*Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “The Call.”
One of the main differences between this season of Star Wars Rebels and last season is the sheer number of episodes. With the increase of weekly stories comes the opportunity to tell a greater variety of tales. But on the flip side, having to produce new canonical additions to the Star Wars mythos at a greater rate has the potential to lead to a “watering down” of what makes the saga great. In fact, all the new Star Wars stories, be they in the form of comics, novels, or even films–if not done right–run the risk of feeling more like filler than actual legitimate contributions. Such is the case with “The Call.”
On it’s own merits, “The Call” is a fine episode with the type of action, humor, and heart we’ve come to expect from Star Wars Rebels. Additionally, the historical retcon that introduced the purrgil as the original inspiration for hyperspace travel was a nice touch. But on the whole, the episode didn’t really add anything to the overall narrative. More than anything, it seemed to simply illustrate that the life of a rebel isn’t always glamorous and sometimes amounts to doing mundane things like finding new sources of fuel.
But as the episode’s title suggests,”The Call” is ultimately about listening to the invitation of another species and the connection Ezra makes with the purrgil, a race of giant space-faring whale-like creatures, because he does so. The Padawan’s burgeoning Force ability to connect with nature has been explored before in numerous episodes (usually with Loth-cats) and “The Call” seeks to further explore this developing skill, but it really serves more as a simple reminder rather than actually building on what we’ve already seen. Whereas an episode like last season’s phenomenal “Gathering Forces” illustrated the true potential (and possible inherent dangers) of having this ability, this week’s episode of Rebels managed to showcase the ability while also somehow minimize its importance by making it routine.
Ezra’s connection with the purrgil allows him to understand that they are peaceful creatures and that the giant whale-like aliens both breathed the refinery’s gas pool and used it fuel for hyperspace travel. In turn, Ezra takes it upon himself to convince the rest of the Ghost’s crew members that the purrgil mean no harm and are in fact worth protecting from the harm of others. The “save the whales” message is fine, but when the relationship between the purrgil and gas was first alluded to (but not clearly defined) early in the episode, I anticipated and hoped for a stronger and more vital symbiosis. Being a fan of Frank Herbert’s epic novel Dune, I was hoping Dave Filoni and company would draw inspiration from it for this episode and have the purrgil be the source of the fuel much like the melange (commonly called spice and what makes space travel possible in that universe) is created by the sandworms of Arrakis. Alas, it was not to be.
The crew of the Ghost do in fact gain a new appreciation for the purrgil due to Ezra’s sensitivity toward them and consequently several of the creatures are spared that might otherwise have died. But ultimately, our heroes would most likely have gotten their much-needed fuel if Ezra hadn’t made the connection and Sabine had used the explosives as a diversion as originally planned. The only real impact of following Ezra’s lead with the purrgil is that his compatriots–especially Hera–acquired a new perspective on the creatures. A little “live and let live” with a bonus history of hyperspace travel thrown in for good measure, if you will. But if the purrgil had been the source of the fuel, we’d also get a greater level of “appearances can be deceiving” (a time-tested Star Wars trope) as well.
Perhaps I’m expecting too much from a 22-minute cartoon aimed at children, but the creators of Rebels have set the bar so high for what they can accomplish in this format. But then again, many of you may have really enjoyed this episode and that’s fine. I think Bryan Young said it best when he made this analogy, “Star Wars is like a buffet. You take what you like and leave the food you don’t find appetizing. Someone else will eat it.” For me, this was just a snack. But I’m really looking forward to the next entrée.
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 email@example.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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