Friday, December 11, 2015

Rebels Review: "Legacy"

By: Dominic Jones

The first half of Season Two of Star Wars Rebels wrapped up last night with the episode "Legacy", ending on an emotional note for Ezra.  The episode finally resolved the mystery of Ezra's parents, and provided some of the most poignant scenes to date on the series.

The strength of the episode lies in the performances of Taylor Gray, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Clancy Brown as Ezra, Kanan, and Ryder Azadi, the former governor of Lothal and friend to Mira and Ephraim Bridger.  The script contained some very heavy material and, to the show's credit, there was no attempt to undercut it with a witty line from Zeb or some Chopper antics.  Instead, the actors and characters were given a chance to shine as they dealt with the reality that Ezra's parents are dead.

The reveal of Ezra's parents’ death was surprising given the hints that had been laid over the past season and a half that there was more to their disappearance.  However, having them survive until recently was a nice twist on a classic scenario.  The fact that they got to hear Ezra's message of hope to the people of Lothal in last season's "Call to Action" adds extra significance to an already important scene.  Also, by revealing that Ezra's parents are dead the show sent a strong message: sometimes good guys die.

The audience are reminded that the characters are dealing with real stakes and not everyone gets a happy ending.  The flashback scene in which Ezra remembers his parents sent an equally strong and equally important message about the importance of honoring the memory of those that have gone before.  For Ezra, this means continuing the fight against the Empire, knowing that his parents died in that same struggle because they believed in the cause, and in a better future for the galaxy.

Commenting about this in "Rebels Recon" this week, series writer Henry Gilroy said that they wanted to avoid repeating Luke's story by making Ezra's goal simply to reunite with or discover the truth about his parents.  Allowing Ezra to know the truth about his parents’ fate opens up different story possibilities, giving him yet another driving motivation to want to help bring down the Empire. The way the show handled Ezra's parents in this episode was strong, and freed the series of that storyline without cheapening it.

The second half of this week’s instalment, which focused entirely on Kanan and Ezra, was the highlight of the episode.  It was a daring choice by the series to end the first half of the Season on an emotional beat rather than in a blaze of action, as in  Season One which went into it's winter break with a massive showdown between Ezra, Kanan, and the Grand Inquisitor.

The character of Ryder Azadi was an interesting addition this week.  As the former governor of Lothal and a Rebel sympathizer, it will be interesting to see where he finds his place within the Rebellion, if he even chooses to join.  In "Legacy" his role was simply as messenger for the news of Ezra's parents but, based on the previews, it looks like he'll be more involved when the show returns in January.  Perhaps he'll reveal something new about Lothal, such as why the Empire has such interest in this backwater world, or possibly what it is that Minister Tua was going to tell the Rebels about the Empire’s true purpose on Lothal before her death in "The Siege of Lothal".  What excites me most about Ryder is the possibility that he may open up some plotlines that have been on the back burner this season.

The pacing of this episode, however, was a bit of a weak point.  So much exposition needed to be crammed into the first half of the episode, along with an Imperial Invasion separate Kanan and Ezra from the rest of the Rebels this week.  The Ezra's parents plot line had been a throughline for Season One, but wasn't something that had been dealt with, or even mentioned, at all during Season Two.  As a result, a lot needed to be packed into the first few minutes of the episode to establish where Ezra’s parents were.  There was definitely a rush by the show to get back to Lothal, so the invasion of Garel didn't carry the weight it really needed.

These opening moments of the episode seem to be symptomatic of the lack of a clear overarching plot line that has plagued this season.  While the writing crew laid out what they believe are the key plot points of the Season in this week’s Rebels Recon -- the search for a Rebel base and the eventual showdown between Ahsoka Tano and Darth Vader -- unfortunately, the stand alone nature of the episodes of the season’s first half resulted in those storylines lacking in any real sense of urgency.  Hopefully, when the show returns in January and these storylines draw nearer to their conclusion we'll get more of a sense of what has really been driving this season.

Overall, "Legacy" was an emotional way to end the first half of Season Two.  It was a bold decision to end on tragedy, rather than action or triumph.  The back half of the episode gave the actors a chance to shine, while ending a long running story arc in an unexpected way that sets up Ezra nicely for the future.  While the pacing of the episode and the lack of build up to this particular plot line this season led to the first half of the episode feeling rushed, the second half showed us what the show is truly capable of when dealing the realities of war and the tragedy that comes with it.

Score: 8/10

You can follow me on Twitter: @DominicJ25

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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