Thus far, Star Wars Rebels has been a very good show. It has great writing, fun fight sequences, and a strong sense of what made the original trilogy so appealing. But this week's episode adds something more: the beginning of a larger arc, one that could start to pull our heroes into a fuller Rebellion.
For such a great episode, it has a rather inauspicious beginning: Kanan is trying to train Ezra and Ezra, as per usual, is being kind of cranky about it. But Kanan quickly realizes that this isn't just Ezra whining about Kanan knocking him off the roof of the Ghost; there is something else working on Ezra's mood, and it's all connected to Empire Day.
It makes sense that the Empire would have a day of compulsory patriotic celebration, to remind citizens of the glorious rise of Emperor Palpatine and the ending of the Clone Wars. And when the Ghost's crew are all hanging out at a bar, I got serious vibes of Firefly's Unification Day. The difference is that this isn't a pro-Empire bar, so when the Imperial military goons (Aren't those guys TIE fighter pilots?) order the bartender to turn on the Imperial feed, he does it begrudgingly. And then we get our requisite interruption from Senator-in-exile Gall Trayvis.
Granted, Trayvis' message today is a rather benign one: for people to boycott the Empire Day festivities. Of course, that might be an easy way to assess people's loyalties. I'm on to you, Trayvis.
The Ghost crew has other plans for Empire day, but first they notice that the goons are cruising the bar looking for a particular Rodian, one whom Ezra happens to recognize from his childhood.
But first things first. Kanan, Sabine, and Zeb attend the festivities in order to sabotage the shiny new TIE Fighter, uh, gifted to Lothal by the Emperor. Sabine gets to use her explosives for a pretty distraction as well as for destruction (and I kind of dig that the officer is so desperate to save face with Minister Tua that he doesn't even bother to investigate the source of the fireworks); Zeb provides the muscle, and Ezra even steps in for an assist when Kanan's stealth momentarily fails him.
We're definitely seeing some dynamics settling in here. Zeb (naturally) wants to kill Agent Kallus every time he sees him, but he grudgingly recognizes that the Inquisitor is the larger threat. Now we have some mutual Captain Ahab-ing going on, with Kanan as the Inquisitor's White Whale and Kallus as Zeb's.
But things get truly interesting when Ezra has a Force sensitivity moment that inspires him to hole up in his old home in the hopes of finding Tseebo, the fugitive Rodian. And indeed, he does find Tseebo hiding in his parents' house, although he isn't quite the man Ezra remembers. He has the same cybernetic implant that Lobot, Lando Calrissian's Number Two has.
Here we get one of the atrocities of the Empire: Tseebo, it turns out, went to work for the Imperial Information Office after Ezra's parents died and the Empire fitted him with a device that improved his efficiency as a data worker by suppressing his personality. He barely realizes that Ezra is in his presence, but he's chock full of useful information about the Empire and its ominous five-year plan for Lothal. The Rebels quickly realize that they've landed on a massively valuable asset.
We also learn a bit about Ezra's parents here. They were anti-Imperial broadcasters (Hmm, is it a coincidence that we're learning this right after another one of Trayvis' pirate broadcasts? Or am I just paranoid?), but they were killed when Ezra is just seven. Oh, and Empire Day happens to be Ezra's birthday. Sucks to be you, kid.
So we get a great Rebels/Imperialists chase scene as the Rebels work to get Tseebo to the Ghost. And once Tseebo is aboard, we get an even bigger payoff in the form of a cliffhanger. A bump to the noggin temporarily jogs Tseebo's personality and he's desperate to tell Ezra: He knows what happened to Ezra's parents.
Alright. Last week, we said that we were ready for Rebels to delve into some deeper arcs, and it looks like we're getting it. We've also got a nice crop of recurring characters and a couple of background mysteries going on. (What is Trayvis' deal? Who is Fulcrum?) This episode feels like it's coming at just the right time, with the potential for us to learn more about our characters and the fledgling Rebellion. You've got us hooked, Rebels, and we're optimistic that you'll deliver.