After a pretty fantastic opening two-parter that wrapped up (for now) the Mandalorian arc and brought Sabine back into the fold of the Ghost crew, it’s time to check back in with the state of the Rebellion as a whole. With their secret base compromised by Thrawn at the end of the last season, Phoenix group has a new base in a pretty familiar location…
Spoilers ahead for for both parts of Star Wars: Rebels‘s “In The Name Of The Rebellion.”
1. Phoenix Group On Yavin
Not to draw from that other long-running science fiction franchise, but… it’s been a long time, getting from there to here. I’m going to talk a lot about how Rebels is finally becoming the show I always wanted it to be and this is going to be the biggest contribution to that fact. Ever since the show was first announced, what I wanted was a Clone Wars-style show that explored the ramifications the Galactic Civil War had on the wider expanses of the galaxy.
All those episodes that explored the banking clans and the Outer Rim fronts and the Hutt clans’s backdoor dealings with senators in The Clone Wars? I wanted that set during a time where the Empire reigned supreme. Instead, for three seasons, I got a show that zeroed in on characters I only somewhat cared about to explore one backwater planet and it’s occupation by the Empire. Only since expanding beyond that scope to explore what life is like for the remaining Jedi in the regime of the Empire to how the disparate fighting forces of the Rebellion came together to from an Alliance did the show really find it’s footing.
Finally bringing the Ghost crew to Yavin felt like a long time coming and I’m dreadfully sad it had to happen in the final season, but seeing Hera rub shoulders with the likes of General Dodonna and Mon Mothma was payoff enough.
Oy. So… Kallus’s journey has been a fascinating one for me. Going from a fairly one note bad guy who was a stand in for Imperial cruelty at large to one of the Rebel Alliance after seeing the humanity in his enemy, he’s one of the Rebels characters with the most genuine depth in the entire show.
Sadly, that got ignored because they gave Kallus shaggy hair to go along with his mutton chops so clearly the only aspect of his character the internet cares about is how fuckable he is despite being a collection of polygons. This is a kid’s show and y’all need help.
3. A Time Of Difficult Choices
A major theme in this two parter is in figuring out which move to make first. Sadly, to get there, it had to paint Ezra as fairly selfish to the point of caricature. We know that he still cares about the liberation of Lothal, but the way he challenged Mon Mothma on it in the middle of a planning meeting for their next operation really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s hard to remember that Ezra’s still a fairly clueless teenager in the grand scheme of thing, but the show has to try and balance the fact that he’s still learning how to be a part of the Rebellion with the fact that he’s the emotional core of the story.
Painting him as a whiny teenager who only cares about his own world’s safety amid a galaxy of worlds under siege in order to learn a lesson about prioritisation felt kind of weird in a “I still think Ezra’s the weakest part of this show” kind of way. Sure, the lesson was learned in the end, but it was so hard to feel connected to the character when he’s saddled with these really awful, selfish moments.
4. How We Fight
Not to, y’know, politicise everything, but I’m going to politicise everything. 2017 sucks and one of the things that an emergent tolerance of fascism in the West has exposed is how meagre the liberal stance is in defending the civilisation against literal tyranny. The kind of political opponents to the right wing that care more about their own monetary status than the lives of the people they claim to protect. Meanwhile, we’ve seen large sects of people actively rise up to fight against fascism without the constraints of capitalist liberalism.Continued below
Bearing that in mind, I’m continually frustrated by how Lucasfilm has painted the ideological conflict between Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera. While the broader ideas of liberalism vs. anarcho-leftism are an interesting aspect to bring to the Rebel Alliance in order to show fractures in their organisation before the singular threat of the Death Star unites them, the way Saw is painted as a violent extremist rubs me the wrong way.
This is something that’s bugged me since Rogue One, but the way the story frames the moral pacifism of an upper class white woman who used to be a part of the system she’s now fighting against as superior to the direct action of a black man from a war-torn background and his ethnically Middle Eastern coded followers is… problematic, to say the least. It’s not something I have the space to get into here, but know that I’m more on the side of Saw Gerrera than of Mon Mothma.
5. Bringing It All Together
Season 3 of Rebels was sadly marred by the fact that it’s ties to Rogue One had to be danced around until the release of the film so as not to destroy Lucasfilm’s tightly wound anti-spoiler policies. It lead to a sparse first half of the season with all the major story beats backloaded with ties to the film that couldn’t be resolved in the show itself. Thankfully, with some distance between this season and Rogue One and no concurrent anthology film to tie into, Season 4 of Rebels can freely breathe in the same space as Rogue One without story interference.
This allows for the show to follow up on the story of Saw Gerrera after he disbands from the Alliance, to explore the Rebel cells flocking to Yavin IV and to show the beginings of the Rebels discovering the Empire’s secret weapons without stepping on any toes. Not only that, but the Kyber crystal stuff in this episode doesn’t just tie into Catalyst and Rogue One, but it follows up on an arc of The Clone Wars that sadly never made it to air. This is the kind of connective tissue that makes the storytelling of the new Star Wars canon so engrossing and I’m glad to see Rebels unbound by the whims of another story’s marketing schedule.