“Star Wars Rebels” Season 2 – A Great Beginning, Character Episodes and End but Overall Lack of Focus

Star Wars Rebels Season 2

   “Star Wars Rebels” Season 2 was a season that started with a lot of promise. “The Siege of Lothal” is one of the best episodes in the series and the promise of it being “The Empire Strikes Back” of the show was a very big claim that initially looked like would be successful executed. Sadly the shows lack of focus, clearly showing the threat of the Empire and poor setup of big payoffs brought the show down overall, making it weaker than Season 1 for me. This doesn’t discount what works though and this show is still a favorite. So without further ado, here is my overall assessment of the show.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation continues to be amazing and flow beautifully, especially in regards to the action sequences and giving us what the planets look like. This has never been an issue with the show and continues to be one of the strongest points within it.

The Action – The action when it happens is fantastic. The duels between Inquisitors, fights between the Rebels and Empire and any fight that involves Darth Vader is awesome. My biggest issue is the action wasn’t all the tight so that brought it down.

Hondo – Hondo is back and one of the few elements of comedic relief that works as we see his mercenary nature rub off on Ezra and help push him to the dark side in small ways as in helping him and when he helps the crew it shows an ends justify the means mentality that illustrated Anakin’s fall.

Captain Rex – Captain Rex is a pretty amazing character and I’m glad they brought him back into this Universe. I’m still hoping he dies so he can get the warrior’s death that would fit his character arc so well…his arc is great in that he and Kanan grow to have a respect for one another as they are both mentors for Ezra.

Yoda – Yoda makes an appearance in this and it is awesome! He recognizes his past mistakes with the Jedi order and helps our heroes make peace within themselves. He even reaches out to Ahsoka and is happy to see you. He really was handled beautifully this season.

The Crew of Ghost – The crew of the Ghost continues to be where the strongest characters are as we have a “Firefly” type relationship between this crew of survivors as they find themselves pulled into a larger story that they are only pieces in. For this reason, the glimpses of the Universe we get are all the more profound and how it impacts the crew.

The Crew of Ghost – The Crew continues to be the strongest part of the show as I’ve come to care about the drama they go through and what motivates them in what they do.

Chopper – Chopper is shown to be complex in this! He helps liberate an Imperial droid, we learn he fought in the Clone Wars and the cares deeply for the crew and those around him even though he’s a bit insane.

Sabine – We learn more about Sabine’s Mandalorian side and her willingness to do anything to achieve ends even if it means killing. The only reason she doesn’t kill is because she learns from Hera and Kanan who become like a father and mother figure to her. She is a lot of fun and could have done with some more exploration, especially tied back to the Empire.

Kanan – Kanan gets some great exploration in this as we see his relationship to Hera’s father who he fought with in the Clone Wars and is a hero and from that how deeply he cares about her. We see him rise in power in this and go through his arc of letting Ezra go and knowing that he can only give Ezra so much training. He connects with the light side of the Grand Inquisitor too which is pretty amazing.

Hera – In this we see that Hera is looked down upon by her father who is a hero of his people for fighting in the Clone Wars and is willing to go any means to win. It is Hera who shows him that wider perspective of how allies are their best bet to win the war. She really is a great character and we see her abandonment fears when Kanan is going off to face the Inquisitor as she has already lost her mother to war and in a way her father too. Her character is tragic and strong.

Zeb – Zeb is my favorite character in the series and in this he becomes the Hero of the Lasat as he works with the Elders to help them find the original Lasat homeworld. We also see his growth when he connects with Agent Kallus and helps them survive on a dangerous moon. He is a character with depth who manages to bring strength and humor to any situation and is easily one of the wisest characters on the show now.

The Empire – I still really like the Empire in this though I feel the writers spent most of this season making them feel weak. This was bad on their part as we were promised “The Empire Strikes Back” of the show and I didn’t feel that at all. If anything, it was more of “The New Hope” based off the Finale.

The Inquisitors – The Inquistiors have a cool look and start out strong but become weaker over the course of the series. When Ahsoka easily beats two of them they never recover for it and end being slaughtered by Maul in the Finale. I like the idea of them but they could have been handled as a threat a lot better (same with the Empire as a whole).

Agent Kallus – In this season we learn Kallus was a grunt who lost his men to a Lasat Mercenary and that is why he hates them. We also learn the slaughter of the Lasat was not what he thought would happen and he carries guilt over it. By the season’s end he is questioning and alone as he realizes he is being lied to and is just a cog in the Imperial Machine.

Darth Vader – Darth Vader is awesome and is the best part of “The Siege of Lothal” and “Twilight of the Apprentice.” His arc ends with him once again killing Anakin so that he can destroy Ahsoka and all his connections to the past. He beats her but we don’t know if she’s dead or not (I hope she is). This season we get glimpses of the light in the overwhelming dark of Vader.

The Old Master / Maul – Maul is back and he is awesome! In this he acts as Ezra’s teacher in the Dark Side and is responsible for killing the Imperial Inquisitors and blinding Kanan. He is after power and wants Ezra as his apprentice. It is great to see him again as he’s lost everything to the Jedi and Empire and now only has hate and vengeance to drive him. He survives the destruction of the Sith Temple and is out there still too.

Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka’s arc in this is making peace with leaving Anakin and the Jedi order as we see her fight to avenge Anakin to destroy the monster he’s become in Vader. In the end she chooses to stay with him too as her spirit is broken as she sees the monster consumed by rag and power that Anakin has become. She really is a great character and I like how she never feels comfortable being a teacher because she is a free agent and not a Jedi, just a force user who uses light sabers and the light side of the force. I hope she died, she deserves an awesome death which she got.

Okay: Commander Sato – Sato is another character with potential, though I wish he’d die this season. He is the face of the larger Rebellion that connects to the crew and he even gets captured once. Sadly this doesn’t go anywhere as he is rescued and it establishes his respect for Ezra. He is a symbol of Rebel power and that is about it.

Ezra – Ezra has great moments when we see him tempted by the Dark Side but he is so overpowering at times that he feels like a Mary Sue at times. It is far to easy for him to save the people and the crew and he doesn’t go through any trial I felt until the final battle at the end. There was a lot of missed opportunities for this character.

Other Minor Characters – Sabine’s friend a few others are pretty weak. All they exist for is to show the crew has more allies, and in the process make the Empire even more weak as they can’t seem to kill people who should be dead. At least Ezra’s parents aren’t alive.

The Cons: Lack of Narrative Focus – We have fillers, we have a lot of bottle episodes for characters and some episodes that don’t involve the Empire at all. The Empire is set up to be THE threat with the Inquisitors in “The Siege of Lothal,” but it doesn’t go anywhere until the Finale and I blame that on the lack of focus.

Filler Episodes – We get a whale episode, an episode where we meet a mercenary who worked with Sabine and a few others that just feel like baggage. All they end up doing is make the Empire look weak and expand the size of the Universe.

    This season was not nearly as strong as last, though the First and Finale episodes of the season were on part with the best from last season and sometimes better. It was these episodes where the core drama between Darth Vader and the rebels really got explored and the Empire felt like a threat. Outside of that they spent most of this season being beaten by the rebels at every turn. Seriously, the Inquisitors became useless by the end leaving me to wonder how Dave Filoni is going to fill in a new threat for them as I worry making Vader the main threat will just make him as useless as the Inquisitors, which I don’t want. If this show ruins him I’m going to hate this show. That didn’t happen this season at least, and for all of the problems it had, there were some great moments of gold.

Final Score: 8 / 10

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Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 18 – “The Mystery of Chopper Base” – Fear of Things to Come

Mystery of Chopper Base

    “The Mystery of Chopper Base” is another decent run. I felt the fear and anger the crew was feeling was a bit overdone but it made sense when they actually explained why all the characters feel the way they do. I’m really hoping we lose one of our heroes, if not Darth Vader who is appearing later in the series is going to be hard to take serious as a threat on this show, especially as he’ll probably have Inquisitor back-up. This episode is setting up tragedy, now lets see if it goes somewhere.

     The story was directed by Bosco Ng and written by Steven Melching.

  The story involves the crew finding a threat at the new Rebel Base Chopper helped discover as they deal with the fear of Kanan and Ezra leaving soon to face the Inquisitors and what it will be like to be without them.

The Pros: Sabine – We see Sabine in action a lot this episode as she holds her own against the Spider Monsters and saves the crew quite a few times. She plays an essential role that way. She also nudges Kanan to talk to Hera.

Captain Rex – Captain Rex is awesome again, even though he’s mostly in the Zeb role of holding the line (Zeb is nearly invisible this episode). He doesn’t really give any advice but it was great to see him again.

Ezra – In this we see that Ezra is okay killing as he talks about killing the Inquisitors as he thinks that’s the only way for them to be safe against the threat. We also see he can’t control all animals (thankfully) and that he is still very new in the force and not over powered (it is sad they had to establish this as it should have been made more obvious throughout the season). I really hope he turns over the next few episodes.

Kanan – In this we see a lot of Kanan’s stubbornness and that he is now evenly matched with Ezra. We also see how he deals with fear and anger by cutting himself off from people. We see he is capable of knowing though as we see just how much he loves and will miss Hera.

Hera – Hera is in full Captain mode, taking care of the crew and preparing them for when the Jedi leave. This makes her cold at times, but she’s right. I felt bad for her as you see she does have abandonment stuff and Kanan can’t promise her he’ll back when he doesn’t know. She believes anyway and you can see just how much she loves him.

The Ending – Hera and Kanan hold each other as Kanan promises he’ll come back (I hope he dies) leaving us with a feeling of foreboding and hope. It was great seeing their love though as you’d have never seen it in the Jedi Order before Order 66.

The Cons: Anger and Fear – I felt like there was too much of it and it could have been handled better. Them leaving should have been established the episode after the Inquisitors attacked the Jedi Temple as that was when they knew they had to bring the fight to them or they’d always be hunted. Since it wasn’t established early on, the fighting often times comes off as petulant.

This was a great episode, though not a favorite since the characters acting angry and afraid had not been established earlier. There is some great character stuff with Sabine, Ezra, Kanan and Hera though and that is really what carries the story. The animal threat of the episode was alright but it was also sad too that those creatures gave them more trouble than the Empire has often times this season. So I’m hoping that is corrected in the upcoming episodes.

Final Score: 8.8 / 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 Rebels – Season 2, Episode 11 – “The Protector of Concord Dawn” – Aggressive Negotiations

Concord_Dawn_thumb

    “The Protector of Concord Dawn” is the greatest episode in a while. Not only do we see a return of the Mandalorians but we are given a choice and dilemma, which is part of what “The Clone Wars” so great. This is an episode that captures the stakes and the charms of the best episodes from that series, which this Season has needed.

The episode was directed by Brad Rau and written by Henry Gilroy and Kevin Hopps.

The story involves the rebels seeking safe passage through Concord Dawn, which is Mandalorian space. After Hera’s negotiations fail and she is nearly killed as is most of her squadron, Sabine returns seeking revenge as Kanan returns trying to finish the negotiation.

The Pros: The Premise – The idea of the Rebellion having to negotiate with the Mandalorians or to beat them in their space is really interesting as it shows that the Rebellion has to make hard choices too and won’t always be the hero. This episode really illustrates that and that war has consequences.

The Opening Battle – The opening battle is awesome! Phoenix Squadron is annihilated and Sabine, Hera and one other pilot barely escape Rau and his Protectors. It raises the stakes and shows that these are men to be feared.

Fenn Rau and the Protectors – Fenn Rau and his organization are pretty awesome. They get money from the Empire to keep folks out of their space and are intriguing as the reason they made the deal is so they’d be left alone. I had a lot of respect for Rau and hope that he escapes to get revenge on the rebels for capturing him to blackmail him and his people.

Sabine – We see Sabine’s ruthlessness here and that she does know her people pretty well, as the Protectors didn’t want to work with the Rebellion. It is thanks to her quick thinking that they are disarmed and the only reason that her and Kanan weren’t captured.

Kanan – Kanan is the clear head but still gets ruthless for the Rebellion. No matter how you cut it he went darkside here as he captured and held a man against his will in order to take control of his space, this is after he destroyed his ships of course. Kanan’s idealism came up against reality and idealism lost. I liked seeing that as it was realistic.

The Cons: Rex – Rex should have been used. He implied that he trained with Rau but that is never used. He would have been perfect for negotiation as he had the mindset the Rau did of just wanting to be left alone by both sides.

If Rex had been used this would have been a perfect episode. So glad the Mandalorians are back, and I hope the rescue Rau and that Rau gets his chance for revenge. This episode showed that to win in war you have to make hard choices and sometimes there isn’t a good option, just a lesser bad option.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 9 – “Legacy” – Return to Lothal

Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Episode 9 Legacy

     This was an episode that could have been more, sadly I think that giving this series more episodes has only been a detriment to the story. In giving each of our characters more exploration they end up facing the Empire and soundly defeating them making the Empire continue to be a waste of a villain, this of course after Darth Vader and the Siege of Lothal established that you don’t mess with them…hell Tarkin and the Inquisitor established that. This season has forgotten that for character development leading me to have much less favorite episodes this season, including this mid-season finale.

   Henry Gilroy was the writer of this episode.

   The story involves Ezra having visions of his parents on Lothal and wanting to return there as the Empire attacks the Rebels base that Ezra had accidentally revealed to one of the Seventh Sister’s droid. The Empire attacks and the Rebels must make their escape.

The Pros: Kanan – Kanan is the voice of wisdom here as we see him council Ezra on leaping to rage on multiple points. We also see them share the loss of being alone and losing their mentors or parents. These are great scenes that help make the episode stronger. He is the one who talks about the fact that even though Ezra’s parents are dead, they will always be with him.

Hera – Hera looked everywhere for Ezra’s parents and we see how deeply she looked, giving us a greater experience of the loss of them. It also shows how devoted she is to the crew. She is the captain for a reason. I’d watch a show just about her.

Chopper – Chopper chickens out during the battle. It’s funny given how active he was prior. It also showed how insane and temperamental he is.

Ezra – Ezra goes dark side at one point to defeat General Kallus and almost gets drawn into his destruction by the Inquisitors. Was impressed on how they handled his character and I completely expect him to go dark later, if only briefly.

Okay: Zeb and Sabine – Are just kind of there and don’t really do anything memorable.

The Rebellion – Is on the run, I never thought they were all at risk and they lost one ship. You never feel the loss of that ship.

The Empire – The Empire is still arrogant and overall useless even when they find the Rebel Hideout. They really need a win like what they had at Lothal.

  Not much happens with the Empire and Rebellion. The Rebels escape, only losing one ship and again the Rebels face no consequences and experience no real loss, while again the Empire is made to look like fools. I know they are the bad guys, but they have to win sometimes or else they will no longer be taken seriously as threats. Why even have Luke, Leia and Han if Disney XD’s rebels already had it handled…

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 6 – “Blood Sisters” – Sabine’s Past

Star Wars Rebels Blood Sisters

   “Blood Sisters” is okay, which has kind of been a theme lately (Bring back the Inquisitors and Ahsoka or Tarkin at least). Each episode involves the Rebels eventually having a win of some sort and the Empire being made to look incompetent. I get that we got around 24 episodes this season…but really? The Empire is ruling for a reason, make them a threat again. This episode really illustrated how this has become a problem, even though we do get some great Sabine development.

      The episode was directed by Bosco Ng and written by Kevin Hopps.

      The story involves Sabine and Ezra picking up a Droid that has important information for the Rebels but things soon get complicated when Sabine’s former old friend Ketsu arrives on the scene who is working for the Black Suns to get the Droid for them.

The Pros: Chopper – Chopper is a lot of fun in this as we see him wreak havoc in Ketsu’s ship and be just as adaptable as R2-D2 in regards to new situations and threats.

Ketsu – Ketsu has a great ship and we see that her and Sabine were both alone after the Clone Wars leading them to become bounty hunters. At one point Ketsu left Sabine for dead and went her own way…in this episode we see her go from being skeptical of the Rebellion to eventually wanting to maybe join after she is forgiven by Sabine and when Sabine saves her from the Empire.

Sabine – This is very much Sabine’s episode as we see how selfish she used to be in the actions of Ketsu who left her behind to die in the past even though they were like sisters…and how now she is willing to risk everything for her former friend to help them escape. She’s grown up and this episode illustrates it.

The Cons: Ezra – Ezra is really annoying in this. Stop hitting on Sabine, she has clearly shown she isn’t interested. There is nothing positive to say about him in this episode, when he isn’t creepin he’s incompetent and ends up left behind when Sabine and Chopper escape with the Droid.

  This episode was okay. Again, I’m tired of the Imperials being a non-threat after how awesome they were in the Siege of Lothal and when the Inquisitors first arrived…can we get back to that? I get that the Rebellion needs more allies but we already know they win since we know how the Original Trilogy goes. Have them lose more.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Star Wars Rebels – Season 2, Episode 3 – “Always Two There Are” – The Inquisitors Return

Always Two There Are

    Zeb is finally useful again! This episode was good at showing at why he’s a member of the Team as well as establishing the threat of Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister as we finally get to see them in action and why they were made Inquisitors. Suffice to say, this episode made me curious to see how their backstories unfold.

      The episode was directed by Brad Rau and written by Kevin Hopps.

      The story involves Ezra, Zeb, Sabine and Chopper going to an abandoned Old Republic Medical Base for supplies and having to escape when Inquisitors arrive on the scene as Ezra and Sabine end up captured.

The Pros: The Tone – The tone is that of horror as the base is good at giving a good haunted vibe to it that only increases with the arrival of the Inquisitors.

The Inquisitors – I really like the Seventh Sister and think the Fifth Brother has potential. The Seventh Sister does the temptation deal and shows how on top of things she is as she knows about Ahsoka and manages to capture Ezra. The Fifth Son captures Sabine and it is only with a suicidal plan from Zeb that our team even manages to make our escape.

Rex – Rex is teaching Kanan discipline which is something he never got fully as he was only a Padawan during the Clone Wars (something the Seventh Sister points out). It’s cool seeing Rex becoming the Obi-Wan of the group. I feel bad for him having lost so many brothers though and the fact that his Jedi is now a Sith Lord.

Kanan – Kanan grows a lot in this as we see him finally listen to Rex and be willing to learn and grow.

Zeb – Zeb is great! He goes from comedic relief to showing why he’s a part of the Team as he risks everything to save Sabine and Ezra and keeping the others safe from the Inquisitors. He needed this episode after how off to the side he’s been this season.

Okay: Sabine and Chopper – These two are good but I can’t think of any character defining moments for them. They are simply there being supportive and we don’t learn anything new about them.

  This was a great episode and easily the best this season since “Siege of Lothal” was a tv film. I highly recommend it and hope we see our Inquisitors defeat our heroes at least a few times and hurt the Rebel Alliance. We know the Rebels win in the end, so let the villains show why they are villains and win sometimes.

Final Score: 9 / 10