‘The Occupation’ and ‘Flight of the Defender’ were the titles of the latest episodes in this season of Star Wars Rebels. In these episodes, we returned to Ezra’s home planet of Lothal after the Rebel Alliance received a message from Ryder Azadi who has been a recurring character in Rebels since Season 2. We saw Ryder in Season 3 in episodes such as ‘An Inside Man’, ‘Secret Cargo’ and ‘Zero Hour’.
In these latest episodes of Rebels, he asked for assistance from the Rebel Alliance against the Empire. During Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels, we have had two episodes air each week that focused on one particular place/issue. In ‘Heroes of Mandalore’, it was set on Mandalore (obviously) and ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’ focused on the meaning of the Rebel Alliance.
With these latest episodes being set on Lothal, we would stay in one location and focus on the impact that the Empire has had on a planet that is very important in Star Wars Rebels. Obviously, Ezra was born on Lothal and has a deep connection to that planet. I was interested to see how Lothal has changed under Imperial occupation and how it would affect Ezra.
My Thoughts on ‘The Occupation’
Let us start with what I thought about ‘The Occupation’. This is probably my favourite episode of Season 4 so far. A big reason why this was the case was because my expectations were exceeded when it came to Ezra and his reaction to returning to Lothal. At the beginning of this episode, we see that Ezra is still uneasy about Lothal and how he feels that the Rebel Alliance has not made the liberation of his home planet a priority.
This made it all the more sad when Ezra sees Lothal in ruins. Truly, the Imperial occupation of Lothal has had a devastating impact on the planet which is consumed by fire and destruction. Essentially, it seemed like the Empire had adopted a “scorched-earth” approach to Lothal. What made this particular scene very impactful was the great piece of music which accompanied it. It was very haunting and added to the atmosphere of despair which encompassed this scene in ‘The Occupation’.
Additionally, Ezra’s heartbroken reaction to seeing his home planet in ruins was devastating to see and what made me love ‘The Occupation’ even more was how the state of Lothal plagued Ezra as the episode progressed. Certainly, Ezra was very affected by what he saw on Lothal and believed that the planet he knew was gone. In fact, he goes back to thinking that Saw Gerrera was right. I feel that all of this will motivate Ezra to liberate Lothal from the Empire to an even greater degree than before.
Other Highlights of ‘The Occupation’
There were other things in ‘The Occupation’ that I really liked. There was a nice moment between Hera and Kanan that showcased the deep relationship they have with each other. It was also cool to see Jai Kell, voiced by Dante Basco, return to Star Wars Rebels. We last saw this character in Season 1 and to see Rebels link back to past episodes is always great to see.
Towards the end of ‘The Occupation’, we also got to see a great chase scene in the tunnels of Lothal that was very tense and atmospheric. All in all, ‘The Occupation’ was a great episode of Star Wars Rebels, possibly my favourite of Season 4 so far and it set my expectations for ‘Flight of the Defender’ very high.
My Thoughts on ‘Flight of the Defender’
While I liked this episode, I would say that ‘Flight of the Defender’ is probably the weakest in this season of Star Wars Rebels so far. ‘The Occupation’ was so great that it probably raised my expectations for ‘Flight of the Defender’ to an unrealistic level. This episode focused on the new TIE Defender under construction on Lothal and the plan to get information on this new ship. This mission eventually leads to Ezra and Sabine attempting to steal the flight data of this TIE Defender so they can learn more about its strengths and weaknesses (if it has any).
However, Thrawn appears to make this more difficult. It is always great to see Thrawn as he brings a lot of gravitas to Star Wars Rebels. He was his usual calm and calculating self in ‘Flight of the Defender’ and I do hope that we get to see much more of Thrawn going forward in Season 4. Indeed, he has not been used as much as he was in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels. For me, he is the best villain this show has so I always want to see him as much as possible.
The Loth-wolf and Ahsoka Tano
We also got to see the return of the fan-favourite Loth-cats in ‘Flight of the Defender’ and these animals provided some laughs. But, herein lies a problem with this episode and the series in general; I do not understand what the running theme of animals means to the story of Star Wars Rebels.
Is it simply used to show us how powerful Ezra is with The Force or do they have a larger purpose? Still, despite this, it was cool to see a Loth-wolf from an animation standpoint alone. In terms of purpose, I have seen theories which suggest that the Loth-wolf is Ahsoka Tano reincarnated but I find this to be a pretty stupid idea.
I would not rule out that Ahsoka has a connection with the Loth-wolf and I am certain that she will appear in Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels in some way. But, hopefully this is as a result of surviving her duel with Darth Vader, which we saw at the end of Season 2, rather than some reincarnation in a Loth-wolf.
I imagine that we will be staying on Lothal for the next few episodes and I expect the Loth-wolf to play some role in them. Maybe this will give us some insight into the importance of animals in Star Wars Rebels. In the end, when you combine ‘The Occupation’ and ‘Flight of the Defender’ together, we end up with a good return to Lothal which I am sure will have a lot of importance as Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels progresses.