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Star Wars Rebels

Dume (Star Wars Rebels - S04E11) - Animated Series

Series: Star Wars Rebels

Title: Dume

Season: Four

Episode: 11

Original Air Date: February 19, 2018

Runtime: 22 minutes

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

"It looks like a baby Rancor." SPOILERS. 

“DUME” failed to match the previous episode in terms of quality and consistency, but it is an important addition to the series nonetheless. Grief is a complex emotion that takes on many forms. I commend Star Wars Rebels for taking the time to slow things down, explore grief and the different ways that is manifests itself, and properly address the death of Kanan Jarrus. It would have been easy to have everyone jump into action and make a final stand against the Empire and Pryce, but I’m glad that they didn’t go there. Grief and loss have the ability to shatter individuals. That’s exactly what happened to the Ghost crew. Kanan’s death shattered them, temporarily at least. Zeb and Sabine seek revenge, Ezra makes it about himself, and Hera retreats from her traditional position of leadership and strength. This episode has a powerful message for kids and adults. Loss and grief are painful and they affect different people in different ways. They have the power to shatter you, but only if you let them. You can’t shut yourself off from the world or become consumed by revenge and anger. Look into the face of your grief, begin to work through it, and reaffirm your connection to the people that you love.

   

The episode began with Governor Pryce relishing her victory over the Jedi. I appreciate how clear the episode was in establishing that Kanan really is dead. They have clear security footage. They found his lightsaber. Kanan is dead. This appreciated lack of ambiguity is complicated by the Loth-Wolves later in the episode, but I’ll address that in a moment. Pryce’s actions were indeed shortsighted though. She got her prize, but destroyed the Empire’s fuel supply and brought the TIE Defender factories to a halt. Her solution? Gather everyone one for a military parade. Pryce and the Empire are just another example of an authoritarian government using an empty display of military power to mask true weakness. The parade provides her an excuse as to why the factories are shut down. Thrawn quickly saw through Pryce’s distractions and promised to deal with her when he returns from Coruscant. The focus then shifted to the grieving Ghost crew. Zeb slowly realizing that Kanan was gone was indeed an effective moment, but it also made me wish that their relationship had been developed further in past seasons. I wasn’t a fan of Chopper in the early episodes, but they have found a much better balance with his character in the last couple seasons. Chopper may be a sadistic psychopath, but he does care about the rest of crew (something that wasn’t as clear in early episodes). Chopper grabbing Hera’s hand was a simultaneously sweet and heartbreaking moment.

   

Moving forward, the episode is broken up into three separate storylines about dealing with grief. Ezra quickly made it about himself and blamed Kanan by saying he’s not ready to deal with this and Kanan didn’t prepare him properly. When Ezra said this, the Loth-Wolves became enraged and chased him across the plains of Lothal. I gave Filoni the benefit of the doubt regarding the Loth-Wolves, but they are among the most problematic and frustrating additions to the series. First, I want to begin with the design of the Lothal-Wolves. Although they are beautifully animated, the design just doesn’t work for me at all. The Loth-Wolves seem far too literal to me. Star Wars has long history of taking an animal or combinations of animals and putting a new spin on them (Squidhead, ect.). Even the Loth-Cat is a good example. It takes the very real world idea of a cat, but used that as an inspiration to create a uniquely Star Wars design. The Loth-Wolves are quite literally wolves that are sized up and can talk. Giant talking mystical space wolf sounds more like a codename for a Star Wars film than something we would actually see in one. The other issue is that the Loth-Wolves are primarily being used as a plot device, rather than adding something meaningful. They are used for transport or to push Ezra (and other characters) in a certain direction. Their existence is nebulous and ill-defined, and while I love ambiguous storytelling the Loth-Wolves have offered up little more than diminishing returns. In this episode we were introduced to an even bigger Loth-Wolf named Dume. Not only does he share Kanan’s name, but the symbol from Kanan’s armor is on his head. A potential reading of these similarities is that somehow Kanan has been reincarnated as this Loth-Wolf, which would be problematic for several reasons. I don’t think that is the case though. With his death Kanan became part of the larger cosmic Force. Perhaps the Loth-Wolves are physical manifestations of the cosmic Force that are meant to promote the will of the Force. Dume (the wolf) takes on some traits of Kanan because it forces Ezra to look into the face of his grief and begin to work through it. When Ezra asked Dume how he can fight, Dume responded by saying “together.” This is another important lesson as Ezra must learn to strengthen the bonds with the people he cares about rather than push them away in this moment of despair. Dume also gave Ezra a mysterious stone tablet. Overall, while Ezra’s storyline dealt with some compelling ideas it was easily the weakest portion of the episode. The Loth-Wolves helped drag down this portion of the episode and Ezra remains the show’s weakest and least interesting character. Voice actor Taylor Gray also had some trouble with this more emotionally complex material.

   

Zeb and Sabine were consumed by anger and rushed off to attack the Empire. Although not perfect, this storyline was an effective exploration of the dangers of letting grief and anger consume you. Rukh also played a big role in this storyline and continued to impress (for the most part anyway). Zeb and Sabine watching Rukh from a distance only to have him see them is one of the best moments in the episode. Rukh looking directly at them was a legitimately creepy moment and a fun reference to Rear Window. It was also a legitimately funny moment. Zeb’s terrified reaction actually made me laugh out loud, and that rarely happens with Rebels. Initial terror aside, Zeb and Sabine hatched a plan to set a trap for Rukh. The fight between Rukh and Zeb and Sabine is among the series’ most creative and brutal. Rukh’s use of cloaking technology added something new to the standard fist fight. Zeb came close to beating Rukh to death, but Sabine stopped him at the last second. This was an entertaining storyline but I was somewhat disappointed by the ending. Of course I didn’t want Zeb to beat an unarmored enemy to death, but sending him back to the Empire seems dangerous. Rukh is an incredibly deadly warrior, releasing him instead of keeping him prisoner could backfire. Also, it was somewhat disappointing to see the series’ most intimidating physical threat defeated rather easily and painted up like a clown.

Of the three main storylines, Hera was by far the most underserved. I wanted to see more from as her relationship with Kanan was the focus of the previous episode. Initially, Hera blamed herself for Kanan’s death. Her storyline concluded with Hera adding Kanan to her family Kalikori, which was a touching moment. “DUME” was an uneven but necessary episode.

   

What Worked

  • Exploration of grief
  • Taking the time to properly address the loss of Kanan
  • Rukh vs. Sabine and Zeb

What Didn’t Work

  • The Loth-Wolves
  • Ezra’s story
  • Not enough Hera
External Links:
Added: March 2, 2018
Category: Star Wars Rebels
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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