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.


Episode 65 – Fun In The Twin Suns

This week, Jason & Gabe are talking about the only thing they can think about, the Star Wars Rebels episode, Twin Suns. They had a whole episode planned, but that all went out the window as soon as they saw Obi-Wan take that Qui Gon stance against Maul. Join them as they talk about the whole episode including Chosen One talk, the duel, the future of the show, how the episode connects to the saga’s past and if it speaks to what we may see in the future. And there’s a lot of talk about Obi-Wan listening to KISS.
So get on your Mountain Dewback, celebrate the love & listen to BLAST POINTS!

Listen to the Episode

Rebels Review – Double Agent Droid

“Double Agent Droid”
By Jason Gibner

NEWS FLASH: Star Wars is weird.  If you’re not sure about that, try and imagine explaining the basic plot of the eight movies to someone who has never even heard of this wacky story of magical space wizards.  Sometimes, Star Wars animation head honcho Dave Filoni and his crew like to tap into a pure, unfiltered raw version of this unique brand of Star Wars weirdness.  We saw it in Clone Wars with the infamous Sunny Day in the Void episodes which featured a tiny frog and group of droids trekking across a never ending barren desert.  Last season in Rebels, we saw a whole episode about Ezra befriending a group of hyperspace traveling space whales and it was glorious.  Sometimes these random side trips to Goofytown work and are fun pauses from some of the more heavy episodes and sometimes they fumble out the gate and are quickly dismissed by the fan community as “filler”.

Double Agent Droid exists somewhere in between with half the episode playing like a traitor in the midst kind of thing and the other half is AP-5 doing an odd one droid comedy show.  The episode begins with Hera leading a top secret mission to get some Lothal clearance codes.  Jointing Syndulla on the trip are the droids, Wedge “All Time Champion” Antilles and because he has to do everything and go everywhere on this show, Ezra. Upon sneaking onto an Imperial ship, an Imperial listening ship guy who looks a lot like Pablo Hidalgo dressed as Lobot for Halloween identifies Chopper and AP-5.  Once Chopper plugs into the main computer, Lobot Hidalgo reprograms Chopper to spy on the crew and tell the Imperials where the secret Rebel base is located.

I gotta say, the whole concept of an evil Chopper rolling around the ship and maybe trying to poison Wedge was possibly the most terrifying thing Rebels has ever done.  The whole thing just made me feel kinda gross and I had to brush my teeth after watching this one. For some reason we have zero problems seeing Ezra flop around with a Sith Holocron and murder people and be fine a week later but Chopper giving Wedge a mystery thing of space water???!!  Now that’s just going too far.

Naturally it all gets wrapped up in the end but not before we realize that AP-5 has been left floating alone in space after an outside the ship tussle with Chopper.  Seems that AP-5 enjoys this little moment of peace and tranquility so much that he bursts into a song out there.  I’m not joking. And then some little space birds come out and fly around him.  It’s a moment that’ll have fans either smiling or rolling their eyes but hey, like I was saying … Star Wars is weird.   Lucas thought of a bunch of weird stuff and when Star Wars isn’t weird enough then it’s not Star Wars anymore.

So Rebels, before we get to Maul screaming in the desert and Thrawn attacking the Bendu or something, go ahead, put up your feet and go to Goofytown this week.  You’ve earned it.


Rebels Review – Secret Cargo

“Secret Cargo”
By Jason Gibner

Way back when Star Wars Rebels was first announced in May 2013, it came with the lofty promise that it would present the roots of the Rebel Alliance and the birth of the Galactic Civil War.  That was enough to make fans like me stare at themselves in a mirror for a few hours wondering how we be able to handle that level of outrageousness.  That also led some to believe that the first episode of Rebels should feature Wedge Antilles and a squadron of X-Wings shooting proton torpedoes at The Emperor as he woke up from his afternoon nap.  As fantastic as that way of thinking may have have been at the time, it wasn’t quite what Dave Filoni and his talented team had in mind.  The series has been a slow build that has had its own distinct voice while it wrapped up threads from Clone Wars and brought us closer to the period in Star Wars history we saw in Rogue One and A New Hope.  The line to that momentous era got a little straighter with Secret Cargo as Rebels soared like a U-Wing over Scarif with yet another standout episode.

Maintaining that tricky balance between storytelling and fan service has sometimes been tricky for Star Wars and has caused a few Rebels episodes to be stopped right in their tracks.  Secret Cargo walks that tightrope with it’s eyes closed and with a freaking hula hoop around it’s waist.  Rattling off all the awesomeness in this episode is enough to make a Star Wars fan’s nose bleed and pass out.  There’s Y-Wings bombing stuff,  the wonderful Genevieve O’Reilly back as the voice of Mon (Hey Mon!) Mothma, Jon “Gold Leader” Vandor, Rebel Pilots in the classic orange jumpsuits!  Seriously.  Just even typing that makes me sweat.

Even with all that Old Country Buffet style embarrassment of Star Wars riches, the real highlight comes at the episode’s end as Mothma tells Palpatine where to stick it with a defiant speech that cements the formation of an alliance to bring that old Sith Lord down.  As Mothma delivers her speech, we see all the different sects of the still mostly unformed Alliance watch and get inspired to take that next step.  Good thing they didn’t show Raddus and Ackbar watching her on Mon Cal as I now would be writing this review from heaven.

Though I loved this episode almost as much as pumpkin pie, the fact that Ezra was able to just jump into a Y-Wing, fly it like a champion and start bossing everyone around kind of bugged me.  I like ya, Ezra but you’re no Luke Skywalker.  I get in the end the show is for kids but why does Ezra always have to be the one who does EVERYTHING in every episode?  We have GOLD FRIGGIN LEADER here!  Let that guy who is a legit living legend, get busy on those TIEs.

As we come into the home stretch here with season three of Rebels we are getting to that era of a base of Dantooine and the Mon Cals joining the fight.  With a first look at Rebels season four and beyond at Star Wars Celebration in a matter of weeks, the future looks brighter than a pair of twin suns for the show and the Ghost Crew.


Rebels Review – Through Imperial Eyes

“Through Imperial Eyes”
By Jason Gibner

Oh Kallus, I really think this time you and your awesome mutton chop sideburns are in trouble.  I’ll admit, at first I didn’t like you at all.  Back in that first season of Rebels you seemed like the real Imperial stooge of the week and you ran around like a Scooby Doo villain. Seriously you were one step away from blurting out “My mission would have succeeded if it weren’t for those meddling Rebels!!”

Then something changed in you when you had that surprisingly game changing season two episode “The Honorable Ones”.  All of a sudden we saw that maybe you weren’t the guy just drinking the Empire’s Kool Aid and just maybe you were a character with some actual dimension beyond that grey uniform and trendsetting facial hair.

With the latest episode of Rebels “Through Imperial Eyes”, Kallus’ story is either just beginning or coming to it’s ghastly conclusion.  Here we see what constitutes a day in his roughsville drab and secretly rebellious Imperial life.  Through season three we’ve seen that Kallus is now serving the Rebels as being the newest Fulcrum aka Super Secret Spy.  Which is fantastic except Kallus’ boss is that whispering blue skinned, art gallery creeper weirdo Grand Admiral Thrawn.  The evil Smurf in white is no dummy and he’s figured out Kallus’ game a long time ago.  So as Ezra comes on board an Imperial ship to warn Kallus that even the Alliance has figured out that he has been caught, Thrawn allows the whole charade to go down as it’ll just help his dastardly master plan of slowly wiping out the Rebels.

This episode takes that fairly simple plot and turns it into what could be the most tense, thriller style episode of Rebels so far.  The whole thing plays like a never ending chase through Thrawn’s Star Destroyer as he is almost constantly behind every door Kallus and Ezra try to hide behind.  It’s a dark and spooky 22 minutes of Star Wars action that’ll have you biting your nails just WAITING for the moment where our heroes get caught.

There’s an awkward subplot with Chopper and AP-5 in there and some really wasted stuff with Kanan and Rex aboard yet another stolen Imperial Shuttle but thankfully it never manages to slow down the episode’s rapid fire pace.  We do however get a welcome addition to the roster of bad guys with the return of former Clone Wars hero of the Republic and A New Hope background guy with a mustache, Colonel Yularen.  It’s rough seeming this former friend of the Jedi and the Clones now acting as basically the CIA director for the Empire but we all new that’s how it had to happen eventually.

Through Imperial Eyes just adds to what so far has been an outstanding second half to Rebels season three.  Top shelf stuff like this episode and the previous Sabine arc shows that we have a lot to look forward to in coming weeks as with the Thrawn stuff coming to a possible conclusion , Maul’s showdown with Old Ben Kenobi and the further birth of the actual Alliance coming to a head. Rebels has it’s foot on the hyperdrive gas these days and hopefully isn’t letting up.


Rebels Review – Warhead

By Jason Gibner

Over the course of this season of Star Wars Rebels, a dirty word has come up over and over that continues to haunt over almost every episode that doesn’t seem to feature Darth Maul or connect to Rogue One somehow.  The kids on the World Wide Web are using some crazy beatnik jive calling these episodes “filler”.

an item serving only to fill space or time, especially in a newspaper, broadcast, or recording.

Now, in all fairness, I’ve used this lazy word myself in describing some of the season’s “why is this episode even happening” moments. Looking at you once again, space kids with space waffles.  Nowadays, if an episode isn’t telling an epic story featuring lightsabers and characters from a movie, it’s instantly labeled as “filler” and quickly dismissed.  This episode does not deserve that treatment.
Warhead is an intriguing episode that begins with an ode to Empire Strikes Back’s opening with a Star Destroyer sending out probes to find a Rebel base.  Only instead of a probe droid, we get a fairly innocent looking protocol droid wandering around Chopper Base.  Turns out the droid is actually a giant killer enforcement droid and it’s up to the oddball trio of Zeb, Chopper and AP-5 to save the day.

Is this the most mind blowing 22 minutes of Star Wars Rebels you’ve ever seen?  Mostly likely that’s a no but the one thing this episode does have going for it is that it’s a good time.  Thanks to a snappy script from Rogue One writer Gary Whitta, the episode gets right to the fun and balances the Aliens/Predator action of hunting a killer droid with the mismatched team of Rebel heroes.

In an interview Dave Filoni said that the episode was originally to feature Zeb and Captain Rex as the Rebels left on the base, but putting Zeb against the underused AP-5 is a stroke of genius.  AP-5’s delight in wondering what the point of Zeb is almost sounds like fans on a Saturday night on Twitter after a new episode of Rebels just finished.  It’s smarty pants, snappy stuff like that that echoes back to the original trilogy style of dialogue that we all love so much.

In conclusion your honor, this episode is not “filler”.  It offers some fun droid and Zeb action and while Thrawn still really isn’t doing anything yet, the threat with him figuring out Kallus being Rebel’s inside man is becoming way more real.   The Thrawn thing is shaping up to be slow buildup to what eventually will be his total freakout on the Rebel crew.   And that’s gonna be something.

Final grade :  B

Side note :  In this episode’s Rebels Recon on, Filoni said if he knew when this episode was to air, he would have had the warhead droid be a K-2SO style droid.  The chances of us exploding if that would have happened would been high….very high.