After a one-week break, Star Wars Rebels is back just in time to…go back on break again next week. Seriously, what a weird airing schedule, with a break again next Saturday before it returns for two more episodes (and then it’s unclear where the show will go after that, although Season 2 ran partway through December before taking its winter break). In the meantime, we get “Imperial Supercommandos,” a Sabine-centric episode which is equal parts fun and frustrating. It’s a standard-fare heroism story which blows a great opportunity to get into Sabine’s still-unexplored backstory.
This week, the Rebellion learns that there’s an uptick of Imperial activity on Concord Dawn, the famous Mandalorian world last visited in Season 2. With Sabine (Tiya Sircar) as the crew’s token Mandalorian, she, Chopper, and Ezra are sent to scope out the problem…along with Rebel prisoner Fenn Rau (Kevin McKidd), the Mandalorian who the Rebels pushed into giving them access to passage through Mando space in the first place. Turns out that while Rau’s been gone, the resident Mandos have been slaughtered by a group of rogue, Imperial-loyal Mandalorians led by Gar Saxon (Ray Stevenson). (In a bit of obscurist trivia–and maybe this will be important going forward, maybe it won’t–Saxon is incorporated from the Darth Maul–Son of Dathomir comic book series as a Mando who helped Maul during the Clone Wars.)
Oh, the episode does fine with contrasting themes of Rau’s loyalty to the Mandalorians versus Sabine’s loyalty to the Rebellion. Rau sees her as a traitor to Mandalore and only reluctantly helps her in the fight against Saxon because they’re outnumbered by the Supercommandos. It’s only when Rau finds out that being captured by the Rebellion ironically kept him out of the fight that killed his people–and when he sees that Sabine’s maintains Mandalorian courage and loyalty–that he decides to switch sides. Some obvious morals and a decent fight scene on jetpacks (it’s the most fun dogfight we’ve had that’s not in a spaceship), and you have a very “standard” episode of Rebels.
The downside is that, as with last year’s “The Protector of Concord Dawn,” Sabine’s backstory remains a mystery beyond the few clues we know about her. This episode teases us with the fact that Sabine’s still-unnamed mother joined the Empire, and that she’s disappointed in Sabine for quitting the Imperial Academy. Beyond that, there’s no revelation on who Sabine’s mom is, nor does she show up anywhere (and she could have very easily been revealed to be one of Saxon’s partners). There’s hefty fan speculation that Sabine’s mom is actually Rook Kast, which makes increasing sense given that Kast worked with Saxon in the aforementioned Darth Maul comic. But that’s not addressed this week, and it’s a shame. A little ongoing mystery on this show could be fun.
Overall, “Imperial Supercommandos” isn’t a bad episode; it’s just one that doesn’t live up to its full potential. A Sabine-centric episode should actually center on Sabine, and not just dance around her.
- WE HAVE TREES. I swear, this is the first time I’ve seen a tree on a Rebels planet. Granted, the majority of Concord Dawn is still a cavernous rock world, but it actually included some trees at the climax. Well done.
- On the other hand, this episode was really hard to enjoy visually, because it was a nighttime episode and everything had a frustrating dark blue overlay.
- “He shot my jetpack!” Priorities, Sabine.
- There’s not much to make of the new Phantom, beyond Hera’s warning of “Try not to lose this one too, ok?” It’s visually cute, but we don’t really know if it has any special capabilities beyond being incredibly easy to steal, I suppose.
- Still no follow-on from Darth Maul back in the first episode. Seriously, there’d better be a good explanation for why he hasn’t killed Obi-Wan by now.
- Dave Filoni played one of the unnamed Supercommandos in this week’s episode, bringing himself firmly into the realm of directors like Hitchcock who’ve snuck into their own works.