Rebels' mid-season finale is packed with action, even if it leaves us with more questions than answers.
It's been two months since we first met the heroes of Star Wars: Rebels. We've observed their personalities, learned their backstories, and watched them defeat Stormtroopers in ways that make Han Solo look like a clumsy oaf. Now Rebels has run for just long enough that we don't need to spend time introducing settings, villains, or bizarre alien races. It can just dive in and do something incredible, and since we're familiar with everyone involved we can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
That's not to say Rebels isn't putting effort into its characters or pacing anymore, it definitely is. It's just that Rebels has reached the point where it's comfortably broken in, like a pair of shoes that feel great but hurt a little when you first put them on. That means "Gathering Forces" is an episode that's not especially challenging, but remarkably satisfying. And if the hints teased in this episode are anything to go on, the best is yet to come.
If you haven't watched "Gathering Forces" (or "Empire Day", which preceded it), you can catch up via Disney XD or services like iTunes.
Last week, the Ghost crew's plans to wreck Lothal's Empire Day celebrations were complicated by Tseebo, a Rodian whose brain augmentations have downloaded countless Imperial secrets. Realizing his tactical value, the heroes managed to break through an Imperial blockade, but not without a hyperspace tracker being placed on their ship's hull. Discovering the tracker, the Ghost realizes this might be an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone; lure the Inquisitor into a final confrontation while safely sending Tseebo somewhere he cannot be found.
"Gathering Forces" is Rebels' mid-season finale, meaning there's little time spent on setup or character development. Instead, it's almost entirely about payoff, trusting you've watched enough of the show to be up to speed. Not that the story is so complex that you'll be confused if this is your jumping on point: Here are some good guys. Here are some bad guys. The good guys are setting a trap for the bad guys. Fight!
The limited character development we do see revolves around Ezra's reaction to Tseebo, but does very little to resolve it. After Tseebo's bombshell that he knows what happened to Ezra's parents, he doesn't get to explain everything he knows before Ezra snaps at him for not doing more to help him. It's heavily implied that this might be Ezra's first "turning to the dark side moment", but the nice touch is that his anger at Tseebo is part of his defense mechanism. Ezra notes that he had to believe his parents were dead, or else he would've assumed they were coming for him and held off developing survival skills. The trouble is, while Ezra eventually mends fences with Tseebo, further information about his family doesn't go beyond this point, clearly intended for an upcoming episode.