In “Out of Darkness,” Sabine has doubts over how much Hera and Kanan trust her, and so when Hera has a mission to pick up supplies from their contact, Fulcrum, Sabine insists she go along to meet the mysterious person who Hera and Kanan have been keeping from the group. The supply run is to an old Clone Wars base in an asteroid field, and when Hera and Sabine arrive, they find that Fulcrum is gone and some of the supplies have been dragged off. Turns out that the asteroid is home to creatures that can’t come into sunlight, and with a giant asteroid about to block out the sun and Hera and Sabine stuck on the base due to the Phantom having a damaged fuel line, they must fight for their survival until Kanan and the Ghost arrive to pick them up.
If that description sounds like Star Wars Rebels was doing their own riff on Pitch Black, well, that’s how I felt while watching it. I wasn’t entirely thrilled on the “aliens that only come out in darkness,” plotline, as it felt derivative. Luckily, the focus on Hera and Sabine made up for that shortcoming.
In a lot of ways, this is their “Fighter Flight” episode and a chance to explore these characters who have sat on the sideline for most of the series thus far. It was interesting learning a bit more about Sabine’s character, and I’ll admit, I was surprised to learn that she attended an Imperial academy. I also liked seeing more of the nurturing side of Hera. She’s often been described as the “mom” of the group in interviews and convention panels, and one really gets to see that side of her come out here.
The action in this episode wasn’t quite as exciting as in previous episodes. I’ve struggled with why that is, and I think that it may be that the creatures are an impersonal threat, unlike the Inquisitor or Kallus, and so I never really felt like Hera and Sabine were in danger. Of course they’d make it through the episode. Of course the Ghost would arrive in time. Since I had no doubt about their fate this early in the game, there wasn’t much suspense as they were attacked by wave after wave of creature.
The one thing I actively disliked in the episode was Ezra riding around on Chopper’s head and hitting him. Early on, Chopper’s being a jerk, Ezra gets angry, and he jumps on top of the droid and starts wailing on him as Chopper wheels around. It actually happens twice, and both times struck me as so overly slap-sticky that it took me completely out of what has otherwise been a fairly grounded cartoon (for a kid’s show set in space). I keep trying to imagine a slightly younger Luke Skywalker doing the same thing to Artoo-Detoo, and I can’t picture it at all without it looking ridiculous. Had it been an alien creature doing that to Chopper, I could have bought it. But not a fourteen-year-old human. I cringed both times that it happened and easily consider them the worst moments in the series so far.
Apart from that, the episode mostly worked for me. It didn’t hit the high points of the last couple of episodes, but it wasn’t quite at the level of “Droids in Distress” either. I’d consider it mediocre based on the standards of Star Wars Rebels, but I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing. With a good premiere, two good episodes, and now three mediocre episodes under its belt, I’m losing a bit of faith in this series. Yeah, it can turn around (look at Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD which is having a much better second season after a floundering first), but man, I was hoping Rebels would come out of the gate firing on all cylinders. So far, that hasn’t been the case, but I’ll keep watching as I’m rooting for it to all come together.