Star Wars Rebels – “Empire Day” S1E8


Star Wars Rebels has reached a pivotal point.  All the basics have been covered.  Who are the rebels?  How do they work as a team?  What are their biggest strengths and weaknesses?  What challenges lie ahead?  We now know the answer to those questions.  So, now begins the true test for Rebels.  Where will Weisman and his team take this series from here?  It’s a defining time for Rebels.  This week’s episode, “Empire Day,” did a lot to give me confidence that the direction this show is headed is a good one.

The Empire may be evil, but they've got style!
The Empire may be evil, but they’ve got style! 

Before the beginning of the episode I thought to myself, “I wonder how Ezra’s Jedi training is progressing?”  Almost as if bending to my exact desires, the opening sequence brought us Kanan instructing Ezra in the ways of The Force.  This scene was well done.  Kanan is turning out to be an excellent mentor.  His insight to The Force is impressive and watching him use that insight in action is consistently cool.

As the training continues it’s obvious that Ezra is struggling and distracted.  We learn that this day in particular is “Empire Day.”  Empire Day is an Imperial celebratory occasion that marks the day the Imperial Empire was established throughout the galaxy.  It is the 15th Empire Day on record, meaning (finally) we have a bit of time-reference.  15 years have passed since Order 66 and the downfall of the Old Republic – a good amount of time has passed since Episode III!

Empire Day is a tough day for Ezra
Empire Day is a tough day for Ezra

What better day to rebel than Empire Day?!  Our heroes feel the same way.  They’ve picked up a new mission to sabotage a brand new type of TIE fighter to be presented at the Empire Day parade on Lothal.  This new line of TIE is similar to Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced X1 – it looks sweet!  It’s almost a shame that the rebels have to blow it to bits.  Watching Kanan and crew carry out their mission jogged my memory of the plot in the episode prior – who is giving the rebels their missions?  The name we got last episode was Fulcrum.  I held out all episode long hoping there would be some mention of what happened to him.  I’m very frustrated to say that I did not get my wish.  I’ve said it before and I’ll continue saying it until it’s fixed: The primary hurdle in making Rebels great (as opposed to just “good”) is continuity!!!  So far the continuity has been decent, though verging on mediocre.  So much is to be gained by simply stringing these episodes together in a clear and simple fashion.

The rebels have a new ally - Tseebo!
The rebels have a new ally – Tseebo!

In the midst of the rebel’s destructive scheming both Agent Kallus and The Inquisitor are on Lothal working an assignment.  Surprisingly enough, their mission has nothing to do with Ezra, Zeb or any of the rebels.  They’re looking for a Rodian named Tseebo.  What’s so important about a single Rodian that would warrant the attention of BOTH Kallus and The Inquisitor?!  More on that in a bit.

After successfully carrying out their mission the rebels search for a place to lay low.  Ezra offers to take them all to a location where they’ll be safe for a while.  We come to find that this place is Ezra’s old home.  We get major insight to Ezra’s past this episode.  He used to live here with both his parents who were outspoken anti-Imperialists.  “Used to” being the key words.  Ezra’s parents were abducted by the Empire for hosting a secret, rebel radio show on Lothal.  We also learn that Empire Day is Ezra’s birthday!  By way of chance (or perhaps The Force!!), on-the-run Tseebo has also chosen to hide in Ezra’s old home.  We learn that Tseebo was a good family friend of the Bridgers and that he has joined the intelligence branch of the Empire.  Only now he is on the run.  It’s unclear why he’s running, but that’s mostly because he’s a little unstable and incoherent due to the faulty cybernetic headpiece attached to his skull.  All this could be the lead into the defining event of Rebels.

Kanan defending his team from the persistent Agent Kallus
Kanan defending his team from the persistent Agent Kallus

With historic ties to Ezra and potential for obtaining valuable Imperial secrets, the rebels opt to help Tseebo escape off world.  An exciting chase takes place as Kallus, The Inquisitor and numerous Imperial troops team up to try and thwart the getaway.  I can’t get over how awesome The Inquisitor looks.  This week he dons a flight suit with a bad ass helmet and it took all I had to not drool all over the remote.

Darth Vader could pick up a few style tips from The Inquisitor!
Darth Vader could pick up a few style tips from The Inquisitor!

The extraction is just barely successful and the rebels shoot out into space.  But not before Tseebo encounters a brief moment of lucidity and realizes where he and who he is with.  He recognizes Ezra and excitedly exclaims that he knows what’s happened to his parents!  That’s where the episode ends – a true-blue cliffhanger!  What I like most about this is now Weisman is forced to deliver continuity.  Maybe this is a statement from the Rebels production team that they understand what this series needs and that they plan to deliver.  In any case the trajectory is positive.

“Empire Day” scores an A this week.  The entire episode felt deeply rooted in the themes of the original trilogy.  This was an episode that focused on a story and an upcoming journey.  It was accentuated with action and suspense and it left me wanting more.  We’re getting close to the home stretch for season 1 – fingers crossed for a worthy buildup and conclusion!

Star Wars Rebels – “Droids in Distress” – S1E3

Star Wars - "Droids in Distress"



One thought that I had at the end of the Star Wars Rebels premiere movie/episode was, “I wonder how long it will be before Weisman brings in a classic character?”  Fans and I received an answer to that question in this week’s episode.  What better set of characters to make this appearance than the very first heroes to ever appear on the silver screen – C3PO and R2D2!!


Yes, we heard you 3PO... Over 6-million forms of communication... We get it!
Yes, we heard you 3PO… Over 6-million forms of communication… We get it!


Ezra, Kanan and the other rebels, desperate for credits, run into the dynamic duo during a theft mission.  The golden protocol droid and the spunky astromech droid are as entertaining as ever.  Constantly bickering and always annoying those in their immediate vicinity, I found myself smiling and reminiscing about the droids first encounter with the Tatooine desert in Episode IV.  The Rebels creative team did the pair justice!  The most entertaining aspect, however, of these inseparable bots is their interaction with Chopper, the rebel’s fiery C1-series astromech.  Chopper has a hilarious “come at me bro” moment directed at R2D2 that legitimately made me laugh out loud.


Chopper and R2D2 are ready to throw down!!
Chopper and R2 are ready to throw down!!


While the droids were the initial focus of the episode, attention quickly shifted to Zeb and his background.  My younger brother asked me after the Rebels premiere, “what IS Zeb?”  Meaning, what alien race is he?  A legitimate question!  Until Rebels, there have been incredibly few mentions of his kind anywhere else in Star Wars lore.  Zeb is a Lasat.  Hailing from the planet Lasan, the Lasat race was known for its fighting ability and their loyalty.  I use the term “was” intentionally.  We learn in this episode that the Empire has wiped out most of the Lasat.  It’s well known that the Imperial Empire was very intolerant of alien life form, so to see this theme maintained in this new show is gratifying.  Here’s a fun fact:  the Lasat race is based on Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art for Chewbacca!


Is that Chewbacca or Zeb?!
Is that Chewbacca or Zeb?!


With a strong team effort, and despite interference from C3PO and R2D2, the rebels are able to pull off the theft and make their getaway.  Unfortunately for them, the high profile snatch-and-grab did not go unnoticed.  Agent Kallus – the man who, by now, knows the profiles of the rebel band very well – jumps hot on the trail of his quarry.  As the rebels pawn their stolen goods, and with some assistance from the always clueless C3PO, Kallus springs a trap and attempts to take down the troublemakers.


Peww, Peww.  Gotcha!
Peww, Peww. Gotcha!


Another aspect I love about Star Wars, pertaining specifically to Imperial generals and commander, is that bad guys are never afraid to get dirty and actually lead their men.  It’s endearing and redeeming (to an extent) witnessing an army commander take up the head of an attack, instead of driving from the back.  I tip my hat again to Weisman and his team for giving Agent Kallus the qualities of an Imperial commander that I respect.  Not only does Kallus lead the attack in this episode, but he holds his own going one-on-one with Zeb, arguably the strongest member of the rebel team.


This is more than just good vs. evil - this is personal.
This is more than just good vs. evil – this is personal.


If there’s one thing the rebels excel at, though, it’s escaping.  Even in the most overwhelming circumstances, this team knows how to get out of a bad place in the nick of time.  Not wanting to deal with any more astromech feuds or listen to 3PO’s “fluent in over 6-million forms of communication” spiel AGAIN, the rebels drop off the droids with another Star Wars classic, Bail Organa!  This meeting of the rebels and Bail is the first real hint at there being a greater plot at work.  Bail Organa is an original founder of THE Rebel Alliance that would eventually take down Palpatine’s Empire.  I don’t interpret Kanan and Bail’s introduction as coincidental.  The gears are turning and the formation of the greater Rebel effort has begun!

Hush Comics gives “Droids in Distress” a B for bringing in original characters, a good use of small plot, and a window into the massive world that is to come!


Help us R2D2!!  You're our only hope!
Help us R2D2!! You’re our only hope!