Star Wars Rebels returns to the jacked up planet of Concord Dawn and goes full Mandalorian in this weeks episode, written by Christopher Yost and directed by Steward Lee.
When it comes to Star Wars, Mandalorian is my love language. You explore Mando lore and culture and I am all in, so I am biased when it comes to this episode. That being said I thought it was a very well crafted episode that indulged in humor, novel action sequences, delightful guest stars, some very subtle world building for Mandalorian society and even more hints about Sabine’s past.
The comedy in this weeks episode really stood out to me, both physical humor and comedic timing largely by and at Ezra’s expense. I really enjoyed Ezra in this episode more than any other episode of this season.
The inclusion of Ray Stevenson in the series as Gar Saxon is a reunion with his ROME (2005-2007 HBO series) co-star Kevin McKidd (Fenn Rau). Stevenson played Titus Pullo and McKidd played Lucius Vorenus a pair of Roman legionaries who get swept up in the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the first Caesars. The actors trading their Roman helmets for Mandalorian ones was a delight to this Rome fan. The apparent elevation of Rau to a more recurring role, presumably on the level of Rex is a very encouraging sign.
Sabine was the true lead in this episode with Ezra and Fenn as her two sidekicks. What comes off very clearly is how sure she is of who she is and what she believes. There is no doubt, no hesitancy in Sabine. She is confronted with accusations, threats, plays to her honor and appeals based on her mother and none of it shakes her from her path.
All that being said, what interests me most is the Mandalorian world building that we get in this episode. Here are some things we learned and some speculation:
- Mandalorians play a holo-game (perhaps with a physical version) which we will call Blade Cube for lack of an official name. It is interesting that both the Mandalorians and the Jedi have games of strategy that are tied into their cultures.
- Fenn Rau’s group of Protectors are destroyed.
- Mandalorian Civil Wars pre-date formation of Galactic Republic.
- Rau’s objection to Sabine as a traitor seems to date to her decision to collaborate with the Empire by joining the Academy.
- This is the second episode where we have seen a group of Mandalorians with sadistic tendencies towards droids. Was there some droid rebellion on Mandalore in the past?
- The Protectors are sworn to the throne i.e. Mandalore, the ruler of Mandalore. They are chosen from the best warriors across the different clans. Are there other groups of Protectors spread out across Mandalorian space and possibly beyond?
- Mandalorians opposing Imperial occupation call themselves “Loyalists.”
- Gar Saxon is Imperial Viceroy of Mandalore, but he is not The Mandalore. This raises the possibility that there is a Mandalore in exile or that the throne is currently vacant. According to Rau, Saxon wanted to be Mandalore but he “had no honor.”
- Which leads me to wonder if Bo-Katan became Mandalore and then was assassinated by Saxon in the final days of The Clone Wars.
- Both Saxon and Sabine are both Clan Vizla. Presumably Death Watch pulled either entirely or almost entirely from Clan Vizla, centered on Concordia.
- Sabine’s mom is “looking for her” which makes me assume we will see her find Sabine and Phoenix Squadron at some point this season.
- With Death Watch, New Mandalorians, Night Owls, Protectors, Imperial Super Commandos, Loyalists, clans and houses Mandalorian political, military and familial factions are complicated.
Lots of small but important building blocks for future Mandalorian storytelling.
More of this please.