Galactic Hunter Video Theater Presents: Star Wars Rebels - Rise of the Old Masters

By Adam Pawlus — Monday, October 27, 2014

Now this is a bit better. In "Rise of the Old Masters," Star Wars Rebels gives us no rising and only one master. It also ties in perfectly with the bonus scene featuring Darth Vader, and aligns nicely with this week's Halloween holiday. You get some cool cameos, but still a very sparse episode - it is, however, more fun to watch and a little ghoulish to dwell upon.

Spoilers await you after the break, but let me tell you this: you get to se a new villain in action, a possible new recurring character voiced by a Star Trek alumnus, and the Phantom in action. Read on for more!



As you may (or may not) know, I base the success of Star Wars on TV by how it matches up against Star Trek. It's a good barometer - you're dealing with limited budgets and sets, a strong central cast, and (if you were born after 1975) sci-fi themes that have been there as long as you lived and then some. On occasion, Star Wars pays tribute to the old sci-fi standard with a cameo. We got Sulu in The Clone Wars, and Rebels gives us Mr. Data - Brent Spiner - in a brief role as Gall Trayvis. Trayvis is, basically, a Rebel podcaster and former member of the Senate who is seemingly (and perhaps unwittingly) a puppet for the Empire. The spot was brief, so I can only assume this was done to introduce us to the character for future episodes. Also, I strongly suggest watching the episode before continuing reading.


SO! Why are we here? The Rebels hear a broadcast indicating that Luminara Unduli is being held captive by the Empire in the Spire, which was in the Son of Dathomir comics you didn't read. We don't see many security people, despite hearing it's heavily guarded. We don't get to see any other prisoners either, which seems like a wasted opportunity if your crew breaks into the most fortified prison in (I assume) the sector - why not use it as a chance to free some other guy, just in case we need him later?

The reason our trusty crew goes in to save Unduli is because Kanan is trying to train Ezra and isn't very good at it - the show goes full-Firefly quirk mode for an amusing Jedi training sequence in which, as far as I can tell, Chopper is pelting the young trainee with milk cartons and Zeb tries to throw him off the ship. It's a little much. We get to see quite a bit of action for the break-in, which has a lot of Force fun and a couple of decent firefights.


After dropping off the crew to break in to the prison, Hera uses the oldest trick in the book to hide on a cliff while jamming signals so nobody can find her. This signal also happens to give the flying (I assume) aiwhas a hard case of the... well, the desire to make with the whoopee, it seems, and the besotted creatures are trying to boink the Phantom. Charming. I assume this was to give us some comic relief, but it's not particularly funny and really all it does is make us wonder how, if everything is jammed, running off will help our crew get away when the doo-doo inevitably hits the proverbial fan. And of course, it does - and we get one of the most delightfully ghoulish twists I've ever seen in Star Wars.


The big stunner is that after braving turbolifts and troopers and everything they can to get to who may be the last known living Jedi master, they quickly and easily find her cell. And she's there - but she's oddly quiet. It turns out she's a hologram. The reason that Kanan could sense her presence was that her dried-out corpse was in the cell, guarded by Stormtroopers not even authorized to see what was inside all these years. I now feel bad for insinuating that the Empire of this series were a bunch of chunky cream puffs - stealing fruit and farms is bush-league stuff, but capturing your enemy and entombing her remains to use as bait to capture or kill her friends? That's evil. I was more than a little shocked when the camera whips back to reveal none other than the nameless Inquisitor in his very first in-the-flesh appearance. Generally I don't get a case of the feels when watching Star Wars in any form, but I've always found the destruction of a heroic character in order to service the antagonists to be disturbing. The Borg used heroes as raw material for their conquests, Zombies often do as well. To see your hopes not only crushed, but to see that a comrade didn't get a proper burial is the kind of thing nobody should just bounce back from seeing.


And yet, they do - the whole story was to free an old hero and get Ezra a better teacher. Not only do our heroes fail, but they continue ahead bravely almost as if nothing happened. The carrying forward part is admirable and a great lesson for anyone regarding how to deal with a setback, but but I'd like to think I'd be more than a little shaken up if I found out my enemy was exploiting the dead in such a manner. There are few moments which will probably haunt me for a while, and that reveal is certainly going to spook me more than anything I see for Halloween this week.


This is the first episode that feels like we're really going anywhere, and yet we go nowhere. The classic method of TV storytelling was to get us back to square one every week, as that makes a show easier to access over time. (See: 1980s Saturday Morning TV other than, like, Droids.) After the obligatory pilot, the obligatory "let's bring back recognizable characters" episode, and a dull shopping trip, I have to say that I hope this is the turning point of the first season. I hope you already saw this episode before reading the review, because man, it's a good one.

Takeaway from this week:
They really make the most out of existing models - the return of the prison cell, more TIE fighters, more Stormtroopers... the big takeaway this week was the first real full use of the Inquisitor for a pretty neat fight with the classic "join me, good guy, we can be bad together!" speech.
Prison breaks seem to be standard issue for any genre show or video game, especially if it's from Square-Enix or having to do with Star Wars. It's a pretty lightly-defended building, don't you think?
Gall Trayvis looks like a 2D drawing as opposed to the 3D characters in the show. Cost cutting? Stylistic choice?
Brent Spiner is the first regular spin-off cast member to be featured in a Star Wars cartoon, unless I missed one. Previously, we got George Takei as Neimoidian Lok Durd.

Next time: "Breaking Ranks." I don't know what this one is about yet. See you in a week!