A review by Elisa and Johnamarie. This review contains spoilers.
You’ll hear a lot of fans say that Star Wars Rebels keeps getting better and better with each passing week, and it’s true! Without a doubt, “Stealth Strike” is one of the best episodes in the series so far. It had the right amount of humor, suspense, action, and character development. Written by Matt Michnovetz, who’s written some of my favorite Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes, Rex and Kanan partnered up for a dangerous mission to save Ezra, Commander Sato, and the rest of the rebel crew. Along the way, you have Rex and Kanan butting heads, Ezra showing off his growing Jedi abilities, Commander Sato revising his original opinion of Ezra, and Chopper just being the jerk droid we’ve come to know and love.
Left: Kanan and Rex donning their stormtrooper disguises. Right: Commander Sato and Ezra being taken as prisoners to Admiral Brom Titus. (Photos: Lucasfilm)
Remember when Bugs Bunny told Elmer Fudd that it was duck season and Daffy Duck kept insisting it was rabbit season? That back and forth, head clashing interaction reminded me of Kanan and Rex. Kanan had it in his head that Rex would betray him, just like Captain Styles and Commander Grey did in the Kanan: The Last Padawan comic book series. Meanwhile, Rex had it in his mind that Kanan was a lesser Jedi than those he had worked with in the past. What better way to settle out their differences and bury the hatchet than in a daring and brave mission that would force the two to bond together and connect the way a Jedi and clone trooper would back in the old days. Although I very much enjoyed the bickering and head butting between my two favorite characters, it’s great to finally see them working alongside instead of against each other. From Sabine’s outstanding drawing to Kanan realizing that Rex is, in fact, his friend, the evolution of their relationship was believable and enjoyable (and emotional) to see unfold on the screen.
Before seeing eye to eye, however, the constant clashing affected one member of the group more than the others. Desperate to get away and find some room to breathe, Ezra volunteered to join Sato’s mission, but in the process, got more that what he had bargained for. Ezra continues to be full of surprises, though, especially when it comes to handling a lightsaber in combat. Some might call it cockiness or overconfidence, but Ezra definitely knows how to command a situation that would normally make anyone else fall apart or crouch down in fear (especially at his age). He certainly has a lot more to learn (and he’ll probably learn it the hard way), but so far, he’s been exceeding expectations. I love how the writers have been developing his character, and even though I know his journey will only get more difficult, I’m heavily invested in his future and I look forward to where he’ll be going next.
Someone who was in doubt of Ezra’s abilities, though, was Commander Sato. At first appearance, Ezra doesn’t give off the vibe of experience and skill often detected from others in service, like Rex and Hera. In many ways, Commander Sato represented a lot of the fans in the community because Ezra (like Ahsoka in her early years) is often looked down upon and seen as an annoying character. Sato, unlike Agent Kallus, underestimated Ezra, so I’m glad he (and the audience) got to witness firsthand what Ezra is capable of doing without supervision and at such an early stage of his training. So just like Rex and Kanan have a newfound respect for each other, Sato also has a newfound respect for the youngest member of the Ghost crew. And it’s a lesson for all of us, really: never underestimate someone else based on appearance or age.
Left: Ezra using his lightsaber to escape his triple guard. Right: Ezra leading the charge against the stormtroopers in their path. (Photos: Lucasfilm)
Finally, Chopper is part of the reason why this episode was so successful. That astromech droid definitely knows how to steal the spotlight, and he did it again in this episode by rigging the Imperial weapon in the best (and cruel) way possible. Chopper, without question, has the highest kill count in the group. I don’t know whether to be proud or terrified! That said, the writers and animation crew have been doing an amazing job at giving Chopper more personality and individuality and those really shine through in this episode.
Although the women of the Ghost (and Zeb) didn’t have significant roles in this episode, it was great seeing Sabine’s Imperial knowledge surface again (that particular moment reminded me of Thane and his knowledge of Star Destroyers in Lost Stars) and Hera leading her fellow lady pilots. One thing’s for sure, if “Stealth Strike” is the best we’ve seen yet, I can only imagine what’s coming as we continue through the second season.
- The audio cue for Ezra using the Force is one of the best sounds in the show.
- One thing I continually love about Rebels is that it really is open to pulling content from other places and bringing it into canon. The Fifth Brother and Ketsu Onyo were both created from unused concept designs for Episode VII, the Inquisitor lightsaber design is unused concept from The Force Unleashed, and in this episode, we have the Interdictor cruiser that comes from the old Star Wars role playing game.
- Sabine’s academy knowledge gets to play a role in this episode, and one thing I really do like about it is that it just helps show the arrogance of the Empire. They’re so sure of the loyalty of their cadets that they don’t shy away from mentioning weaknesses in their creations, like the walkers from “Relics of the Old Republic”, or mentioning a weapon that’s currently being worked on.
- YAY, lady pilots! Even if it was only for a single scene, I’m happy to have seen them and hope to have many more scenes in the future with more of them on screen.
- I really can’t put into words just how much I love how in stride Imperials take Ezra calling himself Jabba. Nobody ever gets mad at him, they just accept it and move on. I also really liked how Admiral Titus told Kallus that they had someone named Jabba, even though he knew that it was Ezra. It’s like that takes out any doubt or question, and he knew it.
- Rex’s angry muttering gives me life! Saying that, I am really curious about why he didn’t know where the button was in the elevator. Given how he speaks, it sounds as if he had served with the Empire, but maybe now he was never serving on a ship? I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it’s adding more information to what little we have about Rex’s service.
- I like to think that Chopper has hours of recordings that he keeps to himself. Saying that, this is a great scene between these three characters. Kanan full-on accepting and believing what Ezra was telling them before Chopper showed the evidence, and Rex’s pride at Ezra having shot them. It all comes together in a great way.
- I love how much Ezra’s grown over the course of even this season in his skills and in what he takes on for himself when in tight situations. This episode in particular really highlights how he’s grown with his combat and command abilities.
- Rex throwing his helmet and then shooting the trooper in the face is definitely a highlight for me. What did hurt, though, was seeing him stay behind while having everyone go on ahead! Besides breaking my heart, it does bring up an interesting point. When Ezra shot both Kanan and Rex earlier, they both immediately went down. When the trooper uses the stun setting on Rex, Rex actually remains upright and recovers enough to grab his weapon, only going down once he’s shot again. Kanan complained about how the armour doesn’t protect from anything, but I think this scene shows that it does. Ezra’s old slingshot couldn’t take a trooper down at all, and it allows them to withstand, mostly, from getting shot with what I feel is probably a normal stun shot. Why make armour that can’t stand up to at least that? This means that what Ezra’s firing at people from his weapon is higher in strength than what is being used around him. I’m unsure if this will ever come up at some point, or come into play in some way, but it was a little observation that I had.
- Rex screaming was not a sound I ever needed to hear again. And while I was sure they wouldn’t leave Rex behind, it was still awesome to hear Kanan say he had to go after his friend. After all the bickering they’ve had, this moment and onwards made me really happy. Out of the two of them, Kanan was the one that had to do the changing when it came to him seeing who Rex really is.
- I really can’t help but feel sad at how Ezra told the trooper that he wouldn’t hurt them, only to have Chopper ultimately kill most of them. And on two other ships. Watching the scene, they couldn’t have had time to know what was happening, there are no escape pods. Saying that, I do not know how Admiral Brom Titus survived that explosion, which was amazing, but he probably was one of the only ones who did.
- With Sato being there to witness Ezra’s feats firsthand, I’m hoping that this will have a positive effect that we’ll actually see come in later on.
- That final scene and shot, it’s everything I was hoping to see, but actually watching it play out was perfect. I’m excited to see what happens from here and seeing how these characters continue to evolve. “Stealth Strike” has to be one of, if not, my top episode for Rebels. It had so much to it, and it didn’t feel rushed for time in any way. I loved everything about it, and I can’t wait for what else is going to happen in this season.
Make sure to tune into the next all-new episode, “The Future of the Force”, on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, at 9:30PM EST on Disney XD.