*Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “The Mystery of Chopper Base.”
Like few entries before it, this week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels, manages to strike a near-perfect balance between character development and advancement of the overall narrative. An episode that thematically borrows liberally from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, “The Mystery of Chopper Base” explores the growing tension between Kanan’s two primary goals of helping to establish a permanent base for his fledgling section of the Rebel Alliance and the destruction of the Inquisitors. Though the two missions are not contradictory in nature, the completion of each cannot be carried out simultaneously. Consequently, Kanan is left with having to decide which is more important. To Hera’s dismay, her Jedi confidant has chosen to leave the newly established Rebel base with Ezra and Ahsoka in an attempt to find a way to defeat Darth Vader and his minions.
Early in the series, Hera’s piloting expertise elicited comparisons to none other than Han Solo, but in “The Mystery of Chopper Base,” the Twi’lek pilot functions much more as an analogue to Princess Leia–especially during her early scenes in The Empire Strikes Back. Fittingly, Kanan fulfills the Han Solo role as his decision to leave his compatriots behind to handle more personal business is the source of great frustration for the female in his life. Hera’s demeanor toward Kanan for much of this episode could easily be described as frosty as the Hoth landscape. Ironically, this frigidity is in stark contrast to the desert-like surface of Attolon–the location of the Rebels’ newest base.
But despite their extreme temperature differences, Attolon is a fitting stand-in for Hoth. Both planets are seemingly barren of sentient life and far enough outside of the Empire’s purview to provide a temporary safe refuge for our heroes, and “The Mystery of Chopper Base” even features a lost Rebel pilot being ambushed by the planet’s vicious fauna. But instead of a wampa attacking Luke Skywalker, this week’s Rebels features the Phoenix Squadron pilot Dicer (Phoenix Six) being set upon by the spider-like krykna.
Based on Ralph McQuarrie’s designs for Empire (in yet another callback to that film), the krykna present a challenge to each of the members of the Ghost crew in that the creatures threaten the viability of their new base, but for Zeb and Ezra, the difficulties are more acute. Much like the brave Indiana Jones’ one consistent fear is that of snakes, the valiant Lasat warrior is greatly disturbed by the many appendages of Attolon’s native arachnids to the point that Zeb appears cowardly. On the other hand, Ezra’s issues with krykna stem from his inability to connect with them through the Force.
Ezra’s burgeoning ability to successfully connect with (and to a degree, control) animal life through the Force has been an important plot point for many episodes of Star Wars Rebels–most notably “Gathering Forces” and “The Call”–so it is of great interest to note that the krykna are seemingly immune to the boy’s influence. In the latest Rebels Recon, Pablo Hidalgo related that this inability to connect may be due to Ezra’s relative youth and lack of experience with the greater universe, but of more interest to me is what the Padawan will due in response to his failure to reach the krykna. As Star Wars Rebels is a show aimed primarily at children, one wonders how far the writers are prepared to take things, but “The Mystery of Chopper Base” could potentially be setting up a very dark path for Ezra as a few of its scenes seem to be foreshadowing his descent.
The opening sequence wherein Kanan is training Ezra in lightsaber combat calls to mind the friendly banter and witty repartee of Obi-Wan and Anakin, but the conversation’s coda chillingly reveals the Padawan’s worldview and makes the connection to the fallen Skywalker that much more keen. Having seemingly learned very little from his conversation with Yoda in “Shroud of Darkness,” Ezra proclaims that winning is accomplished by killing the Inquisitors as opposed to Kanan’s assertion that victory is obtained by simple survival. Additionally, the two incidences in which the krykna angrily resist Ezra’s attempts to control them suggests that the boy may seek illicit paths to the power he feels he is missing.
For now, Malachor awaits Ezra, Kanan, and Ahsoka, and perhaps they will find the answers they seek. Perhaps they will find a way to defeat their enemies or perhaps new enemies will reveal themselves. In any case, “Twilight of the Apprentice,” the second season finale of Star Wars Rebels airs next week and whether or not we get those answers, it promises to be an episode we won’t soon forget.
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 this episode.
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