At times, Star Wars: Rebels second episode, “Fighter Flight,” becomes the kind of cutesy episode some fans feared Disney would create. For most of it, though, the characters and the humorous writing propel it above a rather goofy story.
Hera orders Ezra and Zeb to go grocery shopping in order get them out of the ship, while Sabine redecorates the boys’ room. Hera also asks them to buy a meiloorun, a fruit that doesn’t grow on the planet Lothal.
Dave Filoni and the rest of the crew of Rebels always said that the central characters would feel like a family, but I didn’t expect that to be so apparent. Hera and Kanan sound just like parents, from their disapproval of the kids causing chaos to their worry around sunset. Something feels missing about Hera’s motherly role, although I’m not sure what it is yet. Perhaps it comes from knowing more of Kanan’s backstory than hers.
The beginning of the episode establishes the layout of the ship and the relationships within it, moving smoothly from one character to another. In contrast, Lothal is beautifully colorful, and even the market streets are quiet. (Maybe that’s because the Imperial presence forces some folks to stay home, or because Rebels doesn’t have enough extra character models yet.)
Once in the market, the episode feels a bit forced as Ezra spots the meilooruns, which are, of course, in Imperial hands. I would have like to see more of Zeb and Ezra shopping together instead of their posturing at each other in the course of getting Hera’s jokey fruit, but perhaps the even lower stakes would have hurt the episode. Their errand does feel a bit pointless – we don’t know why Ezra wants to impress Hera so badly, and he’s already one up on Zeb, as he keeps saying.
The excursion does show some of Ezra’s needed backstory. The tidbit that the farmer, Morad Sumar, knew Ezra’s parents is exciting. In addition, Ezra’s burgeoning Force abilities make for some of the best scenes. So far, his greatest Force talent appears to be jumping, but he also senses when Zeb is about to crash into a monad. That scene, contrasting Zeb’s confidence with silent shots of the approaching rock, was perhaps the most tense part of the episode. An early scene where Ezra attempts to lift a bowl with the Force, only to find that all of his success could be attributed to Chopper, nicely summed up Ezra’s frustration with the more physical aspects of the Force.
Zeb is clearly having fun in this episode, which makes the stakes feel lower but also reinforces the idea that he—like Sabine with her paint and Ezra with his Force jumps—
is a bit of a wild card. He is also established firmly as non-human when his ears droop or when, in another particularly exciting scene, he drives a TIE fighter with his feet.
The animation continues to vary from beautifully lit, textured stormtroopers to Ezra’s still plasticky hair. “Fighter Flight” cemented the crew’s familial relationships and gave each character a sense of independence and potential for chaos, although the story still feels tangential to the Rebels’ larger war.