Episodes 3 and 4 of Star Wars Rebels combined are a tale of two different ideologies. One side you have Mon Mothma and the beginnings of the Rebel Alliance. On the other, is Saw Gerrera and his forces. Episode 3 mainly deals with Mon Mothma’s philosophy towards this war. It is rooted in the idea that the Rebel Alliance isn’t ready for open warfare after their lost at Atollon. For her, there still might be a way to find a peaceful solution through the Senate. Her actions are cautious and represent small pieces in a much larger picture.
We begin with Chopper, Kanan, Sabine, and Ezra on their way to Yavin IV, the new base of the rebels after they were forced to flee Atollon. They learn from Zeb that rebel cells from all over the galaxy have been gathering there. Their tour is halted when alarms sound signaling the return of Hera and the remains of her squadron. It’s a testament to Hera’s piloting skills that she navigates her ship and the rest of her squadron into safe landings. It’s clear their mission has gone wrong and Hera blames it on bad intel.
Amongst this darkness, there is a ray of light. The Ghost crew is finally back together. Even Kallus shows up to bring them to meet with Mon Mothma, General Dodonna, and Bail Organa’s holographic projection. Bail tells them that the Empire has built a communications relay in the Jalindi system. It gives them a greater foothold in the system which allowed them to respond quicker to Hera’s squadron, dooming their mission. Dodonna points out that they heard rumors of the relay from Saw Gerrera. Why does Saw have more information on the Empire than they do? “Because Gerrera has absolutely no qualms about how he acquires it,” Kallus explains. When the former Imperial officer is disgusted with how you acquire information, that says a lot about the lines you’ve crossed.
Kallus suggests they bug the relay and Hera volunteers the Ghost for the mission. Ezra, who has been focused on freeing his homeworld, is frustrated that these missions keep taking him further and further from achieving that goal. It speaks to the growth of his character that he not only listens to Mon Mothma’s explanation that there are many worlds suffering under Imperial rule but they aren’t ready to openly fight the Empire, he understands it. Later, he expresses his frustration to Kanan. He says that he didn’t always agree with Saw’s methods but at least Saw actively fights the Empire. Ezra wonders if maybe the Rebel Alliance is fighting the wrong way. This idea that the Alliance is being too cautious carries on into Rogue One.
With perfect timing, a large projection of Saw’s face appears over the base. He blames the loss they just suffered on the cowardice of the Rebel Alliance leadership and their unwillingness to take decisive action. An intense conversation between Mon Mothma and Saw follows. “If you continue to allow this war to be fought on the Empire terms, not yours, you are going to lose,” he tells Mon Mothma. She derides him for his brutal tactics. “You target civilians, kill those who surrender, break every rule of engagement,” she says passionately. “If we degrade ourselves to the Empire’s level, what will we become?” She ends the transmission.
Saw’s words hang over the crew of the Ghost. Ezra notes that bugging the relay will make it easier to sneak around but won’t hurt the Empire. Hera emphasizes that they if they destroy it, the Empire will rebuild another. They need to follow orders. Later alone with Kanan, she admits that she agrees with Ezra. She wants to hurt the Empire for what they did to her squadron and blow up the relay. “That’s Gerrera talking, not you,” Kanan says. “You’re doing the right thing.” Hera says she isn’t sure what the right thing is anymore. First Ezra and now Hera are wondering if they’re following the right path.
The mission to bug the relay goes well at first until an Imperial ship shows up. Ezra tries to improvise which of course, fails. They’re discovered. As Ezra fights against the stormtroopers, Sabine plants detonators to blow up the relay. To deal with the TIE Defenders chasing them, Kanan leads Hera and the Ghost around the stone towers in the fog in a nicely animated sequence. Before she gets back to pick up Sabine, Ezra, and Chopper, a mysterious ship shows up at the dish. It’s Saw with enough explosives to blow up the entire relay. As a star destroyer drops out of hyperspace, they are forced to go with Saw.
Episode 4 deals more with Saw’s philosophy. For Saw, the ultimate goal is to win against the Empire. No course of action is too extreme for this. The episode opens on Saw’s ship. The is an older and scarred Saw, but one who hasn’t undergone the injuries he had in Rogue One yet. His co-pilot is Edrio Two Tubes, the leader of Saw’s forces in Jedha City in Rogue One. Saw needs their help for a mission. He recently received intelligence on the Empire loading mysterious cargo onto a civilian freighter at Fayos Station. Saw believes the cargo has something to do with the secret project the Empire was working on. To hide that project the Empire wiped out the population of Geonosis. Sabine, Ezra, and a reluctant Chopper agree to help.
They sneak on board the freighter through a cargo container. There are a surprising number of stormtroopers on board for a civilian freighter proving Saw’s intel correct. The freighter is filled with shipbuilding material. They find the restricted area of the ship. Inside of the container isn’t a weapon, it’s prisoners. Saw angrily questions the prisoners about why they’re there and if there’s some kind of weapon on board. One of the prisoners mentions overhearing the Imperial troops saying the cargo came from Jedha system. All of the prisoners are reactor mechanic or power specialist. Sabine and Ezra are determined to save the prisoners. They make a plan for Chopper to get them to the escape pods while Ezra, Saw and Sabine head to the engine room to drop the ship out of hyperspace.
On the way to the engine room, Ezra hears something that sounds like singing and they follow it to a room with a strange box guarded by Death Troopers. It turns out to be a large kyber crystal. Saw wants to find out the where the ship is going and what the crystal will be used for. He stuns Sabine and Ezra to keep them from dropping the ship out of hyperspace. Saw has all the pieces: the ship materials, kyber crystal and scientists. He doesn’t know how those pieces fit yet and finding that out is more important than the lives of the prisoners. “The difference between us, Ezra, is this: I will do whatever is required to be the victor,” he tells Ezra.
They come out of hyperspace and unfortunately, the skeleton of the Death Star isn’t there. Just one a star destroyer. Disappointed, Saw is ready to leave the ship and the prisoners behind. “What about doing what’s right?” Ezra asks him to get him to stay and save the prisoners. “Isn’t that what this war is about?”
“What is right?! Let me ask you this, what would you do to save your world,” Saw replies. “It’s too late for me. My world is gone. I lost everything and once you do, you can see things clearly and you understand what’s at stake.” Saw isn’t fighting for a home planet or friends like Ezra is. He isn’t fighting for something at all. He’s fighting against the Empire. He has little left to lose. There’s not much he isn’t willing to sacrifice to win that war.
Ezra and Sabine stay behind to help the prisoners escape. Thanks to Chopper, they’re able to take over an Imperial shuttle and escape. The kyber crystal goes critical taking out the freighter, the star destroyer, and their shuttle’s engines. Thankfully the Ghost shows up. The prisoners decide to join the rebels. Ezra brings up that maybe Saw is right. The Empire is winning a war most of the Rebel Alliance doesn’t believe has begun. They’re hampered because of that. You see that later in Rogue One. It took Jyn Erso and her crew taking matters into their own hands to get the Alliance to engage.
In the name of the rebellion, what are you willing to do or not do? For Saw, there’s not much he isn’t willing to do. For Mon Mothma and the Rebel Alliance, it seems like there’s too much they aren’t willing to do. Though based on Cassian Andor’s role in Rogue One, the Alliance’s hands aren’t as clean as they make them out to be. The crew of the Ghost has to grapple with how they will continue to fight that this war.
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Writer. Podcast contributor. Costume design enthusiast. Lover of fantasy movies from the 1980s and bizarre deep sea creatures. Can be found tweeting about comics, Yuri on Ice, Doctor Who or Star Wars at @jane_anon or on the Nerds of Prey podcast.