Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Mastodon Star Wars: Rebels - Rebel Assault - Review: "Liberating Lothal?"

SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

Star Wars: Rebels - Rebel Assault - Review: "Liberating Lothal?"

Star Wars Rebels 4.09 Rebel Assault
Directed by Steward Lee & Written by Dave Filoni & Steven Melching

The past few episodes of Star Wars: Rebels have largely been concerned with the action on Lothal so it was appropriate that in this midseason finale, Rebel Assault was focused on the struggles for the liberation of the planet too. However, rather than focus primarily on the operations on the ground like the previous episodes had, Rebel Assault put the attention on the space conflict as Hera, having finally gotten the go-ahead to launch a raid on Lothal, pits her small band of X and Y-Wing pilots against the might of the Imperial blockade. It's high-stakes and Hera is facing what is seemingly an impossible task, make it through the blockade which is not only led by Thrawn himself, but also features a TIE Defender, one of the Empire's new prototype craft that is a huge upgrade on the original TIE craft.

Unfortunately, for all the high-stakes action that Rebel Assault promised it was kind of underwhelming as I expected more from a midseason finale, but as a singular episode it just about works. The use of the X-Wings was really cool and seeing them take fight against the Empire was great, visually stunning and really felt right at home in the Star Wars Universe. They were however no match for the TIE Defender which quickly began tearing them apart, and we see them navigating their way through the defences while being chopped down one by one. Eventually all that's left of Hera's rescue team are Hera herself, and Mart, who in case you've forgotten about him it turns out that he's actually a recurring character whose Uncle was Commander Sato. I'd forgotten about this until I remembered why he was so annoying and had to look him up to see what episode he was from, and it turned out Mart was from Iron Squadron, one of the weakest episodes of the series so far. So whilst this show does seem to be bringing back characters from previous seasons to give them victory laps before wrapping up, I'd rather that Mart was one character they should have avoided bringing back entirely, especially when there's potential for so many better and more likeable pilots that the show could have used instead.

The rest of the Ghost crew get to watch the X-Wing destruction unfold from the main city of Lothal helpless, unable to do anything as Hera's attack force is picked apart. It was always an ambitious move by Hera especially with the small taskforce, and you had the sinking feeling that you knew it was never going to end well. Kanan in particular is incredibly worried about Hera's fate which is understandable given the two's close bond, but the rest of the crew are quick to reassure him. This is Hera, we're talking about here, and she does not give up easily. She was able to escape from the TIE Defender earlier (with the help of Thrawn's own guns, admittedly), and is among the survivors, because of course she is. Ezra tells Kanan there's nothing they can do immediately and will be back for her soon.

Chopper ends up rescuing Hera from her downed X-Wing in the nick of time, but things aren't looking good for her and Mart. They're both cut off from aid and have to operate on their own, with none other than Rukh hunting them. I love how seamlessly the writers have worked Rukh into this series as a late-game antagonist. He's only been in the show a few episodes but feels as almost intimidating as Thrawn has felt and works really well in the context of the show. He offers a different sort of villain to Thrawn favouring the more hands on approach whilst Thrawn is content to sit back and manipulate behind the scenes. Thrawn himself has been great too, and I'm really liking the dynamic in the villains that the show has gone for this season. The decision to stick with Thrawn and not to attempt to escalate things like the show has done in the past by bringing in Vader and Tarkin has really paid off, as you start to get the same sense of desperation that the Rebels do. No matter how many times you take on Thrawn he always finds a way to escape, and you know that even if you do take out Thrawn, there will be bigger, tougher opposition around the corner. It makes the Empire feel incredibly daunting.

The transition from air to ground combat in this episode really worked and the writers pulled off the transition into a dystopian nightmare that is a new-look Lothal. We've been seeing glimpses of the damage and ruin that the Empire have brought to the world in the past. It looks increasingly unlikely that the Rebels will be able to salvage anything from Lothal and even if they do, what sort of state will the planet be left in when they leave? It's already unrecognisable from Ezra's last time here and this show does a great job at showing just how ruthless the Empire can be. It's done a great job at exploring this beyond the fairly narrow scope that the movies had to offer, and watching the original series after Rebels wraps up next year especially with Rogue One in mind will make that journey to defeat the Empire feeling all the more meaningful, especially with the sacrifices that the characters have had to make so far.

Hera herself is a great character here and I love how the show put her in the spotlight here. Her fantastic dogfighting skills were recognised by the Empire as someone who could only belong to Hera, and it was really cool seeing her in action. The space combat was easily the highlight of the episode for me, and I loved the way the show pitted her against her opposite number in the Imperial ranks. On the ground, we also got some more foreshadowing with Kanan and the loth-wolves, who were able to stop Kanan from going to rescue Hera in Lothal City. And now Hera is captured by Rukh as a result of this, leaving her character in a very difficult position indeed. Pryce declares that it's a small victory (the fact that they stopped the Rebel Assault and captured its leader and still serves only as a small victory to Pryce tells you how committed she is to the Imperials) and decides to take Hera away. It's currently unclear as to why the Loth-Wolves prevented Kanan from intervening to rescue Hera, but presumably they have some sort of a plan in mind that we'll see when the show returns after its winter break. We'll just have to wait a while to see what lies in store for us before then.

It's interesting to note that this storyline is almost a reverse of the events earlier in the series (in the show's first season) and Mart's appearance wasn't the only one that was a callback to earlier events. Hera getting captured is a reversal on Kanan being captured in Call to Action, the season one episode that featured Tarkin. Presumably we'll get to see the Rebels gain some sort of victory as something needs to happen to the TIE Defenders to make sure that they aren't around in the original trilogy, but we'll have to wait until next year to see how it plays out. Until then, what did you think of Rebel Assault? And of the first half of Season 4 as a whole? Let me know in the comments section below.

Sign Up for the SpoilerTV Newsletter where we talk all things TV!


SpoilerTV Available Ad-Free!

Support SpoilerTV is now available ad-free to for all subscribers. Thank you for considering becoming a SpoilerTV premmium member!
Latest News