Spoiler Warning: If you haven't seen the most recent episode of Star Wars Rebels or don't want to know what happened, turn away now. Or, y'know, go watch and come back so we can talk about it.
It would be easy to take The Iron Squadron as a one-off action episode (and maybe even a little filler-y), but I think you do the episode a disservice if you look at it that way. Not only did we get some killer action, but we've added another ship to the growing rebellion and (most importantly), we learned a very interesting thing –– Ezra Bridger can be taught. We're also seeing more cohesion between the crew of the Ghost, Phoenix Squadron, and the Fleet. Hera is 100% in charge of both her crew and her fighters.
Of course, it's all well and good to come to the rescue of a ship in trouble, but it's a whole 'nother thing to get them to let you help.
Am I the only one who thinks we're going to see that cargo bombing trick again later in the season? You have to admit, that's good. Of course, it also means that the kid who came up with it is a cocky little S.O.B.. Zeb's right, he is a bit like Ezra. Which I'm pretty sure was the point.
Apropos of nothing, this episode did a really good job of pulling off that thing you'd see on Law & Order: SVU where you split your cast so you can focus on a story. In this case, Kanan is Stabler being sent off to handle the planet on his own little mission with Zeb (Munch or Fin, you tell me). That makes Hera Benson (this fits so well with my Kanera fixation. DON'T JUDGE ME.)
This leaves Hera, Ezra, Sabine, and Chopper to deal with the Iron Squadron. Well, even Hera peels off eventually, so it actually leaves Sabine, Ezra, and Chopper teaming up with versions of themselves in a cute little conceit that pays off multiple times. Especially when it comes to the droids. On that note, it's nice to see that Chopper's still knocking droids out into space. At least R3 has a rocket booster.
Now that we have our good guys figured out, let's discuss the bad guys (well, some of you Imperial sympathizers wouldn't call them that, so let's say "opposition").
Poor Admiral Konstantin. Thrawn set him up so brilliantly and he walked right into the trap by being just as cocky and incompetent as Thrawn knew he'd be. You'd think that Konstantin would figure out that Thrawn was teasing him and make sure he dealt with the Iron Squadron when he had the chance but does he? Nope. Instead, the poor guy tries to catch two ships with one mine and ends up hoisted with his own petard.
Thrawn's a master, I'll give him that. He contacted Konstantin in such a way as to make him think he had just arrived, which gave Konstantin all the rope he needed and he hung himself by trying to convince Thrawn the rebels ran away like wounded animals instead of escaping after a victory.
I wonder what far off outpost we'll see Konstantin in the next time we see him. Hoth? Ilum? Somewhere cold and uncomfortable? I hope?
It also occurs to me that Thrawn keeps putting other people in charge of missions that ultimately fail and give the rebels a win, which allows him to do two things; separate the wheat from the chaff within the Imperial Fleet and let the Rebel Fleet think they're winning against the Empire. I hadn't thought of it this way before, but every win the rebels get is still a win against the junior varsity. Once Thrawn comes off the bench, the game is going to get real painful, real fast.
Dude, I've used a lot of metaphors this week, haven't I?
Anyway, as I mentioned in the beginning, the biggest takeaway from this episode is the fact that Ezra ends up in a situation that, in the past, would have put him in the cockpit with Mart as they flew directly at Konstantin's ship and unleashed those cargo crates. Instead, he's on the Phantom 2 and heading back for help. You can see him think about it and he does need Sabine's reminder that he promised he'd leave if there was real trouble, but he follows orders. Mart is a mirror image on Ezra in numerous ways, reckless, emotional, and talented as a fighter. But Mart is also the reflection of the attitude that left Ezra on a space station hurtling to his death not too long ago –– Ezra's figured out that he doesn't want to be that person. That's a big deal.
Ultimately, the episode serves up all sorts of valuable moments without whapping you upside the head with the "lessons". I think kids and parents alike will see some of themselves in the characters, not to mention the rest of us Star Wars fans who've always wanted to take on impossible odds and win.
That does it for this week. I'll see you next time and, until then, may the Force be with you.
Star Wars Rebels airs Saturdays at 8:30 PM ET/PT on Disney XD