This Star Wars Rebels review contains spoilers.
Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Episode 9
Remember Hondo? He’s back in “The Wynkahthu Job,” and his banter with Ezra makes for an episode that feels a bit more essential than the last few have been, even if it doesn’t actually move the plot forward much.
The titular Wynkahthu job is an Imperial cargo ship slowly being pulled into a planet’s stormy atmosphere, apparently unsupervised. Hondo offers it and the bombs it carries to the Rebellion in exchange for other valuable cargo on board. He says this cargo isn’t useful to the Rebellion, since it includes things like precious metals that have monetary value but no immediate practical use.
It seems to me like the Rebellion might want those too. Regardless, it comes down to Hera to make the deal. She puts Zeb in charge of the away team and agrees to Hondo’s demands.
The conversation that sets up this premise spends a lot of time making sure some potential plot holes are covered – Hera asks why Hondo couldn’t just do it himself, Zeb suggests they split the treasure – but no one suggests it might be an Imperial trap. For me, that was the first sign that the episode might be a bit light. It was, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The found family dynamic is back in force, with some warm, skeptical delivery from Sabine and endearingly awkward expressions from Ezra. We also continue to see how the people the Rebels pick up along the way end up helping the crew: the droid AP comes in handy here. It’s nice to see recurring characters, although none have as much force of personality as Hondo. The writers’ modus operandi seems to be to make Hondo so certain of himself that he drives scenes in whichever way he wants them to go, or reacts with amusingly creative backtracking when they don’t, which makes for an enjoyably theatrical character. He’s so much fun that I tend to forget how grating his character could be if he didn’t have so much charisma, or if he veered too far into physical comedy. Unlike Azmorigan, Hondo has charm. His delivery of “it was glorious,” as if it is completely obvious that one of his adventures could not possibly have been expected to be anything less, was particularly funny.
The crime boss Azmorigan gives the episode a bit more baggage. There’s a bit of a tonal disconnect in the fact that the slave-owning crime boss character is the one best placed to appeal to kids, but it’s also not entirely unexpected. “Frail” Azmorigan with his reedy voice is set up as the episode’s comic relief character, essentially a surrogate Chopper. I expected him to inject some chaos into the episode, which is essentially what he did.
Zeb is in charge, but Ezra makes it all about him. Hera’s compromise is that while they’ll take the job, Ezra won’t lead it. This is a return to the more aggressively pushy Ezra we’ve seen in the episodes where he edges toward the dark side, and I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, the last few episodes have been missing emotional continuity for Ezra, and in “The Wynkahthu Job”, his emotions are obviously still seething. However, it also rehashes the lesson that Ezra has seemingly learned over and over, especially in last week’s “The Iron Squadron.” Ezra still doesn’t quite know how to work within a chain of command.
We also don’t get to see Kanan react to Ezra’s anger much. While I don’t doubt that the scene with Hera is planting seeds for later conflict between Master and Padawan, it’s nice to see the relationship between Hera and Ezra solidify a bit. She’s the one who gives the orders, after all.
Ezra’s trust in Hondo is fun, but does feel a bit baseless here. Ezra can be blindly determined when he thinks he’s in the right, but he’s also not stupid, and he’s learned a lot over the seasons. He seems a bit too forgiving when it comes to Hondo. A brief line of dialogue could have sufficed to explain why Ezra continues to be so attached to the treasure-hunter. Does he see Hondo as an escape from his constricting found family? Does Hondo represent a kind of freedom that Ezra hasn’t had since he was a street rat on Lothal? (After I wrote this part of the review, I watched Rebels Recon, in which voice actor Taylor Gray says that he considers this very thing the basis of Ezra and Hondo’s relationship.) More connection between them would have been nice, especially if it also meant that some of Hondo’s charisma was transferred to Ezra.
What his attachment to Hondo does show, though, is that Ezra’s flaws are still rooted in his past, and are also rooted in his best qualities. Ezra may be lowercase ‘r’ rebellious, but he’s also loyal to people, and believes in them even when, like Hondo, they give him reason not to. Ezra also gets to be a bit genre-savvy as the episode veers a bit toward suspense in the second act starts. But please, Ezra, don’t say “What could possibly go wrong?”
By the end of this episode, there is very little loyalty left between anyone, and as a lightweight example of how nerves fray in a dangerous situation, it’s not badly done. There are also some cool new designs that make for a nice change from Imperial stormtroopers, at least visually. They’re inspired by Dark Forces, so they’ll look familiar to some Star Wars fans too. Part of me wants to say that the episode wrapped up a bit too neatly, but on the other hand, the episode was exactly what it intended to be – a fun heist story that kept carefully within the bounds of its 22 minutes.
Overall, “The Wynkahthu Job” was an enjoyable episode, helped a lot by the fact that Hondo’s presence was so charming by itself. It also benefitted from a string of rather unremarkable episodes lately, making this one seem refreshing in comparison. Just having humor and an interesting setting was enough to set it apart.
And maybe we’ll see those proton bombs again some time soon.