Sunday, 27 November 2016

Star Wars Rebels S03E09 "The Wynkahthu Job"

"The Rebels team up with unscrupulous pirates to salvage a freighter full of weapons the Rebellion needs, but find the mission is more dangerous than anticipated."

What I thought

Now this is more like it! After having to drag my enthusiasm through the last 3-4 episodes of Rebels, we have a solid half hour of entertainment. Boy oh boy this was an amusing episode. Sure, it had absolutely very little to do with the main arc of Season 3; there was no Maul, no Thrawn, no Rebel fleet hanging about or even any Empire turning up. But, for once, that didn't matter because the entertainment came chiefly from this week's guest stars of the charismatic Hondo and his new crew: the rather silly Azmorigan and the lovably funny Melch, These three combined to produce a surprisingly likeable and enjoyable gang that bounced off each other brilliantly. We all know what fun and flamboyant mannerisms Hondo brings to every scene he's in, but even I expected very little from Azmorigan, and even less from Welch in terms of entertainment. How wrong was I? Azmorigan produced a gem of a segment when he went bonkers shooting down the Imperial Sentry droid and Welch was just adorably amusing whenever called upon.

The story itself didn't sound anywhere near exciting, with it being essentially just a salvaging expedition between the Ghost Crew and Hondo's crew. Strangely this week, we had literally the whole Ghost crew involved for this job when often they've been split up in recent episodes. We even had the welcomed return of the pessimistically groaning AP-5! He's surely a relation of the Rogue One droid in terms of his personality. Even when he's being positive he sounds very less than interested or caring, He, along with Hondo's crew, all gelled together wonderfully into this "smash and grab" of an episode full of humour and feel-good vibes.

It wasn't perfect of course. There was little real peril here and, yet again, a lack of sustenance with any Series 3 Plot Arc. I was really expecting Thrawn to appear at the end for ten seconds and waffle about it all being part of his plan. That never happened. There was no conspiracy to this humongous Imperial Cargo ship being primed for raiding. That was a slight shame but the episode was so enjoyable, it mattered little. If they aren't going to really concentrate on a central season arc, then this kind of episode is the next best thing. The previous 3-4 episodes weren't horrendous, but even combined, they were nowhere near as enjoyable as this episode.

What I liked

A thoroughly funny and entertaining episode, The brilliant charismatic Hondo was a riot and his crew far more amusing than anyone could have expected. Plus we got the return of AP-5!

What I didn't like

Solid though it was, this was a complete stand-alone episode that left out Thrawn, Fulcrum, and any of the current season's arc from the story ... whatever that arc is, because it's not really been built upon a lot yet, Disappointedly Ezra is back to acting like a child (which he is) after the manly opening episode and Kanan continues to look like blindness is no issue for him. Was there any need for the Hondo jokes about Kanan though? Oh, and there's big sentry droids on the Imperial cargo ships that we've never seen before? Right. That's a new one. And, hey, those droids look just like Cylons!

Rating 7/10 (Very good)

It was great to have the funny Hondo back!

Azmorigan produced several entertaining segments this episode which was a real surprise to me!

AP-5! He's back! We've missed the pessimistic one!

Shouldn't they all be carried off in the wind instead of jumping straight down? Plus, that's still one hell of a drop!

Welch was cute and funny

Some beautiful visuals again this week

Imperial sentry droids? I'm not having it. They are Cylon knock-offs!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Star Wars Rebels S03E08 "Iron Squadron"


"The Rebels team up to tame a young rogue hotshot pilot and his crew who recklessly risk their lives in a fight to defend their homeworld from Imperial occupation."

What I thought

Continuing on from a number of underwhelming episodes since the opener of Series 3, this week is yet another filler of sorts that seems to only exist for … well, I’m not really sure what the point was of this episode really. I can’t imagine the “children” of the Iron Squadron will ever appear in the show again. The only plot plus I can possibly see in this episode which develops or reveals anything meaningful, is to do with Thrawn and Fulcrum. Not only do we see more manipulation and pondering thoughts by Thrawn this week but we also get an ever clearer indication that Fulcrum is Kallus. At least to me it seems highly likely. I’m also wondering if Thrawn already realises this? Certainly Thrawn knew about who the Iron Squadron were and that by letting them get their way for a while it might drawn in Jun Sato, which eventually it did. Was it me, or did it seem like Sato and Thrawn knew each other? There seemed to be familiarity between them in their brief conversation.

Aside from Sato and Fulcrum, this was a bog standard run-of-the-mill episode with nothing really spectacular or gripping to really drag it up from being simply watchable for half hour. It felt like we’ve seen this kind of episode in about 101 different variations since Rebels began. You know the drill, Ghost Crew heading to planet having Empire trouble, find someone in trouble, save them but something goes a little wrong, and the Rebels return to fix what went wrong and also get away from the Empire again. Yup, it’s that kind of thing. Thankfully, the actual kids of the Iron Squadron didn’t get too much dialogue and weren’t too annoying although there was nothing much particular intriguing about them. Not sure why it was three kids and a droid leading any resistance at all to the impending Empire assault and not a few more adults at least. Chopper once again saved the episode with a few memorable moments with the Iron Squadron’s droid where they battled over fixing the hyper drive, and then when he pushed the nervous droid out of the airlock - Classic Chopper. Kanan once again showed that a blind Jedi using the force is almost as good as one with sight, as he manned the controls of the Ghost and took out a few TIE-fighters. This is all hard to grasp, only because he seems to have mastered it all in no time at all. As said before, I can believe he’d get to this level of expertise, but not this quickly and easily. I suppose he is already a trained Jedi so maybe it’s not such a big step when one actually accepts the situation and embraces the force? I dunno.

This was a feel good episode, a victory of sorts for the Rebels, whilst the only thing missing from the closing scene were some trumpets and the awarding of medals as the Iron Squadron kids celebrate, Sato hugs his nephew, and everyone is happy. Just a shame there wasn’t a scene after that which threw a spanner in the works, as that wold have made up for the entire episode.

What I liked = More Thrawn strategy and pondering. Chopper’s antics, Fulcrum intrigue. Does Sato know Thrawn? Zeb had enough sense to leave the Iron Squadron to Hera & Co.

What I didn’t like = Another variation of a typical standard Rebel’s episode, nothing much really happened of any note.

Rating 5/10 (Ok)

Monday, 14 November 2016

Star Wars Rebels S03E07 "Imperial Super Commandos"

"Having lost contact with the Protectors of Concord Dawn, Sabine, Ezra and their captured leader Fenn Rau investigate, but find the base has been taken over by Imperial Mandalorians."

What I thought

Confession time. I’m not the biggest Mandalorian fan. Sure, I love Boba Fett, and even Jango, plus those suits and gadgets are super cool, but they’ve never really done anything for me in the Clone Wars cartoon or Rebels whenever there’s been a Mandalorian episode. I don’t know a lot about their history, not being a book reader, but it seems to come down to clans battling each other, which is an interesting concept but it’s never risen above “oh look, they look cool”, which means I rarely really raise my interest level above “meh” when they are on Rebels. Also, as pleasant as Sabine is, there doesn’t appear to be much interesting to her backstory. She seems to be someone who can kick ass, look pretty in armour, mention bits about Mandalorian history and then ... well, this sums up the whole Mandalorian culture. It’s just not super interesting. I’m not sure if that’s due to a lack of decent stories in the star wars cartoons or because they really aren’t all that exciting. They blooming well should do because they look cool.
From the moment we have Sabine in that guy’s cell playing a game, saying how he hates being their pawn, and Sabine wanting him to join the rebels, you sort of know where this might go. Then, almost nanoseconds later, you have him, Sabine, and a rather random tagalong in Ezra, all being sent on this scouting mission to find out what’s happened to their Mandalorian contacts who were giving them safe passage through that area of space whilst they had their boss prisoner. I was never happy about this whole prisoner thing in the first place. Doesn't sound like the way of rebels and this story did little to convince me that they weren't behaving badly and simply convincing themselves that they were doing some good. Fenn Rau did a great job of his reasoning for being very disgruntled over the situation. I was very much behind him all the way, until one moment of overhearing what the imperial commandos did to his former clan, and he’s suddenly thankful that he was a rebel prisoner??? Sure, he’s alive because of the rebels but that’s hardly the point huh? He doesn’t even think much of Sabine’s clan or her rationality but he is not only semi compliant with her plans but then goes full circle and hooks up with the rebels?!?!!?! I feel like I’ve missed something along the way here.
There wasn’t a lot to enjoy for me in this episode with it bring Heavily Mandalorian focussed. There were no funky Mandalorian gadgets either sadly, just them donning their helmets, looking cool and, yes, those jet packs. After the Inquisitor lightsabre helicopters, it’s hard to enjoy anything non-metal flying about in this show. And what about Ezra? Still don’t know why he was picked for this episode. After appearing like he’d really grown self-assured and more powerful in previous episodes, he was like a young child with no clue this week until he actually did something useful when hanging off Sabine through the ravine.
Sure enough, this episode got Fenn Rau on board with the rebels; this time though as a willing participant, notwithstanding the fact that he was previously an unwilling prisoner, and that his clan got killed whilst he was incarcerated. He’s supposed to be a top dog and well known, so hopefully he’s a lot better than those imperial commando Mandalorians who were nothing more than storm troopers with a jet pack, so rubbish was their efforts. The leader of them was competent enough but you wonder how those numpties managed to get rid of a whole clan, unless they had the weight of the Empire with them?
A watchable episode with some elements to enjoy, but on the whole, rather forgettable in many ways.

What I liked = Mandalorians look super cool. Glad Fenn Rau hasn’t been forgotten about. Chopper’s very brief moments, including “It was an accident” when catching Ezra, were amusing.

What I didn’t like = Mandalorian past doesn’t sound interesting enough, and they come across as rather boring outside of their suits. The jet pack pursuit was a little silly from the perspective of Ezra hanging on to Sabine for most of it. Wasn’t keen on Fenn Rau’s change of heart, given the forcefulness of his imprisonment.

Rating 5/10 (ok).

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Star Wars Rebels S03E06 "The Last Battle"

"On a salvage mission led by Captain Rex, Ezra and the gang are captured by a unit of old battle droids determined to fight one last battle to end the Clone Wars."

What I thought

I was looking forward to this from the moment I heard that there was going to be a battle droid episode. Sadly, this failed to live up to my expectations, not least because of it’s somewhat insistence to be a pun-fest of clone wars anecdotes. Then there was the far too obvious scenario that was going to materialise from the minute the Empire showed up, and that the whole episode really only dumbed down what was an absorbing Clone Wars into a couple of tactical situations that were simplistic and over quicker than two quick things. Sigh.

Te fact that a command droid and a hoard of battle droids could have still existed was plausible. Up until the moment that the war game was suggested, everything was pretty acceptable. I was looking forward to perhaps a longer drawn out battle than we got, which turned out to be a simple few waves of droids, one tactical manoeuvre and a final quick kiss and make up between former separatists and republic literally seconds before the Empire showed up. Yes, this is the cartoon effect I know, but after hearing just about every reference to the clone wars drilled out one after the other, it was quite something to accept the truce came about so easily. In hindsight, I guess both sides realised they were manipulated by the Empire but you’d think either could and should have worked that out long before this episode started! What had either side been thinking for the x number of years? Jeez.

Sure, it was satisfying to see the separatist army and republic join together to take on the Empire but it was short-lived as there appeared to be next to no droids left by then, and pretty much none left at the end thanks to the battle droids escaping shuttle being the only shuttle that got shot down. Shame the Command droid left when you’d think he’d want to be part of the rebellion and use his sophisticated battle skills once more but alas no. On the plus side we got a flashback to the clone wars in this episode which was our bread and butter once upon a time in the cartoon world. One has missed the ridiculously thick battle droid logic and their sense of humour but I do feel this episode should and could have been a tad better and maybe made a bit more of a thing about how bad and epic the clone wars was.
  • Good = Battle droids stupidity and humour is much loved. Clone War battle nostalgia.
  • Didn’t Like = Too much Clone war referencing puns, Ezra’s calling the truce, Control droid heading off alone, another young AT-AT vehicle easily taken down in what was one hell of an exercise in ESB.
Rating 6/10 (Good)