A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Stealth Strike as an episode of Star Wars Rebels exhibits all of the strengths and weakness of the second season in a cumulative twenty-something minutes. Since the excellent Siege of Lothal two-parter, the season has failed to live up to that potential it set and it wasn’t just because Darth Vader and Ahsoka were involved in that hour. That helped, but the writing was sharp not just in terms of plot, but character development as well. Subsequently the character development has occasionally peaked, but largely the season has been content with overwrought explanations and simplistic dialogue that lacks all emotional heft to explain where its characters come from. The reason why Hera’s explanation of her flying worked was we saw the subsequent action of what she felt in that fighter. You could feel that exuberance and while her recollection of her wanting to fly during the Clone Wars felt a tad bit out of nowhere, it felt validated in some form. Sabine’s story was far less satisfactory, meddling about in a mediocre episode that seemed like a real waste of resources and storytelling ability. Zeb is a member of the team and that’s about it. The second season of Rebels has stood upon a precarious precipice of character development and it’s curious how it has arrived at this juncture, considering the growth that had taken place.
The episode begins well enough, with Commander Sato and Ezra being taken captive by an Imperial ship, but the logical leaps begin right there. I’m not quite sure why Ezra is alone with Commander Sato in the first place nor I am a fan of the timing in terms of how the episode visually represents the Imperial ship coming out of hyperspace. That thoroughfare of logical leaps continues, however, into a following sequence as the Ghost crew listens to Commander Sato’s transmission right before it it taken out. Kanan and Rex haven’t gotten along despite the occasional grudging respect for each other, so I’m not quite sure where Hera’s decision to send those two comes from. Sure, rescuing the commander and Ezra is a vital task for the Rebels, but it doesn’t make much sense to just send those two alone with a bit of support. But they’re off to rescue the two and in doing so, discover that there is indeed room for friendship to grow between two men who were set apart from the experiences of their united, tragic past. There’s a solid story in there and the show has been doing an overall splendid job of dropping their relationship in slight bits here and there, without it becoming as obviously overwhelming as it does here in a bombastic fashion.
Subtlety is a true virtue unfortunately not fully understood by a plethora of storytelling. There are moments when laugh out loud or overdramatic turns are necessary and or justified, but by and large trusting the audience to understand what the story is depicting largely works out in the story’s favor. Rex and Kanan being successful in their rescue of Ezra and Commander Sato wasn’t to surprising in the grand scheme of things. Certainly Ezra’s rescue at the very least was expected, but for an episode to land even on the solid side of things, there had to be certain complications. Rex’s capture through a self-sacrifice was that complication and for a moment there was a conviction that Rex would die in that corridor, the sounds of his torture blocked off by the silence of death. It would have been a poetically fitting end for Rex, having saved the life of a Jedi who had doubted his allegiance to the core of his being. Thankfully it isn’t, but that dramatic moment is another example of where subtlety ought to have triumphed over knowing. The slight changes in Kanan’s expression were enough to convey that he felt his duty to save Rex from his sacrifice and that would have been enough to carry the episode’s climax to a solid conclusion. But Kanan had to make a pronouncement that “Rex is my friend!” At least the explosion that closed out the chapter was gorgeously animated.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“I would never be on their side.”
+“How is it the Empire keeps letting us steal these things?”
+“I believe it’s called ‘artistic expression’.”
+“He takes after Hera some times.”
+The gravity scene was neat
+“I’m not trying to impress you.”
+“Our loyalty was to the Republic. Not your Empire.”
+“I serve the order you put in place, Captain.”
+/- I don’t understand the writing for Chopper.
Episode Title: Stealth Strike
Written by: Matt Michnovetz
Directed by: Brad Rau
Image Courtesy: Nerdist