The latest episode of Star Wars Rebels delivers what I’ve wanted to see all season: a Hera (Vanessa Marshall) and Sabine (Tiya Sircar) team-up. The two members of Ghost’s crew have both shown their skills and intelligence in previous episodes, but “Out of Darkness” turned the spotlight on them and highlighted how important Hera is to the team (besides owning and piloting Ghost) and revealed a little of Sabine’s past and why she joined up with the rebels.
We jump into the episode in the middle of a chase. TIE fighters are after Hera, Sabine, and Ezra in Phantom (Ghost’s shuttle). It seems like the Imperials are upset because of the last mission where Hera destroyed a shipment of kyber crystals. Those crystals were used in the construction of the Death Star so it’s no wonder the Empire’s unhappy. Before we get further, this is a fine time to applaud continuity. We see actual consequences from last week’s episode (read my review), and while they’re not following up on every loose thread, they’re circling back to more points than I expected.
The action sequence effectively shows more of Hera’s incredible piloting skills, but even though the situation is dire, the crew doesn’t hold back from joking. It felt natural because they are like a family, but more importantly, the interaction also showed they have a lot of faith in Hera’s abilities. They don’t hesitate to questions, and in Sabine’s case, it isn’t idle chatter. She’s ticked about being kept out of the loop. Is that really the best time to needle about Hera’s sources? Maybe not. By the way, it was interesting to see some of Hera’s confidence too; her “There isn’t a pilot in the Imperial fleet that can outrun me” line had a Han Solo vibe that suited her.
Once they’re back on Ghost, Sabine vents about not knowing everything, and we learn two important tidbits. First of all, Sabine attended the Imperial Academy on Mandalore. She points out she wasn’t allowed to ask questions there either and that didn’t end so well; it’s why she ended up on Ghost. Secondly, Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) says that it’s Hera’s job to find the missions. So, she doesn’t only pilot and own Ghost, she decides what risks to take and how this group of rebels fights back against the Empire.
After a brief break on Ghost, during which Zeb (Steve Blum), Ezra (Taylor Gray), and Chopper are supposed to give Phantom a once-over before Hera takes the shuttle back out, Sabine insists on accompanying Hera to meet her contact. Hera could have played her space mom and leader card and made Sabine stay behind, but she let her tag along. Maybe she hoped that giving in on that point would mean Sabine would understand about being on a need-to-know basis.
No such luck. Sabine does at least apologize, but she wants answers. She points out that missions are becoming more dangerous, and she’s worried they can’t take the Empire down on their own. It’s a valid concern, and I’m glad the series addressed it. Standing up against what is wrong is hard and doing so in a vacuum where you can’t tell if you’re making any difference has to be frustrating. Hera reassures her and though we don’t need it as an audience because we know what’s ahead, it was comforting. Hera hinted that they’re part of a bigger network.
Meaningful discussion out of the way, they finish loading supplies when they realize they’re not alone. Their contact wasn’t on the asteroid, but there is a pack of fyrnocks. Sabine and Hera quickly learn the beasts don’t like sunlight (there were some nice Pitch Black references), but they can’t escape because the Phantom is leaking fuel. Remember that part where Zeb, Ezra, and Chopper were supposed to check out the ship? Yeah.
They call for reinforcements, but the Ghost won’t get to them before the sun’s blocked by a large asteroid. Luckily and conveniently, barrels of rhydonium are everywhere and Sabine is familiar with the material. She concocts a plan to keep waves of the fyrnocks at bay by exploding the barrels. And while the fight between Hera and Sabine and the fyrnocks was okay, the explosions steal the show. They’re beautifully lit and animated, and I paused on them a couple of times so I could appreciate the number of colors worked into the effect. They were technically gorgeous.
As far as their almost last stand, there was too much talking and not enough showing. The amount of dialogue included in those scenes just wasn’t necessary. Show us they’re closing in, don’t just say it. However, the impressive animation continued. There were some shots of Hera and Sabine fighting back to back that were almost silhouetted and man, they looked fantastic. All of the lighting and rigging in that scene was on that level. There were also a lot of cool and dynamic movements as the fyrnocks scrambled over Phantom and Ghost as they escaped. And there was a satsifying emotional punch when Ghost showed up at exactly the right time and notes from the John Williams theme song played. I felt triumphant.
Sabine’s actions throughout the episode came across as petulant. She is only 16 so maybe the tone was meant to emphasize that despite her talents with explosives and guerrilla tactics, she’s young. The fact that she’s a touch immature is to be expected. Despite her youth, she’s still caught up in this battle. She’s brave enough to try. I can’t blame her for wanting to know if what she and the rebels are doing will have any kind of lasting effect on the galaxy.
Zeb, Ezra, and Chopper were mostly around for humor in this episode. Their schtick is still funny, but they should be careful not to overdo it. Zeb got so distracted that he put Hera and Sabine in grave danger, and from what we’ve seen of the character, that’s not like him. I wonder if we’ll see him trying to be more serious in coming weeks.
What did you think about “Out of Darkness?” Jump to the comments and let me know or give me a shout on Twitter!