Number of episodes remaining: 8.
Nothing important happened this week on Rebels.
Grrr, that’s kind of unfair. Tonight’s back-to-back episodes were both perfectly cromulent acts of storytelling–not phenomenal, but at least a fair callback to the show’s original restriction to a localized rebellion on Lothal. The larger rebellion headquartered on Yavin is still active, and we do get glimpses of Hera running off to that group to bring critical information about the TIE Defender factory on Lothal–but mostly, this is small-scale stuff, centered around a tight team, making their own little strikes against the Empire.
That said, there’s not a lot to it, at least not that’s readily apparent. We get hints that both of these episodes are tied to a bigger issue on Lothal, but the connections aren’t obvious at the moment. Just hints.
The upside is that if a Rebels viewer is looking for some straightforward adventure stories, these are just fine. The downside is that the previous episodes this season have all been two-part episodes, or at least back-to-back episodes which had an intentional link which made sense pairing them (like the two Saw Gerrera stories). They otherwise have bits of importance, but maybe not the grand importance that we got from priors.
“Kindred” in particular is a little odd in that it introduces Rukh, a Noghri, which older fans will remember was a species of great importance in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy. This event just sort of…happens. Rukh is certainly no slouch, and is indeed a fierce predatory who gives Ezra a run for his money. But given the central importance of Zahn’s other character, Thrawn, to this show, it’s surprising that Rukh gets no backstory or substantial usage appropriate to adding another Legends character or species. Rukh just shows up and is then summarily disposed of. He could be back later, but with nine episodes to go, who knows?
The bigger deal in “Kindred” is the return of the Lothwolves, who…well, we don’t know what’s going on with them. All we get is that they’re super force-sensitive, can teleport halfway around Lothal, and can speak Kanan’s real name. They hint that there’s some Death-Star level shenanigans going on with Lothal beyond the TIE factory, but again, we just don’t know. I’d expect this to be the big buildup to the show’s end, but with nine episodes left and the midseason break next week, it’s going to be very tight. (Oh, and Hera and Kanan finally kiss, which tells us that Kanan is probably going to bite it according to the law of doomed romances.)
“Crawler Commanders” falls more in line with being a traditionally silly episode of Rebels. The crew discovers that there’s a massive mining operation going on with Lothal (they don’t say it, but come on–it’s got to be Kyber crystals) and Ezra engages in some nonsense to take control of things and stop whatever the Empire’s doing. There’s some comedy here, and a bleak ending for a rather shoddy excuse for a villain, but otherwise a lack of grand import to the episode. Maybe that’s as it should be, with Ezra’s cheap imitation of a Trandoshan and the return of Vissago (which will delight some and annoy others) keeping things on the goofy side.
At least “Crawler Commanders” carries a more serious vibe of Hera needing to convince the Yavin leaders that a strike on the TIE-D factory is critical. This argument collides with the fact that the Rebel alliance is still too small, and there’s signs of a major Imperial operation (COUGHCOUGHDEATHSTAR) going on elsewhere. Hera gives a rousing speech to change their minds which…is OK for a kid’s show, and a little empty compared to the one Jyn Erso is due to give in that same room in a few months’ time. Yeah, it’s a bit cheap.
Anyway, we should be getting a big X-Wing fight next week before the break. That’ll be fun.
Ratings: Two and a half lothcats out of five.