The Rebels have a problem.  They promised their support to the people of Lothal, but after Phoenix Squadron’s heavy losses they have become wary of any open engagement with the Empire.  All this has Ezra feeling they abandoned Lothal and it’s people.  An opportunity to help arrives when Ryder sends a message about a new TIE Defender program at the Lothal shipyards.

Unlike the last two weeks, these episodes are not a standard two-part episode.  The first episode “The Occupation” serves more as an introductory chapter to a multi-episode arc that will wrap up this half of the season.  It doesn’t really feel like a full episode standing on its own, there is no real third act resolution.  However, it does work as the opening of 5 episode story about the fight returning to Lothal.

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Rebels is their storytelling.  Episodes and seasons have carried forward into the next, but never before has each episode felt so connected as they do in this season.  It’s a type of long-form storytelling that has me very excited for where they can go with each episode and the finale.

“The Occupation” is fairly simple storywise, telling the story of how the Rebels returned to Lothal.  With them returning to Lothal, we do get the return of many elements from the first season.  First, Vizago is the one who has to smuggle them on to the planet, hiding them in with the puffer pigs.  The old bar they used to frequent is now run by the evil Baron.  Not only has Ezra and the crew returned home, but the show has as well.  However, things have changed in that time.  Now, we see a much darker world than we saw in season 1.  It’s the inverse, the world has been scorched and the stakes are infinitely higher.

Throughout “The Occupation” I was reminded of the Lord of the Rings and the Scouring of the Shire.  The heroes return home to see that everything has been destroyed and corrupted by evil.  Now, our heroes have to fight to retake their homes and restore what once was.

The second episode “Flight of the Defender” again follows a familiar story from season 1, Ezra steals a TIE fighter.  This time though, it’s a prototype TIE Defender and there is much more at stake than a joy ride.  The episode follows what we’d expect.  Ezra fights off the stormtroopers while Sabine tries to steal first the data recorder, then the fighter itself.  What really sets the episode apart is what happens later in the second and third acts of the episode.

The Not-Ahsoka Loth-wolves appear, and it seems that Ezra is the only one who can see them.  I’m not completely sure what the wolves represent but they clearly have a connection to not only Lothal but possibly even the Force.  Ezra says that they haven’t been seen in a century, but one appears and it spirits them away before they can be captured by the Empire.  Also, the white Loth-wolf can talk putting Sabine to sleep and then whispering “doom” or maybe it was “Dume.”  It’s clear that many other forces are at play here than just the Rebellion versus the Empire.  How big of a part of this will the Loth-cats and wolves play remains to be seen.

The parallels to season 1 are intriguing and I wonder if they will shed any light on the direction of the season or the finale.  Seeing the Rebels in their civilian costumes was fun, I always appreciate any chance to give our characters a new look.  My only real complaint is that I want an entire episode of Rex and Kallus arguing on board the Ghost and going on missions together.  I really enjoyed both of these episodes and the more time I’ve spent thinking about them the deeper they have gotten for me.

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