After the rather light (and somewhat inconsequential) “Fighter’s Flight,” the latest episode finally introduces viewers to the show’s singular villain. In the process, it tries – in every way – to be Star Wars. Despite having a trim twenty minute running time, the episode is a cornucopia of pretty much everything that we would expect to see in a Star Wars related show, but we’d maybe expect these things to be spread out over the course of a season. We have some Jedi, lightsaber training, a history lesson,a daring plan to break into an impenetrable fortress, a trap, a lightsaber duel, thermal detonators, heroes running through blast doors, and alien life forms.
The episode counts on viewers to recognize various quotes and echoes from the original films, and in the early scenes this all seems a bit forced. (Still, almost anyone would prefer the show to have the look and feel, as well as its various references and in-jokes to point to the original trilogy rather than the prequel trilogy, as the Clone Wars had) However, once our adventure-of-the-week gets going and our heroes are making their way through the halls and turbolifts (yes, they borrowed that very term for elevators from Star Trek) these echoes are given more context and work a lot better. The idea is that our band of heroes will rescue one of the last remaining Jedi Masters at a secured Imperial Base called the Spire (which of course, the interiors of which match the interiors of the original Death Star from A New Hope.) We can be pretty anticipate that the words “It’s a trap” would be uttered in this episode,despite there being no Admiral Ackbar anywhere in sight. Indeed, mere seconds after that phrase is uttered, we meet the inquisitor, voiced with authority by Jason Isaacs (though this viewer was reminded of the gruff intonations of Trek veteran J. G. Hertzler) who is trained to hunt down remaining Jedi.
The Inquisitor comes on the scene wielding a double-bladed lightsaber that has its own trick to it that would give Darth Maul pause even on his best day. Both ruthless, sklled, and arrogant, the Inquisitor will no doubt make a formidable recurring villain as the show progresses. His appearance here certainly gives this otherwise springy adventure the gravitas that “Fighter Flight” lacked by design.
However, everything in this episode happens a bit too fast. It begins with Ezra undergoing his first real lessons in Jedi training (which, of course are pulled right out of the Empire Strikes Back playbook) , springs forward with a full-on rescue mission, and concludes with the heroes confronting the Inquisitor in the confined spaces of the detention block, all the while the writers are giving us generous helpings of dialogue and imagery lifted from the original films. This episode should have been a two-part story that would have been ideal during the ratings sweeps. For now, it’s definitely a must-see, ut it feels like the creators want to call it an early night, so they figured they’d slap their entire hand on the table, sit back, and just laugh and laugh, before realizing that- this early in the game – the pot wasn’t all that impressive.
Rebels may be targeted toward the younger set, but even kids know that the good stuff is worth waiting for.
My rating: 4.3/5