So much and so little went down in the mid-season finale of Star Wars Rebels, “Rebel Assault.” I say that because big things happened, like the strike force getting shot down, the ground forces on Lothal having to change plans, and Hera getting captured. Then again, not much was revealed when it came to Kanan and his connection to the Loth-wolves, leaving us wondering what it all means. I shared a few theories regarding that in the next episode of Rebels Chat, which will be available tomorrow, November 17.
Until then, here are the things that stood out to me the most from this set of episodes:
Hera’s Endurance: What a hero, that Hera Syndulla. Not only is she an expert pilot, but even in the face of failure, she continues to move forward. It’s also interesting to see how people react to someone like Hera versus someone like Ezra. Hera is a fully developed character. She’s an adult with a specific goal in mind and with a set personality. Ezra, on the other hand, is still finding himself and still learning. Which leads me to my next point…
Ezra’s Response: …Ezra did the mature thing by pulling back in order to find some other way to continue the mission. Going back for Hera would have put them in danger of getting captured or killed. This came across as “out of character” for some fans. I have to admit that when I first watched the episode, it also felt out of character for me. We know Ezra to be the type of character who wants to go out there and help others, but this time around, we see him let go and take a step back. A lesson well learned. Kanan, on the other hand, let his attachment to Hera pull him back into a potentially dangerous situation. The Force in the form of the Loth-wolf had to step in to guide him away. It’s fascinating to see how much Ezra has grown and learned from both Kanan and Hera. Sadly, when it comes down to it, it’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” sort of situation for Ezra. If he went in to save Hera and risked the ultimate goal, fans would have considered his actions to be reckless, claiming once again that hasn’t learned anything. But this time around, he does the right thing and steps away, but fans criticize him and the writers for being out of character without realizing that the character is just applying what he’s learned from past situations.
Kanan and the Loth-wolf: Fact: Kanan loves Hera dearly. He would do anything for her and therein lies the problem. We’ve seen Ezra do similar things in the past because of the love he has for his friends and newfound family. Again, it’s fascinating to see how the audience reacts in response to what Kanan does versus what Ezra did in “Twin Suns,” for example. In that episode, Ezra left (leaving everyone else behind for their own protection) in order to get someone that could help them turn the tide of the war. Kanan left in a similar way because he wanted to save Hera. Ultimately, it was a reckless move. Not only does he not know if Hera is alive, but he was planning to walk into an Imperial controlled city. On top of all that, he’s blind. Yes, we’ve seen him do awesome things, but he has limitations. Kanan, like all adults at one time or another, need a reminder of the lessons learned in their past. The Loth-wolf stepping in did that, but there was also more to it. Kanan came away from that experience learning what he has to do, leaving the audience wondering what that means. While many didn’t like the cryptic ending, I felt the opposite. Yes, they could have given us more hints, but I like that the mystery is slowly building and that an answer is somewhere on the horizon.
Mart Mattin: I was probably one of the few to be truly overjoyed to see Mart Mattin again. We only met him once before in “Iron Squadron,” but the hug he shared with his Uncle Sato at the end of the episode had a lasting impact on me. Instead of leaving the Rebellion after his uncle’s death and doing his own thing, Mart stayed. Personally, I like to think he stayed in memory of him. Additionally, Mart, like Ezra and Sabine, is part of this younger generation that is witnessing how the Empire oppresses people and destroys planets, so it makes sense that he would be part of this squadron with Hera. While we all had the comfort in knowing that Hera wasn’t going to die, I was worried for Mart. I personally didn’t want a repeat of the season three finale. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, so I’m interested to see how Mart will contribute to the efforts on Lothal come the next half of the season.
Dependable Chopper: I love Kanan and Hera, but I think the relationship that stood out more in this episode was Hera and Chopper. These two have been together for years. They always look out for each other and this episode was no different. Whenever Hera needed him, Chopper was right there to knock out a Stormtrooper or shock Rukh from the back. All of this put together makes it all the more heartbreaking in the end when he can’t help her. Yes, we know that he and Hera survive, but it’s less about the destination and more about how they got there and what happened along the way.
Could the episode have been better with more time? Of course. That’s the case with all of the episodes, but given what they had to work with, I think the execution of the story went pretty well. Not everything had to be seen for you to understand what happened (Hera’s promotion, the fight in the clouds) and other parts of the story were left intentionally vague because let’s face it, when it comes to the Force, the answers aren’t always there when we want them. Patience, young ones. I’m sure we’ll get some form of an answer soon, one that will inevitably bring up more questions because that’s what Star Wars does. I’m normally not a fan of cliffhangers, but given that I have absolutely no idea what to expect next, that’s what makes it all the more fun.
Until next time, make sure to visit the episode guide and tune into the mid-season premiere in early 2018 on Disney XD.
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