This is the beginning of the end of Star Wars Rebels. As the season ticks down to the finale there’s a feeling that every battle could be the last one for some of these characters. Each episode becomes that much more important as it lays the final path for this series. “Heroes of Mandalore Part 1” provides an action-packed introduction to the season that also speaks to over-arching themes.
Jumping off of Sabine’s storyline from last season, we follow the Mandalorians and their fight against the empire. Part of the Ghost crew, namely Ezra, Chopper, and Kanan, teams up with Sabine and her family to free her father from an Imperial prison. Their way is barred by both Stormtroopers and Mandalorians allied with the Empire.
Our youngest members, Ezra and Sabine, begin the episode by scoping out the outpost that supposedly holds her father. Sabine, who has grown into a leader these past three seasons, hoist the Darksaber and leads her troops into the attack. This episode is afforded a bit of humor as we watch Ezra try and fail to control a jetpack. Kanan, as usual, handles himself excellently and brings the cool Jedi visuals. The outpost turns out to be a trap set by Tiber Saxon and the outpost is soon overrun by Imperial forces. They are saved for Bo-Katan Kryze, who joins the ranks of Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex as crossovers from Clone Wars.
Looking over the barren fields of Mandalore, Ezra and Sabine share a moment that drives home that both of them were born to worlds under siege. They are two children of war who were forced to grow up and into responsibility too fast. From the trailer, it seems like that is going to become increasingly important as the season plays out.
Sabine’s forces track down her father’s prison transport. They attack and what ensues is a fast-paced battle involving speeders, flying Stormtroopers, flying Mandalorians, and occasionally flying Jedi. Basically, everything is traveling fast and above ground. This scene is a testament to the growth of the animation in this show. It is a battle worthy of the films. Though Ezra provides the comic relief in this episode, his capability as an experienced Jedi is not in question.
Just when it seems that they have succeeded in rescuing Sabine’s father, they find out how truly outgunned they are. Tiber Saxon has deployed something he has been to referring all episode as ‘the weapon’ on the forces led by Sabine’s mother. Sabine and crew fly to them but are too late. Ash and debris float in the air, burned armor with no bodies lie on the ground. It’s Sabine’s worst fear. The weapon she created for the Empire killed her people.
“Heroes of Mandalore Part 2” begins immediately after part 1 with Sabine crouched over scorched armor. This episode continues her journey towards facing the mistakes of her past. Thankfully her mother and brother are not dead. They managed to make it out of the blast. I cried at the end of the last episode, so I was relieved to see them alive. The battle continues as they fight to escape.
Meanwhile, Tiber Saxon reveals to Admiral Thrawn the power of the weapon. It specifically targets Mandalorian armor while leaving Stormtroopers harm-free. Sabine thought she destroyed the original model; unfortunately, the Empire rebuilt what they could but as Thrawn pointed out, they need her to finish it.
Sabine fled the Imperial Academy and her people after realizing the destruction the weapon she built could wreak on her people. It took a lot of strength to come back and face the fall out of her work especially after the weapon was deployed. Bo-Katan derides her for creating it once they are free. At their base, troops immediately try to arrest Sabine. Rather than run Sabine stands firm, taking responsibility for her actions. Showing hard-gained maturity, she instead tries to enlist them in her plan to destroy the weapon.
Both Fenn Rau and Bo-Katan recognize that Sabine has grown into a leader that reflects the best of Mandalore and a better future than they hoped for. That’s why they follow her plan. Turns out it’s another trap set by Tiber Saxon. This guy is pretty crafty. He’s also power hungry. When you start using the superweapon not only on your enemies but your own follower, it doesn’t bode well. Said follower is concerned that the Empire will use the weapon on loyal Mandalorians after they’re finished with the rebels. A valid concern that Saxon cares little about. Thankfully Sabine is too smart for him and manages to calibrate the weapon to work on Stormtrooper armor.
These two episodes have taken a darker turn and echo the trailer in that it’s not whether or not you fight, it’s how you choose to fight that matters. Sabine stood over Saxon as he writhed in pain from the lightning emanating from her weapon. She had a choice. She could instantly kill him and all the Stormtroopers on the ship or not. It’s a decision reminiscent of the one Luke had to make in Return of the Jedi — whether or not to strike the Emperor down and follow him into the Darkside. Yes, it would save lives and yes, he deserved it but it would ultimately doom him. Did Saxon and the Stormtroopers deserve death? Probably. “Hope or fear, the choice is yours,” Bo-Katan tells Sabine. She ultimately decides to destroy the weapon and leave before the ship blows.
Having reconnected with her family and destroyed her legacy with the Empire, Sabine has reached a new level of character development. In the background of the episodes, Bo-Katan has also been coming to terms with her past and her belief that she failed Mandalore. In part 1, Sabine offered her the Darksaber but Bo-Katan turned it down, claiming she wasn’t the ruler her sister was. At the end, she finds inspiration in Sabine and the support of the other Mandalorians to finally accept the Darksaber. She becomes the leader of the Mandalorian resistance.
Star Wars Rebels season 4 starts with a strong two-part story that hopefully hints at a great season to come.
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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.