Star Wars Rebels shares one important thing with the original trilogy that was lacking in the prequel films: the Empire. Sure, it’s kind of cool watching armies of droids take on armies of clones, but nothing quite penetrates our psyche more than the idea of an oppressive government with dominion over all of its citizens, and to always be reminded that this government has the military might to back it up. Here on earth we’ve managed to give such establishments a very short leash, and, by enlarge we’ve found that smaller, less unified groups of terrorists can be just as scarey. Yet, the idea of an easy-to-define coin with good on one side and evil on the other for the sake of an outer space fantasy, you can’t do any better than the Empire, with its far reach, foreboding technology, and its cold leaders, to give our heroes formidable bad guys to fight. Could a group of heroes hope to take down something so large, so established, and so threatening? That’s the true underdog story that gives the original Star Wars films a lot of their underlying power; maybe everything else is just trappings.
And so we begin “Call to Action,” the first in the homestretch of episodes that will end the first season of Rebels, wherein the crew of the Ghost attempt to send a message to others in the galaxy fighting the good fight by blitzing an Imperial tower. But look how the episode starts, look at how its structured: it begins with the arrival of Grand Moff Tarkin (the governor of the Outer Rim territories who was in the original Star Wars film) in an entrance scene as grand as his name and title. Much of the episode is spent reestablishing the Empire as the looming threat it should be, one that truly hasn’t been significantly weakened by the small attacks and raids that our heroes have been engaging in. And here, the Inquisitor and Kallus have their chance to earn Tarkin’s trust by setting a trap at the tower.
Our heroes do send a message urging others to fight the Empire however they can, but the victory was costly. The tower is promptly destroyed and Kanan is captured. The more Tarkin tightens his grip, sure, some star systems will slip through his fingers but, man that’s quite a grip. It makes for a very compelling episode, one that succeeds in areas where “Vision of Hope” was lacking.
My rating: 3/5