“Through Imperial Eyes”
Grand Admiral Thrawn has nearly discovered that Agent Kallus is the Rebel spy code-named Fulcrum. Phoenix Squadron has sent Ezra undercover to retrieve Kallus before he could be exposed. Thrawn is not so easily fooled, and Kallus’s attempts to protect himself serve only to tighten the noose around his neck.
The episode delivers on the title in the cold opening as we get a first person view of his life aboard the Imperial cruiser. I’m glad they did not have the whole episode be in the first person. One scene is a fun stylistic choice, the whole episode it would just be a gimmick. The episode is centered around Kallus, and he appears in nearly every scene. The rest of the characters are merely supporting cast in his ever more tragic tale.
Not only is this episode Kallus centric, but it’s also very Imperial-centric. Nearly every major Imperial figure that we have met in the show to date appears. It’s like a greatest hits compilation of Imperial officers. Several figure prominently in the plot, while others are just there to fill out the non-speaking roles. We see Brunson who was defeated on Geonosis and Brom Titus who was bested by Ezra earlier this season and previously in Season 2. They are part of a group that Kallus calls “sector command.” I’m not sure if they are meant to be the same characters or not, if they are the same it would seem that they have failed upwards.
There is one new Imperial officer among the group and he is very familiar to us. Colonel Yularen makes his Rebels debut, looking more like the man we see in A New Hope than the Admiral from The Clone Wars. I love to see them bring in the older characters, bridging them from The Clone Wars and prequel films into the original trilogy era.
I appreciate seeing the Imperials portrayed not as the bumbling, cartoonish villains that we frequently imagine them to be, instead they are shown to be intelligent and calculating. Governor Pryce and Thrawn get several scenes to show off their physical skills as well. Elevating the villains also elevates our heroes as we see how good our heroes are at defeating them. Thrawn is still the smartest one in the room, he is not surrounded by sycophantic dullards but by a range of intelligent officers.
By the end of the episode, we can see that several major steps have been made towards the finale. Thrawn really is treating the rebels like it’s a game of chess. We see him calculating their strategies and pushing them towards his endgame. It no longer feels like he is merely standing by and letting them win. In his last two appearances he has felt much more active, we can see more of what he is working at.
By the end of the episode, I was feeling so much for Kallus. He has to feel like he dodged a bullet, but there is something so much worse coming down the line for him. I am starting to genuinely wonder if he will survive to the end of the season or not.
There is a lot to enjoy in this episode. It’s mostly small scale, there is no major action setpiece, but it’s a taut, well-constructed and written thriller. The last few episodes have dealt with a lot of interpersonal, family drama. This time around it’s back to the larger story of the fight to free Lothal.