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‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 4: Part 1 – Roundtable Review

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This season, we’re going to be doing the reviews for Star Wars Rebels a little differently. Instead of me doing separate reviews of every episode, we’re going to review the episodes in two batches as they are released. Fellow Roto-writer Hannah Ortega and I are both big fans of the series, so I thought it would be fun to have her come in this season and have both of us give our thoughts about the show. It’ll be like two reviews for the price of one!

The first batch of episodes aired this past October and November, and the second batch are scheduled to air sometime in 2018. Hannah and I will be talking about the first nine episodes that have aired so far in this article, and we’ll be back next year to talk about the second half. We might do a season finale article, as well – we’ll see how it goes. Okay! On to our reviews!

Jonathan North

As we get into the final season of Star Wars Rebels, I’ve thought a lot about how this show evolved. Not just how it’s evolved as a show, but how it’s evolved in my eyes. It’s amazing what a difference a few years can make on your opinions. If you had told me even just a couple seasons ago that I would be actively invested in the fate of Lothal, I wouldn’t have believed you. When Star Wars Rebels first started I was not really happy with how often they kept coming back to Lothal. Don’t get me wrong, I have really enjoyed the show from the beginning, but it took me a while to get to the point where I actually love it.

I was a huge fan of The Clone Wars series before Rebels, and one of my absolute favorite things about that show was the sheer variety in the kinds of stories that they could tell. I loved the massive diversity in the locations and creatures, and the huge variety of characters and species that we got to see. I loved how one episode could be about a giant monster rampaging through a city, while the next could be about a coven of space witches on a swamp planet. I guess when Rebels premiered, I was expecting more of that variety, and I was kind of disappointed that it mostly seemed to be about this little kid that I didn’t know or care about, and I wanted to see more planets beyond Lothal. My favorite episodes were the ones where they had missions on awesome planets with amazing creatures, and coming back to Lothal always seemed like a bit of a let-down after an episode with space whales or a hidden Sith temple.

But by the season two finale, my opinion began to shift. Ezra stopped seeming like this mildly annoying kid that I only sometimes liked and actually started becoming someone whose life I was invested in. And I didn’t realize it, but I guess by extension, Lothal was growing on me too. When we approached the planet in this first half of season four, I was surprised to find that I was all in. I actually felt Ezra’s horror at seeing the planet burning under the hand of the Empire, and while my first reaction to Ezra’s announcement that he was planning to stay on Lothal was “No!” once I saw the destruction there, I was with him all the way.

Creatures have always been one of my favorite parts of Star Wars, and the two main creatures this season have been great. Even the Loth-Cats, which, like everything about Lothal, really grew on me. Back when they were in every other episode I was kind of annoyed by them. I thought they looked too cartoony to be in Star Wars, with their big heads and even bigger mouths, not to mention the fact that they were called “Loth-Cats,” and they acted and sounded like actual cats, right down to the purring. I just thought the design was a bit too on-the-nose, as it were. But here we are, three years later, and for some reason I kind of love them now.

But as much as I now like the Loth-Cats, I am LOVING the Loth-Wolves! They are so cool, not just their design, which is like an alien wolf with four giant bird legs, but the way they act and their mysterious connection to the Force! I really want to know more about them, even though I’m fairly certain we never will get any definitive answers.

Last year we had the Bendu, another creature with ties to the Force that I still don’t feel was adequately explained. And as he mysteriously vanished, I’m pretty much expecting the same from the Loth-Wolves. I think they’ll help out the Ghost crew as much as they can, and then they’ll be gone. And I think I’m kind of okay with that. The Force is best left at least semi-mysterious. Once you start explaining every little thing, it loses a little bit of the magic and wonder. *Cough* Midi-chlorians *Cough*

And speaking of the Loth-Wolves, I had a couple observances about them and their home. First off, did anyone else see anything hidden in the cave drawings in the underground tunnels through Lothal?

I am fairly certain I saw a depiction of Yoda, and that left me wondering if there were any other hidden Easter eggs in there. If you saw anything else, be sure to let us know!

And secondly, is it just me, or do the Loth-Cats and the Loth-Wolves bear a lot of striking similarities to each other? Forget about the faces for a moment because their faces are night and day different, there is no comparison there, just look at everything else. The tail, the ears, even the bird-like legs, the Loth-Wolves seem to just have bigger, more developed versions of everything the Loth-Cats have!

I don’t know if this is significant, I don’t know if the Loth-Wolves are the grown-up versions of the Loth-Cats, or if the Loth-Cats evolve, Pokemon-style into the Loth-Wolves, but I feel like they were designed that way on purpose. Maybe this is another of those things that will never be explained, but I really hope it will be eventually.

All in all, I am loving this new Lothal-centered version of the show, and while I do hope that not every single remaining episode will be set there, I am okay with that being the focus for now.

Hannah Ortega

Unfortunately, we are already halfway through the last season of Star Wars Rebels. I adore this show, and the characters have been beautifully explored throughout the past seasons. Dave Filoni and his team are master storytellers, and they inspire me as I pursue my own creative endeavors.

That being said, I wasn’t overly impressed with the first two episodes of season three, titled “Heroes of Mandalore.” I know that Mandalorians are fan favorites, but I feel they can sometimes be overrated or used to the extent of overkill. I also find their stubbornness and lack of compassion a bit annoying and difficult to connect to at times; there’s a wall that prevents me from fully investing in the Mandalorians.

Clone Wars fan favorite Bo-Katan Kryze, sister to the deceased Duchess Satine Kryze and a former Death Watch warrior, returns in this two-part episode, but I simply wasn’t wowed by her. She’s just kind of there, even though she obviously plays a crucial role now as the new leader of the Mandalorian clans.

I did enjoy seeing Sabine’s father, Alrich Wren, however. I appreciated his soft, kind demeanor in contrast to the straight-laced, take-no-prisoners attitude of Sabine’s mother, Ursa Wren, especially because the roles are so often reversed, with the father being more strict and the mother more nurturing.

Sabine’s role in creating a deadly weapon that can be used against Mandalorians is further explored in this episode, and I felt for her as the guilt tore her apart. However, in the scene where Sabine thought her brother, Tristan Wren, and Ursa died at the hands of her creation, I wanted a bit more.

Obviously I was shocked at Tristan and Ursa’s apparent death since they were just introduced in season three, but I feel the scene could have pulled harder at my heartstrings. I felt more emotion from Sabine during her monologue to Kanan in the season three episode “Trials of the Darksaber,” which is one of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching moments in Rebels, than in this moment.

Things looked up for me with “In The Name of the Rebellion,” which serves as the third and fourth episode of the season. I love how it explores the rebellion’s internal conflict concerning how they choose to fight against the Empire, and Ezra shows his maturity when he isn’t afraid to question the rebellion’s perhaps slow and lackluster methods and initiative.

The scene with Sabine and Ezra fighting stormtroopers on a satellite dish is delightful, especially when Ezra awkwardly waves at an Imperial ship as it approaches. Saw returns this episode and saves the two teens, and then he whisks them away on a mission to search for top secret Imperial cargo aboard a freighter. This cargo turns out to be a kyber crystal, creating another link between Rebels and Rogue One, which I always love to see. Also, the scene in which Ezra, Sabine, and Saw take out death troopers amid a fog created by smoke bombs is beautifully done.

In “The Occupation,” the Ghost crew returns to Lothal, and Ryder Azadi, Vizago, Baron Valen Rudor, and Jai Kell reappear. Kanan and Hera share a sweet moment this episode when Kanan says he wishes he could see Hera, and she says he could always see her. This scene provides a glimpse into how the longtime partners’ relationship will come to a head this season and be a focal point of the plot.

“Flight of the Defender” is my favorite episode so far because of Ezra and Sabine’s crazy heist of the TIE defender, the reappearance of Thrawn, and the introduction of the loth-wolves. And because of the loth-cats snuggling up against Ezra and Zeb. That was too cute.

The scene where Ezra distracts stormtroopers and Thrawn while Sabine takes control of the TIE defender is chaotic and fast-paced in the best way possible, and I couldn’t help but laugh when Sabine almost completely obliterated Ezra with the defender’s guns on accident. The following chase scene is just as wonderfully hectic, and Ezra and Sabine’s crash had me bracing for impact in spite of myself.

Though loth-wolves are first seen in “Flight of the Defender,” the audience truly sees their power and mystery in “Kindred.” I was blown away by the stunning visual of the loth-wolves walking through some kind of space and time portal with the Ghost crew, and I’m interested to see what their plans are for Kanan, as they seem more interested in him than in Ezra. Also, Ezra’s continued connection to animals, from loth-wolves to loth-cats and purrgils to fyrnocks, is one of my favorite things about him. I also love how he’s the actor of the group, as he impersonates an imperial officer in “In The Name of the Rebellion” and a reptilian alien, hoarse and hissing, in “Crawler Commandeers.” We see Ezra back to crawling through vents in “Crawler Commandeers” as well, which is pretty hilarious.

Going back to “Kindred,” Thrawn’s assassin Rukh makes his series debut. I’m not too impressed with him, though – Ezra got away from him, and Hera later escapes his first attack in the mid-season finale “Rebel Assault.” I’m still waiting for him to live up to his deadly reputation.

Oh, and can we talk about the kiss between Kanan and Hera in “Kindred?” Finally! Kanera shippers, rejoice!

Speaking of Hera, she shines in “Rebel Assault.” I hope people recognize just how skilled and strong she is. I love that the Empire classifies her as a major threat, because she certainly is. I was cheering her on as she put Rukh in his place with some awesome hand-to-hand combat, which we haven’t seen much of from her.

When “Rebel Assault” ended, I couldn’t help but scream at my TV. I cannot believe we were left on such a cliffhanger, with Hera captured and Kanan knowing what he must do to save her after speaking with a loth-wolf. Seriously, what do the loth-wolves want with Kanan? I cannot wait for the second half of season four and for all of my questions to be answered.

What did you think of the first half of season four of Star Wars Rebels?

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Jonathan North

Jonathan North is writer, photographer, video editor, and animation fan from Iowa. He studied advertising and design at Iowa State University, and also has degrees in multimedia and art. His favorite movie is Fantasia, and his favorite cartoon is Gravity Falls. Or maybe Steven Universe. He can’t decide. You can find more of his work on his blog, as well as his Podcast and YouTube channel, where he reviews animation, movies, TV, or whatever else his guests feel like talking about. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, @jonjnorth.