The rebel assault on Lothal begins and Star Wars Rebels hangs in the balance

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Nov 13, 2017

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.

Okay, two things I need to get out of the way before I even begin:

1) I KNEW it would be a cliffhanger. I mean, of COURSE, but asjlsalkjslsajslkasjlkjdl just the same. 

2) I kept saying "wow" over and over after it ended. I'm still having moments where I think about the episode and say it again. Seriously. Wow.

Now, fangirl enthusiasm aside, let's get to this recap.

"Rebel Assault" skipped any preamble or setup and got right to the fight we've been waiting for since the beginning of Season 4, if not longer. Thrawn could be anywhere in the galaxy, but he's right in the middle of the Imperial blockade of Lothal because he knows, sooner or later, that's where Hera Syndulla and the rebels will be.

It occurs to me that the Lothal blockade is just a couple of chess pieces in this larger game. The Empire has stripped other planets of resources and occupied them successfully without that kind of air support, but going out of the way to cut off the planet entirely feels pretty deliberate. Granted, Hera's smart enough to know this is a trap, but it's one she's driven to head into anyway. There's too much at stake.

Once Hera gave the go-ahead and we heard the words "Lock S-Foils into attack position," you knew it was going to get good, but man, did it ever.

You run a risk of making things look too easy when a hero makes it past what's supposed to be an insurmountable hurdle, but Rebels manages to maintain Thrawn’s skill as a strategist by having his subordinates be the ones who fail -- usually because of hubris, which, let's be honest, is a trait most people can relate to in some way.

Add that Hera Syndulla is the best pilot they've gone up against (and knows enough maneuvers to lose them) but ends up on the ground without resources. Technically Thrawn hasn't been outplayed yet.

I also like that they had pilots in that assault who were recognizable but could still be shot down. If Wedge or Hobbie had been there, there's no suspense and suddenly you have three miracle saves. Have it be Mart and Cleat and it maintains high stakes while showing real losses.

If I have one small gripe, it was Hera’s offscreen promotion. We knew she'd end up a general, and we've seen other captains like Han Solo get promoted when they head an assault team, but I would have liked to see that moment play out. Of course, now we know when she became a general, which is very cool.

The shot of the X-Wings falling out of the sky over Capital City is one we've seen in trailers before, but it certainly took on a new significance once we had context for it. Especially when you realize that the rest of the Ghost crew is looking at the possibility that Hera is dead. I'm glad Kanan went after Hera and that it took a Force Wolf literally standing in his way before he stopped thinking emotionally. That being said, I appreciate that it wasn't a Jedi master scolding him for giving in to emotion. I still think there's a place for emotion and love within the Jedi teachings, and I believe there's a difference between love and attachment. Kanan needed the reminder.

I'm also glad that Rukh continues to be good at his job, no matter how narrow the focus. Like Thrawn, Rukh follows through on his plans and is only thrown off by the actions of others within the Empire. It's also nice to have characters who are clearly good at their job. After all, the Empire has managed to gain control of a number of worlds, and that's not luck or by accident.

Going back to Kanan and the Loth-wolves, a lot happens in a short amount of time, and the whole thing is sort of wonderfully nebulous. After all, we've only heard the lead wolf say "Dume" and "sleep," but there's definitely a meaning behind all of it that's left up to the imagination. In this case, my first impression is that the wolf is telling Kanan there's a larger picture to all of this and he's got a bigger role to play. Shorter version: "Get your sh*t together, Jedi." Whatever he means, Kanan got the message. 

"You're good at distractions."

"I am?"

"You are now."

I guffawed. I also enjoyed it because it's a great reminder that Hera's much more than just a good pilot. She's the daughter of Cham Syndulla and she's been taught how to survive. She may have ended up captured, but she also saved Mart and Chopper and still managed to give Pryce a greeting that felt very much like a certain rebel princess we all know and love.

We'll have to wait until next year to find out what happens, but Kanan's place at the other end of that sewer pipe and the presence of the wolf are a good indicator that there are bigger forces at work here.

Or a bigger Force.

That's going to do it for this episode. I'll see you in 2018, and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars Rebels will return in 2018.