– Spoiler Review –
“Rebel Assault,” the mid-season finale for Star Wars Rebels’ final season, is one of the series’ most thrilling, tense episodes to date and an amazing showcase of the multi-talented Space Mom of the year, Hera Syndulla.
Thanks to both Rogue One, and her recent appearance in Forces of Destiny, we know Hera lives to see the end of the fighting above Endor, but despite said knowledge things were still tense and exciting during her adventures in “Rebel Assault.” In fact, knowing she survives this actually ratchets up the tension considerably because it’s hard to image how she’ll manage to make it out of her situation alive, as things continue to get worse before they get better. From the opening attack in the X-wing to her final battle in the streets of Lothal against Rukh, “Rebel Assault” was a spectacular showcase of her skills, as well as the quality of her leadership abilities, willing to sacrifice herself if it means other people get out alive. Seeing Hera in the cockpit of an X-wing was exciting enough, but watching her tear up space and shoot down Imperials with finesse was exhilarating, while her maneuver to take out Skerris in the TIE Defender had me whooping and hollering for the best pilot in the galaxy. She also showed off her combat prowess on the ground, saving Mart Mattin (yes, the moody teenager from “Iron Squadron” has changed quite a bit!) and engaging in, and fighting off, the Noghri assassin Rukh several times in a tense sequence on the streets of Lothal. The shot of Hera’s X-wing downed, despite knowing her fate lies elsewhere, still tugged at the old feels factory, which is due to how much I’ve grown to care for the characters thanks to both Vanessa Marshall’s acting and how she’s been written over the course of the show. While she ends up captured by Governor Pryce (boy do I wish these two would’ve had a longer conversation!), this being the cliffhanger we’re stuck with until the show returns in early 2018, how the heck the rest of the crew liberates her is going to be quite the thing to watch and potentially fuel the remainder of the season. It could get resolved in the first episode back, I hope not, but we’ll see.
Considering Grand Admiral Thrawn is the one that wanted Hera alive, I will be interested to see what plans he has in store for her, besides torturing her for information. That doesn’t seem to exactly be his thing, torture, but I’m sure her captures is part of some chess game he has in his head against the insurgents on Lothal and the rest of the Rebellion. Whatever it is, it’s going to fail to some extent because Hera gets free, but I wonder if her escape will end up being the event that grants her the rank of General, as Dave Filoni has said before that we’ll see her be bestowed with the title this season. UPDATE: Thanks to Manor contributor Chris, he pointed out Hera is already called General this episode. That promotion simply should not have been offscreen, as that is a giant moment for the character. Did she get the title because she was off to lead the Lothal assault here? Because she escaped Lothal with the TIE Defender’s flight logs and lead the team that stole them? Happy to hear it, disappointed it came out of nowhere END UPDATE. Could this mean Thrawn’s days are numbered, despite there being a sequel to his first book (which itself was a direct prequel to his S3 appearance) or just a black mark on his otherwise impeccable military record? My favorite bit with Thrawn was how he IMMEDIATELY saw through Hera’s plan to take out Skerris and called the confident pilot off, and once Skerris said no, just shrugged and was like, this is your fault Mr. Mustache. And with his second wave that effectively cut off the Rebellion’s attack, it was even more apparent it was a needless pursuit of Hera by Skerris, and as great as it was to have a recurring villain, at least Skerris went out the best way possible: by falling prey to Hera’s awesome piloting skills; I’d be happy with that ending, too.
The question of what the Loth-wolves want with Kanan only deepens here, but I believe the events within “Rebel Assault” could point to my initial thoughts on the subject being close: he (and maybe Ezra) are vital to the ultimate liberation of Lothal or beating back the Empire from the planet, and the Loth-wolves are doing everything they can to make him see his bigger part to play. In “Rebel,” they stop him from going off to rescue Hera, as if they are manifestations of the Force and/or closely tied to the Force in some way, they’d know the time isn’t right to rescue her. The episode of course cuts away when Kanan asks them what they want him to do, but seeing him there to pick up Mart and Chopper after their escape, so serene and confident he can do something to save Hera, could imply the Loth-wolves might have filled him in on a secret or two. Or hinted at things to come. We’ll get some answers sometime early 2018, but for now, that final shot of the Loth-wolf was a chilling way to close the episode, making it an even safer bet on Kanan not surviving whatever is ahead.
Here are a few other things:
- The Rebels Recon is here, discussing where the rest of the Iron Squadron is at, what it was like bringing X-wings to the screen, and that Hera a better pilot than Poe. Filoni also discusses the Loth-wolves and calls them guides, helping Kanan understand his greater purpose despite already knowing what it is, deep down inside. That kind of echoes what I’ve been saying about the Loth-wolves all along, but let’s get the part where we find out his destiny now, okay?! The episode guide doesn’t have many more details, but also worth checking out. A little bummed they didn’t mention when the show’s returning, but “a few short weeks” was mentioned so maybe early January?
- Seeing X-wings in battle on Rebels was a thing of absolute beauty and damn do I wish they’d been part of the show sooner…it just felt so right here.
- After the female Death Trooper, Bomber, and now a Rebel pilot, it’s been great seeing more random background characters not be males for once. It’s too little, too late for the show, but happy they’re making the change regardless.
- Having some citizens of Lothal approach Hera and warn her of the best way to evade the Imperials was a minor, but nice touch to the episode. Shows it’s not just the Rebellion and the rest of the Ghost crew who want the liberation of/destruction of Imperial factories on Lothal to succeed.
- With the Rebels Recon dropping at midnight after the episode airs, I’m hoping it includes an air date for the return of the series.
- Considering the Loth-wolves are inspired by the anime Princess Mononoke, illustrator Michael Pasquale revealed this little thing of beauty.
As far as mid-season finales go, you couldn’t have asked for much better than “Rebel Assault,” a tense, exciting episode which ends on a solid cliffhanger, raises the stakes in a big way, teases questions to the Loth-wolf mystery, and was an excellent showcase for Hera Syndulla. Enjoy this one while it lasts folks, but because the next finale episode is the series’ last.
+ Hera Syndulla making fools out of everyone
+ Kanan’s New Calm Groove
+ Tense, thrilling half hour
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”
Season Four: Ep.1/2: “Heroes of Mandalore” Part One / Part Two | Ep. 3/4: “In the Name of the Rebellion” | Ep. 5: “The Occupation” | Ep. 6: “Flight of the Defender” | Ep. 7/8: “Kindred” and “Crawler Commandeers”