You would have thought that gut wrenching cliffhanger at the end of season two would be enough to get Star Wars: Rebels fans reason enough to come back. But with the announcement that this season would provide us with fan favorite, Grand Admiral Thrawn well that’s just the icing on the cake! If you’re not familiar with who he is then you’ve got some reading to do and it will be well worth it.
Steps In Shadow starts with a prison break and some changes are immediately noticeable. Ezra is older and sporting a new haircut to go along with his new attitude. An attitude that we find out is being guided and nudged along by the influence of the Sith Holocron. However, he’s in more of a leadership role now and rescuing Hondo is the mission. Our favorite duplicitous space pirate has some much needed intel and is just as impressed with Ezra’s skills he and the crew fight their way out. We also see the Jedi mind trick implemented and Zeb makes it known it’s a new talent of Ezra’s. This particular sequence is shrouded in darkness as we see the total lack of empathy shown by Ezra as he led his squad to victory in those final moments. If you’re asking yourself how was Ezra able to be influenced by the Sith Holocron just know that Kanan has been working through his own issues and distanced himself from the others.
The Empire hasn’t lost sight of what’s been going on with the Rebels’ actions which prompts the entrance of the one and only Grand Admiral Thrawn! His introduction is flawless and Lars Mikkelsen sounds perfect as the voice of the Thrawn. His tactical mind and battle strategies are quickly displayed while the character himself exudes the chilling confidence that fans expected to see. He’s playing the long game here and it should be exciting to see what happens when the Rebels finally meet their newest adversary. If you were expecting a Thrawn heavy episode you might be slightly disappointed but we’ve many more episodes to go so we can look forward to seeing more of him later.
As far as episodes go this was a fun adventure that explored the new status quo while doing well with moving things along. The character designs are still excellent and while we do get a visibly older Ezra the only other major change is Sabine’s new look. The Ezra/Kanan dynamic takes on the usual ups and downs but with the self doubt and fear that Kanan is exhibiting it shows that even the Master can learn something new. This is where The Bendu steps in to help him along. The old and wise Force-neutral being is voiced by Tom Baker and was a true highlight during the episode. Zeb and Chopper help add bits of humor along the way and it’s always good to see Captain Rex bridging the gap between this series and The Clone Wars series.
Star Wars Rebels is off to a great start once again with it’s ever growing cast of characters. I’m even willing to go on record and state that it is the best Star Wars related media outside of the films right now. It also helps that adding Thrawn to the ensemble cast is some of the best fan service since adding Ahsoka!