The Star Wars: Rebels episodes #4.3 and #4.4 are a fascinating double that raises many questions for @pablohidalgo , the first part written by @garywhitta. Here is our spoiler review of what they had in store for us.
After viewing the opening-double of this season, The Heroes of Mandalore, for a second time in preparation for reviewing them for Clone Corridor I found that the second viewing significantly changed my perception of the episodes. So I was wondering whether the same would happen for the second double In the Name of the Rebellion. Perhaps unsurprisingly … it did.
So much more than a set-up
In a double-episode story there is always a risk of the first episode being just a set-up for the second. However the episode penned by Gary Whitta is anything but that. It pains a solid picture of a Rebellion that, as it is gathering its forces, suffers from internal dispute over its course. As our rebel friends arrive on the moon of Yavin 4 that forms the Rebellion’s headquarters, an emergency landing of a battered squadron of Y-wings led by Hera Syndula makes clear just how much the odds are stacked against the Rebels … even without a Death Star.
Whitta takes time in this episode not only to work out Ezra’s internal conflict over the course of the Rebellion, but also that between the factions represented by Mon Mothma and Saw Gererra. Mon Mothma’s outburst over the principles she is fighting for, but also fighting with was definitely a high point in the episode.
It was also nice to see Kallus having an apparently firmly accepted role within the Rebellion. I certainly do hope we will see more of him this season, also in an active role. But he is obviously the wrong person to go on ‘ Imperial base intrusion’ missions as Ezra and Sabine do next.
The second half of the episode is a nice action set-piece where Ezra’s talents for comedy are on display again, albeit in a slightly less slap-stick way as in Heroes of Mandalore. It all ends in a beautiful explosion of which we haven’t seen that many in Rebels so far. The death of a fairly expendable but nevertheless named imperial officer adds a touch of drama at the end which resonated more with me on second viewing rather than first time around.
Ezra and Sabine’s decision to stick around with Saw, who shows up in the last minute to save their buts from the explosion, feels understandable albeit a little forced on first viewing. On second viewing the wider context had a little bit more time to sink in and that made me appreciate the voluntary dimension of this a little more.
A mission for Saw
The second episode picks up directly where the first ended. Saw has evidently recruited our two rebels for a very specific purpose: infiltration once more. The interplay between Sabine and Ezra is really nice and their two slightly different takes on Saw come out well without any dialogue devoted to it. The first half is a bit of a mystery thriller, although Star Wars afficianado’s will draw the correct conclusion immediately when Ezra perceives the sound of singing.
Saw isn’t as damaged in these episodes as he is in Rogue One, doesn’t have his breathalyser yet, so I am wondering whether we will see him again this season in something that explains his scarred existence in Rogue One. An interesting side note is that we don’t hear where his current base is … but we do hear one of the prisoners they find mention Jedha for the first time on Rebels. I wouldn’t be surprised if the events of this episode set Saw on course for Jedha. But I guess only @pablohidalgo knows.
Another great explosion
When I was a grad-student one of my mathematics mentioned the differential geometry maxim “Be wise, apply it twice“. Well hat certainly is true for these two episodes and also the second one ends with a glorious explosion. A small moment I absolutely loved is when, just before the Ghost jumps out of hyperspace to come to the rescue of Sabine & Ezra in a stranded imperial shuttle, Ezra stares into the distance as he did in the very first season when he felt an Imperial Star Destroyer come out of hyperspace. I’m am not sure whether this is some foreboding of what is ahead of us in the season, but it was nice to see him have that force-power still.
Death-trooper confused viewers
One highlight of the second episode is the presence of a female death trooper. I like that they decided to place a female in that role rather then persist in having an all male storm trooper and death trooper cast. She was recognizable from the voice, especially when she was talking on the internal com to the commander and crew on the bridge. During the battle scenes her voices was slightly too over-garbled to be easy to distinguish. Quite a few viewers and reviewers on YouTube have been moaning about this but I enjoyed the decision.
Overall these were to very enjoyable and interesting episodes. The first immediately fell right with me, the second required second viewing before I started to like it as much as the first. So far this has very much been Sabine’s and Ezra’s season with little about Hera and Kanan and next to nothing about Zeb. But hey we’re only 4 episodes in.
I am fine with the consistent double-episode format although I notice I prefer to watch such a double episode spaced and not binged. The pleasure of looking forward to the second episode in a double is simply to good to forego entirely.
One thing that these double episodes do emphasize however is the stunning amount of blaster-nozzle cut-offs. Really? I seriously don’t know what the point of it is. Especially because in subsequent shots storm troopers are subject to devastating explosion or drops into tenthousand feet depths. Is Ezra aiming to chop of the hands and simply always missing the target?
But this is an utterly minor point. Not something that keeps me from looking forward to the next double of episodes.