On the D/L – Star Wars Rebels
Season 1 Episode 8 – “Gathering Forces”
Last episode of Star Wars Rebels this year and what a note to end on. This episode provides a satisfying resolution to the cliffhanger from last week as well as drawing on many elements established in the previous episodes.
Special attention should be given to the opening of this episode giving us a set piece that was nothing short of spectacular. It was a fantastic example of an action sequence building tension gradually. It clearly established that The Ghost was outmatched by the Imperial pursuit constantly growing as well as ramped up the problems facing the crew one at a time. It was really tense stuff and seemed to grow more hopeless by the minute. The resolution did feel a little predictable but it was still a good use of the available resources.
This episode also showed something new that I haven’t come across before in Star Wars. We see The Phantom dropping out of Hyperspace after detaching from The Ghost. This was a really cool sequence that provided a nicely trippy visual. It’s worth noting as it wasn’t something I really expected to stand out.
As with the first part this is very much Ezra’s story but Kanan proves to be very closely linked to that. It’s revealed in the episode that Kanan’s skills are somewhat lacking and that his training was never properly completed so training Ezra is something he really isn’t prepared for. I really liked how The Inquisitor recognised this and was able to manipulate the situation to his own benefit initially. It’s also interesting to see just how outclassed Kanan is when taking on The Inquisitor with a lightsaber. it really makes their battles all the more tense and urgent.
Kanan’s reckless planning almost proved fatal to him and Ezra in this episode. His ideas aren’t bad but they aren’t very well conceived. It’s been working for him so far mostly through dumb luck but maybe the events of this episode will force him to do something of a double take when rushing into danger in the future.
Ezra’s powers are clearly growing at a rate that Kanan is ill equipped to keep up with. Seeing him get to the bottom of his emotional hangups and become more proficient in using The Force was a great moment and showed some real progress in this master/student relationship. In the show he is often cocky and reckless but it’s recently become apparent that he’s overcompensating for a great deal of pain and insecurity. Seeing him forced to directly deal with this in a life or death situation is a bit typical but it really works. We’ve gotten to know this character over the season so far and it pays off in a big way here. The moment where he finally admits to himself exactly how he feels is well earned and is really powerful when it happens.
The fact that he’s a teenager plays into this really well as Star Wars Rebels has successfully merged typical teenage conflicts with the issues that plague a Jedi in training. It has previously been noted that Jedi training begins from a young age and becomes problematic if it begins too late. We see that with Anakin in the prequels as well as Luke in the original trilogy but the handling of those two cases was very inconsistent. It was never directly attributed to Anakin’s downfall and didn’t really affect Luke in any massive way as he was able to overcome whatever Dark Side temptation he had.
It seems that Ezra’s lack of control of his emotions is going to underpin everything about his development as a Jedi as well as a character. I like how the episode made a point of establishing that overcoming emotional blocks isn’t the same as controlling your emotions. Without proper guidance Ezra draws on the anger and fear instinctively to summon a really dangerous creature. It was a great touch to have The Inquisitor surprised by this despite the fact that he was actively encouraging this. It will be interesting to see what affect Ezra’s first taste of the Dark Side will have on him. Having all that raw power at your disposal can’t be an easy thing to ignore, especially given the emotional turmoil that he’s dealing with.
In this instance I thought that keeping the focus on Kanan and Ezra was the right thing to do as it kept the story tightly paced. the other characters were around and accomplished what they needed to but understandably took a back seat to the central relationship. The next part of the season needs to lend more focus to the other characters as they do feel a bit like window dressing some of the time.
An excellent outing that follows up on the first part wonderfully and keeps the focus tightly on the master/student relationship between Kanan and Ezra.
Each of them have severe issues that prevent them from being as effective as they could be. Kanan’s reckless attitude and lack of training experience is proving to be an issue when it comes to Ezra’s development as well as keeping himself safe. His lack of skill in battle against The Inquisitor makes this sequence really tense.
Between that and a high octane chase sequence in the beginning of the episode there’s no shortage of exciting action to be had in this episode and the show in general.
Ezra’s lack of control on his emotions forms the basis of his character development and his Jedi training. It’s great that overcoming emotional hangups creates a new set of problems that will have some far reaching consequences. It’s an interesting approach to Jedi training and I can’t wait to see how it pans out.
The lack of real prior development on the other characters is proving to be a problem in episodes like this as they start to feel like window dressing when the focus completely shifts to specific relationships. This is something that will have to be improved when the show returns next year.
So far this is a great show and a fantastic entry to the Star Wars canon. The characters are great, the stories are engaging and the action is always exciting. Tonally it fits right in with the original trilogy. It truly is a joy to watch.