Every show, every season, has at least one filler episode. Sometimes it’s a Very Special Episode, sometimes it’s a Holiday Special, and sometimes it’s just a one-off moral lesson to allow the larger plot lines time to breathe.
Brothers of the Broken Horn is that last one.
My initial reaction to such episodes tends to be a little negative these days. I believe, like most modern television watchers, I’ve become so conditioned to the Larger Story Arc mentality that we forget it’so OK for television just to be entertaining sometimes.
Having been spoiled with the return of fan favorite characters, AT-AT Walkers, and a creepy Halloween spooky story featuring new Inquisitors, the shifting of gears was a bit jarring.
The plot in these sorts of episodes is incidental. All you need to know is that it’s a framework for showing growth and acceptance of the main character. Everything is going to work out just fine and that the fate of the galaxy can wait for next week.
It doesn’t mean that the episode will get the highest marks, but it doesn’t doom it either.
Home is where the heart is
In a nutshell, the point of this episode is to restate Ezra for those who joined the show late and need to know his place in the trajectory of the story. For everyone else, it’s a refresher since Ezra hasn’t been the sole focus for awhile.
Grandpa Rex starts the episode with Ezra, giving him some target practice and imparting training wisdom, with the predictable minor friction with Kanan.
Ezra’s subsequent scolding about chores from Kanan and Hera is such a direct tribute to 1980s sitcoms you can almost hear the audience track piped in for the appropriate guffaws and “aaawwwws.”
Of course, Ezra runs off because Mom and Dad just don’t understand. That’s how he meets pirate and scoundrel Hondo Ohnaka.
Honda Ohnaka is a fan favorite pirate and scoundrel from that series, known for getting our favorite Jedi into trouble and for getting into trouble with Sith Lords on his own.
Hondo’s pleasant comic relief. He’s the sort of wisecracking nemesis who makes you laugh despite the fact that his antics might cost your life. He’s so ruthlessly focused on his own gain that it’s a Zen level of self-interest.
The nice thing here is his back story is not explicitly restated. He could have been a new character and the story wouldn’t suffer.
If you know who Hondo is, it works to the story’s advantage; seeing where he’s ended up underscores Ezra’s struggle with sacrificing self-reliance for family. If you’re just meeting him, he’s the sort of person you’d encounter on a barstool somewhere, lost in awkward conversation without the ability to relate to the world at large.
Naturally, it’s guesswork for me to tell whether they communicated that objectively. Over time, you lose how much understanding you bring as a long-time fan.
But I do believe they do enough to establish him as Ezra’s Life Lesson character. You understand that this pirate’s seen better days and whose choices have led to a very lonely existence.
Hondo’s pervasive loneliness shows Ezra the life he would have had if he hadn’t found a purpose in life. You don’t hate Hondo for being a self-involved jerk. You pity him because you understand he’s in a prison of his own making.
And you know that he’s so myopic as to be oblivious to his own situation. Your wistful regard for his solitary walk into the horizon feels to him like riding off into the sunset. As Qui-Gon Jinn said in The Phantom Menace, “Your focus determines your reality.
This is the sort of episode that you can definitely miss if you’re a story arc junkie. It’s nice to get familiar with Ezra again and get an update on his Force ability.
There’s a good chuckle when Ezra, needing an alias, gives his name as Lando Calrissian. Aside from a fan nod, it’s a nice way to keep Lando established as a piece of these stories without going to the “celebrity appearance” well again.
I give it an extra nudge for using Hondo in the episode. While it would work with even a new character, using him is another nice nod to the fact that we’re watching the final gasps of night through the dawn of a new hope (ahem) for the galaxy.