“Future of the Force” Review

This episode was as Zeb put it… crazy. But worth it.

It appears we’re gearing up for a three-part mid season finale for this year, and if what follows is anything like this episode we’re in for a treat.

Ahsoka sends the boys on a mission to prevent the inquisitors from making unknown retrievals, leading them to some force-sensitive children. When the Inquisitors arrive and best our heroes, Rebels finally gives us something we’ve all been waiting for to save the day. The one thing stopping me from awarding last week’s episode a higher score were some all-too cutesy moments. This episode had its fair share of cuteness, but this time it worked to its advantage. How? By surprisingly making this one of the darkest episodes of Rebels yet.

Rebels clearly restrains itself from ever showing anything as brutal as some of the deaths seen in Clone Wars, but none of the impact is lost on scenes such as where the camera cuts away from the Fifth Brother massacring a group of civilians. The force sensitive infants are animated perhaps yes, a little too cartoonish and cutesy, but knowing what is in store for them and what has likely happened to many others already just ups the ante. As with previous episodes the darkest aspects of the show are the questions it raises. Harkening back to the Clone Wars arc in which Palpatine… oh excuse me, Sidious kidnapped children to be used as future “spies” we see here that the Sith still want to collect all the force sensitives they can find. Now that its clear that Sidious ultimately wanted to turn those children into Inquisitors, the implications are even darker in this series. He already has inquisitors, obviously he can always train more but its safe to assume very few candidates survive the process and some of them are likely straight up murdered.

The new inquisitors still aren’t standing out as individual characters and feel like glorified henchmen. They’re still no less threatening, as previously mentioned the Fifth Brother massacres a group of helpless civilians, throws an Ithorian to his (probable) doom, and continues to stalk the heroes like an unstoppable killer from a slasher film. Beyond some vague hints at Ahsoka and the Seventh Sister’s past, there’s not much to discuss with them.

I was initially surprised and somewhat annoyed with how long it took Kanan to figure out why the Inquisitors wanted the infants, but it is perfectly in character for him as a mediocre (or often just bad) Jedi. Meanwhile Ezra is continuing to grow in his force abilities in this episode as he gets to use skill he first learned in season one to protect these children. I do wonder if this is pointing to Ezra soon surpassing Kanan in his Jedi abilities.

Obviously Rebels can’t give us as much lightsaber action as the Clone Wars, so when an episode boasts this much it is damn effective. First we get to see Kanan go toe-to-toe with both Inquisitors for the first time, where he hold his own but is outmatched and outnumbered. Poor Ezra doesn’t even get the dignity of being toyed with by the Seventh Sister this time and is quickly dispatched. This of course brings us to the centerpiece of this episode, as Ahsoka finally showcases her power. She is indeed a formidable fighter and hasn’t lost her edge since the Clone Wars, and if anything is now more finessed and far more focused making her more than a match for the inquisitors.

If there has been a good place to stop and admire how far both the animation and assets have come since season one, this would be the episode to do so. The lighting, design and choreography are all getting to be on par with the Clone Wars.

Honestly this might have been a near perfect episode if not for one fatal flaw in which a plot point for the next episode clumsily spills all over us. For no apparent reason Ezra talks to the baby Ithorian in a very expository manner accidentally revealing to a probe droid where the other rebels are stationed. The line is so painfully forced and awkward that it is positively jarring and brought the episode to a screeching halt. Fortunately it at least sets in motion a multi-episode arc of which there have been too few in this series. This episode really felt like the Clone Wars series in a good way, balancing the appropriately dark, fun, exciting, and yes, cute elements. Rebel needs more episodes like this one to keep the story rolling and heighten the stakes as this one did.

9.2/10

Impressive. Most impressive
Nerd Notes
-Our rebels are causing quite a bit of collateral damage here. Several civilian vehicles destroyed, but at least that was just a smoke grenade in that building.
-Zeb was finally competent in this episode! Sure he was no match for the Fifth Brother but that’s to be expected.
-Zeb also had a lot of great lines here. Here are my favorites… “I really hope that’s not a baby inquisitor…” “We’ll blow up the ship AFTER we get the baby. What is wrong with you?”
-Yeah… as Zeb said, what the hell is wrong with Chopper? He’s been a little jerk all along, but now he suggested blowing up a ship with a baby onboard. I always sensed the writers were going for a Bender from Futurama angle with Chopper. It doesn’t work as well outside of the farcical tone of that show.
-The inquisitors may not be rounded characters yet but we got more little hints of a past between Ahsoka and the Seventh Sister. Something about the way she said, “Who doesn’t want to be a mother…” sounded indicative of something… what it is I have no clue.
-Correct me if I’m wrong, this is the first episode to omit Sabine and Hera entirely is it not?

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