"Star Wars: Rebels" 1.9 – Gathering Forces (9.5 out of 10) – Directed by Steward Lee; Written by Greg Weisman; Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar; Special Guests: Dee Bradley Baker, Matthew Wood, Jason Issacs; Rated TV-Y7, Airs on Disney XD 11/24/14.
Picking up exactly where the last episode left off, "Gathering Forces" is the first continued episode we've had so far this season of "Rebels." TIE Fighters, led by the Inquisitor, are pursuing the crew of the Ghost. When the Inquisitor senses they might escape, he fires a homing beacon to the Ghost just before they hit hyperspace to meet Fulcrum in order to drop off Tseebo.
There are more than a few great things going on in this episode, and I think it's easily the best one written by Greg Weisman.
The first thing I enjoyed immensely was Tseebo. He plays like the perfect Non-Player Character from a roleplaying game with the crew of the Ghost representing the players. He offers just the right information to set the characters in motion and helps build dramatic irony in the information presented to the audience and when. I can see where others might have a problem with this style of storytelling, it can be utterly convenient to add a character to have just the right information pop out of his mouth at the right time but in an RPG and a cartoon that feels like an RPG, it's not only appropriate, it makes me smile.
The next great thing about this episode is the business with the Phantom. The Phantom is a mini-ship at the back of the Ghost and it happens to be the location of the tracking device the Inquisitor left on the ship. The second they drop out of hyperspace, the Empire will know where they are, so they decide on a risky maneuver: detach the Phantom from the Ghost in hyperspace. It's dangerous, but it's the only way to not lead the Inquisitor to Fulcrum. And since they can feel that the Inquisitor can feel the presence of Kanan and Ezra, they volunteer to make the risky moves in the Phantom. When the Phantom detaches from the Ghost and starts falling out of hyperspace, we're shown something I've always wondered about in the "Star Wars" universe. What would happen if you detached or undocked a ship from hyperspace mid-jump?
Well, this episode answers that question, giving us a visual feast of a light show. Dramatic and startling. It's one of the single coolest moments the show has given us so far.
The last, best thing about the episode involves the final showdown between Ezra, Kanan, and the Inquisitor. In order to defeat the Inquisitor, they fly the Phantom to the asteroid from the episode "Out of Darkness." Hoping that Ezra has learned the lesson from the beginning of the last episode about connecting to other beings, Kanan flies right into the abandoned hanger. The bond of the Force is strong between master and padawan and they manage to calm the fyrnocks enough to become their attack dogs when the Inquisitor and the stormtroopers arrive.
And that's all well and good, but the moment that elevates this situation and this episode above much of the rest of the series so far is when the Inquisitor has taken Kanan's lightsaber and is about to kill him. Echoing Anakin's defiance of Dooku in "Attack of the Clones" in defense of his own master, Ezra takes up arms against the Inquisitor who smacks him aside with a blast of the dark side of the Force. But Ezra doesn't take the threats to his master lightly and he has that moment you'd expect in a superhero movie, where the losing hero channels every bit of power they have and become something unworldly. Ezra manages to tap into the Force in a primal way, rousing up the biggest, meanest fyrnock to attack the Inquisitor.
Has he tapped into the dark side? Kanan might seem to think so, based on his reaction.
It's the sort of moment you hope for in a movie or a television show, the sort of moment that makes you tear up and cheer all at the same time. It's what I call a "F*#@ Yeah" moment. And that's exactly what this was.
And I hope we see more of the same from the show when it comes back.
As for the rest of the episode, the technical and creative crew earn top marks. Kevin Kiner is fully blossomed into the role of providing Star Wars music for the soundtrack, the lighting crew deserves some sort of medal for the effects on the Phantoms drop out of hyperspace, and the voice cast was stunning as ever. As for the cast, I get the impression that Jason Issacs is enjoying himself as the Inquisitor as much or more as his time as Lucius Malfoy. And the regular cast of the show, the crew of the Ghost, is all deserving of praise for the work in this episode.
"Gathering Forces" was a great way to cap off this part of the season and I'm dying for more.
- Short films: 8 out of 10
- Spark of Rebellion: 9 out of 10
- Droids in Distress: 7.5 out of 10
- Fighter Flight: 8 out of 10
- Rise of the Old Masters: 9 out of 10
- Breaking Ranks: 8.5 out of 10
- Out of Darkness: 6.5 out of 10
- Empire Day: 9.5 out of 10
- Gathering Forces: 9.5 out of 10
Season average: 8.38 out of 10
And don't forget to listen to the Full of Sith interview with Freddie Prinze, Jr.!