Things get morally complicated in the latest set of Star Wars Rebels episodes, “In the Name of the Rebellion: Parts 1 and 2.” Complicated in the sense that this person has a good point and that person has a good point and you’re stuck somewhere in between trying to make sense of it all. At least, that was the case for me.
Following the events on Mandalore, Ezra, Kanan, Sabine, and Chopper head to Yavin 4, where the rest of the crew and the remains of Phoenix Squadron are located. Soon after arriving, they are assigned a mission to tap into an Imperial outpost. The mission quickly goes downhill, and Ezra, Sabine, and Chopper are eventually rescued by none other than Saw Gerrera. The trio, however, have no choice but to stick with Saw, an unpredictable man whose quest to hunt down the Empire’s secret super weapon is the sole thing that drives him.
I have to admit, I found myself playing tug-of-war with the sides presented in this week’s episodes. I’m the type of person who has always sided with doing the right thing, but I also live in a competitive world where common sayings like “Nice guys finish last” exist. Do you cut corners, sacrifice others, and do it your own way? Or do you hold onto your basic principles, play by the rules, and sleep better at night with a clear conscience? Or does it depend on the situation? Ultimately, it all revolves around what Kanan said, “It’s not whether or not we fight, it’s how we choose to fight that matters.”
Here are the things that I enjoyed most from this set of episodes:
Rogue One References: Similar to the season premiere, there was a good amount of references tossed in and sprinkled throughout the episodes that made it truly satisfying to watch. Some of my favorites were seeing the Ghost crew on Yavin 4, Ezra and Sabine in a U-wing, and the team fighting off Death Troopers. Speaking of which, it was great to finally hear a female trooper in the ranks. That was one of the details the fan community had talked about before (specifically how troopers up until this point were voiced by men) and that I eventually brought up in my interview with Dave Filoni earlier this summer.
Base on Yavin 4: One of the characters I missed most from the premiere was Zeb, so it’s nice to know that while Sabine and the others were on Mandalore, he’s been helping with operations on Yavin 4. Not only that, but we finally got to see Kallus post-defection and how he’s been contributing to the Rebel cause. I like that the idea to secretly tap into the communications dish came from him. My one minor complaint is that his scene was too brief, but that’s to be understood since the focus had to shift to Mon Mothma and Ezra.
Pulling Ezra Aside: Mon Mothma has always been the voice of reason, and it pleased me greatly to see her pull Ezra aside to have a private conversation with him. What I loved most about it was that she wasn’t condescending. Many adults, especially when talking to teenagers, tend to come across as “I know better, so you have to pay attention to me.” That only ends up pushing them away. Mon’s peaceful and negotiating nature helped Ezra see that Lothal is one of hundreds (if not, thousands) of planets that are in need. Putting all of their resources into liberating one planet won’t change things for the whole picture. Ezra did have a point, though. They had given Ryder Azadi their word that they would help Lothal. Abandoning Ryder and his efforts didn’t seem right to him, and it certainly doesn’t seem right to me. If anything, the season premiere proved that a strategic team can eliminate part of the threat. We also know that other characters, like Jyn in Rogue One and Kordi in The Freemaker Adventures, have rebelled against the Rebellion, so I have a feeling Ezra and the team will find a different way and go about aiding his home planet without the permission of the Rebel leaders.
Master and Padawan: It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Kanan and Ezra share a moment as teacher and student, so I’m glad the conversation of them fighting in this war started off with this scene. There was one thing that blew my mind, though, and that was Ezra’s line, “Maybe we’re choosing the wrong way.” We first heard Ezra say that in the trailer, and at the time, I thought it was Ezra and Kanan realizing that they needed to step away from this escalating conflict, like Obi-Wan and Yoda. Turns out, that’s not the case. In context, Ezra is understandably frustrated because he feels helpless and wants to do something useful, especially when it comes to Lothal. When he says those words, they’re not said in a “we should step back” kind of way, like how I interpreted them to mean before. They’re said in a “we should do whatever it takes” kind of way, landing him along the same lines as Saw Gerrera’s approach. At that moment, the implication scared me because Ezra is an impressionable person, and hanging out with Saw could potentially paint his views and beliefs in a bad way. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case in the end, but there was a moment of uncertainty that made it all the more exciting for me to watch and find out how Ezra’s thoughts during his conversation with Kanan would change throughout the episodes.
Ezra’s Hand Waving: Ezra is a happy-go-lucky dork. Plain and simple. I adore his ability to find the humor in a bad situation. A bad situation that, by the way, started because of Sabine. Now, I feel the need to point this out because people immediately assigned the blame on Ezra, but it was Sabine who tapped into the wrong channel in the first place. So technically, both of them messed up. Still, in doing so, it brought about some of my favorite Ezra moments. So the next time you find yourself in an awkward situation, just wave.
Saw’s Portrayal: Without a doubt, Saw is a complicated man. I understand how he came to be, and I also agree with him when he says that they have to fight the war on their own terms and not according to the Empire’s terms. That’s what the Mandalorians did in the season premiere. They could have abandoned their armor, but they didn’t because in doing so, they would have allowed the Empire to control one more aspect of their lives. Instead, they went in fighting on their own terms. What I don’t support is that Saw is willing to sacrifice anyone and anything in the process. He is like the Empire in that way. The Empire is perfectly fine with sacrificing and manipulating their own in order to come out triumphant.
Saw says that he sees clearly, but he doesn’t. He has such a clouded and narrow-minded point of view that he doesn’t realize that his actions affect those around him. He goes as far as to say, “I will do whatever is required to be the victor.” A victor for whom? Because as he stands right now, he doesn’t appear to be a hero. Nobody’s coming up to him and thanking him for the “good” that he’s done. Instead, he’s gained a reputation as a terrorist and extremist. All that said, I find his character to be truly fascinating. I’m not his biggest fan, but I like what he represents because it reinforces my own values. In my view, the ends don’t justify the means. Everyone has lost someone or something in this conflict, but are you willing to sacrifice your own humanity in order to set things right? Is that what your loved ones would have wanted? I think the writers have given us a lot of food for thought with these two episodes and that’s one of the many things I love about Star Wars. It makes you think about your own surroundings and beliefs.
The Prisoners: I thought it was a brilliant idea to include prisoners in all of this because it helped draw a line in the sand. It also broke my heart to know that these people were being taken against their will to work on the Death Star—people who (if kept around to ensure that the weapon was fully operational) could have died when it was destroyed by the Rebels in A New Hope.
At the end of the episode, though, they made their own choice. Because of the rescuing efforts put forth by Ezra, Sabine, and Chopper, they were inspired, and as a result, they enlisted themselves with the Rebellion. They could die at any point in some unforeseen tragedy in the future, but they would die knowing that they made the choice to stay and do the right thing and not because they were forced into it. Also, I couldn’t help but compare this group of prisoners to Lothal. Even Saw says that there are prisoners all over the galaxy, sort of like how Mon Mothma told him that there are many planets under Imperial rule. Despite being on opposite ends of the spectrum, both Saw and Mon Mothma were essentially telling Ezra the same thing. That he had to think of the bigger picture. For Ezra, though, if that big picture gets in the way of helping people who are in dire need right now, then what’s the point? In the end, Ezra and the others saved the prisoners, and I hope he’s able to do the same for Lothal.
Ezra’s Choice: “You fight your war, we’ll fight ours.” I’ve never been more proud of this character. Ezra has many flaws, there’s no doubt about that, but his inherent nature to do good always shines through when the moment counts. Saw’s way is not his way, so please lay to rest the theories of him joining the Partisans. What’s not answered at the end of the episode is whether or not he’s comfortable in pursuing Mon Mothma’s way. Because right now, Mon Mothma’s not doing anything to help Lothal. And as we’ve known in the past, Ezra isn’t the kind of person to do things the ordinary way. He does things in a way that’s uniquely his. Is the crew willing to follow him in order to make things right on Lothal? Especially since they are the reason why the Empire cracked down on Lothal in the first place? I’m eager to find out.
Honestly, I think the Star Wars Rebels crew is knocking it out of the park with these episodes. The show, first and foremost, is about Ezra and the Ghost crew, so while it’s great to see characters brush alongside things that appear in the live-action films, I like that the focus ultimately comes down to them. That’s why the episode ended with a focus on the crew and the Ghost itself and not on Yavin 4. I appreciate those small details. I also appreciate how the episodes so far have drifted into one another in a seamless way. It makes it easier to follow the story, and I can tell that a greater effort has been placed in order to make the episodes connect more with each other.
Until next time, make sure to visit the episode guide and tune into the next two episodes, “The Occupation” and “Flight of the Defender,” on Monday, October 30, 2017, on Disney XD.
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