– Spoiler Review –
While I’ll have a write up about the rest of the panel soon (update: it’s here), one thing was clear from both the season 4 trailer and what the cast/crew talked about during it: Star Wars Rebels‘ final season would be both darker and unlike the previous seasons in many ways. After having seen the first part of the season 4 premiere episode, “Heroes of Mandalore,” I can safely say dark is only the beginning, as this first part ends on such an emotional downer it brought the entire viewing room to silence, and tears certainly from me. Now, it being darker doesn’t mean this isn’t still the show we’ve all come to know and love over the past three seasons or that it isn’t good, in fact, it’s an excellent showcase of how far this show has come with both its characters (the important part) and plots. And if this is only from the first half of the opening episode, it’ll be well worth your wait to see it and its second half until it premieres in the fall.
This episode is pretty much exactly how you remember Star Wars Rebels: full of humor, the fun family dynamic of the Ghost crew, character moments, and some great action sequences. But everything is turned up to eleven, especially the action considering this episode finds us watching Sabine lead Clan Wren, Ezra, Kanan, and Fenn Rau to rescue her father from a prison on Mandalore (which I imagine wouldn’t have been so early in the season if this hadn’t been the last season), as Mandalorians with jetpacks duke it out with rocket troopers and AT-DPs in some seriously entertaining action (both Sabine and Kanan get some great highlight moments here), while later the crew’s attack on a prisoner convoy gets even more creative and visually striking. The humorous aspects of the episode, like Ezra getting the hang of a jetpack, Chopper’s antics, or even Sabine’s interactions with her father as he critiques her art style (and his comment about Ursa is a true delight), didn’t overstay their welcome and led to some very funny moments. And the character focus, whether it be a very close Space Married moment for Kanan and Hera or Ezra trying to be supportive for Sabine early in the episode, continues to be important to the show and take advantage of the strong foundation of three seasons worth of build-up to make them even more powerful.
As the trailer revealed, Bo-Katan is alive and well, appearing here to help Sabine, Ursa, and Tristan rescue Papa Wren. The episode succinctly gives Rebels fans who’ve never seen The Clone Wars some great little background info on Bo-Katan (voiced again by Katee Sackhoff!) so no one should feel left out (even if you did watch TCW) especially since they reveal info that’s only been mentioned at panels before: Bo-Katan was named regent of Mandalore shortly before the Clone Wars ended. While her leadership title was taken away by the Empire, another, younger Mando is dealing with leadership woes of her own: Sabine might be a capable leader in our eyes, but she doesn’t feel the same way about herself and sees in Bo-Katan an opportunity to relieve herself of the burden of the darksaber i.e. uniting Mandalore against the Empire, though Bo-Katan seems as reluctant as Sabine. It’ll be interesting to watch how this pans out by the end of the series (I wanted to type season there): whether Bo-Katan will resume leadership so Sabine can stay with her crew (after the mess of Mandalore is fixed or not) or if Sabine will end up stepping to the plate and becoming the leader we all believe she can be. I would say there’s a moment in the S4 trailer that seems to spoil the eventual development of this storyline, but that same moment also has something in it that doesn’t quite match up with how things pan out by the end of this half of the premiere so…either there’s more than meets the eye about this episode’s ending or the trailer has been edited not to spoil the ending. We’ll see once the premiere airs in full this fall.
Speaking of the ending…here we go! Mandalore’s Governor Saxon is introduced this episode, likely being Gar Saxon’s (the man Ursa killed after Sabine dueled with him in “Legacy of Mandalore“) son, brother and/or other type of relative, and he is the one coordinating the defense against Clen Wren’s attempt to grab Papa Wren. However, throughout the entire episode, Governor Saxon talks about a “weapon” very ominously, like how he almost wants to let the traitorous Wrens win so he can lead them into a trap or pulling the troops back so he can test it, while even Kanan begins the episode mentioning this could all be a trap. All these hints stuck out like a sore thumb to me and my sense of dread grew with every minute, despite the heroes coming out on top as the episode progressed. In the very end, my fears were not only confirmed, but devastatingly and horribly warranted. I don’t want to give it all away (and like I said, the trailer might point to this being a fake-out unless they edited the trailer to avoid spoiling this) but the ending involves one of the weapons Sabine mentioned in the phenomenal S3 episode (and one of the series’ best), “Trials of the Darksaber,” ones which she created for the Empire but they used on her people, and some heartbreaking loses. Tears were simply unavoidable, as I was sure crying a bit, while the rest of the panel was definitely in a bit of stunned silence as we all shuffled out of the stage once the credits rolled on part 1, trying to process what just happened. Despite this pretty damn dark ending, I’m still morbidly intrigued to find out what the weapon is and how the weapon exactly works.
UPDATE (4/16): So I’ve seen several bigger sites including the spoiler in their reviews so I’m going to cave and include who dies (yup!) by a weapon Sabine created: supposedly both her mother Ursa and brother Tristan die! Watching her realize what weapon has been used and that the ashes are from their disintegrated bodies is a truly heartbreaking moment, hence why I said above I cried, as it’s tough to watch Sabine go from having her family together to having it torn to shreds only moments later. However, I did say ‘supposedly’ dies and did mention above that the trailer seems to suggest this moment isn’t as dark as it seems: there’s a shot of Bo-Katan raising the darksaber towards the end of the S4 trailer and Ursa Wren can be seen standing behind her, so either they edited her in there to not spoil her early death or she didn’t actually die here, as this was the premiere episode and that scene was not featured in this first part. Either way, if I had to choose between which of Sabine’s family doesn’t actually make it—and seriously we can’t have every character survive this show, which I’m sure I’ll live to regret in this final season—I would choose Ursa without a question…sorry Tristan, you’re just not as great or interesting as Ursa. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until the full episode for all to be revealed.
Here are a few other things:
- One of the biggest things I wanted from S4 was spending more time with Sabine’s Mandalore-focused travels and I should’ve been careful what I wished for!
- At one point, Governor Saxon mentions a duchess, which makes me curious if we’ll find out who is the current Duchess of Mandalore or that just won’t be important enough for Rebels‘ final season to answer.
- Sabine has upgraded to paint bombs…now explosions are pure color!
- The images I have in this review so far are simply from the trailer, which only contained like two more shots of stuff from this episode.
- Dave Filoni gets a fun turn as a rocket trooper who gets the upper hand on the Wren attack on the prison…just for a moment before help arrives.
- That ominous teaser image for S4 in “Zero Hour” Rebels Recon episode (11:25 mark)? I might have a reason for mentioning it…though it might only be in case you forgot about it.
It looks like Star Wars Rebels‘ last season will be hurdling itself towards the end but won’t lose its charm along the way, though “Heroes of Mandalore” – Part 1 certainly sets a specific tone for how the rest of it might go down.
+ Unavoidably darker
+ Still the Star Wars Rebels we all know and love
+ No holding back now
+ And this was only PART ONE?!!?
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)