Episodes Remaining This Season: 10.
Oh, hey. Somewhere along the way, Rebels forgot that it had its own mythology to deal with.
Seasons 1 and 2 dealt heavily in Ezra’s home planet of Lothal, and how it was under imperial occupation, and how it was an outpost for the Ghost‘s crew before they linked up with the larger Rebel Alliance. As the Rebellion’s presence grew and the show dipped more and more into wrapping up old Clone Wars stories and looking ahead towards Rogue One, the whole Lothal storyline seemed to be kind of forgotten other than the occasional grumpy reference by Ezra. “The Occupation” gets us back onto Lothal with the six getting a chance to go back and investigate the planet’s current situation.
This is a nice change of pace, as these complimentary episodes do bring back a lot of elements that haven’t been seen for many episodes now. For one, we actually get the entire crew in one shot, as opposed to an episode which focuses on one or two characters and having the others make a cameo appearance in the end. It’s not perfect, and indeed, “Flight of the Defender” gives a heavy spotlight to Sabine and Ezra. But largely, the team is together as a unified whole and mostly works together in a complimentary manner, reminding us why these six characters function as a family.
Moreover, the episodes bring us back to Lothal in the worst possible way, with Ezra discovering that the city is a wreck of its former self. Some kind of environmental disaster has befallen the planet, and what was once a robust city under occupation is now a smoky wreck. (Whatever caused the damage isn’t clear, but we have to wonder if it wasn’t a Death Star level event given the devastation.) The bartender that ran the local bar is now dead (apparently we knew him back in Season 1), but the crew’s buddy Ryder is still leading a local rebellion.
While the first half of tonight’s two-parter doesn’t accomplish much, the second episode continues some unfinished plotlines from prior seasons. Governor Arihnda Pryce returns along with Thrawn, who’s running an improved TIE-Defender factory which Sabine and Ezra infiltrate to get Imperial data. If there’s any weakness, it’s here: we once again run into the implausible scenario of a few Stormtroopers guarding a larger Imperial facility. But this show’s budget being what it is, we can only get a few troopers at a time, and so off Ezra and Sabine go in a briefly-stolen TIE and a fun dogfight sequence.
Wrapping up the episode is a new mystery of Lothal’s fuzzy Lothcats (they’re like this show’s porgs, dammit), which are apparently led by a larger Loth-wolf that only Ezra can see. Exactly what’s going on with the Lothwolf will have to wait for next week, but it does remind us that Rebels had its own set of force-based mysteries on Lothal which were never quite resolved.
Rebels is about to come up on a mid-season break (double-episode pairing will do that), but it’s a welcome relief that the show is getting back into its own fundamental storyline with plenty of room to spare before its big finish next winter.
Rating: Three lothcats out of five.