Rebels Review: Zero Hour

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What did you think of the Plot?
BEAVeR: A part of this season finale actually improved upon The Empire Strikes Back, wow! In episode V, the Rebellion starts out already in a bad situation, just trying to hide and survive, only for the Empire to make the situation even worse with their invasion. In this episode it’s even more tragic: the Rebels actually start out on their all time high, with everything coming together for a first strike on Lothal, a whole new fleet of ships included. Hope abounds everywhere and we see how it gives our heroes energy. But then, by a flick of Thrawn’s fingers, hell brakes loose for the Rebels, all hopes and plans are abandoned and all they can do is try to survive and escape. But big sacrifices have to be made along the way. One Rebel ship right after the other falls before the fire power of the Empire in what might be the biggest slaughter ever seen in Star Wars. People are abandoned. Sato sacrifices himself to make an opening for a single person, and that person can’t even find the help he needs because the Rebellion can’t risk more losses. It’s desperation everywhere. and this episode does a great job of making you feel the heavy blow after such a positive beginning. I love how it all puts Rogue One into context. The Rebel leaders are reluctant to follow Jyn into an attack on the Empire, probably because they remember how much they lost when they already faced it. But then, when Jyn and her rogues to push through and attack, the Rebel leaders might think “not Atollon again”. Instead of refusing to help out of fear, they might remember how a small team of people putting aside their fear and come to help managed to turn the fight around. Inspired by that, all forces unite above Scariff, including the Ghost crew, and although heavy losses are suffered, in the end they have freed hope. I love it how this episode paints such a broader picture, helping us make the link with Rogue One thanks to visual, musical and thematical elements: strong stuff!
So the themes in this episode is great, as well as the tone in a large part of it. But sadly, the plot weakens towards the end of the episode. I can understand that the writers were going for “we can’t let them beat Thrawn since he’s a genius, so we must come up with something Thrawn couldn’t predict”, and it’s nice that the Bendu attacks both Rebels and Imperials, but in the end it still feels too much like a cheap deus ex machina. It’s strange how a creature of such wisdom and peace suddenly gets all upset because somebody calls him a coward and starts raining his fury down on everyone: it felt pretty forced to me. It reminded me too much of Calypso in At World’s End, and that’s not really a good thing. It is as if the moral of the story is that the Rebels could only survive because they were rude… It’s sad that a story with such a strong buildup has such a weak conclusion both plotwise and in terms of themes.
Oky: It was great to see all of the Rebels’ work and all of Thrawn’s scheming finally culminate in one big battle in this finale. It had a good build up with the rebels being hopeful about their planned attack at first, then things going downhill quickly after Thrawn finds out their plans and captures Fulcrum. They never explain how exactly he figured these things out which is a bit of a plot hole, but the rest of the plot was pretty solid. Thrawn’s plan of attack was pretty good and if it wasn’t for Admiral Konstantine straying off of his plan and Bendu getting involved, he likely would have won. And while most of the rebels managed to escape, he still dealt a crippling blow to them that the Rebel Alliance will not soon forget. Bendu showing up and giving the rebels a chance to flee wasn’t really a deus ex machina in my opinion. We didn’t know that he could turn into a storm cloud, but we did know that he is a powerful force user, so it was not that surprising he could do this and it was great to see the full extend of his power. It was also nice to see the Mandalorians join the fight after what the rebels have done to help them even though they have their own civil war going on.

What are your thoughts on the Characters?
BEAVeR: This episode is not so much about individual characters as about themes and groups of people: with so much at stake there’s not really time for some nuanced self discovery. Still, there were some really nice character moments for a few Rebels. I especially liked Kanan in this season finale, for instance. There’s his genuine moment with Ezra in the beginning where we see how much they have helped each other to become better Jedi. But the really great thing is when he confronts the Bendu, talks about how he was hiding once as well, until he saw how wrong that was and decided to take action to help people. It was Ezra who made him see that, so it’s great to see how deep of an impact his apprentice has made on him. And when later Kanan starts accusing the Bendu of cowardice, it is as if he’s getting angry at his past self and tries to keep the Bendu from making the same mistake. I loved how his character and history played out in that conversation, although I’m not to fond of what the Bendu did with it, as I explained earlier. Apart from that, I enjoyed the moments Kanan had with Hera. Usually we don’t see a lot of their relationship: they know it are dangerous times so seriously investing in a relationship isn’t really feasible. But they still care tremendously about each other as we saw in that wonderful moment where they speak each other again just after the bombardment: both the verbal and non verbal acting is top notch there.
I was a little underwhelmed by Thrawn in the episode, while it should have been his finest hour. He didn’t do much in terms of impressive deductions, and apparently even made the mistake of thinking that he had the entire Rebel fleet before him, and his battle tactics looked more like common sense than the plan of a mastermind. I was also a bit confused about his motivations. His line of him wanting results and not glory was great, but at first he just wants to destroy everyone, not taking prisoners, and the other he goes out of his way to imprison rather than kill Hera, with whom he seems to have developed some fascination. Finally, for a guy who’s interested in strange cultures, he didn’t take much interest at all in the Bendu while he could have altered his view on the world… In the end, Thrawn was handled more as the antagonist that had to move the plot along instead of a proper character.
As for other characters, I can’t help mentioning Kallus, who is again kicking but, has that lovely sigh of relief when he know he has escaped the Empire and is so wonderfully vulnerable when he tries to become part of the Rebel family. O, and Rex. His pose and expression when it appears that the shield worked is just priceless :grin:.
Oky: There were lots of nice little moments here, like Kanan and Ezra telling each other how much they have helped each other grow as a person, or Zeb and Rex having a friendly banter, or Hera letting down her facade of a tough leader when she shows concern for her friends. However, the most interesting character moment was probably that between Kanan and Bendu. Bendu is right to be angry at the rebels for bringing war to his peaceful planet, but Kana also makes a good argument that some things are worth fighting for. Kanan trying to convince the Bendu to join their fight based on his past experiences was great. The episode did a nice job of showing that when faced with war, even the most stubborn pacifist such as Bendu will be forced to fight. I like that Bendu stuck to his title of “the one in the middle” by attacking both the Imperials and rebels. Thrawn was alright in this episode, although he didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. As I said before, we didn’t see much of his deduction process except for the moment when he figured out the location of the rebel base using his knowledge of art and science. I was hoping that he had some sort of surprising masterplan to capture the rebels, something that would excuse all those times that he let the rebels get away, but no, his plan was just a straight forward attack. It was a good attack, but a predictable one. Kallus on the other hand was great. The way he held his own against Thrawn in hand-to-hand combat long enough to get his warning out to the rebels and later escaped from the Star Destroyer was pretty awesome. And even though we never really got to know his character, Commander Sato and his pilots sacrificing themselves just so that Ezra could get through was kind of touching. Also, it was nice to see General Dodonna join the fight. The Rebel Alliance is starting to look more and more like the one we saw in the original trilogy.

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What is your opinion of the vehicles and locations?
BEAVeR: It’s probably the last we got to see of Atollon, but at least we got treated to some different types of environment such as the canyon where the walkers slowly advance without any music, in true Saving Private Ryan style for a tense atmosphere. As for vehicles, we got to see almost everything we’re used to seeing from the Rebels and Imperials, including our first decent look at the Nebulon B’s (what a treat to see multiple of those!) and Dornean gunships, but nothing really new.
Oky: This finale was not about showing off shiny new vehicles or locations. This was about gathering all the things we’ve seen in the series so far in one familiar place. It was great to see all of the ships the rebels have stolen fly alongside Nebulon-B frigates, CR90 corvettes, GR75 transports, and the Ghost and go up against Star Destroyers, light cruisers, and an Interdictor. It was a big, brutal space battle worthy of a finale. Even the shield generator they stole from Geonosis came into play. The only thing noticeably absent were TIE Defenders which is odd considering how much of a big deal they made out of them earlier this season. I thought for sure they would play into Thrawn’s plans somehow, but apparently not. Oh, and it was great to finally see Y-Wings bomb something!

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BEAVeR’s rating: 4/5 – The atmosphere in this episode was great and very fitting for a season finale. At the start, it’s all positivity until suddenly all hopes are crushed and survival is the only possible victory which is barely won. I like how this episode thematically ties in to the movies. But as for the concrete plot and character development, there were some problems such as the deus ex machina resolution of the conflict and the lack of consistent characterization for the Bendu and Thrawn, who should have been the star of this episode. In the end, it’s a great battle, but there is no real personal story involved in it like in all of the greatest Star Wars battles. That’s why I think this is the weakest season finale in the show, although that doesn’t mean it’s a bad episode!
Oky’s Rating: 4/5
– This finale was basically one epic battle and I have no problems with that. You could really feel the rebels’ desperation in this situation which makes you all the more glad when they manage to escape in the end, albeit at a high cost. It wrapped up the season nicely while setting us up for a new season where the rebels will basically have to start over from scratch.  However, while the action was great, the plot and characters left a bit to be desired. We didn’t learn anything new, all the characters are pretty much the same as before, and aside from Bendu getting involved in the fight, nothing surprising happened. Although he managed to deal a significant blow against the rebellion, I expected more from Thrawn. Perhaps his true genius will come out in the next season. Probably not, though, considering it will be the last season and Bendu already foretold his defeat.

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