“Crawler Commanders,” the second part of this week’s double-feature of Star Wars Rebels followed up “Kindred” (my review here) and was another solid entry in the fourth and final season of the show, but in my estimation it was the weakest of the eight episodes so far.
Nonetheless, it kept up the continuity from previous episodes and leaves off with a perfect set-up for next week’s very interesting and anticipated mid-season finale.
Let’s jump into the review for this episode, and as always, full spoilers are ahead:
After Hera escaped off-planet in the previous episode to take the TIE Defender data back to Yavin 4, the Ghost crew left on Lothal needs to find a way to contact her. Unfortunately, however, the Empire has blocked all long-range communication, but the crew goes to check out something transmitting not far away. They discover that it’s an ore-crawler, destroying and burning Lothal’s surface as it mines for resources. The crawler has a long-range transmitter, however, so the crew infiltrates it. Sabine takes the lead, followed by Ezra, Zeb, and Kanan. They encounter Captain Seevor of the Mining Guild and take him captive, but the Mining Guild suspects something after the ship was shut down. Sabine works on getting the communication up while Ezra stands guard to make sure Seevor doesn’t try anything, while Kanan and Zeb go to check out the rest of the ship (knowing that the inter-vehicle com had been activated). Kanan encounters people, but he soon realizes that they’re slaves. One of the slaves? Vizago, who was enslaved by the Empire for helping smuggle the rebels onto the planet. Vizago tells Kanan that he knew the Jedi would come rescue him and that the foreman would be no match for the Jedi… but it’s at that point that the foreman, a Trandoshan slaver, appears. He uses his light-whip and Kanan initially counters it with his lightsaber, but the he’s overpowered and shocked unconscious. Before the slaver can do anything, however, Zeb arrives and fires his weapon, telling the slaver to get away from his friend. The Trandoshan uses his whip to jump to the deck that Zeb is on, and the two engage in a lengthy fist-fight. They wind up out on a walk-way, and they both wind up dangling on the edge. They’re still kicking each other and fighting while they’re hanging there, and Kanan sees it and tells Zeb to hold on because he’s coming to help. The slaver begins using his light-whip, however, and grabs onto one of Zeb’s arms (leaving him hanging by only one arm). Zeb uses this to his advantage and sends the slaver falling… but the slaver hangs onto the whip, that’s connected to Zeb (who’s hanging on to the railing). The slaver soon falls to his death, but just as Zeb is about to fall Kanan arrives and saves him. Having rescued the slaves and with the Empire arriving to check out the stopped crawler, Ezra comes up with a plan: Zeb impersonates the slaver, while Vizago impersonates the captain. This successfully convinces the Empire, who leave, but in the process Seevor escaped. He begins shutting down the ship from the inside, but Ezra crawls through the ventilation shaft to find him. Seevor and Ezra briefly fight, but in a moment of darkness for the show Seevor falls to his death as Ezra watches. But having successfully taken over the crawler, Vizago is appointed captain, and the crew finally hears from Hera.
Throughout the episode, Hera has been trying to convince Rebel command – Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, and Jan Dodonna – that they need to attack. Early in the episode she presents the info to them on the TIE Defender, and realizing that they can’t stop the ships in combat Hera says they have to destroy the factory. The council meets behind closed doors, but later Mon Mothma steps outside to tell Hera that the recent Protocol 13 is complicating things. Hera asks what that’s about, and Mothma explains that it’s the “immediate evacuation of all Imperial personnel from an occupied planet.” Hera storms into the council and gives an inspiring speech about how they need to attack, and then at the end of the episode we hear Hera tell the Ghost crew that the attack on Lothal has been approved by Rebel command and the fighters are being fueled for launch. She’s coming with fighters, and she asks the rest of the crew to lead the ground assault.
It wouldn’t be fair to characterize this episode as simply a “filler episode” (which Rebels has had its fair share of in the past), because the episode is very much tied into the larger story that’s being told this season. The episode is driven by the fact that the Ghost crew needs a way to contact Hera on Yavin 4, and after Hera finally persuades Rebel command to approve an attack, she informs the crew at the end that the attack is coming soon. So it certainly plays into the larger storyline, but it nonetheless felt like a mini-adventure within that larger storyline. Especially since there’s a lot of intrigue with the wolves and the impending attack on Lothal, this one certainly didn’t carry the same significance as the others have.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the episode was the fact that Kanan and Zeb got a chance to shine. So far this season there has been a ton of focus on Ezra and Sabine (and rightfully so), but while those two were still in this episode it seemed like the focus was more on Kanan and Zeb – and they got to do most of the fighting. Sabine had an action sequence as she infiltrated the ship, and then Ezra had a fight with Seevor at the end, but in the middle was the main conflict as Kanan and Zeb fought the Trandoshan slaver. It was great to see Zeb take on a key role, as he’s been the forgotten member of the Ghost crew recently. So it was cool to see him fight, and it was cool to see him defend Kanan too.
Hera’s attempt to get the Rebel command to launch the attack was well-done, as though there were only a few brief scenes it was cool to see her standing around the table with the likes of Mothma, Organa, and Dodonna. And Hera delivered a very good inspirational speech to convince them to action (reminiscent in some ways of Jyn Erso’s speech in Rogue One, leading to the question of just how many inspirational speeches the Rebel council needs to hear). It all sets up the massive confrontation next episode, in the mid-season finale, that the show has been building up to since the start of season three: the attack on Lothal.
One of the most interesting comments made in this episode was something Mon Mothma said. She was informing Hera that things are more complicated and implies that Protocol 13 has been issued for Lothal (though we don’t know specifically which planet it’s for, it implies Lothal). Protocol 13, explains Mothma, means the “immediate evacuation of all Imperial personnel from an occupied planet.” That immediately caught my attention, leading me to wonder whether a Base Delta Zero is imminent. That wouldn’t make too much sense for Lothal, though, since the TIE Defender factory is there. So it’ll be interesting to see just what exactly Protocol 13 is referring to.
This episode might be the weakest of season four so far, but it was a still a solid episode filled with a nice focus on Zeb and Kanan and setting up for the attack next week that will have massive implications before the show goes on an extended winter break.
My grade: 7.8