“An Inside Man”

Ezra and Kanan have returned to Lothal for a mission to recon the Imperial factories there for a potential Rebel strike.  If they find something dangerous enough they may be able to recruit other Rebel cells to join the fight.  However, Ezra and Kanan quickly realize things on Lothal are much worse than they realized.  If the last few episodes have not been to everyone’s liking, this episode felt much more like a return to form.

The show has talked a lot about the Imperial manufacturing being done on Lothal, but here we actually get to see it firsthand.  The factories have been turning out much of the Empire’s vehicles and machinery.  Things have changed because Grand Admiral Thrawn has brought a top secret project to the Lothal factories, but the local workers have begun to sabotage the assembly line.

The worker’s sabotage is a great idea in showing how they can fight back against the Empire with connections to our own history.  Unfortunately, the worker’s failure rate has been noticed and Thrawn has some rather harsh ways of dealing with the saboteurs.  We get an especially dark scene as a farmer turned worker is forced to test a speeder bike until it overheats and explodes.  There is no doubt that Thrawn is a bad guy who is not above getting his hands dirty.

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The top secret project turns out to be the TIE Defender program.  For those who didn’t play the fantastic TIE Fighter PC games from the 90’s.  It’s a heavily armed fighter with shields and a hyperdrive.  It could spell doom for the Rebel fighters, eliminating their one major advantage.  I was expecting a Death Star tie-in here, and while I loved seeing the TIE Defender get acknowledged, I think it’s a missed opportunity to not connect to Rogue One and the Death Star.

I’ve complained in the past about the lack of Thrawn’s endgame.  While we don’t get much more here, at least with the TIE Defender  we have a greater idea of what he is doing.  We finally got to see him do something different than watch the Rebels fly away and talk about how it was all part of his plan.

“An Inside Man” finally confirms what we’ve all suspected, that Agent Kallus is the new Fulcrum agent who has been feeding information to the Rebels.  It was not the best-kept secret, but the reveal helps give Kallus’ character an arc and says a lot about him.  The Rebels are unsure about the spy and it’s unclear if Thrawn suspects Kallus.  The animation team did a great job showing Kallus’ anxiety in the final moments.

This was a strong episode with great action, unexpected twists, and a lot to enjoy.  It’s much more in line with what has made the show so enjoyable the last 2 and a half years, with strong character arcs and a continuity between episodes.  It’s been great to see how the show has used Lothal as a microcosm for the escalating Imperial rule of the galaxy.  Every time our heroes leave and come back we see how things have gotten worse.

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