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.
Before I start, I'm just gonna say it. Young Wedge Antilles was a babe. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
We've known Wedge Antilles was going to make an appearance in Star Wars Rebels season three since the trailer came out, but finally getting to see the story play out was great. For many of us, Wedge has always just...been there. It's easy to forget that he was a kid once, like Luke, who wanted to fly and wanted to go to the Academy. I didn't understand when I saw Star Wars that the Academy was the Imperial Academy. Can you image what would have happened if Luke had gotten to go? Would he have defected like Wedge did? Talk about a road not taken.
On to the episode!
Rebellion needs pilots –– badly. The opening scenes show us the issue quite starkly as a rebel transport ship and it's accompanying A-Wing escort are blown to pieces by a better equipped Empire. The rebellion can get ships, but good pilots are desperately needed.
Fulcrum has intel that pilots from the elite Skystrike Academy want to defect and it's decided that Sabine will be the one to take on the mission. 1) I had pretty much the same reaction Ezra did to hearing the name Fulcrum. I'm sure many of us miss Ahsoka. 2) Ezra's really not happy that Sabine's going on this mission. Because, you know, Ezra's Ezra. Loved Sabine's reminder that she actually was an Academy cadet and better suited. Good for her.
Now that I've seen this episode, I realize that Sabine was one of the cadets in the trailer and I had no idea because of the change in her hair color. It's amazing how different she looks! Sidenote: Isn't that shot of the Skystrike Academy gorgeous? And can someone please make a figure of that black and gold R2 unit that's checking ID's?
Once she's in, the real mission begins. She has to find her potential pilots. Luckily, the Academy likes to start combat training as soon as possible.
We hear Wedge (Nathan Kress) before we ever see him and, somehow, that makes perfect sense. It's easy to see that Sabine and Wedge work really well together (I wonder if that'll come up later). Unfortunately, Sabine's questioning of the instruction to fire on the unarmed transport and the appearance of The Ghost make her lose focus and get blown up. Good thing they're in simulators, right?
The politics of the Empire are always interesting. Governor Pryce and the ISB walk into Skystrike like they own the place and we get a whiff of Pryce's particular Eau du Hubris as she suggests that Kallus might actually learn something. His face, man. Priceless. Also priceless, Instructor Goran (Corey Burton) and his smug smugness that no one could possibly hide a rebel under his smugface-located nose.
Now Sabine isn't just trying to pass as a cadet and get other cadets out, she has to work around the ISB and Pryce. Goodie!
As soon as she figures out who her defectors are before she can extract anyone.
Meanwhile, Ezra's a study in anxiety. Very unJedi-like. Kanan, recognizing this for the teachable moment it is, imparts a little wisdom. He has to learn that he can't control everything. Kanan asks if he trusts Sabine and tells him that he should trust that she'll succeed. You can see Ezra make that connection, but knowing how to give up control is a tough lesson...for anyone.
The minute Pryce suggested they get the pilots "back into space", I was worried. Sabine's met Hobbie (Trevor Devall) and Rake (also Corey Burton) so she has her defectors and she has a plan, but she didn't count on Pryce being ready for them. Their attempt to escape is thwarted by Pryce's booby trap and Academy trainer Vult Skerris, who not only kills Rake but damages Ezra and Kanan's transport enough that they have to retreat. Also, does anyone else think Skerris looks like Tom Skerrit and Michael Ironside in Top Gun all in one?
I also loved watching that dogfight. Dear Dave Filoni, can we please have some more of those? You do them so well.
Ezra's inability to think as a leader rears it's head again as he fights to stay and help Sabine. Kanan tries to explain, but the fact that he has to make Chopper jump the ship to safety proves he's not getting through to his padawan.
Also unable to think strategically in a tense situation? Wedge Antilles. There's Sabine being all stoic and trying to protect him and he says her name, thereby giving Pryce even more ammunition. Smooth, Wedge.
Totally able to think strategically in a crisis? Sabine Wren. Not only does she manage to get the boys, Kallus, and most of the guards out of that room, but she then takes out two troopers who are left and goes right for Pryce. Girlfight! Epic girlfight, TBH. Both Pryce and Sabine are good, but Sabine's better and Pryce is down for the count.
Wedge and Hobbie working on a plan to rescue Sabine when she shows up (armed, no less) to get them out? Perfection. Gotta love the "That's cute.". Girl power everywhere in this episode.
Of course, good against Pryce is one thing. Good against the whole security team? That's something else. Just when it looks like they're going to get caught, Agent Kallus shows up....and lets them go. He says it's to even the score between him and Zeb, but I think Kallus may be seeing things a little bit differently since that day on that Geonosian moon. We shall see.
"I can fly anything." You knew someone had to put Wedge in a situation where he'd get to say that and flying a hunk o'junk while they're being fired on by Skerris in a TIE Interceptor seems as good a time as any. This escape had a little of everything; humor, excitement, danger, and even a daring rescue.
The growing rebellion has a base, new ships, and two new pilots. Wedge and Hobbie are officially inducted and Rogue Squadron aka Red Squadron is coming together.
That does it for this week. See you next time and may the force be with you!
Star Wars Rebels airs Saturdays at 8:30 PM ET/PT on Disney XD