What did you think of the Plot?
BEAVeR: For a show called Rebels, we haven’t seen a hole lot about the growth of the Rebellion in the past couple of episodes, with most of them laying the focus on Ezra. Not that I’m complaining, because I found quite a few of the previous “formation of the Rebellion” quite mediocre. There were some exceptions though, like Stealth Strike, that managed to tell an exciting and powerful story without the need to call in the big guns like ancient Force beings or even lightsabers. The Antilles Extraction is right in the same league. The episode tells a pretty basic story, with odds that aren’t astronomically high but matter to the viewer nonetheless because they feel real. That’s because the atmosphere was set very well in this episode, with both the need for more pilots and the wickedness of the Empire being apparent from the first minute.You learn more about that throughout the episode, with it becoming clear that the Empire actually teaches to violate conventions. It makes the defecting of the pilots that much more understandable and their attempt to escape that much more dangerous. No mercy for a simulation, for a random cadet flying away or for Sabine on the torturing table. All of that puts me in a rather forgiving mood, to forget that shooting a random fighter and wanting to torture a Rebel infiltrant don’t go well together in a quarter of the possible cases, and to forgive that Sabine’s escape might have been a bit too easy. Let’s just say it’s the Empire’s overconfidence and Sabine’s competence and remember how compelling this episode was.
Oky: After the holocron arc has been concluded (or at least left off at a satisfying point), it was good to see the show turn their focus back on what it is mainly supposed to be about, the rebellion. This was a nice back-to-basics episode which revolved around recruiting defectors from the Empire again. It reminded me a lot of Breaking Ranks which is referenced when they choose Sabine for this mission rather than Ezra, except this time the Empire is an actual thread. Right from the beginning we see them mercilessly destroying an unarmed transport which we later find out is a practice they teach the pilots at the academy, despite it being against protocol. It really shows that the Empire is not holding back against the rebels anymore. The plot was predictable for the most part and riddled with cliches like Sabine’s ID card getting rejected at first, with no explanation for why it didn’t work in the first place other than Sabine’s excuse that it’s “temperamental”. Her first mission turning out to be a simulation was also a cliched cop-out which I could see coming due to how relaxed Sabine was about shooting down rebels and the lack of exterior shots, and the fact that the cadet who got killed was a dark skinned one was an unwelcome trope as well. However, despite the cliches, it was still a solid plot, so I can’t fault it too much.
What are your thoughts on the Characters?
BEAVeR: Sabine finally shines in one of her “own” episodes. I like how she is witty and playful as always, and at the same time very equipped for the job. It’s great to see how she empathizes with Wedge, showcasing her Rebel instinct of wanting to help people. She has another side though, a Mandalorian, which we see in action when she escapes as soon as she gets the chance, and isn’t paralyzed by fear or thoughts of things being impossible. That scene of refreshing hand to hand combat was great to get more insight into her attitude. In the end of the episode, she hasn’t particularly grown much, but we get to know her better. She seems to still be floating a bit between her caring nature and her violent past, still searching for her identity as evidenced by her hair constantly changing color and her other artistic expressions. It gets me excited to see how she evolves, and that’s a first. As for Wedge, he looked like a kind guy with genuine emotions but just not enough courage to act by them. It will be a treat to see him blossom in the Rebellion. I was really pleased with Ezra in this episode as well. He had to learn to trust on other people, distancing himself from his fear to loose control. Once again, these kinds of scenes tell a way more interesting story of his balancing act between the light and the dark. Finally, Kallus. He didn’t do much, but what he did was most interesting. I’m extremely glad last season has had its impact on him, and have no doubt we will see much more that will please our eyes!
Oky: We’ve known that Sabine was an Imperial Cadet before becoming a rebel for a long time now, and this was a great opportunity to delve deeper into that backstory, but sadly they don’t explore it at all. We do see some facets of her personality come to the forefront such as her Mandalorian prowess, but we don’t learn anything new about her. She doesn’t even grow as a character as she doesn’t learn anything herself. Even Ezra who was barely in this episode had more character development than her as he learns the classic Jedi lesson about the virtue of patience. The other cadets didn’t have much personality and Wedge Antilles was an average nice kid, but it was nice seeing him conflicted about having joined the Empire and ultimately making the decision to leave. It was also good to see Agent Kallus again and it was an interesting turn of events when he repaid his debt to Zeb by assisting the rebels in their escape after visibly getting frustrated with Governor Pryce throughout the episode.
What is your opinion of the vehicles and locations?
BEAVeR: It was actually quite a busy episode in this department. We got to see the Rebel transport for the first time in the series, as well as the TIE Interceptor. Then there were the flight simulators which looked genuinely cool and practical, while at the same time giving that alienating feeling that’s quite suitable for the Empire. And then there’s the absolutely gorgeous Skystrike Academy. Towering like a vertical Star Destroyer above the clouds against a binary sunset. It’s beautiful and at the same time menacing. Just perfect.
Oky: The towering building of Skystrike Academy really looked quite beautiful as it seemed to be constantly drenched in the warm light of a twin sunset. Also, the Rebel transport and the TIE Interceptor both showed up for the first time in this show, the latter of which I was especially happy about as it is my favorite kind of TIE and you could really see the speed and efficiency of these fighters when they took out the transport and its escorting A-Wings with ease during the opening scene.
BEAVeR’s rating: 4/5 – I’ll remember this episode as a very good one, one where the Empire was a real threat without the need of a lightsaber, one with an exciting and mildly thought provoking story, one where Sabine shone. In short, one where the nods to the movies were perfectly at home. It could have done with some more moral ambiguity and more nuanced character motivations, and with a bit less of worn out malfunction identification or “it’s just a simulation” cliches. But apart from that it’s one of the best episodes about the formation of the Rebellion. You could say this is the most Rebels episode of them all!
Oky’s Rating: 3/5 – While the holocron arc was very entertaining, it was nice to have an episode again that didn’t revolve around any force users. However, as I said before, this episode was similar to Breaking Ranks, and much like that one, it was pretty average. There is nothing that really stood out for me as the plot was a bit cliched and there was a disappointing lack of character development for the main character. It also doesn’t seem to contribute to the main story arc, although it was nice to see Kallus’ arc from The Honorable Ones continued. This was a decent breather episode, but I hope the next one will be more engaging.