A Foul Stench
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Star Wars Rebels became serious. Unlike the Clone Wars, which followed the anthology format, Rebels has espoused a much more linear format with the same group of characters at its core. It’s a tougher challenge in its own way, considering how this unknown group of characters was supposed to be anchoring its own narrative within what arguably could be called the most beloved period of the entire Star Wars mythology. While the the season so far has been largely solid (with a couple of sure misfires), there’s been a true lack of forward momentum until now. The Empire itself, which is as one would remember at the height of its power, has had its role relegated to irritable bureaucrats and mind-numbingly moronic officers. At first, it was a little adorable in the “aw, stormtroopers still can’t aim” way, then it became very irritating as the adorable trend persisted way belong its expiration date. For Rebels to succeed in any way, shape, or form, it has to present the Empire as the true force of terror that it was. The stakes, frankly, are never going to be raised until that point and it arrived in full force today. Grand Moff Tarkin makes a welcome reappearance, with Clone Wars veteran Stephen Stanton returning to voice him and immediately the might of the Empire becomes fastidiously personified.
The opening shot of the Imperial Cruiser over the darkness on Lothal is an immediate win, reminiscent of the original Star Wars in all the best ways. Tarkin’s viciousness and vindictiveness is in full display, even if his animated model leaves a bit to be desired. Immediately he is taking command of Lothal and the complete mismanagement that he has felt has occurred and that the audience wholeheartedly agrees with. The moment that hits the viciousness and swift, pragmatic cruelty required of the Empire and that the show has largely lacked so far arrives here, as the Lothal lackies Aresko and Grint meet their grisly end. Tarkin doesn’t even have to say anything, but the Inquisitor is quick to understand and impales both of them simultaneously with his flashy lightsaber. Maketh Tua and General Kallus are terrified and rightfully so – their meandering, messy days are quite gone. Tarkin at the very least wants the Jedi ringleader to be caught, fastidious in his belief that this impostor would pay for his crimes against the Empire. Certainly there could no longer be any Jedi roaming in the galaxy. Tarkin had fought with them. Tarkin had seen them die.
The Rebellion at large has always been a question mark for this series that until yet had never really been considered by the narrative. One could easily be excused by just watching this series and arriving at the conclusion that there was no such thing as the Rebellion, only individuals and small, scattered groups around the galaxy smuggling and throwing wrenches into the Imperial machinery. Throughout the season, there have been snippets thrown around about other rebel pockets, but never in the manner as significant as here. For the first time, we truly get a bigger picture about how the Ghost crew fits into the larger galactic struggle against the Empire and the entire series benefits greatly from that. When Senator Trayvis announced his deception last week in a rather dramatic fashion, the implications were far greater than what they simply seemed to be at first glance. When he’s essentially making the same announcement on the Imperial broadcast network, Hera’s expression and her ominous pronouncement say it all. Trayvis’s betrayal didn’t simply make their job more difficult, it took away a shining beacon of hope for all the rebel groups out there who were struggling against all the odds, who believed that yes, there was at least one person within the Imperial bureaucracy who was looking out for them. It makes the task for the Ghost crew and all the other rebels out there significantly more difficult.
Ezra is terrified when the crew announces its intentions of sending out a radio broadcast to inspire hope and quash any feeling of hopelessness amidst other rebels that were on Lothal. His terror, fueled from having significant doubts about speaking out against the Empire, is palpable and realistic. He, after all, doesn’t want to lose the second family he’s ever had. But collectively the group decides that this act of defiance against the Empire is vital to the survival of the rebellion as a whole. An impressively brutal attack sequence follows, even if what arrives is far more nefarious. Once again Kanan finds himself outmatched, but like a true Jedi he surrenders to save his friends. The rebels manage to escape, but without Kanan in tow. Ezra is dejected, having lost his master to the Empire’s clutches. But with the support of the crew he is able to send out that one last radio transmission, pledging to everyone out there that they would collectively fight the Empire as one. The fight, as Hera rightfully notes, is far from over and doggone it if they just let one of their own suffer for too long. Tarkin blows the transmission tower to shreds just as the message ends, but that simply will not be enough to deter any rebels. It’s an exceedingly bittersweet note to end on and I certainly hope that the series doesn’t upend this new status quo anytime soon. For the first time, the struggle of the Ghost crew feels raw and real. I, for one, am along with them for this ride.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“My visit is hardly an honor.”
+“As if leaping from the pages…”
+“You’re finally getting the hang of this, there’s hope for you yet.”
+“It’s touching when you two bond, but I’m betting that probe has friends.”
+“Lure them in.”
+“Do not disappoint me.”
+The ships from the Ahsoka arc in the fifth season of The Clone Wars
+“But I like this gun!”
+Great musical cues for Inquisitor
+The shot of the door closing behind Kanan was a great one
+“How unexpected.” “I’m full of surprises.”
+The static playing over the end credits versus the usual music was a great touch
Title: Call to Action
Written By: Greg Weisman & Simon Kinberg
Directed By: Steward Lee
Image Courtesy: Following the Nerd