A review by Elisa and Johnamarie. This review contains spoilers.
The mysterious details regarding Sabine’s background and the overall goal of the growing rebel alliance were woven together in the latest Star Wars Rebels episode. “The Protector of Concord Dawn” was both intense and insightful, providing a lesson beneath the action-packed storyline. In the episode, Sabine sought revenge for what happened to Hera at the hands of the Mandalorian Protector, Fenn Rau (Kevin McKidd), but Kanan insisted on a diplomatic approach to convince Rau and his warriors to join the alliance. Fighting and diplomacy both have a time and place. One is not more important than the other. In fact, it was the combination of starting a peaceful conversation and ending it with strength and force that caught Fenn Rau’s attention.
This episode also showed us something that we haven’t seen before and that was Kanan and Sabine working together. We’ve often seen Sabine paired up with Zeb and Kanan with Ezra, so changing it up a bit revealed how Kanan and Sabine interact and work with each other. There were great moments shared between them, specifically in the Phantom on their way to the Mandalorian base, where the light banter really demonstrated that these two characters have known each other for years.
Other details that made this episode so brilliant were the subtle connections to both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the Kanan comic book series. We now know for a fact that Sabine’s mother was part of Death Watch and that she may have been present at the death of Vizsla. Even though we don’t know the identity of this person, it was great seeing Sabine take pride in her Mandalorian roots by stating how she had carved her armor with her family and using “my people” in reference to the Mandalorians. And although she was “raised” by Kanan and Hera, she acknowledged both influences (her Mandalorian background and her growth with the Ghost crew) throughout the episode, showing how they both make Sabine into the strong person everyone recognizes.
Additionally, the fact that Kanan #10 coincided with the episode made it all the more enjoyable. Even Greg Weisman, the writer of the comic book series, and Lucasfilm’s Leland Chee didn’t see that coming.
“It was pretty miraculous considering how far in advance this was planned out,” Chee stated on Twitter.
The Force works in mysterious ways. All that said, this episode delivered on so many fronts, including animation. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what Star Wars Rebels manages to do from episode to episode doesn’t get enough credit. Take Hera’s charred and damaged ship, for example. Exquisite work!
In terms of what else the episode accomplished, fans of Sabine watched her best an experienced Mandalorian soldier and prove to Kanan that she had things under control. People looking for pieces leading back to The Clone Wars animated series got their fair share of insight, especially in the Rebels Recon episode that discussed the Mandalorian hierarchy. And others looking at the grander scheme should be happy to know that the Phoenix team recruited Mandalorians, thus contributing to the growing rebellion. It may not have been an effortless and flawless way of doing it, but negotiation (Kanan) and strength (Sabine) won the day–together.
- I know we probably won’t get one, but I really want a map to see where Lothal is in relation to all these other places. Saying that, it’s awesome to see Concord Dawn, and I adore how it looks. The first shot we get of it is incredible to look at. The colour choices make it one of the more stunning locations I feel I’ve seen in Rebels, and the calm, cool colours contrast beautifully with the heavily damaged planet. I also like how the moons reflect the colours we have in the system with them being a pinkish purple and blue.
- I am so happy we get to see the gauntlet fighters again. I find it interesting that they were used in The Clone Wars by Death Watch, only to later find out that the people using them now consider Death Watch to be traitors.
- Kevin McKidd really does a fantastic job as Fenn Rau. I hope we get to see him again at some point.
- Given how their deaths aren’t addressed verbally at any point in this episode, I like to think that Hera is actually reacting to the death of her squad mate when the first pilot is taken out. This situation has clearly gone from potentially lucrative to incredibly bad, and while I would have liked someone to have actually said something at some point, Hera’s reaction to it feels genuine. She comes off as overwhelmed and her head shake speaks volumes to me about her state of mind.
- Everything to do with Hera’s A-Wing once it comes out of hyperspace is absolutely perfect. It drifting with all the debris, smoke, the crackling of electricity, and the glow of the fires on it are absolutely stunning. From the score to the animation and lighting, everything comes together for an incredible set of shots. Not to mention the superb voice acting from Tiya Sircar and Freddie Prinze, Jr.
- I like how Chopper was the only one who didn’t want to go on this mission with Kanan, and I loved how he hit poor Ezra on his way out.
- The little hand motion Fenn Rau gives the Imperial as he walks away from him is a great little piece of animation.
- I hope at some point in the future we get a lot more on Sabine’s past. I had hopes that the teasers (which showed her saying her clan and house name) weren’t going to be the only pieces of information we’d get in this episode. I was dismayed when that was proven true. I feel the series has shown me her personality pretty well, and while this was the first time we’d seen her angry, especially at someone in specific, I had been hoping that this episode would be more about her as an individual and where she came from, especially given the teasers we got. Given her family heritage and how she said it aloud, it could come into play sometime in the future, and if it does, I will be happy for it.
- Now, while I love the scene of Kanan on the outside of Fenn Rau’s ship, I couldn’t help but at first yell at him for not using his saber to bring it down sooner. Although, I suppose the point of it, or the greater point of it, was to also make sure that Rau was far away from anyone coming to help him, so he could be easily taken prisoner.
- I’m very curious about where this is going to go with Rau, since he’s now a prisoner. Or if we’re going to go multiple episodes not seeing or hearing from him again.
- The ending shot of this episode was a happy and peaceful one that was rightfully earned by all involved. I have a foreboding feeling that we’re getting the happy ending episodes “out of the way” so to speak, and that this will lead us towards what I am fearing is a spiral of pain and feels.
Make sure to tune into the next all-new episode, “Legends of the Lasat”, on Wednesday, February 3, 2016, at 9:00PM EST on Disney XD.