Star Wars Rebels, Season 4 (2017-2018) Review

Season 4 of Rebels is short, not unlike Season 1, but it is filled with a variety of inter-connected narrative threads and it remains strongly committed to high production quality as it wraps up the loose ends of the show. In Season 4, we revisit the Mandalore story arc, we return to Lothal where it all began (and where mystical Loth-Wolves play an important role), and we depart from the rebel base on Atallon for the last time en route to the more familiar base on Yavin IV as seen in the original trilogy. With the end of the Darth Maul arc in Season 3 of Rebels, I was curious to see where else they would take this season, but all things considered it did not disappoint. Season 4 is a bittersweet end to a fun show –it still maanages to bring back important characters we have seen in prior seasons. Thankfully, Rebels does not retcon the original trilogy. By the end, the Jedi all reasonably vanish as does Grand Admiral Thrawn, and the show does justice to the broader Star Wars universe. In my view, Rebels remains an underrated animated show in the contemporary Star Wars story.     

Episodes 1 & 2 “Heroes of Mandalore”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

On Mandalore a union of rebels and Mandalorians (under the leadership of Sabine) conduct a raid on an Imperial-friendly Clan Saxon outpost where Sabine’s father is being held prisoner. However, as the battle turns sideways, they are rescued by Lady Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff). Sabine attempts to hand the Darksaber over to Bo-Katan, but she refuses to accept it. Then, Sabine’s father is moved to the capital of Sundari where he is to be executed. The rebels and Mandalorians manage to rescue her father, Alrich Wren, in a successful high-speed chase. Sadly, they discover that a contingent of Mandalorians has been entirely annihilated by a weapon designed to neutralize Mandalorian beskar armor –a weapon designed by Sabine nicknamed the “Duchess” (unfortunately named for the Duchess Satine). Amazingly, her mother and brother survived (Ursa and Tristan). Sabine confesses that she actually secretly sabotaged the weapon.  

The Imperial-friendly Mandalorians under Gar Saxon’s brother, Tiber Saxon, do not fully understand the weapon. Therefore, they are in search of Sabine. Meanwhile, Sabine, Fenn Rau, Bo-Katan and the rest of the Mandalorians are persuaded to overlook their anger at Sabine for developing such a brutal weapon while in training at the Imperial Academy, and instead they join together with the rebels to invade the Saxon Star Destroyer in the hopes of ending the weapon once and for all. However, upon finding its location, Tiber Saxon fires the weapon on low power at Sabine and Bo-Katan. Saxon intends to force all Mandalorians to bow before him. He commands Sabine to increase the range of the weapon and fix all of its technical problems. Under pain of torture, she agrees to repair the machine. However, instead she redirects the weapon against Imperial stormtrooper armor. The heroes flee the Star Destroyer and, in the end, Sabine convinces Bo-Katan to claim the Darksaber and rule Mandalore. The episode ends on a triumphant note as Sabine raises the Darksaber and the clans all pledge their loyalty –Clan Vizsla, Clan Rook, Clan Eldar, Clan Kryze, the Protectors, and Clan Wren.

Episodes 3-4 “In the Name of the Rebellion”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ezra, Kanan and Sabine arrive at the rebel base Yavin 4 –they are followed by Hera who crashlands just outside the base. They all meet up with Mon Mothma and a holo projection of Senator Bail Organa who shares intel received on behalf of Saw Guerrera (presumably by torture) regarding relay communications on the planet Jalindi. This upsets Ezra, who wants the rebel alliance to help Lothal. He is also impressed by Saw Guerrera’s willingness to do anything to stop the Empire –even torture. At any rate, Ezra and Sabine are joined by Chopper as they drop down onto an Imperial satellite dish in order to sabotage it, however they are spotted. Imperial TIEs begin chasing the Ghost which Kanan guides using his uniquely blind force vision through low-lying fog. Then, Saw Guerrera suddenly arrives to rescue Ezra, Sabine, and Chopper. They drop explosives on the satellite and destroy it. When more Imperials arrive, Saw Guerrera takes Ezra, Sabine, and Chopper away –a situation which worries Hera. She does not want Ezra to become corrupted by Saw.  

Saw solicits the help of Ezra and Sabine as he discovers a secret Imperial project which he suspects is being held aboard a civilian cargo vessel. They approach Freighter 2716 and begin to hear strange singing. The ship is apparently headed for the remote Tonnis Sector. They spot Imperial stormtroopers guarding something in Cargo Bay 17 –it turns out to be a cohort of prisoners, mostly power technicians from Coruscant who refused to participate in a secret Imperial project. Saw is less sympathetic toward the plight of the prisoners because he believes there is still something much bigger happening on this freighter. They find guards surrounding a giant kyber crystal which will be used to power some sort of super weapon… Meanwhile, Ezra and Sabine quickly try to disable the ship’s engine, but Saw betrays them and steals the kyber crystal with the help of his co-pilot Two-Tubes. While Saw flees, Ezra, Sabine, and Chopper rescue the prisoners and they are saved by the Ghost. All the prisoners decide to join the rebellion on Yavin IV.       

Episodes 5-6 “The Occupation” and “Flight of the Defender”        

Rating: 4 out of 5.

En route to Yavin IV, Ezra has a vision which shows that his friends—Old Jho and Ryder Azadi—are suffering on Lothal. When discussing the situation with Mon Motha, she reveals that Lothal is under Imperial occupation where they are improving the TIE Defender model. With the help of the smuggler Vizago, Ezra returns to Lothal with Kallus and the rest of the Ghost crew only to discover that Lothal has become an ashen, industrial wasteland under Imperial rule. Old Jho’s bar is now run by a cocky TIE pilot named Baron Valen Rudor. He informs them that the ISB recently invaded a rebel cell and executed Old Jho. Ezra accidentally runs into his old companion from the Imperial Academy, Jai Kell, and they travel through the sewer where they find Ryder Azadi. He leads them to conduct reconnaissance on the newly TIE Defender. They capture some photos but then at Sabine’s urging, they try to retrieve the flight recorder data from the ship. Suddenly, Grand Admiral Thrawn arrives. Sabine and Ezra hijack the TIE Defender and destroy much of the Imperial base as Thrawn fearlessly fires his gun at the ship –a nice nod to Patton. Sabine quickly realizes that the TIE Defender has a remotely accessible “kill switch” the Empire can use to disable the ship. As they escape, Ezra has a vision of a mythical “Loth-Wolf” who carries them to safety (Dave Filoni co-wrote this episode and his lifelong fascination of wolves is the stuff of legend within the Star Wars fandom).  

Episode 7 “Kindred”  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Kanan senses a greater purpose within the force as the crew returns to the planet Lothal. Meanwhile, Thrawn’s agent Rukh arrives and smells a Lasat, so he travels a great distance in search of Zeb. However, Zeb escapes and steals a transport while Rukh is sent back among the Imperials. Kanan and Hera finally kiss, but the Empire tracks down the rebel camp, so Ezra relies on a pack of Loth-Wolves to guide them to safety via a passage through the mountains.

Episode 8 “Crawler Commandeers” 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

While hiding out in the mountains, the crew worries about Hera breaking through the blockade, when suddenly Sabine picks up a strange transmission. While investigating, they find an ore crawler –a vehicle which burns and strips the raw surface materials of a planet for the Empire. The ore crawler also has a device onboard which offers long-range communications and thus the crew decides to hijack and commandeer it. During the capture, they make some bungling mistakes and uncover a contingent of slaves in the ship’s hull (including their old friend, the smuggler Vizago). Meanwhile, the Mining Guild is alerted but the crew successfully evades detection. In the end, they finally make contact with Hera, and Vizago becomes the new captain of the crawler.

Episode 9 “Rebel Assault”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Rebel Alliance launches a coordinated attack upon Imperial forces under Grand Admiral Thrawn on Lothal. Their primary target is the Imperial fuel depot and the factory. Tragically, a band of X-Wings takes some heavy hits –a few crash-land on the surface of Lothal, including Hera so Kanan embarks on a dangerous mission to rescue her. While en route, he is interrupted by a Loth-Wolf who simply says he seeks “Dume.” Somehow, Kanan seems to understand this cryptic remark. Eventually, Hera is captured by Governor Pryce. In the end, Kanan rescues Chopper and Hera’s rebel pilot colleague, Mart (Zachary Gordon).

Episode 10 “Jedi Night”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Kanan asks Ezra to take the lead on rescuing Hera, since his own perspective is clouded by his feelings for Hera. Meanwhile, Hera is tortured by Governor Pryce and Grand Admiral Thrawn. Ezra reaches out using the force and discovers the location of Hera. The crew then decides to construct gliders to fly in and rescue Hera, while Kanan symbolically cuts his hair.

Within the Empire, a feud is brewing between Thrawn’s vision, and Orson Krennic’s “Project Stardust.” This pulls Thrawn away from Lothal, while the Ghost crewmen invade Governor Pryce’s facility to rescue Hera whose mind is being probed. First, Kanan busts in and breaks Hera free while battling Thrawn’s assassin, Rukh, then Ezra and Sabine pose as Imperial pilots during the fight while headed for the fuel depot. In the scuffle, Kanan loses his lightsaber, then he and Hera profess their mutual love. The sentimentality is laid on thick in this episode (leading us to suspect something terrible is coming). Moments after Hera confesses her love for Kanan, the Empire fires directly upon its own fuel pod causing a massive explosion. Kanan leaps into the fray to hold back the flames via the force, but in doing so, he sacrifices his own life. The episode ends on a deeply tragic note as Kanan Jarrus dies.  

Episode 11 “DUME”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Despite the destruction of the fuel depot and the closing down of the TIE Defender project, Governor Pryce celebrates the death of Jedi Master Kanan Jarrus with a parade. Sabine and Zeb travel to disrupt the parade, but Governor Pryze is scolded by Thrawn for her recklessness, Hera falls into a deep state of mourning, and Ezra is plagued by a vision of Loth-Wolves who lead him to a giant loth-wolf named DUME (the same name as Kanan Jarrus whose true name was “Caleb Dume”) who instructs Ezra to work together and return to the Jedi Temple on Lothal to find knowledge. Zeb fights in hand-to-hand combat with Rukh who cloaks himself with invisibility until Sabine reveals him and when they defeat Rukh, they send him unconscious, covered in Sabine’s graffiti, back to Capital City on Lothal.     

Episode 12 “Wolves and a Door”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ezra explains that the Jedi Temple which is located far to the North is in need of help. The Loth-Wolves tell Ezra that the Empire is doing something terrible at the Jedi Temple. Using the force, he summons the pack of Loth-Wolves so that he, Sabine, Hera, Zeb, and Chopper can travel the long distance to the Temple. The crew falls into a visionary trance, seemingly traveling through space and time, as the Loth-Wolves transport them to the Jedi Temple on Lothal. They discover that the Temple has sealed itself off as the Imperial Mining Guild attempts to uncover the secrets of the Temple –namely a “portal” which is a conduit between the living and the dead. The project is being led by Minister Hydan (Malcolm McDowell). He reports directly to the Emperor as he finds historical iconography and artwork buried deep within the Temple, and they resemble the Mortis gods as previously conveyed in The Clone Wars (The Father, The Son, and The Daughter), as well as Loth-Wolves and the bird Morai. Sabine and Ezra go incognito as stormtroopers and by using the force and “listening” to the painting on the wall, Ezra is able to open the doorway to the Temple.

Episode 13 “A World Between Worlds”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ezra steps into a strange portal where echoes of Jedi voices occur all around him –it is a “world between worlds.” This portal possesses immense power. Ezra stumbles upon the bird Morai perched above a doorway, and inside Ahsoka Tano is battling Darth Vader back at the Sith Temple –the scene from the end of Season 2. Just before she is struck by Darth Vader, Ezra reaches in and rescues Ahsoka as Vader crashes through the ground. Ahsoka, once she gains an understanding of her whereabouts, thanks Ezra and says she owes him her life, and she embraces Morai, “an old friend” to whom she also owes her life. Ezra believes he can also rescue Kanan, but Ahsoka persuades him against altering this part of the past because Kanan decided to end his life to save everyone else. However, before Ezra and Ahsoka can figure out how to escape the world between worlds, the Emperor suddenly appears and sends fire through a doorway toward Ezra and Ahsoka, hoping to capture them to find his own way into the portal. Ahsoka leaps back through her doorway with Morai which drops her backward in time and space to where she was previously battling Vader (though Vader was sent crashing through the ground), and Ezra narrowly manages to leap back through his own doorway back to the Imperial Mining Guild (they both agree to reunite again). Meanwhile, Sabine has been captured and tortured by Minister Hydan who explains all the language and iconography, but she is freed by Zeb and Hera. They all escape as the Temple comes crashing down. In the end, Hera is still mourning and Ezra bids farewell to Kanan’s presence as the Loth-Wolf “DUME.”

Episode 14 “A Fool’s Hope”  

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Ghost crew visits “Joopa Base” and reunites with many old friends — Rex, Kallus, Hondo, Gregor, Wolffe, Ryder Azadi, and Ketsu. Ezra has a vision of Thrawn returning to Lothal, he believes the time to strike and liberate Lothal is at hand. However, a traitorous message on a pre-Imperial line is sent to Governor Pryce by Ryder Azadi offering the coordinates of the rebels in exchange for amnesty for himself. In the battle, Ezra fights Rukh while Hera and the rest of the Ghost crew arrive back at Lothal. Under Hondo’s direction, in order to avoid detection, they power down and wait outside a hyperspace shipping lane for another ship to arrive so they can pass through the Imperial blockade undetected. But the battle on the ground goes sideways and all the rebels are captured –they soon learn that Ryder Azadi was the traitor—but in a twist of fate this was apparently the plan all along. Hera and the Ghost arrive and shoot down the Imperial forces while on the ground Ezra leads them into a cave where the giant Loth-Wolves tear the stormtroopers apart. In the end, they capture Governor Pryce.

Episodes 15-16 “Family Reunion – and Farewell”  

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The rebels use Governor Pryce in exchange for landing codes while still posing as prisoners. After a brief battle, they easily take control of the facility. However, Rukh escaped from the previous battle and he attacks the rebels before disabling the shield generators. He also communicates with Thrawn who is set to arrive on Lothal imminently. When Thrawn appears, he begins firing upon civilians until Ezra surrenders himself. He is then brought before a holo communication of the Emperor. He leads Ezra through a reconstruction of the Jedi Temple where Ezra is tempted with a portal to return to his parents, a world of infinite possibilities where they might live again. But Ezra tells his parents that he loves them, but that he must help his friends. He then sends the Temple walls crashing down and escapes. Meanwhile, Zeb entraps Rukh in the generator and kills him. In the fight, the clone warrior Gregor tragically dies. Then the Ghost crew returns with the purrgil –an arrangement Ezra made with Mart. The purrgil attack Thrawn’s ship and wrap him in their coils (perhaps in fulfillment of the Bendu’s prophecy at the end of Season 3) as the purrgil jump to hyperspace with Thrawn and his ship, along with Ezra onboard.

In the end, the Imperial presence on Lothal is destroyed. Ezra leaves behind a message for his crewmates –his family—offering Zeb the top bunk, Hera a meiloorun, and for Sabine he delivers a cryptic message stating that he’s counting on her (…but for what?). The show ends as Sabine narrates: Kallus is taken along the secret hyperspace path to the planet Lira San where he is welcome and learns that he did not, in fact, while out all the Lasat while serving the Empire. Hera and Rex have fought in the Battle of Endor, and she gives birth to a baby named Jacen Syndulla (“Spectre-7” aboard the Ghost) –how and when did she and Kanan conceive a child? The timeline here is a bit hazy. At any rate, Sabine joins with a hooded Ahsoka Tano as they pledge to track down Ezra Bridger somewhere out there in the galaxy…    

Note: Captain Pellaeon is briefly mentioned in this episode, and the name “Jacen” appears to be an allusion to Jacen Solo from the Star Wars Expanded Universe/Legends.

Thus concludes Star Wars Rebels, a brilliant animated show which adds to the Star Wars legacy and lore.

Return to my survey of the Star Wars series

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