A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Sabine Wren has been the weakest link of the Star Wars Rebels crew, her latest hair dye being more of a focus point than her actual character. An episode last season had her pair up with Kanan against a crew of Mandalorians and at last it felt like the show had realized that Sabine was a character on their show and not some random sidekick who showed up every now and then. While that exciting character thread fell off a little bit, “The Antilles Extraction” is a fantastic episode to pick up on within that specific context. Sabine’s past as an Imperial cadet has been dropped like an intriguing hint several times throughout Rebels and it pops up in the most significant fashion here. The rebels garner a tip from a Fulcrum that there are imperial cadets who are willing to defect from the Galactic Empire. The rebels, knowing that they would need all of the help they can possibly get, jump on that opportunity and Sabine is placed in charge of the operation, much to Ezra’s chagrin. He notes that he was in a similar circumstance previously and while that is true, Sabine (as she points out) was actually an Imperial cadet and with Ezra now too recognizable, it made sense for her to be in charge (one can also assume Ezra’s massive failure this season still looms large as far as mission leadership assignments are considered). It’s a promising start and even though the episode itself isn’t that remarkable, Sabine’s characterization and the legitimate stakes of this mission help it rise above similar episodes of season two, where they often lacked the urgency on display here.
The most disenchanting material in “The Antilles Extraction” is that it very much feels like a typical filler episode of Rebels and a good chunk of that problem lies with the script’s plot mechanics. There’s a disjointed feeling to the episode’s construction that comes sharply into focus in two specific sections. One is the awkward hand at tension when Sabine’s identification card wouldn’t work in the Imperial Academy. There’s no discernible reason to have that scene other than to create some artificial tension and it’s an incredibly lazy attempt at doing just that. It’s a waste of time and animation resources and frankly that sequence could have gone instead towards establishing more character moments to the newly introduced pilots or especially the tremendous sequence between Sabine and Governor Pryce. The second section revolves around the conversation between Sabine and Wedge Antilles about their feelings towards the Empire. It was a terse conversation, if a revealing one, but just as it starting forging a connection that Sabine really couldn’t share with more than a handful of others, it was cut short. I don’t know if the conversation that appeared in the episode was the original intent, but if so, it’s disappointing there wasn’t a more thorough heart to heart of what it meant to serve the Empire as one slowly realizes what that service really means.
One thing this episode is quite good at delivering is what Rebels as a whole has significantly improved upon. While the aforementioned side plot lines last season felt tacked on and unfortunately hollow, season three has really taken the relatively undesirable strategic position of the Rebellion and pummeled home how much of an underdog they really are. The opening attack on their fleet was a sobering way to begin the episode, making their final gain of two additional pilots ring comparatively hollow in an especially stinging fashion. The sequence between Governor Pryce (who is becoming a terrific character) and Sabine was a standout, a sequence with two women antagonists with matching physical prowesses to boot. Sabine’s Mandalorian background beat Pryce’s Imperial training and that gives some hopeful impetus to this becoming a recurring antagonistic relationship. Speaking of antagonistic relationships, the favor Kallus had owed Zeb for saving his life in one of the single best stories Star Wars has ever produced comes full circle. It’s welcome in how surprising it is that it came at this juncture, perhaps primarily because no one was probably expecting it to come into play right here. How much of Kallus’s decision to help Sabine and co. arrived from his anger at Governor Pryce’s dismissal of him (not unearned, mind you) is left unanswered, but I’d like to believe that there was a small part of Kallus that looked at the circumstances and tried to do the right thing, even if there was a justification lying in wait for him to grasp.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“I beg to differ.”
+“Ahsoka?” Yeah, Ezra, we’re wondering the same thing.
+“Our fighters were rigged.”
+“Looks like they found someone who can do your job.”
+Sabine’s reaction to two men noting they were on their way to rescue her: “That’s cute.”
+The landscape animation was gorgeous
-Whiny Ezra is obnoxious
-The lone defecting cadet who was killed was black. Rebels!
Episode Title: The Antilles Extraction
Written by: Gary Whitta
Directed by: Saul Ruiz
Image Courtesy: Slash Film