To say that the wait for Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels has been difficult is an understatement. A big reason why the wait was so unbearable is because Season 3 was, for me, the best season of this television series. If you read any of my reviews for Season 3, you will know that I consider that season to have some of the best episodes, best character moments and, in Grand Admiral Thrawn, the best villain we have had in Star Wars Rebels.
Moreover, I believed that the finale of Season 3 set up Season 4 in such a brilliant way that it could successfully accomplish many feats. These include, but are not limited to, giving us closure to the uncompleted story arcs from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, closing out the journeys of Kanan and Ezra as well as tying into the film series. Indeed, before I watched the two-episode premiere of Season 4, titled ‘Heroes of Mandalore’, I was expecting this season of Star Wars Rebels to have an abundance of links with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: A New Hope.
I could not wait to see what was in store for this season and to have ‘Heroes of Mandalore’ focus on Sabine and, obviously, her home planet of Mandalore really excited me. Indeed, episodes in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels that focused on Sabine and Mandalore such as ‘Trials of the Darksaber’ ranked amongst the best episodes of that season and of Star Wars Rebels in general. I hoped that ‘Heroes of Mandalore’ would be on the same level of quality as those episodes.
My Thoughts on ‘Heroes of Mandalore’
‘Heroes of Mandalore’ was an excellent start to Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels and I was very impressed with how the tone of this season feels much more darker and serious than previous seasons. As I said earlier, the focus was on Sabine in ‘Heroes of Mandalore’ and we see how her troubled past with the Empire comes back to haunt her in a big way.
The reason for Sabine and other characters such as Kanan, Ezra, Chopper and Fenn Rau to be on Mandalore was to rescue Alrich Wren; Sabine’s father. This itself was a mission approved by Mon Mothma (or, as Saw Gerrera may see it, an “errand” rather than a mission). In the process of rescuing her father, Sabine has to deal with the fact that the Empire used the weapon she built when she was younger to kill Mandalorians.
The weapon, known as The Duchess, wiped out a lot of Mandalorians from Clan Wren by using their own armour against them. They were turned to dust in a matter of seconds and it made for some quite striking and mature imagery, especially as I initially believed that Sabine’s mother, Ursa Wren, and Sabine’s brother, Tristan, had died. This did not turn out to be the case but I was shocked and also pleased that the show went so far in its depiction of this event.
I also liked the fact that Mandalorian Armour, which is sacred to all Mandalorians, was what made The Duchess so effective; what was once their strength now became their weakness. To see how Sabine reacted to this heart-breaking situation was proof of how far Star Wars Rebels has come in terms of its maturity and depth.
Return of Bo Katan
Moreover, it demonstrates how much Sabine has been fleshed out and grown as a character throughout the run of this show. Obviously, this situation was incredibly tough to take for both Sabine and for those around her which included a returning character from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This was Bo Katan. In my review of ‘Legacy of Mandalore’, I mentioned how I believed that Bo Katan would be the ruler that Sabine sought to find. This leader would unite the clans of Mandalore against the Empire.
It was therefore interesting to see that Bo Katan initially rejected the offer of leadership and ownership of the Darksaber. I liked Bo Katan’s role in ‘Heroes of Mandalore’, especially her relationship with Sabine which was not plain sailing. Indeed, learning of Sabine’s role in the creation of The Duchess infuriated Bo Katan who believed this to be an act of cowardice that went against Mandalorian culture.
In fact, I would argue that a huge strength of ‘Heroes of Mandalore’ was how it dealt with the ideas of what it means to be a Mandalorian. Themes such as honour, freedom and history are essential to the culture of Mandalore and to get more insight into this fascinating culture was great to see. Bo Katan is the embodiment of these ideals which made it even more satisfying when she embraced her role as leader and wielder of the Darksaber at the end of ‘Heroes of Mandalore’.
There were other highlights too. For instance, even with the brilliant mature, darker moments that were in this episode, humour is essential to what makes Star Wars Rebels such an enjoyable TV show to watch. In ‘Heroes of Mandalore’, a lot of the comedic relief came from Ezra whose struggles with his jet pack made for some very funny moments that included crashing into a TIE fighter with awkward grace.
It was also cool to get a cameo from Thrawn in ‘Heroes of Mandalore’ and his cameo was devoted to The Duchess and how he focused on the artistry of the weapon. From what we saw of Thrawn in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels and in the book Star Wars: Thrawn, his appreciation of art is key to his character and it was cool to see his take on what made the weapon so special.
Overall, ‘Heroes of Mandalore’ was a great way to start Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels. It successfully established the tone for this season which seems to be much darker in nature while still having the moments of comedic relief that make this show so fun to watch. I am really excited to see the future episodes build upon what was established in ‘Heroes of Mandalore’ and for this final season of Star Wars Rebels to close out the main story-lines in a fulfilling way.