A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Rebels is on a streak. It had a strong premiere and then it wobbled for a bit as if unsure of exactly where to go. And then it found its sweet spot last week with the group dynamics firmly in place and the plot firmly taking them away from their comfort zone of fruit farms and out into the great unknown. In retrospect of having watched The Clone Wars at least twice over, there are so many aspects of that show sprinkled throughout here that it’s almost impossible not to notice them and smile a little bit. There’s a bit of The Box from Season 4, with the bounty hunter challenges all taking place with objects protruding from various angles within a wall. A bit of Death Trap is thrown in, with the Imperial interiors and the young cadets that reminded me of Boba Fett and his peers from Season 2. Speaking of cadets, that grid-like training facility of Season 3’s Clone Cadets comes to mind, with the morality of working together as a team during that episode being turned on its head completely. Here’s it’s everyone for themselves. The explosion recalls Season 5’s Point of No Return and the kyber crystal is a nice throwback to the unfinished Utapau arc (which is nevertheless a part of the Season 6 Blu-Ray).
This week it’s been a couple of weeks since the ending of the previous episode. Ezra has been sent into an Imperial Academy under the name Dev Morgan to receive a special disc that will help the Ghost crew uncover where the kyber crystal shipments are being sent to. Ezra, courtesy of being a budding Jedi in training, is naturally fantastical everything, raising eyebrows and becoming noted for being too impressive. His fellow cadets who at the very least are introduced and named are Jai Kell, Zare Leonis, and Oleg. Jai and Ezra seem to have a budding friendship until Ezra throws it away for Zare’s help with the disc. A sharp distinction of a gray area is thrown in, even though it’s resolved by the end of the episode. Zare had a sister who had attended the Academy and was its top cadet until she mysteriously disappeared one day. Oleg is the only one out of the crew who never takes off his helmet and perhaps there’s buddying symbolism behind the resolved soldier of the Empire.
As it turns out in an eerie moment of realization for Ezra, the training academy is less for stormtroopers for the future and more so for recruits for the Inquisitor. Those like Ezra who were deemed to be too impressive were taken away by the Inquisitor. Those like Ezra who were deemed to be too impressive were taken away by the Inquisitor and to where no one knows. Presuing logically that that was the fate that had befallen Zare’s sister, Ezra informs his fellows of the realities at hand. At first Jai is reluctant, noting how he doesn’t even believe that the Inquisitor exists. It’s an intriguing line that’s dropped in seemingly for little to no purpose, but it’s a fascinating little trait to note that the Empire has created a semblance of legend about the Inquisitor to further enhance their aura of fear and intimidation. The heinous crimes the Inquisitor has committed might or might not be true, they would argue. In this case, his entire existence is being called into question.
As it is, the academies find those who are exceedingly talented, notifying the Inquisitor of their presence. Filoni revealed that just because most of the Jedi were eradicated, new Force sensitive children still are being born all across the galaxy. And these Imperial academies essentially serve as weeding grounds to find these Force sensitive children for what evidently seem to be nefarious purpose and perhaps even death. It’s a question that’s never really been at the forefront of my mind, but now that Rebels is providing an answer to it, it makes sense. Zare is sure that his star pupil sister was a victim of that same plot and the episode basically confirms it. Who else is excited at a potential showdown between Zare and his now evil sister? Am I a terrible person? Perhaps.
The academy is a neat environment of gray shading to place Ezra within and just like last week, I’d like to note that Rebels need not be afraid of having two-part episodes or story arcs that stretch even longer. There’s this consistent necessity within the narrative of each week that deems a wrap-up necessary and I’m not sure why the show feels that constraint. One-off episodes that bleed into each other are perfectly fine, but just last week, this installment is also one that could have benefited from two episodes instead of just one. That may lead to a slightly lower pace but I don’t tune in every week for a bunch of action or fast paced storytelling, I tune in primarily for the character development and a strong narrative. This week at the very least leaves two massive threads opening for the future, one with the academy and the other with Zare. The look the Inquisitor gives Zara at the close of the episode is downright terrifying, his eyes shining with a malevolent aura. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The opening shot of Lothal was gorgeous
+“Oh yeah, you’d make quite a cadet.”
+“No friendship in war, only victory.”
+The animation of the explosion
+The moment where Ezra uses the Force to grab the disc in Kallus’s office is downright thrilling in how suspenseful it becomes.
+Amazing direction from Steven G. Lee, the camera angles were fantastic (especially with the chip stealing scene and Sabine’s attack on the stormtroopers)
+The entire Ghost attack sequence was brilliantly animated, with the asteroid belt and explosion the standouts
+Hera is a badass
+Stormtrooper shot in the face was an appropriately dark moment
+“What was that?”; “My signal.”
Title: Breaking Ranks
Written By: Greg Weisman
Directed By: Steven G. Lee
Image Courtesy: Star Wars Underworld