Subterfuge & Command
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
When the second season of Rebels premiered, it did so on the backs of an incredible trailer and a thrilling two-parter in “The Siege of Lothal”. Expectations were sky high and the subsequently tepid product felt even more disappointing as a result, wasting half of its running time on finding in essence a giant meal. The trailer for the second half of the season generated a similar gamut of emotional responses, especially from the smacking final shot that is easily the most tantalizing event the series has yet to promise. To fuel that fire of ferocity, Rebels revealed that Princess Leia herself would be making an appearance on the series. The subsequent installment in “A Princess on Lothal” followed the aforementioned pattern to a T, unfortunately, delivering one of the most gobsmackingly dull episodes in the history of the show. It is astounding that so much frustration can be packed into twenty-one minutes, but it is even more surprising that the quality of a story can take so many leaps and dives in that same amount of time. One moment there’s a work of art moving across the screen and then you have a transport lifting behind an Imperial officer and he simply doesn’t notice until a protagonist for some reason feels the necessity of letting him know as much, putting the entirety of the endeavor in considerable peril.
The appearance of Princess Leia was this episode’s main selling point, heavily promoted as a pivotal point for the series and the connections it represents to the larger Star Wars universe (or galaxy, whatever). Her appearance proves to be the episode’s saving grace but also the bane of its existence. It seems by the episode’s end that the show decided to bring in one of cinema’s most iconic characters and feminist icons and then crafted an episode around her without legitimately thinking it entirely through. In a sense, that’s fine and it makes all the sense in the world that Leia would be involved with something rebellious and crafty in this time period (being the adoptive daughter of Senator Bail Organa would include that trait of upbringing). But one simply cannot craft an entire episode around the idea of a character, because then the entire narrative with all of its original characters has to twist to make that character’s appearance work. That’s exactly the opposite of what natural, ingrained storytelling ought to do and it’s glaringly apparent that Stephen Melching’s script largely isn’t able to fill those gaps of logic with narrative legitimacy for this iconic appearance.
Cameo appearances in Rebels have largely been hit and miss and not necessarily because of the characters themselves but because of how they’re used. Leia in large part is written fantastically, embodying just the right blend of ferocity and emotional understanding one would expect from her even at the age of fifteen. Her conversation with Ezra about the importance of fighting was a highlight. Ezra has a point when he wonders why a Princess of Alderaan would ever bother fighting and Leia has a vital response. She is able to fight, she has the resources and protection to do so and she understands that as she is privileged, it is her responsibility to use that privilege for the betterment of others. The rest of the episode is an inane, meddling mess, however, barely stitched together under the palate of expectedly gorgeous landscape animation. The coincidental timing is extremely off and the suspension of disbelief is extreme, like the aforementioned transport moment. It’s one thing to have stormtroopers miss, it’s another for Hera to appear and suddenly blast them apart when surely several scanners ought to have been able to pick up on her presence within seconds. That lack of internal logic is permeated throughout the entire episode, down to the scattered climactic sequence that ends another chapter whose real heft unfortunately whittled down to a conversation that lasted about two minutes, a bright light in meddling darkness.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Another meddling delegation from Alderaan.”
+“I feel that because I can fight, I have to.”
+Stormtrooper with a lightsaber
-Convenience: Ryder knew about the gravity locks
-You really can’t have a competent Imperial commander and then make him into a complete idiot when the episode requires it.
Episode Title: A Princess on Lothal
Written by: Steven Melching
Directed by: Bosco Ng
Image Courtesy: Star Wars News Net