Star Wars Rebels returned this week with the fifth and sixth episodes of its fourth and final season, titled “The Occupation” and “Flight of the Defender.”
As they’ve done each week to start the season so far, two new episodes premiered at the same time, and even though these two don’t share the same title they clearly go together. That’s one thing that I’ve been impressed with so far this season: it doesn’t feel nearly as disjointed as episodes in past seasons have, but rather feels like we’re zeroing in on one main storyline. Dave Filoni did say earlier that this season will be more serialized, and we’ve been noticing that already – which I think has made the episodes much stronger.
Since these two episodes are a bit more distinct from each other than “Heroes of Mandalore” and “In the Name of the Rebellion,” however, we’ll be reviewing each one of them individually. We’ll take a look at “The Occupation” below, and then head here for the review of “Flight of the Defender.” Full spoilers are ahead, so if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t read any further.
The Ghost is returning to Yavin 4 when Ezra has a vision of suffering on Lothal, reaffirming his commitment to returning to his home planet to help. Upon arriving at Massassi Temple, he’s summoned to meet with Mon Mothma, who informs the crew that there have been advancements and improvements to the TIE Defender program that the Rebel Alliance must know about. So Ezra volunteers to go on the mission to Lothal, at which point the rest of the Ghost crew makes it clear that he’s not going alone. The Imperials have completely blockaded the planet, though, meaning that even if they got there there would be no way to extract them. Ezra says that he’s thought about that, and then says that he’s decided he’s not leaving Lothal. He’s going to stay and help.
The Ghost crew goes undercover and is smuggled onto the planet by Vizago, leaving the Ghost in the hands of Rex and Kallus. As Vizago’s ship comes out of hyperspace, Ezra is stunned at what he sees of Lothal: it looks decimated, and it’s burning (it looks like the Empire Base Delta Zeroed the planet, though not completely). The Empire detects life forms on board and suspects the pilot is smuggling, leading to a boarding party once Vizago lands. The Ghost crew figures out a way to escape, however, by causing the puffer pigs (that Vizago accepted as payment for smuggling them onto the planet) to puff up and create a diversion. The crew splits up, with Ezra, Sabine, and Chopper trying to find out what was going on and with Hera, Kanan, and Zeb going to find a speeder. In short, it doesn’t go as planned, and the rebels (with the help of Jai Kell, whom Ezra had befriended at the Imperial Academy) wind up being chased into the sewer by Stormtroopers, probe droids, and a Deathtrooper. They again split up and Ezra at one point expresses grief that it’s too late to save Lothal. Both groups follow painted rebel logos that lead them together, where they confront the troopers. They realize that the access point out to the street is above them, so they proceed up the ladder while fighting off the troopers, where Ryder appears to rescue them.
For the first time in a while, the Ghost crew returns to Lothal, and it’s far from the luscious planet they remembered: the Empire has nearly decimated it, and they’ve really cracked down on its citizens, such as executing Old Jho. Lothal’s in terrible shape, and it’s stunning to see what’s happened to it. I think this episode really got at the heart of Ezra’s motivation: he’s a young Jedi growing in power and has gotten involved in the larger Rebel Alliance, but he ultimately just wants to help Lothal. They were preparing to do that at the end of season three before Thrawn swept in and dealt a crippling blow to Phoenix Squadron, putting those plans on hold. Now, Ezra’s getting frustrated that the Rebels aren’t helping Lothal, so he finally gets to return in this episode – only to find that things are worse than he could have imagined. It’s cool to see the entire crew undercover, and it leads to us getting a moment between Kanan and Hera, though they’re interrupted just as they’re about to kiss.
It was also cool to see them fight in the sewer, as they realize that there’s no need to stay undercover since they’ve already been found out and thus begin to fight the probe droids. Then as they join together again later on, it’s awesome to see the entire Ghost crew together and fighting back-to-back, something we don’t see too often in the show (and guess what: Hera’s actually a great shot with her blaster!).
Overall, this episode was pretty good and likely set up implications for the remainder of the season as it got the rebels back to Lothal, which is in bad shape. The visuals of the planet were great, and there was tension throughout the episode as the crew went undercover and then later tried to escape.