- This is an advance review for "Call to Action," tonight's episode if Star Wars Rebels. It was released last week on WatchDisneyXD.com and the WatchDisneyXD app. Spoilers follow.
"Call to Action," tonight's episode of Star Wars Rebels, is poised to be a game-changer for the show. Ever since the premiere, Spark of Rebellion, the rebels have generally been successful in their fight against the Empire, but these operations have been small-time ones. They've generally all centered around Lothal, with attacks against the Imperial presence there. But these attacks add up, and they have not gone unnoticed.
Enter Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin.
Tarkin—once again voiced by Stephen Stanton, reprising his role from Star Wars: The Clone Wars—arrives on Lothal and immediately takes charge of Imperial forces there, intent not only on destroying the rebels but also destroying what they represent. Tarkin knows that these rebels are beginning to represent something, particularly due Kanan being a Jedi. Tarkin, in a nod to the original film, believes that the Jedi are a dead relic of a bygone era, and he's determined to ensure that they stay that way. The rebels, meanwhile, want to replace the transmissions of Gall Trayvis—the former Imperial senator-turned-rebel sympathizer who was revealed to have been an Imperial agent all along in last week's episode, "Vision of Hope"—with resistance broadcasts of their own. They hijack the Imperial communications tower on Lothal and broadcast their message, but the cost is Kanan's capture, as Tarkin, Agent Kallus, and the Inquisitor were waiting for them.
Now that the recap is out of the way, allow me to gush: I LOVED this episode. It was the best of the series so far, and it was classic Star Wars all the way through. There's a lot I could say about this episode, but here are the highlights for me:
- The return of Stephen Stanton as Tarkin was appreciated. He's great in the role.
- I loved that Tarkin put all of the Imperials in their place for being incompetent. The weak Imperial forces, constantly undermined by only six people, has been an issue on the show, and this episode went a long to way to resolve it. I especially enjoyed when Tarkin insulted the Inquisitor, and the Inquisitor just had to stand there and take it. It was reminiscent of the relationship between Tarkin and Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, where we see a powerful villain forced to be subservient to Tarkin.
- Tarkin's speech about the fall of the Jedi Order was chilling. It fit well with his characterization from The Clone Wars, where he saw the Jedi as a pointless holdover from an old age. He believed it was dangerous to have Jedi leading the Republic, because he saw them as irrelevant, as ancient people who stuck around too long. Useful once, perhaps, but not anymore. He could care less that they died. And it serves as some neat propaganda too, considering the people of the galaxy probably never saw the Jedi that much, just heard about them. The galaxy can now see them as a dead religion relegated to the tales of folklore. I think that scene, which you can watch below, really helped show why the Imperials in Episode IV talk about the Jedi as an ancient religion, despite the Jedi having been around twenty years earlier.
- The execution of Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint was unexpected, and pretty brutal. So much for Disneyfication, haters! I especially liked the reactions of Agent Kallus and Minister Tua, as they stood stunned by what Tarkin had the Inquisitor do to their officers.
- I really like how the Jedi in this show are being portrayed as connected to nature, particularly through animals. We saw a bit of this in "Empire Day" and "Gathering Forces," and Ezra used it again effectively in this episode when he was able to get a Loth-cat to attack an Imperial probe.
- Kanan vs the Inquisitor was a good fight. Kanan is getting better, but the Inquisitor is still the superior duelist. I also thought Kanan's sacrifice, in allowing himself to be captured, was well done, despite the fact that it is likely short-lived.
If there was one thing I would change in this episode, and this was suggested by a friend of mine, it would be the theme at the beginning. When Tarkin arrived on Lothal, the "Imperial March" played, and it was very reminiscent of the arrival of both Darth Vader and Darth Sidious in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Instead of using the "Imperial March," I think they should have used the Imperial motif, or a variation of it, from Episode IV. That would have been fitting for Tarkin.
Now, here's my theory for the end of the season: I think that Lothal is going to get sacked by the Empire. I think we are meant to assume that there will be a happy, rebellious uprising because of Ezra's transmission at the end of the episode, but in reality the Empire will devastate Lothal. I think Tarkin hinted at that. He destroyed the comm tower and told Kanan that he (as in Tarkin) knows what it takes to win a war. He also later destroys Alderaan just to make a point. He would absolutely sack Lothal in order to quell a rebellion on that planet. We've seen a possible hint to that in "Rise of the Old Masters" as well, where Alton Kastle says that the Empire has performed "another successful planetary liberation utilizing the Base Delta Zero initiative." At first that seemed like a throwaway gag; now I think it's foreshadowing.
"Call to Action" airs tonight at 9pm on DisneyXD, but you can watch it now on WatchDisneyXD.com and the WatchDisneyXD app.