Note: This review contains SPOILERS
So that’s it, Season One of Star Wars Rebels has come to a close, and all things considered they had a pretty spectacular first season. Sure, there were some growing pains, and one legitimately bad episode, but all shows go through that; what’s impressive, though, is how well Rebels sailed through the turbulent waters of launching a new show and wound up with something confident, smart, and best of all genuinely good basically from the word go.
“Fire Across the Galaxy,” Rebels’ first season finale, is essentially a victory lap for the show. It’s among the show’s lighter episodes in terms of narrative arc and character progression, save for a handful of big reveals at the end of the episode (more on that later), but it’s by far the most action heavy episode of the show we’ve seen so far. We start where we left off last week, with the Ghost crew resolving to rescue Kanan from Tarkin’s Star Destroyer, currently en route to Mustafar. The crew manages to commandeer a Freighter from an Imperial space field on Lothal, but in the process they blow up all the TIE Fighters – TIEs which they could have used to take out the Star Destroyer’s power grid while they sneak in on the Freighter. Look’s like it’s time to finally pull the trigger on the Chekhov’s Gun that has been hanging on the wall for almost the entire season. Remember when Ezra and Zeb stole that TIE back in “Fighter Flight” and then lied to Hera about crashing it? Well it’s finally ready to be put to good use. There’s only one problem: in the eleven episodes since, Sabine has given the TIE a custom paint job that’s decidedly not up to Imperial regulation. With limited time, the crew figures that it’s the best chance they’ve got, so they set off, bright orange TIE Fighter and all – to go rescue Kanan.
That’s pretty much all the setup we get this time. Last week we got an episode that was almost all setup, so that this week we get nothing but payoff. Specifically, a 22-minute series of escalating action setpieces with very little downtime in between. The action here is all top notch – probably the series best, with large scale space battles, foot chases with storm troopers, and an exciting (albeit somewhat prequel-ey) lightsaber duel. I admit I’m the tiniest bit disappointed that the episode didn’t carry more narrative weight, but it’s hard to complain when what we got is this much fun. It turns out that “Call to Action” was really this season’s defining moment from a story standpoint, and after that there was nothing left but to send us out with a bang.
I will note that the episode does fail to pay off on last week’s cliffhanger ending. Sure we technically get to see Mustafar in this episode, but we never enter the atmosphere. On the one hand, I appreciate the decision to mirror the original trilogy by keeping the action in space rather than following the prequels’ tendency to have all its action in-atmosphere, but on the other hand there was an expectation set by the previous episode that was not met here. It would have been nice to see some of the “facilities” hinted at last week.
All things considered, though, it’s a minor complaint. The space battles are great and really do feel like classic Star Wars, and even though Ezra and Kanan’s fight with the Inquisitor has more in common with the exaggerated, over-choreographed duels of the prequels than the more grounded dues of the original trilogy, it’s still loads of fun. Pretending to kill off Ezra to artificially raise the stakes for Kanan was sort of a poorly handled move, but they course correct fairly quickly with the truly surprising death of the Inquisitor. I in no way expected our big bad to be killed off before the second season, but when they revealed the reason why, it all made sense.
Last week I mentioned that Darth Vader would be making an appearance in this episode, and make an appearance he does, but to my immense surprise it was to announce his role as the new big bad for Season Two. Also onboard for Season Two: Ahsoka Tano. Yeah, so my Leia theory was wrong and Fulcrum really was Ahsoka just like everyone expected, but in my defense Lucasfilm didn’t play fair on this one when they showed us a hologram that lacks Ahsoka’s distinctive horns. Still, for a character from the mostly dreadful The Clone Wars, it’s exciting to catch up with Ahsoka again and I’m really interested to see how she plays into Season Two.
In terms of analysis, there’s not a whole lot to dig into here. This episode is almost all wall-to-wall action, and beyond assuring you that the action is lots of fun, there’s not much to discuss. The most interesting discussion we can have coming out of this episode is the way a few key developments have massive implications for where the series might be headed in Season Two… but that’s a discussion for another article. Stay tuned!