‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season Four Review: “Heroes of Mandalore: Parts 1 and 2”

We did it! We survived the 6-month long break following the season three finale of Star Wars Rebels. It’s heartbreaking to think that “Heroes of Mandalore” will be last season premiere of our beloved series, but at least it kicked off the last season with a bang.

Last time we saw the Ghost crew, they had suffered a devastating blow on Atollon, barely escaping with their lives. Thankfully for them, the Mandalorians came to their rescue, even though they have their own problems to handle. Now, the Rebels find themselves in a you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-your-back situation and they extend their hand to help rescue Sabine’s father. Along the way, Sabine’s past comes back to bite her in the shebs (Mando’a word for “rear”) when the weapon she had created during her time at the Imperial Academy is used against her own people.

As a Mandalorian fan, the episodes gave me everything I wanted: Mandalore during the Rebellion era, Bo-Katan mentioning Satine, darksaber action, Mando’a (showed up as one word), and Sabine owning up to her past and fixing what she did wrong. While they did a fantastic job at tying off Sabine’s storyline, it was strange not seeing Hera and Zeb in the mix. Granted, Hera showed up for a few moments as a hologram, but in the past, the premieres involved the entire Ghost crew, so it was odd to see key members missing from the action. Still, that didn’t stop it from being a captivating and emotional season premiere overall.

Here are the things that I enjoyed most:

References to The Clone Wars: The first episode wasted no time when it came to dropping some Star Wars: The Clone Wars references, including Satine’s name, the fact that Bo-Katan was appointed regent by the Jedi, and that brilliant comparison between Ezra and Obi-Wan when the blast doors opened to a chaotic battle. There were a few things that originally confused me, though, until I slowly worked them out in my head. Satine was known for her pacifist ways and managed to visibly get rid of their “warring” past, so it made sense that Sabine named her weapon after her because she was erasing part of their identity and replacing it with something else. At least, that was my understanding back when I first watched those Clone Wars episodes. In the final moments of the premiere, Bo-Katan takes the darksaber in the name of her sister, who, unfortunately, had died by the darksaber at the hands of Maul. My original confusion was why did these Mandalorians feel loyalty to a legacy that was trying to erase them? Eventually, I remembered that Satine, despite her pacifist ways, wanted a free and neutral Mandalore. That’s exactly what Bo-Katan and the others want, so even though she and her sister had different methods of operation and beliefs, their ultimate goal is the same.

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Mandalore’s Badlands: While it would have been epic to have had parts of the episode take place within Sundari, I’m okay with the fact that they didn’t go there. That’s mainly because I was fascinated by the “badlands” of Mandalore. I wasn’t the biggest fan of this movie, but it sort of reminded me of Mad Max: Fury Road. It was a barren wasteland, and I had always been curious about what the landscape looked like had someone found themselves outside of the domed capital. They made good use of the environment and it helped emphasize Mandalore’s warring past.

Ezra’s Lightheartedness: I’ve read the comments and I’ve heard the complaints. I’m not surprised that people found Ezra to be annoying. That’s their point of view and they’re entitled to it. As for my thoughts regarding Ezra’s actions and behavior, I found it to be amusing, adorable, and accurate. Ezra is naturally silly, often relying on humor to get him through the day. He’s also a lighthearted person, always trying to find the positive out of a bad situation. His jetpack scenes were downright hilarious as well as his role in saving Sabine’s father. His “I’m with her, but not with her, with her” line cracked me up because I’ve been in that situation before. I was also super impressed by the stunt he did off the cliff as the tanks were falling. My other favorite moments involved his competitive nature with Tristan Wren and his suggestion to make new Mandalorian armor. For the latter, it makes sense that he’d ask that because he’s not familiar with Mandalorian culture. In fact, most of the people who were watching these episodes weren’t aware of the fact that Mandalorian armor is crucial to their identity, so his question helped inform the audience. At the end of the day, Ezra is still a teen who’s trying to learn and the natural awkwardness that comes with that age suits him and makes him more human.

Thrawn’s Presence: Although he was only present for a few brief moments, it was great seeing Thrawn again. He certainly has a way with words, and while Tiber Saxon was all about what the weapon can do for them, Thrawn was the one to mention the words “culture” and “tradition.” It’s part of his character to find and understand the finer details of a situation, so I very much enjoyed his brief involvement in the premiere.

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Sabine’s Journey: Ezra’s not the only one with flaws. Sabine is right there with him. She may come across as battle-ready, confident, and flawless, but she’s naturally stubborn and easily lets her anger consume her. In the second episode, Kanan had to put a hand on her arm and tell her that they had to go because she was so focused in taking down the Imperial troops following the close call she had with her mother and brother. Later on, had Bo-Katan not been there to guide her, she could have very well used that weapon against the Imperials. That’s why, in the end, Sabine gave the darksaber over to Bo-Katan. She recognized that she doesn’t have the qualities and experience of a leader. At least, not the kind of leader who has to rule over an entire planet and its territories. Sabine is more of a capable leader when it comes to smaller operations. In the end, it was great to see Sabine’s storyline get a resolution because her past was holding her back, and now, she can move forward knowing that she did the right thing and mended her relationship with her family. Lastly, Tiya Sircar turned in a beautiful performance and definitely deserves some kind of award or recognition for putting so much emotion into her dialogue.

Sabine’s Father: Alrich Wren was a delightful surprise because of his artistic nature, calm demeanor, and just overall appearance. I loved it when Sabine said that he “fights with his art.” We’ve seen Sabine use her art in protest, so now we know where she gets it from. I also enjoy how this character is sort of like an art history professor. He’s a different type of character compared to what we’ve seen before in Star Wars, so I appreciate the fact that the writers went in that direction.

(Photo: Lucasfilm)

Bo-Katan’s Growth: Bo-Katan has come a long way. She went from someone who was in Death Watch, a terrorist group, to an individual who’s capable of leading her people against the Empire. There is an 18-year gap there with experiences and stories that helped shape her character, so naturally, I want to know more. Also, I found it interesting that Pre Vizsla’s name was never mentioned. He was the owner of the darksaber back when we first met him in The Clone Wars. His death (beheaded with he darksaber) also seemed to have some kind of impact on her, so I wonder if his name came up at any point during the production. Also, along with Tiya Sircar, Katee Sackhoff did an amazing job when it came to aging her voice slightly and evoking that sort of wisdom that helped guide Sabine.

Diverse Mandalorians: I first saw Part 2 at Fan Expo Canada, so imagine my surprised face when these diverse Mandalorians appeared on screen. This is the Mandalore I had imagined in my head all those years ago when I first read the Republic Commando series by Karen Traviss. I’m so glad the creators embraced that vision and gave us that in the premiere because I have to admit, Satine’s “Mandalore” rubbed me the wrong way.

Implications for Mandalore: It is at this point that I wish a spin-off series was announced and that Bo-Katan would be the lead character because I need to know what happens to Mandalore next. The Empire is going to inevitably send more reinforcements. It’s obvious that the Mandalorians pose a threat to the Empire, especially if they were to align themselves fully to the Rebel cause. As much as I want to continue focusing on the Ghost crew, part of me also wants to stay on Mandalore and see where Bo-Katan and her allies go next.

Overall, the premiere was fun, thrilling, and touching, and those are the qualities that I ultimately look for when it comes to Star Wars. It also wrapped up Sabine’s storyline in an epic way by bringing Bo-Katan into the mix.  I like to think that it gave Ezra hope because Mandalore now has the leader and unity it needs to be able to challenge the Empire. Lothal doesn’t have that, so it’ll be interesting to see how the events that took place during the premiere affect him moving forward.

In the meantime, make sure to visit the episode guide and tune into the next two episodes, “In the Name of the Rebellion: Parts 1 and 2,” on Monday, October 23, 2017, on Disney XD.


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8 comments on “‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season Four Review: “Heroes of Mandalore: Parts 1 and 2”

  1. A shame I saw a lot of internet comments after this two-part episode that criticized “Rebels”, claiming it wasn’t as good as Clone Wars. Mostly that was about how inept the stormtroopers were and how annoying Ezra was. In response, I must defend that while the troopers are cannon fodder, Thrawn is a foe not to underestimate. And as JM pointed out, the real threat in this storyline was Sabine’s work coming back to haunt her.

    Regarding Ezra, I’ve noticed in the past in Sabine-oriented episodes he takes a backseat and can come across as bumbling and inept. I think that’s a tricky challenge since he is a capable fighter and you don’t want him to eclipse Sabine when the story is about her. Yes, the jetpack parts were funny and I admit a teeny bit annoying after a while. But even there I think it was meant to confirm Ezra doesn’t know or have a grasp or Mandalorian culture. (He said himself he wanted a jetpack and now he’s learning to be careful what you wish for!) But he *is* very capable in his own element as a Force-user and we’ve seen episodes where he shows stellar courage and compassion; I’m sure some good Ezra episodes are coming up. I’m still confused why didn’t they take his advice to make new armor and not just because “tradition” mattered more. I presume there wasn’t time to make new good-quality armor and the priority was about destroying the Duchess right away.

    Regarding “Rebels”, this is a show first and foremost about family and that is evident about Sabine, her own family, and the Mandalore community. Long-time wounds that opened and festered since the Clone Wars are finally healed. I was also glad to see Bo Katan’s introduction as the reluctant leader due to her mistakes from the past. Mandalore has no shortage of warriors but Bo Katan shows calmness and righteousness by inspiring Sabine not to destroy Saxon. Is is honor, loyalty, and compassion that she upholds and makes her a worthy leader of her people.

    I’m glad JM mentioned Sabine as the leader of a smaller operation instead of Sabine herself leading Mandalore. Perhaps someday in the future she will inherit that role from Bo Katan but for now, Sabine knows that her place is with her family and she is working on healing those old wounds, and working on herself to become the best person she can possibly be.

    • Thank you for the comment! That’s a great observation you made about Ezra being more inept during Sabine-focused episodes. Given the most recent set of episodes, though, it’s safe to say that Ezra is just a happy-go-lucky awkward teenager, haha! It’s okay for him to be that because there are many out there who are just like that and it comes with the age. Heck, I’m still like that and I’m 30+ years old. As for the Mando armor thing, I can see how that can cause confusion. I can’t think of anything in our own society that we place such value on. I guess you can compare them to family heirlooms and the like. If the government suddenly decided that all family heirlooms were to be discarded, there’d be people who would resist that because those items mean something dear to them. Also, replacing the Mando armor would have been a sign of “giving in” to the Empire and the Mandalorians have proven themselves to be a proud people, so even though the armor was essentially killing them, they wouldn’t have given it up without a fight. Anyway, thanks again for your awesome comment! ^_^

  2. Jon Hodges

    Well said, I also liked the line about how Alrich fights with his art. A Mandolorian has many weapons to use, and this is certainly a powerful tool against the Empire.

    Nice article :)

  3. Great recap Ms. Johna! 😀

    I apprieciated that this episode did explain a bit about the Mandalorian cultures and traditions, such as with the armor, as I felt a bit like Ezra here. Although I’ve always found the Mandos interesting and wished we would get more detail on them, I never actually got into their story in Legends, though I know it was quite extensive. Although I picked up from past episodes (particularly Sabine’s first run-up with the Protectors) that Mando armor is very important to its owners, I hadn’t realized that they passed it down through generations like that.

    I also really enjoyed Ezra’s portrayal in these episodes, it was a nice change from how dark and heavy much of last season was with him. Although you can still tell he’s grown a lot and matured since we first met him, since renouncing his hold on the Dark Side, he’s gotten back a bit of his happy-go-lucky self, and I’m glad of that. He’s just one of those people who tries to see the lightness in every circumstance, and unintentionally (and oftentimes unknowingly) is the one causing much of it. It always cracks me up how impossible it is for him to be discreet or subtle about pretty much anything. But that’s why we love the the guy, and I’m hoping he keeps at least of little of that lightheartedness for the rest of this season. 😊

    One other thing that struck me about this episode: my sister has always been very into Mandos, from Jango and Boba when she first started discovering the saga films, to immediately picking to Sabine as her favorite character when we began Rebels, and loving Bo and other Mandalorians from Clone Wars. I can totally understand why she’s always gravitated towards that group, though, as much of her own personality and attitude matches what we see from a typical Mando. Anyway, even with as much as I loved this episode and really do enjoy getting more on Mandalore and it’s warriors, poor Ezra and his clueles-ness when it comes to dealing with them has always reminded me of some of the interaction between me and my sis.😁

    • Hey, Shay! Thanks so much for your comment! I’m not sure if I mentioned this to you before, but I really love that you love SWR as much as I do. There’s a comfort in knowing that you “get it” and that we’re on the same wavelength about it. Anyway, it’s so cool that you described Ezra as happy-go-lucky because I used that same description for him earlier today. He’s different from other characters we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe because he has such a pure and innocent outlook on life. It’s one of the many reasons why I love that character. Looking forward to your thoughts on the latest episodes!

  4. Is it just me or does the story of Mandalor kind of remind you of the middle east. The constant war in the arid desert like terrain that was once lush. Tribes fighting for control in a vast civil war.

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