"Star Wars: Rebels" Episode 8 – Iron Squadron (7.5 out of 10)  –  Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Directed by Saul Ruiz; Written by Matt Michnovetz; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar; Guest Starring Lars Mikkelson. Rated TV-Y7, Airs on Disney XD 11/19/16. It is currently available on the Disney XD app.

 This review will contain mild spoilers.

The latest episode of Star Wars Rebels gives us another look at another group of rebels being brought in to help fight the cause. This time, the Ghost crew are sent out to a planet to held evacuate civilians because of an Imperial Occupation and they run headlong into Mart Mattin and the rest of Iron Squadron, including Guti Terrez. 

Yes, indeed, those characters are named after Lucasfilm Story Group-member Matt Martin and Star Wars Show host Andi Gutierrez. 

Mattin is the nephew of Admiral Sato and is running a ragtag resistance on his distant homeworld. But he's just a kid in a fancy YT-2400. His crew is a bunch of kids. They've had some success destroying ships of the Empire's in the system using cargo rigged to explode, but the Empire is squeezing the civilians in a way that drew the attention of Sato himself. 

The Ghost crew is dispatched help evacuate civilians.

This is the part of the episode I loved most. It turns out this was entirely Thrawn's doing, working to squeeze the populace in order to test the stress points of Admiral Sato's constitution. It is the first step in bringing his entire plan from the whole of the season into focus. It would have been too simple for him to destroy the Ghost and its crew inside it the first time they met. But he was probing them for their weaknesses, working to coax the rest of the rebellion from them. Only then would he bring the hammer down. He's not just bringing out the Ghost, or Phoenix Squadron, he's going after the entire Rebellion and won't make his move until he can have the entire thing.

It almost makes me wonder if they're setting up Thrawn's long game to end at Endor. Or at least to have him sow the seeds to create the tactical situation that would make Endor seem like an appealing plan to Palpatine. It doesn't matter, though, that's a long way off, and we still have a lot of ground to cover with the Ghost crew who may or may not have made it all the way to Endor. Though something tells me they didn't.

The episode feels a bit slower paced than the more recent installments of the show, sedate almost. It was exciting, and cool things happened, but it felt like there was much more room to breath in this episode than we're accustomed to getting. That, and once Thrawn's intentions were clear, it felt fairly obvious where the episode would be going, given the pattern of the previous episodes. This is just one more episode where a group of disaffected rebels on a far-flung planet are brought into the more organized fold of the rebellion, thanks to the efforts of the Ghost Crew.

It's not a bad pattern to be in, but I'm more curious about what's going on with Maul. And Kallus. And the Death Star.

The animation on the show continues to take leaps forward in quality. And it's almost hard to explain how cleverly they block scenes and sequences, both in the story and in physical animation, to tell their stories in the most efficient ways possible. Every episode has been a tightly packed bit of writing, setting up everything on an episode level, working on a season level, and also creating the juxtapositions needed to tell the story efficiently. It's really quite marvelous what they're able to put together. 

It makes me excited to see what we're heading toward in the later parts of the season.

Though I think this episode was vital to the overall plot, it explored some things we've seen before and has fallen into a pattern with the series, though I'm assuming it will pay off later. It was an enjoyable episode and I was glad to see Matt Martin and Andi Gutierrez immortalized in Star Wars in such a way. I would place this episode on par with the previous episode, though I think the next few, as we build toward some sort of climax (and possibly Rogue One) will increase the intensity. I'm matching it to the score for last episode, 7.5 out of 10. Solid and fun, if not mildly disposable.

Though if, at the end of the season, we're given a massive battle with all of the characters and ships that have been collected by the Ghost Crew, all of these episodes building these characters will have paid off and I might revise the scores for these episodes. What better theme could there be than the actions of a small group of people can make a difference in creating allies and building a coalition of ships large enough to oppose Thrawn's fleet? 

We can only hope.

Season 1 Scorecard

Season 2 Scorecard

Season 3 Scorecard:

Season Average: 8.14 out of 10

For more in-depth discussions about Star Wars Rebels and all other things Star Wars, be sure to tune into Full of Sith every week. 

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