Star Wars Rebels – “Gathering Forces” S1E9

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Rebels faced another big test this week in delivering the second half of its very first two part episode.  For me, this episode would make or break the rest of the season.  Well fan boys & girls let me say… Star Wars Rebels has unequivocally been “made.”  I loved, loved, loved “Gathering Forces!!”  I’ll tell you all the reasons why.

We picked up right where we left off.  The rebels are running from Imperial forces in The Ghost, attempting to get their new ally and Imperial defector, Tseebo, to safety.  I have to give it up the Imperials this time.  Not only did they send way more than the standard FOUR TIE fighters after their quarry, they dropped two Star Destroyers on the fleeing heroes.  A-plus effort troopers!  Lucky for Hera, Tseebo’s more than just baggage; he helps the rebels make a narrow getaway.

Always calm and collected, the Inquisitor chases the rebels across the galaxy
Always calm and collected, the Inquisitor chases the rebels across the galaxy

In the midst of the commotion we get more background on Tseebo’s relationship with Ezra.  After Ezra’s parents were abducted, he was left in the care of Tseebo who (apparently) abandoned him and did nothing to try and save his parents.  Ezra is convinced that his parents are dead.  This aspect is left lingering at the end of the episode, which is a guarantee that this will come up again in a big way.

Speeding through hyperspace, Kanan senses a disturbance in The Force – he doesn’t feel like they’ve made a clean escape.  Tseebo confirms as much and shares the specs of a new tracking device developed by the Empire.  It can actively track a ship through hyperspace – so cool!!!  And yes, you guessed it, the rebels have been hit with one all thanks to The Inquisitor.  Kanan devises a plan to draw the pursuing Inquisitor and Imperials away with Ezra, so that the others can get Tseebo into safe hands.  I really applaud the use of sweet sci-fi tech here.  It’s not forced and it weaves very seamlessly into the story.  It kept me engaged and anxious.

He man not look it, but Tseebo has got it together!
He man not look it, but Tseebo has got it together!

Kana and Ezra take the tracking device and use The Ghost’s dropship, The Phantom, to peel off from the main ship in mid hyperspace flight.  The following scene of The Phantom perilously and uncontrollably exiting hyperspace was sweeeeet!!!  I’m a little confused about how a faster-than-light object naturally decelerates in the presence of a frictionless vacuum, but then again, I don’t really understand faster-than-light travel in the first place, so I’ll let this slide.  Kanan and Ezra are headed back to the abandoned asteroid base that we first witnessed in episode 7.  I’ll lay on more applause for Weisman and his team for tying past episodes together in a meaningful way.  It’s apparent that the Rebels creative team is (and has been) deliberate and strategic with the happenings of prior episodes.  Practically ALL my grievances with continuity and random events of this season were addressed this episode; even the situation with Fulcrum!

If this is what the dark side is all about, then sign me up!
If this is what the dark side is all about, then sign me up!

More than just creating a diversion for the main mission, Kanan intends to use his time on the planet to teach Ezra more about The Force.  Instead of avoiding the “shadow-beasts” that nearly killed Hera and Sabine, Kanan wants Ezra to connect with these creatures.  A touching and masterfully delivered Master-Padawan moment ensues.  This sequence is the second best one of the entire show thus far.  The single best sequence (so far) happens right afterward!  The Inquisitor and his troops take the bait and follow Kanan to the base.  Inquisitor vs. Kanan round 2 takes place, with The Inquisitor taking the upper hand.  The Inquisitor is so flippin’ stylish and menacing that I can hardly stand it.  Consider me an Inquisitor groupie at this point.  With Kanan unable to hang, Ezra is left as the last line of defense.  In quintessential Star Wars fashion, The Inquisitor goads Ezra into harnessing his dark potential.  This plays out in the most stark and impressive show of Ezra’s untapped abilities.  We witness firsthand how powerful Ezra can be and what’s possible if his abilities are left unchecked and subject to the dark side!  This moment was defining for Rebels and has really boosted my confidence (and enjoyment) of the show.

Ezra's dark side potential personified - a shocking representation
Ezra’s dark side potential personified – a shocking representation.

It’s no surprise that Kanan and Ezra are able to elude capture from the clutches of the evil Empire yet again – they’re top class escape artists after all!  As the episode wraps up, viewers are left with just the right amount of questions and intrigue.  What will happen to Tseebo?  What really happened to Ezra’s parents?  What does Ezra’s brush with the dark side mean for his future?  I’ve doubted the Rebel’s production team’s ability to deliver continuity – this is mostly the fault of their predecessor series, The Clone Wars – but after “Gathering Forces” I’m convinced that this band of Disney TV makers knows what they’re doing.

We're sad too Ezra.  We have to wait a whole month for more Rebels
We’re sad too Ezra. We have to wait a whole month for more Rebels.

Star Wars Rebels gets a Hutt-sized A+ this week.  “Gathering Forces” is hands-down, the best episode of the series so far.  It wasn’t just great compared to the other episodes, it was great relative to some of the best moments of classic Star Wars.  It was super-cool, believable (for sci-fi) and most importantly, it felt like Star Wars.  The only bad thing about any of this is that the series will be taking a break for the holidays.  We’ll all have to wait until January for the adventure to continue.  Until then we’ll all have to practice Master Yoda’s timeless lesson of patience… Patience young Padawan…

Star Wars Rebels – “Empire Day” S1E8

Sabotage

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!

“Respect My Craft” – Greg Weisman

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Click on the link to view all our Denver Comic Con articles!

Name: Greg Weisman

Profession: Producer, Writer, Author

Notable WorkGargoyles, Star Wars Rebels, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice, Rain of the Ghosts (novel)

“I’m working with a lot of other great people, and there’s something incredibly exciting and thrilling about having those other great minds and incredible, talented individuals to bang off of and bounce ideas and create something that’s greater than the sum of any one of our parts.” – Greg Weisman

 

Denver Comic-Con draws ever closer!  It’s time to bring you another “Respect My Craft” for yet one more awesome guest, Greg Weisman.  Weisman is a heavy hitter producer for the best type of TV viewing a person could hope to see on a Saturday morning.  That’s right people, I’m talking cartoons.  His resumé of involvement includes work on: The Spectacular Spider-ManW.I.T.C.H.Young Justice League, and a lot more.  His real claim to fame is accredited to the popular 90’s Disney show, Gargoyles. I’m going to gush on that in just a moment.  Weisman’s influence in media-entertainment continues to grow as he is also executive producer the highly anticipated new animated Star Wars TV show titled Rebels.  This guy firmly has my childhood heart (…okay, AND my adulthood heart).

 

Weisman 1
Weisman… is a wise man

 

Before storming the cartoon programming scene Weisman’s pursuits were a little bit different.  Holding degrees from both Stanford and the University of Southern California, Greg originally had intentions to be an English composition professor.  He did, in fact, teach for a time.  His appreciation for the art of literature and story is endless.  Influenced significantly by William Shakespeare, Weisman elected to base every character in Gargoyles from a Shakespearean character.  His early career eventually landed him at DC studios working an entry level editorial position, or as Weisman describes “Xerox-boy.”  Nonetheless this aided his segue into Disney and Warner Bother studios.

 

 

Weisman busy on the set of Star Wars Rebels, but still reppin' Gargoyles!
Weisman busy on the set of Star Wars Rebels, but still reppin’ Gargoyles!

 

Night has fallen and lightning is rampant, the stone model pigeons on my balcony have suddenly come alive and are now soaring through the night sky and glorious wings of feathers.  I guess that’s my queue to dive into reflections of Weisman’s prize work, Gargoyles!  I feel sorry for anyone who didn’t grow up in the 90’s and missed the brilliance of this show (Note: Luckily for you, you can catch most of the first two seasons for free on YouTube).  In a recent interview when asked what his dream project is, Weisman, without hesitation, stated that it would be to work on Gargoyles again.  “Gargoyles is my real baby.  It’s hard to top that” says Weisman.  This speaks volumes considering that Weisman has been hired as executive producer for Star Wars Rebels, a job some other renowned producers would fight a Gargoyle for.  Weisman is so dedicated to the Gargoyles franchise that his primary fan-focused outreach site is a tab on the Gargoyles website!  I could type quite a few pages on the nostalgia I feel when thinking about Weisman’s debut creation.  Instead, I’ll highly recommend that you watch/re-watch the series.  It may sound cliché, but his characters are full of personality.  Not always an easy feat to achieve in an animated setting.

Weisman’s been able to keep consistency through the years.  He’s produced and written with the same high level of captivity on some of the most popular animated series in the past decade.  In addition to the first list above, he’s worked on: Men In Black (the animated series), Kim Possible, Ben 10, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Roughnecks: The Starship Trooper Chronicles, and loads more still!  Weisman has lead creative efforts on various comic series (such as the Gargoyles comics) and even dabbled in voice acting on some of his more recent shows.  Weisman – short of talent?  I think not.

 

The coolest cartoon of the 90's
The coolest cartoon of the 90’s

 

Like any great creator, Weisman enjoys taking on new challenges.  The collective fandom of the Star Wars universe is thrilled to see a veteran like Weisman holding the next big thing for the Galaxy Far, Far Away in his hands.  Rebels is scheduled to premiere this fall on Disney XD (check your programing packages folks!).  This series will set the tone for the Disney-Star Wars era.  Fans will rave or rage for at least a year, awaiting the Episode VII release in 2015, all depending the success or failure of Rebels.  No pressure, Weisman.  All outlooks look positive at this point in time.  On his involvement with the sci-fi classic Weisman says,  “I love the Star Wars franchise, in particular Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope and Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, which is very close to the time period we are focusing on in Rebels. It’s really like a dream come true.”

 

Young Justice Producers: Brandon Vietti & Greg Weisman
Young Justice Producers: Brandon Vietti & Greg Weisman

 

What is likely his most out-of-the-box pursuit is the work he’s done on the bookshelf.  Late last year, Weisman published a novel titled Rain of the Ghosts.  The premise involves a girl that lives near the Bermuda Triangle and develops the ability to see and communicate with ghosts.  She becomes enthralled with the various things she sees and hears, even making companions with a few of the specters.  On the surface, it may seem that this is a new move for Greg.  In actuality, the first draft of this book was written more than ten years ago!  It’s been on ongoing project for Weisman – something that he’s always wanted to share.  After chipping away at it for some years (he’s been a little distracted making prolific animated television and stuff), Weisman made a big push to polish it to his liking and get it on the shelves!  His vision for this character extends far past this first book.  Weisman’s already written the second book in the series.  It’s set to be available early this July.

 

I'd be happy too if I got to produce a Star War TV show!
I’d be happy too if I got to produce a Star War TV show!

 

Greg Weisman is a geek at heart.  And like he says in the opening quote, he loves collaboration.  He’s successfully merged two of the most paramount passions of the Hush team – community and cool stuff!!  That’s why we’re so excited to have Weisman join the band of creators, artists and actors gracing the streets of the Mile High city in just a few days!  May The Force be with you when you arrive in Denver, Weisman!

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with horror/action movie legend, Bruce Campbell.