We’re back! After a long, Star Wars-less summer (minus that whole Celebration deal), Rebels has finally returned for it’s fourth and final season! This season, we’re doubling up pretty much every episode to cram in as much story as we can, thankfully, and this opening two-parter takes us to a corner of the galaxy I’ve been longing to explore since the end of Clone Wars: Mandalore.
Now, as Sabine returns to Mandalore to rescue her captive father, it’s time to dive into what we thought about Star Wars: Rebels‘s “Heroes Of Mandalore!” Spoilers ahead.
1. Sabine Wren Like An MFer
Nothing has given me as much joy lately than Rebels shifting its focus to bring even more depth to Sabine Wren. After three seasons of sitting on my hands while Ezra goes through the same story beats we’ve seen both Anakin and Luke Skywalker go through, to see Sabine finally get her due has been fantastic. This opening two-parter of the season is all Sabine, all the time as we explore more of her past with her parents, her time at the Imperial Academy and what she’s been up to since taking on the Darksaber.
Namely, she’s been trying to rescue her father which we see her do in the first episode before her past comes back to haunt her in the second episode as Tiber Saxon, now the governor of Mandalore after his brother’s death, uses a weapon Sabine developed at the Academy against the Manadlorians. This is a two-parter that, largely, functions to bring Sabine back into the fold of the Ghost crew after separating them last season, but also explores legacy and past choices and how they can be used to exploit you in the present.
2. Return To Mandalore
I’ve made it no secret that I’ve never really been into Mandalorians. Especially not the whole Mando’a stuff that was so prevalent during the EU. Not only am I not that into the whole honourable warrior culture in general, but something about it felt oddly fetishistic in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. However, since The Clone Wars and now Rebels have explored the larger culture of Mandalorians guided by George Lucas’s vision, I’ve found myself more and more interested in them.
A warrior culture, sure, but one that values artistic expression as much as honour. A culture connected through a love of art and architecture with a horrid history of civil war and destruction that has left their world arid and barren and so have turned to creating their own beauty in the world. A culture constantly divided by a forward thinking few who wish to push their people towards a peaceful enlightenment and a regressive few who want to cling to the old, violent ways that nearly destroyed their people. Now, that’s a story I’m interested.
3. Another Secret Weapon
Yes, I rolled my eyes at this two. Another secret weapon of mass destruction used by the Empire. It feels like the Emperor just has a shed full of these things that he constantly drags out every time the Rebels blow up another one. Still, at least there’s layers to this one that I find interesting. As I’ve mentioned before, I loved that it was a weapon that Sabine developed at her time in the Academy that had been stolen and rebuilt by the Empire to use on her own people. That’s just juicy.
Secondly, there’s the element mentioned by Thrawn in his brief cameo which is how the weapon turns the Mandalorian armour, their greatest source of power, against them. It’s a weapon that’s as demoralising as it is destructive. It’s perfectly Imperial and, sure, I’m as tired as the next person about all these secret superweapons in Star Wars, but this was handled pretty well.
4. Becoming The Rebels It Was Meant To Be
Rebels has had a tumultuous three seasons so far. While it’s never quite hit the heights of the latter seasons of Clone Wars, when it’s good it’s been great. The downside is that those highs have been few and far between and always sandwiched between episodes that I haven’t exactly enjoyed. I hesitate to use the phrase “filler episode” here because it’s become kind of a buzzword for people to shit on Rebels with, but there’s definitely been as many, if not more, lows than highs for this show so far.Continued below
But now, I think, Rebels has finally found its groove. It took it four seasons and obviously had to do it in the last season, but this two-parter felt like the kind of show Rebels was always meant to be. It was fast paced, but had enough space to breathe, slow down and bring depth when needed. It was full of humour, but never used that humour to draw away from the drama. The animation was fantastic, fluid and the action full of breath-catching moments that felt like Star Wars. It’ll be sad to see this show go after it finally found its rhythm, but I now can’t wait to see where the team takes these strengths next.
5. Doing Right By Bo-Katan
God, finally. Bo-Katan was a character done so wrong by the cancellation of Clone Wars, it was unbelievable. After spending like three seasons setting up Satine’s removal from power and the vacuum that created leading to a civil war with Bo-Katan poised to take up leadership of the Mandalorians loyal to Satine’s way of governing, we get zero resolution for any of it. The closest we got was the snippets of the Siege of Mandalore in the Ahsoka novel and that was about it.
I’ve been waiting years for Bo-Katan’s storyline to be resolved and this was the most perfect way possible. After taking up leadership at the end of the Clone Wars only to be ousted by the Empire and then spending the next 20-something years watching your people being exploited and used by a tyrannical, it’s finally time for Bo-Katan to take Mandalore back. Now, sure, this is 100% a way of getting Sabine out of the whole Mandalore plot and back on the Ghost crew because splitting them up left the Ghost with an absence they couldn’t fill. I get that. But also using that set up and the depth it gave to Sabine’s story to bring Bo-Katan back and elevate her to Mandalorian leader in a civil war that could shape the culture’s history? I’m cool with that.