Star Wars Rebels – “Rise of the Masters of Old” S1E5


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!

Yep!  That's Ezra upside-down on top of the FLYING Ghost!
Yep! That’s Ezra upside-down on top of the FLYING Ghost!

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.

Luminara Unduli.  Jedi Master - Imperial Prisoner.
Luminara Unduli. Jedi Master – Imperial Prisoner.

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.

Hey baby... You come here often?
Hey baby… You come here often?

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!

The Inquisitor vs. Kanan - Round 1
The Inquisitor vs. Kanan – Round 1

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.

Oh, hey LuminarAHH!!
Oh, hey LuminarAHH!!

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.

This isn't your standard lightsaber  people.
This isn’t your standard lightsaber people.

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.

Star Wars Rebels Review – “Spark of Rebellion” S1E1

Gazing out onto a vast and desolate plain from a single and solitary tower, tall and stretching high out towards the grey sky above, we see a young boy caught deep in thought.  As he continues to glare at the blank prairie, a dark and all-encompassing shadow passes overhead snapping the daydreamer alert.  The shadow grows until it blankets the field.  Now, staring up instead of down, the boy watches the terrifying and domineering figure cruise past the tower and the plains and towards the small town just beyond.  An Imperial Star Destroyer has come to visit the peaceful planet Lothal.  Undeterred and perhaps a bit too excited, the boy hops on a speeder to chase after the flying behemoth.

The young Rebel Ezra Bridger
The young Rebel, Ezra Bridger


As I watch all this transpire in the first 60 seconds, I realize that this opening sequence strongly reflects my feelings.  A new face (Disney) charging towards a force of incredible power (Star Wars) to mix things up and start a new adventure.  Will the adventure be inspiring and exciting?  Maybe it will be a nonevent with little or no consequence?  Or will it turn for the worse, becoming an escapade in something that never should have happened?  The only way to know is to follow the speeder and join in.  Star War Rebels is here and the world’s newest adventure has begun.

Before I go into the overview and episode reflection I have to vent a little bit.  Without digressing into a page long rant about what was wrong with the animated Clone Wars series (seriously, my first draft had a full page of ranting), I’ll just say this: the production and creativity teams for The Clone Wars made what I felt were several bad choices for very bad reasons.  In five seasons of this Emmy-winning series, I never came close to feeling the magic I did when I first fell in love with Star Wars – my first viewing of Episode IV: A New Hope.  Because The Clone Wars will be what Rebels is ultimately compared to I feel it’s important to note that the former was a far cry from properly representing the greatest space adventure of all time.  I saw this as such a missed opportunity to connect with older, life-dedicated fans as well as engaging a younger audience.  While I think The Clone Wars missed the mark on that objective, I think Rebels has plotted a course that will resonate much better with all audiences throughout the galaxy.


Anakin Skywalker was most displeased with The Clone Wars... Most displeased
Anakin Skywalker was most displeased with The Clone Wars… Most displeased

The show starts with Ezra, the daydreaming youth from the opening sequence.  He makes his way to town just in time to witness some Imperial commanders bullying the townspeople.  We learn quickly that Ezra is a troublemaker and very good at avoiding suspicion when chaos breaks lose.  Easily sending a squadron of Stormtroopers on a wild Bantha chase, he takes the self-made opportunity to steal some valuable Imperial cargo.  He’s only somewhat surprised to find that another small band of crafty characters is also after the cargo and attempts to thwart his snatch-and-grab!  We’ll later learn that this band is comprised of the other headline characters for the show – all our rebels!

Just another day for a Rebel!
Just another day for a Rebel!


What comes next is an exciting speeder bike chase through the city streets and alleyways.  Ezra plays Vornskr and Womprat (cat and mouse for those not as geeky as me) with the leader of the band of rebels, Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi Knight.  The Imperials eventually catch up with the racing thieves and Ezra is kindly forced to join Kanan and his band to make their getaway.


Throughout the chase, and more so as the episode progressed, we’re revealed the unique attitudes and opinions of each rebel.  Kanan is the calm, cool and kick-ass leader.  Zeb is the brutish tough guy – able to easily carry a wookie on his shoulders.  Sabine is a beautiful Mandalorian graffiti artist with a bit of sass.  Hera is a talented Twi’lek pilot with a heart of gold.  She’s also got a “thing” going on with Kanan which I love for so many reasons!  Chopper is a spunky astromech droid that loves to talk back to his owners.  And finally, Ezra,  a Force-sensitive brat with no family and no future.  That is, until he meets Kanan and his squad.  Ezra struggles to find trust early on, but eventually opens up and opts in to be one of them.


Heroes that aren’t shy to spring into action!

The episode keeps its pace as a space battle against TIE fighters quickly gets underway.  So far everything in the episode is very reminiscent of the events in Episode IV.  The story gets deeper when we come across the rebels selling their stolen goods for credits in a rundown refugee camp named Tarkin town – named after the notorious Grand Moff Tarkin who has taken away homeland of the refugees thus forcing them to hold up elsewhere.  Ezra gets his first glimpse of what the Imperial Empire is truly capable of.  He’s equally shocked when he’s dragged into a rescue mission meant to save a group of wookies that have been enslaved by the empire.  Never having to look out for anyone but himself, Ezra can’t fathom what motivates these strangers to put their lives at risk for others.


In the midst of the wookie rescue, it becomes apparent that the whole setup IS A TRAP!!  I was channeling my inner Ackbar just there.  A clever scheme orchestrated by the Imperial Agent Kallus, the rebels only narrowly escape.  But not without setbacks;  Ezra gets caught making his escape and becomes a prisoner.  After mild debate among the original band of rebels, they decide to go back and rescue Ezra.  Again, the team just barely pulls it off.


The Rebel's aboard The Ghost
The Rebel’s aboard The Ghost


The episode concludes with an actual wookie rescue carried out in dramatic fashion.  In this climatic end, Kanan reveals himself to the Imperial captors as a Jedi – lightsaber and all!!  He’s been hiding his true origins as best he could in this post “Order 66” galaxy.  All of that’s about to become unraveled with his secret finally uncovered.  Escaping one more time (with rescued wookies) the rebels take Ezra back to Lothal to spare him from any other crazy adventures that present him with no personal return.  As they part ways Ezra has a vision – one of Kanan offering him the chance to be his apprentice, a chance to be a Jedi.  The aspect of traveling the galaxy and getting into danger for other people’s sake may not drive him the way it does the other rebels, but having traveled and adventured with the team over the past few days, he realizes that the opportunity to be part of a family and grow strong in the ways of the The Force is too good to pass up.  Ezra agrees to be Kanan’s apprentice.  The rebels shoot off into space for their next adventure.  They’re not the only ones cruising the stars though.  Agent Kallus having just witnessed the appearance of a Jedi calls on an another special agent of the Empire.  Known only as “The Inquisitor,” this ominous character is sure to give our rebels a hard time in the episodes to follow.


The Inquisitor is not amused!
The Inquisitor is not amused!


Hush Comics gives the premiere Star Wars Rebels episode a B.  My fears of having a Clone Wars repeat are subdued for the time being.  The series has all the right elements to ensure it keeps fans hooked.  The characters are engaging – let’s just hope they are dynamic.  The opening episode was driven with a clear plot – let’s hope that continues and evolves.  Homage to the original movies were apparent – let’s hope that Weisman and Filoni don’t mess it up this time.  Overall, I’m incredibly joyed to have more Star Wars in my life.  I can’t wait to see how Rebels impacts the beloved galaxy of far, far away and a long time ago.

Weekend Wrap-Up… February 16, 2014

The Toy Fair 2014 is happening this weekend in NYC.  Unfortunately, we aren’t there, but have already decided to blow all of our money on the cool stuff displayed.  Good-bye future paychecks.  See what made us drool here, there and everywhere.

Arrow was renewed for a season 3.  Duh.

Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy join acting forces in the BBC show Peaky Binders, a gangster drama set just after WWI.  Peaky Binders is often compared to Boardwalk Empire.  Should viewers wonder if the water supply will be poisoned?

The Assassin’s Creed franchise is going to release a strategic board game.  It seems like a board game version of the online play as players race over each other to get kills.  It sounds exhilarating.

Ellen Page came out.  And grown men wept.  But we say, good for her!

Jed Whedon finally spoke up about the sequel to Dr. Horrible.  He was incredibly specific, too.

Attention Litchfield inmates: Orange is the New Black season 2 has an official premiere date and teaser.  It’s safe to say that fans of the dramedy should take June 6th off, because let’s face it, you will veg on your couch and watch all the episodes in one sitting.

Nike is releasing the power laces from Back to the Future next year.  2015 happens to be the year the shoes are from, so how cool is that?!

Kickstarter was hacked.  Perhaps the hacker had an account to fund his hacking?  Too soon?

The animated series Star Wars: Rebels will introduce a new character named Kanan.  Check out the cowboy Jedi here.

Alyson Hannigan and Tom Papa are going to star in a comedy written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.  We don’t really know what else to say.  It just seemed important to report.

UDON is releasing an impressive-looking Street Fighter comic book for Free Comic Book Day this year.

Goosebumps is gonna be a movie.  Starring Jack Black, this film should be insta-nostalgic for all mid-20 somethings.

Coming soon to Mac: Marvel Heroes.  Being a Mac has never been cooler.

In Forever Evil, the demise of Power Ring sent his… power ring… in search of a new owner. Well, thanks to Geoff Johns’ interview with IGN, we know who is filling those shoes.

Give an emotional and adolescent Kryptonian a Red Lantern ring, and you are looking for trouble. Check out issue #28 of Supergirl to find out more.

The Walking Dead is on right now.  Check out our review later tonight!

written by Adrian Puryear and Sherif Elkhatib