*Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episodes “Legacy of Mandalore,” “Through Imperial Eyes,” and “Secret Cargo.”
“Legacy of Mandalore” serves as a direct follow-up to the excellent “Trials of the Darksaber” and continues the trend of outstanding character-driven episodes we’ve seen in this third season of Star Wars Rebels. Again taking center stage, Sabine Wren returns to her homeworld of Krownest to confront her mother and reveal that she now wields the legendary Darksaber. It’s a noble attempt at reconciliation for the Wrens as a family and the Mandalorians as a people, but it feels like a fool’s errand just the same.
After a rough landing through the trees onto a snow-covered landscape that immediately brings to mind the Millennium Falcon’s arrival on Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, Sabine, Ezra, and Kanan are escorted back to the Wren family compound by a cadre of Mandalorians garbed in the bland Super Commando armor. It’s as if the once-proud warriors who place such a value on individuality have been drained of that very trait. Even Sabine’s brother Tristan–who is revealed to us here for the very first time–seems to have come under the Imperial sway as he makes it abundantly clear to his sister that her presence is not a welcome one.
Sabine’s mother, Ursa Wren (whose first name is Latin for bear) embodies that spirit as well and dismisses her daughter’s plans for the Darksaber. In her mind, the Empire is too powerful to be defeated and Clan Wren’s current outcast status is too much to overcome by simply wielding a legendary symbol–especially one Sabine did not earn in combat.
To make matters worse, Ursa has aligned herself with Gar Saxon in a Faustian deal to preserve whatever honor Clan Wren has left, but ultimately Saxon reveals his true nature and turns on the whole Wren family. A violent skirmish erupts that devolves into a duel between Sabine and Gar Saxon that leaves the latter at the mercy of the former in a clever homage to the Anakin Skywalker/Count Dooku duel in Revenge of the Sith. Choosing honor over tradition, Sabine refuses to execute Gar Saxon, but the traitorous Mandalorian meets his end shortly after at the hands of Ursa Wren. Mother and daughter reconcile and Sabine chooses to leave the Ghost crew to help rescue her imprisoned father and aid in the Mandalorian uprising against the Empire. I’m sure it won’t be the last we see of Sabine Wren on Star Wars Rebels, and the possibilities of the means of her return are intriguing.
Just as “Legacy of Mandalore” set up certain pieces for an impending conflict with Empire and the culmination of the third season of Star Wars Rebels, “Through Imperial Eyes” fulfills a similar role by revealing another aspect of the war–how the Imperial side is preparing to counter the efforts of the rebels.
Agent Kallus is the focus of this episode, and one immediately sympathizes with the ISB officer turned rebel spy with a brilliant use of 1st person point of view during the opening sequence. Kallus feels the strain of his double life keenly as evidenced by the look he gives himself in the mirror shortly after he wakes. And Ezra’s arrival aboard the Imperial light cruiser on which Kallus is stationed only exacerbates the situation.
Ezra, Chopper and AP-5 are on a mission to retrieve Kallus as the Fulcrum transmissions he’s been sending have come under Imperial scrutiny. But the plan must quickly be altered as Grand Admiral Thrawn arrives on the scene and summons Kallus and several other high-ranking Imperial officers to his ship, the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera. Ezra and the droids are brought along as well because Thrawn has connected Bridger to Lothal.
Once aboard the Chimaera, Kallus finds himself in the company of ISB Colonel Wulf Yularen, his former mentor. Yularen has been tasked with finding a traitor that Thrawn is convinced exists within the Imperial ranks, and the cunning Kallus decides to frame his subordinate, the overeager Lieutenant Lyste, for his own actions.
At every turn, Kallus cleverly maneuvers Lyste into suspicion while also directing him toward Governor Pryce as the mostly candidate for treason. With an opponent less clever than Thrawn, the ruse might have worked, but the Chiss strategist is without equal and despite Kallus’ best attempts at misdirection, Thrawn remains laser-focused on Kallus as the traitor.
In the end, Kallus is technically exonerated, but Yularen feels that things fell together a little too cleanly and shares his apprehensions with Thrawn. The Grand Admiral replies that he has no doubts that Kallus is the real traitor and that will be more useful to the Empire than he ever was to the Rebellion. It seems that Thrawn has plans to turn Kallus into a triple agent, proving once again that he is supremely capable of playing whatever cards he’s dealt and turning virtually any circumstance into an advantage.
Fortunately for the galaxy, the Rebellion has leaders on its side that are capable of finding hope in hopelessness, and that is focus of the next episode, “Secret Cargo.” Providing yet another link between Rebels and Rogue One, actress Genevieve O’Reilly reprises her role as Mon Mothma and helps to establish the definitive beginning of the Rebel Alliance.
Gold Leader Jon “Dutch” Vander (another character from Rogue One–and A New Hope) is also along for the ride in “Secret Cargo” as the leader of the renowned Y-wing squadron has been tasked with escorting Mothma (the eponymous “Secret Cargo”) to Dantooine for what is meant to be the first meeting of the myriad rebel cells. While en route to their destination, the exiled former senator Mothma and her protectors cross paths with the Ghost, and Hera and her crew join the mission.
But because Thrawn seems to have his finger on the pulse of the galaxy, he quickly ascertains Mothma’s location and dispatches his best pilot Vult Skerris (late of “The Antilles Extraction”) in the recently designed TIE Defender (introduced in “An Inside Man”) to follow the rebels into the Archeon Nebula while Admiral Konstantine and Governor Pryce wait on the other side. It’s a brilliant strategy built to play to his subordinate’s strengths and gambling that Hera would take the risky path through the nebula is genius, but it’s a little unclear in the episode how exactly Thrawn determined where Hera was going.
Quibbles aside, both the dogfight sequences inside the nebula and the subsequent devastation of the Star Destroyers are epic in nature and beautiful to behold. But the greatest spectacle in “Secret Cargo” has to be Mon Mothma’s speech to the rebel cells. In an address akin to the Declaration of Independence, Mothma simultaneously challenges the Emperor, puts a target on her own back, and urges others to join the cause. Her charisma is palpable and the answer is swift as a fleet of ships begins to congregate over Dantooine. The Alliance to Restore the Republic has officially been formed. Now, the real fight begins.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 these episodes.
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