I Believe I Can Fly
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Star Wars Rebels has had a slightly shaky go of it as of late, nearly falling off the cliff temporarily with the misfire from last week. The show, having established the Empire as such a grave threat in Siege of Lothal, sort of winded it down. On one level, there’s nothing wrong with winding it down. At a certain juncture otherwise, the constant Imperial attacks would reduce their dramatic threat significantly. That doesn’t mean, however, that the shadow of the Empire shouldn’t feel significant and that time away from the major nemesis of the series shouldn’t be spent on deepening characterizations of its protagonists. The opportunities for such in-depth explorations are there, but the show seems to be surprisingly reluctant to truly explore those possibilities with all of its potential depth. Wings of the Master was a definitive step forward in that direction, with an episode that focuses largely on Hera and what it means for her to be a pilot. It’s the season’s best episode yet since Siege of Lothal and it looks like with a Sabine-focused chapter next week, the show is finally giving its characters the room they need to breathe and Rebels is all the richer for it.
The episode begins with one of the best sequences in Rebels history as the Rebels are approaching a blockaded planet. The colonists on the surface below are starving to death and their mission is to ensure that they deliver the supplies before the weakest of the colonists starve to death. An Imperial blockade awaits them, however and the transport of supplies meets with a fiery end in the darkened skies. There’s an immense darkness and desperation within the rebels’s fight against the Empire, an intensity that I’ve been missing for the past few episodes. Hera is incredibly distraught at the lost opportunity, but there is a lifeline from Rex. The rebel team simply doesn’t have the firepower or the flying capabilities to truly take on the Empire at will, even a single blockade. Rex knows a mechanic by the name Ralph. Ralph happens to be named after the legendary artist Ralph McQuarrie, to whom the Star Wars legacy owes a great deal of debt. Ralph is an eccentric man, having made a home (perhaps unwillingly so) in a planet whose atmosphere is hardly conducive to most aircraft. The upside, however, is that if any ship cloud fly there, it could fly anywhere.
Hera was a small girl when the Republic came to liberate Ryloth from the Separatist army. Her family and people were hidden when she first saw those ships arrive through the sky as potential beacons of hopes. Every ship to Hera was a symbol of where she wanted to be, of who she wanted to become, of what she wanted her life to stand for. That’s why she leads the central Rebels team. That’s why she trusted Fulcrum, combined with her memories of the Jedi during the Clone Wars. That’s why, at every juncture where anyone voiced a doubt about joining the Rebellion’s larger efforts against the Empire, Hera listened to those concerns but never gave up on that dream to fly to those in need. The choice to go out into the unknown world and fight the Empire was not a choice she made lightly. She left her family, her world, her entire way of life behind to join the sky. Part of it was to fulfill that dream of being amongst the clouds. But more importantly, Hera feels that she is truly honoring the legacy of her past by fighting against an oppressive power and helping those truly in need. As she flies in the new B-wing prototype, she embraces that dream more ardently than ever before. Her final moments of triumph was that dream, that legacy, and that hope all coming together as one. Welcome, Captain Hera.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Give him this, he’s persistent.”
+“You’re co-irritating me, the both of you.”
+The animation of the planet as Hera is flying in was gorgeous
+The ship debris in the rocks
+“If it can fly here, it can fly anywhere.”
+“If we want freedom, we must make difficult choices.”
+The ship dropping and then rising was a neat little trickery
+“Never get between a Mandalorian and a weapons package.”
+“In Basic, please.”
+“You made it soar.”
-The opening dynamic between Hera and Kanan was remarkably awkward
-As wonderful as this episode’s focus on Hera was, it often had pangs of perfunctory narrative streaks throughout. A more in-depth exploration of Hera is coming, but it still felt a bit wanting
Episode Title: Wings of the Master
Written by: Steven Melching
Directed by: Dave Filoni & Sergio Paez
Image Courtesy: Flickering Myth