In another set of two-parter episodes, Star Wars: Rebels Season 4 has firmly planted itself as the best of the show so far with room for the storytelling to breathe amidst action, tone and tying into Star Wars lore. As the Ghost crew arrives back on Lothal to see the devastation wrought by the Imperial occupation, they run into Thrawn and his new and improved TIE Defender.
Now, obviously, there will be spoilers ahead, but let’s dive into our Five Thoughts on Star Wars: Rebels‘s “The Occupation” and “Flight Of The Defender.”
1. Structure Of The Season
Doubling up episodes is maybe the best decision Star Wars: Rebels ever made. While The Clone Wars impressed with nearly every episode structured like a 22 minute short film that both stood on its own merits and linked to larger story arcs that explored perspectives across the entire galaxy, that cost a lot of money and time that Rebels can’t afford. Their episodes are sparser, the art style allows for less intricate animation, setting and lighting and, overall, feels much more like a serialised show.
For three seasons, even the best episodes of Rebels feel slight compared to the average episodes of The Clone Wars. However, structuring this final season in sets of two episodes has done wonders of them so far. Telling an hour long story in two parts, the show is able to let their stories breathe and not have to worry about wrapping them up with a moral in 20 minutes.
2. Death Of Lothal
Last night’s two-parter finally let Ezra return to Lothal and explored the martial law the planet is suffering under. I’m glad they got this out of the way early because I couldn’t stand another episode of Ezra trying to make everything about him and how much he wants to save Lothal despite everything else going on in the galaxy. Still, Ezra’s selfishness aside, this was done really well and definitely benefitted from spacing it out across two episodes.
The first episode, “The Occupation,” allowed for an extensive look at how much Lothal has changed since we first saw it in season one. The wide fields of corn and warm landscapes are now raging hellscapes of fire and smoke and the dense towns are now overrun by Imperial propaganda and security. The episode existed as more of a tone piece to set up the plot of the second episode as the narrative transitioned into focusing on the new TIE Defender Elite, but it helped having the time to explore what life is like on Lothal now with undercutting that to get to the main story.
3. The TIE Defender Elite
Speaking of the Defender, the second episode, “Flight Of The Defender,” felt like the Rebels storytelling we’ve come to know and love refined to an art. Allowing “The Occupation” to set up the backdrop of Lothal and the headspaces of our characters let this episode focus solely on the mission to retrieve the flight data recorder of the Defender. It brought us back to the stealth infiltration of Sabine and Ezra that, as always, goes wrong in increasingly elaborate and dangerous ways.
It’s an episode of a breakneck increase in tension from a simple infiltration to the appearance of Thrawn to having to steal the Defender itself and fight off a squadron of TIE Interceptors to their eventual crash. It’s the kind of sequence that would have been crammed into a few minutes of screentime had the narrative of these two episode had to share the same 20 minutes, but was allowed to breathe as the set piece of its own episode.
Oh, yeah, and Thrawn continues to own.
4. Did That Wolf Just Say “DOOM?”
Right. About these Loth-wolves. The prevalent theory is that they’re somehow connected to Ahsoka which only kind of tracks in that Ahsoka was really Filoni’s baby and the wolves are being included in this season because Dave Filoni really likes wolves. That I can kind of see. Why and how they’re connected to Ahsoka is a level I couldn’t even guess at and that’s assuming I even buy into the theory that they’re connected to her at all.
I’m of two minds. Obviously, I want Ahsoka back. Ahsoka’s amazing and leaving her story on the pretty non-resolved end of “Twilight Of The Apprentice” is a disservice to the amazing character arc she’s had since her introduction in the Clone Wars film.Continued below
That being said, the wolf did jus say doom so I have no idea what to think. Just bring back Ahsoka, Filoni.
5. Sabine’s New Hair
On a lighter note than the death and destruction happening on Lothal, the might of the Empire being shown off by the TIE Defenders and Moro from Princess Mononoke warning of impending doom, I want to talk about Sabine’s hair. Yes, Sabine’s hair. Sabine changes her hair with every season going from purple and orange to green and purple to white and purple and now just… to purple. It’s a darker change and while the purple hair does continue to show off her artistic side in a very Sabine way, the choice to go for such a dark, monotone colour scheme for her hair this season speaks to how dark this show could potentially get in the coming episodes.
I’ve never been worried by a character’s change of hair like I am now.