"Star Wars: Rebels" 1.15 – Fire Across the Galaxy (9.5 out of 10) – Directed by Dave Filoni; Written by Simon Kinberg; Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, David Oyelowo; Special Guests: Jason Issacs, Stephen Stanton as Grand Moff Tarkin and a surprise guest; Rated TV-Y7, Aired on Disney XD 3/2/15.
This review contains spoilers.
Watching episodes of "Star Wars: Rebels" like this, I get to feeling that "Star Wars" isn't made for everyone. It's made just for me. It pulls on the strings of my heart and plays music with my emotions, creating beats of distilled mythology that resonate with me on a very primal level.
The finale of season one is a culmination of an arc of episodes where Kanan has sacrificed his capture to keep the rest of the Ghost crew safe. Since this is "Star Wars," no one can ever take the advice of a superior when they say, "No, you can't save your cherished loved one or friend or you'll jeopardize everything." Ignoring Fulcrums advice and led by Hera, the crew goes on a mission to destroy Tarkin's Star Destroyer in the process of rescuing him.
When I sat down to think about all of the payoffs I wanted for this episode, I was wary going in. I thought I wanted more from this episode than I could have reasonably expected in a 22 minute episode. As the first third of the episode unfolded, centered around the theft of ships the Ghost crew might need to use in their infiltration, I told myself that there was no way they could wrap up the unresolved issues left from the past two episodes and give us the satisfying conclusion I was hoping for. My mind began to wander around to what cliffhanger we might be in store for.
But my worries were unfounded.
The next third of the episode, with the Ghost crew breaking into Tarkin's Star Destroyer, played right out of "A New Hope," recasting Kanan in the Princess Leia role. In the meantime, the Inquisitor spends his time furthering Kanan's torture and goading him into reliving his memories from Order 66.
With Hera, Zeb, Sabine, and Ezra running through corridors and dodging Stormtroopers, they really do hearken back to all the stuff we loved about rescuing the Princess from the Death Star.
But once Ezra reaches Kanan, the tone shifts directly to "The Phantom Menace." There are moments in Kevin Kiner's score that evoke hints of a chorus that remind one of Duel of the Fates, and the scene set on an engine core deep inside the Star Destroyer with long hallways without rails. Between the dual lightsabers wielded by the Inquisitor, and Ezra teaming up with Kanan for the duel, we're treated to a fight that is visually and viscerally reminiscent to the Qui-gon/Obi-wan/Darth Maul fight on Naboo. In fact, many of the shots (especially looking down at the fallen combatant clinging to the edge of the platform) seemed pulled directly out of "Episode I." Ezra is even knocked off the platform and taken out of the fight, much like Obi-wan is.
But the moment that didn't work for me initially but is brilliant upon further reflection?
The Inquisitors suicide.
I've been thinking a lot about the moment in "The Empire Strikes Back" where Luke decides to cast himself off the gantry, effectively attempting suicide rather than join Vader, the man he's discovered might be his father. And here, we have the inverse of that decision. The Inquisitor is so scared of Vader in his failure to kill Kanan and Ezra, that he would rather kill himself than face Vader's wrath. That's how scary Vader is. That's how much he doesn't want to be on his bad side. He takes the same action Luke does, but instead of being saved by location, he's cast into a fiery end.
After that, our heroes escape in what might be one of the most thrilling space battles we've seen since "The Clone Wars" and realize that someone else is piloting the Ghost.
And then we get to see who Fulcrum is.
And for me, the rest of the episode has been pretty cool, yes, but this put it over the top for me. And the suspense built by the creative team, holding off until the last possible second to show us? It was a wonderful flourish of filmmaking. When Ahsoka Tano climbed down from the cockpit and introduced herself to the crew of the Ghost, I thought I might cry.
I did, actually. I did cry. A little bit.
She survived. She's here, 14 years later. She has 14 years of adventures and I want to know about every single one of them.
But this scene of joy is juxtaposed with a scene of terror. Agent Kallus receives an evacuated shuttle with Tarkin aboard. How will they proceed, Kallus wonders. But Tarkin has an answer.
A Dark Lord of the Sith.
Vader is back.
And that brings me back to the Inquisitor's sacrifice. How in the world could the team behind "Star Wars: Rebels" make Luke's intended sacrifice in "Empire" more meaningful? By echoing the scene one more time. But instead of Vader and Luke, or Kanan and the Inquisitor, the combatants are Ahsoka and Vader.
I said this on the most recent episode of Full of Sith, but I think it bears repeating: imagine that Ahsoka confronts Vader. He still loves her in his way, there is still good in him. Instead of killing her, he offers her the same deal he offers Luke. To join him. And, as ever, no one will accept that deal. Ashoka instead decides to sacrifice herself.
This is the worthy end to Ahsoka's arc that would be heartbreaking and beautiful. And think of the meaning it would add to "The Empire Strikes Back."
Here is Vader, reaching out to his only possible connection to his past life, something he never would have thought possible again, and everyone he could have ever loved or cherished decides that they would rather kill themselves than be near him. Vader IS a tragic character. The most tragic. And you can see the sadness right through his helmet after Luke's choice in "Empire."
If it was the same thing that happened to Ahsoka, think about what would be going through his mind.
I love it.
This is what I love most about "Star Wars." This might not end up being what happens, but that we've opened up this possibility and can think about it and wonder is brilliant. This is "Star Wars" at its best.
For all the possibilities it raised and for all the discussion the events contained in this episode evoked, I'm giving this a 9.5. Easy.
- 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
- Path of the Jedi: 9.5 out of 10
- Idiot's Array: 9.5 out of 10
- Vision of Hope: 7.5 out of 10
- Call to Action: 9 out of 10
- Rebel Resolve: 9 out of 10
- Fire Across the Galaxy: 9.5
Season average: 8.63 out of 10