The finale of Star Wars Rebels ties up a lot of loose ends, including giving a purpose to a seemingly inconsequential filler episode. “Fighter Flight” was one of the weakest episodes this season, but it also led to one of the key element of the finale, the stolen TIE fighter the Rebels use to infiltrate the Imperial Star Destroyers. The other half of the episode is all about the Jedi, as two Force-strong lineages collide.
The Rebels use the captured TIE to fight their way in to the Star Destroyer where Kanan is being held, then split up Scooby-Doo style. Ezra easily releases Kanan from his cell, but then the two encounter the Inquisitor in a battle reminiscent of Duel of the Fates.
“Fire Across The Galaxy” offers beautiful tidbits even outside its main plot. A yellow-lit hallway looks like a Ralph McQuarrie painting, made even better by Ezra’s lightsaber cutting into it. The running jokes are sweet and funny, and the music peppers the episode with creative, heartening versions of Original Trilogy melodies.
The ending is powerful, although it takes place far from Lothal. Except for a mention of the mysterious residents of Mustafar at the end, we don’t get to see the impact of this episode on the larger galaxy. Perhaps that is what “Call to Action” was for, though, showing the impact of Ezra’s motivational message. The finale does have a huge impact on the Rebels’ lives, though, with the reveal of Fulcrum and the appearance of Darth Vader. Remember how I called that Kallus wouldn’t survive the season? Not so much.
As usual, the Jedi are the crux of the season. Kanan goes through his own miniature arc here, with the Inquisitor picking up on his fear of not being a good teacher or a good Jedi. (If Kanan didn’t show lack of self esteem in Rebels, he certainly did with his lone wolf attitude in A New Dawn. I don’t know that we have seen a lot of proof that Kanan is afraid of his own power, as the Inquisitor suggests, but either way, it rattles Kanan.) It’s also interesting to see how much the Inquisitor is wrong about. Kanan doesn’t really know anything about the wider Rebellion, and he presumably doesn’t know Fulcrum’s identity.
The Inquisitor tries, though. Talking about Order 66 instantly feels like a lightsaber to the heart, and the Inquisitor’s dialogue was frightening and wonderfully direct. (“You see it when you sleep.”)
I thought at first that Ezra was going to find yet another body in a jail cell, or that the Inquisitor had disguised himself as Kanan. It would have been frightening and painful to see the Inquisitor pull off the same kind of illusion he did with Luminara Unduli. As it was, Ezra releasing Kanan was just a set up for the dramatic fight with the Inquisitor.
The combination of Freddie Prinze Jr.’s acting and the animation sells Kanan’s distress even if as an audience member I was never convinced that Ezra had fallen to his death. Catwalks are deadly in Star Wars, but there wasn’t enough fanfare for the show to have really killed off it’s point of view character. The important part, though, was that Kanan believed it.
Ezra has been tempted by the dark side before, but this time it was Kanan who seemed about to fall. And in that vein, there is twisted irony in the fact that the Inquisitor is willing to let himself die. The Sith have always been the ones desperate to preserve life, while the selfless Jedi let life go, like Obi-Wan did in A New Hope. The reversal might have a lasting effect on Kanan’s psyche, if his shocked expressions are anything to go on.
Ezra brings a bouncy energy to what could have been a very dark episode for him, tweedling his fingers at the prospect of stealing an Imperial ship and quipping at the end of the episode. Sabine brings that energy too, especially with her gloriously painted TIE fighter. She and Zeb still don’t have enough characterization, though, and the reveal of Fulcrum was welcome but predictable.
The season has been compact. Next season is expected to have twice as many episodes, which will surely be a good thing. Already I’m fond of the smallness of season one, though, of the interconnectedness. “Fire Across The Galaxy” displayed everything that has made Rebels an enjoyable show. It could have been darker, could have encompassed more. Mustafar was not really where Jedi go to die, and, fascinatingly, it was the Inquisitor who did most of the confession. But the finale displayed the same kind of hope that Ezra, Fulcrum, and Hera have been teaching throughout the whole season – hope that Order 66 is behind them, and can now do the most harm as a memory.