On Rebels, The Empire Made Molehills Out Of Mountains

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Greetings! Reminder: This is not a full review. Instead, we look at one or two things because this reviewer was also mesmerized by the Lupine Time Warp. As always, SPOILERS from here on out.

This week on Rebels, Kindred, Imperial arrogance, and hyperdrive enabled wolves to allow blundering buffoons to escape. Honestly, I’m pretty sure the Empire just lets the Rebels get away because there’s not much else to do on Lothal. I can just imagine Thrawn turning to Pryce and saying, ‘Hey did you see the game last ni-oh right, we bulldozed the arena. My bad!’

Your Arrogance Is Your Weakness

This week saw a ‘new’ addition to the cast. I use quotation marks because of Rukh, Thrawn’s specialist isn’t exactly new, but an émigré from the old Legends books to the new canon. Welcome! And as such it’s fitting that we take a closer look at this new, shiny and most importantly 3D Rukh. Who, who are you, who is this kid, what’s he gonna do?

Well! He has a pretty phenomenal start. And a middle and an end, come to think of it. But there were a few key scenes that I wish to highlight: his confrontations with Governor Pryce. Each scene was a perfect microcosm of each character present, physically or otherwise. Pryce was imperious, competent but slightly on edge. Rukh was almost entirely business, zoning in on his job and treating everything else as an inconvenience. Thrawn was, as always, able to make his presence, and his authority, known without even having to be there. And the stormtroopers were just wandering around trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. Quite a feat considering they’re wearing all-white in the middle of the desert.

One thing in particular that I enjoyed was how both Pryce and Rukh both displayed their incredible astuteness, their keenness of observation and sharpness of intellect – by summing each other up with just a few fleeting conversations. It was a lovely call back to the first time Luke and the Emperor had first met. The Emperor, all cockiness, and gleeful gloating, lording it over a captured Luke. Luke, with keen observation and a knowledge of genre tropes, thrust with sharp insight: ‘your overconfidence is your weakness’. The Emperor, disliking having his moment ruined by this upstart with the bad haircut, quickly and accurately parried, ‘your faith in your friends is yours.’

So, too, here, Pryce immediately attempts to convey her absolute authority over the situation. Rukh throws that aside as so much unnecessary chaff in favor of the execution of their shared task. This theme is continued as they head towards the Rebel base when they bicker over who failed the most. Was it the assassin’s fault for letting them go? Or Pryce’s for letting the hyperdrive go? Rukh’s insistence that he can finish them off himself, and later that he can hunt them down in the mountains alone. Pryce’s refusal to bend, her desire to see the mission completed according to her more standard, militaristic solution.

And yet, even as they hold diametrically opposing solutions, they share one overriding characteristic: arrogance. Absolute, unflinching arrogance, which threatens to cost them their success.

We never really see how Pryce would have located the Spectres (though tracking the troop transport, which surely would have had a locator beacon, may have later come into it), but we do know that Imperial detachments have – seemingly as standard, if A New Hope is anything to go by – trackers or tracking abilities. Such personnel or equipment could have been used in tandem or to enhance Rukh’s techniques. Instead, Rukh launches off on his own, sure that he could handle the situation by himself. If, once he had established their location, he had taken a quick moment to confer with Pryce, they could have led a two-pronged attack – together – and then succeeded in capturing the hyperdrive retrieval squad.

At least Rukh didn’t waste his tracking shot. Why yes, Hamilton is coming over to the UK next month, why do you ask?

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And later, though their attack is ultimately successful (which was most likely Pryce’s doing), the Rebels escape. Instead of again conferring to figure out a plan together – say, with Rukh going in to ferret them out while Pryce uses her resources to corral and contain the Rebels – the episode might have ended much more differently. Then again, maybe not. All the logic and cooperation in the galaxy simply cannot stand up to Deus Ex Lupina.

As negative as all this sounds, I really don’t hold this against the writing team. Instead, I think this is a wonderful demonstration of the strengths and failures of each individual present. And even of individuals not present. Speaking of which …

Why, Thrawn, Why?

Oh Thrawn. Why did you have to bring in outside resources? It wouldn’t have been that difficult to track them. For crying out loud, Ezra and Sabine were carrying that very heavy hyperdrive by hand. They would have left deep footprints, not to mention that they were dropping it every few feet. Hell they were dragging it by the end, there. You didn’t need Rukh. He was cool, sure, but so unnecessary. But it’s more than that: you’ve undone all your hard work in setting up Pryce as an able and competent field commander. And you entirely undermined the confidence you have placed in her. Not just that, but her own self-confidence, and the confidence that her troops had placed in her. Why do this? If you had ceased to have confidence in Pryce, why still use her? You don’t seem like the type of person to keep around someone you don’t deem fit for the job at hand.

That little rant – bizarrely directed at a person who doesn’t even exist – out of the way, why did Thrawn do this? As we have seen in the last series, Thrawn has often preferred to utilize local forces and then build them up into a strong, cohesive unit. When he has chosen to include outside forces – such as the Interdictors that were conspicuously not there to stop Hera’s escape – he did so with the full knowledge of his pre-existing forces. That foreknowledge would have allowed the local forces time to adjust to this new inclusion, so that they all may be able to work together, as a cohesive unit.

Is Thrawn showing signs of straining? The introduction of Rukh is, I’m guessing, supposed to signify how dangerous our Spectres are becoming. That Thrawn can’t defeat them with the forces currently at his disposal and so he must pull out all the stops. But he did so haphazardly, without his usual polish. Even then, Rukh was not enough to get the job done. On top of that, he failed to stop a solitary ship from escaping – something that he had to have known was a possibility ever since he was alerted to the fact that the Rebels had stolen a hyperdrive unit. But, to be fair, maybe he wasn’t able to get his hands on an Interdictor cruiser. Maybe they have to be specially requested for use. Or, you know, maybe they’re part of a time-share?

But seriously, is this the end for Thrawn? I don’t necessarily mean his death – I doubt, with a book on the way, that he’ll die on the show. But I do think that this is the beginning of the end of Thrawn’s prominent position in the Empire. Indeed, I don’t think he’ll rise up any further.

I’ll stop now.

P.S. So … where exactly is the hyperdrive installed on those Loth-wolves?

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