Rebels Review – Zero Hour

“Zero Hour”
By Jason Gibner

When I think about this seemingly epic two part season finale for Rebels, that’s about all I can come up with.  I keep telling myself that I should have enjoyed this grand conclusion to season three more.   It’s got everything I would want in a biggie size episode with massive space battles, ground battles with a Phantom Menace shoutout shield generator, Mandos shooting rockets out of jetpacks and a Force moose that becomes a giant pissed off cloud.  Sound amazing, right?

After three viewings, I’ve admitted to myself that while I’m far away from calling this one a stinker, I’m just not that into it and there’s a few good reasons why.
The episode could be subtitled The Thrawn Strikes Back as most of it is watching our Rebels get  a beatdown in space and on the ground from Thrawn and the Empire.  While the space battles are the best we’ve seen in the show so far, the fact that the jaw dropping space battles from Rogue One are still so fresh in our heads opens up some unfortunate comparisons.  One of the episode’s biggest moments should have been Commander Sato’s brave sacrifice as he rams into an Imperial ship with the Phoenix Home ship.  It’s a scene that should have played as gut punching reminder that the Rebellion will sacrifice everything or the cause.  Instead the bit pales in the deep shadow of the similar and way more effective Hammerhead Corvette moment in Rogue One.

Not helping the Rogue One comparisons is the inclusion of the Death Troopers in this episode.  These lanky undead elite troopers were breakout stars in Rogue One and while they get to run around in the episode’s ground battle, we never get to hear their garbled voices or see them do anything too interesting here.  If Zero Hour would have given them just one moment where they have an opportunity to shine or be the unstoppable ghouls they’re supposed to be, we’d all still be screaming and getting Death Trooper tattoos on our arms.

In a move that absolutely everyone predicted, Sabine comes back with the Mandalorian crew but now you have to wonder, is she back for good?  What does this mean for the fascinating story the show began for her this season? And what of Kallus?  Now that he’s gone from the Empire for good, what role will he play in the future of the Alliance?  Will grumpy cloud Bendu play into anything again?  Is he still mad at Kanan? And while Thrawn did possibly win the battle here, a lot of the Rebels did manage to escape his grip for what maybe was the 157th time.  He’s a character that becomes more and more compelling with every episode, but the threat from him has to get amped up in season four somehow.   But please Thrawn, keep wearing that goofy helmet.  It really suits you.
Another item haunting this episode is that just one week before it aired, we had that little thing called Twin Suns.  That was the episode that had everyone and their next door neighbors theorizing on who the Chosen One was and talking for hours about Obi-Wan Kenobi’s battle stances.  Love it or hate it, much like last season’s finale, “Twilight of the Apprentice”, it was a hot button moment for Star Wars fandom.  Sadly, with Twin Suns still being debated and discussed, Zero Hour just feels like an afterthought.

The whole episode plays more like what we’d expect from an epic two part season opener that begins the season with an energetic bang.  This is an episode with a lot of fun and cool moments, but none of the game changing moments we’d gotten so spoiled on with previous Rebels season finales.  Yes, this episode delivers some cool Star Warsy moments but do characters develop at all over the course of this two parter? There’s a lot of love in this episode and a lot to be excited about for next season, but Star Wars Rebels just got lost in it’s own shadow here.