Season 1 of Star Wars Rebels wrapped up with “Fire Across the Galaxy,” and it would be hard to imagine an episode with more figurative or literal bombs. Darth Vader returned, familiar faces showed up, someone died, and oh yeah, the identity of Fulcrum was revealed. The finale delivered emotion (so much of this), excitement, humor, action, and some stunning visuals. Let’s dive in–note that I’m saving Fulcrum for last otherwise this would turn into a story about how I cried all the joyful tears forever when I learned who Fulcrum was.
The previous episode, “Rebel Resolve,” left off with the rebels learning Kanan was being taken to Mustafar, a.k.a. the place where Jedi go to die. We didn’t get any follow-up on why the planet has that nickname and actually didn’t get to the surface. Instead, we stayed on Tarkin’s Star Destroyer. The teamwork of the rebels has been getting stronger all season and all of it led to this. As they planned how to rescue Kanan, it was like they were inside each others heads.
Each move was smooth and we’ve seen enough of the rebels’ skills and enough of the incompetence of Lothal’s garrison of stormtroopers that seeing the rebels swipe a transport ship was believable to me. The stormtroopers should be more alert, but they’re not exactly stationed on a bustling planet. These are not the fiercest of the Empire’s warriors, and Sabine emphasized it with her taunts. The constant sass Tiya Sircar infuses into Sabine’s voice is delightful. Even though Sabine is better than the stormtroopers—let’s assume she’s better than them at everything—I’m still surprised their aim was as poor as it was. It felt like a tiny bit of a stretch.
I mentioned Sabine’s taunts already, but plenty of light humor and banter were injected throughout the episode. It hearkens back to any time the gang was in trouble in the original trilogy–in the asteroid field, in Jabba’s Palace—and it served as evidence of how much this group has grown together over the season. None of the jokes detracted from the severity of the situation or felt out of place. The stormtrooper’s remarks about the paint job on Sabine’s TIE fighter came close, but I didn’t mind. And speaking of the TIE fighter, the scene where Ezra, Zeb, and Sabine were forced to admit they still had it? Perfection. Zeb’s expression and hand gestures killed me. Plus, it was nice to see that plot point come back into play so soon.
While Hera, Zeb, Sabine, Ezra, and Chopper traveled to Mustafar, The Inquisitor continued to torture Kanan. He assumes Kanan knows more than he actually does about rebel activity. It’s not enough that he tortures Kanan physically; he tries to break him psychologically too. My heart broke on Kanan’s behalf when The Inquisitor needles him about surviving Order 66. It was apparent that The Inquisitor took delight in making Kanan relive that memory, and Jason Isaacs’ and Freddie Prinze, Jr.’s performances elevated the the scene to a gripping, captivating level. And hey, mentioning Kanan’s Master and his evasion of Order 66 ties nicely into the Kanan comic book that’s coming out next month. Synergy!
I had a couple of initial reactions to the rescue of Kanan. First of all, both Ezra and Kanan should have been surprised that there weren’t guards outside the door of the room Kanan was in. That portion of the rescue was too easy. Secondly, how was Kanan physically capable of bouncing back so quickly? He’s tough, he has the Force, and he has adrenaline, but I get the impression The Inquisitor really roughed him up.
Those concerns flew out of my mind when the duel began. Every frakking part of it was gorgeous. The background, the weight of the atmosphere, the lightsabers, the choreography–all of it. The work here rivaled what we’ve see in the films, and I have nothing but applause for animation supervisor Keith Kellogg, lighting/FX supervisor Joel Aron, and their teams. And while we’re at it, compliments to this episode’s director and writer, Dave Filoni and Simon Kinberg, respectively.
Star Wars Rebels is generally connected to the original trilogy, but visual connections to the prequel trilogy were on display here. The location of the duel was similar to the power generator on Naboo where Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi fought Darth Maul. The Inquisitor even has a double-bladed red lightsaber like Maul. The callback to the duel was strengthened when Ezra entered the fight. When you think about that duel in The Phantom Menace, you think about losing Qui-Gon which in turn made me wonder for a second if Kanan was going to die. But no, this time it was The Inquisitor who ended up falling.
I suspected it would be him, but I thought we’d see Ezra or Kanan be forced to kill him. What happened was stronger since Kanan had the chance to execute him but decided not to. I’m okay with losing The Inquisitor. It has more of an impact than, say, losing Agent Kallus, and he hasn’t been the most competent at his job. If Darth Vader is coming into the picture, The Inquisitor doesn’t quite compare. He was a fine villain and played an important part in the development of Kanan and Ezra, but I’m okay with not seeing more of him. I am so relieved they blew the ship up because I’d say the explosion definitively removes the chance of resurrecting The Inquisitor. Probably.
His last words to Kanan were intriguing . He told Kanan that he didn’t know what he’d unleashed and that some things are far more frightening than death. Does The Inquisitor think Kanan brushed the dark side? Is he referring to Darth Vader being far more frightening than death? I believe Vader is so scary that the Inquisitor chose to die rather than be punished for his failure.
Ezra held his own for longer than I thought he would in the fight. The little moments of surprise in The Inquisitor’s eyes when he saw how Ezra’s lightsaber worked and when Ezra used the Force to take Kanan’s lightsaber were subtle but definitely present. He ended up brushing off Ezra easily, but I like seeing that Ezra did catch him off guard for a second.
Sabine was the most valuable part of the team when it came to getting them off Tarkin’s exploding ship. At least, she was until they got to the TIE fighter and Hera had to fly. They all had key roles in the finale, but I hope we get to see more of the rest of the team taking the spotlight. And because I’m a sap, I hope we get to see more of Kanan and Hera’s relationship. I think their reunion tonight confirms they’re a couple, and it makes me smile. I know it’s not the most important thing at all given the times and current situation, but hey, everyone deserves a chance to be happy.
Chopper stepped up by realizing he had to call for assistance, and the arrival of the cavalry did so much. It revealed/confirmed the existence of other Rebel cells not only to our rebels but to the Empire. The fact that they showed their hand is huge. Now the Empire knows the threat they fear the most is happening: The rebels are organized and working together. If they have enough power to bring a few ships together, what else could the Rebels have in store?
Learning about the existence of a bigger fight will have a big effect on the crew of the Ghost and other cells, too. They know they’re not pushing forward in a vacuum and that what they’re doing is part of a larger effort that has potential to make a difference. We knew Star Wars Rebels would be about the beginnings of the Rebel Alliance, but you guys, we’re literally watching the ALLIANCE COME TOGETHER. My mind is reeling.
And now for the biggest moment of the episode—well, biggest moment if you’re a fan of Star Wars: The Clone Wars—Fulcrum is Ahsoka! This was a popular fan theory, and even though I was expecting and hoping Fulcrum would be Ahsoka Tano, nothing prepared me for seeing Snips all grown up and part of the Rebel Alliance. I’m tearing up just thinking about it. I don’t want to spoil the end of The Clone Wars for those of you who haven’t seen it but considering the last time we saw her and where she is now? It’s. So. Right.
Setting aside the sheer joy of seeing Ahsoka again (and hearing Ashley Eckstein again!), it makes sense that she would have this place in the Alliance and her reason for coming forward was so smart. She’s set aside protocol and revealed her identity because of Kanan and Ezra. Because what the two Jedi and the rest of the crew of the Ghost did has had an effect. Their message has spread and they have given people hope. Ahsoka (and presumably Bail Organa and other rebels) didn’t want that hope to die. She’s shown herself because she wants to fan the flames of rebellion. As she says, “This is a new day. A new beginning.”
Damn right it is.
Ahsoka and Bail Organa weren’t the only familiar faces. Darth Vader made his return to the series, and it looks like he’s going to be hanging out on Lothal in order to straighten out the rebel mess. I feel like an Ahsoka and Vader confrontation is an inevitable and the thought of it both excites and terrifies me.
Overall, the Season 1 finale of Star Wars Rebels hit every emotional and thematic note it needed to and then some. And how about the imagery in this episode? Much of it was striking, but the scene that will stay with me the most was a fleeting one. When Sabine blew up the TIE fighters on Lothal, the smoke rose into the shape of the Phoenix symbol that’s the first iteration of the Rebel Alliance starbird. That reached right into my heart and set up the ending wonderfully. A symbol of hope rising from the ashes.
What did you think of “Fire Across the Galaxy?” Specifically, are you as thrilled as I am to see Ahsoka Tano again? Share your thoughts in the comments or come chat with me on Twitter.