Rebels Review: The Siege of Lothal

The first episode of the second season of Star Wars Rebels just aired and to commemorate the return of the series, we wrote down our thoughts about the TV movie “The Siege of Lothal” which started off the season a while back.

What did you think of the Plot?
BEAVeR: Is this still the same show we’re watching? Okay, a year is quite long and I’ve never been great at memorizing things, but I would think this level of quality of the last season would have left a lasting impression of me. Of course there were good episodes, but this one blows them away with a stronger story, subtler characters and phenomenal images.Let’s start with the story: it begins with the simple thought of “hey, we have some Rebel buddies now!” and organically rolls on from there.
I love how the episode progressed from a daring but succesful mission to a near total defeat. First, we have the big thrill of minister Tua planning on giving us information, but our hopes are vaporated along with said minister. Then we manage to escape, but we can’t hide anywhere and Tarkin town gets burned to the ground because of us (you can feel the references to A New Hope coming…). Then we manage to capture a ship and some shield generators too, but we get wounded and narrowly escape death by a new formidable foe. At last we manage to escape, but we got tracked (A New Hope reference n°2) and the entire Rebel fleet almost perishes because of our decisions. And in the end, we get strong with the Force, only to uncover a hideous truth and see the seeds of a potential devastating situation… I love how this episodes drags us into a spiral of victory and defeat, creating ever higher tension and anticipation.
There are some minor flaws in the details (Zeb checks the ship for tracking devices, yet later it appears there is still one on board?), but there certainly are a lot of strong details as well (like the minister mentioning those Rebel sympathizers in the Senate they can’t touch, which puts the dissolution of the Senate in A New Hope into context). The season opener’s story was great in itself and as an introduction to what we’ll be seeing next: the questions raised and the possibilities created are to get giddy about! It really is a story so good it demands more.
Oky: The last season ended with a bang in my opinion. Things got real and the Empire is now actively hunting the rebels, lead by Darth Vader, but now our heroes have joined the Alliance (or what will later become the Alliance)! The season opener picks up shortly after these events and I was happy to see that it keeps the dark and serious tone of the last couple of episodes without loosing a sense of hope. It always seems like the rebels are winning, but the Empire is now always a step ahead of them, and in the end they just make it out with their lives and only three shield generators (which they didn’t use during Darth Vader’s attack at the end for some reason, but I digress). I really liked how you could see the aftermath of the Rebels’ actions on Lothal and how it effected them, especially Ezra.

What are your thoughts on the Characters?
BEAVeR: Another reason this show seems in recognizably altered, is the immense amount of character development and the surprising subtlety of some evolutions. Maybe it’s because I’ve started to look more for them, but I’ve noticed a huge amount of subtle looks, sometimes in the background, that seem to give away what our characters are thinking. There’s Tua’s reaction to seeing her rescue is taking place, there’s Ashoka’s expression on witnessing the argument Hera and Kannan are having… summing them all up would take me too far here.
Apart from these ‘straightforward’ emotional indicators, there are the more symbolic ones. Like when Hera and Kannan are again arguing, this time in private, there are constantly running Rebel soldiers between them, illustrating the wedge the Rebellion is pushing towards the two. The burning of Tarkin town and the destruction of Ezra’s house are more prominent. The use of words gets interesting from time to time as well, with Kannan and Hera really sounding like they’re a wedded couple and even referring to themselves as “mom and dad” from time to time.
All in all, it’s great to see the show starts trusting its viewers more to figure out what’s going on inside everyone’s head (sadly, we can’t see the colorful characters in their minds debating in this Disney production!), which makes everything richer and makes you wonder what you’ve missed. The show becomes so much more appealing, engaging and compelling this way!
Finally, a small note on the Imperials. I really like how they’re showing the internal fear more, with Tua and the Star Destroyer commander blaming someone else for the mistake, as if he’s just following some kind of protocol. And then… Vader. Is. Awesome. – ‘Nuff said.
Oky: There was lots of good character development here. It’s a shame that they killed off Minister Tua. I kinda felt bad for her since she was getting a lot more sympathetic. Her death really shows how ruthless the Empire can be, sacrificing one of their own just to draw the rebels out and blame them for the attack. Darth Vader himself was as intimidating as the first time we saw him in A New Hope. It was great seeing him be a badass again, both strategically and in combat. The way he predicted the Rebels’ moves and preyed on their compassion by burning down an entire town was just what you would expect a Dark Lord of the Sith like him to do (although I think it would have been better if he would have killed the people in that town instead of capturing them – it’s more his style – but this is a Disney show, so we can’t expect that much). It’s a shame that he will again be replaced by impostors Inquisitors in the rest of the season, but I’m sure this is not the last we have seen of Vader. He now knows that Ahsoka is still alive and while she denies to know who Vader is, judging by her reactions to his presence make me believe that what she says is only true from a certain point of view. It’s only a matter of time now until these two will face each other. We also get a better understanding of why Kanan is opposed to joining a military group and Ezra gets some more motivation from seeing the impact that they have had on Lothal. And any episode that has a Lando cameo gets plus points in my book.

What is your opinion of the vehicles and locations?
BEAVeR: We returned to Lothal, but I was okay with it as the story could only take place here. And Tua mentioning that there’s something special on the planet makes up a little bit for the amount of time we’ve spent on it (I already have my own little theory ready…). So the only really new thing we got to see where the shield generators. I like the continuity in their design as they closely resemble the Star Destroyer’s shield generators, but apart from that there’s not much to say about them. I must say I really like the way in which all of the familiar locations were caught on film, with some amazing setpieces like the burning AT-DP falling on Lord Vader, the Rebel ship slowly burning in space, the battle of all against one (so awesome!) and the clever stunt with the Star Destroyers. It all had a great cinematic feeling and it all felt original and unprecedented. Good stuff.
Oky: Here we are, a whole new season with a whole new world of possibilities! The crew of the Ghost have joined rebels from other planets and there are countless worlds out there that need the Rebels’ help. So to what exciting new location does the season opener take us? Lothal. While I can’t say that I’m not disappointed, I also didn’t mind it as it does make sense in the context of the story. I mean, it’s in the title of the episode after all. And since the Rebels have agreed not to return here, this will hopefully be the last time we see this place. We didn’t get to see any new vehicles either, except the Phoenix Home, which is actually not a new ship. It’s a repurposed medical frigate from the Clone Wars which is a clever reuse of that model since it makes sense that the Rebels would use old ships left over from the Clone Wars.

BEAVeR’s rating: 5/5 – Forget about the first season! James Earl Jones is here and things will never be the same again. It’s strange how it seems the show has gone to maturity in just a handful of episodes. Things are getting more complex, dark and original, everything you could possibly want from your favorite show. I can’t wait to tell you all how amazing the coming episodes are going to be!
Oky’s Rating: 5/5 – There wasn’t really anything to complain about in this episode/movie. It continues the story in a natural way, keeps a serious tone, and has some awesome Vader moments. I look forward to seeing where the season goes from here.

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One thought on “Rebels Review: The Siege of Lothal

  1. Yeah! It was great to see Vader in screen. I loved the voice of James Earl Jones too. The scene with the lightsaber fight between Vader and Kanan is so thrilling. I can hardly wait to watch more episodes. This series gets better and better in time! Good review!

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