On Rebels, An Ode To Joyriding

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To first time readers, welcome! And to our returning reader, welcome back! Remember, this is not a full review. Here we just look at one or two things because my notes are just ‘trippy wolf, trippy wolf, trippy wolf’ ad infinitum. As always, SPOILERS from here on out.

This week on Rebels, Flight of the Navigator Defender … what the hell was that which we just watched? Seriously, I’m pretty sure it was just one big “Force” hallucination. For all of us.

Sabine, Is That You?

This episode didn’t sit well with me – in fact, I’d consider it the weakest episode in a long time. I wasn’t sure why as there was certainly plenty to entertain and enjoy: The Laurel and Hardy joyride! The little moments of humor that this series does so very well! The ode to the TIE Defender that I didn’t know I needed but am very thankful for! (Seriously, it could have been considered sponsored content if Star Wars was real.) And the absolute trippiness of the wolf. But for some reason, my brain just wouldn’t accept this as a good episode. I think I’ve figured out why.

The first reason is Sabine – or rather, the imposter that was in Sabine’s armor, for she simply did not act like the Mandalorian I know. Well, sort of know. She’s a friend of a friend of a room-mate. The first instance is that Sabine was the one to insist on sneaking into the base for the flight recorder. This by itself isn’t such a bad idea, but it was just so impulsive and half…thought through that it felt much more like an Ezra plan (you know, the one that doesn’t plan). I struggle to understand her urgency. The only thing that I can think of is that Kanan and Hera had noted that the Empire was entrenching, installing defenses. But even so, we’ve seen this very same crew break into heavily fortified bases with stunning regularity. So really, could they not have continued observing and tried to build up their knowledge of the area and the base routine, the security patterns and then developed a more solid plan? For me, it felt much more like the writers needed to quickly finish up this storyline in order to fit in the next one. If so, that’s understandable, but it doesn’t negate the fact that Sabine was behaving most unlike herself.

Then there is the second instance of her rashly charging forward into the TIE Defender cockpit, leaving it to Ezra to, without warning or aforethought, create a distraction on the spot. Was it that she had become cocky, inured to the ways of the Spectres and thought, ‘ah, bugger it, we can just make things up as we go along. That usually works’. And indeed it does usually work, but it’s seldom Sabine that suggests that they do so. I cannot help but think that a lot of things were cut in order to include elements of the next story arc. Speaking of which …

Tonal Shift

This second reason is a bit more complex and not necessarily something that will always be a valid, negative criticism: a change in structure and tone. While the first part was a continuation and wrapping up of the previous episode, halfway through the episode it transitioned and the second part became a musing on the nature of the Force, with their escape taking a back seat. Naturally, these two things are not alike and I found it somewhat jarring. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a relatively seamless transition and one that was handled quite well. They ably managed to sneak in a set up in the first half by gently reminding us of Ezra’s natural affinity and ability to connect with animals, via the Loth-rats, all the while coyly introducing us to the main course of the philosophical meal: Loth-wolf steak! But seriously, I do think it was well done*: re-watch that part on youtube and pay attention to the music. Notice what isn’t there? The Force theme. Whenever the films or the shows deal in Force moments the Force theme will always (as far as I can recall) be there. And yet they refrain from doing this – and I don’t think it was an oversight, either. Listen to the music again. It’s not the Force theme, but the music does use the same instruments and similar chords and oddities to hint at what is to come.

*The scene, not the steak.

And yet, for as much as I appreciate the set up (and look forward to the many think-pieces and philosophical debates about a made-up philosophy* to come), this set up will only be as good as its pay-off – and we have to wait until the next episode for that (assuming that it wasn’t a one-off and will be continued in the next episode, but based on the series trailer and the preview, I believe that to be the case). I realize that sounds quite Veruca Salt of me; ‘But, Filoni, I want the answers now! Now now now now now!’, I truly don’t mean it as such. Rather that I feel that it should have been given time to breathe, to more naturally develop, or at least toned it down dramatically, so that it would have been more of a tease of what’s to come. Again, a change in structure, having the end in the middle and starting anew is not necessarily bad – but as it was, I feel that both the Defender story ending and the Loth-wolf set up were underserved by being crammed into the same episode.

*I mean, all philosophies are made up. That’s what makes them philosophies! But this one is … more made up than others? Oh you know what I mean.

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