Star Wars Rebels – Season 1, Episode 4 – “Breaking Ranks” – Life in the Imperial Academy


    “Breaking Ranks” is a great episode that humanizes the Empire and motivations for why an individual might join it, as well as the dangers and opportunity that you receive in being talented or gifted. Every character gets something to do, even if it is a small thing the plot is advanced the the minor characters are really the main focus as they help us get to know Ezra better.

     The episode was directed by Steven G. Lee and Greg Weisman.

     “Breaking Ranks” takes place in an Imperial Academy where Ezra is undercover in order to get an encoder that contains the location of a powerful Kyber Crystal, the encoder is in Agent Kallus’s office. Things soon get complicated as Oleg (a fellow cadet) helps him for his own ends and together they must convince Jai to join them when Ezra learns The Inquisitor is going to arrive to potentially take them away.

The Pros: The Crew – Kanan is worrying about Eza for much of the episode with Hera helping to mellow him out and in the final rescue Sabine and Zeb save Oleg, Jai and Ezra. They all have tiny moments of awesome that way especially when Kanan leads away the Imperial ships so that Hera can take out the shipment with the Crystals.

The Imperial Academy – I really like how the designed the academy. The teachers are harsh (the strongest shall be victorious) while still being empathetic as they are dealing with children. They are never abusive and even Kallus is kind to Oleg and isn’t cruel to him for wasting his time. It gives a much needed humanization of the members of the Empire…and the kindness bites them too as the winners of the training game got to ride an Imperial Walker out of the building to escape.

The Cadets – The Cadets have distinct personalities and are very interesting characters, which shows great writing considering they are minor characters.

Kai – Kai is played by Dante Basco and is a kind and arrogant guy who wants to be a stormtrooper. He only decides to go when Oleg tells him that The Inquisitor took away his sister for passing the test and that it could happen to them too. He’s the average citizen who just wants to do right by his family and government.

Oleg – Oleg is the rebel trying to find his sister that The Inquisitor took away and stays behind after the escape so he can continue to do so. He’s a great character and wields more power to convince others than Kai. I really enjoyed his character and his choice to stay was strong given that he is questioned by The Inquisitor.

Ezra – Ezra uses the force again this episode, it’s how he gets the decoder card and he also fights for his friends showing just how much of a hero he can be. In this episode it is the crew’s selfishness of wanting to get out of it alive and get him out alive where the contrast really is. Though do help Kai go into hiding though.

The Ending – The ending is great. The Inquisitor arrives, Oleg tells a lie about how he tried to stop Kai and Ezra from escaping, the Inquistor recognizes Ezra’s picture and gives Oleg a creepy smile that shows he is in for trouble.

This is an episode well worth checking out that has the feel of victory in escape not defeating the Empire, which is the best since the Rebels don’t have an army at this point. I really liked the relationship between the Cadets and how Ezra showed himself to be the greatest hero on the crew when at first he was the most selfish of them…the humanization of the Empire was a major plus as well. So many were just instructors doing their jobs.

Final Score: 10 / 10


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