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.
In this week’s episode, what is news to the rebels has not been news to us in awhile. Well, at least to those of us who are confident in our own speculation since the early days of Season 3 and even the entire series. Although I know some still believed the rebel’s new Fulcrum was not the previously helpful Agent Kallus, a return to the planet Lothal by Kanan and Ezra confirmed Kallus has indeed been filtering Imperial information to the Ghost crew.
Since the main characters of our show left Ezra’s home planet in Season 2, they had not returned in any capacity. An Inside Man finds Kanan and Ezra making contact with familiar faces. Ryder Azadi, a friend of Ezra’s parents while imprisoned with them, has taken over resisting the Imperials since Kanan and the Ghost crew left. He has even recruited Morad Sumar, a family friend of the Bridgers and the farmer we see in the beginning of Season 2 have his homestead destroyed by stormtroopers. Along with a handful of other Lothal citizens, they have been resisting the Empire as the Imperial presence has dropped all pretense of benevolence and become an iron-fisted, repressive government on the planet.
It can be seen in the architecture and layout of Lothal’s main city. Once depicted as a bustling market of trade and diverse species from all over the galaxy, now Nazi-like banners hang everywhere and Ezra’s home looks sterile, severe, and void of any vibrancy. This becomes only more evident when Kanan and Ezra use their connections with Sumar to infiltrate an Imperial factory constructing TIE fighters and AT-ATs. As Azadi demonstrated in their initial getaway from scout troopers on speeder bikes in the opening, Sumar and other Lothal rebels working in the factory have been sabotaging Imperial vehicles as a way to thwart the Empire’s war machine. Kanan and Ezra are using their connection with Sumar and Azadi to seek out top secret information within the Imperial factory based on intel from Fulcrum, who is found out to be Kallus by Ezra and Kanan.
The name of the episode, ‘The inside Man’, is a clever title applicable to both Morad and/or Kallus. However, both end up in a bad way by the end of the episode. After Kanan and Ezra infiltrate the facility, they receive an unexpected visit in the factory from Grand Admiral Thrawn. Suspicious of the factory’s poor craftsmanship, Thrawn is there to root out possible saboteurs, and does so in a cold, calculated manner ending in the death of Morad while sitting atop a defective speeder bike. Likewise, when Kanan and Ezra, with the help of Chopper, discover the secret section of the factor with Imperial plans for a new TIE Fighter, they barely escape from the factory after some assistance from Agent Kallus, who reveals himself by using Fulcrum’s secret code phrase. The two Jedi can hardly believe it, and even though Kallus helps them, they don’t trust him. Ezra takes particular joy in keeping a running joke on Rebels going by “making it look convincing’ and force pushing Kallus into a tactical display as they flee.
While the intelligence on a new fighter will certainly prove valuable, the Rebels are floored more by the revelation of Kallus as Fulcrum. Zeb mutters, “Karabast, I must have recruited him,” and Sabine seems genuinely surprised, even though Kallus helped her escape with Wedge and Hobbie earlier in the season. It remains to be seen if the Rebels can come to trust a man who ruthlessly hunted them and worked in tandem with the Inquisitor and Tarkin. Maybe they never will? Is it possible Kallus hasn’t defected and is merely getting revenge on the Empire for not searching for him on Geonosis’ ice moon? Or is he possibly working with Thrawn? The episode ends with Thrawn musing about the possibility of a traitor working from the inside to help the Rebels, and seems to cast a knowing glance at Kallus. It leaves it open to interpretation but surely Kallus’ character arc has taken on new interest as the production team begins to involve him as more than a bad guy, but a possible collaborator with the Rebels and a threat to Thrawn.
What’s more, this episode is a bold, timely return to Lothal for both Ezra and the show. The planet has been wholly committed to the Imperial war effort and this tiny slice of life on Lothal sheds further light on the state of the galaxy leading up to the events of both A New Hope and Rogue One. The vibe and aesthetic of the Imperial factory is reminiscent of facilities and locations in the Rogue One prequel novel, Catalyst, as well as the Rebels prequel novel A New Dawn and last year’s Battlefront: Twilight Company. The Empire has spent decades taking over planets by surreptitious and downright nefarious means in order to procure the materials needed to build weapons, ships, and most prominently, the Death Star. The consistent theme leading up to Rogue One is a lack of stewardship and caring by the Empire and a commitment to soulless domination and thoughtless exploitation.
While this all might seem like strained exegesis of an episode of Rebels, this reality lies at the heart of why the Ghost crew have joined the Rebellion and why Kallus has become their new Fulcrum. The Rebellion stands as a beacon of hope, a light in the darkness, a chance to find redemption for denizens across the galaxy in the clutches of a cold, dark tyranny. The question is, can Kallus trust the hope offered by the Rebellion, and can the Rebels trust him as a high-ranking defector? While the first heart inclination of a believer in hope and grace is to trust, it remains to be seen if the Rebels can risk to trust someone who could hurt them so badly if his defection turns out to be a ruse. Only time and more episodes will tell, but this episode certainly has us all intrigued to see more.
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.
- Would you trust Agent Kallus? Why or why not? What has he done to prove trustworthy or untrustworthy?
- Do our actions truly speak louder than our words? Can someone who has done bad things be trusted in the future?
- How has Ezra changed since he was last on Lothal? Would have he tried to stop Morad’s death last season or before? Why didn’t he stop it now?
- Notice anything familiar about the uniforms and numbered identifications of the Imperial factory workers on Lothal? If you have seen Geroge Lucas’ THX-1138, you will notice a striking resemblance in style. The Rebels production team has stated the Imperial factory is heavily influenced by the maker’s very first feature-length film.
- That new, mysterious TIE Fighter? None other than the TIE Defender from the X-Wing series of video games and my favorite ship to produce in the RTS video game Star Wars Rebellion when playing as the Imperials. Shielded like an X-Wing, sporting six laser cannons, and a hyperdrive, the TIE Defender packed a serious punch. No wonder Hera was frightened of these being mass produced by the Empire!
- Ryder Azadi, who we haven’t seen since the Season 2 midseason finale, returns as the new leader of the resistance on Lothal since the Ghost crew left. He may sound incredibly familiar, as he is voiced by Clancy Brown, whose voice is well-known as Mr. Krabs on Spongebob Squarepants.