On Rebels, The Inquisitors Learn Not To Play With Their Food

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Just a reminder: this isn’t a full review of the episode. If you want that (that’s totally fine :) ), there’s plenty of reviews elsewhere on the internet. Here we just look at a few things from each episode. Also, please do check out Rebels Recon, the official tie in video.

The title of this week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels is ‘Always Two There Are’, a Yoda quote for the two Inquisitors that happen to drop by for a nice chat, some creepy hebephilic flirting, and some slicing and dicing of various body parts. Nice people, those inquisitors. Though can I just say, it’s a little bit funny how the the only thing about the title that applies to this episode is the ‘two’ bit. First, the quote, in context, references the number of Sith at any given time; and second, there’s very probably very many more inquisitors than two.

This sounds like a minor quibble (and you’d be right) but, dang hell it, if I can’t use an awkward segue to begin my review then I don’t want to live in this universe. Send me to the alternate reality where I can, and preferably also where everyone has octopods for servants.

Anyway: these distinctions are important, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The main draw of this week’s episode is, of course, the inquisitors, the Fifth Brother and the Seventh Sister (voiced by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez and Sarah Michelle Gellar), but that’s not how this episode begins, and that’s not the entirety of the show (though, of course, a large part) and I felt it would be remiss of me to not discuss The Other Part.

Emotional Growth

The show starts with Zeb and Sabine going off to get some supplies at an old, abandoned medical station – and let’s unpack this. I think it’s very odd how the show has spent 3 episodes dedicated to this plot. ‘Let’s spend two episodes getting a list of bases! Now let’s go to a base from the list!’, I’m hoping the next episode isn’t them doing inventory and Tarkin coming along to note how it’s all dusty and a how a good planetary explosion would clean things up nicely.

Would it have killed the Alderaanians to take a hoover to the place? Really, I did them a favour.

I suspect, and hope, that this is some set up for what’s to come later, because right now, finding bases isn’t a strong overarching plot (not even if it turns out that one of those bases is Yavin IV or Hoth), and I feel it’s a bad idea to not give the audience an idea of where this season is headed, or at least hint at it – though to be fair, this itself could be a massive hint – or I could simply have missed it entirely.

Moving on, Ezra invites himself along, because Rex and Kanan are squabbling like an old married couple. It was adorable. But more than that, it was a clear indication that Kanan has moved on from his hatred of all clones to, well, not to put too fine a point on it, Not All Clones. Actually, that’s not too clear, and I would have liked some more dwelling on this part, because his petty fight with Rex was indicative of some very complex and deep personal and emotional growth on his part.

I won’t bemoan this too much, though, because we do get that – just with Zeb. I’m quite enjoying the emotional growth of his character. He’s a brute, yes, but he doesn’t just go about the place growling and grumbling. He jokes and laughs, and becomes positively giddy when he gets to play with a big gun. Add to this, too, that he has a tragic back-story: last of his kind, hunted by the man who almost single-handedly destroyed his species, and in this episode we explore his fears of being left behind by his more capable crew mates? Zeb is quickly becoming one of the more rounded characters in this series – along with Ezra and, to some degree, Kanan. Though, I note, not Hera and Sabine – but I should add that it seems we will be getting some more exploration on the latter, later in the series. But still, it’s more than a little bit lop-sided, and I’m rather eagerly (and admittedly impatiently) awaiting the exploration of the women on the crew.

Now, to recap, this episode begins as a fairly unobtrusive story, and one that may be, to some, a little bit boring in the beginning. But we quickly see it become something more than a prosaic Go Fetch mission. This is thanks to the introduction of the Inquisitors.

Now This Is World-Building

When Chopper inadvertently alerts the Empire to their presence, we’re given our first introduction to the Seventh Brother (at least in this episode). It’s a minor scene that sets up how the Empire comes to cross paths with our Spectres, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it to be just that (hey, I did, and I have to review the thing). But listen closer to the dialogue: Faceless Imperial No. 1 (or FIN1, for ease)  speaks dismissively of these inquisitors as ‘mystics’ that they don’t need – or want, to judge by his tone of voice. He says this to Agent Kallus, who should and probably does know better. And yet, I gained the impression that he shares his views. I’m not too familiar with the Imperial heirarchy, but I suspect Kallus is either equal or superior to FIN1, in rank, and the simple fact that FIN1 is happy to speak familiarly to Kallus is telling, and indicative of Kallus’ own stance, that he doesn’t tell him to keep his trap shut.

A few seconds later, we get another glimpse of his state of mind:

Fifth Brother: […] I sense those we seek.

Kallus: One of your … disturbances, I assume. [Pause] Very Well.

Here I must pause briefly to praise the animators, and David Oyelowo. The team behind Rebels – and The Clone Wars – have come such a long way in people animation. The sets, the battles, and explosions and all are certainly very pretty, but I feel sometimes that personal animation is taken for granted by us, the fans. Everything about Kallus’ expression is exactly on the money, and portrays not just his spoken dialogue, but his inner monologue, as well. And David Oyelowo, too, is superb as a voice actor. The show, and indeed Star Wars as a whole, has gone up a notch in quality, thanks to his casting. That’s not to denigrate anyone else, not at all. I simply feel that he is that good. He fully sells Kallus as a being to be feared on just his voice alone.

And the fact that he can be so fearsome in the show, and so lovable in real life, leads me to be very confused.

But let’s look at that scene: His intonation expresses clearly that he is dubious of the inquisitor’s statement, and he even has the temerity to say this to the inquisitor’s face. But then he goes on to accept his command. This is smart, of course. You can’t very well disobey a superior officer (not for long, anyway), but here he places the success, and more importantly, failure of the mission squarely on the inquisitor’s own shoulders. And let’s not forget that this is the man who undermined Kallus’ own attempt to capture the Rebels previously: he’s happy to put his own feelings on the back burner, all in service to the Empire and his ultimate mission.

It’s little scenes like these, almost inconsequential lines like these, that build the world up, and make it seem more than just the immediate mission is occuring in the galaxy. Here, the scene is reminiscient to that of the command meeting on the Death Star in A New Hope, where one Moff gets all choked up (sorry*) as he criticises Darth Vader, and the power of the Force. Here we see that same disdain, that same belief that the Force is mere hokum – just, remember 15 years or so after a time when it was a very real thing, a very real power in the galaxy – even if the average citizen didn’t see it.

*Not sorry AT ALL.

Infighting

I mentioned earlier how the above scene is where we first see the inquisitor. This is technically true, but there is a hint: as our Spectres search the medical station, we see, in the shadows, a droid. This turns out to be one of the Seventh Sister’s itty bitty probe droids. I also mentioned earlier how that scene demonstrates how one of the inquisitors finds the Spectre’s location. Here, with the Seventh Sister, we get no such explanation. I’m tempted to say it’s supposed to be a mystery, and that it demonstrates just how clever and dangerous she is, but to me it didn’t feel like that at all. Mystery is certainly good – but when the mystery presents itself so that the only immediate, reasonable answer is that she was just waiting there, hoping that they’d go to the one place she’d decided to set up camp, it feels flat. It’s a bit like a police officer waiting beside a single car, waiting for the day a thief will decide to steal that exact car. I may be a bit nitpicky, and there may be a reason, but so far the reason is just hand-wavy Force stuff, and that feels a bit lacklustre to the alternative, solid investigative process presented with the Fifth Brother.

However, beyond that slight niggle, I very much enjoyed the introduction of the Seventh Sister – and the Fifth Brother, too, but it was only until the two interacted that I went from keen interest to enraptured attention.

To pause briefly: the show itself doesn’t state this – at least, not that I caught – but these inquisitors are not Sith. They’re dark side users/adepts, certainly, but not Sith. I’m personally not particularly interested in the distinction (to me it’s a bit like saying ‘this is a pebble, this is igneous rock’), but for those interested: it’s noted.

Everything about them expands the universe and makes this skirmish more than what it is. Even their names, though I’m not personally enamoured with them, inspire intrigue. Fifth Brother, Seventh Sister? What does this mean? Does this mean there are, or were, at least seven altogether? That is to say, at least five brothers and seven sisters, at least twelve, total? Are the others still around? Are there, indeed, just two, or more? No answers, just questions, and more mystery – done right, this time. It hints at a whole brood of dark side adepts, and all the history therein.

And beyond: for the other Spectres to escape the two inquisitors, Ezra sacrifices himself. Instead of dying heroically, he is captured by Sarah Michelle Sister (not a typo) and interrogated. And is ‘flirted at. I joke about that in this review’s title, and use that word here, and though it’s only a brief moment, it’s still creepy. Eurgh. Moving on. One of her questions? ‘Where’s Ahsoka Tano?’ How is it that one of the bigger mysteries of the first series, something that was hidden from our Spectres, is readily known by these inquisitors? There’s a simple explanation: Vader knew of her existence, and likely told the Emperor, the inquisitors, Jedi hunters, and probably everyone that’ll listen.

'Did you know that Ahsoka's still ali-' 'We know, Vader. WE KNOW.'
‘Did you know that Ahsoka’s still ali-‘
‘We know, Vader. WE KNOW.’

But importantly, here we’re provided with that as another in-universe mystery to propel the story forward and to set up later stories, and are given a glimpse into how dangerous and powerful these new enemies are – for what better way to demonstrate one’s power, than to demonstrate their intellect? Brawn is certainly useful, don’t mistake me, but if you’re the underdog, fighting a physically powerful entity, all you have are your wits. But if your enemies have wits, too? This immediately amps up the tension, for it puts you, the underdog, on very precarious footing. Comments about facaetious creeks and paddle-less aquatic transportation would not be amiss.

These two inquisitors, it is clear in the show, are not acting together at first. This is quite a common thing for baddies, Sith especially (okay okay, Non-Sith) to be just out for themselves. After all, we saw this last week, where the Fifth Brother undermines Kallus’ mission in favour of his own attempts. So how do they react to one another; how do they work together?

Honestly? Surprisingly well. In my notes for the show, I wrote ‘show interplay between Inquisitors’, thinking about how the two battle each other just as much as the rebels. But as I thought on their interactions, it quickly became clear that that simply isn’t the case.

The two inquisitors are almost entirely opposites: the Sister is the brain; the Brother, the brawn. And though there is a rough start where they quibble over who gets to kill Ezra, once he’s captured, they quickly settle into a team. The Sister orders the Brother to find the other rebels and he … agrees. She’s even snarky to him later, and he just takes it in stride. And though their attempts ultimately fail, due to some rebel interruptions, they work effectively and well together to prevent our spectres from escaping.

That’s rare. How often can you recall a physically imposing man accept the authority of a small, unimposing woman, without question? To not undermine her or be a brat about a woman’s superior position? I can only think of a few instances myself – yet many, many more where the man questions her authority, undermines her – and that’s often just among the heroes. How is it these Non-Sith baddies do equality and cooperation better than many heroes?

Michael Dare

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