"Star Wars: Rebels" 2.13– The Call (8 out of 10) – Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Directed by Mel Zwyer; Written by Bill Wolkoff; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, David Oyelowo, Dee Bradley Baker; Rated TV-Y7, Aired on Disney XD 2/10/16.
This review will contain spoilers.
"The Call" is an episode of "Star Wars Rebels" that's an exploration of the desperate nature of the Rebellion, but also Ezra's increasing connection to the living Force. Close to stranded without fuel (in a sequence that hearkens back to the "Firefly" episode "Out of Gas"), the crew of the Ghost is working to find an Imperial fuel refinery so that they can refuel themselves and all of Phoenix Squadron.
The episode highlights the prejudice of experience with the older crew (in this case Hera) with the more tapped-in feelings of the current generation (in this case, Ezra), which I found to be a fascinating dynamic. The entire mission ends up in a rousing success, but only because the previous generation was able to listen to the current and come up with a middle ground they could all be happy with.
Since the episode deals with the preservation of animal life over the concerns of fuel reserves, there's no doubt this episode is political in nature and can be viewed as a microcosm for politics of the day. You have a status quo where the lawmakers and "adults" in the situation are profiting from the exploitation of resources at the cost of the natural world, and the younger generations are saying, "Stop it!"
Sadly, in our world, the adults aren't listening, but in this episode, the kids are right and there's a way for everyone to get everything they want.
"Star Wars" at its heart has always been political, from George Lucas's allegories to the Vietnam War and the second Bush administration to Kathleen Kennedy's increasing diversity in storytelling with the most recent films, and that's why I'm excited to see hints of this in "Star Wars Rebels." Pro-environmentalism messages in kids entertainment are nothing new, but seeing how gracefully they're handled by the crew of this show is decidedly heartening.
The cast as a whole is doing some of their best work, and this episode gives every single regular member of the crew a chance to shine. But I specifically love the pain in Vanessa Marshall's voice when Hera is telling stories about the Purrgills, the space-whale-like creatures who are the object of Ezra's concern. She's lost friends to these monsters and hearing Ezra's concern for them is baffling to her. It's a showdown of differing experiences and creates an incredibly interesting dynamic between the two.
The action in the episode is restrained, but still fun, but the imagery is what packs a punch. The fields of unrefined fuel, green gasses and clouds, set against the asteroidal backdrops and vistas of space are breathtaking. The show is finally starting to come into its own with every episode as far as the visuals and this episode is no different. I can't wait to see the leap in quality this show will take between seasons.
One complaint you'll hear unfairly leveled against this episode is that it is merely filler, but that couldn't be further from the truth. They're showing us everything they need to in the changing dynamics of the characters as the season has worn on. The characters that opened up on "The Siege of Lothal" aren't the same characters we have now. They're changing incrementally with every episode. This is the slow-burn storytelling I love so much on "Game of Thrones." They're putting the pieces together so that the season finale will have the maximum impact. Trust me. When you watch the last few episodes of the season, ask yourself if the characters as they were at the season opener would act the same. If the answer is no, then these episodes will have done their job admirably.
For the gorgeous backgrounds, top-notch voice work, and admirable take on politics of the day, I'm giving this episode a completely respectable 8 out of 10.
Season 2 Scorecard:
- The Siege of Lothal (10 out of 10)
- The Lost Commanders (7.5 out of 10)
- Relics of the Old Republic (8 out of 10)
- Always Two There Are (8 out of 10)
- Brothers of the Broken Horn (8 out of 10)
- Wings of the Master (8.5 out of 10)
- Blood Sisters (7 out of 10)
- Stealth Strike (8.5 out of 10)
- Future of the Force (8.5 out of 10)
- Legacy (8.5 out of 10)
- A Princess on Lothal (8 out of 10)
- The Protector of Concord Dawn (8 out of 10)
- Legends of the Lasat (8 out of 10)
- The Call (8 out of 10)
Season Average 8.17 out of 10