After a one-week hiatus, Star Wars Rebels is back with an episode that moves several storylines ever so slightly forward. Senator-in-Exile Gall Trayvis has arranged, via hints embedded in his seditious message, to meet the Ghost crew on Lothal. Ezra’s attachment to the senator skyrockets after a Force vision in which the boy learns that Trayvis knew his parents. The episode is a well-paced, self-contained adventure, but the dialogue doesn’t always sound natural.
Ezra has always been a pricklier protagonist than Luke Skywalker. He reminds the crew in this episode that he survived alone for eight years, stealing fruit and stormtrooper helmets. His obsession with his parents changes his focus like a flip of a switch, as he narrows in on Trayvis like never before. This and later parts of the episode make me wonder: Will Ezra’s attachment lead him to the dark side like Anakin’s did? Kanan might not be the best teacher to prevent that from happening – and Kanan knows it.
Another of Ezra’s key relationships in this episode is Zare Leonis, the undercover cadet from “Breaking Ranks.” The dialogue here is still workmanlike, with a good stab at an energetic moment when Ezra reveals that he was using a fake name at the Academy. Zare also shows that one of Rebels’ greatest strengths is to look into Lothal in detail, to remember that there are other characters living their own lives while the Ghost crew goes about their adventures. Zare has been promoted, and lies to troopers to help the Rebels out.
The episode had a lot of other bonus character moments: Zeb and Sabine get some great ones, including Sabine laconically lifting her helmet’s antennae back up after Zeb pulls her out of the way of a blast.
Earlier in the season I wrote that I hoped the Imperials would have some kind of dynamic just like the Rebels do, and we got just a glimmer of that here. Minister Tua wants to follow orders, while Kallus places his own, secular war above the Inquisitor’s. He smoothly aligns their goals while asserting his own: “We catch my Rebels, we catch his Jedi.” It’s not much, but it’s something.
Even with all that, “Vision of Hope” felt like a middling episode to me, an aside even with all of its positives. Several times in the episode, characters’ dialogue was strangely inflected or flat. It’s a nitpick, but Freddy Prinze Jr. pronouncing a truncated “them” instead of casual “‘em” makes a lot of difference. Vanessa Marshall does what she can with platitudes about hope, and while there is a touching moment between her and Ezra, the lines are still platitudes. (“We have hope. Hope that things can get better.”)
A giant fan used as an obstacle lacks any suspense, basically functioning as a wall. Some jokes feel underdeveloped – it isn’t an inherent problem that “You know what I smell like?” is an immature joke on a children’s cartoon, but it isn’t particularly funny either. Kallus thinking Ezra is named “Jabba,” though, works, partially because it refers backwards.
A little of Ezra’s dark side entered the now well-established dynamic of the Ghost crew. “Vision of Hope” felt like a typical adventure, but points forward to big events to come for both Ezra and Zare.