Tag Archives: rebels

Shroud of Darkness through The Mystery of Chopper Base (or Lighting Round 2) – Rebels Roundtable #29

The Star Wars Report’s Rebels Roundtable takes on Shroud of DarknessThe Forgotten Droidand The Mystery of Chopper Base.

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As The Star Wars Report’s Rebels Roundtable winds down to its final episode after Season 2 ends, the shows returns with a second “lightning round” to check out the 16th – 18th true episodes of Season 2: Shroud of DarknessThe Forgotten Droid, and The Mystery of Chopper Base.

Join Berent, Mark, Taelor, and Nathan as they discuss the episodes. Which episodes were the strongest? Does Yoda really need braces? Did anyone notice that Chopper’s legs did not matcch? Why did we need a filler episode before the season finale? All this and more in this episode of Rebels Roundtable

Download the MP3 of this episode HERE (right click, save as).

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Tell That To Kanjiklub- TWL #174

WampasLair_SquareKarl and Jason break down the This Is Madness tournament, catch up on Rebels, theorize about the finale, and chat about the upcoming TFA deleted scenes!

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On Rebels, Chopper Gets A Fwiend And The Rebellion Gains An Ally

Greetings, fellow human! Note that this is not a full review. If you like that, cool, but here we take a look at a couple of aspects of each episode and discuss them. Best read after having watched the episode, and as always SPOILERS from here on out.

In this episode of Rebels, entitled The Forgotten Droid, Chopper gets a fwiend. And indeed that’s pretty much the only thing that happens and thus the only selling point. As I demonstrated to my not-a-Star-Wars-fan sister. Over and over again. I made it her special hell.

It was at this point that they started singing Hakuna Matata, and everything became right in the world.

Building

The benefits of telling a story in a TV show instead of a film is that you’re allowed to do so much more and do it in vastly different ways. The purpose of this show, as I understand it, is to demonstrate how the rebellion came to be. This usually takes the form of showing our Spectres fighting small scale battles against the Empire, or demonstrating said Empire to be cruel and ruthless and thus making it worthwhile to overthrow them, or highlighting how various people came to be a part of the rebellion. But there is another way – one that is quite important but not quite as flashy, and when done right is done subtly. It’s also something that many role-playing gamers may know well: resource building. This is the gradual accumulation of resources through various means. Sometimes it’s as simple as ‘Press Enter to accept Cmdr Millicent into your team’ – the most common of recruitment drives known to military the world over (I assume). Sometimes it’s stealing supplies or ships so that you have an armada with which to advance ‘The Cause’, and certainly you may recall one of the previous episodes where the rebels captured the ship carrier that played such a central role in this episode. That was one of the more obvious examples of resource building (or RB for short).

RB is an absolutely necessary component to this kind of show, and the kind of story it’s trying to tell. As Zarm, a regular commenter on this website (hi Zarm!), made mention several weeks ago in the comments, Phoenix Squadron has a … let’s call it a quick turnaround. They frequently experience losses of manpower and resources – and simply showing that, week after week, does strain viewer credulity. But by indulging in RB, by demonstrating where those pilots and those A Wings come from, lends weight to their use in action scenes. They’re no longer Redshirts, or background objects to make the action seem tense, but actual beings whose presence has narrative importance. And those A Wings are no longer cheap bits of machinery that are easily replaced (that is to say, they may be, but I wouldn’t know), but that they’re valuable resources that the Rebellion has struggled hard to acquire, so that the loss of a single snubfighter has the potential to severely impact the Rebellion’s fighting strength. To briefly give a historical example, we saw this during the Second World War, during the Battle of Britain. Daily the Luftwaffe would send wave upon wave of fighter planes to harass military bases, damage industrial and civilian areas and in general be a nuisance. They had hundreds, if not thousands, of aeroplanes at their disposal – but the continual loss of planes or pilots was not something they could afford or sustain. Compare that to British and Allied pilots who, if shot down, could return to work the next day – simply because they had been shot down above friendly territory whereas if the Luftwaffe were to be shot down then they could expect a lengthy stay in a POW camp. And beyond that, these Allied pilots could fly in new planes supplied by the ATA. Their shot-down vehicles, too, would be salvaged and reused – if not as planes then as something else of value to the war effort.

By now you may have spotted something wrong with my line of thinking, and don’t worry, that’s on purpose*. This episode wasn’t about A Wings or Phoenix Squadron. It was about AP-5, the eponymous forgotten droid (yeah I said it, fight me), as well his supply ship joining the Rebellion, swelling its ranks with another ship, but more importantly the presence of AP-5 provides the Rebellion with much needed insider intel as well as a useful tactical mind. It was a great way of introducing what could potentially be a key asset to the Rebellion – and it was also done in a fairly subtle way.

*Mostly

It’s perhaps unkind but true to state that this show has not, on many an occasion, been the most subtle in its storytelling. Probably most viewers could spot a mile away any plot twist or character development before it had time to take full form (as evidenced by the return of Ketsu Onyo as she aided the Rebellion. I’m sure many called that she would come to aid the rebels).

Who knew tactical geniuses had such cool shades?

Speaking of subtlety, if I may be forgiven for drawing a negative comparison (I loathe to do this, usually because it’s often tacky and unecessary), I’d like to draw your attention to another show: Star Trek.

I do apologise

I do apologise

Star Trek: Voyager was rather notorious by utilising a form of RB. For those unfamiliar with the show, the premise was that the starship Voyager was, via a Deus Ex Machina device known as The Caretaker, flung to the other side of the galaxy, and it was the job of the crew to make the 70,000 light-year journey home. This sounded good – until you realised that at the end of every other episode saw one crew member or another say ‘this new technology ought to take a few years off our journey’. It was about as subtle in its resource building as Zeb in a gun factory. Rebels has a similar task at hand: it must build the Rebellion up into something that looks capable of taking on an entire fleet at the end of Return of the Jedi. And, like Voyager, it must also do quite a large amount of RB on a near weekly basis.

But unlike Voyager it occasionally takes great pains to hide this fact, usually by making them into character-centric episodes. In the past we’ve had episodes like the B Wing episode, or the Ryloth episode, where the gaining of new technology was obviously the goal from the start, but the focus was almost entirely on its characters. In the former, we explored Hera’s back-story and her love of flying. In the latter, Hera had to overcome her backstabbing, traitorous father* in order gain a base of operations for her squadron. But Forgotten Droid surpasses these attempts, because once again the narrative focus is not on the need for supplies (this quite literally takes place in the background), but Chopper and AP-5. It’s through a heart-warming sharing of character background that key information is dropped, like Chopper’s military experience and Apey’s tactical expertise. And later we’re shown that AP-5, a lowly navigator droid, knows that the Rebels’ safe port is in fact a trap. How he knows is not explained – but for now that’s not important. What is important is that he knows. These scenes are brief blink and you’ll miss it moments, but ones that delivers possibly vital information.

*Not bitter at all. Honest.

Exactly what did Chopper do to get Hera looking so unresponsive? Dude’s evil, I tell you.

But this does come with negatives. Earlier I made a point of the necessity of demonstrating where Phoenix Squadrons gets its pilots and war materiel. I made this particular example because it focuses on the events and people in the show itself (see, I wasn’t losing it!*). As things are, Rebels tends to focus its world- and resource-building for the benefit of the movies rather than for the show itself. This is understandable – particularly as we once had an expanded universe that gave us back-stories on a number of characters who were seen for a whole two seconds on screen. Again it’s understandable and to a degree I accept this as both necessary and good. But at the same time, especially in the case of RB, I do feel that the show could do better by focusing on building up its own resources. This is mainly because the series itself has, in the second series alone, greatly expanded its scope, so that it could be thought of as a universe in its own right – and one that doesn’t really need to feed another universe, or even feed off it. (I’m terrible at metaphors, so for clarity the other universe I’m mentioning is the movie universe).

*Well, I am, but not that time.

It’s a young show so of course it needs to learn on its big brothers and sisters (to haphazardly mix metaphors), but it’s quickly moving beyond that necessary crutch to a point where it can stand on its own two feet, and at that point it ought to learn away from RBing for the movies and just concentrate on itself.

Michael Dare

P.S. I suck at metaphors.

Star Wars Updates, Upgrades, and Expansions – CCC Ep. 042

This week its a whole slew of new as Fantasy Flight Releases their newest wave of X-wing and announce their next Force pack for the card game and some new ships for Armada.

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On The video game side of things, we talk more about the Uprising update after getting some time with it as well as VR in Battlefront? Check it out now to get filled in on all the details and the Hilarious shenanigans of Michael Morris and Nathan P. Butler.

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On Rebels, The Inquisitors Perfect The Menacing Crawl

… which is a yoga position, if I’m not much mistaken.

Quick note: this is not a full review. If you want that, cool, but here we take a few things for closer inspection. Best read after your viewing and taken with crackers, SPOILERS from here on out.

In this week’s episode of Rebels, entitled Shroud of Darkness, we see our three Jedi (or Jedi-adjacent*) Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka enter the Jedi Temple on Lothal to communicate with Yoda, who’s still on Dagobah. Just go with it, it totally made sense in the episode.

*I do not apologise at all for this.

No joke this time around. Just marveling at the design on show.

Though those visions were most interesting, first I’d like to discuss something that’s been bugging me.

The Inquisitors

Minimised as this picture is, it looks like the Inquisitors are surrounded by hearts. How cute. Little hearts of death.

This episode saw the return of several characters from the first series: Yoda of course, but also The Grand Inquisitor, in a reveal that definitely wasn’t greeted with an ‘I called it’ dance from me. What? That’s totally a thing! A thing that I don’t do, so forget I mentioned it. Anyhoo, not only did he return, but he did so in style, and brought all the characterisation and back-story that was missing from the first series. For it turns out that he was once a Jedi and one of the Temple Guards. Quite why Palpatine would want his Inquisitors to be led by a guard who let Order 66 and Operation Knightfall (I would have gone with Night of the Long Sabers, personally) happen on his watch is beyond me, but hey ho. I’m not an Emperor of an entirely made up galaxy, so what would I know?

Actually, I'm Emperor of a vast and fearsome colony of ants. Why are you laughing?

Actually, I’m Emperor of a vast and fearsome colony of ants. What? Why are you laughing?

Last week saw some much needed depth breathed into Agent Kallus, and this show has, in my opinion, given some great defining character moments for otherwise amorphous and forgettable Imperial underlings. Now we see some intriguing back-story to the Grand Inquisitor. Which for me raised the question: are we going to have to wait until these Inquisitors are dead before we learn anything about them?

Here’s what we know: They’re named in a seemingly hierarchical structure which also suggests that they’re brought up in some sort of family environment (whether natural or artificial, we don’t know). They work extremely well together, despite their competitive natures. And they … walk very very slowly and very very menacingly. I could add a few more ‘verys’ just to make that list longer, but that’s pretty much it. This isn’t exactly an improvement on what we know about the Grand Inquisitor – or Big Inky, as he is known on the street.

This is not what I had in mind when I googled 'big ink'.

This is not what I had in mind when I googled ‘big ink’.

And this is one of the main failings of the show for me. In the show, they’re portrayed as implacable foes that are nigh impossible for our Spectres to defeat and who turn up at the worst possible moment to mess up the rebellions’ plans – and that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to say for having great unknown evils lurking about in your story, simply because that aforementioned great unknown adds to the fear and terror that their mere presence can instil. But there does come a point when something, anything – I’d take throwaway dialogue at this point – is needed that fleshes out your villains from two dimensional boogeymen into truly memorable and strong characters. And there does also come a point where sacrificing character depth in favour of unknown terror starts to turn against you and begins to actively harm the story you’re trying to tell. Nothing quite undermines your heroes’ victory over the baddies when the viewer thinks ‘well that’s them sorted, who’s the next Inquisitor going to be?’ I’m not saying we’re there yet*, in large part because they haven’t featured too heavily in this series. But we are nearing the end of the second series, so now might be a good time to think about adding in some layers to various neglected characters *conspicuouslycoughsHera*.

*I took a poll when you weren’t looking. That serves you right for not checking your junk mail.

Unless they’re actually dead, in which case: that’s them sorted. Who’s the next Inquisitor going to be? I vote for Anthony Stewart Head.

Oh gods please make that happen!

Oh gods please make that happen!

Forget The Old Way

I fell asleep. This is Ezra, right?

The trial of Ezra Bridger saw Yoda proffering little nuggets of wisdom like a little wisdom Pez dispenser, to help Ezra understand how to grow to be a Jedi and what that means in these turbulent times. It seems fairly straightforward, yet the scene left me somewhat confused; I didn’t get such a good read on it. So if I may, I have a question for you: who failed that trial, Ezra or Yoda?

Where the show has currently failed the Inquisitors in approaching them as fleshed out characters, they very much succeeded with Yoda. Granted, that little green Pez wisdom dispenser is an already established character, and this team has had experience writing for him on Rebels’ spiritual predecessor, The Clone Wars. But that doesn’t negate the good work they’ve done – that being how they’ve made Yoda as not just an instructor for Ezra, but a person needing their own test as well, and a person bringing their own baggage to the conversation, rather than just being there for something else. This is a common short-falling for storytellers the world over, rather than operate on the assumption that each character is, essentially, a real person and the hero of their own story – that they have their own lives, goals and needs, and that one life-altering conversation for one person may just be a Tuesday for them.

So what is it that Yoda’s bringing to the table here, and why does he need a test? Why do I believe he is even being tested in the first place? Good questions all, if I do say so myself. To answer the first: Yoda doesn’t seem to be answering Ezra’s questions all that well. At first, he seems to understand what’s needed of him, yet coaches his answers in the frame of reminiscing on times gone by and lamenting the past, i.e. discussing events that are more important and more well known to Yoda than to Ezra. This quickly puts Ezra at a disadvantage, and since Yoda’s had 800 odd years of teaching young Jedi-in-waiting, you’d think he’d be cognizant of this fact. (To veer off quickly, I did love this conversation: it felt like both characters were having two entirely different conversations while they were conversing to each other. That’s very hard to write and if the writers had intended this then I applaud them for it.) To return to my original point, it seems that Yoda has become too wrapped up in the past, in the old way, to understand that Ezra is being a Jedi in an entirely new way. Perhaps more: that an entirely new way is needed for the Jedi altogether. Yet it appears that Yoda is doubling down on the Jedi ways of old, somewhat forgetting that that had a large hand in their downfall in the first place.

To answer the second and third questions – because those two are intertwined – is because it makes narrative sense to do so. As I’ve said, writers tend to treat secondary characters as just foils for the main character to explore their faults. This is bad. Instead, we should think of secondary characters as heroes. Following that line of thought let’s pretend it’s The Yoda Show instead and that our Spectres are merely guest stars.

In this episode, Yoda has been exiled to the swamp planet of Dagobah. Years go by as he waits to become relevant to the galaxy again. Always waiting until he can become a teacher again – to the galaxy’s new hope, Luke Skywalker. But as time passes he fears that he won’t be as on form as he used to be, back in the golden age of the Jedi and the Republic. After all, he’s been a teacher all his life and has never gone so long without teaching (that decade spent meditating with the silent Jedi monks of Malastare and the week-long-turned-two-year-long furlough on Nar Shaddaa don’t count). He needs a little test, just to make sure his skills are still sharp. So when he’s contacted by a fledgeling Jedi in the form of Ezra Bridger he spies his chance. This is it, he thinks. A quick lesson on the basics and everything will be fine. Wait, what’s this? He’s already decided to fight? That’s … not what he had in mind. He had a whole speech planned out. About the Clone Wars. About Order 66. He’d made puppets.

Ah, he thinks. And in a moment of deep insight that takes even old Yoda aback, he realises that perhaps he’s been going about this the wrong way. Upon realising this, he sends Ezra on his way with some pertinent information before going off have a long hard think. Perhaps, he concludes, he needed that. He’d forgotten that this Luke Skyflier or, or, Luke Starkiller or whatever his name is, would probably not have been raised in the Jedi way and moreover that he’d likely have similar inclinations as this Ezra boy, too. It might be worth it to have a little rethinking of his teaching plan. Do away with the puppets, for a start. Some brisk jogging could help, and he’d get to see some parts of the swamp that he hadn’t been able to visit since he’d landed, so that’d be nice. ‘And, and,’ he would say, ‘I wonder where I left that cave?’

Michael Dare

Star Wars Rebels is taking a break for a week, so do be sure to set your reminder for the following week.