"Star Wars: Rebels" Season 4 Episodes 3, 4 – In the Name of the Rebellion (parts 1 and 2) (9.5 out of 10) – Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, David Oyelowo; Special Guest stars: Forest Whitaker, Genevieve O'Reilly; Rated TV-Y7, Aired on Disney XD 10/23/17.
With last week's installment of Rebels showing us the follow up to the Mandalore part of the story, it was only natural we get into what was going on with the Rebellion proper with this episode. After their stunning defeat at the hands of Grand Admiral Thrawn on Attolon, the Rebels have regrouped with the Massasi cell on Yavin 4.
We're starting to see the beginnings of the hesitancy of the Rebellion and the untenable nature of the political situation. And also the very severe philosophical break between Saw Gerrera and Mon Mothma.
In the first half, the Rebels are given an objective to spike an Imperial communications installation to slow the Imperial fleet, though it seems counter-intuitive. Ezra wants to hurt the Empire and can't figure out why they can't just blow up the communications installation. Though Hera explains the sound reasoning behind the mission, secretly, she agrees with him. We see these cracks in Rebel morale and it makes us begin to think that stalemate with Thrawn really was a crushing defeat. Saw sees it. Thrawn cowed them.
And it plays into the disposition of the Rebel command in Rogue One, where they are terrified of making any move for fear of being caught or found out.
Gary Whitta served as the screenwriter for part one and his sense of adding to the fun excitement of Star Wars shows. The radar dish takes a James Bond film sort of action set-piece and brings a Star Wars sensibility to it. Add Brom Titus to the mix and you've got the makings of a pretty incredible action sequence.
The second episode doubles down on the idea of how we fight making as much difference as winning, highlighting the contrasts between the Alliance to Restore the Republic and Saw Gererra's partisans. With Ezra and Sabine hijacked by Saw and investigating another piece of the Imperial super-weapon puzzle. By the end, I don't believe Ezra questions the wisdom of Mon Mothma and her tactics any longer.
These episodes also serve to bring the narrative closer and closer to Rogue One, introducing elements like Death Troopers working for Advanced Weapons Research and passing mentions of Jedha and Orson Krennic. We also got to see a cameo from fan-favorite Edrio Two-Tubes.
For some, these episodes might feel like obvious filler, telling us stories that we could have read between the lines given Rogue One and the trajectory of Rebels, but I think there's much more at work here. We're seeing the psychological and philosophical differences between Mon Mothma and Saw and how that affects the morale of troops and the war effort in general. But we also see how these dilemmas play out for the crew of the Ghost, particularly Ezra and Kanan. They're doing a lot of soul searching and if they end up leaving on their own at the end of the show, or end their lives in a sacrifice for everyone else, it will be this pair of episodes that we can point to as the set up.
These themes, I think, are also coming to us in the form of The Last Jedi. Yoda's words from previous seasons echo in this episode. How the fight is fought is just as important as anything else. Or is fighting even really the best option? Ezra and Kanan are living in a world where they know of the existence of two of the greatest Jedi in the galaxy and their response to the Empire is to sit it out. That must weigh heavily on the both of them. Are the two master Jedi cowards? Is there something they know that Ezra and Kanan don't?
In fact, there's a direct line that can be made between Ezra finding Obi-Wan on Tatooine in the last season and Rey finding Luke on Atch-To in The Force Awakens. And at this point in the story, it looks like they've done very much the same thing Luke has by the time the conflict with the First Order arises.
Are these clues to the future of Star Wars storytelling? Clever echoes of the mythological nature of the saga? Or just a happy coincidence? I don't mind either way, since the storytelling is so incredible, regardless.
These were very emotional episodes. Seeing Mon Mothma dress Saw down with passion and fire was chilling. And, the final moment, with the engineers and scientists pledging themselves to the Rebellion made me tear up for the same reason Rogue One still makes me cry. These people are pledging their lives to make the world a better place, even if they won't get to see it for themselves.
These were solid episodes and Forest Whitaker's work against Genevieve O'Reilly's really put it over the top for me. 9.5 out of 10.
Star Wars Rebels airs on Disney XD on Mondays.
Season 4 Scorecard
- Heroes of Mandalore (9 of 10)
- In the Name of the Rebellion (9.5 of 10)
Season Average: 9.25 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.