Warning! Spoilers ahead!
This recap obviously contains major plot details for Star Wars: Rebels episode 1.07 “Empire Day”, which aired Nov. 17, 2014. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
I love when the episodes begin with a lesson of sorts. This week’s opening training scene is, to me, the most impactful yet in terms of its influence on the saga as a whole. Kanan is trying to teach Ezra that it is critical for a Jedi to make connections with other beings, to form attachments. Of course I think this makes sense, but it was definitely a strange thing to hear after going through the entire prequel era having it beat into our heads that attachment is bad for Jedi. With this one scene, I believe the Lucasfilm story group is setting the stage for Luke Skywalker to come back into the focus. These are the new Jedi, the wiser Jedi who are keen to avoid the pitfalls of their predecessors. Mark my words, this is going to be really important as we begin to head into The Force Awakens and the sequel trilogy years to come.
Visually speaking, the episode was so much more varied than anything we’ve seen thus far. I was very impressed with the lighting of several scenes, my favorite by far being the cantina scene. The open concept set design allowed for the creators to use lighting very creatively here, whether it’s pouring in in patches from windows high up, softly glowing from lights on the walls and tables or just reflecting off the wall outside the cantina. I felt completely immersed. Maybe I was just starry-eyed but it also seemed to me like this episode had an overall upgrade in the soft lighting effects. In the training scene in particular, Ezra’s skin looked to have a natural glow coming off it. I doubt that advanced light-scattering techniques are being used on the show but VFX supervisor Joel Aaron must be using some kind of wizardry to create a similar effect.
I also found that I noticed the foley audio and other sound effects a lot more in this episode than others. If you’re able to, I would suggest going back through and listening for all the unique and very life-like sounds. My father was in the room when we watched this episode and said something to the effect of “the sound effects are everything” after a few of Sabine’s blaster shots took out a pair of bucketheads (I hope they start using this term more often).
The music is absolutely on-point in this episode. It’s ominous and adventurous all at the same time. One of my favorite moments comes from that cantina scene I mentioned earlier. There’s something about it that made me feel like I was watching a spaghetti western, with Kanan the cowboy Jedi sidling up to the bar, staying aloof. Another moment was when Ezra returns to his old tower hideout. The music helped bring in the mythical feeling that the scene set up. Also, in the parade sequence, Ioved how Kiner used the Imperial March and put it in a cheery, major scale. I found it strangely unsettling. It took me a little while to come around but I’m seeing now how some of the John William’s themes from the original trilogy are perfectly suited for the television show. It feels so distinctly Star Wars without “ripping off” the movies. I missed this in The Clone Wars. Lastly, did anyone catch the love theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark at the beginning of the episode? Tell me if you know where/when!
I hope kids out there really like the Imperial troop transports because they are everywhere in this show. If Hasbro doesn’t put out a toy version of this (which is actually where the original idea of the ship came from; it’s nowhere to be found in the movies), then all hope is lost. And speaking of toys, where’s my advanced TIE fighter with battle helmet Inquisitor? I geeked out when I saw that. The kid in me came out in a big way while watching “Empire Day”. The action was turned up to eleven in the third act, with a high speed chase, lots of blaster fire, some lightsaber fun and even a dogfight in the skies above Lothal.
In the midst of all this, we got a tight and compelling narrative which will continue next week in what will be the first multi-episode story arc of the series. Aside from the obvious excitement over who Ezra’s parents are and why they were taken, I’m intrigued to know how the Seebo character and the information he possesses will change the rebels’ game on Lothal. It certainly seems like this ragtag bunch are wading into much larger and more dangerous territory than they are perhaps prepared to handle. So who will save the day?
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 “Out of Darkness”:
Benjamin Boekelaar says:
“Good episode, much like the episode with Zeb and Ezra in the marketplace. I’m happy for character development and the development of specific relationships but what I’m happiest with is that it’s not being chucked in right away but rather we’re getting some story specific episodes and then some character specific episodes. Many shows kill themselves in the first season by trying to get to much done or not enough done in the early part of the first season and they lose their audience…so I’m glad the showrunners are mindful if this and are giving us a balanced offering.”