Like an NFL football team with an undefeated record, the perfect season for a television show is an elusive prospect at best. Many have built a head of steam only to stumble at a key point and see their chance at perfection evaporate.
So, then, I’ve prepared you for my thoughts on this episode of Star Wars Rebels.
A Puddle of Meh
I’m not going to belabor this with a large preamble about the momentum of the first series of shows. If you’ve been reading my reviews for this season so far, you know exactly how many right chords this series has been striking.
This episode is that full-stop discordant note in an otherwise delightful symphony.
The episode starts off promisingly enough with Sabine, Ezra, and Chopper embarking on a mission to intercept a courier with important Alliance information. After a comical interlude of saying the pass phrase to every person debarking a shuttle and finding the courier, they’re interrupted by Ketsu Onyo (Gina Torres), Sabine’s old partner who’s a part of a criminal organization called Black Sun.
(Aside: I’m going to extend you the courtesy to skip explaining why a Black Sun reference is a great fanboy moment. I will ignore why it’s so funny that the very EU novel that introduced Black Sun is no longer considered a legitimate source material for Star Wars. Feel free to contact me if you want that lecture.)
I’m going to glance over the fact that the history they convey in the Exposition Showdown is far too big for a character like Sabine who feels too young for so much backstory. I’m also going to glance over that they are insecure enough in Sabine as a character they couldn’t let her get to this exchange on her own without Ezra.
The episode starts to fall apart from there forward. Feeling written into a corner, the episode has stormtroopers show up. Ezra gets left behind as Sabine, Chopper and the courier make a break for it. It then follows a fairly bland series of tropes involving disabling ships, Chopper being kidnapped, Imperials, and old partners inevitably working together.
The Fault of Raising Expectations
I know it may seem unfair to expect more than that from a cartoon on Disney XD, but it’s the show’s own fault at this point. They’re trotting this episode out after showing me what they can do when they try. I can’t help but feel some disappointment at their choices here.
The “payoff” at the end is for Sabine and Ezra to knowingly remark that we can expect to see Ketsu again. I can only deduce therefore that the goal of this episode was just to introduce Ketsu and so they slapped something together just to get a job done.
That means they were more focused on just introducing a character as opposed to telling a story. That feels like the biggest cheat of all. They proved in ‘Brothers of the Broken Horn’ that they could introduce a character organically in a story that would have worked without them.
While offering some glimpse of Sabine’s personal history, it isn’t given fair treatment the way Hera’s was in ‘Wings of the Master.’ It takes a moment that could have given weight to her character and makes her feel less important than a member of the “family” should be.
Rightfully or not, my final conclusion is that this was an afterthought of a show. It feels basically like filler. While that isn’t enough to condemn a show from the outset, your execution has to be excellent to come out unscathed.
Additionally, the cameo by R2-D2 at the end of the episode…is not satisfying.
Delightful Moments, Still
So I don’t come across as a complete Grinch, I’ll offer some nuggets here that still made me smile.
There’s a nod to the original Star Tours ride that is highly appreciated for those of us fortunate enough to have gone on it. Otherwise, the reference plays as background noise.
Ketsu Onyo’s ship design is strangely evocative of a Maquis ship from the Star Trek shows of the 1990s. If that sentence makes any sense to you, I’m sure you’ll agree and be equally delighted. If not, I’m not sure you need to care.
Chopper does get some nice business before he gets captured. It’s legitimately funny to see him comically wave and showboat as he sabotages Ketsu’s ship.
But this is an episode you can skip, for sure.