Warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “A Princess on Lothal.” Jump into hyperspace and away from this page if you haven’t watched the episode yet.
Season two of Star Wars Rebels returned after a brief break, and the series rolled out the red carpet for a regal entrance. Princess Leia Organa made her first appearance on the animated show in “A Princess on Lothal.” Though I do get concerned about seeing too many familiar faces from the original trilogy and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Leia’s appearance made a lot of sense. Bail Organa is one of the architects of the Rebel Alliance, and she’s his adopted daughter. Plus, we’re only three years away from A New Hope. Many things can change in that amount of time, but it’s not a surprise to see she’s already assisting the Rebellion.
What I’m trying to say is Princess Leia wasn’t thrown into the story as a gimmick. Yeah, it is a cool tie to the original trilogy (and so was hearing notes of “Leia’s Theme”) and a juicy marketing plug, but more importantly, Leia’s guest role fits into and enhances the story. I can’t make the same claim about everyone who’s shown up…Lando. Leia’s actions in the episode showed Ezra “privileged” citizens are fighting back. She was resolute, and her commitment helped pull Ryder Azadi (best name ever) back into the fight.
Leia’s presence also offered a opportunity to add some depth to Darth Vader not believing her in A New Hope when she kept insisting the Alderaanians were peaceful. I want to touch on this before we dive into the meat of the episode. Lieutenant Lyste dropped a couple of lines that hinted at what the Empire thinks of Alderaan. He commented on Leia’s arrival with a decided lack of enthusiasm, calling it “another meddling delegation from Alderaan.” Once her small fleet landed, he added extra security because as he said, Alderaanian ships have a knack of ending up in the hands of the Rebel Alliance.
The Empire’s not dumb. Their stormtroopers may be–in fact, the stormtroopers in this episode sounded way too much like battle droids for my taste, even if they did make me laugh. But somewhere higher up the ranks, people have to be tracking Alderaan’s involvement. It makes Vader’s capture of Leia and especially Governor Tarkin’s order to destroy Alderaan come into focus. They perceived the threat the planet presented; Leia’s betrayal was just an excuse to eliminate it.
Back to Rebels! It showed an interesting time in Leia’s life. She seemed like she wanted to help the Rebellion and certainly went of her way to do so, but the sense of conviction we saw in Episode IV wasn’t there yet. Still, she did a fantastic job changing her tone and presence to suit the situation. Julie Dolan was a spot-on match for a young Carrie Fisher, and I loved how she altered the inflection of her voice when talking to Lyste versus Kanan and Ezra.
Leia and her burgeoning leadership skills were prominent in the episode, obviously, but the story also spent time with Ezra. He only recently learned about the death of his parents and blames himself. He’s in a place where he’s wondering whether there’s any point to the Rebellion. It was necessary for him to hear others have the same thoughts and particularly good for him to share the connection with someone outside the Ghost family. When someone is close to you, it can be easy to assume they’re agreeing or spouting niceties for the sake of politeness. Leia has no reason to do that with him.
Kanan got to execute his most badass move of the series so far by jumping in to take down the Imperial Walker. My fist-pumping over the epic action was tempered somewhat at first by the fact that it seemed a touch on the easy side. In case anyone else had a similar reaction, remember, the AT-ATs were rather damaged by Hera and Zeb at that point.
Overall, I appreciated the inclusion of Leia and what this episode did to illustrate Rebel Alliance operations more fully. We got a look at the Imperial side as well, and while they seemed on top of their game at first, they quickly fell into a bumbling mess. I’m not impressed with their training academies.
- “From what I hear, your ships have an unfortunate problem of falling into rebel hands.” – Lieutenant Lyste
- “They’re taking prisoners? They do that now?” – stormtrooper
- “I feel like because I can fight, I have to for those who cannot.” – Leia Organa
What did you think about Leia’s appearance on Star Wars Rebels? Do you hope to see her in future installments? Head to the comments and let me know or come talk to me on Twitter.