Star Wars Rebels Fighter Flight is available on the Watch Disney XD app. I have it on my Roku 3 and I use it to watch the episodes a week in advance of the air date on cable. The gist of the episode is that Zeb and Ezra are at one another’s throats, chasing each other around the ship, annoying Hera who kicks them off the star ship Ghost. Hera gives them a ledger with things they are supposed to buy including an impossible to find fruit not native to Lothal, the planet they’re on.
The premise of the episode is a bit goofy. It kind of reminds me of an 1980’s sitcom. The good news is that the characters are well written and easily rise above the simplicity of the plot. The character interactions make the show and that is more than apparent after having seen the opening film and three episodes. Zeb and Chopper work so well on screen that we get to experience them through the eyes of Ezra. The banter between the two is solid and the repeated punching each other in the arms is something a lot of us understand and can relate to. Solid banter and well placed bickering makes the adventure the two “brothers” of the series go on all the more palatable.
Upfront I have to voice my complaint about the digital extras on this show. This is Star Wars. It has lush worlds and environments populated by insane characters and creatures. When Disney bought Star Wars they boasted about how they purchased ‘17,000 characters’ yet it appears they refuse the ability to utilize very many of them here. Did the person that gave the crew of Star Wars Rebels their budget ever see the cantina sequence in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope? Because it defined the film and propelled Star Wars into a film classic. But you know what? The ramp up to that sequence mattered too. There were aliens on the street. The problem with Star Wars Rebels’ is that the same woman, Walrus Man (Aquilish race named Amda Wabo in the series), and like two other aliens are used for everything. “Human Fem Citizen AvA” is seen in the opening of Spark of Rebellion and then turned into a main character with minor changes aboard the Star Tours styled shuttle in Droids in Distress. Star Wars fans recognize these things. It pulls me out of it. I’m not following the story briefly while I ponder if that’s the same character or not. Star Wars Rebels is really great and it sucks to see it robbed of the richness it should have because they obviously aren’t being given the budget they need to populate the streets or make new featured characters.
Thankfully when Ezra is walking through the streets populated with the same people we’ve seen in every sequence in the show ever so far, we meet an old farmer and he has a new design. It was neat to see a little something of Ezra past in that this man knew his parents. As the episode progresses we see the Empire destroy this man’s farm because he refused to sell it to the government. I liked how we got a little of Ezra’s history from this character and also saw how the Empire was taking everything from the people of Lothal at the same time.
I loved seeing the Kenner Imperial Troop Transport/Imperial Cruiser brought to life in this series. As a kid, I always loved the toy but it felt illegitimate. It wasn’t in the “real” Star Wars. Having the toy legitimized is just awesome. I know that’s dorky, but it is. I would have liked to have seen the “prisoner immobilization hoods” added into the show. Okay, that’s too far, I know, but you could put those onto your figures and turn them evil! I liked seeing how much action was used for that cruiser. I also enjoyed the Indiana Jones homage of putting something in the turret so when it shot it exploded killing the gunner.
Zeb steals a TIE Fighter and has to learn how to fly it. I really liked this sequence. I still think to this day the episode from The Clone Wars where the clones steal Umbaran fighters and have to fly the alien technology is one of the best moments of that series. Star Wars Rebels didn’t hit that mark here, but it was fun and watching Zeb pilot the ship with his feet while grabbing Ezra from below was funny and fun.
The end of the episode continued the sitcom vibe with the characters learning they like one another and all that. That’s fine because the characters rock. If they didn’t, it would have been cringe worthy. Sabine paints a mural of cute versions of Ezra and Zeb fighting in their quarters. It was a good capstone moment to the show and actually made me laugh. I was still left wondering what happened to the farmers? They had their farm blown up and they jumped off the transport never to be seen again? Will they join the resistance? If they follow up in some way, that’s interesting but if they never do it plays a little strange.
Kevin Kiner pulls from the classic Star Wars music here, evoking John Williams at every turn. There are moments I really dig it and moments I’m not so sure. Towards the end of the episode they played the music cue from The Phantom Menace where Anakin finally gets his podracer powered up and he says “its working!” and it was hard not to make that association. I was never a fan of iconic dialog being reused in The Clone Wars and I kind of feel like that happened here with music. That said, that’s a nitpick and I love the work Kiner is doing on the show and I think the lack of music at moments makes the moments with music more impactful.
Last week I said that Droids in Distress was the weakest episode so far. Now I feel like that goes to Fighter Flight. That episode tied into bigger things and served some importance while featuring four classic characters (Artoo, Threepio, RX, and Bail Organa). Thankfully next week’s episode Rise of the Old Masters is one of the best animated Star Wars shows I’ve ever seen. It was just solid from start to finish. I know I seem hard on Fighter Flight but I did enjoy it. I just feel it is the weakest of the bunch so far and the first episode I didn’t want to watch again immediately the next day.