Enter the massive Stormtrooper training academy on Lothal. This week’s episode of Rebels has our hero, Ezra, donning a bit of a different uniform – Stormtrooper cadet armor! Initially this seems a bit surprising. Why is Ezra training to be a Stormtrooper? Has he betrayed his new family? But, once we learn that Ezra is using an alias, Dev Morgan, it becomes a bit clearer that there is more to this situation.
While the opening sequence does a good job at drawing the viewer right in, I can’t help but stressfully wonder about the aftermath of the last episode. How did The Inquisitor’s appearance impact the rebels?! Up until the events of Order 66, the only lightsaber wielders in the galaxy were the Jedi. In centuries worth of time there had only been four exceptions: Darth Maul, Count Dooku, Darth Vader and the Emperor himself. So don’t you think Kanan, A JEDI, would be a little shocked in meeting this new dark and powerful being? Especially since he got his butt kicked by this new baddy! This is another repeat offense (first perpetrated by The Clone Wars animated series) that bothers the crap out of me. Just a few seconds of dialogue or tie-in content between episodes would do galaxies worth of improvement for the series.
Not knowing exactly what Ezra’s M.O. is, we wait and witness what training is like for aspiring Stormtroopers. Boy-oh-boy does it look tough and dangerous. The cadet company is lowered into “the pit” and tasked with escaping. The pit is essential a high-tech room, depressed deep into a hangar bay floor. The walls shoot out moving and tiered floating platforms that are the only means of ascending back to the main hangar bay floor. Oh – and the platforms are also electrified. Maybe if the Empire trained their Stormtroopers as diligently in target practice as they did in climbing skills, the Death Star would stand a better chance down the road.
After an exciting sequence where Ezra makes escaping The Pit look like a walk in the park, we get some insight into why Ezra is at this academy. We also get to meet some of the other cadets that Ezra’s befriended in his time training. One in particular, Jai Kell, looks EXACTLY like Justin Bieber. I could not get over this all episode long; the Star Wars universe is no place for the Biebs. Anyway… We learn that Ezra is on a covert mission to infiltrate the academy and obtain a decoder that will pinpoint the location of a valuable Imperial shipment. More on that later. After sneakily obtaining the decoder and just as Ezra is about to make his getaway, he’s caught in the act by a fellow cadet! Surprising to all, the cadet, Zare Leonis, is more interested in helping Ezra than thwarting him.
Turns out Zare has his own grudge against the Empire, revolving around his sister’s disappearance from the very same academy he is now training at. With aligned interests, Zare and Ezra team up and find a way to safely get the decoder to the other rebels. The decoder reveals the location of the top secret shipment. What’s the cargo? Kaiburr crystals!! For those not familiar with the Kaiburr crystal, it was originally introduced in the very first published Star Wars novel ever (titled Splinter of the Mind’s Eye)!! The Kaiburr crystal is said to resonate strongly in and drastically increase the powers of those able to wield The Force. This is a nice tie-in from expanded universe content to more modern events in Star Wars chronology. Determined not to let yet another game-changing tool into the Empire’s grasp, Hera and Kanan speed away in The Ghost to take out the convoy.
As Ezra works on his final escape plans with Zare and Star Wars Bieber, I began to ponder how the rebels are given/select their missions. In the past few episodes each mission has been extremely high profile and brought with it significantly dangerous obstacles. I hope the lack of this explanation is a subtle working of the creative team and not just a means to string together a series of one-off exciting episodes. I feel it in The Force that the truth is in the latter statement. Then again, I still can’t levitate and summon the remote control from across the room to my comfortable position on the couch… I guess we’ll wait and see!
Ezra’s escape and the final raid on the Kaiburr crystal convoy play out in typical, awesome Star Wars tandem. Ezra and his posse are able to pass the final Stormtrooper test which lands them a special training session aboard the AT-DP mechanical walker. They quickly stun the operator and commandeer the tactical vehicle to make their escape. Everyone escapes with the exception of Zare, who instead elects to stay behind so that he can dig in deeper to his sister’s disappearance. Hera and Kanan also partake in an exciting dogfight among the stars that results in a brilliant explosion of Kaiburr crystal energy.
The episode concludes with another appearance of The Inquisitor. He’s come to the training academy on Lothal in hopes of locating the rebels that just narrowly escaped him on Stygeon Prime. After identifying Dev Morgan as “The Padawan,” he confronts Zare to obtain more information about the rouge rebels. Viewers are left on somewhat of a cliffhanger. Not know exactly what The Inquisitor has in store for Zare leads me to believe this will be of significance later in the series.
Hush Comics gives “Breaking Ranks” a B for delivering another exciting escapade, but poorly addressing lingering questions from the previous episode. I want more of The Inquisitor vs. the rebels and less of these sporadic and seemingly unrelated missions. It’s time to start weaving things together!