Last week’s episode of Rebels was a fairly disappointing experience. In many ways it reminded me of The Clone Wars animated series (which I was not very fond of). My expectations were tempered this week. I’m happy to report that those expectations were blown to space dust! Every single grievance I had last week was addressed in this episode; it’s almost like the producers read Hush’s “Fighter Flight” review and decided to shape up! “Rise of the Old Masters” took Rebels to a new level. Let’s dive into the details!
An aspect that has been continuously neglected thus far is Ezra’s Jedi training. The opening sequence did a lot to squash that neglect. We enter with Ezra practicing his Jedi skills as instructed by Kanan. Ezra uses one hand to balance his upside-down body on top of The Ghost while it’s in flight!!! The scene is mesmerizing and it’s impossible not to draw a connection to Luke’s training on Dagobah in Episode V. There’s even a Yoda quote thrown into this scene! I really bought into Kanan’s method and instruction. The added distraction from Chopper and Zeb was comedic, but also relevant to Ezra’s training. Altogether, it was the perfect way to start the episode.
After a little misstep in Ezra’s training, the crew takes a break to check the underground Holo-news to see what’s bubbling in the galaxy. What they find is their next mission. Luminara Unduli is alive and an Imperial prisoner! Die-hard fans will draw an immediate connection with the Jedi Master of the Old Republic. She was thought to have died in the events of Order 66. After witnessing a brief holo-clip of Luminara being transported to an Imperial prison facility Kanan urges his team to help him orchestrate a rescue. The team agrees and gets to work.
The decision to rescue Luminara brings out a lot of enduring qualities of the rebels. I won’t touch on them all, but overall, the decision alone speaks to why this band is destined for greatness. Risking their lives to penetrate one of the most secure holding facilities of the Empire to rescue an ally, all on independent fruition and for no monetary gain, gives me faith that a strong and unified rebellion is possible under this team.
The next nod I’ll give to the Rebels creative team is their decision to place the Imperial prison on a different planet! Lothal was getting really old. Viewers got to experience a refreshing change of scenery. But more than that, this new planet presented unique and unexpected challenges for the rebels. Who knew that such a carefully planned rescue mission could be thrown askew by giant flying beasts looking for a little affection from The Ghost’s dropship?! Hera does a superb job at not only overcoming this obstacle, but using it to her advantage at the best possible opportunity. Visiting a new planet and giving Hera a meaningful role really amplified this episode’s greatness.
All this awesomeness and we still haven’t gotten to the best part! Well, let’s not waste anymore time. The Inquisitor finally makes his appearance!! It took a premiere movie and three other episodes, but he’s finally here! The Inquisitor’s introduction was probably the thing I was most excited for in this first season of Rebels. Historically Star Wars has excelled in initial (key word here) crafting of their villains. Vader, Palpatine, Maul, Boba Fett, Cad Bane, Mother Talzin, Count Dooku, Grand Moff Tarkin, General Grievous… I could go on, but I’ll spare the page. My point is every Star Wars bad guy stepped onto the scene in a major way and each of them has some unique trait or quality that made our bones shake. This usually doesn’t last because the franchise also has a strong history of bastardizing or otherwise ruining a villain and what we love most about them. We won’t get into that right now – instead, let’s talk about why the Inquisitor holds true to that initial formula. He is sinister. He is clever. He is powerful and dangerous. He is BAD-ASS!
We come to find that the rescue mission is actually – queue Ackbar – A TRAP! Let me be the first to say though – I didn’t see this one coming. The trap part I could have guessed. But the lure!! Luminara was seen, actually seen, being transported by Imperial Stormtroopers to the prison complex. So how is it that when our heroes arrive at her holding cell, all they find is her dried and withered remains along with The Inquisitor?! Now, I’m pretty well versed in all things pertaining to The Force, but I’ve never seen a trick like the one The Inquisitor pulled off. Kanan, a full-fledged Jedi Knight, SENSED Luminara’s presence, he SAW her. What Kanan sensed and saw was actually something conjured and manipulated in The Force. I don’t yet understand how this was possible, but the ultimate takeaway is that The Inquisitor’s understanding of The Force is impressive.
Reason number two why the Inquisitor is a badass: double-bladed, spinning lightsaber. I vividly remember the goosebumps I had witnessing Darth Maul brandish a double-bladed lightsaber for the first time in Episode I. I had the same goosebumps this week watching Rebels. This weapon is sooo beautiful, all the way from hilt to blades. The way The Inquisitor wields the weapon is stunning and terrifying. I’m a sucker for new, futuristic weaponry regardless of how hokey they might be. So let it go on record that I am completely enraptured with The Inquisitor’s choice of weapon and I can’t wait to see more of it.
The last thing I’ll say about The Inquisitor is that more than just being powerful in The Force and wielding the coolest weapon in the galaxy, his overall persona is on point for Star Wars villainy. His sinister expression, the calm/confident demeanor and his regal attitude all serve to make him a believable and endearing character. Having The Inquisitor on screen makes up for many of Rebel’s shortcomings thus far.
Hush Comics gives “Rise of the Old Masters” a resounding A for adding creative diversity, showcasing the most beloved aspects of the franchise and for finally giving us The Inquisitor! The trajectory is upward at the end of the week. Stay on course Weisman!
All Pictures belong to Disney.