Editorial: The Forgotten And Underrated Episodes of ‘Star Wars Rebels’
Some episodes of Star Wars Rebels will always live long in the memory Star Wars fans, years after the animated series ended. But when you go back and re-watch the show, there are bound to be a handful of episodes that are even better than you remember.
When people think of their favorite Star Wars Rebels episodes, inevitably their minds might head to Twilight of The Apprentice, A World Between Worlds or Darth Vader’s introduction in Season 2. They’re undeniably some of the best episodes in the series, but we’ll be leaving those alone this time. In this piece, we’ll be reminiscing about some of those other great episodes that might have gotten lost in our memory banks over time.
Rise of the Old Masters – Season 1, Episode 5
Season 1 feels like a long time ago, but this episode is still notable for the proper introduction of the Grand Inquisitor, the big villain of that season. Rise of the Old Masters did a great job of showing how formidable the Grand Inquisitor was. The Grand Inquisitor looked menacing and clearly possessed far greater skills with a lightsaber than our heroes. If he hadn’t been holding himself back, you get the feeling he could have killed both Jedi there and then. It was the first time that Kanan, Ezra and the rest of the crew realized they couldn’t win, and escaping the prison with their lives felt like a victory in itself.
The episode is also very enjoyable for its unexpected ties to The Clone Wars. The tease that Luminara Unduli might still be alive was surprising, as I don’t think anyone really expected Disney’s new animated show to be referencing the older show that they had only just canceled. The reveal that the Empire was using hologram technology to create an avatar from her bones was a gut punch. The prison itself was located on Stygeon Prime, the same location that Darth Sidious and Count Dooku had imprisoned Maul in during the Son of Dathomir comic arc, which was another welcome nod to Star Wars lore.
Always Two There Are – Season 2, Episode 5
The inquisitors Seventh Sister and Fifth Brother get a rough ride from fans as they consistently fail to stop the Rebels over the course of season 2, but Always Two There Are shows us just how dangerous they can be. The Seventh Sister is the most charismatic of the two (Fifth Brother is menacing, if not particularly interesting), and the episode’s tone strays into horror upon her introduction.
As she stalks Ezra through the darkened hallway, her creepy helmet and claw-like hands make her look monstrous. Sarah Michelle Gellar delivers a delightfully sinister performance as she tries to charm Ezra into obeying her. It’s a shame that this side of the character almost disappears after this episode.
Without Kanan around, Ezra is completely outmatched against the two inquisitors, even with Sabine and Zeb to help him. Once again, it’s an episode where merely escaping with their lives feels like a victory and sets up the inquisitors as dangerous new villains. With our heroes still reeling from their encounter with Darth Vader, it feels like the Empire are closing in on them at this point.
Brothers of the Broken Horn – Season 2, Episode 6
Brothers of the Broken Horn is essentially a filler episode, but what makes it a delight is the return of Hondo Ohnaka. Hondo had been an entertaining villain in The Clone Wars, but it’s in Rebels that he really shines. The old pirate is a constant source of laughs and comic relief throughout the series, and it all starts here.
As the leader of a criminal gang in The Clone Wars, Hondo could intimidate those he was looking to rob, but he’s on his own in Rebels. It means he has to resort to befriending his victims first, coming off as a harmless old scoundrel to lower their defenses. When he inevitably gets caught or called out, he’s always able to shrug it off and pass himself off as a cheeky rascal, endearing himself more to fans in each appearance.
Indeed, Ezra discovers by the end of the episode that Hondo has kidnapped Vizago and taken command of his ship but when the crook leaves our heroes at the end of the episode, the young Jedi can’t help but be won over by Hondo’s charm. Much like the rest of us.
The Honorable Ones – Season 2, Episode 17
The Honorable Ones is a fantastic episode, but not one that might live long in the minds of Star Wars fans. This events of this episode are what lead Agent Kallus to reconsider his loyalty to the Empire, and it offers a fascinating look at both Kallus and Zeb, whose shared history had never been fully explored until now.
We find out that Kallus is not quite the arrogant monster he appears to be, and that he actually has a code of honor himself. It’s something Zeb comes to appreciate, and the two form a mutual respect by the time they part ways. It’s not often we get to see a different side to an Imperial, and thanks to this episode Kallus is probably the most fleshed out Imperial since Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn. It’s interesting to hear both sides discuss what happened to Zeb’s people, and both characters come out richer for the experience.
The Honorable Ones is also intriguing for completely unrelated reasons. The decision to have them arrive at Geonosis was an inspired move, as the mystery surrounding the fate of the Geonosians and the involvement of the Empire is fascinating. We discover in later episodes and comics that the Empire committed genocide towards the entire population once they finished the initial stages of the Death Star construction, but at this point we’re left to form those conclusions for ourselves. Normally this would form the main plot of an episode, but the fact that it’s only touched on at the beginning makes it so much juicier.
Hera’s Heroes – Season 3, Episode 5
Hera’s Heroes is a great Rebels instalment for a few different reasons. We get a ton of information about Hera’s past growing up on Ryloth and a rare appearance of her native twi’lek accent, as well as a look at twi’lek culture on Ryloth. We also revisit Cham Syndulla, a character who originally debuted in The Clone Wars and fought alongside Mace Windu. We even get a bit of character development for Chopper.
The episode is perhaps most memorable for Hera and Ezra’s first confrontation with Grand Admiral Thrawn. The Empire’s mysterious military genius immediately catches them off guard, as he identifies Hera not as a simple slave, but as the daughter of Cham Syndulla. He then reveals that he has seen through Ezra’s scout trooper disguise immediately after, stunning him before we even realize he’s seen through the disguise. Couple with that with Cham’s tales about his military tactics and it’s a great first impression for the alien who would become the series’ main villain until the very end.
But it’s through Thrawn that we learn more about Hera’s family and twi’lek culture. We knew the Syndulla’s kalikori was important to Hera and Cham, but to watch Thrawn explain it from an outsider’s point of view is a joy to watch. Lars Mikkelsen voices the character well as he watch him calmly piece together clues to uncover the truth. Unfortunately the brief moment when Thrawn loses his cool is jarring for fans of the character, but other than that it’s a perfect performance.
The Last Battle – Season 3, Episode 6
The Last Battle feels like a perfect send off for Rex, even though our beloved clone commander survives all the way through the series. It came at a time before we got season 7 of The Clone Wars, and at release it felt like a nice bit of closure for fans of the series. In the show itself, the confrontation with old battle droids gives Rex himself some closure on the war, which was the final piece of character progression we needed for the character.
Kanan’s role in helping him find that closure is welcomed too, as was the sight of them working together against battle droids, just like old times. That said, it was important that Ezra helped Rex and the super tactical droid find common ground. It’s satisfying to see both clone and droid recognize that they were both pawns set up to fail, and to finally stop fighting each other in service of a false goal.
The Last Battle is a good episode for both unexpected match ups and surprising alliances. It is very cool to see stormtroopers go up against the battle droids; a confrontation fans don’t really get to see outside the Star Wars Battlefront videogame franchise. Perhaps that’s something we’ll get to see a bit more of in The Bad Batch series.
Trials of the Darksaber – Season 3, Episode 15
Trials of the Darksaber gives Sabine Wren some much-needed character development and is one of the more emotional episodes of season 3. Until now, Sabine had been pretty competent at everything: she was a great fighter, a great engineer, an explosives specialist and a talented artist. If something did go wrong on a mission, it was never her fault. We’d gotten hints of a dark past when she was part of the Empire’s academy, but no details.
But then the darksaber is uncovered and a leadership role Sabine never asked for is thrust upon her. The mandalorian is suddenly out of her comfort zone; not only is the responsibility of leading the mandalorian people something that she does not want, but she has never trained with a lightsaber before. Ezra puts her through her paces, delighting in his obvious advantage over her. It gets her frustrated, a side of her we’re not used to seeing, and it’s not until Kanan breaks through to her that the episode reaches its crescendo.
Striking with passion and fury, Sabine defeats Kanan in a duel, screaming at him in a teary-eyed revelation that it was she who contributed to the deaths of her fellow mandalorians under the guidance of the Empire. It’s an incredibly touching moment as you finally understand the hurt Sabine has been through, and the immense guilt she must be feeling about the prospect of leading the people she had once betrayed. It’s a scene that allows Sabine to become a fully three-dimensional character.
Those are some of our favorite Star Wars Rebels episodes that we feel get overlooked and forgotten in the series’ highlights. Do you agree? Let us know your favorites in the comments.
Josh is a huge Star Wars fan, who has spent far too much time wondering if any Star Wars character could defeat Thanos with all the Infinity Stones.