The crew of the Ghost returns to Lothal at the request of now Imperial defector, Minister Tua who has offered to trade secrets for her rescue. Not everyone is convinced this isn’t a trap but after some compromise the mission is a go. However, the place they once called home not only has an increased Imperial presence but one that is led by Darth Vader. His presence raises the stakes for Hera and her crew as they face an even more determined Empire and a foe they can’t hope to beat.
Star Wars Rebels Season 1 ended on a high note with the appearance of Vader and Ahsoka but nothing prepared us for how great this episode would be. With much of the character building out of the way we get to the thick of things pretty quickly and with almost flawless storytelling. As the Ghost crew begins this new chapter they’re dealing with actually belonging to something bigger than themselves in the Alliance. It’s evident that Hera is entirely on board with joining but Kanan has some problems with it and the topic becomes a point of contention among the crew. Though it is understandable why Kanan would be hesitant to shy away from another possible war after what he went through after Order 66 was given.
Let’s be honest, NOTHING beats hearing James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader! Not just regulated to a quick cameo here but he is the main antagonist with plenty of dialogue. He has such a large presence in this episode it was almost like getting a reintroduction to the character and comes close to wiping away the memory of his representation in the prequel films. The very noticeable shift in tone here is a welcome one and is a bit reminiscent of Empire Strikes Back with Vader on a singular mission. Not only do we get a cold and ruthless villain but the added treat of seeing him go up against Kanan and Ezra in a lightsaber duel. This was one of the highlights of the episode as we see him toy with the two Jedi as he methodically picks them apart and demonstrating why they should fear the power of the Sith. But if you still need proof of how powerful of a force Vader is then you’ll really enjoy the second space battle where he gets involved.
Now we don’t get much of Ahsoka in this episode but her overall role isn’t diminished one bit. Her scenes are pivotal but none more than when her presence in the Force is felt by Vader. If you’re someone who didn’t watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars the impact of this might be lost on you but there is the reveal that she was once the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker. Setting up for what hopefully leads to an altercation between the two. So if we get more of her later on then the tease here is appreciated and only strengthens the narrative.
There’s several great moments along the way that satisfy a younger audience while not losing the attention of those fans who have been there since A New Hope. Hera and her crew are more enjoyable this time around mainly because the jokes were kept to a minimum and things are less silly. Ezra fails at implying the Jedi Mind Trick, Zeb makes a crack about himself that is pretty hilarious, and Chopper’s timing could not have been better. The only character that seems to get the short end is Sabine. It seems as if the focus on her being a “badass” is stifling some good development but hopefully that comes late this season.
Star Wars Rebels returns and could have only been made better if Jar Jar was force choked in the episode! Not only was this a solid start to the upcoming season but it sets up something more sinister for us to look forward to when the show returns!