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Star Wars Rebels

Steps Into Shadow (Star Wars Rebels - S03E01-E02) - Television

Series: Star Wars Rebels

Title: Steps Into Shadow

Season: Three

Episode: 1-2

Original Air Date: September 24, 2016

Runtime: 44 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Mike Taber; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

"I will pull the rebels apart piece by piece. They will be the architects of their own destruction." SPOILERS. 

The season two finale was always going to be a hard act to follow, but “Steps into Shadow” was an uneven episode that highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of Star Wars Rebels. The episode began with the rebels breaking none other than Hondo Ohnaka out of an Imperial prison. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s always great to see Hondo. Hondo never fails to entertain. Upon seeing the rebels Hondo exclaimed, “Purple guy! Mando girl! Ezra Bridger!” It was one of the many entertaining lines of dialogue from Hondo this week and Jim Cummings was fantastic as usual. The opening escape was entertaining and it was surprisingly brutal for Rebels. Ezra killed a lot of Stormtroopers and Hondo’s Ugnaught friend wasn’t long for the world. In one sequence, Ezra used the Force to control a tank driver’s mind who he made kill his fellow Stormtroopers and eventually himself. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t a fan that sequence. Not because it was dark or attempting to show the influence the Sith holocron on Ezra, but because it felt like something we would see in The Force Unleashed. That wasn’t a Jedi mind trick, Zeb. That was prolonged mind control. I began to see this issue last season, but is Ezra becoming too powerful? He’s done some things we haven’t seen from any Jedi before. The closer we get to A New Hope, the more uncomfortable I am with Ezra’s growing power and involvement with the rebellion. Continuing the Ezra problems this week, let’s talk about his use of the Sith holocron. One of the more promising storylines heading into to season three was Ezra’s growing connection to the dark side, but it felt bungled here. All it did was turn Ezra into the angsty teenager that has ruined dozens of TV shows over the years. Several of Ezra’s scenes in the premiere were hard to watch like the “They don’t understand!” speech in his room. The heavy focus on Ezra was one of the reasons why the premiere disappointed. Ezra’s use of the Sith holocron was only explored at a surface level and forced us to sit through more than one cringe-worthy scene of a “darker” Ezra.

   

The information that Hondo had promised the rebels was the location of a squadron of old Y-Wing bombers. An Imperial outpost has been using the Y-Wings for scrap metal and Ezra was placed in charge of the mission to retrieve them. Kanan was missing from the first part of the episode and had apparently separated himself from the crew after he was blinded by Maul in the season two finale. After Hera convinced him that he needed to talk to Ezra, Kanan discovered Ezra had been using the Sith holocron and took it away. Ezra’s “I don’t need you!” line was another cliché, eye roll worthy moment from him this week. Kanan was drawn to the mysterious new character Bendu through the Force. This was the most I’ve ever liked Kanan. Honestly, Kanan getting blinded by Maul was the best thing that could’ve happened to his character. I never disliked Kanan, but his character always felt…bland. However, Kanan struggling to cope with his new found blindness and his connection to Bendu was the highlight of an episode that introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn. Bendu is a fascinating addition to the saga and was perfectly voiced by Doctor Who alum Tom Baker. Bendu is the middle ground between light and dark and his presence is a reminder that the Jedi and Sith aren’t the only Force users in the galaxy. The scenes between Kanan and Bendu were fascinating and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of role he will play going forward. If I had one complaint about the Bendu character, it would be that this ancient and wise Force user happened to be sitting 500 feet away from where the rebels decided to set up base. I suppose we can just say it was the will of the Force, but it felt pretty convenient.

   

The oft-mentioned and never before seen Governor Price, who looks just like Cate Blanchett’s character from Indiana Jones 4, issued a request for Grand Admiral Thrawn to be brought in to deal with the growing rebel threat. That’s right, Grand Admiral Thrawn is back and officially canon! I’ve never been an EU fan, but even I think Thrawn is great character that deserved to be brought into the official canon. Of course bringing in Thrawn was a bold move and it will never satisfy everyone, but I thought this was a good introduction for Thrawn. I think they’ve found the perfect voice actor in Lars Mikkelson. Thrawn only had a small role in the premiere, but I think they did the character justice in his limited screen time. It’s clear from his handful of scenes that Thrawn is still the brilliant military strategist he’s known as and is willing to play the long game. Thrawn’s decision to let the rebels go at the end of the episode felt true to the character.

   

Ezra, Sabine, Zeb, Rex, and Hondo infiltrated the Imperial outpost in hopes of stealing the Y-Wings. I enjoyed the assault on the Imperial outpost for the most part and there were a few moments in particular that stood out. Rex had several stand out scenes and it was fun to see him taking out “clankers” again. In an entertaining bit of continuity, Admiral Titus who had been in charge of a top secret Imperial cruiser last season was now in charge of an Imperial scrapyard. Kanan’s conversation with Bendu brought him out of his self-imposed exile and he helped rescue Ezra who quickly let his first mission as commander get out of hand. Ezra’s reckless actions at the Imperial outpost, which included destroying the entire station while he and the team were still on it, cost him his recent promotion and the Phantom. Oh, and Hondo escaped with a new ship and now has a crew of Ugnaughts so that’s fun. Thrawn allowed the rebel fleet to escape with the Y-Wings realizing that this was only a portion of the fleet. The Y-Wings were then delivered to General Dodonna. That’s right, it took three seasons but we finally had a General Dodonna reference. Sabine, Zeb, and Hera weren’t given much to do as Rebels once again placed the focus on Ezra and Kanan. Zeb got to bring back the phrase “Wizard!” Hera spent most of the episode scolding Ezra. Sabine got a new hair color so I guess that’s her character development for the season. Hopefully they find a better balance among the crew moving forward and I hope Rex remains onboard as a full time cast member. Rex’s status last season was inconsistent but his presence greatly benefits the show and the Ghost crew. “Steps into Shadow” pales in comparison to both the season two premiere and finale, but those will be hard to top. “Steps into Shadow” proved to be an uneven premiere episode that introduced compelling new characters in Grand Admiral Thrawn and Bendu but was plagued by a miscalculated portrayal of a “darker” Ezra.

What Worked

  • Kanan and Bendu
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn
  • Always Great to See Hondo Again
  • Some Standout Action Scenes

What Didn’t Work

  • Angsty Ezra
  • The AT-DP scene
  • Of Course Bendu Lives Right Next to the Rebel Base
Added: September 26, 2016
Category: Star Wars Rebels
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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