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Star Wars Rebels S2:E12: “A Princess on Lothal”

So with the announcement that the release of Star Wars: Episode VIII is being pushed back another 7 months, you might take some comfort in watching that other Star Wars; that would be Rebels, the weekly show set in the years before A New Hope, which just made its midseason return.  Tonight’s Episode once again digs into the guest-star well by bringing us a story revolving around Princess Leia (voiced by Julie Dolan).

Nodding to Leia’s smuggling role at the beginning of A New Hope, Leia accompanies three ships from Alderaan to bring supplies to Lothal’s fledgling group of Rebels, under the auspices of bringing supplies to the suffering people. The simple plan is for Leia to simply get the supplies to her contacts (Ezra and Kanan, playing Stormtrooper), but the Empire’s use of additional security measures (docking clamps and a pair of AT-ATs) requires the trio to come up with new plans on the fly without exposing Leia’s role as a contraband runner.

Rebels is in a sticky spot, where it’s a development that has the potential to be something much greater if it could get out of some of the trappings in which it’s put itself. Being the kid brother to the films, Rebels can’t necessarily rely on the natural draw of the box office to bring in viewers. Unfortunately, this means the show has to frequently resort to guest-stars, which is nice once in awhile, not on a weekly basis. Last season gave us regular appearances by Bail Organa, C-3PO, R2-D2, Lando Calrissian, Yoda (voice only), and of course, Darth Vader. While it’s phenomenal that it brought back many of the original voice actors of those characters, the downside is these guest appearances have become so regular that they’re no longer special. In terms of story development, it takes some of the focus off the main Rebels cast. In terms of believability, it begins to strain the imagination that all of these characters with film ties would keep appearing on the show.

Which is not to say that Leia’s appearance on Lothal is terrible. Her Rebels portrayal is very consistent with her film usage, even if they’ve made her a little greener. She’s sharp and regal, although a bit more sassy, which makes sense given that Leia should be 15 years old here (she’s the same age as Ezra, who had a birthday last season). Her appearance matches with the Rebels designers using just a bit more care to give her the appearance of a lithe teenager who still has a baby face. Hearing her voice was just a little disconcerting, as Julie Dolan’s impersonation of Carrie Fisher still sounds just a little too adult for a 15 year-old. Still, she convincingly plays the part of someone who will be the Leia we see four years later as she readily bosses around Ezra and Kanan.

What makes for a more positive development, is the return of Ryder Azadi (voiced by Clancy Brown, and no, he’s not Savage Oppress in disguise, you conspiracy nuts), the former governor of Lothal who’s been in hiding. Slated for execution by the Empire, he joins the Rebels in their plans to liberate Leia’s ships. Rather than being sidelined, Azadi takes an active part in the episode’s climactic battle to get the contraband, at great personal risk to himself. This isn’t just good action, but good development for the show overall, as it gives an original character a chance to shine.

Not that we see as much for the intrepid crew of the Ghost. There isn’t a lot of new character development for our heroes, with the exception of maybe Ezra, who has a brief period of introspection over the future of the Rebellion. It’s a little too on the nose with Leia giving the obvious nod that she too, knows what it’s like to be a teenage rebel. Still, it’s something. There isn’t much more development for the other characters, although Zeb gets to have some fun when they have to stage Leia’s kidnapping and he’s told to “make it look real.” Being the show’s equivalent of Chewbacca, the heroes probably should have thought that through before asking him to get in a fight with Ezra and Kanan.

One last cautionary note: a lot of the show’s climactic fights have been a bit too easy to win. “Wings of the Master” is a good example from earlier this season, where Hera simply blows through an Imperial blockade with very little actual tension. Here, the stakes are just a little higher with the AT-ATs presenting a much harder target, but still, nobody dies and the heroes win again. I know the show is trying to keep things positive for the kids, but the string of victories is so regular that it’s getting harder to believe the tension.

Some scenes of note:

  • Continuing the Ralph McQuarrie traditions of this show, Leia is wearing the prototype outfit designed for A New Hope.
  • While we’re at it, Leia’s ships are Hammerheads, very obviously modeled on the ones used in Knights of the Old Republic. Try not to read too much into this–the producers may have just been borrowing a neat design rather than explicitly recanonizing an old story.
  • Did Leia display some force-sensitivity here? She notices Ezra’s distress very readily, though that could just be a strong sympathy on her part.
  • Ezra’s use of the stun blaster on Leia recalls how she went down at the beginning of A New Hope. No wonder she can take a hit.
  • It’s nice that they put a little more detail into Leia’s appearance. The CGI on this show is reflective of a lower budget, and it’s often apparent in how everyone’s hair looks like a solid mass. Leia, however, looks a lot more refined here, and she’s definitely modeled on Carrie Fisher’s younger look.
  • Rebels could use a few new voice actors, though. At least two Stormtroopers had the same “generic trooper voice” and it’s a little cringe-inducing.
  • Lastly, it’s unclear if Leia saw it when Kanan pulled out his lightsaber. She was certainly in the vecinity, and Azadi definitely saw it. If Leia does know that Kanan is a Jedi, it raises extremely uncomfortable questions about why Leia hasn’t brought it up with Luke that she knew another Jedi besides Ben Kenobi in the new canon. This suggests that there’s no more Kanan or Ezra to talk about and that Ben really was the last Jedi that Leia knew of. Then again, if she didn’t see Kanan’s lightsaber, there’s no problem and the Rebels‘ fate is still wide open.

Rating: Three and a half out of five Princesses.

 

About Adam Frey (372 Articles)
Adam Frey is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. In the meantime, he's an attorney and moonlights as an Emergency Medical Technician in Maryland. A comic reader for over 30 years, he's gradually introducing his daughter to the hobby, much to the chagrin of his wife and their bank account.
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