A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
A considerable improvement over last week, “Iron Squadron” is a filler episode of Rebels that manages to find some breathing room from whatever narrative weightiness is waiting for the show’s protagonists down the road. For now, their greatest obstacle is teenage stubbornness, particularly strong in a character that makes Ezra look like a master confidante who belongs in planning strategy for war tactics. The episode in that vein is an entertaining diversion, if not one that has a particularly compelling narrative at the center other than a surprise connection that should hopefully bear more fruit down the road. The episode opens up with the titular Iron Squadron fighting off an Imperial transport ship with a bag of explosive cargo. The squadron is, to the shock of the Ghost crew, composed of three teenagers, representing a pocket of the Rebellion that believes in similar goals but is detached from the central movement that is growing and trying to become a cohesive center for groups like the Iron Squadron to become attached to. That is easier said than done, in part because not all groups want to join a cohesive behemoth in the first place. It’s easy to see Rebels through the primer of the Ghost crew because they’re our protagonists, but to others who have had any number of successes on their own (even a singular one), it can be difficult not to see themselves as being co-opted. That’s not where this episode of Rebels ultimately goes, which is disappointing, but hopefully the set-up can be reached once more.
Mart Sato, nephew of Commander Sato, is the leader of one such trio. How their group garnered the resources to fight for the length of time they had remains unexplained, which is a significant because I’m not sure how this trio lasted that long to begin with. Those victories, however scant they may be in the grand scheme of things, have made Sato and his comrades gleeful and triumphant. The constant refrains of what the Empire’s power truly means may be considered hypocritical, but the Ghost crew has grown considerably from their earlier days, when the threat of the Empire was ever-present but it didn’t come crashing down upon their daily fortunes as had of late become the habit. Some of the crew see some of their own earlier days reflected back at them and there’s a sweet sort of poignancy there that the episode touches upon. The trio realize too quickly (another consequence of the twenty-two minute timeframe) that the Ghost crew are telling the truth about what happens when a beaten Empire comes back with a vengeance, but it’s an understandable development. The bits where the Iron Squadron don’t realize what the full size of an Imperial Star Destroyer is until they do realize at the episode’s end was a nice touch.
Mart Sato and his friends don’t make too much of an impression upon the episode itself, Mart especially feeling like he was a microcosm of Ezra bottled into a single character. It’s not a grave fault of the episode in any sense, but it does allow for the story to unfortunately not have the type of emotional impact it could have achieved otherwise. There’s also a bit of a logical leap in how Mart and his crew wouldn’t be able to understand that having their ship be in such a dilapidated decision condition wouldn’t get them far, but that could possibly be explained by their naiveté about the odds they were up against. The battles, however, continue to be thrillingly choreographed and those visual aspects of Rebels continue to be its primary star power, for better and for worse. The most interesting tidbit arrives from Commander Sato, even though his third act rescue with reinforcements was a little too convenient for the sake of keeping any dramatic realism alive. Commander Sato besides being Mart’s uncle apparently has a history with Thrawn that I’m hoping extends beyond the third season of this show. Star Wars, for all of the space battles it imbues within its paradigm, is unfortunately short on commanders in space going at one another and a showdown of tactics between Sato and Thrawn would be a thrilling match to see unfold.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Sounds like a ship full of Ezras.”
-The lighting with Ezra’s speech was a little too cute
Episode Title: Iron Squadron
Written by: Matt Michnovetz
Directed by: Saul Ruiz
Image Courtesy: Comic Book
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