Rebels does a nice one-off episode this week which reminds us that Star Wars isn’t all about the Force and Jedi mysticism. That’s a heavy component of it, and this show is inevitably going to turn back to the light/dark struggles of Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray), but this week gives us an episode centering on Sabine (Tiya Sircar) going undercover as an Imperial cadet. It’s not deep, but “The Antilles Extraction” is all about spaceships blowing each other up, and some days, that’s all you want from Star Wars.
This week, the Rebellion is running short on pilots after an impressive space-combat sequence shows multiple A-Wing pilots lost. Enter the Ghost crew, who are tasked to get some new pilots for the Rebellion, specifically from Imperial defectors who want to get the heck out. Sabine gets tasked by a mysterious new Fulcrum (now revealed to be a codename for high-level Rebel agents) to infiltrate an Imperial pilot academy and get such a defector.
So it’s off to Skystrike Academy, where Sabine impersonates a cadet (she’s had Imperial training before, we learn) to rescue a defecting cadet: Wedge Antilles. Yep, it’s another open reference to a classic character from the original trilogy, one of the future survivors of the Battle of Yavin and the guy who destroyed the second Death Star three years later. Oh, we also meet a second defector, Hobbie, a lesser-known Rebel hero who literally gets the “oh, and this guy” treatment.
If there’s any weakness to the episode (besides Hobbie getting overshadowed), it’s that Wedge doesn’t get the development he deserves. He’s young, he has heart, and he’s sick of the Empire. Sadly, he’s not voiced by the original actor, Denis Lawson, but by iCarly actor Nathan Kress (which makes an unfortunate amount of sense: it’s not like Rebels could have plausibly gotten Carrie Fisher to reprise a teenage Leia either). However, Wedge doesn’t do much more than be a good guy, defect, and join the Rebellion. Wedge was always a straight-up good-guy character, so maybe much more doesn’t need to be said about him other than giving us a pleasant Original Trilogy nod.
Which is not to say that this is totally a Sabine episode. We do get some brief but critical focus on Ezra, who’s still working on this whole “letting go” thing. Sabine’s in deep trouble, and Ezra wishes he could do something to get her out safely. As Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) tells him: “There’s nothing you can do. So nothing you are doing right now is going to help.” It’s the antithesis of Luke’s spontaneity in The Empire Strikes Back, where he’s cautioned that doing something can make things worse. Ezra learns this the hard way when a botched initial attempt at rescuing Sabine and the defectors forces him to leave her behind.
But Ezra aside, this is once again a “safe” episode with some tension that ultimately works out favorably for the important characters. It has to, since we know Wedge will be around for the next few years at some critical battles to come. It’s just fun to see how he gets there, and knowing this show, we’ll probably see him again.
- Hey, Agent Kallus is back. We haven’t seen him since last season’s “The Honorable Ones,” and Zeb’s actions in that episode pay off as Kallus returns a favor.
- Hobbie’s official name is “Derek Klivian.” It’d have been nice if the episode acknowledged that.
- Still no sign of Thrawn this episode. We spent all summer drooling for that guy’s return, and we haven’t seen much of him since he appeared. There’s no follow-up on Maul from last week’s episode either.
- Once again, the limits of CGI animation take us to more locales with either tech, clouds, rocks, or space. We’re going to continue to flag every episode that fails to give us a tree.
- Who’s the new Fulcrum? Most viewers correctly guessed that the original was Ahsoka Tano, but this episode’s version was made even more ambiguous. Adding a new season-long mystery is nice, but for now, there’s no clue as to who it is.