Star Wars Rebels: 4.05 & 4.06 Occupation & Flight of the Defender
Episode 5 focuses mainly on Ezra as he returns to his home planet of Lothal. We get a glimpse of his development as a person and a Jedi, taking into consideration his teachings and general life experiences. We also get a chance to view Lothal, both from space and ground, witnessing its transformation after being overrun by the Empire.
The Occupation begins with the ghost team arriving on Yavin 4 after another successful mission. Ezra once again speaks of his desire to return to his home world of Lothal, to fulfil a promise and aid in the fight. Mon Mothma receives a communication from Ryder; he explains the Empire’s developing a new and improved Tie defender. This prompts Mon to send the ghost crew on a recon mission to get info on the new enemy fighter. As touching as it was to see Ezra’s face light up at the opportunity to return home, the family element was even more heart-warming with Ezra saying, “when do I leave” and the team replying, “when do WE leave”.
The team are dropped off by Rex and Kallus; this provided some much needed clarity on the importance and place within the rebellion of the once Empire commander. The Team split up, attempting to evade enemy patrols and we get another small snippet of Hera and Kanin’s relationship (you’d think this would get old but it actually comes across quite charming). The remaining team search for signs of Ryder, along the way Ezra reminisces about his past. He locates the bar run by his friend and rebel sympathiser Old Jho, only to find he was executed and is now run by Valen (character from season 1) and riddled with storm / death troopers. Unable to leave, they receive the help of another old friend Jay Kell and manage to escape. This worked on many levels, not only showing the emotional progression of Ezra as he holds back anger towards his friends death, but small character cameos serve to close loops from season 1.
After their presence is detected, the entire team is on the run, they locate an underground tunnel only to be followed by the enemy. Death appearing imminent, Sabine notices her artwork design on the wall, the team quickly decipher it as a sign from Ryder. They follow the signs, get in a small fight, escape and locate their friend. Although the fighting was well executed, the escape seemed easy and rushed, rather than the team working together to find a solution, one was just granted to them, I don’t know it just seemed lacklustre.
Episode 6 Flight of the Defender is shrouded in mystery, incorporating elements of the Force that both look excellent and leave you confused, eager to discover its secrets. The story depicts the team locating and eventually stealing the new Tie defender for intelligence and hyper drive purposes. The section is complete with appearances by Grand Admiral Thrawn and Governor Price, both of whom were great additions. Thrawn specifically is such an interesting character; he brings much needed tension, however brief. His demeanour and intelligence are excellent, he remains calm throughout shootouts and shows good instincts by guessing who the pilot is based on their skill and knowledge of the new Tie. This, mixed with the humour of loth-cats attacking / distracting Stormtroopers, was superb.
The standout element however was the mysterious Loth-Wolf. We’ve seen in previous episodes that Ezra has a connection with animals; however this seemed to have more affiliation with the Force than we seem to understand. The intriguing elements surround its existence (Sabine mentions they’ve not been seen in hundreds of years), their abilities, (being able to put Sabine to sleep by simply saying it) and desire to stay hidden, making it seem like Ezra is the only person to see it. This is something I hope comes back, I found a strange desire to learn more about this creature, similar to the way I felt about the Bendu.
Throughout both episodes the action was prominent, but at the same time felt lacking. The fights taking place seemed quick and easy, playing heavily on the cliché of bullets at close range hitting or injuring nothing; this was annoying as it’s not something usually noticeable. The focus for both episodes surrounded Ezra, his emotional progression and his world’s degradation, both executed well. Providing adequate information for both plot points was heavily satisfying, perhaps not the best episodes so far but mixed in well, providing closure on past storylines and capturing the heart of Star Wars. Not to mention the addition of the mysterious Loth-wolf, clearly designed on the creature from Princess Mononoke, leaves you wanting more which can only be a good thing.
One last note…… these episodes continue to be shown at a rate of two per week, which provides a decent dose of Star Wars. I ask, do would you prefer to see individual episodic reviews or continue to do both in a single review?