Directed by: Steven G. Lee
Written by: Henry Gilroy
It’s time for that most patriotic of all holidays, Empire Day. The day we all gather to celebrate the ending of the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire. We celebrate or else.
The crew of the Ghost has their own plans for Empire Day, but before the festivities can begin Kanan tries to teach Ezra about connections through the Force. A Jedi must be open, and today Ezra is even more closed off than usual. Ezra needs to learn the willingness to lower your guard and embrace your connection to all other living beings, to trust and be open to the Force.
Jedi training is cut short by a trio of TIEs flying a patrol far outside the main areas. The planet Lothal is under lock down and a blockade all to capture one Rodian, Tseebo. It was unusual to see TIE pilots running the search, it’s a role we usually see played by Stormtroopers, but it works here. It shows that the Empire’s forces are stretched thin all over Lothal, both with the Empire Day celebrations and with the manhunt. It’s also a chance to see something other than Stormtroopers and makes the show more visually interesting.
Ezra really doesn’t like Empire Day and needs some time alone. We later discover that not only is this the day that the tyrannical Empire came to power, but it’s also Ezra’s birthday. His parents were early rebels on Lothal broadcasting pirate transmissions to protest, until one day they disappeared, leaving Ezra alone. It’s no wonder he hates the Empire and wanted to join the Rebels on the Ghost.
The Rebels provide their own fireworks for the Empire Day celebration by blowing up the Empire’s fancy new prototype TIE fighter. Legends fans get a nice easter egg when the pilot is introduced as Baron Valen Rudor and his uniform bears a red stripe reminiscent of the pilots from the 181st.
The stakes continue to raise for our heroes. On the run from Agent Kallus and the Inquisitor, blocked off from any escape out of the city and now they find themselves hiding out with the most wanted person on the planet. Ezra has begun to open himself up to the Force and is starting to understand what Kanan was trying to tell him at the beginning, once he quieted his mind he knew where they needed to go. Tseebo has been hiding from the Empire in Ezra’s parents old store. Through his cybernetic implants he was able to download the Empire’s plans for the Outer Rim.
The race out of the city is one of the best action scenes of the show so far. A stolen transport, ramming an Imperial roadblock turns into a tense speeder chase and ends with Kanan facing off against Kallus. They are not yet safe as the Inquisitor leads a group of TIEs after them. The tension continues to build as Tseebo begins to tell Ezra he knows what happened to his parents while the Ghost takes a beating from the Inquisitor’s TIEs. Everything builds into a climax that we have never seen before on screen in Star Wars: a to be continued ending.
I haven’t said enough about Kevin Kiner’s music on the show. I enjoyed his work on Clone Wars and a lot of his work on Rebels sounds like John Williams. It’s not always clear where they are using the classic Williams’ themes and where it’s Kiner creating a soundalike. He deserves special notice for this episode. First, we get a great western theme when the TIE pilots rough up the bar, and then we get a fantastic patriotic parade remix of the Imperial March. It’s John Philip Sousa meets John Williams.
This episode delivered tense action, strong writing and good character building. Kanan continues to grow and be more comfortable in his role as a Jedi teacher. I hope the conclusion can deliver on the setup from this episode.