"Star Wars: Rebels" Season 4 Episodes 7, 8 – Kindred and Crawling Commandeers (9 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: Warwick Davis, Seth Green, Genevieve O'Reilly, Clancy Brown; Rated TV-Y7, Aired on Disney XD 11/6/17.
This review will contain mild spoilers.
I think we have our first perfect "10 out of 10" episode of season four with "Kindred." The first episode of our two-part story this week pays off much of what was established last week in "Flight of the Defender" and the Loth-wolves. The team was able to make it away with the data on the TIE Defender that the Rebellion desperately needs, as well as the hyperdrive needed to repair the U-Wing to get that information to the Rebellion.
But Thrawn has other ideas and brings in his own personal assassin, the Noghri Rukh, into the mix. With few options, superior foes, and nowhere left to go, Ezra convinces the group to trust in the Loth-wolves.
For me, Dave Filoni's dives into the metaphysical nature of the Force are my favorite. From Mortis in The Clone Wars to the episodes dealing with Jedi and Sith Temple in Rebels, Filoni has added so much mystery and nuance to the Force that I love it. This episode doubles down on that. There are things about the Force that the Jedi simply have no idea about. And Loth-wolves, something that no one has seen in a hundred years, are part of that. But what do they want? "Dume," the Loth-wolf says.
And Kanan is what they were waiting for.
If I said the design of the wolves were reminiscent of Princess Mononoke last week, the crew has doubled down on it this week. Their transportational Force powers are visually parallel to the way the Great Forest Spirit in that film walks across the water. And their cryptic otherworldliness mimcs that unknowable aspect of both the Great Forest Spirit and the Force.
The episode sets up a lot of things in the first half, but once the second half hits, it's one bit of tear-jerking action after another. The first tears came with what I hope does not become Hera and Kanan's last goodbye. And then the revelation about Caleb Dume. And Hera's jump to lightspeed... Between the emotional beats of things coming together, the use of the music, the beauty of the animation, and the quality of acting, I had tears in my eyes pretty much the entire last half of the episode. It was haunting and affecting.
The second half of this installment is good, but not as good. It just didn't reach the same heights. It works very well as a wraparound for the episode that had Vizago bring the Ghost crew to Lothal. It turns out that the Empire is strip mining the entire planet and the mining guild has employed these crawlers to do the work. Complications arise when the Ghost crew discovers that the Empire is tacitly allowing the guild to use slave labor.
Freeing them, this is how they begin to fill the ranks of the Rebellion for the coming battle of Lothal.
But these last four episodes of the show have raised a question: what is going on on Lothal more than the TIE Defender program? For one, Thrawn has used this as his base of operation. Was it to lure the Rebellion out into another conflict? But there are also manufacturing platforms everywhere, are this many needed just for the TIE Defender? There are also Death Troopers everywhere. The only place we've seen them in any meaningful force has been in connection to the Death Star and other special weapons projects.
Does Lothal tie into what's going on with the Death Star? Is there something else going on altogether?
Like Kanan tells Ezra in the Loth-wolf cave, there's something larger going on on Lothal, and I think they're as in the dark as we are.
Seth Green cameos in this episode as the captain of the mining guild crawler and his repartee with the Ghost crew was pretty hilarious. His death was shockingly brutal, though. I loved that moment and it forced a gasp from me, but I suppose brutal endings are the fate of Seth Green characters in Star Wars cartoons. (He previously exploded in Cad Bane's plot in the Senate as TODO-360.)
My larger quibble with this episode, though, is that it feels as though Vizago has been recast as a Hondo-lite, instead of the dangerous sort of gangster we were first introduced to. Which is fine its own way, but a little unexpected. It feels like they spent so much time establishing him in the beginning that they're just now putting him in at the end so he doesn't feel like a loose end.
The action in this episode also features the biggest Trandoshan I've ever seen squaring off against Zeb in an epic showdown at the top of the mining crawler, in addition to some other, creepy, sequences that play as a great contrast to the previous installments.
More than anything, this episode felt like a stepping stone to the real conflict. Rebel Command has given the order and the attack on Lothal to destroy the TIE Defender manufacturing capabilities will commence. But how will this work for them? We know their first victory is Scariff.
Though the Loth-wolf prophesied "Dume," my pronouncement here is a little more ominous:
"Creeping Commandeers" earns an 8 from me. With "Kindred" earning a perfect 10, these two balance out to a 9 out of 10 for the sake of our season scorecard.
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)
- The Occupation and Flight of the Defender (9 of 10)
- Kindred and Crawling Commandeers (9 of 10)
Season Average: 9.125 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.