“Star Wars Rebels” Season 3 – Some Great Arcs are Completed and one of my Favorite Villains Enters the New Canon

    “Star Wars Rebels” has found great quality again, and they do it by getting rid of the Inquisitors (who were really wasted last season) all together and bringing in a character who existed in the original canon of Star Wars, Grand Admiral Thrawn. Doing this was one of the smartest things Disney could have done as even when the Empire is losing most of the time in small battles, it all comes together in Thrawn’s master plan and a pretty glorious final that shows just how deadly the Empire is since the Death Star or Battle of Hoth. Suffice to say, I loved this season and highly recommend it.

    The story of Season 3 involves the arrival of Governor Pryce as the new Moff over Lothal and Grand Admiral Thrawn as the new Imperial Agent to destroy the Rebellion in the sector. As the rebellion gathers allies to free Lothal from Imperial Rule Thrawn uses their own strengths against them as his master plan unfolds to wipe out the Rebellion.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: Growing Rebellion Arc – A major arc this season is the Rebellion collecting allies and meeting the leaders of other cells. Whether it is Saw Gerrera on Geonosis, the stupid Iron Squadron, the Twi’lik on Ryloth, Hondo and leaders of the Rebellion like Mon Mothma. This season continues on Season 2 and 1 as the Rebellion Cells are coming together to form a greater fleet so worlds can be liberated.

The Mandalore Arc – The Mandalore arc is one in which the Empire is in firm control but slowly loses it as Sabine and Clan Wren become greater power players when she takes on the leader of the Empire on Mandalore, Gar Saxon and makes peace with her family. From here it is decided to fight and Mandalore is thrown once more into Civil War as it is the only chance for Mandalore to exist for Mandalore and not the Empire. This is where Sabine leaves too as she has found a greater purpose beyond the tech. of the Ghost crew.

The Fulcrum Arc – Agent Kallus is fully a good guy in this season and his arc is helping the Rebellion and getting information to them until he is discovered by Thrawn. In this we see the Rebellion come to trust him and his arc ends with him officially joining them at their lowest as Thrawn’s battle is a success and the Rebels are routed from their base.

Maul’s Arc – Maul’s arc continues the theme of last season of showing how the Dark Side only leaves one alone and resentful of all. By the end of the series all he has is hatred of Obi-Wan and nothing more as he was not able to corrupt Ezra. For a character who really should have stayed dead or died in Clone Wars they at least gave his story a purpose. He is a character who brings about pity as he has lost everything and the Empire is so large and powerful he has no way of gaining back his prior position. He is taking easy outs because if he stays around long enough the Empire will hunt him down. His story is sad and he shows the loneliness of the Dark Side and how empty the quest for power truly is as in the end he dies in Obi-Wan’s arms as Obi-Wan has found peace and a higher cause beyond power and is able to help Maul find peace.

The Bendu – Tom Baker plays the Bendu, a force being who is made up of both the Dark and the Light. He is the one who trains Kanan and Ezra and helps them find balance after their losses last season. He is a great character who in the end is hurt by the Jedi, showing that they aren’t good, as forcing him to fight leads to his death at the hands of Thrawn. In the end he was right in a way and in the end the Jedi turning him to the Dark Side and destroying his balance, is one of the saddest parts of the season as it is what leads to his destruction.

Grand Admiral Thrawn’s Plan and Payoff – Much of this Season involves Thrawn as the observer, watching the different players of the Rebellion and studying how they fight, discovering who Fulcrum is and developing weapons for the Empire. In the end his plan is a success, though it is isn’t a complete success. He destroys most of the Rebellion on Atollon and forces the Rebellion on the run again. He only loses due to the pride of Pryce and Konstantine who let ego get in the way of results and in order for the Rebels to even survive Commander Sato has to sacrifice himself to destroy a ship at the Battle of Atollon, which the battle that ends this season.

Revenge versus Mercy – One of the major themes this season is Revenge versus Mercy and the heart of how the Rebellion and characters should act. We see this with Saw Gerrera and his willingness to kill the last survivor of Geonosis, Cham Syndulla and his willingness to kill and risk his life for the liberation of Rylok and each cases how isolated the characters are when they don’t act with mercy and only want Revenge. It is mercy that turns Kallus to the Rebellion and helps the Rebellion gain allies from Mandalore as well as keeping Ezra’s balance. This theme is universal through the season and gave it strength.

Grand Admiral Thrawn – Lars Mikkelson plays one of my favorite characters in the EU, both in the original lore and now the new lore. This is a character who is an alien among an organization made up of humans and because of this doesn’t care about his own ego and pride. He is ruthless and cares about results and it makes sense because he is an outsider. He has a history and we see that he is honorable to as he lets Cham Syndulla escape after Cham is willing to destroy his own home to escape and is the observer. Every rebel victory is a learning experience that pays off. He is unconventional too as he is making Tie Defenders on Lothal and they are shielded ties that the ghost crew has trouble destroying. Because his greatest asset is knowledge he takes out rebels spies whenever we see him and he is the one who traps Fulcrum and nearly destroys the Rebellion, as the Rebels only manage to escape because Kanan angers the Bendu and Ezra brings allies from Mandalore. He is still alive and I can’t wait to see what he does next season. Just as he was my favorite character in the original lore he is now in the new canon.

Okay: Empire Needed More Wins – The Empire still needed more wins, and with the dead of Admiral Constantine (a stupid Admiral who is obsessed with glory) is killed in the finale that may happen. Thrawn turns even scenarios were he doesn’t crush the Rebellion into learning experiences that lead to his trap unfolding at the Battle of Atollon.

 The Cons: Iron Squadron – Iron Squadron is a rebellion run by a bunch of kids. They were super annoying and overpowered. They were the only folks from the Rebellion we meet who clash with the competence and fear that pervades the rest of the Rebellion and allies. I hated this episode, it is the only episode I hated this season. The rest are good or great.

   Season 3 was a lot better than Season 2 and was much more focused than Season 2 as Thrawn’s overall agenda was revealed at the end and the rebel plans became undone. This was a Hoth moment for the Lothal Rebellion and it was powerful to see what was supposed to be a fleet to liberate Lothal, decimated by Thrawn and the Rebellion forced to run, only just surviving because of unexpected allies. I really enjoyed this given that the Empire experienced mostly losses this season until Thrawn’s trap was finally sprung. This Thrawn is true to his original counterpart in the books in all the ways that matter, and if you were a fan of him in the books, as I was, you will most likely love him on the show. Can’t wait to see how his story unfolds and I hope he survives this series.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 14 – “Homecoming” – How War Changes People

The Homecoming SWR Season 2

   “Homecoming” is another great episode that we needed after the travesty of “The Call.” We get to meet Hera’s father, realize why she is the way she is and how her father became the name he is (he was in “The Clone Wars” series too) and we get the chance to see how war and conflict can warp a person and their priorities. It really is a fantastic character piece.

   The episode was directed by Bosco Ng and written by Peter Melching.

    The episode involves the crew meeting up with the Rebel Cell on Ryloth lead by Hera’s father who was a hero during “The Clone Wars” and is known as the Hero of Ryloth. Their plan is to capture an Imperial Fighter Carrier above the planet but her father may have other darker plans.

The Pros: The History – The history in this is great. Kanan and Cham fought in “The Clone Wars” and are both veterans of war that lead directly to the rise of The Empire and the current dark times. This undercurrent of history pervades the script and lends it power.

Kanan – Kanan is funny as the awkward hero trying to impress his girlfriend’s father. He keeps trying to act formal around Cham and in the end Cham does respect him, which is nice to see.

The Crew of Ghost – The crew all play their part, from Zeb and Sabine capturing Cham’s agents who are trying to blow up the cruiser…to Kanan, Ezra and Hera facing Cham down and convincing him that there can be more than martyrdom and the Rebellion may not become the new Empire.

Hera – This is Hera’s episode and in this we see her convince her father there is more to the fight than Ryloth and that Ryloth is not alone in the fight against the Empire. It is powerful as she lived through the war as a child and she admits it was her father’s action that inspired her to join the rebellion and become a captain within it.

Cham Syndulla – Cham is the hardened warrior who lost his wife and is fighting a losing war against the Empire. He sees only hope in martyrdom until his daughter shows him another way, which reminds him of his wife who showed him the same thing until she herself was killed by the Empire. He’s an awesome character and I like that he’s tied to Hera and was brought into this series.

The Cons: Imperial Need a Win – I will say it again, the Imperials need a win. This was another episode that showed the Rebellion to be unstoppable, which is the biggest con of this season at the current time. It’s hard to have tension when everyone does the heroic thing in the end or our enemies are so toothless.

  Even with the problem of the Empire once again being a bit useless…this is a good character piece. We get to see why Hera is the way she is and Cham has a realistic character arc and I cared about the character, and not just because I knew him from “The Clone Wars.” In the end I’d recommend this episode and it is a favorite of the series.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episodes 18-21 – “Liberation of Ryloth Arc” – The Price of Command, Human Shields and the Art of Politics

Triumphant_fighters_on_Ryloth

     As far as arcs goes, the “Liberation of Ryloth Arc” is my favorite. We get to see all of the Jedi in action, get to see the politics of Ryloth among those who are under occupation and those far away and safe and the lengths the Separatists go too to keep the occupation and prevent action on part of the Republic and Jedi. There is also a great Clone Trooper story that is in here too that I’ll go into as well.

     The episodes are “Storm over Ryloth” directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by George Kristic, “Innocents of Ryloth” directed by Justin Ridge and written by Randy Stradley, Henry Gilroy and Scott Murphy and “Liberty on Ryloth” directed by Rob Coleman and directed by Henry Gilroy.

    The story involves the Republic’s liberation of Ryloth and everything it takes to get there. From Anakin, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan breaking the blockade over the planet, to Obi-Wan and his troopers shutting down the anti-air guns and saving the slaves too the final liberation of the Capitol by Mace Windu and the Liberation Fighter Cham Syndulla.

The Pros: Breaking the Blockade – The story of breaking the blockade is powerful as we see Ahsoka disobey the Admiral and Anakin and it costing her most of her troops. She is later trusted to backup Anakin when he uses the injured cruiser as a weapon against the Separatist Captain Mar Tuuk who predicts all of Anakin’s moves prior and manages to escape the battle. The story is powerful and full of loss and growth as Ahsoka works to save as many troops as possible but knows she can’t save them all. The cost of breaking the blockade is felt and the Republic isn’t even on the planet yet.

Ahsoka and Anakin – Ahsoka carries her guilt with her and it makes her see the big picture as she moves through it. Anakin also takes responsibility and we see that he is truly the commander. He is also willing to risk everything for the greater good and is still reckless, though his plan is successful in breaking the blockade when Ahsoka plans to distract with their Cruiser by turning it like a shield until Obi-Wan’s reinforcements arrive after Anakin had destroyed the Capitol ship.

Captain Mar Tuuk – He is smart and we see him see the battlefield as a chess match. He predicts Anakin’s move after the file on him and wins in most of the first victories. He did not predict Anakin’s willingness to risk his life and ship though to destroy him which causes him to retreat. He’s one of my favorite minor villains and I hope we see him again.

Waxer and Boil’s story – The two of them discover a young Twi’lik girl living alone among the ruins of her home. After they protect her and care for her she helps them save the rest of her people and is instrumental in Obi-Wan’s defeat of the Anti-Air defenses on the planet. The story is powerful too and she sees Waxer and Boil as brothers for all they did. Waxer is the one who cares for her the most while Boil just want to do the mission but comes around too in time when she helps them. They are her “Nerra” or brother and we see later on that they helped rescue her father.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan shows how powerful he is as a jedi when he controls the native fauna that the Separatists send to kill him and his troops and we see that he truly sees the people even if he is detached as he commends Wax and Boil for their rescue of the Twi’lik girl Numa.

Liberation of Ryloth – The final push to liberate Ryloth is amazing as we see Windu negotiate between the freedom fighter Cham Syndulla and Senator Taa as only with them working together can they defeat the Separatist occupation and capture the Capitol that Wat Tambor is holding. It’s powerful as we see that Cham distrusts rightly but also that Taa cares even though he is away and that he agrees that once the planet is free that the Republic troops will leave.

Cham Syndulla – We see in him a nationalist who watched the Republic fail to defend his world in the episode “Supply Lines” and how that any power can claim safety but could easily turn into another oppressive force, which the Republic does become later as the Empire. He has a long view of history but at his core cares for his people and this is why he works with the corrupt Senator Taa.

Mace Windu – Windu is shown to be calm but also very quick to anger and action, which helps him overwhelm the smaller force he had against the Separatist forces outside the Capitol. We see him never lose focus either or get pulled into politics. His focus is liberating the world and he does a great leading that charge in doing so.

The Innocents of War – We see the innocents in the orphans and civilians who are caught in the crossfire or used as shields by the Separatists. Wherever war takes places, the innocents lose even if they win war.

   All three of these episodes are amazing! Even though Wat Tambor is just greedy and the only memorable Separatist leader is Captain Mar Tuuk but still. We see the limits the Separatists are willing to go to hold a planet and all of our main characters get development and come to better understand the cost of war and liberation on the planet, the soldiers and the populace as well as a reminder of who is being fought for.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10. Favorite arc so far.