Star Wars Rebels – Season 2 Episode 1
“Siege of Lothal”
Star Wars Rebels gives audiences a preview of the second season by screening the first episode early. It’s a bit of a shame that we won’t see the rest until later in the year but the preview is appreciated.
Season 1 left off with our heroes inducted fully into the Rebel Alliance and a general feeling that the scope of the show was about to get a whole lot bigger. We even see Darth Vader brought in to deal with the Rebellion so fans are definitely given a lot to look forward to.
One fear I had was that the larger scope would hurt the show by compromising on character development and turning it all into a massive empty mess with too much to keep track of. I’m thankful to say that -based on this episode- my fears are almost completely put to rest. The focus remains on the small group of core characters with the conflict between the Rebellion and the Empire serving as the backdrop.
Reluctance to become fully immersed in the Rebellion serves as the central theme of this episode as the characters have somewhat differing opinions on whether they should fully commit to this. This creates an interesting through line for the episode as they have to decide as a team what to do in the future.
Kanan is the most resistant to joining which makes sense given his character. He was reluctant to embrace his Jedi training in the first season but came around to the idea slowly through training Ezra. It’s a similar situation with his role in the Rebellion. It’s clear that he liked things the way they were as they had nobody to count on but each other and were only responsible for their own survival. Kanan definitely seems to be afraid of being part of something larger again and having so many others depend on him.
To counter Kanan’s outlook is Hera who pretty much has the opposite point of view. The opening scene illustrates this perfectly where Hera is glad to have backup and prefers life with their new friends whereas Kanan insists that they were always fine on their own. Framing this important discussion in the middle of a superbly executed space battle sequence is yet another example of the excellent approach to storytelling this show always takes.
This discussion is picked up later in the episode when Kanan talks to her about the concepts of authorisation and procedure being a problem for him. He was much more comfortable simply stealing from the Empire and giving the spoils to the needy rather than being drawn into a full scale military conflict. Hera points out that they are involved in something much bigger but it is still the right thing. Kanan really doesn’t want to go through another war after the Clone Wars ended with the current situation. His pain is fully informing his position on this issue and it fits perfectly with his character. Similarly Hera being fully on board with the Rebellion makes sense for her. It’s unclear what her reasons for feeling so strongly about it but it could be as simple as believing in what they are doing.
Ezra is conflicted over what to do but when Tarkin town is burned to the ground and Lothal becomes a place that they can’t return to he decisively states that he wants to stay with the Rebel fleet as it’s the best chance to help Lothal. Ezra goes through a lot in this episode generally as he has to deal with returning home and having that home torn out from under him. He is starting to move away from the naive youth he was last season and it’s a change that looks good on him. There’s an indication that his powers are growing as well as evidenced when he senses Vader’s presence and the attempt he makes to perform a mind trick.
Sabine and Zeb are given the short straw here as usual which is a shame given that it’s a longer episode so there should be more time to give them things to do. All we really learn is that Zeb is happy with their current situation as fighting with others reminds him of the life he left behind. Sabine has the Rebellion symbol painted on her armour so that gives us an idea of her position. It appears that this show is becoming Kanan’s story more than anyone else so I don’t expect these characters to shoot to prominence anytime soon.
The plot of this episode focuses on Minister Tua (Kath Soucie) defecting to the Rebel Alliance. In order to make her extraction worthwhile she teases them with knowledge of the true reason that the Empire are so interested in Lothal. It was previously believed that they wanted to use the planet for resources but apparently there’s a lot more to it. The orders came from the Emperor himself so it has to be something huge. I’m curious as to what this will turn out to be but there’s quite a bit of time to wait for that.
I must say I was surprised when the attempt to extract her failed so spectacularly. She wasn’t given an awful lot of screen time to afford her death any sort of impact but I feel like that was sort of the point. She is simply another casualty in the Empire’s quest to retain dominance of the galaxy. It does seem like something of a missed opportunity to have an Imperial defector hanging around in a supporting role to give the Rebels information. It would certainly add layers to the Empire.
Given that Lothal seems to be a no go now since the faces of Kanan and his team are plastered everywhere I get the sense that the show is moving onto something grander. No longer will they be doing small missions and going back home at the end. I’m all for this as long as they keep it focused on the characters and don’t forget that this show is about the people involved.
In terms of villainy, the Empire were handled beautifully here. With Darth Vader taking point on hunting down the Rebels it feels as if the job is getting done and that they are constantly closing in on capturing Kanan and his team. Darth Vader is characterised wonderfully here as being cold and uncompromising. He immediately suggests to burn Tarkin town to send a message that sympathising with the Rebellion will not be tolerated. I also got the impression that he knew Tua would defect and used her death to send a clear message that he is not to be messed with. I’m almost giddy at the fact James Earl Jones has returned to voice the character.
He is definitely shown as an immensely formidable presence. His fight with Ezra and Kanan is completely one sided and the only victory they can claim is still being alive. Vader is in a different class to the Inquisitor and I’m glad that he hasn’t been watered down for the purposes of a recurring role.
I loved the sequence where he takes on the Rebel fleet with only his TIE fighter and more or less decimates them with nothing but his piloting skills. Anakin was the best pilot around as we all know so this comes as no surprise. It’s impressive that he makes it look so effortless as well. I’ve always loved Darth Vader and so far this show is completely doing him justice.
An interesting seed was planted when he becomes aware of Ahsoka’s presence through the force while she becomes aware of him. It gives Vader renewed determination to hunt down the rest of the Jedi and also gives him a personal stake in the whole thing since she is his former apprentice. I can’t wait to see a fight between these characters, it should be very emotionally charged. I wonder why Ahsoka chose to keep Vader’s identity to herself for now. All will become clear in the future I imagine.
My guess is that Vader will take a back seat role for a while as evidenced by the Emperor sending out a new Inquisitor to hunt them down. Maybe he feels that Vader is too close to the situation and doesn’t fully trust him. If done right then the relationship between Vader and Ahsoka will be similar to the dynamic between him and Luke in the Original Trilogy. It will be different obviously but it’ll be interesting to revisit these similar themes.
It’ll be a while before we see any more Star Wars Rebels but I am absolutely hyped for the next season and can’t wait to see where this all goes throughout the next season.
A really strong opening to the new season that gives viewers an idea of what the new status quo will be like with Kanan’s team a part of the Rebellion.
The central theme of the episode was the decision over whether to stick with the Rebel fleet or go back on their own. Kanan prefers only having his friends to rely on and having them rely on him. The responsibility associated with being part of the Rebel Alliance is something that he’s pretty afraid of. Hera is the opposite as she fully believes in what the Rebellion stand for so it creates an interesting conflict within the team.
Sticking with the Rebel Alliance becomes a necessity when Lothal becomes a place that is nearly impossible to go back to after Darth Vader makes sure their image is plastered all over the place. He also sends a really powerful message by burning Tarkin town to the ground. The citizens of Lothal know what it means to defy the Empire.
In general, Vader is put across really well here as he is portrayed as cold and brutally uncompromising. His quick decision to burn Tarkin Town shows this clearly as well as his casual attitude to the death of Minister Tua. His lightsaber battle with Kanan and Ezra was excellent at showing how much of a threat he is as well as single handedly taking on the Rebel fleet with only his TIE fighter. He is a complete badass and makes it all look so effortless.
Unfortunately Zeb and Sabine get the shaft again and take a back seat throughout most of the episode. They are around but don’t really have much to do sadly. I really like these characters so want to see them focused on more.
I can’t wait for the rest of season 2 after this taste. It’s going to be amazing.