Star Wars Rebels – Season 3 Episode 18
Star Wars Rebels tries to create another connection to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story when the Ghost crew helps an important political figure escape the clutches of the Empire.
This show has often struggled when including important characters from the wider Star Wars canon in episodes. The biggest problem is that the appearances don’t often feel significant enough or really need that character to make the episode work. I think when including a character that fans of Star Wars will recognise the episode should feature them heavily and have them involved in events that only they could be involved in.
Our celebrity guest in this episode is Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly, reprising her role from Rogue One) and the plot is about getting her away from the Empire before they punish her for speaking out against the Emperor. It’s a solid setup to introduce this character to the world of Star Wars Rebels and gives us a bit of background into how she came to join the Rebellion.
The Empire is obviously a really corrupt institution but one thing that Rogue One establishes is that most people simply find a way to live in that society and put up with the oppression they face on a daily basis. As long as people keep their noses clean then they won’t have any trouble. It’s easy to see how people would just put up with it because it’s hard to imagine anything changing it. This is a really topical thing as modern society has many problems that need fixing but many people simply look out for themselves and those closest to them because it’s easier to live that way.
Mon Mothma had clearly been thinking along those lines for a long time. She was a member of the Senate so had a position that gained her a certain amount of respect and freedom as long as she didn’t say or do anything out of turn. Her situation was a lot better than some people so it’s understandable that it might be appealing to look the other way and simply put up with the situation. For Mon Mothma there was something of a turning point where she couldn’t turn a blind eye any more and she took a very public position against the Empire and against Emperor Palpatine specifically. The words she uses are most certainly treasonous and by taking that position she is essentially burning all of her bridges with the Empire.
She wasn’t entirely a collaborator as evidenced by her conversation with Hera where they outline what makes them similar people who are in different roles. Mon Mothma talks about the Emperor slowly picking away at freedom over the years with no real scope to oppose him. She did say that she tried to oppose him but there was only so much she could do and she simply didn’t have enough clout to be effective. Hera can relate to Mon Mothma in terms of having the odds stacked against her. They both recognise that the Rebellion is worth fighting for but their approaches to championing that cause will be very different.
Most of the episode is something of a Cat and Mouse scenario as Hera, Ezra and some Rebel pilots try to get Mon Mothma to an important meeting to gain support for the Rebellion while Imperial forces are on their tail. Outside of the space battle tactics we see on display this is a battle of wits between Hera and Thrawn who knows exactly what her escape tactic will be and is ready for that eventuality. The recent showing of Thrawn as a brilliant tactician who makes it a point to know his enemy has been great for the character and he is starting to become the massive threat we were promised when the season began.
The space battle portion of the episode was really well handled. It’s always great to see space being used as something more than a 2 dimensional battleground. Attacks come from all angles here which really heightens the dangers as there’s a sense of unpredictability to it. The nebula sequence looked amazing with all of the vibrant colours and the beauty of the visuals being contrasted by the danger the represent. Bringing in the prototype TIE fighter that we saw plans for earlier in the season was a nice touch as it allowed the Empire to be more threatening in an unfamiliar environment. We see how easily standard TIE Bombers are destroyed by the environment but the prototype fighter is a different story and it takes fancy flying as well as a bit of luck to subdue it.
There was some clumsy foreshadowing at play in the nebula sequence when Hera advised the pilots to disable their Proton Torpedoes rather than risk igniting the nebula gas. It was pretty obvious from then on how the Ghost would ultimately escape and only a matter of time until the gas was ignited. Establishing this early was a good idea because it meant that their escape tactic didn’t come from nowhere but there definitely was a better way of establishing it. Rather than having an overt warning it could have been something that happened during the nebula chase almost proves disastrous before ending the episode by using that to their advantage. It’s a pretty minor criticism but it stood out.
A great episode that finds a good use for Mon Mothma while highlighting exactly what she stands for and how that ties into the Rebellion as a whole. The idea of opposing the Empire and being punished for it is something we have seen in other Star Wars media so bringing it in here works well and I like how the episode highlights the similarities as well as the differences between Mon Mothma and Hera.
The Cat and Mouse game that the episode gives us is really well handled as it works on multiple levels. On one level it’s simply a risky chase through a nebula but on another it’s a battle of wits between Hera and Thrawn who both have the same knowledge. The visuals are excellent and I like that space is more than a 2 Dimensional battleground. There is some clumsy foreshadowing regarding igniting the gas but other than that the episode hangs together really well.