Star Wars Rebels Communique: Heroes of Mandalore

A review of Season Four, Episodes 1 & 2

Spoilers for Star Wars Rebels lay ahead…

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I am not exactly sure how shows like Star Wars Rebels get written, created, and produced. Yes, I’ve seen the “Star Wars Show” and “Rebels Recon,” but I’m not there, you know?

For example, when we tune in for the final season-opening duo of episodes, should we—as an engaged audience—fully expect an impactful, seminal work that sets the tone for the remainder of the series? Are the folks creating these mini-movies planning (trying) to wow us with an initial two-episode bridge? Or was “Heroes of Mandalore” (parts 1 & 2) just two pieces of a binge-worthy greater whole? And, for that matter, is any of the above possible on a channel where the attention span of the audience will not last longer than 25 minutes?

Who knows… And, at this point, I am not sure I care.

After waiting all summer (and early fall), I was happy to have new Star Wars on my screen, and I enjoyed the overall arc of the shows. However, there remains a rushed feeling—and a clumsiness— to Rebels which colored my appreciation for Sabine’s recent quest to find her father and continues to nag at my appreciation for the series overall.

The whole thing, even as a guilty pleasure, is frustrating. Nonetheless, the fault for my quasi-disappointment in some aspects of the first two shows of the season remains my own fault. No amount of animated kids’ fare could quench my current need for full-fledged Star Wars escape, particularly with Episode VIII still almost two months away.

Furthermore, taken as a whole, there remains hope that the overall impact and scope of the series will become more apparent when fans look back at the whole project after the finale.

So what’s the bottom line?

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“Heroes of Mandalore” was above average; a “B+” if you will.

Look for a good synopsis in the “Rebels Recon” video posted at the end of the piece, but the return to Mandalore was inevitable and necessary. As was the final revelation of “the Duchess,” Sabine’s ill-begotten and oft-mentioned Imperial Academy science project, a machine specifically designed to cook Mandalorian warriors alive in their ancient armor (all on DisneyXD). How lovely!

None of that was particularly impressive but filled in blanks adequately in light of the main thrust of the arc–the return of Bo-Katan Kryze. That, my friends, was the real point of the episodes (and, I suppose, the search for Daddy Wren), which itself put a satisfying coda to the Kryze story, and perhaps portended tales to come.

That said, as the show races to a close, it’s clear that Dave Filoni and crew are doing their best to fill in as many blanks left bare by the untimely demise of Star Wars: Clone Wars and the subsequent, and predictable, short run of Star Wars Rebels.

With all this Star Wars stuff in his head—and his oft-cited trauma surrounding the premature ending of CW—Filoni appears compelled to give a “Cliff’s Notes” version of a story which spans years and generations, all the while emptying out his brain of a timeline started back in 2008.

Unfortunately, this breathless rush to the finish of the current series leaves everyone who watches Rebels wanting more (of something, elusive), but perhaps that is better for Filoni.

After all, Brigitte Bardo once said, “I leave before being left. I decide.”

Wizard 👍

  • Mandos in full gear, battling the Empire. ‘Nuff said.
  • Allusions to Ezra’s lack of confidence in a future as a Jedi. And I don’t think those scenes that juxtapose Kanan (fighting blind, and without help) and Ezra (helmeted, using a blaster, jetpacking) were an accident.
  • Nor were low-key inferences about Ezra and Sabine. I don’t “ship” that often, but I do think it’d be neat to see that relationship flourish (and perhaps be a reason Ezra survives as a non-Rebel or Jedi), perhaps in opposition to the way another pair fails to survive? Hmmm?
  • Speaking of which, I “enjoyed” the strained relationship notes between Kanan and Hera.
  • Finally, Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze, and her ascension to leadership of the Mandalorians: very, very cool. I hope we see more of Star Wars Starbuck.

Poodoo 👎

  • This has been mentioned elsewhere in my Twitter circle, but the word “Mandalorian” was used incessantly. It now hurts my ears, eyes, and fingers. Remember in the game Star Wars: Bounty Hunter how often Komari Vosa said “Mandalorian” and how much it made you want to blast her to bits? Yeah, it was that bad.
  • Ezra. One joke about the jetpack. Eh. Two. Grumble. Any more. Please, please stop. And no matter how close you are to the Force, I don’t think you get to play unsquashed bug on a windshield of a TIE fighter.
  • Chopper is not allowed to pick up a blaster and hit someone with it. No.
  • Thrawn. I really LOVED the recent book. But the TV version falls short… thus far.
  • Last bit: why, if you can show folks being decimated by a human microwave, can’t lightsabers actually work, well, um, like lightsabers on the show? Just a pet peeve…

Looking forward to next Monday. ‘Til then, have a watch of “Rebels Recon.”

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John Bishop

A graduate of Boston and Northeastern universities, John Bishop became the beat reporter for BostonBruins.com prior to the B’s 2006-07 hockey season. While with the Bruins, “Bish” traveled North America and Europe to cover the Black & Gold’s every move via laptop, blog, and smart phone. The co-author of two books, Bygone Boston and Full 60 to History: The Inside Story of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, John covered the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010 and the B’s 2011 championship run and banner raising before taking a faculty/communications position at a prep school outside Boston in 2013. He lives with his wife Andrea and sons Jack, Scott, and Luke in central Massachusetts.

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