A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
After the substantial episode last week, Rebels returns with a gorgeously animated but complete filler of an episode that makes one wonder if the twenty-two episode order per season as in fact an intelligent choice to have made. Fillers are an occasional necessity in serialized storytelling, but they are most effective when constructed with that very serialization in mind. There appears to be little such construction in the fabric of Rebels now, with each episode simply leading into the next with little forward momentum in terms of an overarching narrative. There doesn’t necessarily need to be a massive end goal that is kept consistent throughout the episodes (with the assumption that the show’s creators know exactly where to end the series), but there at least needs to be a sense that the series is progressing on both a plot and character level. Throughout its second season, Rebels seems to be incredibly jumpy, giving various characters episodic slots as if to add complexity to their stories in individual helpings, but considering that this is a show centered on a group, that strategy often has a tendency to feel a bit deflated, if not outright disappointing in the results. It’s good to know more about each member of the crew, but it also needs to feed into a sense of a story growing organically from its foundation. It’s a lack of a cohesive whole in terms of character arcs and narrative streaks and that lack of momentum shines unfortunately in what is ultimately a decent episode buoyed significantly by gorgeous visuals.
When the plot of an entire episode can be boiled down to about two minutes with the understanding that one is not losing anything significant while doing so, there’s a problem. Perhaps The Call will prove its overall significance to Rebels when this ability of Ezra’s is necessary to connect with the Purgills (something which surely has to happen because this episode becomes even more subsequently insignificant after the fact). Perhaps it simply won’t, fading away like a filler episode that couldn’t even accomplish something more substantial than some gorgeous aqua atmospheres. Even if this segment of the story surprisingly becomes pivotal to the series, it seems a mistake to spend an entire episode on this development because the most consequential decision that occurs as a result as of now is the Rebel group garnering a ton of fuel and then blowing up a station they weren’t going to in the first place. The plot mechanics of that specifically never made much of a cohesive sense, but that’s the least of the problems here. The Call simply never makes much out of an opportunity in an episode that in a traditional sense had plenty of room for the story to maneuver. Ezra’s connection with the Force comes on the heels of Zeb tapping into the Ashla, but this presented a moment where it didn’t feel significantly life-changing for Ezra nor did it espouse the equivalent emotional heft.
The target of a fueling station makes sense in the minute focus of the Rebellion and from one angle, I admire the show for points like this. The Rebellion often gets engulfed within the framing of a battle to battle narrative, but within the realms of the Star Wars films, that makes more sense. Rebels, much like its predecessor in The Clone Wars, has much more flexibility within the confines of a television series to add in more details that lend credence to the larger events like battles and such. The minutiae of finding fuel, stealing ships, garnering supplies add more richness and depth to the Star Wars world but at this point that minutiae is getting considerably lost within the travails of a overgrown trope. The Call, a largely insignificant episode no matter where you really place it, has the unfortunate credence of arriving at a point where the “Ghost crew needs to accomplish a small mission relating to basic infrastructure” has already grown old. It plays like story fatigue and simply replacing “finding” or “stealing” a ship with “get fuel for said ships” doesn’t help very much in the grand scheme of things. The Purgills may have inspired the jump through the hyperspace, but they couldn’t inspire a story that carried forward the significant momentum of the past two weeks.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The foundry head gets eaten by a Purgill
+The animation here is seriously gorgeous
-The whole “Hera finds the Purgill” to be a nuisance is so contrived it hurts
Episode Title: The Call
Written by: Bill Wolkoff
Directed by: Mel Zwyer
Image Courtesy: Comic Book.com