Warning! Spoilers ahead!
This recap obviously contains major plot details for Star Wars: Rebels episode 1.06 “Out of Darkness”, which aired Nov. 10, 2014. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Another week, another fantastic episode of Star Wars: Rebels!
I don’t think it’s fair to call this a filler episode per se (see S1E3: “Fighter Flight”), but strictly in terms of goings-on, there’s not a whole lot that actually happens. The real strength of “Out of Darkness” comes from the exploration of themes and some compelling dialog between Hera and Sabine.
But first, let’s talk art direction and animation. Hooray for the Sabine model! We finally got to see this character emote outside of a coy smile here or there. The lovely Tiya Sircar displays a great range of tones and handles all the lines beautifully throughout the episode. I’ve also been noticing that each episode of Rebels has a standout shot that just takes my breath away. This week’s was seen as Hera and Sabine approach the asteroid landing dock in the Phantom. It was bright, expansive and dripping with Ralph McQuarrie influences. Finally, the lighting on board the Ghost keeps getting better and better. The Ezra and Zeb diagnostic scene was both funny and pretty to look at.
Very apparent in this episode was an overall theme of faith. Not faith in religion, or a deity or anything like that, but faith in the larger cause of rebellion against the Empire. This is a theme that we should all remember from the original trilogy of films, most notably in Return of the Jedi. In those first films, the Rebel Alliance unites around the ideals of the Jedi (commonly using the phrase “May the Force be with you”), something that I remember not really understanding when I was a kid since there really was only one Jedi in their midst as far as we knew and even then, Luke wasn’t a full-fledged Knight. However in these earlier, much less militant days of the rebellion, we see that the core of the movement lies in the determination of individuals like Sabine who carry with them emotional scars left by the Empire.
Sabine is committed to the cause; you never get the feeling that she’s wavering in her dedication. Unfortunately, it’s the necessary evil of secrecy that presents this roadblock we see her struggling with in the episode. Hera wants Sabine and the rest of the crew to be on her side but there are certain details she can’t make known to anyone except Kanan, for reasons both Sabine and the audience don’t fully understand. That’s a point of conflict, which presents an opportunity for the show’s writers to create rich, meaningful experiences for their characters. And it couldn’t have come a second too soon for Sabine, who was quickly becoming my least favorite character on account of the fact that thus far we just didn’t know anything about her. Granted, we still have a lot to learn, but I thought this was a great start.
I’m also glad that we’re getting to see our heroes struggle with and learn from these situations on-screen. Oftentimes, it’s more palatable for studios like Disney to leave the straightforward action to the show and the emotional, introverted storytelling to outside media, such as novels which unfortunately are less accessible to young kids. It’s refreshing to see that this show, as I’ve said so many times before, has been given the extra breathing room, even at the risk of losing the short attention spans of younger children to spend time on these scenes.
If it seems like I’m describing a boring episode though, “Out of Darkness” really was anything but. Thoughtful, emotional dialog shouldn’t come at the expense of engaging action and when you’re telling a quick Star Wars story, you really have to use that action to push the narrative forward. I enjoyed the fight with the demonic-loving Toothless-resembling creatures and it was certainly nice to see Hera out and about, getting some time behind the barrel of a blaster. I got the distinct feeling that the creators were playing a bunch of tower defense games like Sanctum 2, with the way Hera and Sabine used the explosive barrels. in the second and third acts.
In fact, that whole sequence got me thinking a little bit. Honestly, I felt like I was being set up to pick up a controller and start playing a video game. There was a very clearly defined objective (keep the baddies away), tools identified to accomplish that objective (use your blaster to shoot the barrels) and even some rudimentary rules (baddies can only approach in darkness and the shadow keeps getting closer). Hera and Sabine even announced each “wave” as it approached. An entire video game could have been made based on those few minutes of the show, and probably a very entertaining one at that.
I suppose that’s a sign of the times. Personally, I thought it worked beautifully. Today’s kids know their stuff when it comes to video games. They seem to be able to pick them up and get the hang of them in seconds, like they were born to do it. What better way to get their buy-in when watching a TV show than crafting the plot to look like the premise of a video game? Older viewers might not like this approach. I’ll admit that by the time they got to wave three, I was ready to move on. But kids? I don’t watch this show with any but I’m sure they were glued.
My only question that remains now is: with the holidays fast approaching, what will the show’s schedule look like? If the rumors are true, and this season turns out to be less than a full 20-something episodes, are we about to head into a mid-season hiatus? No details from Disney PR as of this writing, but I’ll keep you all posted. Also: #WhoIsFulcrum?
Come join me back here each and every week as I recap weekly episodes. Also, leave a comment or tweet at me @dtippetts or @rotoscopers to get in on the discussion in between episodes and possibly have your input featured in an upcoming recap! Here’s some feedback on last week’s episode “Breaking Ranks”:
“It was a fun episode. It is kind of sad that we didn’t have much time with the rest of the crew, but Ezra and his fellow trainees were a lot of fun to watch. It was interesting to see how troopers were trained, but I think the strength here is that Ezra is learning that the Empire can be fought in many different ways (e.g. destroying potential weapons and saving lives). Overall, an enjoyable half hour!”