Rebels Review: Steps Into Shadow

640?cb=20160925030932

What did you think of the Plot?
Oky: While there was not much of a time gap between the first and the second season of Rebels, this season picks up 6 months after the events of the Season Two finale, which is about the same amount of time that has passed in real life. Our heroes are more grown up, Hondo is in this episode, and Admiral Thrawn is reintroduced into canon. What could go wrong? Well, after a fairly entertaining prison break with some nice humor as well as tragedy, this episode started to fall apart for me. At the end of Season Two we were left wondering what knowledge the Sith holocron holds that will help them defeat the Sith, but unfortunately that cliffhanger was not resolved here as the only thing Ezra seems to have learned from it is to give in to his anger which is something that Maul already taught him. Also, Kanan has apparently been secluding himself ever since he got blind which made no sense to me. If he’s worried about Ezra falling to the dark side, shouldn’t he be doing the opposite by staying by his side and making sure that he doesn’t do that? The plot was nothing extraordinary either. It was just the usual kind of mission where the Rebels infiltrate an Imperial facility to steal some ships for their fleet. Meanwhile, Kanan learns how to see through the Force from a large ancient creature called Bendu. This is a cool concept which is reminiscent of the Lion Turtle from Avatar: The Last Airbender, although much like in Avatar, this came across as a deus ex machina. However, I really liked the revelation that the krykna spiders were hostile because they feed off of fear, anger, and hate as that explains a lot about why they attacked the rebels in The Mystery of Chopper Base and why Ezra, who harbors a lot of these dark side feelings, couldn’t connect with them.

BEAVeR: Season 2 ended in such a way as to get me excited for the third season, with all of the promising story lines. You have the major stuff from the season finale, but there were also a lot of unresolved plot points scattered across a number of previous episodes. This episode continued on a lot of threads from the previous season, and introduced even more, like Thrawn. The result is that the episode was a bit crowded, even for a forty minute one, with a lot of different things happening so that not everything gets the attention it deserves, like Thrawn just being a minor point in this episode, almost an afterthought in an episode that could perfectly do without him, just like Hondo. The episode isn’t very striking in hindsight: if someone were to ask you to briefly tell you what happened, you’d struggle to tell one compelling story. Additionally, no piece of action stood out, with the main plot being a variation on a theme of building up the Rebellion. However, the story it told about Ezra was quite interesting. It was great to see how his innocent impatient from the past has grown into something more unsettling. I loved the small things like how he now uses a regular blaster that actually kills people, as opposed to the blaster on his previous lightsaber, which only stunned. The bigger displays of the dark side, like him taking over that walker, were awesome to look at, but in the end lacked some subtlety. He looks so obviously evil, the empathy of the audience undergoes a very brute shock and you wonder why none of his friends are reacting out of the ordinary. The moment where he changes the mission is another one of those moments where the aggression is just a bit over present. All in all, I like the meat of his character development, with questions of responsibility and leadership, but I feel everything was made a bit too extreme, almost as if to make it extra clear for the people who didn’t understand it.

What are your thoughts on the Characters?
347?cb=20160905160330Oky: After Ezra gave in to the dark side and unlocked the secrets of the Sith holocron at the end of the last season, I thought he would start doing some really dark things, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Sure, he mind-tricked an AT-DP pilot into killing his fellow troopers and himself, but they didn’t dwell on that too much. In the end, it was mostly just his reckless behavior that convinced him not to use the dark side and to accept Kanan back as his mentor. I feel that his foray into the dark side was not as deep as it could have been and it ended as soon as it began, making all the buildup in the last season seem pointless. Kanan’s arc of going from being blind to being able to see through the force well enough to catch Ezra from a falling station after only a brief conversation with Bendu felt rushed as well. These two arcs could have been fleshed out more if they were stretched over a few more episodes. Sadly, I was not impressed with the on-screen debut of Grand Admiral Thrawn either as he hardly did anything in this episode. Even Titus had more screen time than him. I would have expected them to give the most popular EU villain a more proper introduction. At least they got his calm, scheming personality from the books right. His decision at the end to let the Rebels get away with the Y-Wings seemed to contradict his earlier statement that every ship the rebels add to their fleet poses a threat to the Empire, but he probably has some masterplan we don’t know about yet.

BEAVeR: What Ezra went through might not have been executed in the best way, but is interesting to think about. What strikes me most about his arc, is that his turnaround doesn’t come when he sees that he has endangered his friends, but only when he himself is in mortal danger, which might be one of those more subtle hints he’s thinking in a more egoistic manner, although he isn’t aware of that himself, telling himself he’s doing everything he can to protect his friends. I like how he’s turning a bit into who Kanan was in the previous season, trying everything to protect his pupil from harm, which hasn’t caused him much good himself. A brilliant thing in this episode was how Kanan’s arc was about realizing his fear of loosing everyone, while at the same time you could see it occur in Ezra as well. In the end though, Kanan’s arc wasn’t clear at all, why Ezra’s was a bit too obvious. But didn’t Kanan just realize what he already realized in the previous season? I liked that this fear was now linked to his blindness, suggesting that fear keeps you fixated on a certain point and doesn’t allow you to look past that: you can only see if you dare to look, even though you can find thing’s you’d rather not find. It’s all a bit unclear though but at least I appreciate they kept the Bendu mysterious. He’s not someone who you can just visit with your questions in hopes of getting a clear answer. He’s a creature of wisdom, but not of morality. I do hope we see him again, as I’d like to see how he influences the story further, as such a force can’t simply be cast aside for the plot, and as Tom Baker is just such a delight to listen at! Still, I have mixed feelings about him: it seems a bit convenient that there are so much extraordinary places and creatures of the Force wherever our heroes go, but on the other hand it might illustrate that the Force is truly everywhere and that you only need to look, even though that raises some questions about all of the other Star Wars content… Finally, a small word on Thrawn. I loved how he has that Donald Sutherland villain quality of talking very softly but being very menacing. Not having him appear often keeps him mysterious of course, but also holds him from being a constant looming presence which I had hoped he would be.

What is your opinion of the vehicles and locations?
383?cb=20160926203321Oky: Naraka prison was not terribly interesting as it was just a boxy building on the side of a cliff. On the other hand, Reklam Station looked like a cross between Cloud City and a junkyard which is very fitting for what it was supposed to be. It was interesting how the dismantler droids resembled the shape of the station and it was great hearing Rex refer to them as “Clankers”. It was also neat to see that Commander Brom Titus was demoted to overseeing this junkyard after his failure on the Interdictor. Lastly, it was sad to see the Phantom go as it had helped our heroes on many missions since the first episode.

BEAVeR: Naraka prison was a boring building on a boring planet. It didn’t really have to be more, as it wasn’t a real “character” in the episode and it only makes sense for Imperial buildings to look like that. Reklam station was your typical Imperial floating factory as well, with some extra additions to make it interesting and to make it look gorgeous with shots of the waiting Y-wings in those yellow clouds. I liked the potentially symbolic value of this location though, to illustrate that Ezra hasn’t found firm ground and can fall a long way… A cloudy depth swallows a ship that was once as much part of the Ghost as its crew, never to be seen again. All bad omens… The Y-wings were a good omen for the Rebellion though. They looked awesome, just not like the ones in the original trilogy in order to remind you they came from the clone wars. This episode perfectly explained why they look as they look in the original trilogy, which was a nice bonus.

640?cb=20160928235628

Oky’s Rating: 3/5 – The Season Two finale was a tough act to follow, but I didn’t expect this season opener to be this disappointing. Both Thrawn and “dark” Ezra were underwhelming, none of the questions from the Season Two finale got answered, and some character motivations contradicted their actions. That’s not to say that this was a bad episode as there is enough here to keep you entertained, but it could have been so much more.

BEAVeR’s rating: 3.5/5 – You might have noted that I’m quite doubtful in most of my comments. Different ways of looking at things make them either genius or stupid. It’s only the question of which perspective suits me and you best, and what was actually intended. No matter what, this episode could definitely have profited from more subtlety in certain areas, and should have been a bit more selective in the number of plot lines, not just throwing everything it could fit in at the viewer, but only the things that matter. And no matter what, things like the AT-DP control sequence and the race against the clock for the Y-wings and the concept of Bendu were great. As for the other things, I like there to be multiple interpretations, but a good show should make all of those interpretations awesome.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s