Rebels Review: A Princess on Lothal

Rebels returns with a decent entry and the most sensical guest star yet.

If there’s one frequent complaint I’ve heard about Star Wars Rebels, it’s that the show is a tad pandering by shoehorning in so many classic characters. I’d be lying if I didn’t at least see the validity in that, as season one alone featured Obi-wan, C-3PO and R2-D2, Bail Organa, Luminara (sorta), Yoda, Lando, Tarkin, Ahsoka, and Vader in cameo and guest appearances, some a little more shoehorned than others. Now in season 2 we have Ahsoka as a regular, joined by Rex and several others (and even MORE in that new trailer). Inserting these characters doesn’t bother me (in fact I welcome it) so long as they have a good reason to be there or are at least entertaining, which most of them have been, but more importantly their presence shouldn’t take away from the character development of our leads.
That being said, I really sincerely hoped that Leia was going to become the rebels’s new boss and become a regular along with Sato and Ahsoka, but then I remembered she’s Ezra’s age so maybe not. With Ezra still distraught about the news from Azadi, and Azadi himself reluctant to help the rebels none other than Leia Organa shows up to assist. What follows is good… not great.
About the laziest story Rebels could have told would have been the standard “girl power” kind, and fortunately the episode doesn’t go that route. With the likes of Hera and Sabine being the smartest, most levelheaded and resourceful members of the team, there’s no need for Leia to prove her worth to the heroes in spite of her gender, so I was afraid with how skeptical Ezra appeared at first but he thankfully gets over this quickly (and ultimately it seems he’s more put off by her being a princess than a girl).

Smartly, Leia is portrayed basically as a fish out of water, smart and adept but still inexperienced as a rebel agent and a leader and clearly lacking confidence despite her bravado. Having her initial plan to help the rebels fail brought out her vulnerability and humanity rather than just portraying her as a godsend to the rebels, which will allow her room to grow as a character in this series. The end payoff of seeing her regain her confidence and inspiration from the Ghost crew and in turn inspiring them is satisfying, and shows us she’s becoming a strong leader. Watching her order around the terrified imperial officer by the end is just wonderful.
The trouble with this episode similar to the previous one is we have two plot lines which never feel like they’re part of the same story. Leia is characterized just right with a good mix of sensibility, smarts and sarcasm, but sadly her presence in this episode ultimately didn’t have much of a point to the real story, which was convincing the ex-governor of Lothal to join with the Rebel cause. Leia gives a little motivation but doesn’t really connect to Ryder and his decision to help. She at least acts as a catalyst for the heroes to think up a plan and somehow that inadvertently persuades the ex-governor to offer a hand. Sorry, I didn’t buy it.
The episode is a little dialogue heavy but does have some nice action sequences too. Seeing the AT-AT walkers is always a nice touch, and while this battle looks impressive it pales in comparison to the one earlier this season. Watching Leia use her powers of persuasion and political influence suggests the rebels won’t have to blast their way out of every problem in the future though. Working within the system could open up new story possibilities. I’m hoping she comes across Tarkin and comments on his “foul stench.”
Whatever complaints I have are basically nitpicks, but it’s all because I know what the writers of this show are capable of and I don’t think they’ve been living up to their potential this season. Still… did you SEE that trailer for the second half of the season? Looks like Sith is about to get real.

Rating
8.0

Nerd Notes
-To correct my statement in the last review, there was some misinformation online about this episode being titled “The Secret of Prisoner X10,” which turned out to be an alternate title for the previous episode. So scratch my theory that Ryder is hiding anything or that the Bridgers are alive. Unless he turns out to be another Gall Trayvis…
-I know the political system in Star Wars isn’t even worth thinking too hard about, but it seems a little odd that Bail Organa gets to be both the Crown Prince and Senator for Alderaan. Plus we really have to question his parenting if he really sent Leia as an agent… I was hoping we would find out he had no part in this and she’s just acting on her own, but alas not. Yet.
-Oh yeah, Lyste, I nearly forgot about him from season 1 but since he was an officer with a name (and eyes!) it was probably inevitable he’d show up again. I did appreciate how he and the other imperial characters were more the “just doing our jobs” types instead of the usual mustache twirling evil for the sake of evil villains these officers normally are. Though, whatever decency he showed towards Leia was more likely motivated by fear as she threatened to report back to the senate on how sloppy the garrison was. I’m guessing he was drinking buddies with Aresko and Grint… not no more.
-Ezra’s mood swings are a little sporadic. I can’t tell if it’s sloppy writing or meant to foreshadow the darker development of his character the new trailer suggests…

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