Rebels presents a powerful and moving character study hindered by general narrative issues.
First off, sorry this review is SO late. I got generally distracted by life and the life-altering experience that was The Force Awakens… but that’s another story.
I have to say that the previous episode coupled with the previews for “Legacy” had me hyped and ready for a great episode. The results sadly didn’t quite meet my expectations, but it’s still decent with some notably strong aspects.
Despite Ezra already getting the most character development I’m actually not at all annoyed but rather happy that this episode focused on Ezra’s character. I was hoping some of the others (Zeb and Sabine especially) would get more focus this season, but if this episode has one strength it is undeniably Ezra’s story.
Ezra receives a vision through the force of his parents, whom he believes to be alive and in imperial custody. This leads him and Kanan on a personal mission back to Lothal to seek out an escaped prisoner who may hold the secret to his parents fate.
As I said before, the trailers made this episode look pretty major. Unfortunately a fleet of Star Destroyers attacking a city and the Rebel fleet is somehow the weakest aspect of the episode. It’s a fun sequence, but it’s almost completely void of tension with the heroes acting awfully casual about the whole debacle. Really this battle should have taken priority over finding Ezra’s parents and been the focus of the episode, but it’s over in a matter of minutes with the heroes escaping almost completely unscathed. Yes, they lost a ship I suppose, not that we knew anyone aboard. Sadly we get several potentially tense scenes that were quickly undermined. First Ezra dispatches Kallus with ease, which was admittedly a cool moment but it really undercuts him as a threat. This is quickly followed by Ezra being goaded to tap into the dark side by the inquisitors, but this too goes nowhere as Kanan literally shuts the door on that potential sequence. These two new inquisitors are getting dangerously close to “team rocket” territory as villains. Seriously, couldn’t they have at least tried to cut through the door?
The main issue I have with this episode is just the general busyness that takes away from the more dramatic moments. Honestly this episode should have centered on either Ezra pursuing his vision, or the battle on Garel, as juggling both just seemed to waste some good opportunities. The battle ends so abruptly and conveniently it feels like two separate ten-minute mini episodes. If that wasn’t enough, the familial dynamic that I’ve harped on forever is back with a vengeance here. I’ve gone on before in enough detail why this is a problem, but it is annoying that the writers are still falling back on some pretty lame tropes. I cringed when Hera said, “We’re family.”
Despite some ups and downs the second half of the episode is strong enough to make this a solid entry. Ezra truly shines in this entry, and is put in several scenarios where we’d expect him to act like a reactionary angry teen, which he at first does but refreshingly he responds with grace and maturity throughout the episode. Also, I always believed the Bridgers were still alive, so to get the revelation that they had died in a prison uprising was a genuine surprise and a real change in pace for the show. Rather than go the predictable route, Ezra has to come to grips with the reality of losing his parents which gives way to a powerful and actually quite beautiful ending with him seeing a heavenly vision of his parents marveling at the beauty of Lothal before the Empire’s subjugation. Kanan then steps in as the surrogate father to Ezra, which is handled much better and more subtly than the Ghost crew family, and we see in this episode just how strong their bond has become. Kanan may be a bad teacher but he is able to sympathize and understand Ezra’s human needs on a level the Jedi Order failed to do with Anakin. With a less choppy beginning and middle, the ending of this episode could have made it among the best.
The force is strong with this one.
-Unfortunately I think the Bridgers still may be alive… not that that’s a bad thing but it would ruin the strongest part of this episode. I’m not buying prisoner X10’s story. First off, he says flat out that Ezra’s parents are dead followed by saying he didn’t see them die. Plus there’s the title of the next episode “The Secret of Prisoner X10.” I think there are going to be one or two more revelations in store.
-Kallus is going to have to do some serious damage control not to get offed by Vader by the end of this season.
-And why haven’t the heroes tried to kill Kallus? They’ve had him subdued in the past, and this time he’s just lying there unconscious, and while it might not be very hero like to take him out execution style… the guy has caused them enough trouble you’d think they’d at least consider it.
-No, sorry, this is bothering me, Kallus was lying unconscious, sure Kanan and Ezra were busy talking, but Zeb? Come on! There was your chance! I can’t see Zeb using restraint because the main was unconscious.
-This episode felt a lot like “Empire Day” but didn’t quite come together as well. It was however neat to see all the big villains teaming up… and not so much fun to see them so easily thwarted. I mean, more than usual.
-I guess the Fifth Brother’s predominant character trait is his undeserved overconfidence and egotism? He’s constantly piqued that people question him.
-Well, we learned how easy it is to take out a Star Destroyer’s tractor beam. Seems like a trademark imperial design flaw. No exhaust port at least.
-I know I mentioned how impressive the animation of last week’s episode was, but I have to again give the animators major props for this week.