Rebels: Empire Day

Just as the light-hearted “Fighter Flight” led into the much more significant “Rise of the Old Masters”, so too does “Out of Darkness” lead into “Empire Day”.

The Ghost crew are being hunted by both Agent Kallus of the Imperial Security Bureau and the Inquisitor, an assassin under the command of Darth Vader. Meanwhile, Bail Organa is aware of their existence, and a mysterious source known only as “Fulcrum” is providing the crew with important intelligence. Already they have successfully destroyed a kyber crystal shipment that was most likely intended for use in the construction of the Death Star.

That’s a lot of ground to cover in just six episodes, but “Empire Day” brings the show to a whole new level.

The episode opens once again with Kanan training Ezra in the ways of the Force. This is not just a separate plot thread being explored, however: this is thematic foreshadowing. Being a “street rat”, Ezra has had to protect himself from both physical and emotional pain. Until he met the crew of the Ghost, he lived alone, without parents or guardians, relying on his wits to survive while keeping his inner life hidden away. Now he must learn to open up, to make himself vulnerable—it’s a hard lesson, but one every prospective Jedi must face.

It’s Ezra’s past that is always there, always lurking in the background, though it’s only now that we as viewers are ready to see that. In Star Wars, however, histories and destinies often crisscross, and Ezra may find that, given his history, his destiny may lie along the same path as that of the Rebellion after all.

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Both the writing and directing here are superb. Writer Henry Gilroy is in top form, combining pathos with action, while director Steven G. Lee again delivers movie-quality sequences above and beyond that which is required. The humour is well-placed and incredibly well-timed, while the action will knock your socks off.

Worth mentioning is the chase sequence in the third act which manages to combine elements of The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: A New Hope and (surprisingly) Raiders of the Lost Ark into something uniquely of George Lucas’ pedigree.

As an aside, there’s a theory out there right now that this episode has an element that possibly ties Ezra’s past directly to the Clone Wars series, but I’m not buying it. I get the feeling that this is a fresh story that will continue to make the Star Wars universe seem bigger, not smaller. Still, as a bit of fun there continues to be various Clone Wars items scattered around—keep an eye out for a clone trooper helmet in this episode in particular.

All in all, this series continues to grow by leaps and bounds. It’ll only get better from here.

(And just a heads-up: this episode ends with “To be continued…” Be prepared to wait in suspense for another week.)

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