“Stealth Strike” Review

Rebels returns to form in this week’s stellar adventure.

Season 2 has definitely hit a little bit of a slump in recent weeks, with episodes ranging from missed opportunities to just sort of mediocre. This week gets us back on track with the season’s strongest episode yet in my not so humble opinion!

Ezra and Commander Sato are captured by a new imperial weapon, and Hera with all her motherly wisdom sends Kanan and Rex together to rescue him. Finally forced to work together, the duo overcome their grudges.

Previous episodes have been dragged down by interruptive shenanigans and some poor character development. This episode has the advantage of having its main story beat built up, that being Kanan and Rex’s relationship. Despite the contrivance of what sets the plot in motion, and by that I mean Hera once again nonchalantly assigning two teammates who have been at odds for a trust building exercise, what follows makes up for it. Kanan’s prejudice is rooted in the past and understandable to a point, and Rex has been chiding him for weeks now for his lack of professionalism, leading to one uncomfortable alliance. The scenes with these two are by far the strongest parts of the episode, and give us some much needed genuine drama as opposed to all the goofiness that has prevailed so far this season.

The running theme appears to be not judge by appearances, as both the villain and Commander Sato have serious doubts about Ezra as both a threat to the Empire or an asset to the alliance. After annoying me to the core last week, Ezra bounced back nicely in this episode with a lot of great moments both dramatic and action oriented. One minor gripe though is that he is just a little TOO powerful. Sure he’s been something of a prodigy with the force even before he began his Jedi training, but he appears just a little too skilled with that lightsaber. Still, the sequences of him besting squads of stormtroopers is fun enough for me to┬ásuspend my disbelief. And Ezra, ever the goody-two-shoes subdues most of his opponents non-lethally and even states he will do so, but wow do Kanan and Rex get brutal in this episode (for a kids show).

After previous struggles to balance drama with comedy, this episode hits the nail on the head giving us some great banter that I will admit made me laugh on multiple occasions, though the more self-referential jokes started to stack up by the end bordering on self-parody. Notably the humor does take a much darker turn in this episode, at the expense of a number of stormtroopers. While very action heavy (which we needed for a change) the dramatic moments are what make this one for me. Ezra finally admonishes Kanan and Rex for their constant fighting, and reveals they’ve been driving him away, which clearly brings them to their senses. I’ve had problems with the overdone “family” dynamic of the main characters, but here it’s done subtly without any awkward family sitcom tropes.

Briskly paced, well-executed, a lot of fun, perhaps a little heavy on the too self-aware humor, and some great character development make this a great entry for this season. I can only hope the show continues in this direction.

9/10

Impressive. Most impressive.

Nerd Sidenotes

-Commander Cody gets a small nod, which makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing him still a part of the Empire down the road.

-Rex falls victim to a few fat jokes. I’m surprised they didn’t go with “aren’t you a little fat for a stormtrooper?”

-This episode shows off several new imperial assets, such as the interdictor, imperial engineers, black uniformed officers, and hey even generic imperial officers with visible eyes.

-Admirals Konstantine and now Titus huh? I assume Brutus is next? Or Nero?

-I am glad that Titus survived, I was worried for a moment when the ship exploded but I figured he wouldn’t be a throwaway character. I look forward to seeing him again.

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