Recap: ‘Star Wars Rebels’ “Gathering Forces”
Finally, after roughly 8 weeks, Star Wars Rebels has truly begun to delve into the depths of the underlying themes that made Star Wars what it was. In the continuation of last weeks’ cliffhanger, Ezra (Taylor Gray) faces the bane of all Jedi as the rebels attempt to evade the Empire and keep Tseebo (Peter MacNicol) and the information stored in his head out of Imperial hands.
“Gathering Forces” picks up exactly where we left our rebels: with The Inquisitor (Jason Isaacs) on their heels, Star Destroyers blocking their path, no hyperdrive, and the reveal that their Rodian passenger knows the fate of Ezra’s rebel parents. As the battle heats up Tseebo reveals that Ezra’s parents were indeed taken captive by the Empire, and though he possibly could have saved them, he did nothing. Feeling betrayed and angry by Tseebo’s revelation, Ezra refuses to have anything to do with his parent’s old friend, even when Tseebo uses his implant to help the rebels escape certain doom. Before Ghost can jump into hyperspace, however, The Inquisitor tags the ship with a tracker.
As the rebels settle into hyperspace, they discover the tracker, which fortunately for them is attached to the detachable Phantom scout ship. To draw the Empire away from Ghost and Tseebo, Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Ezra drop The Phantom out of hyperspace and land on the asteroid base where Hera (Vanessa Marshall) and Sabine (Tiya Sircar) encountered the dark-dwelling creatures in “Out of Darkness”. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew continues on their way to rendezvous with the mysterious Folcrum to hide Tseebo from the Imperials.
In preparation for The Inquisitor’s arrival, Kanan attempts to teach Ezra how to connect with the creatures through The Force, but his Padawan must first wrestle with his fear. With Kanan pushing him to conquer his fear and come to peace with it, Ezra realizes a power he didn’t know he had as he forgives Tseebo for his parents and fully opens himself up to The Force.
Jedi and Padawan face the Imperial forces with their creature friends, but The Inquisitor cuts through their defenses even as his Stormtroopers fall around him and he faces off against Kanan. Though he puts up a good fight, the still young Jedi is knocked unconscious by The Inquisitor, who threatens Ezra with his Jedi Master’s death. To save his friend, Ezra digs down deep and uses his fear of losing Kanan and his hatred for the Empire as a distraction, allowing him and Kanan to escape. They are flying to meet the rest of their crew before Ezra can even process his brief but powerful connection to The Dark Side of The Force.
“Gathering Forces” is an episode all about Kanan and Ezra, their individual understandings of The Force, and the lines between good and evil blurring. Though we’ve seen Kanan and Ezra training in past episodes, it’s all been through recognized platitudes and short 30 second lessons that haven’t amounted to anything but revealing Ezra’s guarded nature. “Gathering Forces” has rewarded our patience with the goose bump rearing moment of Ezra realizing what has been holding him back and momentarily relinquishing control of the walls around his feelings. We get to see his work pay off as he finally joins Kanan in a Jedi-esque battle.
However, we also are opened to another possibility for Ezra’s future as he unwittingly uses The Dark Side to save Kanan and escape in a brutal show of power. As soon as he says “I’m so cold”, harkening back to Luke’s first experience with The Dark Side in Empire, we know exactly where he’s gone, even if he doesn’t remember. Putting Ezra’s fate into question from this point forward leads the way for serious doubt about Kanan’s survival as well, as his increasing bouts with The Inquisitor and his lack of coherent training for Ezra paint him as still a very young Jedi Knight with much still to learn.
With the bulk of the action in “Gathering Forces” centering on the Jedi and possibilities of where they will end up, the episode is a really strong one, concluding the already pivotal story arc started last week. The battles between Jedi and Sith are becoming more important, steeping further into Star Wars lore, and growing far more deadly for both Jedi and Padawan as Ezra’s power grows. The question has now been put forth: to which side will Ezra’s power belong? If Kanan dies (which he might), Ezra could choose either path, and it will be interesting to see where all our rebels end up if not together.
(4 / 5)
(Photos copyright: Disney, Lucasfilm)