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Gathering Forces

Directed by: Steward lee
Written by: Greg Weisman

When we last saw our heroes they had just managed to escape Capital City and Agent Kallus, but were being pursued by the Inquisitor and several TIE fighters.  Things did not look good for our heroes.

This episode picks up immediately following as we see the Ghost leave Lothal’s atmosphere and try to make a run for it.  Hera knows some maneuvers, but for every TIE they manage to lose, three more take it’s place.  The whole scene feels very similar to those times we saw the Millennium Falcon trying to escape the Empire, but it doesn’t feel like a direct copy of those scenes.

REB_IA_6354As if the Ghost trying to escape two Star Destoyers and nearly a squadron of TIEs wasn’t tense enough, the action is intercut with Tseebo trying to tell Ezra about his parents.  Ezra doesn’t want to hear it, he blames Tseebo for not standing up sooner to protect them.

After discovering the Ghost has been tagged with a homing beacon, Kanan has a risky plan to lead the Inquisitor and the Empire away from Tseebo by separating the Phantom while still in Hyperspace.  I’m not sure how this plan is easier than simply having the Ghost drop out of hyperspace, separate normally and then have the Ghost take off again.  We know the Empire is on their trail, but we are never told how far behind they are.  The Legends canon said that if you pulled a move like this you would most likely die trapped in hyperspace, never able to return to normal space.  After some trippy visuals, an interesting tribal drum score from Kevin Kiner, and Kanan’s piloting skills they are able to return to normal space and head towards the old clone base with the monsters in the dark.

Tseebo is the McGuffin here, but the story is truly focused on Ezra.  Ezra is being forced to deal with his first true Jedi trial.  Kanan has finally learned how to get through to Ezra, he will teach him while forcing him to survive.  Ezra has to confront his repressed feelings about his parents and his past.  All his life he had hidden his pain, but as Kanan tells him repeatedly he will never become a true Jedi if he doesn’t confront his fears.

Kanan’s plan mostly works.  The Stormtroopers are kept at bay by the fyrnocks, but the Inquisitor is not so easily stopped.  We get another lightsaber duel between the Inquisitor and Kanan.  I enjoy their fights, but I really hope that something more comes out of them in the future, it’s far too early for either of the characters to be killed, but I would like to see the fights have consequences for the two of them.  I really hope this doesn’t become a regular thing where every few episodes they fight and something miraculously saves Kanan at the last second.

The Inquisitor knocks Kanan out and comes after Ezra in a beautifully shot sequence.  For Star Wars, it’s pretty standard “join me and I’ll teach you all about the dark side” but it stands apart through the terrific use of lighting.  The hangar is dark and the Inquisitor is lit by his red saber and Kanan’s blue saber that so perfectly shows the emotions of the scene.

The episode ends with another tease about the identity of the Information Broker/Rebel Coordinator/Intergalactic Man of Mystery, Fulcrum.  The Ghost docks with a very familiar looking ship and we hear the voice of Fulcrum again, but we don’t see anything inside the ship.  We are also teased with information about Ezra’s parents.  Tseebo tells Hera about them and Sabine finds a picture of the family in happier times.  The final shots are understated and quiet, but you can feel everything that Ezra has gone through to get here and that he is starting to come to peace with the past and is ready to move forward.

As a standalone episode this is a good episode, but I think this two parter would carry more weight if shown as a single double length episode.  The ending can feel a little lackluster when viewed as a buildup from the previous episode, but I think the emotional beats would carry more weight without the week long break in the middle.

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