Lucasfilm Animation, Reviews, Television, TV

‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 3 Premier Review: “Steps Into Shadow”

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Star Wars Rebels is back! Last year we left off in the aftermath of an epic battle that finally saw Ahsoka going up against Darth Vader, and saw Kanan and Ezra dueling against Darth Maul. Ahsoka was soundly beaten, and is presumed dead by the Rebels, while Kanan was permanently scarred and is now blind.

The Episode

This episode picks up some time later during a rescue mission to save pirate Hondo Ohnaka, and we discover that a few things have changed. Aside from Ezra and Sabine’s obvious hairstyle changes, which are very cool by the way, we are introduced to a rather darker version of Ezra.

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Apparently, unbeknownst to his crew, Ezra has been using and learning from the Sith holocron that he recovered during the events of the season two finale. This has had a rather noticeable effect on his personality. We witness him take control of a Stormtrooper, and force him to kill his fellow stormtroopers using a walker, and then walk himself off a bridge to his own presumed death. This new Ezra is creepy and unpredictable, but I have never been more interested in his character than I am now. I am loving the new darker Ezra.

After the rescue mission – which saw the death of Hondo’s cellmate, an Ugnaught named Terba – the crew get back to the rebel base on Atollon. Here, Hondo tells them about Reklam Station, which he learned about from Terba who was a slave there. Reklam Station is a demolition station, which is currently holding a fleet of Y-Wings. These ships would be very useful to the Rebels, who immediately begin to plan how they can get them back before they are destroyed. Commander Sato, pleased with Ezra’s performance during the rescue mission and not having seen what he did for himself, appoints him lieutenant commander of the mission to Reklam Station.

Kanan, who up until this point has been completely absent, has been outside the base meditating. Hera tells him that he needs to talk to Ezra. They assume that his behavior is a result of him blaming himself for what happened to Ahsoka and Kanan. Which, it kind of is, but thanks to the holocron, it goes a lot deeper than that. Kanan does go to talk to him, but ends up discovering the holocron. Horrified to discover that Ezra has been using it, he takes it with him. Furious, Ezra tells him that he doesn’t need the holocron, or him.

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Meanwhile, at the Imperial fleet, there are some political machinations going on. Governor Pryce is outmaneuvering Admiral Konstantine for his job, telling Grand Moff Tarkin that he is more of a politician and that he is severely underestimating the threat that the rebels pose. She brings in Grand Admiral Thrawn, who has his own theory about the recent Rebel activity that saw the rescue of Hondo. He believes that as Hondo was cellmates with a slave from the station, the Rebels will have learned about it, and will be trying to make their way there to steal the fleet.

The Ghost crew and Hondo make it to Reklam Station in the Phantom, but arrive just in time to see the Y-Wings being destroyed, one by one. With only 14 left and counting down, Ezra orders the team to go in now and save what they can. The crew does not like this idea, but with Ezra appointed as their leader, they have no choice but to obey. Suddenly they are attacked by dismantler droids, and the ship goes down. They manage to land on the underside of the station, but they have taken a lot of damage. They try to shut down the station but are stopped by a group of Ugnaughts. Hondo tells them that they are there to liberate them, and they agree to help.

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Back on Atollon, Kanan has found a Force-Wielder far beyond the edges of the base. The giant creature tells Kanan that his imbalance has awoken him and called him to him. He says that he is not Jedi or Sith. While they deal in the Ashla and the Bogan, the Dark and the Light, he is the one in the middle, the Bendu. He tells him that he can help him regain his sight. Kanan thinks that he means his physical sight, but the Bendu is speaking more about his connection to the Force. With the Bendu’s help, Kanan reaches out and realizes that Ezra needs him. Reinvigorated, he leaves to help his team, but not before he leaves the holocron with the Bendu as a gift.

At the Reklam Station, the Rebels have run into a snag – all the ships are all magnetically locked and need to be refueled. They can’t just fly them away. The Ugnaughts have shut down the conveyor belt to the incinerator for the time being, but the dismantler droids are still active and they don’t have time to waste. Hondo and the Ugnaughts go to find a shuttle in case they need a quick escape, while Ezra tries to find a way to unlock the ships. In the middle of all this, he gets a call from Hera and Commander Sato. While he doesn’t tell them what he’s done, it’s clear to them that the crew needs help. As Hera gets ready to go, she discovers Kanan waiting and ready to join her.

Inside the station, Ezra discovers that it is being manned by Commander Titus, formerly Admiral Titus, who had been stripped of his rank after his last encounter with the Rebels. Commander Titus tells Ezra that there is no way to unlock the ships, short of cutting power to the entire station and, as the station is currently high above the surface of the planet, doing so would mean death for anyone on board. Ezra tells him that he believes in his friends, and destroys the station’s power unit. Titus orders an immediate evacuation and flees the room.

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Meanwhile Hondo and the Ugnaughts have escaped without anyone, while the crew has refueled the ships and is using Chopper to remote pilot all of them. The only problem is, once they are in space, they discover that the ships have no hyperdrives. They are basically sitting ducks against the Imperial army that appears out of hyperspace directly in front of them. To make matters worse, the collapsing station has destroyed the Phantom leaving Ezra with no way of escape as the entire station slowly falls to its destruction. Suddenly the Rebels appear behind them with a carrier for the Y-Wings. Hera orders them to get them on board with the others engage the Imperial army in a dogfight, and Kanan rescues Ezra.

The Imperials watch this all take place with disgust, while Governor Pryce calls Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn tells them to let the Rebels escape with their reward, which confuses Konstantine. Pryce tells them that Thrawn has a much larger objective in mind than trying to capture these few Rebels.

Back at the base, Hera suspends Ezra’s command due to his reckless behavior. Zeb tries to protest, but Hera won’t listen. Ezra made a huge mistake and needs to accept the consequences. Ezra is subdued and he apologizes to Kanan, thanking him for coming back for him. “I’ll always come back,” Kanan tells him.

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Final Thoughts

And that’s it. This first episode was twice as long as a regular episode, and was packed with so much! We learned a lot about the rebellion and the Empire, we saw the return of fan favorite character, Hondo, and the introduction of Admiral Thrawn. We were even introduced to a mysterious new Force-Wielder, the Bendu, who – for those who might be interested – was voiced by the Fourth Doctor himself, Tom Baker. I will admit, I geeked out a little when I discovered this.

For fans of the Star Wars extended universe, or EU, as it is commonly referred to, having Admiral Thrawn brought into the official cannon was an awesome addition to the show and the larger mythos as a whole. As someone who has not read many EU books, I know little about the character, but I trust the dedicated fans who are so thrilled with this news and I am excited to see where this character goes.

My one disappointment with the episode was that we learn nothing new about Ahsoka. I am 99% sure she survived the encounter with Vader, but with nothing more than a shadowy figure in a cave at the end of last season to back that up I’m still waiting for some sort of official confirmation. As we learn nothing in the first episode, I have a feeling this is going to be a long wait. They waited an entire season to bring her back the first time. I would not be the least bit surprised if they do it again, saving her for some grand reveal further on in the season (if not the season finale).

All in all, this was an excellent start to what is sure to be an amazing new season of adventures. This first episode was thrilling and dark, and completely blew me away. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

What did you think of this episode of Star Wars Rebels? Let us know in the comments below.

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Jonathan North

Jonathan North is a Journalism student at Iowa State University. He has been an animation fan since he was a kid watching Batman the Animated Series and The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show. Currently his favorite animated series’ are Gravity Falls and Wander Over Yonder.
  • This sounds like a promising start to a another great season.

  • Leah

    Yes! The star wars reviews are back. Love these things. So far the show has been pretty awesome for the most part. So happy to have Hondo back too.

  • Rachel Wagner

    Great first episode. I don’t expect to hear from Ahsoka for some time. I’m reading the new Ahsoka novel now

    • Leah

      I’ve heard the book is pretty good. What do you think?

      • Rachel Wagner

        Just started it but so far LOVE it!

    • I thought about buying it, and I want to read it, but I’ve already got a full shelf of books that I’ve bought but haven’t had time to read yet. I have a problem. :p You’ll have to let us know how it is. Maybe you could review it? 🙂

  • Great review for the season three premier! This was an exciting roller coaster of emotions while watching. Ezra’s new haircut and clothes took a while for me to get used to but they are appropriate since he’s growing and taking on more challenges as a Padawan and a Rebel. Animation is a form of storytelling that can show us a character’s progress through changes of physical appearance and personality.

    Ezra’s obsession with the Holocron almost became a drug-fixation. When Kanan shut everything out, Ezra turned to using the Dark Side for assistance. It gave him the results he wanted but drove him to be angry and reckless. Fortunately, Kanan’s encounter with Bendu motivated him to get back into the fight and he was able to save Ezra, not just from physical danger, but from going too far into the dark.

    Watching Ezra have “Dark Side” moments is exciting. But I have confidence that the writers won’t make Ezra into another Anakin Skywalker. Ezra is susceptible to the Dark Side but he has a strong family network around him to give him the love and support he needs. I’m sure Ezra will face further challenges ahead this season and I’m intrigued to see what adventures are ahead.