Rebels has started its final half-season. This is a spoiler-review of the first new episode Jedi Night and oh boy what an episode it was. Spoilers from the start!
This episode starts of right where we left of before the intermission. Hera is captured by the Empire and Kanan is considering what he needs to do in order to free her. The first thing we see is his decision to let Ezra run the mission. It really sets the tone for the entire episode.
Everything in this episode breathes the foreshadowing of what is to come. Kanan’s hair-cut and beard trimming aren’t just that. When you see it happening it is set in a context that gives it the meaning of a ritual: here is a warrior that is about to go into battle getting ready to sacrifice himself. OF course we have seen many battles and many sacrifices in Star Wars, but never did we see this kind of ritualistic cleansing, for that is what it is.
The rescue is planned to occur under the cover of darkness, which makes sense. But the departure of the rescue team consisting of Kanan, Ezra and Sabine, into a blood-red sunset is gloomy.
In the meanwhile governor Price is torturing Hera in order to extract the location of the Rebel base from her. It adds to the dark tone of the episode as we haven’t seen all that much of this kind of abuse on Rebels. It is emphasised how Price partly engage with this because she enjoys it, making her a truly despicable and dangerous character. It is good that they set this up here because it will pay-off later in the episode in the ruthlessness with which Price commands the pursuit of the fleeing rebels.
There is a fine bit of interaction between Thrawn and Hera as well. It serves not only to highlight Thrawn’s view of Hera as a worthy adversary, but one he will of course defeat in his view. But also to highlight the difference between Thrawn and Price. Although Thrawn is by no means nice to Hera and in a way tortures her psychologically it is far less ‘orkish’ than what Price is doing. In an interesting aside we then learn that Thrawn leaves for Coruscant to debate his TIE-defender project with the Emperor himself. So perhaps this is the way the Emperor gets involved in the business on Lothal.
Kanan frees Hera just a few moments after she has been given a truth-serum shot by a mind-probe. This is a great way of introducing a little bit of comedy in an otherwise dark episode. It is well chosen to do so in this way because it puts the comedy exactly there where as a viewer you want and need it the most … between Kanan and Hera. It never distracts you to much from the surrounding danger in the form of storm troopers, death troopers and Rukh. But it is a very welcome contrast to the place where the plot of the episode is heading.
Getting out of the Imperial base turns out a little more complicated than getting into it, but in reality Ezra’s plan works rather flawlessly. By the time he and Sabine arrive with a stolen Imperial gunship at the pick-up point it looks as if nothing can go wrong really. Price is in pursuit using Imperial AT-AT Walkers but these are still far away for there to be any threat of Storm Troopers being deployed. The pick-up point is a top a fuel depot such that blasting the pick-up point might be possible but would be extremely damaging to Imperial infrastructure and very costly in lives, perhaps even Price’s own. But that is the course of action Price chooses as she commands her AT-AT to fire upon the fuel-depot upon which Hera and Kanan are moving towards their pick-up ride.
If you have read this far without having seen the episode that definitely stop here and go see it or be spoiled entirely!
In the final moments of the episode we see amazing force use by Kanan. He holds back the fury of the exploding fuel-depot in order to give Hera, Ezra and Sabine a chance3 to escape. In fact he even force-pushes the gunship out of harms way in his final act. Kanan is subsequently consumed by a large fireball as the fuel-depot blows completely. The music in this final scene is gorgeous, the emotion visible of the faces of the characters and the voice acting is excellent.
Kanan’s death does not come unexpected and yet it does. At that moment I was almost ready to believe he would make it out of there alive even although all the signs had indicated he wouldn’t. The final sequence is very tragic but also very fitting for a goodbye to this great character.
I have written this review immediately after seeing the episode Jedi Night and without having seen the next episode Dume (reviewed here). I can’t wait to see it now although I do dread seeing what must be terrible sadness overcoming our Ghost crew having lost their Jedi Knight. This final half season has started with a bang!