On Rebels, Ezra Has A Point, End of Times Surely Imminent

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Greetings! Quick reminder: this is not a full review. Instead, we just look at one or two things because I have a short attention span and hey look a butterfly. As always, SPOILERS from here on out.

This week on Rebels, In The Name of the Rebellion, Ezra was … Not Bad. In fact, I think his grievances and arguments were entirely legitimate. Dear gods, what am I saying?

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‘There’s No Place Like Home’

Let’s begin with Ezra’s desire to concentrate on Lothal. At first, I merely put it down to setting up future drama in the form of a potential schism between our Spectres and the Rebellion proper – and judging by the preview to next week, that may be the case. But it also serves to show how naive Ezra is. ‘Ezra can’t think beyond his own wants and desires. He’s still just a kid,’ is what I would have said, perhaps unfairly, on any other day. This is true. But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

Okay, let’s examine the naivete bit, because that’s the principal unfair allegation.

Ezra is not us. He doesn’t have the benefit of hindsight; he doesn’t know that the Rebellion does come through and win at the end. He can only act on the information available to him at the time – and that information? To be honest, the Rebellion isn’t doing that great. His own squadron, Phoenix squadron, had previously suffered heavy losses – to such a degree that they were no longer able to function as an effective battle group and were absorbed into the much larger Yavin group. This act alone would have had a psychological impact all of its own, as the group had served as Ezra’s extended family for a long period of time. Once that was stripped away a significant tie to his home went with it. Not only that but he was a Someone in that group. Now he’s just another cog in the Rebel machine. The Rebellion itself, we are to infer from the opening scenes, have suffered military setbacks of its own. Whence Ezra stands, Mon Mothma seems unwilling or unable to take further military action – and military acts have been the only type of act that he’s done for the Rebellion, which is why I think he valued destruction over subterfuge at the tower – for the destruction provides an immediate, understandable result, whereas the spike is a thus far unknown quantity to him, with at that point purely theoretical results. With all this in mind, I think it’s entirely fair that he would not view the Rebellion as the best, most effective way to further his goals of saving Lothal, of defeating the Sith and the Empire.

But this neglects to answer the Lothal question. Was he wrong to pursue further action for the liberation of Lothal? On the whole, sure! As Mon Mothma pointed out, there are yet more planets out there that are under the Imperial yoke. It would be unreasonable, not to mention tactically stupid, to bring the full might of the Rebel Alliance to bear on Lothal. Even were that to work – and it just might have! – they would either need to do that for each and every planet, until they win overall or are defeated by attrition, or they would stay and make their stand at Lothal, a stand that would surely be their last.

But there is a kernel of reason in Ezra focusing his efforts on the Lothal system. It is why the Rebellion is, at least at the beginning, a loose alliance of rebel cells. It’s also why, to delve into history, why the American revolutionary army featured not just a Continental army fragmented into several smaller armies, but also why they had state militias: because the rebels, the revolutionaries, were fighting for their home. They know it best. Better than the occupying/enemy force and perhaps better than those in the higher echelons of the Rebellion and the revolution. The local cells know the lay of the land – and they feel more connected to it. While such cells almost certainly have sympathies towards other planets, they will naturally be more emotionally attached to their homeland, and will naturally feel inclined to protect their home first and foremost – and a good commander ought to know when it’s a good time to either placate that desire or stoke that inclination.

While not an exact replica, Hera, for example, ably commands and cajoles her pilots because she knows them well and manages to play off of that knowledge to rally them. Mon Mothma, however, doesn’t know Ezra all that well, and while her speech was certainly a good one on paper, as we see it ultimately didn’t resonate with him. And indeed it’s that failed argument, on top of other minor pushes, that may end up pushing Ezra away from the Rebel Alliance altogether.

Long Term Gain vs. Short Term Reward

This is a question that has plagued commanders from time immemorial. Do you destroy that tower, or do you take a risk and spike it for future use? Interestingly, this is one that has a generally definite right answer: when possible, try to advance your long-term goals. And this isn’t just true to military campaigns, but the every day, too. ‘Do I buy the posher, high-end food and eat like a king for a week, or buy more frugally and eat tripe for a month?’ ‘Do I use my few pennies to buy an extravagance, or shall I put them away for a rainy day?’, you get a general idea. But though I say it’s generally a good idea, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is – because sometimes you just need minor wins to keep you going. Tripe will fill you, but it does sap at your will somewhat to have it day in, day out (trust me, I’ve tested this). So, every now and then, it helps to have one little extravagance, one little dessert to help keep you going and I’m pretty sure I’ve taken this food metaphor past the breaking point, haven’t I?

As with food, so in war: if major victories aren’t immediately possible, it’s important to have at least minor victories to keep morale up on your side, to keep that spark of rebellion lit in the dark times. This goes doubly true if the lack of morale is tempting some of your members to jump ship (it is worth noting that it wasn’t so much a desire to stay with the Rebellion that ended the Ezra, Sabine and Saw alliance, but rather Saw’s actions that pushed them back into the loving arms of Mum and Dad).

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Yeah, yeah, #SpaceMarried *sigh* [IMAGE CREDIT: DISNEY WIKIA]

To return to the American revolution, we see ample similarities in its early days to the early days of the Rebel Alliance. Because the US lacked any real industrial infrastructure and the Continental Congress lacked funds, the army relied on stolen equipment and poorly made uniforms, as well as items bought from other countries via loans – which consequently meant that, on top of lacking good equipment, soldiers went unpaid for years – and so many US soldiers deserted. This, combined with low morale, threatened to end the revolution. The battle of Trenton is a key example of this as it was a much-needed victory in the early years of the war, one that boosted morale and served as a demonstration that colonial forces could indeed defeat British regulars* as well as providing a significant boost to enlistment numbers. The victory, coming after successive defeats, essentially legitimised their role as an actual army.

*Personal bugaboo: it was a common myth then, as it still is now, that the British army was the best in the world. Nope! That was arguably the navy. Our army held in great disdain and was no better nor worse than any other at that time. The ones defeated at Trenton were Hessians, who instilled a certain fear in American hearts.

Speaking of special units instilling fear…

Does this seem familiar to you? Do you see any similarities between that and the position the Rebellion now finds itself in? We saw Hera and her pilots suffer self-doubt and fear; is that widespread? How deep did Saw’s words cut into the hearts of those present? And will the rebels, and our Spectres, in particular, have to wait until Rogue One for their Battle of Trenton?

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