“Sounds like a ship full of Ezras.” Zeb’s line perfectly captures the difficulty that the Ghost crew encounters this week: an independent crew of rebels who really lack any restraint. The self-styled “Iron Squadron” (the name is misplaced–it’s really four people on one ship) is a bravado-heavy team of fighting the empire on their own over the planet Mykapo. A few successful missions with a clever bombing mechanism has convinced them that they’re awesome and can take on the whole Empire by themselves. So, ironically, it’s Ezra who has to convince them that this ragtag crew in their half-functioning freighter really can’t last on their own. Oh, and it turns out one of the Iron Squadron members–Mart Mattin–is Commander Sato’s nephew, so he’d really like to get Mart back alive.
Although “Iron Squadron” isn’t exactly an Ezra-centric episode, it does show how much Ezra’s matured of late…although this does feel like a quick turn given that his bigger screw-ups were only a few episodes ago. Prior episodes like “Steps Into Shadow” and “The Last Battle” highlight Ezra’s tendency towards bravado over strategy, and how that sometimes comes back to bite him in the ass. Now it’s Ezra who’s trying to show Mart that discretion is the better part of valor. This is learned the hard way when the Iron Squadron really does get overwhelmed, and Ezra attempts to get them out of there before they’re overrun by the Empire. It almost works, except when Mart stays behind at the last second and is stuck in a derelict ship, and Ezra’s forced to leave him behind in a scene that’s a little too reminiscent of “The Antilles Extraction.”
If “Iron Squadron” has any flaws, is that like many other episodes, it plays things safe with artificial tension that ultimately resolves itself in favor of the heroes. Yes, somethings Rebels ratchets up the danger by doing things like (apparently) killing Ahsoka, blinding Kanan, or losing the Phantom. But consequences like that are apparently reserved for season bookend episodes. The episodes in between never have any negative consequences to them.
“Iron Squadron” almost corrects that problem by making a little more use of Grand Admiral Thrawn and having him actually come off as scary. Because Thrawn is playing the long game, he still hasn’t done anything of consequence to really stick it to the Ghost crew. Thrawn exploits Admiral Konstantine by sending him to intercept the Iron Squadron on his own and then suffering a major defeat when Rebel reinforcements arrive. It’s at that moment that Thrawn himself arrives in a Star Destroyer in one of Rebels‘ more intimidating moments. The moment would have been even better had Thrawn actually done something, but the Rebels simply escape and Thrawn just sort of lets it happen. There’s a bigger game being played here, but fans who want to see Thrawn do something now are going to be disappoined.
- The Iron Squadron’s ship is a YT-2400, sort of a later-model Millennium Falcon. Kudos to this show for continuing to borrow actual, established designs from the old Expanded Universe.
- There’s not a lot to the Iron Squadron’s members. They’ve got personality, but…eh, they’re not really memorable. However, seeing Chopper argue with his counterpart in Iron Squadron is comedy gold.
- According to Wookiepedia, Rebels will continue airing episodes up through December 10, which climaxes in another Maul episode. Finally.
Rating: Three Choppers out of five.