Rebels Review: Heroes of Mandalore Part 1 & 2

Well, here we are. The beginning of the end. The final season of the much loved series Star Wars Rebels premiered last Monday. With it came the hopes that we will see closure for at least some of the characters we have come to love over the past few years. That’s because, unlike Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Dave Filoni and crew will be able to reach an ending they wanted, rather than an abrupt stop. So let’s just drop into it.

While the release schedule of the final season is a shotgun-blast of air times, the fact that we’re getting two episodes a day is pretty sweet. As usual, the season opener is a “two-part” episode.  Heroes of Mandalore really hit home with me. The music, the emotions, the reunion with a character we’ve not seen for years, brought all the feels to the surface.

First, let me just say MANDALORIANS!!! Okay, I got that out of my system. The opening of this two-parter was huge. Not just in the sense of what our heroes are trying to accomplish, but the sheer scope of the scenes and the production was amazing. Seeing Mandalorians in full battle was mind-blowing. And, while I’ve criticized what has felt like an overuse of Clone Wars characters in this series (see Rex, Ahsoka, battle droids, Wolfe, Gregor), Bo-Katan’s return just felt right. After the civil war on Mandalore in Clone Wars, we never truly learned what happened to her. With the season opening on a leaderless Mandalore, it feels like the return of the former Duchess’ sister needed to happen.

The ambush on the prisoner convoy continued to showcase how fast paced the action scenes in this episode are. It was like Mad Max: Fury Road meets Star Wars. Between the flying Mandos, transports, and speeder bikes it was pretty intense. But, despite their success, it was a punch to the gut when the Imperials deployed “The Duchess”. I feared for Ursa and Tristen and what that would do to Sabine. But her horror at seeing what the weapon did broke my heart. It took me back to last season’s Darksaber arc and the raw emotion Sabine showed us when revealing her past.

I was surprised to see Thrawn in this episode, to be honest. While I get he was there to see the effectiveness of the weapon, it just seemed a little out of place. The mistrust among the Mandalorians after learning of Sabine’s involvement with the Duchess was SO Mandalorian. And, while it seemed like Sabine was taking the lead of the warriors throughout the episode, you can see Bo-Katan have moments of being the lead, even when she doesn’t realize it. Her line referencing Sabine’s plan to take out the weapon, ‘I will not allow her efforts to be wasted’, shows how she gets a bigger picture and sets her personal feeling aside for her people. That, and the look Fen Rau’s gives after she says that hints that he sees her potential as well.

Again, the infiltration of Tiber Saxon’s Star Destroyer was fast paced and cinematic. I was glad to see the Imperials weren’t just pushovers. The walkers didn’t go down easy and they really pressed the attack. When Saxon betrays even his own Commandos, using the weapon on his captain, you can see how far he’s fallen from his people. (I’d liked to see that captain come back later and join Bo-Katan, to be honest). The reversal of the Duchess was epic. Sabine’s anger was somewhat shocking, when for a moment she seems determined to make the Imperials suffer. But, when Bo-Katan talks her down and reminds her of the honor of the Mandalorian people, it was touching.

The end of this episode almost brought tears to my Mando eyes. Bo-Katan doesn’t seek power, showing the mark of a true leader. Her accepting the Darksaber, and the clans present uniting under her, was amazing.  I don’t know where Mandalore’s story will go from here, but I can expect they’ll hold their own from now on. From here, let’s look at the likes and dislikes I had with the season opener.

Likes;

  • MANDOS!!!!!!
  • I actually laughed when Ezra met Sabine’s father Alrich and tried to explain what he meant when he said he was “with” Sabine. Classic “meeting the dad” scenario that fit in well. When asked if he was a Jedi, Ezra’s reply of ‘Let’s hope so’, was great.
  • The fact that we get more Mando’a in this episode warms my heart. Referring to the material of Mandalorian armor as beskar, mandalorian iron, took me back to the Republic Commando days.
  • The explanation that a Mandalorian’s armor is inseparable from the warrior. It’s a part of them and their culture and the two cannot separate. This really dives into their culture and what makes them who they are.

Dislikes:

  • While I get that Ezra is not a Mando and should’t be a master of using a jetpack, it felt to me that they played out his troubles with it a little too much. By the end of part two they were still playing it up and it seemed a little old by that point.
  • Alrich Wren just didn’t do it for me. Other than being an artist to show a personl connection to Sabine, his presence felt sort of useless. He didn’t really contribute to the plot, and the story never focused on him outside of his rescue. He was just sort of there.

At the end of the day, this was a great two-part episode and phenomenal season opener. I’m hoping the great writing and plots continue throughout the season, seeing as it’s the final one. As a shameless plug, I was right with what I said on a previous podcast about the Duchess being used against Mandalorian armor, haha. I have a few other thoughts, but I’ll save those for our next podcast to see what the guys have to say about it. I hope you enjoyed the show as much as I did, and thanks for reading. May the Force be with you.

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