Galactic Hunter Video Theater Presents: Star Wars Rebels - Empire Day

By Adam Pawlus — Monday, November 17, 2014

This is a good one. Star Wars Rebels finds its voice with "Empire Day." There are cameos, there's a lot of action, and best of all it's a fun ride. You get to see some fun new things, and the episode not only shows you someone else with Lobot's cybernetic implant, but we actually get a decent hint as to what the future for this show may hold!

This is the episode you'll show your friends who have their arms crossed and refuse to give it a chance - it's just that good. Standard spoilers apply, plus a warning/guarantee of another Kenner cameo. Read on for more!



While The Clone Wars hit the ground running with Ahsoka more or less realized out the gate, Rebels has struggled to really identify itself so far. A smaller cast, lower budget, and presumably more restrictions thanks to the meeting of the new boss, Ezra and friends have been treading water up until now. We got some great character time last week, but mostly we've just been presented with cartoonish villains and similarly flat heroes. The slapstick is mixed, the relationships are still something of a mystery, but at least now the show has a purpose thanks to a cliffhanger: what happened to Ezra'a parents?

The episode focuses on Lothal celebrating by force the national Empire Day. In short, it's sort of like your high school pep rallies or the thing in The Hunger Games where the clown lady picks your name out of a fishbowl (only it isn't like the good kind of getting something picked out of a fishbowl), with more explosions and guns. Nobody really wants to be there and the Empire's recurring cast of characters are making sure that there's some level of enthusiasm going on in the midst of their hunt for the cybernetically enhanced Rodian named Tseebo.


Tseebo is the lovechild of Data, Greedo, and Lobot. He's basically been "upgraded" as a fancy data clerk and these new components fried part of his personality, which in grand cartoon tradition comes back with a well-placed conk to the head. After babbling stats and plans and trivia, we eventually find out that he's loaded with the entire Empire construction plan. New TIE Fighters are being developed, AT-AT schematics are in his head, and he's loose - so the Empire wants him, and our heroes are hanging around and are apparently willing to help him for no readily apparent reason other than maybe somebody would like to talk to the green space Abed Nadir.


Naturally our heroes are largely successful, but the amount of action in this episode is just wonderful. We get explosions and fireworks. We see the Inquisitor's TIE Fighter and get some great ship battles. We even get a car chase between the Speeder Bikes, a stolen Imperial Troop Transport, and not-stolen transports. Things move swiftly, cornball fighting is kept to a minimum, and there's so much activity you'll miss cool things like a blue jerkin Kenner-inspired Hammerhead or that the dive bar seems to employ repurposed Old Republic Gunships for its awnings. Every episode of this show looks pretty good, but this one was a real feast for the eyes. Well, chewing gum, at the very least. Who doesn't love a good freeway chase?


You get to see jerky TIE pilots, a red-striped Baron, even the return of Maketh Tua, Gall Trayvis, and pretty much anybody and everybody who would make a good action figure so far. Nobody gets hurt (at least nobody of any real consequence) but the sheer amount of explosions and violence is, well, it's a lot. I know we're dealing with the Good Guys, but seeing people blow up crowds of people and hardware after you see Kanan try to convince Ezra to make friends with the little cat creature after he beans it with a rock doesn't speak highly of the character of our heroes. There's a level of self-assuredness you really only see in cartoons, particularly the gang-war based conflicts of the 1980s toy-adjacent syndicated entertainment programs. Rebels continues that proud tradition where the world is black and white and the guys wearing black and white are shot.


The music wasn't distracting as much as usual, plus we got to hear a marching band version of the Imperial March during the fascist festivities. The glossy finish on the Stormtroopers is so beautiful it continues to hurt. I just love it. The streets are nice and wide, feeling like paintings came to life. They're also pretty empty as city streets go, but such is the life of a TV show on a smaller budget.


Oh, right, and there's a point to all of this - apparently Ezra's mom and pop were Rebel sympathizers, and Tseebo is in some way involved with their departure - just before we cut to black, he tells us that he knows what happened to them. After seeing what happened when we "found" Luminara Unduli, it's great to know that the writers of this series aren't afraid to go pitch-black once in a while. For 22 minutes of exposition, this may well be the finest 22 minutes of the series so far - it's absolutely worth checking out.


Takeaway from this week:
Ezra's parents are named Ephraim and Mira. I assume Ephraim is a nod to Wicket the Ewok's dad, but there are so many Miras the reference isn't an obvious one.
Hey, Chopper wasn't a pain in the neck this week! Good for him.
Was this the first time Sienar Systems was spoken aloud?
Kanan's attempt to get out of the Stormtrooper's wrath by acting like a redneck... he really isn't like other Jedi is he?

Next time: The Empire will spend some time "Gathering Forces" unless the Rebels do it first. See you in a week!