The liberation of Lothal continues as Star Wars Rebels goes headlong into the mid-season finale. This week we got two episodes taking us deeper into what is happening on Lothal. “Kindred” explores the mysteries of the force while “Crawler Commandeers” explores the Empire’s method of strip mining the planet.
Much like last week’s pair of episodes, these episodes do not do a very good job of standing on their own. “Kindred” especially feels like a piece of a larger whole. It’s about a journey, not so much the destination. This could be the most divisive episode of the series as it delves deeper into a deeper connection to the force on Lothal and not everyone will be happy with the story choices made here.
What makes this episode so possibly divisive is the inclusion of the Loth-wolves and the almost deus ex machina way they save the day. The wolves have a connection to the force and appear to have at least a basic intelligence. It’s unclear if they are fully sentient or not, but they are definitely smarter than the average creature. The wolves lead the Rebels out of an Imperial attack and end up taking them across the planet. Is it the force? Is it hyperspace? Is it bad writing? We are never fully sure. It probably works best to just handwave it away and say it’s the force. Hopefully, we won’t see this particular ability again.
Kanan speaks of feeling a connection to Lothal, as they always end up going back there, almost as if they were meant to be here. It’s interesting to see the characters talking about the premise of the show in a metaphysical way. It’s something that can easily go too far and end up breaking the fourth wall, but it’s handled well here. By the end of the episode, it’s said that the Empire is doing something to corrupt the planet and it’s connection to the force. Kanan and Ezra have more to worry about than just the TIE Defender.
“Kindred” also gives us the introduction of Rukh, Thrawn’s Noghri bodyguard. He makes a good new villain here and I hope we see him again. It’s doubtful that his relationship will play out the same way with Thrawn as it did in the books. I don’t think they have the time in the show to build up to that, plus I’d much rather see them do new things with the characters and not just have them follow what was done before.
With the Rebels now safely in the southern hemisphere they need a way to signal Hera and the Rebellion, but their communicator isn’t strong enough. Lucky for them, there is a Mining Guild Ore Crawler nearby if they can take control of it. Unlike the previous episode, “Crawler Commandeers” is much more action and adventure focused and less on the mysteries of the force. Almost the entire episode takes place on the Ore Crawler but the crawler is big enough to give us a variety of locations and sets to work with. I really enjoyed the design of the Ore Crawler being based on the World Devastators from Legends.
The Ore Crawler is run by several Trandoshans from the Mining Guild, the captain voiced by Seth Green. In a different story, he would be the hero saving his ship from the pirates, but in this one, he is not the hero, and he suffers a tragic end after slipping on Ezra’s lightsaber. It’s a dark end for this character and Ezra doesn’t do much to try and save him.
Both of these episodes are great examples of the high-quality work put in by this show. The episodes succeed on nearly every level, the Loth-wolves being the one main exception. Personally, the wolves worked for me, but I can see where some people would not like this type of magic fix. All of these episodes have been building towards the finale and it’s looking to be a spectacular finale.