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.
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.
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.
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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