TV Brew: Star Wars Rebels S4E9: “Rebel Assault”
Episodes Remaining: Seven
“Rebel Assault” was the episode for Kanan to die. It didn’t happen and instead we got a cliffhanger that we know will be resolved just fine, at least for the character concerned.
See, classic-era Star Wars has this ongoing problem of creating tension where no tension is possible because we know how it turns out. Marvel’s ongoing rebellion-era comic has this problem, where Luke or Leia ends up in trouble, and it’s all good because we know they’ll be alive and well two years later in the Episode V era. There was a recent plot development where, at the end of a major battle, C-3PO was captured by the Empire and the rebels pretty much left him for dead. This was guaranteed to turn out fine, and that’s exactly what happened in last month’s Star Wars #36.
So, let me cut to the chase: we go into the midseason break with Hera captured by the Empire during a botched assault on Lothal. The episode’s direction makes it seem like Kanan is going to rush off to rescue her and die in the process, but…nope. One of those Lothwolves suggests that Kanan not do it for some mystical, unspoken reason which won’t be resolved until after the break. In terms of story flow, this would be the logical point for Kanan to get picked off, but instead we’re left with a cliffhanger with no real risk because we know Hera is doing just fine four years after this point.
The Rebels producers may have been going for a plot twist to defy our expectations here, but this does feel like an unfulfilled tease which we’ll be waiting several weeks to see resolved. How annoying, particularly since the show really is in wrapup mode at this point. There’s only seven episodes left and the show is done.
Now, to Rebels‘ credit, “Rebel Assault” is a lot of fun up until the non-climax. The show has been building towards an assault on the TIE-Defender factory on Lothal, and the actual assault is…surprisingly awful. The X-Wing finally makes its Rebels debut as Hera leads a squadron of fighters into Lothal. They impressively dodge Thrawn’s Star Destroyer blockade–only to be swarmed by conventional TIEs and all of them shot down into Lothal city. From there, Hera does her best impression of Snoopy after being shot down by the Red Baron, having to make a terrifying journey through Lothal to get herself and her data to safety, and without her team to help her.
At least up until the failed fan expectations point, “Rebel Assault” shows the risks of the Rebellion and demonstrates that this show can’t be all happy little victories. The Rebels have been so frequently successful that it palpably hurts when Hera loses most of her squadron and her mission ends in failure. Who knows? Maybe this is inspiration for why the Rebellion will be so reluctant to attack Scarif in a few weeks.
Anyway, now we’re on break. Rebels is quietly bowing out to allow for the month-long rising hype of The Last Jedi. Once that settles in January, we’ll be back with regular coverage.
Rating: Three crashed fighters out of five.