Star Wars Rebels – “Out of Darkness” S1E7

Wave of explosions

Coming into this week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels, I had low expectations.  Previews from last week showed a few of our rebel team “stuck” on a foreign planet and fending off attacks by local, dangerous creatures.  I was prepared for an action packed, but ultimately pointless episode.  Once again, Rebels pleasantly surprised me.  The episode was fairly action packed (as expected), but more importantly, the focus of the episode was centered on the greater plot – why are the rebels doing what they’re doing?  Who is handing out their missions?  How does the team feel about all this?  “Out of Darkness” addressed some of the bigger questions that have been hanging out there and it made for a great episode.

Hera's a good pilot... But could she hang with Han Solo?
Hera’s a good pilot… But could she hang with Han Solo? 

The episode wastes no time upping the octane level.  We enter to find Hera piloting The Ghost’s dropship, The Phantom, in a hair-raising escape from chasing Imperial TIE fighters.  Ezra and Sabine are nervously strapped in tight alongside Hera while she shows us her mad skills.  During the cat-and-mouse routine Hera confidently boasts, “There isn’t a pilot in the Imperial fleet that can outrun me!”  The first thing that hit me after Hera’s bragging was, “I wonder how she would fair against Han Solo?!”  For those of you who didn’t know, Han Solo used to be part of the Imperial military – initially trained as a TIE fighter pilot, but quickly promoted to Lieutenant due to his unmatched skills.  Hera blows the chasing TIEs to slag, but I wonder if the result would have been the same if Han Solo had been in one of those TIE cockpits.

At first glance this opening appears to be pointless action – we don’t even know why the rebels are being chased!  Everything becomes apparent when Sabine confronts Hera regarding the ever increasing danger that’s associated with their missions.  Sabine pushes Hera to tell her where their intel comes from and why they’re continually put in harm’s way.  Hera quickly shuts Sabine down and simply asks that Sabine trust her.  To know that all the rebels aren’t privy to key information adds much needed depth to this show.  It was also apparent that this would be a heavy Hera and Sabine episode, which is a good thing – it’s long overdue.

Today's forecast is sunny with a bit of asteroid-cover
Today’s forecast is sunny with a bit of asteroid-cover

Once all the rebels are reunited back on The Ghost they quickly prep for their next mission.  Sabine, not willing to continue blindly following orders, demands to know more about the mission.  Hera throws Sabine a bone and reveals that their information comes from a contact known as Fulcrum.  No one but Kanan and Hera have ever made contact with Fulcrum.  Sabine pressures Hera into arranging a meeting with the mysterious informant at the drop site of their next supply run.  Fulcrum, via encrypted radio communications, hesitantly agrees.

She's more than a pretty face with crazy-colored hair
She’s more than a pretty face with crazy-colored hair 

As the episode progresses we learn more about Sabine’s background and why she is so adamant to be in-the-loop.  Sabine is of Mandalorian descent, that much is known.  But if Boba Fett has taught us anything, it’s that Mandalorians rarely have allegiances beyond direct family and the highest bidder.  So what makes Sabine different?  As it turns out, Sabine, at one point was training to join the Imperial Army.  The Empire established a recruitment camp on Mandalore in an effort to add to its ranks; Sabine joined in.  After some questionable and uncomfortable assignments that left Sabine with a very bad taste in her mouth, she left her home to join the rebel band she’s with now.  We don’t get specifics, but it’s enough to really give some genuineness to Sabine.  This lady Mandalorian is sharp, deadly, sexy, and she’s not afraid to think for herself.  I really appreciated the internal strife she brought throughout the episode.  It really elevated the plot!

What can rip through steel and likes to eat rebels?... This guy!
What can rip through steel and likes to eat rebels?… This guy!

In The Phantom, Hera and Sabine touchdown on an isolated, asteroid-laden planet home to a deserted military base used during the clone wars.  This is where their supply drop and meeting with Fulcrum is to take place.  Thanks in full to Ezra, Zeb and Chopper’s horseplay, the damage suffered by The Phantom from the last mission was never fixed.  This resulted in all the fuel from The Phantom leaking out and stranding the two rebels – problem #1.  Shortly after realizing that they won’t be leaving anytime soon, Hera and Sabine make contact with some very unfriendly and creepy beasts – problem #2.  Unable to take refuge in The Phantom until help arrives – these vicious little monsters can rip through armored ship hull!! – the two lady rebels are forced to make a stand against wave after wave of the killer creatures.  Sabine formulates a solid strategy at keeping them alive just long enough for Kanan and The Ghost to come to the rescue.

Rebels to the rescue!
Rebels to the rescue!

The rebels make a safe getaway with the supplies, but it feels like we’re missing something… OH YEAH!  Where is Fulcrum?!?!  He was supposed to meet Hera and Sabine at the drop point, but never did.  Was he eaten?!  Did he bail at the onset of witnessing an army of the hungry critters?  Did he even intend to stay and wait?  All these are questions I had at the end of the episode and that’s a good thing!  I’m drawn in and I want to know more.  This is how it should be with a well formulated story.  The catch-22 here is that now expectations have been set.  If next episode rolls around and no thought or mention of Fulcrums status is provided, it will be a severe let down.

But as far as this week goes – “Out of Darkness” earns a B.  By concentrating on the overarching plot, dedicating screen time to lesser known rebels and keeping things exciting, viewers can enjoy this week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels.

Star Wars Rebels – “Breaking Rank” S1E6


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.

Fun sized Stormtroopers!
Fun sized Stormtroopers!

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.

It's like a sick and twisted game of Space Frogger
It’s like a sick and twisted game of Space Frogger

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.

Justin Bieber has a new calling - Stormtrooper training
Justin Bieber has a new calling – Stormtrooper training

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.

Cover to Alan Dean Foster's novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, featuring the first appearance of the Kaiburr crystal
Cover to Alan Dean Foster’s novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, featuring the first appearance of the Kaiburr crystal

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.

Kanan & Hera battle among the stars for Kaiburr crystals

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!

The Inquisitor - hot on the rebels' tail
The Inquisitor – hot on the rebels’ tail

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 War Rebels – “Fighter Flight” – S1E4



Well… It only took four episodes into season 1 before Rebels hit a snag in the hyperspace lane.  “Fighter Flight” was riddled with numerous short comings and overall was unimportant.  Let’s recap and highlight what went wrong this week.

The episode starts out with Ezra attempting some Jedi training.  This would have been great if it was under the instruction of Kanan – you know, because he did promise to train Ezra in the very first episode.  Instead what we get is Ezra struggling to telepathically lift a bowl while being teased by Chopper.  Chopper remains hilarious – I’ve come to enjoy all the screen time he receives – but, ultimately the opening sequence and the following roommate spat between Zeb and Ezra provide only mildly funny viewing pleasure.  What the heck is Kanan doing anyway that he never has time for Jedi training?  Every time he’s been on screen lately he’s just moving boxes or playing Dejarik with Chopper.  Real important stuff there, Kanan.  Get on with the Jedi training already!!

Ugh... Do I have to train my Padawan today?!
Ugh… Do I have to train my Padawan today?!

After Zeb and Ezra do enough damage throughout The Ghost, Hera kicks them off and sends them on a supply run.  This is where we hit snag number two and three.  In the three episodes prior, the planet Lothal has been featured in every single one.  It comes at little surprise, but with much disappointment that Lothal is the main setting for this episode too.  I have a two major issues with this.  (1) Why do the rebels continue going back to Imperial occupied Lothal when they are considered wanted criminals by said Empire?!?!  That’s the equivalent of repeatedly slapping a 1000 pound lion in the face with a 12 oz ribeye and waiting to see what happens.  Not too bright of our rebels.  (2) This screams of missed opportunity!  Weisman and team have all this creative mojo and they’re squandering it!  If I were creative lead of this show I would have the rebels land on a new planet every episode!  There are so many unexplored systems out that fans would love to see in living color!  Need I remind Weisman that this is PRE-Death Star era – meaning that Alderaan is still very much in one piece!  I digress…

Ezra can't so much as buy fruit without getting into a scuffle with the Imperials
Ezra can’t so much as buy fruit without getting into a scuffle with the Imperials

Ezra and Zeb continue to bicker as they make their way into town for supplies.  This seemingly unimportant infighting eventually stirs up enough trouble to catch the attention of a nearby Imperial patrol.  This results in Zeb stealing a TIE fighter and causing a bunch of collateral damage.  Bringing me to the next shortcoming.  So far Rebels has been much too Zeb and Ezra focused.  Fans have been given the opportunity to glance into the heart of what makes both characters tick.  It was great the first few times, but it’s starting to get old.  Hera and Sabine have been severely neglected thus far and it’s causing concern for me.  It seems obvious that season 1 of any show should present a diverse cast with dynamic backgrounds and motivations, so that any fan can find something to appreciate and hang onto as the show moves forward.  I didn’t feel like I was watching Star Wars Rebels this week; more like I was watching “The Ezra and Zeb show.”

Zeb wants more screen time!
Zeb wants more screen time!

By the end of the episode Zeb and Ezra put the TIE fighter to good use by pitting it against harassing Imperials.  During this good deed we witness Ezra risking himself to help others.  This is very uncharacteristic of him.  It’s good to see that his character is slowly developing and changing.  He also makes note of having parents.  PARENTS?!?!  From the first time we met Ezra he was a loner, living by himself in some far off, isolated tower.  This new insight indicates there’s an added depth to Ezra’s character and background that we haven’t seen yet.  Maybe there is a bigger reason he enjoys collecting Stormtrooper helmets?…  I hope this comes into play as the series continues.  It’d be such a shame to see another opportunity so critically wasted.

Lothal never has any good parking spots!
Lothal never has any good parking spots!

Hush Comics gives Fighter Flight a C this week for failure to bring anything new to the show.  There are several key encounters on the horizon and could really kick things into gear.  Ezra’s Jedi training is sure to start soon, the formation of the rebel alliance is beginning, and… where the flip is The Inquisitor?!  Much is left to be desired this week, but surely the journey will improve soon!

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!