Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episode 9 (Television Review) – A Good Mid-Season Finale

The most recent episodes of Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels have been building to the assault on Lothal by the Rebel Alliance. It was therefore apt that this episode was titled ‘Rebel Assault’. In my review of the previous episodes of Star Wars Rebels, I mentioned how I expected the Rebel Alliance to win the Battle of Lothal but at a massive cost.

As the week progressed, I came to the realisation that a force of Rebel fighters would attack the Imperial presence of Lothal but, in the end, come up short. Certainly, this season of Star Wars Rebels has been much darker in tone than previous seasons of this show. Hence, it would make sense that the mid-season finale would end on a note of defeat rather than victory.

Battle of Lothal between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 9 Rebel Assault

My Thoughts on ‘Rebel Assault’

It seems that, for the most part, I was right when it came to my thoughts on how ‘Rebel Assault’ would pan out. This episode was a good way to bring the first part of Season 4 to a close. It laid the foundations for the second half to pack a serious punch for a number of reasons because Hera, who led the assault on Lothal, was captured by the Empire and this will have huge ramifications. Obviously, we know that Hera will be rescued because she is part of the Rebel Alliance during the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (watch a recent episode of Forces of Destiny to see this).

I expect her rescue to happen early on in the second half of Season 4, perhaps the first episode. However, I feel as though her rescue will have to come at a cost. We all know that the characters we have grown to love in Star Wars Rebels are not going to have a happy ending. Certainly, I expect everyone but Hera and Chopper to die by the time Star Wars Rebels ends. We could see some deaths in the next couple of episodes in Season 4 and Hera’s capture could be the catalyst for this to occur as her inevitable rescue will not be easy.

Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 9 Rebel Assault

The Space Battle in ‘Rebel Assault’ and Thrawn

Indeed, in ‘Rebel Assault’, we see how much Thrawn admires Hera’s skills and, because of this, he will not give her up without a fight. In fact, we see Hera’s ability as a pilot and a leader in the very beginning of ‘Rebel Assault’ and the cold open for this episode was great. The start of this episode began with a space battle that was very good and felt very much like it was plucked out of the Original Trilogy.

Moreover, it gives us more insight into how calculating and ruthless Thrawn is as a military leader. Throughout the entire battle and the Rebel Alliance’s attempts to break his blockade and attack Imperial factories, Thrawn was in total control. He was calm and willing to even sacrifice a TIE Defender to get to the stage where he could crush this Rebel attack. As expected, they were crushed despite getting though the Imperial blockade.

Hera, Rukh and Governor Pryce in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 9 Rebel Assault

Rukh vs. Hera

This itself gave us some beautiful imagery of seeing the entire Rebel force in flames, crashing into Lothal and it left Hera in a desperate situation. Indeed, the second half of ‘Rebel Assault’ dealt with Hera’s attempt to reunite with the remnants of her squad and escape from the Empire who were hunting her. The person leading this hunt was Rukh and it was cool to see him in combat against Hera. Certainly, there was good choreography in their fight scenes and, despite fighting the good fight, Hera eventually succumbed to defeat which led to her capture.

Before this, Kanan witnessed the Rebel fighters crashing into Lothal’s surface which heavily affected him. Obviously, Kanan went to rescue Hera but he was interrupted by the Loth-wolf and it clear that this mystical creature sees Kanan as needing to go down a different path. Kanan himself realises that something bigger than his attachment to Hera is happening on Lothal. I was worried that he would die while trying to save Hera but it seems like he still has a purpose. I am glad that his journey is not over yet, even though it probably will be soon enough.

Loth-wolf in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 9 Rebel Assault

‘Rebel Assault’ Ends in Uncertainty

‘Rebel Assault’ ended on a cliff-hanger with Kanan rescuing Mart, who we last saw in ‘Iron Squadron’, and retreating to fight another day. The last image of this episode of Star Wars Rebels centred on the Loth-wolf looking at Kanan and, while this sub-plot seems important, I am still at a loss trying to figure out what it means to the story. I expect the second half of Season 4 to delve more into the mystery of Kanan and the Loth-wolves and, as a mid-season finale, ‘Rebel Assault’ was good. Not great, but good.

I would argue that Season 3’s ‘Visions and Voices’ is the best mid-season finale that Rebels has had. But, that does not take away from the fact that Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels has been very good so far. Hopefully, the remaining episodes of Season 4 will elevate this final season of Star Wars Rebels as being the best season of this television show.

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad (Book Review) – A Fascinating Look At The Empire

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad is a canonical Star Wars novel written by Christie Golden and it is set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The book serves as a prequel to the upcoming video game Star Wars: Battlefront II and focuses on the formation and early missions of Inferno Squad which is led by Iden Versio.

Iden Versio, who will be played by Janina Gavankar in the video game, is the lead character in this book and is one of a few survivors of the destruction of the Death Star. She is recruited by her father, Admiral Garrik Versio, to lead a team of elite soldiers known as Inferno Squad whose mission is to infiltrate and eliminate the last remnants of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

I have wanted to read this book since it came out in July but I was never able to find the time to read it. However, seeing as Star Wars: Battlefront II is just about to come out, I found it necessary to read this book before the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II as it will tie-in heavily to the video game. The way Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad ties-in is that it introduces us to the primary characters of the video game and gives us insight into how they came together as well as their beliefs and ideologies.

Front and Back Book Covers for Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

In reading Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, I was hoping that it would enhance my experience of playing Star Wars: Battlefront II once it is released and tell a gripping story that would expand the Star Wars universe. Additionally, having a story being told from the perspective of the Empire really interested me.

Obviously, the Empire are the bad guys but what has been great about the new canon material that has been released since 2014 is that it has been portraying the grey nature of the Star Wars universe very well. Nothing is black and white anymore and to see this continued to be explored in the form of Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad  potentially made for some great storytelling.

My Thoughts on Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad is a fantastic book that has made me well prepared for Star Wars: Battlefront II. From the very start, I was invested and I have to give a lot of praise to Christie Golden in this regard, especially as the writing in this book flows very well. Moreover, whenever a Star Wars book begins at an iconic event which in this case was the Battle of Yavin 4 and the destruction of the Death Star, this will always put me in a good mood.

Christie Golden with Kristian Harloff and Ken Napzok on Collider Jedi Council

I am always going to love it when this sort of stuff happens because it gives us different viewpoints of that event and, in turn, this enhances my future viewings of such event. This is a big reason why Lost Stars remains my favourite Star Wars book because it tells a new story set during the Original Trilogy. The main events still happen but it is told from a new point of view. Therefore, whenever I watch the films, my experience will be enhanced because I have read these books which have links to the films but are their own unique stories.

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad does this in spades. Obviously, due to the time period it is set in, the book has a lot of references to Star Wars: A New Hope and, as I said, the beginning of the book takes place at the end of that film. However, now that we have Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad also references the events of that film. Galen Erso, the Battle of Scarif and the destruction of Jedha are important points that are referenced throughout the book and it is a source of a lot of anger for our Imperial protagonists.

Iden Versio

This is especially true for Iden Versio. I found her to be a fascinating character, especially as she was one of a handful of survivors of the Death Star. She also managed to escape from Yavin 4 during the Rebel celebration of the Death Star’s destruction which, itself, will make me watch the end of Star Wars: A New Hope in a different way. As I was reading Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, it became clear how fanatical Iden is when it comes to her loyalty to the Empire.

Janina Gavankar as Iden Versio

Certainly, this was evident as we learnt more about her past and her relationship with her father. As a child, Iden was always striving to excel and be the best she could be which, to her, seemed to be the only path to get acceptance and respect from her father. Undoubtedly, the relationship between Garrick Versio and Iden is not a typical father/daughter relationship.

Interestingly enough, it is implied that her father’s treatment of her has caused some bitterness, perhaps even hate towards him. I hope that this is explored further in Star Wars: Battlefront II. Iden’s devotion to the Empire is even more believable seeing as both her father and mother were devout Imperials. Hence, she was indoctrinated from an early age to be the same and hold the same ideologies that they did. With all of this in mind, Iden came across as a very driven individual who was determined to exact revenge on the Rebel Alliance in any way she could.

As it turned out, the way that this would be achieved would be through infiltrating the remnants of The Partisans who were formerly led by Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera. As we saw in Rogue One, his partisans have a big influence on the events that led to the destruction of the Death Star so, obviously, they would be a target for any kind of retaliation from the Empire.

Janina Gavankar as Iden Versio, Paul Blackthorne as Gideon Hask and TJ Ramani as Del Meeko

The Members of Inferno Squad Are Great Together

Iden would have to be seen to betray the Empire in order to join the Partisans and become the face of this extremist group. By doing this, Iden could destroy the group from the inside but she would not be able to do this alone. She would need the other members of Inferno Squad to make this mission successful. Gideon Hask, Del Meeko and Seyn Marana made up the rest of Inferno Squad and another great thing about Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad was the rapport between the members of this group.

From the beginning, we see that Iden and Gideon are already friends (well, friends in the Empire is not really a typical friendship so they are more like allies). I liked the relationship they had and there was a good deal of respect between the two. In fact, there was respect between all the members of Inferno Squad. Additionally, the blend of humour and seriousness within the group was just right and all of this meant that, going into Star Wars: Battlefront II, I now know what to expect from each group member. I look forward to seeing the journey of Inferno Squad continue in that video game.

The Dreamers Lack Morality

Most of Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad focuses on Inferno Squad infiltrating Saw Gerrera’s Partisans who are now known as the Dreamers. All the members of the Dreamers have a love for Saw Gerrera and there base is on the planet of Jeosyn. From this, we get some great tie-ins to the wider Star Wars universe. For instance, one of the main figures in the Dreamers was Staven who appeared in Rebel Rising which is another canonical Star Wars book that I have been reading recently so it was cool to see his character again.

Gideon Hask and Seyn Marana in Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

Additionally, it was fascinating to see how, in many ways, Staven is just as bad as the Empire he despises. Indeed, the tactics of Staven and the Dreamers are very extreme and the fact that they even target children is proof of how they are morally bankrupt in their aim to free the galaxy from the tyranny of the Empire. You can see why Mon Mothma sought to distance herself from Saw Gerrera and those who admired and followed him. This was evident to see in ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’ which was a recent episode of Star Wars Rebels.

Again, this shows how beautifully interconnected Star Wars is but, at the same time, the universe gets expanded and fleshed out in the process. The impact of the Dreamers on Inferno Squad is definitely fleshed out in Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad. Clearly, the Dreamers hate the Empire but what interested me was seeing how Inferno Squad was unmoved to become torn about the Empire themselves. To be that deep into this undercover mission and not question your motives proved how loyal the members of Inferno Squad were to each other and to the Empire.

The Mission’s Impact on Inferno Squad

Still, some members of Inferno Squad did become somewhat attached to individuals within the Dreamers. Del developed a nice friendship with Piikow while Seyn grew to have a romantic relationship with Sedori. This made it even more tense and intriguing once things began to unravel in a very gripping way. This all began once Inferno Squad decided to pit the Dreamers against each other and, after that, when Seyn is not able to fulfil the mission that targeted children which, in turn, led to the death of Sedori.

Lux Bonteri in Star Wars: The Clone Wars

While Seyn would not admit this, she had grown attached to Sedori and she was very affected by his death and her part in it. This leads to her making a slip which brought suspicion and accusations that she was an Imperial spy. She eventually dies because her cover was blown but her death was at the hands of Iden. Again, Iden is devoted to the Empire so it makes sense that she would have done anything to keep the mission alive, even if it meant killing a member of her team. This just added to the depth of her character and the quality of Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad as a Star Wars novel.

Who is The Mentor?

From this, Inferno Squad decides to wrap this mission up and it is here where we get a fantastic revelation that made me love this book. One member of the Dreamers was shrouded in mystery throughout Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad and he was known only as The Mentor. We learn small bits of information about The Mentor as the story of Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad progresses which includes the fact that he was around during The Clone Wars. He also comes from a prestigious family and he fought alongside Saw Gerrera and his sister, Stella.

I started putting these bits of information together and it led me to come to a thought that The Mentor was Lux Bonteri. In the end, I was proved right. Iden goes to confront him on his own after finding out about his true identity and it is here where my theory was proven right. I was so pleased that The Mentor was Lux not only because I was right, but because it is another great tie in to the wider Star Wars universe. For those of you unaware of who Lux Bonteri is, he was the senator for Onderon during The Clone Wars and he was first introduced in the animated show Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Lux Bonteri, Saw Gerrera and Stella Gerrera in Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I love it when Star Wars connects the wider universe together and to have the reveal and tie-in done in this way was great, especially as Lux’s fate was left ambiguous. Indeed, it seemed like Iden had killed him once she got everything she wanted from him. But, it is heavily implied that he lives as Iden basically admits to Del that she set her blaster to stun after a debriefing from her father.

Final Thoughts on Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

In the end, Inferno Squad ended up killing all the Dreamers instead of capturing them for interrogation which infuriated Iden. Yet, it did not worsen the bond that Iden, Del and Gideon formed between each other and they were all impacted by the mission in their own way. Overall, Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad is a great addition to the Star Wars universe.

Poster for Star Wars: Battlefront II

I am well prepared for Star Wars: Battlefront II after reading this book and I am very much attached to the characters despite their allegiance to the Empire. This itself proves how effective Christie Golden was in crafting a great story that makes you care about characters who you would normally despise due to their allegiance to a totalitarian regime.

Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episodes 7-8 (Television Review) – The Stage Is Set For The Battle of Lothal

The story on Lothal continued with ‘Kindred’ and ‘Crawler Commanders’ and I expected these episodes of Star Wars Rebels to continue right where we left off with ‘Flight of the Defender’. At the end of that episode, we saw Ezra and Sabine being safely returned to the Rebel Base on Lothal by the Loth-wolf.

With a title like ‘Kindred’, I suspected that some part of that episode would be devoted to the mystical nature of Lothal in terms of the Loth-wolf and The Force. At the very least, I wanted both episodes to push the story forward when it comes to Lothal and its importance in the early days of the Rebel Alliance.

Loth-wolves in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 7 Kindred

My Thoughts on ‘Kindred’ and ‘Crawler Commanders’

I am combining my opinions on both episodes due to the fact that, honestly, nothing of mind-shattering significance really happened. Despite this, both ‘Kindred’ and ‘Crawler Commanders’ fulfilled their primary purpose which was furthering the story in this season of Star Wars Rebels.

Certainly, these episodes were setting up the Battle of Lothal that will occur in the next episode which is fine and necessary. But, because ‘Kindred’ and ‘Crawler Commanders’ were setting up more important story-lines and episodes going forward, they do rank amongst the weakest episodes of Season 4 so far.

Rukh in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 7 Kindred

Still, there was some interesting stuff to take away, especially in ‘Kindred’ which was a good episode of Star Wars Rebels. The episode started with Hera and Kanan and their discussion about no matter what they do or what adventures they go on, they always come back to Lothal. Lothal’s deeper importance to Star Wars Rebels is heavily implied in this conversation which is important for the story but it was also nice to see Hera and Kanan get some time alone before the chaos begun once again.

Hera and Kanan’s Final Goodbye?

Indeed, the mission to get the flight data of the TIE Defender back to Yavin 4 was the primary focus of ‘Kindred’. This was achieved but not before Hera and Kanan said their goodbyes by kissing for the first time on Star Wars Rebels. This has been naturally building for a long time and it was nice to finally see it happen. Still, I cannot help but feel that this signalled the last time these two characters will see each other.

Ryder Azadi, Ezra, Sabine and Zeb in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 8 Crawler Commanders

Certainly, I would not be surprised if Kanan dies in the next episode which would fit with the darker tone that Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels has had so far. At the very least, I do not feel that Hera and Kanan will be on-screen together again in Star Wars Rebels. Yet, for now, Kanan is still here and he would go on to have another important role in ‘Kindred’ by connecting with the Loth-wolf just like Ezra did before him.

The Force

Some revelations that occurred in ‘Kindred’ were that the Loth-wolves are deeply connected to The Force and the whole of Lothal. We also found out that when the Loth-wolf said “Doom” he actually meant “Dume”. Dume is the true last name of Kanan. Indeed, Kanan Jarrus’ real name is Caleb Dume and, looking back, this should have been pretty easy to decipher. Yet, with the darker tone that has been established in this season of Star Wars Rebels, it seemed apt that the Loth-wolf was saying “Doom” to warn of the impending fate of our characters.

Mon Mothma, Hera and Chopper on Yavin 4 in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 8 Crawler Commanders

Nevertheless, what ‘Kindred’ confirmed is that, as Ezra stated, all the paths are finally converging and I do not feel that it will be a happy end. I also feel that due to how strongly connected the Loth-wolves are to The Force, they will also play a part in what is to come as Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels progresses. One last thing that I will say about ‘Kindred’ is that it was cool to see Warwick Davis be involved in another Star Wars project by voicing the character of Rukh.

Rukh is an assassin who works for Thrawn and, while the part the character played was purely crafted to introduce him to us, it is always nice to see Warwick Davis continue his involvement with Star Wars. Whether it is Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Warwick Davis has been involved in this franchise for decades and long may it continue.

Kanan in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 8 Crawler Commanders

‘Kindred’ Was The Better Episode

I would absolutely say that Kindred was a far better episode than ‘Crawler Commanders’. ‘Crawler Commanders’ was purely created to get us to a stage where Hera successfully convinces Mon Mothma and the rest of the Rebel Alliance to attack Lothal. This episode’s other purpose was to show us how the rest of our characters successfully established long-range communication with Hera to find out that the attack was happening. ‘Crawler Commanders’ was decent. I enjoyed the episode for what it was and there were some funny moments but it is absolutely the weakest episode of Season 4 so far.

If next week’s episode that focuses on the Battle of Lothal delivers, then I will look on ‘Kindred’ and ‘Crawler Commanders’ in a much better way and I expect that this will happen. Star Wars Rebels has always delivered on its most important episodes so I cannot wait to see how the Battle of Lothal will shape out as we know that the first real victory for the Rebel Alliance was stealing the plans for the Death Star at the Battle of Scarif. With this in mind, I feel as though the Battle of Lothal will be bittersweet. The Rebel Alliance will achieve some semblance of a victory but at a massive cost. This is likely to be some of the characters that we have grown to love dying in a heroic sacrifice.

Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episodes 5-6 (Television Review) – A Good Return to Lothal

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.

Sabine and Kallus in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 5 The Occupation

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.

Lothal in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 5 The Occupation

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.

Jai Kell and Ezra in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 5 The Occupation

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).

Thrawn and Governor Pryce in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 6 Flight of the Defender

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.

Loth-cats, Ezra, Sabine, Ryder Azadi and Zeb in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 6 Flight of the Defender

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.

American Vandal Season 1 (Television Review) – Ridiculous Yet Gripping

American Vandal is a mockumentary television series that was made exclusively for Netflix. The show was designed to be a satire of true crime documentaries such as Making a Murderer which was also a Netflix Original. The story of American Vandal focuses on the aftermath of a high-school prank where faculty cars were vandalised with male genitalia being spray-painted on them (a great premise for a show).

Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro) is accused of committing the crime due to his reputation of being a troublesome student that does not respect authority. After an investigation, he is subsequently expelled. Yet, another investigation into the incident is launched by Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez), a fellow student, who tries to find out whether Dylan was truly behind the crime.

Tyler Alvarez as Peter Maldonado and Jimmy Tatro as Dylan Maxwell in American Vandal Season 1

My Knowledge and Expectation of American Vandal

American Vandal was a show that I had no idea was even coming to Netflix prior to its release. Then, suddenly, it was the only thing that anyone was talking about. It got universal acclaim from everyone who saw it and I could not get away from the hype. Naturally, when something gets as much praise as American Vandal did, I have to check it out. Besides, 2017 has been a pretty good year for Netflix Originals. Indeed, 13 Reasons Why, GLOW and Season 5 of House of Cards were great and I was hoping American Vandal would be the same.

My Thoughts on American Vandal

I was worried that the hype for American Vandal would lead me to be underwhelmed if I did not think the show was as brilliant as everyone else made it to be. This was far from the case. This first season of American Vandal was an absolute blast. I should be honest and say that the first episode did not blow me away but it definitely hits its stride in the second episode and it does not let up from there.

Jimmy Tatro as Dylan Maxwell in American Vandal Season 1

Throughout this whole first season of American Vandal, there were times when it was excruciatingly funny. Certain moments in this television show that stand out in terms of comedy include the mystery surrounding the “hey with two ys’ text, a discussion about Christopher Nolan’s Inception and the case against Peter Maldonado (obsession with dicks theory). There were plenty of others though, including this:

American Vandal GIF

Certainly, with American Vandal being a mockumentary, the comedy had to deliver and it does through very clever writing. Moreover, in addition to how the great script makes for some great comedy, the drama in American Vandal is very good too. Let me get this clear, the story is absolutely ridiculous but it is so engaging and gripping. I was so invested into finding out the truth about who draw the dicks and, at the same time, I found it insane that I cared so much considering the absurd premise!

The Characters of American Vandal

In terms of the characters, I would have to say that Mr. Kraz (Ryan O’ Flanagan) was one of the funniest, especially when we got some more insight into him when his Twitter profile was showcased. I also thought that Jimmy Tatro did a great job in the lead role of Dylan Maxwell. I felt that the arc that Dylan went through was a great way to showcase how shitty high-school can be. In fact, I would argue that American Vandal is, in its own way, a commentary on the high-school experience.

Ryan O' Flanagan as Mr. Kraz in American Vandal Season 1

As I said, Jimmy Tatro was great and I was extremely surprised to find out that he does not have a large filmography given how good his performance was. Still, I expect that American Vandal will be a great help to his career as an actor and, with a second season on the way, I look forward to hopefully seeing more of him in this great television show.

Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episodes 3-4 (Television Review) – Saw Gerrera vs. Mon Mothma Delivers

Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels started off in a great way with ‘Heroes of Mandalore’ and, thinking back, I think I underappreciated how great it was to get two episodes back-to-back. Obviously, the more Rebels we get, the better. I’d love to watch the whole season right now but that is not going to happen so getting to watch two episodes last week instead of one is fantastic. The good times seem to be continuing because the next instalment of Season 4, titled ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’, was also a two-parter.

Clearly, the focus of this episode would shift towards the formation of the Rebel Alliance and I was excited about this. It was a great opportunity to strengthen the links that this television show has with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: A New Hope. Moreover, with Saw Gerrera returning, I was eager to see this character continued to be developed. I was also very intrigued to see what state the Rebel Alliance was in at that time because, as we know, the Rebel Alliance as we saw it in the Original Trilogy is not formed at the time this episode takes place.

Captain Rex and Rebels on Yavin 4 in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 3-4 In the Name of the Rebellion

Certainly, there is still division within the Rebel Alliance about how the fight against the Empire should be waged in terms of the methods used and how far they should go to overthrow the Empire. Having both Saw Gerrera and Mon Mothma in this episode of Star Wars Rebels was a great way to showcase this clash in styles when it comes to what the Rebel Alliance stands for and how it should fight.

My Thoughts on ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’

‘In the Name of the Rebellion’ was a very good continuation of Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels and what really impressed me in this two-parter was how well it dealt with the meaning of the Rebel Alliance. As I mentioned above, part of this purpose of ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’ was to showcase the contrast between Saw Gerrera and Mon Mothma and their belief in the direction that the fight against the Empire should be fought.

Mon Mothma listening to Saw Gerrera on Yavin 4 in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 3-4 In the Name of the Rebellion

This was done brilliantly in a scene between the two where Saw manages to rattle Mon Mothma who has always been portrayed as being a calm presence. To see Mon Mothma take Saw Gerrera’s words to heart to such a large degree was fascinating to see. Indeed, seeing Mon Mothma label Gerrera as a criminal rather than a rebel showed how much Gerrera’s words affected her and, to be honest, she is not wrong.

Certainly, we saw a glimpse of Gerrera’s mentality towards war in Rogue One and he did not seem to have much of a moral compass or a limit to how far he would go to defeat the Empire. I have also been reading books such as Guardians of the Whills and Rebel Rising which give further insight into how Saw has no boundaries and will do whatever it takes to bring the Empire down. This itself is driven by guilt and regret for the death of Stella, his sister, and the loss of his home planet of Onderon to the Empire.

Members of the Rebel Alliance on Yavin 4 in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 3-4 In the Name of the Rebellion

Saw and Ezra

These events changed Saw and they really came to the forefront in ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’, especially as it was a parallel with what Ezra was dealing with in this episode. Indeed, Ezra wants to liberate Lothal from the Empire and he was taken in by Saw’s ability to get things done and strike at Imperial targets. In the first part of ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’, an Imperial relay station was the target and the hijacking of Imperial cargo stored on a civilian vessel was the target in the second part of this episode of Star Wars Rebels.

The approach that Saw Gerrera took in this episode showed both his willingness to fight the Empire and the contrast in style that he has with the Rebel Alliance under Mon Mothma. Yet, it also showed how he will do anything to hurt the Empire, even if it means betraying Ezra and Sabine which he eventually did. Moreover, he showed a complete disregard for the prisoners they found and all of this led Ezra to the point where, while he sympathised with Saw about the loss of Onderon and his own way in fighting the Empire, he finally decided to side with Mon Mothma’s approach to fighting the Empire.

Saw Gerrera, Sabine and Ezra in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 3-4 In the Name of the Rebellion

I appreciated that Ezra came to this decision as it is proof of his development and maturity as a character. Still, he still acts like an idiot sometimes and that was evident in this episode of Star Wars Rebels. Instead of completing the mission at the Imperial relay station, he was clowning about and trying to impersonate an Imperial officer. By doing this, he jeopardised a mission which could have helped the Rebel Alliance gain an important advantage over the Empire.

Return of Kallus

Still, that is a small nit-pick and it did not take away from how well ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’ dealt with the meaning of the Rebel Alliance, the methods it should employ when fighting the Empire and the way that Saw Gerrera continued to be developed as a character. I also liked that Agent Kallus appeared for the first time in Season 4.

Kallus, Ezra and Hera in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 3-4 In the Name of the Rebellion

I am so pleased that he is now a fully-fledged member of the Rebel Alliance. His arc in Rebels has been great to watch and episodes in Season 3 that dealt with his story such as ‘An Inside Man’ and ‘Through Imperial Eyes’ were very good. Now, he is back in Season 4 and he has a cool look now as well. Indeed, some fans of Star Wars Rebels are now referring to him as “Hot Kallus”!

Ties to Rogue One and A New Hope

Nonetheless, Saw Gerrera was arguably the main focus of this episode and he was one element of many in this episode of Star Wars Rebels that strengthened the ties that this show has with Rogue One and A New Hope. Seeing Mon Mothma and Wedge Antilles were nice tie-ins to the film series and we also returned to Yavin 4. It was great to see this iconic location in an animated form. It was awesome to see Y-Wings and to have Bail Organa make a cameo appearance was cool given his role in Rogue One which itself made me appreciate this character to a much larger degree than I had before.

Death Troopers in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 3-4 In the Name of the Rebellion

Before Rogue One, Bail Organa was not someone I really liked or cared about, largely because the Prequels are awful. I always associated Bail Organa with those films and the part he played in them but seeing Bail in Rogue One, reading about him in the novels and the appearances he has made in Star Wars Rebels has helped me come around on this character. Instead of groaning about his appearances, I enjoy them because his character has been executed in a much better way than it was in the Prequels.

Yet, the ties to the film series that were my favourites were found in the second part of ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’. While Saw, Sabine and Ezra were on their mission to hijack Imperial cargo, they ran into Death Troopers and there was a mention of Jedha which could only mean a couple of things; the cargo was of importance to Director Orson Krennic (who also gets a mention in this episode) and it had to do with the Death Star. Indeed, this turned out to be the case when we saw that the cargo was a giant Kyber crystal.

Kyber Crystal in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 3-4 In the Name of the Rebellion

Kyber crystals were used to give the Death Star the power to destroy planets and to see this episode of Star Wars Rebels have so many links to the events of Rogue One and A New Hope was brilliant. I mentioned in my review of ‘Heroes of Mandalore’ that I expected Season 4 to move towards and have strong links with the events of Rogue One and A New Hope. ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’ is absolutely a great step in that direction. The only question I have from this episode is how and when did Saw sustain the horrendous injuries that we see he had in Rogue One? Hopefully, we will find out in the future.

Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episodes 1-2 (Television Review) – A Mature Season Premiere

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.

Kanan and Hera in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 1-2 Heroes of Mandalore

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.

Sabine in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 1-2 Heroes of Mandalore

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.

Bo Katan and Sabine in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 1-2 Heroes of Mandalore

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.

Sabine and Bo Katan in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 1-2 Heroes of Mandalore

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’.

Bo Katan wielding the Darksaber, Sabine, Ursa Wren and Mandalorians in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 1-2 Heroes of Mandalore

Comedic Moments

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.

Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 1-2 Heroes of Mandalore

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.

Blade Runner 2049 (Film Review) – A Sequel That Surpasses The Original

Blade Runner 2049 is a science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and stars Dave Bautista, Ana de ArmasSylvia HoeksRobin Wright, Mackenzie DavisCarla JuriJared Leto, Lennie James, Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling. This film is a sequel to the cult classic Blade Runner and it is set thirty years after the events of the original film.

The story focuses on K (Ryan Gosling), a replicant blade runner who discovers the remains of a once-pregnant replicant; Rachael (Sean Young). K must fulfil his mission to find the child and eradicate all evidence related to it. This eventually leads him to discover that the child is linked to missing blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford).

My Knowledge and Expectation of Blade Runner 2049

I must make a confession. Up until a couple of weeks before its release, Blade Runner 2049 was not a film that I was desperately craving to see. This was down to one reason; I had never seen Blade Runner in its entirety. Consequently, l lacked both the emotional connection that many film fanatics have for the original and anticipation for the sequel. I knew I had to watch The Final Cut of Blade Runner before I watched Blade Runner 2049.

Ryan Gosling as K in Blade Runner 2049

So, five days before I was going to see Blade Runner 2049, I watched Blade Runner and, while I do not see it as a masterpiece, I liked the film. This was especially true of the cinematography and the score which were fantastic. Still, what prevented me from loving the film was a story that, to me, lacked a little bit of purpose and a relationship between Deckard and Rachael that I did not buy.

I did believe that, if I liked Blade Runner 2049, then it could potentially improve my opinion and appreciation of Blade Runner. Moreover, it is unlikely that a better director could have been picked to helm this film in the form of Denis Villeneuve. Certainly, he is quickly becoming one of the best directors that is working in the film industry today and he is building an impressive filmography. Indeed, Sicario was arguably the best film that I saw in 2015 and Prisoners was a great film that really left an impact on me.

Still, while Villeneuve is an extremely talented director, he has made films which fell below the lofty standards that Sicario and Prisoners established. For instance, while I liked Arrival, I came to eventually feel that it was a bit overrated and I did not like Enemy at all. Still, despite this, Villeneuve has done enough brilliant work with Sicario and Prisoners to make me extremely confident that he would do a tremendous job with Blade Runner 2049.

Ana De Armas as Joi in Blade Runner 2049

Additionally, he had an extremely talented cast to work with. Certainly, Harrison Ford is a legendary actor and Robin Wright has more than proven herself to be an accomplished actress both in films and television. Both Jared Leto and Ryan Gosling have also impressed me as actors. Leto was brilliant in Dallas Buyers Club and Ryan Gosling made all the headlines with his role in La La Land.

Yet, it was in films such as Drive, The Ides of March and The Big Short where Gosling really impressed me as an actor. With all of this in mind, I had a lot of hope that Blade Runner 2049 would be a great cinematic experience. I also took the time to watch the three short films that were released prior to the release of Blade Runner 2049 and I thought they were all very enjoyable and interesting. I was sure that they would elevate my appreciation of Blade Runner 2049.

My Thoughts on Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is a phenomenal film and it accomplished a very difficult feat in being a sequel that surpasses the original. Truly, this is a near-flawless film which equals the best aspects of Blade Runner and improves on others. I mentioned above how the cinematography and the score in Blade Runner really impressed me. The same can be said for Blade Runner 2049. This film is a visual masterpiece that perfectly captures the essence of the lived-in world that was established in Blade Runner.

Dave Bautista as Sapper Morton in Blade Runner 2049

Every shot is so beautifully crafted and artistic that Roger Deakins, the cinematographer, is an absolute lock to get an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. I will go even further than that. If Deakins does not win the Oscar for this film after being nominated thirteen times, then there truly is no justice in this world. Hans Zimmer also delivers a great score for Blade Runner 2049 that recaptured what made the music that Vangelis composed for Blade Runner so brilliant.

Across the board, the performances in Blade Runner 2049 are amazing. No one took me out of the film with poor acting. Leto, Gosling, Armas, Ford, Bautista, Wright, Hoeks; they all delivered. I have been very impressed by how far Dave Bautista has come as an actor and, in his short role in this film, he gave a performance with a lot of depth. I really want to see him in many more films in the future because I think he will get better and better as time goes on.

Ryan Gosling gives a great performance as the lead character and continues to go from strength to strength as an actor. I hope that the performances given by Ana De Armas and Sylvia Hoeks are breakout performances that propel these two into stardom. I had seen little of these actresses before this film and they were big surprises. They were very captivating in their roles.

Farm set on fire in Blade Runner 2049

Harrison Ford

Another surprise was how little Harrison Ford’s role in Blade Runner 2049 was. Indeed, Harrison Ford was only in the third act of the film which threw me off guard. I was kind of expecting Blade Runner 2049 to rely on Ford for a good majority of its run-time but, in the end, I was perfectly happy with the role he played. He was brilliant when he was on screen and the smaller role that he had allowed the other cast members to shine.

As I said, the whole cast were great and helped to tell the story in this film that itself was a perfect continuation of Blade Runner. The premise of Blade Runner 2049 was fantastic. I had no idea about the plot of this film before seeing it which made the revelations that occurred throughout this film very impactful and shocking.

The premise of this film as well as the surprising revelations were huge factors in why I was much more connected to the story in Blade Runner 2049 than I was in Blade Runner. I was enthralled and engaged with this story from beginning to end and I would say that the strength of the story in this film is the main reason why I believe that Blade Runner 2049 is a better film than Blade Runner.

Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in Blade Runner 2049

The Minor Flaws of Blade Runner 2049

Still, as much as I have praised Blade Runner 2049 and stated that it is a near-flawless film, I have some minor issues. For one, while I was enthralled with this film from a story perspective, I do feel that this film could have been trimmed by 5-10 minutes as some scenes did go on for a bit longer than they needed too.

Yet, my issue with that was always negated by the fact that I was also enthralled from a visual perspective. I never got bored while watching this film as there was always something for me to admire. Another small issue that I have is that there was no scene in Blade Runner 2049 as memorable or iconic as the “tears in rain” monologue that was delivered by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) in Blade Runner.

However, Blade Runner 2049 is a consistently better film than Blade Runner so that was not a big deal. Watching this film was a wonderful cinematic experience. It is competing with Wind River as being the best film that I have seen so far in 2017 and it is competing with Sicario in regards of being my favourite film directed by Denis Villeneuve.

Ana De Armas as Joi and Ryan Gosling as K in Blade Runner 2049

I would be stunned if this film does not get a bunch of nominations at the Oscars. Surely, Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography nominations are forthcoming? This film is brilliant and I hope that you get to experience Blade Runner 2049 where it deserves to be seen; on the big screen.

Rick and Morty Season 3 (Television Review) – The Best Season So Far

Rick and Morty has quickly become one of my favourite shows that is currently airing. I reviewed the first and second season earlier this year after binge-watching the show on Netflix and it was very entertaining. Rick Sanchez is one of the funniest characters that I have ever had the pleasure to watch and I was expecting more of the same wacky humour in Season 3.

Additionally, I was hoping for this season of television to be much more consistent in terms of quality. Even though I really liked Season 1 and 2 of Rick and Morty, there were some episodes that were underwhelming. I was eager to find out whether Season 3 could be the best season of Rick and Morty so far.

Rick Sanchez in Rick and Morty Season 3 Episode 1 The Rickshank Rickdemption

My Thoughts on Season 3 of Rick and Morty

The premiere of Season 3, titled ‘The Rickshank Rickdemption’, was actually released back in April and it immediately became my favourite episode of Rick and Morty so far. This made it even more agonising that I had to wait until the end of July before I could watch the next episode. Still, while difficult, the wait was worth it. For me, this is the best season of Rick and Morty that I have had the pleasure of watching.

As a whole, Season 3 felt like a step above the previous seasons in many regards. For one, the animation was superb. You can see why it took such a long time for this season of Rick and Morty to be made judging from how far the animation has come from Season 2. This was particularly evident in ‘The Rickshank Redemption’ as well as ‘Pickle Rick’ and ‘The Ricklantis Mixup’.

Rick Sanchez Mulan Sauce Gif in Rick and Morty Season 3 Episode 1 The Rickshank Rickdemption

Moreover, ‘Pickle Rick’ and ‘The Ricklantis Mixup’, along with episodes such as ‘Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender’ and ‘Rest and Ricklaxation’, proved how brilliant the comedy in Rick and Morty really is. These episodes were hysterically funny, especially ‘Rest and Ricklaxation’ and ‘The Ricklantis Mixup’. For me, those episodes cemented this season as being the best so far. I was nearly crying with laughter while watching these episodes.

The Brilliance of Rick Sanchez + A Darker Tone

Rick Sanchez was at the heart of all the brilliant moments during this season. Truly, he is becoming an iconic television character both from a comedic perspective and from a dramatic perspective too. Indeed, Season 3 had a much darker and serious tone compared to Season 1 and 2. We have seen how Rick and Morty is not afraid to address serious issues in the past and Season 3 is no different. Certainly, a common theme that was prevalent throughout this season was the issue of Beth and Jerry’s divorce.

Rick Sanchez in Rick and Morty Season 3 Episode 3 Pickle Rick

We see how the divorce has impacted both Morty and Summer and I appreciated that, even with all the crazy adventures and events going on this season, the divorce and the issues within the family were always present. It helped to ground the show when it needed to be grounded. Additionally, ‘Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender’ dealt with the relationship between Morty and Rick in a way which blended comedy and drama in a seamless way.

Still, the most dramatic moments occurred during ‘The Ricklantis Mixup’. I mentioned how I regard that episode as being one of the funniest but I also feel that, at the same time, it dealt with some very heavy stuff. The focus of this episode is on the redevelopment of the Citadel of Ricks and, in many ways, the episode was a commentary on our own society. This was especially evident during a speech made by a Morty who was running for President. The speech drew a lot of parallels between the divides present in the Citadel and the divides in our own world.

Rick and Morty Breakdown Gif in Rick and Morty Season 3 Episode 6 Rest and Ricklaxation

Evil Morty!!!

This was a truly heartfelt moment that was evidence of how fantastic Rick and Morty can be in its more serious, darker moments. This made it all the more shocking when we see that it was actually Evil Morty who delivered this speech which, in turn, helped him become President! Evil Morty was a character that was introduced in Season 1 of Rick and Morty and this is the first time we have seen him since. This was such a great call back to make and I am sure we will see this story-line be developed in future seasons.

As you can see, the strongest episodes in Season 3 of Rick and Morty really impressed me and even the weaker episodes were still very enjoyable. Episodes such as ‘Rickmancing the Stone’ and ‘The ABC’s of Beth’ will not rank amongst the best episodes of Rick and Morty but they were still good. Moreover, I thought that even though ‘Morty’s Mind Blowers’ was effectively a clip show, it was cool for the twist to be that these were clips we had never seen.

Evil Morty in Rick and Morty Season 3 Episode 7 The Ricklantis Mixup

Learning From Your Mistakes

It also proved how the showrunners learn from the weakest aspects of previous seasons due to the fact that ‘Morty’s Mind Blowers’ was also a great twist on the interdimensional cable episodes. To me, when we had an episode like this in Season 1 and 2, they were always the weakest episodes of that season. ‘Morty’s Mind Blowers’ was a huge improvement from those type of episodes.

The only thing from Season 3 that was a bit underwhelming was the season finale. While I still liked the episode, it did not reach the same heights that the finale of Season 2 did. Still, I am really nitpicking here which proves how I consider Season 3 to be a great season of Rick and Morty and TV in general. Now I am just bummed out that we are probably going to have to wait a good while before Season 4 comes out.

Destiny 2 (Video Game Campaign Review) – A Giant Leap Forward

Destiny 2 is a first-person shooter developed by Bungie and published by Activision. It was released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and it will shortly be released on Microsoft Windows too. This video game is the sequel to 2014’s Destiny and the various expansions which followed. The story of Destiny 2 focuses on an attack on the Last City, humanity’s safe-haven protected by Guardians. The attack is made by the alien race known as the Cabal who are led by their emperor, Dominus Ghaul. Ghaul infiltrates the Last City and strips all Guardians of their Light. As the player, you must set out on a journey to regain your Light, find a way to defeat Ghaul and take back the Last City.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Destiny 2

I have been playing Destiny since Day One and I was hugely impressed by how that game got progressively better over time. Bungie took the criticism from the fans and, with each expansion, improved different aspects of the game. With that in mind, I could not wait for the next instalment in this franchise. In fact, this has probably been my most anticipated video game in 2017. I had a lot of faith in Destiny 2 to continue the upward streak from Destiny and its subsequent expansions, especially from a story perspective.

Dominus Ghaul and the Red Legion in Destiny 2

My Thoughts on Destiny 2

Compared to the campaign that launched with Destiny, Destiny 2 is a significant improvement. The campaign in Destiny 2 is much more cinematic and has a larger focus on coherent narrative. I really liked this campaign. Obviously, the gameplay cannot be massively improved from Destiny because it is pretty much perfect for a first-person shooter. The gameplay is as stellar as ever in Destiny 2 and I loved how vehicles were a part of the gameplay experience for this launch campaign. Indeed, it reminded me of the glory days of Halo (which is basically everything before the train wreck that was Halo 5. God that campaign was awful).

I also thought that much more effort was put into the cut-scenes for this campaign and it really paid off. Apart from looking beautiful, they also added to the story that was being told in Destiny 2 both from a dramatic and comedic perspective. You feel the dramatic weight of the hopelessness facing the Guardians in some cut-scenes and you can also appreciate the more humorous moments when they occur, especially when Cayde-6 (Nathan Fillion) is involved.

Cayde-6 holding a chicken in Destiny 2

Cayde-6 = Legend

Certainly, Cayde-6 became one of my favourite characters in Destiny. He was brilliant comedic relief in that video game and he continued to entertain me in Destiny 2 whether he was stroking a chicken, interacting with Failsafe or poking fun at Zavala (Lance Reddick). Nathan Fillion does a great job in voicing Cayde-6 and I am looking forward to seeing more of this charismatic character in the future.

Still, the element of the campaign in Destiny 2 that I loved above all else was the score. The music in this campaign was fantastic and it really elevated the emotional impact of the story, especially after The Last City is lost and the Guardians lose their Light. The music that plays during that part in the story is outstanding and the score was consistently great throughout the campaign.

Gameplay in Destiny 2

The Flaws of Destiny 2

As you can see, there are a lot of positives when it comes to the campaign in Destiny 2. It is a huge leap forward in terms of storytelling but, obviously, there are things which I think could have been better. For one, the loading times in between the cut-scenes were a bit too long which did have a detrimental impact on the flow of the story. I also thought that the boss battle at the end of this campaign was a bit underwhelming.

However, my biggest complaint with the campaign was the fact that a symbol appeared every time before we had a cut-scene that focused on the Cabal. I should say that I really liked how we had cut-scenes which focused on the antagonists as it fleshed out characters such as Ghaul. Yet, the symbol that appeared before these cut-scenes removed the mystery. We never see this happen in films or TV shows and it weakened a campaign that was aiming to be more cinematic. Still, in general, it does succeed at being cinematic. The campaign in Destiny 2 is a much better launch campaign than Destiny and it gives me a lot of faith in Bungie to deliver even more in the future expansions and instalments of this franchise.