Sweet Jango unchained! the latest episode of Star Wars Rebels fuel-injected some excitement into this season. “Imperial Supercommandos” brought back the menacing Mandalorians and dropped some big hints about Sabine’s heritage. As they amass allies and resources, the Rebels are also attracting the attention of some pretty serious foes.
We Were Promised Jetpacks
This week, Sabine, Ezra, and Chopper set off with the captive Fenn Rau to investigate a loss of communications with the Protectors on Concord Dawn. Once there, they find out that the Protectors aren’t communicating because they’re all dead, thanks to the Imperial Supercommandos. A spectacular firefight ensues.
The commandos’ armor hearkens back to Joe Johnston’s original design for Boba Fett. Killian Plunkett spoke of the deliberate homage in this week’s Rebels Recon, noting that there was an effort to make the armor look slightly more “imperial.” For all of their pizzazz, the “super” commandos still miss their shots as frequently as the vanilla variety stormtroopers.
Ray Stevenson nailed it as Gar Saxon. He imbued the character with all of the arrogance of a man who has been granted sweeping authority by a greater power. The “Imperial Viceroy” of Mandalore will be an imposing adversary for Sabine and the Rebels.
The animation team choreographed the fights and chase sequences beautifully. Tiya Sircar has been begging Dave Filoni for a jetpack from day one of the show, and she finally got her wish. Boy, am I glad that she got it. The chase sequence at the end was a great way to show off how Ezra and Sabine are learning to work as a unit. My favorite moment was watching Sabine grab Ezra by the waist and rocket off with him a la Luke and Leia swinging across the chasm in the Death Star. It shows that the team is really aware of adventure story tropes and they are actively trying to subvert them, in this case by swapping the gender roles.
A Rau Between Mates
The most significant development this episode (other than Sabine finally nabbing a jetpack, of course) was Fenn Rau’s wholehearted conversion to the Rebellion. However, for all of the grace with which they handled Sabine rescuing Ezra, the story team kind of fumbled with Rau.
Admittedly, he started off in a pretty dark place after he found out that Saxon literally massacred the Protectors. It made sense that Rau would call a temporary truce with Sabine after he found out that Saxon intended to murder Rau all along. But when Rau flew off in the new Phantom and then eventually changed his mind and came back to save Ezra and Sabine, something felt off. Sure, Rau has no loyalty to his erstwhile captors, but it seemed a bit cliché, like the trope of “the guy we can’t trust does exactly what untrustworthy people do, then changes their mind and comes back to save some people.” The episode could have accomplished that change of heart in a more elegant fashion.
Still, as a capable pilot and seasoned leader, Fenn Rau will be an asset to the Rebels in episodes to come. Whatever his contributions, he’s definitely traded less-than-ideal circumstances as a prisoner for downright perilous circumstances as a defector.
What’s Past is Prologue
We’ve talked in past articles about the history of the Mandalorians. As exciting as this week’s episode was, it may be significant only as a prelude to a more intense future confrontation. With Thrawn in play, and given his M.O. of using art and material culture to better understand his foes, it’s possible he’s pulling the strings of the Supercommandos to push the Rebels toward a dangerous head-to-head showdown with a powerful force.
Another significant tidbit from this episode is that Gar Saxon clearly knows who Sabine is. He calls her a traitor for abandoning the Academy, and he refers to her mother as a figure of importance and Imperial loyalist. They’ve been dropping references to Sabine’s mother so often at this point that she needs to show up by the end of this season. Otherwise, the story group has been wasting momentum building up Sabine’s arc.
But who is her mother? Dave Filoni has been characteristically cryptic when discussing Sabine’s parentage. We know she was a member of Death Watch, that she was present at the duel between Pre Vizsla and Maul, and that she now sides with the Empire. Tellingly, there has been absolutely no mention of her father. We also know from the Season 3 trailer that Sabine gets her hands on the Darksaber. Here’s hoping it’s a party favor from a family reunion.
My fellow Fan Contributor and Wookieepedia editor James Akinaka pitched in for the extra tidbits below:
- Sabine’s jetpack FTW and the Phantom II FTW. We mourned the loss of the original in the premiere.
- Presumably, Fenn Rau’s just been chilling in the brig on the Liberator? It seems odd that they wouldn’t leave him on Atollon after establishing a base there.
- This was the first script for the show by Christopher Yost. Yost penned Thor: The Dark World and has several credits for Marvel’s animated shows. With Disney at the helm, we can certainly expect more crossovers. Who wouldn’t want to write for Star Wars?
- Whenever Rebels tackles something from Star Wars lore (whether it was the Mandalorians this week, or even last week’s “The Last Battle” with the politics of the Clone Wars), the series tends to use Ezra as a point of reference for viewers who aren’t already familiar with that material. It works on a meta-narrative level as well because Taylor Gray still hasn’t seen any of the films or The Clone Wars. Hey, if it works for Peter Dinklage, it should work here.
- We loved the interplay between Ray Stevenson as Gar Saxon and Kevin McKidd as Fenn Rau. It’s also a nice throwback to their time together on HBO’s Rome as Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus.
The Rebels meet Iron Squadron in the next episode, which airs on November 19. Check back in two weeks for our Recap and Reaction.