Sabine Wren took the spotlight in this weekend’s new episode of Star Wars Rebels. In “The Antilles Extraction,” Sabine goes undercover at the Empire’s Skystrike Academy to help Cadet Wedge Antilles defect to the rebellion. Fans of the original trilogy will recognize Wedge as Luke Skywalker‘s wing-mate and the pilot who destroyed the second Death Star. Join us as we explore the highlights of “The Antilles Extraction.”
The New Fulcrum
Ahsoka Tano was the first person to hold the Fulcrum code name during Star Wars Rebels‘ first season. But since Ahsoka departed from the series in “Twilight of the Apprentice,” fans have wondered who the new Fulcrum is. Now, “The Antilles Extraction” finally answered that question. In the episode, Hera Syndulla explains it was Ahsoka’s idea to use “Fulcrum” as a code name for multiple rebel informants.
Last year, the novel Aftermath revealed that a Fulcrum agent recruited Wedge Antilles to the rebellion. Still, it came as a shock that the Fulcrum in “The Antilles Extraction” was none other than Agent Kallus. Kallus’s loyalties have been unclear since his pivotal encounter with Zeb Orellios in last season’s “The Honorable Ones.” It appears that Zeb did, in fact, convince Kallus to re-examine his loyalty to the Empire.
Since Kallus appeared in Steps Into Shadow, I wrote that he needed an important story line this season. The revelation that he’s a Fulcrum agent is a step in the right direction. When Sabine asks Kallus why they should trust him, Kallus replies, “Tell Garazeb Orellios we’re even.” Still, beyond his encounter with Zeb, why did Kallus become a rebel informant? Hopefully we’ll learn more about Kallus’s motivations — as well as his level of dedication to the rebellion — as season three continues.
Who is Wedge Antilles?
While Kallus’s shift in loyalties came as a welcome surprise, the rest of “The Antilles Extraction” fell a bit flat. Namely, the episode didn’t seem to spend enough time developing its characters. Kallus was the most intriguing part of an episode that should have focused more on Sabine Wren and Wedge Antilles.
Admittedly, there’s only so much that a 22-minute episode can do. However, that means that TV writers must focus on telling stories that fit their time limits. That didn’t seem to be the case with “The Antilles Extraction,” since its characters didn’t receive much development. That was surprising, since the episode’s writer was Gary Whitta, who wrote the first draft of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Unexpectedly, Sabine didn’t have any personal, emotional stakes in going undercover as an Imperial cadet. Given that she spent years at the Imperial Academy on Mandalore, it would have been interesting for her to experience more of an emotional conflict. Was it hard for her to become an Imperial cadet again?
Moreover, it didn’t seem like we learned enough about Wedge’s and Hobbie’s motivations for joining the rebellion. Their primary reason for defecting from the Empire was that they didn’t believe in killing innocent civilians. While that’s certainly a valid reason, Wedge and Hobbie still didn’t feel three-dimensional as characters.
After watching “The Antilles Extraction,” I still don’t know enough about who Wedge Antilles is, beyond being a cargo pilot who joined the Empire and then the rebellion. Overall, it felt like the episode could have done more to flesh out Wedge and Sabine as characters. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful that we’ll learn more about Wedge in future episodes.
Why is Governor Pryce Here?
For me, the other shortcoming of “The Antilles Extraction” was its inclusion of Governor Arihnda Pryce as a villain. I’m glad we’re seeing more of Pryce, but there wasn’t a visible reason for why an Imperial planetary governor like her would be rooting out traitorous cadets at an Imperial Academy. Since Pryce is the governor of Lothal, doesn’t she have other duties back on Lothal?
Perhaps Pryce’s inclusion would have been more plausible if she were one of Kallus’s superiors within the Imperial Security Bureau. That way, she would have a better reason for her current focus on promoting Imperial loyalty. I admit that Pryce is a much more effective villain than Commandant Cumberlayne Aresko or Taskmaster Myles Grint from season one. Nevertheless, we know just as much about Pryce as we did for Aresko and Grint — which is to say, not much.
Star Wars Rebels has faced some challenges in regards to developing its cast of Imperial officials. Besides Wilhiff Tarkin, only Agent Kallus and Minister Maketh Tua have really stood out as memorable antagonists. Beyond Rebels, there are other Imperial characters who have strong appeal. Within the wider literature of Star Wars, Admiral Rae Sloane is the perfect example of a character who has visible motivations for serving the Empire, in spite of its corrupt and brutal nature.
Whereas Rae Sloane feels real, Pryce doesn’t have the same memorability. Not yet, at least. Even Grand Admiral Thrawn, in his brief appearance in Steps Into Shadow, had an impact on fans. Admittedly, much of Thrawn’s impact is due to his longstanding popularity in the Expanded Universe. Yet, as Rebels continues to develop Pryce and other villains, the show could learn from characters like Rae Sloane.
Fan Contributor Robert Mitchell is back to help with my list of observations:
- The design of Skystrike Academy is awesome. The academy’s TIE pilot simulators evoked a Micro Machines “TIE Fighter Pilot” set from the 1990s.
- “The Antilles Extraction” paralleled “Breaking Ranks,” in which Ezra Bridger infiltrated Lothal’s Imperial Academy. Ezra recalled that operation when he told Hera, “I’ve done this before, remember?”
- Since “Hobbie” is Derek Klivian, there’s conflicting information about his defection from the Empire. Some recent sources state that Klivian joined the rebellion alongside Biggs Darklighter, whereas “The Antilles Extraction” has him doing so alongside Wedge Antilles.
- Governor Pryce proves to be an able combatant against Sabine. Pryce says, “The Empire taught me well,” to which Sabine replies, “My clan taught me better!” After that, Sabine knocks out Pryce. Lesson of the day: Don’t mess with a Mandalorian.
- Even though Ahsoka Tano is absent from Rebels, she will never be forgotten. When Kallus — as Fulcrum — contacts the rebels, his message appears with Ahsoka’s distinctive forehead markings.
- Did Hera or Zeb know that Kallus is a Fulcrum agent? It seems unlikely, since Ahsoka preserved her Fulcrum identity until “Fire Across the Galaxy.” Needless to say, Zeb’s next encounter with Kallus will definitely be worth watching.
- It’s good to see that Star Wars Rebels has no illusions about how evil the Empire is. Destroying unarmed transports, like the rebels’ GR-75 medium transport, goes far beyond the realm of ethical governance.
- Captain Vult Skerris, the TIE pilot who destroyed the unarmed rebel transport, is an intriguing menace for the rebel pilots. There hasn’t been a compelling showdown between pilots since Luke and Vader at the Battle of Yavin from A New Hope. Still, it’s a shame that Rebels hasn’t brought in Baron Soontir Fel.
Next weekend, Star Wars Rebels returns to Ryloth with “Hera’s Heroes,” in which Hera and the rebels will come face-to-face with Thrawn. Hera’s father, Cham Syndulla, will also be back. Catch “Hera’s Heroes” next Saturday, October 15 at 8:30 P.M. on Disney XD. After that, don’t forget to join us for another Rebels Recap and Reaction!