Star Wars is a cinematic icon, but it is much more than its movies. Blaine and Josh dive deep into the universe of Star Wars Rebels, the fantastic animated show on Disney XD, with reviews of the third season of this fantastic show. As a show aimed at kids, but also clearly for the kid in every adult Star Wars fan, they’ll also have a discussion section to talk about the themes covered in each show.
This week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels made a dream come true for yours truly. When I was a little kid, more than Admiral Thrawn, Luke Skywalker, Dash Rendar, Mara Jade, or Han Solo, my favorite character was Wedge Antilles and my favorite stories from the Expanded Universe books were the X-Wing series of books by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Alston. Taking place two years after Return of the Jedi, the series follows Wedge and Rogue Squadron, an elite group of Rebel Alliance pilots originally formed from the ashes of Red Squadron by Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles. The books follow some of the surviving pilots, including Wedge, as well as Wes Janson, Wedge’s gunner during the Battle of Hoth, as well as Hobbie Klivian, Tycho Celchu, and others. It was pitched as “Top Gun set in the Star Wars Universe” and it lived up to it. Wedge was the savvy, cool-headed veteran to a young batch of hot shot pilots, including my second favorite EU character, Corran Horn. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on those books and find out how Rogue Squadron was going to take down the Imperial Remnant and finally end the Galactic Civil War.
Unsurprisingly, I was utterly rapturous when I saw Wedge in the Season 3 trailer and having watched “The Antilles Extraction” numerous times, I am now floating in the stratosphere. My favorite character has made his way to Rebels and Wedge’s defection, as well as Hobbie’s, gets some screen time in this episode. When a new fulcrum agent, not Ahsoka, alerts the rebels of possible Imperial defectors, Sabine is tasked with being inserted into the Imperial Academy to get the defectors out. Once in, Sabine eventually meets and discovers a young Wedge, along with Hobbie and fellow cadet Rake Gahree, want to defect to the Rebellion.
This is a big deal for Sabine’s character at this point in the life of the show. Often relegated to second fiddle to other characters, Sabine dyes her hair, goes undercover, and we get a chance to see how she operates flying solo (pun slightly intended). Not only that, but we learn a little bit more about Sabine’s skills as a soldier and can read between the lines regarding her own Imperial past. In the process of finding out exactly which cadets are looking to defect, she trains in a simulated combat flight situation. Sabine and Wedge are ordered to fire on a helpless transport. Instead of immediately obeying, Sabine responds by rebutting her instructor with Imperial regulation; they cannot fire on the transport or it would be a direct violation of protocol. Afterward, Wedge is shaken by this inhuman order and expresses it to Sabine. Wedge unwittingly reveals his intentions to Sabine and they begin to arrange their escape, along with some other cadets.
Writer Gary Whitta, who joined the Rebels writing team after concluding his script treatment of Rogue One, avails himself masterfully in weaving together three different strands of Imperial defectors. Sabine is the former Imperial who has seen the cold and heartless ways of the Empire. Wedge has only begun to see how awful things can be and his youthfulness has him attempting a desperate escape. The surprising third strand, although not surprising to those of us who saw it coming as early as Season 1, is the hard-nosed Imperial Intelligence officer, Agent Kallus. When Sabine, Wedge, and Hobbie escape detainment after being found out by Governor Pryce, they find out they have a friend on the inside in Kallus. He diverts the Imperials and helps the three rebels find an escape route. Before they go, he appeals to Sabine to tell Zeb they are even. This is a reference to the Season 2 episode where Zeb and Kallus were stuck on the moon of Geonosis and helped each other survive.
After this stunning revelation of Kallus’ help, a quick rewind to the beginning makes it abundantly clear the voice of the fulcrum agent is none other than Agent Kallus. So it begs the question; what does this mean for Kallus and his involvement with the rebels? Is he merely paying back Zeb for saving his life, or is there something more to Kallus’ help? Can he really be trusted? Are Thrawn and Pryce allowing Kallus to feed intel, or has the mutton-chopped ISB agent grown disillusioned with Imperial life? Time will tell in this interesting development, but the Rebellion against the Empire is starting to gain steam as the Empire’s grip on the galaxy tightens and more people, even in the upper echelons of Imperial service, grow restless to see things change.
Star Wars Rebels is a family show. Parents love watching as much as their kids. Infusing the spiritual with the fantastic and adventurous, Rebels continues the spirit of what makes Star Wars great. In order to foster the young minds and hearts of your Reel World Theologians, each week there are questions you can use during or after the show to talk about with your kids. Enjoy the show and then enjoy conversation, but always remember that story is powerful and Star Wars Rebels is not mindless.
- Why do you think Wedge wants to defect from the Empire? What makes the Rebellion look better than being an Imperial? What does the episode show us to prove that?
- Why do you think Kallus is helping the rebels? Can he be trusted? Will he continue to be a fulcrum agent for the Rebels?
- Why do you think Kanan’s instructions to Ezra to trust Sabine are so important? Do you think Ezra trusting Sabine means not doing anything to help? Why or why not? (bonus points if you can work in talking about Yoda’s same advice to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back).
- The red striping on the newly introduced TIE Interceptors are a tip of the cap–although not a direct reference–to the Legends elite TIE squadron known as the 181st Imperial Tie Fighter Wing. We can assume Vult Skerris, the mustachioed TIE pilot, is an elite fighter pilot for the Empire.
- If you watched Rebels Recon, you heard the producers talk about how this episode was originally supposed to introduce Biggs Darklighter and connect him, in some way, to Sabine. It was eventually abandoned due to continuity issues within the timelines of the original trilogy.
- At the beginning of the episode, it is the first time we get to see the traditional Rebel transports we see in Empire and Jedi. They hold lots of troops but are incredibly vulnerable to turbolasers, hence it’s easy destruction at the hand of a couple TIE Interceptors.