‘Star Wars Rebels’ – Season 4 Episodes 7 & 8: “Kindred” and “Crawler Commanders” Review

Star Wars Rebels picks up right were the last episode left of this time. It seems to be really going for a serialized season, which works in it’s favor, especially given that it’s the final stretch that will have to wrap everything up. Even if some of the missions themselves are more self-contained, every week we seem to be getting content tying into the greater narrative, which is how it should be this late in the game.

Governor Pryce tries to find the rebels and get back the Defender’s data recorder and hyperdrive with the help of Agent Thrawn’s special agent Rukh. Rukh is some kind of specialized hunter and mercenary, who’s quite animalistic in nature, sniffing the air like a a detection dog or something. I’m sure he’s part of the extended universe and of the Thrawn lore, but I don’t want to research him to avoid potential spoilers. Feel free to tell me what he’s about if you know.
It doesn’t take long for him to find our rebels, partly because he’s efficient… and partly because the rebels are just hanging out in front of the Imperial base! I know it’s a nit-pick, but it annoys me how characters who are supposed to be hidden are just so clearly in eyesight of the enemies. Here, you could just see them digging up the hyperspace engine from Pryce’s position, come on! Anyways, they narrowly escape Thrawn’s agent, who proves himself to be a very capable henchman: unlike the Stormtroopers, he easily keeps up with them right up until Ezra uses the force.

We then get yet another tease of a Kanan and Hera kiss, who seem to be doomed to be interrupted every time… until it actually happens! I’m a cold cynic who usually doesn’t ship characters or care much about on-screen relationships, but damn if that wasn’t a satisfying moment that made me cheer! Like I said in my previous review, their relationship has always felt very mature and natural and has been a high point of the series, so finally seeing them kiss on screen was truly rewarding. It did leave me a little surprised though, as it heavily implies that this is their first kiss ever. I’ve always assumed that it was just never shown on screen, but why not? Like they themselves said, they don’t really have a lot of time to themselves in the middle of their adventures and the rebellion, so I can buy into it. Either way, with or without previously existing physical intimacy, these two clearly have been sharing a special bond from the beginning, so it doesn’t undermine what I thought of them in any way.
Plus, that little grin that Kanan gets as Hera leaves him saying “May the force be with you” is priceless.

…And then during the second half the episode goes full-out with the mystical elements, and it’s glorious. “This is good. When it gets strange like this it’s a good thing.” Thank you Zeb! Exactly. This has to be Filoni talking directly to the audience there, as many fans seem to be against the more fantastical elements of his shows. Personally I always loved them, and I fond it surprising that they have created so many negative responses… Star Wars always had a fantastic undertone to it: from Tolkien to the Arthurian myth to Asian mysticism, it was clearly influenced by a wide array of fantasy.
The Loth-wolves were fascinating from the get-go, with a beautiful design and a mysterious aura to them, but here they are truly established as other-worldly force-beings. In one of the best scenes of the show for me, they save our heroes by guiding them and teleporting them from one half of the planet to the other. The music and visuals are just amazingly on point; the moment when the Wolf’s paws create ripples through space itself sent shivers of excitement and wonderment down my spine. All that clearly establishes how exceptional this is, even in a universe full of space wizards.
The impact of this is also enhanced by the fact that it’s linked to Lothal: the deep connection the characters and the show itself have to this planet make it all feel more important to the big picture. I guess all those earlier Lothal-heavy episodes that felt stagnating and frustrated me do pay of in the end… The wolves seem to have an intrinsic connection to that planet: for now, my guess would be that they are it’s spiritual manifestation, or something like that.

Hera’s escape from the planet plot was logically sidelined, but was satisfyingly resolved nonetheless. As expected for such a great pilot, she manages to elude the Imperial blockade easily and in style:  she goes to hyperspace while going through an enormous construction ship! This was fantastic visually, and sounded suitably intense. As always with Star Wars, the sound design is on point; you really should watch the show with good headphones on, or with a good sound system that’s not too shabby on the low notes. The episode ends with her triumphantly returning all the much-needed data to the rebel base, in yet another impact-full ending (more on that in the notes at the end).

The second episode was quite different, in that overall it was unimportant to the larger picture and mostly “filler”.  After our heroes escaped Imperial forces, they are still stuck on this planet, and the whole episode focuses around them trying to contact their allies to escape. Meanwhile, on Yavin 4, Hera tries to convince Rebel Command to intervene on Lothal to destroy the Tie Defender factory with the support of her “team on the ground”.

That’s not to say it was bad or anything, it was a fun enough romp that had some neat little elements and a certain action-thriller feel to it.
That resource extraction vehicle they infiltrate had a great design, and it ties into the overall theme of the Empire exploiting and destroying Lothal. On it, they try to get in contact with Hera all while trying to stay out of Imperial sight, dealing with the ship’s owner and his fore-master, and saving the slaves on board…. which, to the surprise of everybody, include Vizago who has been captured after helping out our crew the last time. He was really fun this episode, his character felt well balanced and natural, unlike in his earlier appearances.

When I mention the action thriller feel of it, I’m thinking of the cool fight between Zeb and the fore-master for example. That guy turned out to be a surprisingly resilient foe, and that fight felt quite raw and intense, with much more use of fists than is usual in this show. Ezra’s final confrontation with the lizard captain also had a certain dark and more visceral feel to it.
I have to point out that Ezra’s reaction to him dying was just a smile and a quip… is that supposed to show some still present dark side tendencies or something…? I mean, he was a horrible slave-owning lizard after all, but it’s still another being dying, Ezra’s utterly nonchalant reaction does feel a little suspicious. Maybe I’m just overthinking it…

Meanwhile, Hera manages to convince Mon Mothra and the rebellion to intervene with a rousing speech. It was a little cliche, but character-wise it feels earned, as Hera continues to demonstrate how she is an important part of the rebellion.

In conclusion, it was yet another great pair of episodes, though the first one clearly overshadowed the second one, which was more of a typical mission and a set-up for the upcoming Rebel-Empire confrontation on Lothal.

Grade: A-

 

Random thoughts, notes and quotes:
  • When I feel like the two episodes are quite different in terms of quality and/or content, I will clarify and give them different grades in this section. Case in point, here I would say that the first episode is an A and the second a B.
  • Governor Pryce is a great mid-tier foe: she is a competent threat and her presence carries some weight, but when the rebels yet again escape her we can accept that without cringing.
  • You and your Loth-cats
  • How have you people stayed alive so long?
  • Is that what I sound like?
  • If Vizago can fool Empire, Jedi can climb into shaft.
  • Zeb was yet again really enjoyable: “We will fight with the big purple beast!”  (hahahahaha)

 

  • Like I’ve already said multiple times, the music of this show is just fantastic. It elevates every scene that needs to be elevated. Particularly, like I already touched on last time, all intros and conclusions… Every time the Rebels logo appears at the beginning and end of each episode, the musical cue is perfectly on-point.

 

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