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 exciting series. 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 episode.
It feels like the Rebels team is finally starting to hit their stride in producing non-arc episodes of the show. My personal favorite of the entire series, so far, is last season’s episode The Honorable Ones. Weaving small scraps of story here and there into 22-minutes and playing out like an old episode of the original Star Trek TV series, it was an entertaining, action-packed episode with greater story implications we aren’t seeing fully blossomed until right now with the release of the Rogue One novel and the movie in December, e.g. the revelations surrounding the construction of the Death Star and the fate of the Geonosians. However, the episodes in Season 3 are stepping it up and giving us new characters, new connections to older material, and the incredibly fun and entertaining continuation of the Ghost crew’s story.
This episode is the fifth of the season to feature at least one brand new character either pulled from existing material or created for the show. When the Ghost crew, along with Rex, jump to the world of Mykapo to rescue Rebel sympathizers before an impending Imperial occupation. However, when they arrive, they find the Imperials have already sent an advanced unit with a couple TIE Fighters and are engaged against a familiar looking freighter. After jumping in to help and the surprising firepower of the freighter causes the Imperial transport to flee Mykapo, the Ghost crew meets “The Iron Squadron.”
Consisting of three young crew members all named and styled after members of the Lucasfilm team involved in the promotion of Rebels, the Iron Squadron is a local Mykapo crew made up of Gooti, Jonner, and Mart, who is also revealed to be the nephew of Rebel leader Commander Jun Sato. The three members of the Iron Squadron pilot the Sato’s Hammer, Commander Sato’s ship before leaving Mykapo and passed to Mart after his father died at the hand’s of Imperials on Mykapo. As a result, Mart has a grudge against the Empire very similar to the same grudge Ezra had when we met him at the beginning of the show. He’s brash, overconfident, and even sports a mop of hair similar to Ezra from Seasons 1 & 2.
His dangerous overconfidence and rebellious spirit gets everyone in trouble when Thrawn learns of the Iron Squadron and send Admiral Konstantine to deal with them personally. Sent with a light cruiser and a squadron of TIEs, Konstantine easily disables the Sato’s Hammer and traps Mart aboard after he refuses to leave Mykapo. After regrouping to assess the situation, Hera agrees, at Sato’s insistence, to return to Sato’s home planet to rescue his nephew. When they return, they are met by Konstantine who has not destroyed Mart’s ship in an obvious attempt to trap the Ghost and destroy the Rebel ship with a mine placed on the hull of the Sato’s Hammer. After Chopper and The Iron Squadron’s astromech–who Chopper mercilesly and hilariously abuses throughout the episode, including the best last second of an episode, yet–have disabled the mine and the Rebels manage to turn the mine on Konstantine, Sato arrives with Phoenix Squadron and begins to overtake the Imperial detachment. However, at the end of the episode, it all seems like it has been a clever ploy by Thrawn to lure Sato out into the open. Thrawn, once again, seems to be testing his Imperial underlings–Konstantine clearly failed–and also testing the Rebel’s mettle. Thrawn’s Star Destroyed jumps into the system in time for Thrawn to pleasingly announce Sato’s appearance and Sato returns his greetings. The episodes last moments at Mykapo tease a shared history between Thrawn and Sato. We will apparently have to wait to possibly have more of this thread teased out, but it certainly is interesting Thrawn is well aware of even the highest-ranking members of Phoenix Squadron.
The other intriguing aspect of this episode is Ezra following a similar path to another young Jedi, Luke Skywalker. The later part of Season 2 and early part of Season 3 have devoted a significant amount of time to Ezra’s struggle between wanting to destroy the Empire and following the teachings of the Jedi. While it has been directly addressed in both the Season 2 finale and Season 3 premiere, this episode is a chance for Ezra to not only pick his battles, but pass on what he has learned from Kanan and, by proxy both Yoda and Bendu, about the nature of the Force and warfare. Mart and the Iron Squadron are significant because they are essentially Ezra only a few years prior. Their headstrong attitude was even Ezra’s earlier in the season when he led a mission to steal Y-Wings and almost got himself killed. But, Ezra has a chance to put into practice the Jedi wisdom of not only taking into account why you fight but also how and when to fight.
The interesting aspect of all this is how Ezra’s continued growth in the teachings of the light-side of the Force will stand up to scrutiny if and when he is confronted by Maul. Much in the same way Luke ultimately is confronted by the allure of power and the dark-side when Vader reveals Luke’s parentage, Ezra could easily be enticed by Maul if somehow Maul could show Ezra a path to defeating the Empire decisively. We’ve already seen Ezra use dark-side powers and heard him convince others the Empire is the real, true enemy.
All of this harkens back to Luke’s ultimate choice to sacrifice himself in the face of power and how Luke’s choice mirrors that of Jesus’ choice in the desert in the gospel of Luke (wrap your min around that one). Satan tempts Jesus with ultimate power and a chance to avoid pain and suffering. However, Jesus is well aware of his mission, and Luke is aware of his, as well. Luke chooses to throw himself into the belly of Cloud City than join Darth Vader. He chooses to sacrifice himself and Luke’s eventual rescue from an inevitable plunge into the depths of Bespin’s gas planet core can be seen as a rebirth of sorts. Instead of using power to save others, he chooses to lay down his power and mirrors the choice of Christ. One can hold out hope Ezra is following the same path, but he has dangerously demonstrated a propensity to choose power over sacrifice in the face of Imperial might. We will have to continue to wait in trembling anticipation of what is to come in this incredible season.
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.
- This isn’t really a serious question but seriously, how funny is it when Chopper abuses other astromech droids?
- Do actions speak louder than words? Should we convinced by Ezra’s renouncing of Mart’s headstrong actions in favor of patience and fighting another day? Why is it foolish sometimes to stay and fight? Why is it brave to runaway?
- Why can power and the chance to defeat your enemies with that power be a bad thing? Can power lead to good or only to bad?
- Shadows of the Empire, anyone? Yes, that’s right, the YT-2400 freighter from this episode is famously the same class freighter as popular Legends character Dash Rendar’s ship, the Outrider. The name of this freighter, however, is Sato’s Hammer, having once been owned by Rebel commander Jun Sato.
- If you listen closely, many of the original sounds developed for the Millennium Falcon, a similar YT-1300 Corellian freighter, are heard when aboard Sato’s Hammer.
- Gooti Terez, the pale pink-skinned member of the Iron Squadron, is Theelin, an alien species first making its debut as a backup singer at Jabba’s Palace in the special edition of Return of the Jedi.