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*Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “Gathering Forces.”

Following directly on the heels of last week’s “Empire Day,” this week’s episode “Gathering Forces” jumps right back into the action as the Ghost continues to be pursued by an Inquisitor-led squadron of TIE fighters.  The chase has now left the Lothal atmosphere and as it reaches the vacuum of space, additional Imperial forces join the fight and our heroes are left to contend with not only a multitude of the smaller craft but Star Destroyers as well.

In the midst of this tense environment, an even more volatile situation is brewing within the bowels of the Ghost, for it is here that young Ezra Bridger vents his frustration and anger at Tseebo, former friend of his parents and Imperial data technician.  At the end of “Empire Day,” the Rodian fugitive revealed that he knew the fate of Ezra’s parents, and though Ezra pleads with Tseebo to reveal whether or not the boy’s parents have died, neither he nor the audience is given that answer.  Understandably frustrated by Tseebo’s inability (or refusal) to bring closure to this matter, Ezra vows never to forgive Tseebo for his lack of loyalty to his parents.

But with more pressing matters at hand, Ezra is called by Hera to report to the Ghost’s cockpit to assist with the navacomputer which has been damaged (along with Chopper) by several precise blasts from the Inquisitor’s TIE fighter.  And although Ezra is underqualified to perform the required task, Tseebo has tagged along with the boy and instinctively beams coordinates from his cybernetic headset directly into the navacomputer which allows the Ghost to quickly go into hyperspace and flee their Imperial pursuers.

As Rebels is wont to do, “Gathering Forces” borrows from classic Star Wars tropes here, as the Inquisitor continues to stalk his prey through the use of an Imperial XX-23 S-Thread tracker which monitors the Ghost’s trajectory even as the rebel starship maneuvers through hyperspace.  Fortunately for our heroes, the tracker landed on the Phantom and this affords most of the Ghost crew–along with Tseebo–an opportunity to disappear from the Imperials.  As part of a daring gambit, Kanan and Ezra take command of the Phantom, detach the landing craft from the Ghost while traveling through hyperspace, and attempt to lead the Inquisitor and his forces into an ambush.

Fort_Anaxes

Returning to Fort Anaxes, the abandoned Republic base located on a large asteroid and featured prominently in “Out of Darkness,” Kanan pilots the Phantom directly into the abandoned hangar that is home to the nightmarish fyrnocks, the creatures who just recently terrorized Hera and Sabine.  And though Ezra admits his fear of the place of and of Kanan’s plan to connect with the creatures, the boy’s master assures him that everyone feels fear and that by admitting that fear, Ezra has proven himself to be braver than most.

But what Ezra is most afraid of is not the fyrnocks.  Rather it is knowing what actually happened to his parents.  As he admitted to Sabine at an earlier point in the episode, his abandonment of any hope of seeing them again has fueled his own will to survive.  But now in order to survive the fyrnocks and to have any chance against the Imperial forces soon to be arriving, Ezra must open himself up to those fears and accept them.  Finally doing this very thing, Ezra forgives Tseebo for whatever part he played in his parents’ fate and firmly connects with the surrounding fyrocks through the Force in a powerful way.  He and Kanan are now in control of the fyrnocks, and as they gather their forces, stand a fighting chance against the Inquisitor.

In another part of the galaxy, Ezra’s forgiveness has another effect as Tseebo returns to a state of lucidity just in time to depart the Ghost and meet up with Hera’s contact, Fulcrum.  There has been a lot of speculation online about the true identity of Fulcrum, and one such report seems to have a lot of merit.

But “Gathering Forces” does not reveal that bit of information just yet.  All we do get as far as confirmation goes is that Fulcrum apparently travels with Bail Organa (if he’s not Bail Organa) because the Tantive IV is the other starship at the rendezvous with the Ghost.  In any case, Tseebo joins with Fulcrum and the Rodian’s stolen Imperial files will be put to good use.

Inquisitor arrives

Back at Fort Anaxes, the Inquisitor arrives and his shuttle disembarks from a Star Destroyer in a sequence that beautifully evokes Darth Vader’s arrival at Death Star II in Return of the Jedi.  And like the aforementioned Dark Lord of the Sith, the Pau’an Dark Side adept has been able to sense his quarry from across the galaxy.  Finally on the asteroid, the Inquisitor leads his battalion of Stormtroopers into the fyrnock-infested hangar where Kanan and Ezra have kept the creatures calm until the proper time.  As the Stormtroopers draw close, the fyrnocks are unleashed and several of the Imperials are instantly dispatched.

Inquisitor vs Kanan

But the Inquisitor is neither endangered nor impressed by Kanan’s plan.  Rather, he easily advances through the attacking fyrnocks, killing several on his way to engage Kanan in a fierce lightsaber duel.  This battle, like their previous encounter, finds Kanan at a severe disadvantage and his desperation even results in the Jedi attempting to introduce his blaster into the skirmish.  But the Inquisitor quickly relieves Kanan of both his weapons, and when Ezra attempts to intervene by picking up Kanan’s fallen lightsaber, the Dark Side user quickly takes it for his own use.

Triumphant, the Inquisitor begins to both mock and entice Ezra.  “Your meager training is nothing in the face of true power,” he tells the boy in an homage Palpatine’s words to Luke in Return of the Jedi.  And like both Palpatine in Jedi and Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, the Inquisitor directs Ezra to unleash his anger and access the Dark Side in order to face him properly.

Ezra Dark Side

Much to the surprise of the Inquisitor (and I’m sure many viewers), Ezra does tap into the Dark Side and calls upon the Force to take control of a gargantuan fyrnock and unleash it upon his enemy.  The Inquisitor is visibly alarmed by Ezra’s power, as is Kanan who cries out in horror in response to his Padawan’s choice. but the Dark Side quickly overwhelms the boy and he soon collapses.

Gathering_Forces_5

With the giant fyrnock on the loose, the chaos allows our heroes to regroup just long enough to make their way back to the Phantom.  The Inquisitor eventually defeats the enormous beast and nearly prevents their escape, but Kanan and Ezra do manage to fly out of the hangar relatively unscathed and destroy the Imperial shuttle on their way out.  As the Inquisitor quips, his master “will not be pleased.”

Ezra despondent

Back on the Ghost, Ezra is both confused and despondent about his foray into the Dark Side.  His powers are growing quickly, and Kanan’s concerns about his ability to properly train the boy resurface in a quick exchange with Hera.  It remains to be seen how this Dark Side aptitude will play out as Rebels continues, but one has to at least wonder if it will play a part in the Ghost crew’s lack of presence in the Original Trilogy.

“Gathering Forces” concludes with a touching scene that features Sabine comforting Ezra with a gift.  It seems that the young Mandalorian salvaged a bit of family history during their time in Ezra’s old house and presents him with a holodisk containing a picture of the boy and his parents.  It’s a bit like Leia comforting Luke after the loss of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and as Sabine wishes Ezra happy birthday, we’re all left wondering what the next year will bring for the crew of the Ghost.

Ezra's_parents!

Gathering Forces” is a powerful end to the first half of Rebels‘ first season, and if the burgeoning drama of the last few episodes is any indication of what’s to come moving forward, Star Wars Rebels is very much on its way to becoming one of the most fascinating parts of Star Wars lore.

Thank you for reading! If you have feedback or just want to say hello, you can leave a comment on this page or email me at cdickinson@coffeewithkenobi.com. You can also contact me on Twitter @influxman or check out my Rogue page on “Star Wars in the Classroom.”

And don’t forget to check out Rebels Reactions for even more insight, discussion, and analysis of this episode.

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7 Comments

  1. Craig Dickinson
    November 24, 2014 at 23:34 Reply

    **Writer’s update: according to starwars.com, the Corellian Corvette that appears in this episode is not the Tantive IV after all (http://www.starwars.com/tv-shows/star-wars-rebels/gathering-forces-trivia-gallery)

    1. Melinda
      November 26, 2014 at 09:42 Reply

      For a little while, we could dream … 😉 It would have been kind of fun if it HAD BEEN the Tantive IV. 🙂

      1. Yves
        December 19, 2014 at 09:57 Reply

        “Sundered Heart” is the name of that particular Correllian Corvette. The predecessor of the Tantive-4, so to speak. The same ship used by Bail Organa in “Revenge of the Sith” and the first posting of captain Antilles, the would be captain of the Tantive-4 in “A New Hope”. So, yeah it is not the Tantive-4, but it is the ship you were thinking of! ; )

  2. Dennis
    November 25, 2014 at 23:33 Reply

    Nice review, Craig. Here are a few of my observations.

    First, I think Sabine’s insistence that Ezra find out about his parents says something about her. I’m beginning to wonder if there is a mystery as to the fate of her family, and because of that, she is envious of Ezra’s opportunity to learn about his parents. I also thought it was a nice birthday offering that signaled how much Sabine has come to accept Ezra as part of the Ghost’s family.

    Second, with regards to Fulcrum, I’m more confused than ever. That apparently wasn’t the Tantive IV. However, I don’t think just anyone has the resources to have a Corellian Corvette/Rebel Blockade Runner at their disposal. If it had been the Tantive IV, I think that would suggest that Kanan doesn’t know who Fulcrum is, and that Hera is the only one on the crew that did. We already knew that Sabine didn’t know Fulcrum’s identity, but it is made clear that Zeb doesn’t know either, but that he wants to know too.

    Third, I’m trying to decide what to make of Ezra’s reaction to touching the Dark Side when he summoned the giant frynock. He passes out, but when he comes to, he is afraid of what happened and seeks solace from Kanan. Contrast that with Anakin. When he slaughtered the Tuskens on Tatooine, he confided in Padme and eventually told Chancellor Palpatine, but he didn’t seek help from the Jedi, who would be in the best position to guide him through that experience. Padme consoles him, and Palpatine tells him that revenge is natural. I was a little concerned that Kanan told him that it was probably just best that he didn’t remember much about it, but was happy to see that he was going to discuss it with Hera.

    Despite that, I like that Kanan is growing into his role as a teacher and master to Ezra. He is learning what environment works best for encouraging growth in Ezra’s abilities. He is honest about his own shortcomings. He is not afraid to admit to Ezra that he isn’t perfect, and he apologizes for his failures. There is much to admire of Kanan as a teacher.

    This episode contained one of my favorite moments in all of Star Wars with Ezra confronting his fear of the truth. That is a problem for so many people, and the inability to confront harsh realities can be paralyzing.

    I give this episode an A+. It has been my favorite so far.

  3. Melinda
    November 26, 2014 at 09:41 Reply

    Craig, once again you regale us with your in-depth, thrilling recount of what happened in the week’s episode of “Rebels”. I think I have mentioned to you before that I don’t stop by until after I have watched the episode (I am lucky enough that I am able to watch “Rebels” on Disney XD). Stopping by to read your blog is my second “viewing” — a fun way to experience each episode!

    Thank you for doing this. 🙂

    MTFBWY 🙂

    1. Craig Dickinson
      November 26, 2014 at 13:23 Reply

      My pleasure, Melinda! I have a lot of fun doing them and it’s my way of “viewing” the episodes again as well.

  4. Adjua Z.M. Adama
    November 30, 2014 at 01:27 Reply

    Discussed in this edition:
    •The role of the barkeep and tavern owner as the center of revolution.
    •Belly of the Beast: How a Joseph Campbell schema for explaining the hero’s journey throughout human mythology informs Kanan and Ezra’s adventure back to the asteroid field.
    •What Ezra has in common with the first black fighter pilot, Eugene Bullard, and with former slave, turned abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
    •The vanity of Palpatine, and how that translates to real world dictators.

    https://adjuaadama.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/empire-day-gathering-forces-analysis-2/

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Rogue 3 at "Star Wars in the Classroom" and STAR WARS REBELS reviewer for Coffee With Kenobi.

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