see her pushing against those instincts and skills and trying a new way shows her true maturity. Kanan learns from her that sometimes aggressive negotiations can be the perfect mixture of diplomacy and action, as Sabine’s explosive plans help get Rau alone so Kanan can bring him in. The episode ends with Rau in their custody and the hyperspace lane over Concord Dawn free for their usage, proving we should have more episodes of Sabine teaming up with one other crew member at a time to complete a mission.
Here are a few other things:
- The history both Kanan and Fenn Rau share was shown on the pages of the Kanan comic in the latest issue, #10. Kanan describes in the episode what occurs in #10, which is that he and Depa were trapped and surrounded by droids during the Third Battle of Mygeeto, with seemingly no way out. Their backup was too far out for them to wair for, but Rau and his Skull squadron appeared out of nowhere to provide them the time they needed to wait for their backup. In the comic, it’s a bit disappointing seeing as Rau’s appearance and reasoning for even being there aren’t explained, while in “Protector” Rex reveals Rau was a fighter pilot instructor for the Republic Army during the Clone Wars. Why the comic couldn’t have included that handy bit of info, I don’t know, but in the end it was still neat to see the two pieces of media connect. And funnily enough, by complete coincidence the episode and comic released on the same day.
- *Pre Vizla was the leader of Death Watch, a Mandalorian terrorist group hell-bent on restoring their warrior past instead of following a pacifist approach under Duchess Satine during the Clone Wars (seen in The Clone Wars). Dave Filoni has said before (and now again in the Rebels Recon for “Protector”) that Sabine’s mom was likely in the Mandalore throne room when Pre Vizla dies by Darth Maul’s hands and in this episode Sabine responds to the Protector’s claims that she’s a traitor by saying her mother was. Now I’d certainly like to get the story of why Sabine calls her mother a traitor and if it has anything to do with why she was placed in the Mandalorian Imperial Academy.
- There was some fantastic action and visual shots this episode, as well as the great choice to not include music in the opening battle between the A-wings and the Protectors (for most the battle, anyways, much like a previous Mandalorian space battle as seen in Attack of the Clones between Jango and Obi-Wan). The whole sequence with Kanan on Rau’s ship also had a very AotC feel to it, though Kanan proves to be better at apprehending his target while riding on the outside of their ship than Anakin was. The visuals I enjoyed came from the Western attitude the episode had, which really kicked in once Kanan and Sabine started sneaking up on the Protector’s base; my favorite camera angles came from the stand-off between Sabine and Rau.
- In the previous episode, “A Princess on Lothal,” a stormtrooper remarks with surprise, “They take prisoners now?” and in “Protector” Hera says a similar line once she learns they’ve captured Fenn Rau.
- So, did anyone else noticed how harried Ezra looked, including the dark shadows under his eyes, or was that just me? I would’ve thought after the events of the previous episode he’d be in better spirits about his parent’s fate, but from the look and his somewhat disinterested tone, it didn’t seem so. Maybe I’m seeing/hearing things, but that midseason trailer certainly did point out there are dark things ahead for the kid. I’ll keep an eye out to see if I notice him being any different next episode.
- The final scene, as seen in the picture below, was all sorts of space family goodness. Kanan has a big, goofy proud Space Dad look, Hera has a Space Mom is watching her Space Daughter grow up before he very eyes look, and Sabine’s all sorts of happy to have chosen such great parents.
Star Wars Rebels proves once again that focusing on Sabine can create some really great episodes, while the friendship and importance of family for the crew provided a solid backbone for “The Protector of Concorn Dawn.”
+ Sabine’s unpredictability
+ Kanan and Sabine
+ Great action sequences
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. 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: Step Into Shadows