Save the Purgill!
No, I will not say whales in space. I’m already sick of this forced meme. I never imagined Rebels taking a detour quite like this. Moreover I didn’t expect this episode to be worthwhile. So, was it?
Star Wars has always had a sort of subtle environmental message. The good guys always coexist within their natural surroundings and we’re left to marvel at the beautiful landscapes and unique fauna the galaxy has to offer, while the bad guys typically live in fully artificial metallic worlds, and that was really about as far as it needed to go. I wasn’t sure how a “save the whales” episode was going to work in Star Wars, but wisely, the writers have been building up this episode by occasionally showcasing Ezra’s connection to nature and his ability to communicate with animals and other sentients through the force. So really this could have and should have been a very powerfully emotional episode, but as it stands it just sort of… happened. The episode is a far more interesting idea than a story, since the real story is just the heroes on a fuel run, and that’s basically it. Oh, and there are some whales. In space. Damn it, I guess I said it.
I wanted to like this episode a lot more than I did. Sadly the only real strongpoint of the episode is Ezra and his connection to these creatures, which is the entire point of the episode. The rest of the episode is fine, it’s just nothing remarkable, apart from visually. There was a strong Avatar: The Last Airbender feeling to this episode (Dave Filoni was one of the early writers on that show), and not just from the whale-squids. Sadly opening the show up to that comparison just makes Rebels look inferior to Avatar’s storytelling. Ezra makes a connection with the squid-whales which saves the day and that’s about it. Avatar would have provided something far deeper emotionally with some kind of earth-shattering revelation at the end as consequence, but we didn’t get that from Rebels. Ezra’s big moment of communicating with the whale-squids is nice, but sort of superficial and doesn’t give the audience the emotional hook that it should have.
The big problem is there’s no real payoff at the end of the episode. Ezra connects with the whales and the whales help the rebels beat the enemies, which worked better last season in Rise of the Old Masters. I’m certain Ezra’s connection to nature will pop up again several more times, probably at some critical juncture, but here it’s not really of any consequence in the end. Sure, it was a pleasing moment to see the awe inspiring inspiration for hyperspace travel, and at this point I’m willing to accept anything that scientifically crazy in the Star Wars universe, so whatever. Also the villains… yes… that is all I can say about them.
Of all the characters I least expected Hera to be the anti-environmentalist given how idealistic and open-minded she’s been in other areas. The more I thought about it the more it made sense of course. Hera cares about people and flying, and since these creatures are also the equivalent of space deer wandering in the roads and causing accidents, apparently she lost a few friends in this manner. Fortunately she comes full circle and doesn’t have any kind of Ahab vendetta with the whales… Purgill. Having her parrot Ezra’s line “follow the Purgill” at the end was a nice little touch, so I can forgive her for being a (Moby) dick.
I fear I’m making this episode sound bad, which it’s not, far from it. It’s very impressive visually and like I said the idea is there and a very interesting one at that, it just doesn’t play out in any significant way which sort of left me feeling empty at the end. Oh well, it’s still a better throwaway episode than some of the previous ones.
-Okay, Star Wars and science have never really gelled, I mean there are whales in space (damn it…) but it was a little hard to get over the heroes surviving in space by wearing stormtrooper helmets.
-The episode gets quite a few minuses for the villains… I love the empire and any episode without imperial bad guys just isn’t complete for me. Especially when the mining guild thugs were complete non-characters. I guess they thought we’d be enthralled by yellow Tie Fighters?