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Star Wars Rebels - Kindred & Crawler Commandeers - Review: "Lothal"

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Star Wars Rebels 4.07 & 4.08. "Kindred" & "Crawler Commandeers" - Review:
Kindred Directed by Sergio Paez & Written by Dave Filoni & Henry Gilroy & Crawler Commandeers directed by Bosco Ng & Written by Matt Michnovetz

The seventh episode of the final season continued to showcase the war for Lothal and looked at a problem leftover from the last few episodes in the form of the stolen hyperdrive that has been hidden after Ezra and Sabine were unable to carry it away from the Imperials pursuing them. Their attempt at reclaiming the hyperdrive has now put Ezra, Zeb and Jai in jeopardy as not even the Imperial scout disguises that they possess can protect them from an intimidating new hunter in the form of Rukh, an elite alien who answers to Thrawn.

The involvement of Rukh in this episode gave it some added agency that made the chase sequences more fun and engaging. You really help get the sense that the Rebels are heavily outnumbered here and the Empire has by far the better firepower, and although they may have done more with less, it's a difficult situation indeed. Rukh and Governor Pryce have their different means of getting to the outcome which puts them at a conflict with each other, especially as they're both convinced the other is not needed due to their past failures. The dynamic between the two antagonists meant that there wasn't much of this episode that wasn't spent in some kind of fight scene, whether it was on speeder bikes or up close and personal.

There were however some quieter moments particularly in regards to Kanan and Hera. Kanan is reflecting on what comes next for both of them, namely what there is for Hera after the war. Hera's reaction is that she doesn't think about it which Kanan takes to mean that she's never thought about two of them, but this attempt at creating conflict between the two characters doesn't last long and is resolved by the end of the episode. It also gives Kanan a possible route out that would explain why he wasn't around, maybe he simply grows tired of the war and stops being a Jedi altogether? It would offer him an end that wouldn't take the typical route that most mentor-type characters in shows and movies like these end up going on, which usually results in their deaths. At the same time it's hard to imagine Kanan giving up on the fight knowing that there is still conflict to be fought, as the war very much wages on into Return of the Jedi. But this is the final season after all, and time is running out for the crew of the Ghost.

The episode itself continues putting the pieces in play for the upcoming battle of Lothal which will no doubt heavily play a part in the weeks to come. Kindred reminds us that Lothal has always been a part of the show and the characters were drawn to the planet even before they met Ezra, and the Lothwolves themselves will also have a big part to play in things to come. The whole establishment of these creatures has like I mentioned in my last review really played to the strengths of the fantasy side of Star Wars but also allows Dave Filoni to explore what he seems to like including, wolf-like creatures which were a part of The Clone Wars. Kindred also boasted another tie-in to a different part of the expanded universe as well, with Rukh being established as a Noghri loyal to Thrawn. He has his strengths and weaknesses just like anyone else and whilst he doesn't have that much development here, book readers will no doubt be aware of the role that he plays going forward and I wouldn't be surprised if there was more of Rukh in the episodes to come.

The hyperdrive is successfully recovered with the help of the Lothcats but Rukh is smart enough to place a tracker on Ezra's speeder. This of course ends up blowing the cover of the operation on the Rebels on Lothal, and as a result the group have a race against the clock to get the hyperdrive back online. They are able to successfully do so of course, and decide that it would be best for Hera to be the one who takes the information on the TIE Defender back to Rebel High Command. Hera ends up escaping and breaking through Thrawn's blockade with Chopper in tow.

Meanwhile, back on Lothal, the Lothwolves come to the rescue of Ezra and the Rebels. I loved Zeb's comment to Ryder about how following the strange stuff usually works out for them, with Ryder's reaction wondering how they've survived this long. The Lothwolves are able to help them as well where they find cave paintings of people following wolves, and the wolves then take them through a hyperspace-esque tunnel that really allowed the show to shine a spotlight on its incredible animation using one of the best visuals of the episode as it eventually guided the group to safety on the other side of the planet.

The connection to the force was also emphasised here as the wolves addressed Kanan by his surname, Dume, with his first name being Caleb, and this is enough for Kanan to speculate that the Empire is doing something much worse to the Lothal than what we already know, ending the episode on a sombre note indeed.

The cleverly titled Crawler Commandeers was admittedly a bit more of a standalone episode than Kindred but was able to continue the war for Lothal where the series seems to be focusing its current arc. It did as well have to struggle coming off the highs of Kindred, but at the same time it still managed to remain enjoyable - there hasn't been a bad episode of Rebels so far this season, which is always a good sign. The appearance of Vizago helped prevent the episode from feeling purely episodic, but it was probably the first of the eight episodes that we've had so far that felt most at home with the earlier series, with even Vizago's appearance showing up to remind us that this was a tactic that the show employed, including guest characters in otherwise filler episodes to keep us interested. Vizago himself isn't exactly a Obi-Wan Kenobi or even a Mon Mothma type figure but he brings this fun energy to the show that's always entertaining to have around, and answered what exactly he had been up to after dropping the Rebels on Lothal.

The episode itself was split between Lothal and Yavin IV, and it was where Lothal played host to most of the action sequences. The Rebels wind up infiltrating a crawler and coming into conflict with Seth Green's Trandoshan, who goes by the name of Seever. This was another opportunity for Ezra to test his skills at impersonating Imperial agents when the group tried to distract them, but once again Ezra backfired like he did a few episodes ago when he and Sabine were sabotaging the outpost. It seems like he's not having the best of luck at the moment, but it did allow for an entertaining sequence that made a change from last time because this time the person that Ezra was actually impersonating happened to be in the room and not (at least for a short while), unconscious, with Seever's comments on his performance being a rather nice touch indeed. I love that the show has seemingly found the perfect balance in tone so far this season and despite the tonal shift towards a darker storytelling approach as we get closer to the events of Rogue One (which itself is one of the, if not the darkest Star Wars movie yet. A tonal shift kind of had to happen because a few seasons ago, it would be hard to imagine the crew of the Ghost involved in the same battle that basically killed off the entire Rogue One crew, and most of the station they were trying to attack), there have still been a few nice touches of humour in these episodes, with Kindred bringing us the use of lothcats to distract Imperial stormtroopers.

The fight sequences were also pretty entertaining as we got to see most of the crew of the Ghost in action. The brawl between Zeb and and the Trandoshan was a cool sequence that felt a lot messier than the fight sequences involving any of the other characters, which seemed only appropriate given Zeb's character. Sabine got a few badass moments herself and it's great that how even given the short episode count to work with, the show is finding plenty of space to give each character a cool fight scene.

The Yavin IV scenes were probably my favourite of the second episode however as it allowed Hera for her big moment so far of the season as she got the Rebel Alliance to actually agree on something, a Lothal Assault. This suggests we may be headed into our endgame with the arc on Lothal, and it'll be interesting to see how it's resolved in the weeks to come. Will we get a happy ending or will the team backfire? They are faced against incredible odds, but after all, Ezra has mentioned that they've done more with less. It's going to be interesting and I'm looking forward for a Round 2 with Thrawn and the Empire. This could potentially be even more exciting than last season's finale, even if it's happening this early on in the season. It seems like this Lothal arc is fairly similiar to Battlestar Galactica's New Caprica arc, which dominated the first few seasons and almost gave us a season-finale like episode early on the season. If we get something even as half as good here, it will be epic for sure.

What did you think of Kindred and Crawler Commandeers? Let me know in the comments section below.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The Wire, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Person of Interest. He reviews Preacher, The Exorcist, Star Wars Rebels, Star Trek Discovery, Silicon Valley and Veep for Spoiler TV and will be covering Castle Rock, Counterpart, Krypton, Marvel's New Warriors, Rise, Marvel's Runaways, Succession and Trust. He also contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic. He also regularly watches and reviews films on Letterboxd, and you can find his ever-changing list of 300 favourite movies here.
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