ReviewsTelevision & Film

STAR WARS REBELS Sneaks In a Decent Spy Story

Episode 317 “Through Imperial Eyes”
Written by Nicole Dubuc & Henry Gilroy
Directed by Saul Ruiz

[photos: Lucasfilm]

This episode, the story is told from the perspective of Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo) as he navigates the intrigue of trying to keep his cover from being blown wide open, revealing his identity as the Rebel agent Fulcrum.

Which is still hard to buy into, but OK…

After picking up a “bounty hunter” escaping Lothal — actually Ezra (Taylor Gray), his only disguise a helmet — Kallus and Lieutenant Lyste (Liam O’Brien) are summoned to rendezvous with Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), who’s getting ever so closer to identifying Fulcrum. To that end, he’s brought in Colonel Yularen (Tom Kane — welcome back!) to spearhead the investigation. Assigned to work with Yularen, Kallus now  has to face the possibility that Fulcrum is about to be exposed.

Turns out, Ezra’s mission was to extract Kallus so he wouldn’t be in danger any more. Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) and Kanan (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) are en route, only they don’t have the clearance codes to get into Thrawn’s ship, because they didn’t expect Ezra and Kallus to be there. They’re supposed to be on Lyste’s ship… so now they have to get the information to the extraction team without exposing Kallus.

Only Thrawn has already started to tighten the noose, and Yularen is mainly there to accelerate the process. So Kallus does what any good double agent does — he throws Lyste under the bus. Using Lyste’s identity cylinder, Kallus breaks Ezra out of the holding cell and gets them into Thrawn’s office, where Ezra and Chopper hack into the computer to get the clearance codes and change the information about potential locations for the Rebel base.

By the by, among Thrawn’s artifacts (in keeping with his original characterization by Timothy Zahn): Hera’s Kalikori, Commander Gree’s helmet, and the Holy Grail.

In the end, Kallus figures he can still do more as Fulcrum, so he opts to stay behind, “capturing” Lyste like a good Imperial. Of course, Thrawn isn’t fooled, telling Yularen that he’s sure Fulcrum is Kallus, as Lyste wouldn’t be capable of such cunning. So next episode, look for something clever from Thrawn and Yularen, maybe — if the writers can actually give us a Thrawn that’s as clever as the one we got from Timothy Zahn…

OK, so it’s not a bad episode. Plenty of intrigue, and Kallus proves himself to be pragmatic when it comes to maintaining his cover, even at the expense of a junior officer who’s in way over his head. But it feels like too little, too late for this season, which has felt a little flat for most of the episodes. Yes, they all moved pieces of different stories forward, but the introduction of Thrawn should have brought with it so many story opportunities. Thrawn is arguably one of the most intelligent strategists in the Empire. Rebels really should have made the most of his gift of being able to understand an entire group of people just based on their artwork.

Instead, we get a lot of little stories that put pieces in certain places but don’t really do anything to advance Thrawn as the menace he could be. The Grand Admiral’s presence should have been set up as the catalyzing element in the formation of the Rebel Alliance. His strategy, his ability to inspire loyalty and coordinate more effective responses against individual rebel cells, should have been the push the Rebellion needed to finally band together.

We still might get that, but it’ll mostly be because the writers make it happen that way, not because it feels organic to the story we’ve been told so far.

Star Wars Rebels airs Saturday nights at 8:30/7:30c on Disney XD.

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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