Westworld: Season 2 Episode 4 (Television Review) – The Best Episode So Far

In my opinion, Season 2 of Westworld has been great so far but it is evident to me that Anthony Hopkins as Robert Ford is severely missed. He was, by far, the best thing about Season 1 and the death of Robert Ford has created a void that Season 2 has yet to fully fill. However, compelling characters still exist, especially when it comes to Bernard and the Man in Black/William. It therefore comes as no surprise that this episode, titled ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’, which heavily focuses on these two characters is the best episode of Season 2 so far.

My Thoughts On ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’

When it comes to Bernard, this episode picks up right after the events of ‘Virtù e Fortuna’ and the battle between the Confederados Hosts and the Humans. Bernard, with a little “guidance” by Clementine, ends up in a cave where he is reunited with Elsie who is chained up. We last saw Elsie in Season 1 with her fate left uncertain after being mysteriously attacked and it was Bernard who did this when he was under Ford’s control.

Suffice to say, Elsie was not ecstatic to see her captor again but Bernard had no recollection of this incident. They form a uneasy truce and eventually find a bunker full of dead scientists as well as a Host version of James Delos. The way this mystery unravelled throughout ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’ was very compelling and it was cool to see how it linked to the Man in Black/William’s story in the past. Indeed, it was William who was responsible for the creation of Host James Delos.

Shannon Woodward as Elsie and Jeffrey Wright as Bernard in Westworld Season 2 Episode 4 The Riddle of the Sphinx

In the past, we see that William and Delos are attempting to recreate James Delos’ consciousness in a host. In essence, a path to immortality is trying to be established. No matter how many times this is attempted, it always fails and this venture is eventually shut down by William when he is played by Ed Harris rather than Jimmi Simpson. This shows how long this experiment has been going on for and, while a failure, it seems like achieving immortality through the Hosts is an important priority for Delos.

The Mystery Of Bernard

However, as we saw with Bernard and Elsie’s story in ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’, the Host James Delos was kept alive for years after the program was shut down and became deranged. He is found and eventually killed by Bernard and Elsie. After this, Bernard is able to recollect scattered memories from his past and remembers that, before Ford’s death, he was sent by Ford to retrieve the control unit of a second host-human hybrid. However, he cannot remember who that was for.

If I was to guess, I would assume that this second control unit would be for Ford or Arnold but we shall have to wait and see what transpires with this element of the story. We also find out through his scattered memories that the dead scientists in the bunker were killed by Bernard. Clearly, there is so much about Bernard that we do not know about and it will be interesting to see how much more we learn about his past and what it means for his future.

Jimmi Simpson as William in Westworld Season 2 Episode 4 The Riddle of the Sphinx

The Ruthlessness Of The Man in Black/William

The same can be said for the Man in Black/William who was absolutely ruthless in ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’, both in the past and the present. Certainly, he was remorseless in the past with his decision to end the program with Host James Delos and, in the present, he showed no mercy when he killed the remaining Confederados who were spared by Teddy. Indeed, he and Lawrence are captured by the Condederados at Lawrence’s home and are held hostage with its residents which include Lawrence’s family.

Further on in the episode, the Man in Black/William gives a superb monologue about death which sets up his brutal killing spree of the Confederados. He saves the town’s residents and Lawrence’s family but Ford, through Lawrence’s daughter, tells him that one good deed does not redeem him. It seems that we have more to learn about the Man in Black/William too, particularly as he is now reunited with his daughter.

Indeed, the Man in Black/William meets Grace, the woman who killed the tiger in ‘Virtù e Fortuna’, who is actually Emily, his daughter. We know that the relationship between the two is not exactly warm and amicable and I am sure that it will be developed throughout Season 2 of Westworld. Something which I really liked was how the Man in Black/William was developed in this episode as he became more than just the imposing force that he is. He was more fleshed out as a person when it came to his family.

Ed Harris as William/Man in Black Westworld Season 2 Episode 4 The Riddle of the Sphinx

My Final Thoughts On ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’

All of the things which happened in ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’ were of such an amazing quality that, as well as being the best episode of Season 2 so far, it may also be one of the best episodes of Westworld in general. The dense and convoluted lore and mythology of this show has been deepened and the mystery of Season 2’s plot, while teased, is still intact and I am still committed to going on this journey.

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Westworld: Season 2 Episode 3 (Television Review) – The Mythology Continues To Be Expanded

One of things which has really impressed me with Season 2 of Westworld has been the way in which it has expanded the mythology of this world. This has been done through the development of what we know about the characters as well as the history of the park and Delos. In this third episode, titled ‘Virtù e Fortuna’, the continuing expansion of the mythology is now being done through the reveals of more parks besides Westworld. This was something that was teased in the Season 1 finale and we have now seen it for real in ‘Virtù e Fortuna’.

My Thoughts On ‘Virtù e Fortuna’

This episode began in a British Raj park. We see a woman called Grace flee from a rogue host and she then ends up being chased by a tiger which is eventually killed by her. It is the same dead tiger we saw in ‘Journey Into Night’. Even this early on in Season 2, mysterious things are being explained. Although, more questions have now been raised about the importance of Grace and her role in the wider story being told in Season 2 after this episode and the wider story continues to intrigue me.

Firstly, it turns out that I was right about how the flash Bernard scenes in ‘Journey Into Night’ showed us glimpses of the past and the future. Indeed, one of those flash scenes involved Bernard and Dolores and she stated that “there is beauty in what we are”. We got to see that scene play out in ‘Virtù e Fortuna’. Yes, Bernard and Dolores are reunited in this episode after Bernard gets separated from Charlotte (In the future timeline, those two reunite at Park HQ, aka the Mesa).

Grace in the British Raj Park in Westworld Season 2 Episode 3 Virtu e Fortuna

Bernard and Charlotte had Peter Abernathy, Dolores’ father, but he along with Bernard were taken by the Confederados to Dolores. I always found the scenes between Dolores and Bernard to be amongst my favourite character interactions in Season 1 and it was great to see them together again. We also got to experience an emotional scene between Dolores and her father which humanised Dolores and this moment was in stark contrast to the scenes where we continue to see Dolores’ ruthless nature.

Abernathy Has Vital Information Within Him

Certainly, there seems to be nothing which will deter Dolores from her path. She uses the Confederados as pawns in the battle that occurred in the 3rd act of this episode between the Hosts and the Humans (which was awesome by the way) and she then proceeds to wipe them all out. Well, all except those few spared by Teddy who is more and more out of his depth as Dolores’ conquest continues. Dolores sees this act of mercy by Teddy and I feel as though it will lead to Dolores making a difficult choice with Teddy later on in Season 2 of Westworld.

Dolores is also going to now have to find a way to rescue her father who was taken by the humans but not before Bernard found something within Abernathy’s code. It looks as though it is extremely important as Bernard was utterly shocked with what he found. The information within Abernathy seems to be vital when it comes to the larger story being told and this mystery about him just adds to the compelling nature of this season of Westworld.

Samurai World in Westworld Season 2 Episode 3 Virtu e Fortuna

Samurai World

We also get to focus on Maeve in ‘Virtù e Fortuna’ and, for me, her overall storyline is good but the weakest storyline so far in Season 2. However, in her quest to find her daughter, Maeve is reunited with Felix and Sylvester, the two lab workers from Season 1. I always enjoyed the dynamic those three had together so I look forward to seeing more of that this season. I hope it improves Maeve’s storyline and the way ‘Virtù e Fortuna’ ends certainly points to a step up in its quality.

Indeed, Maeve’s group is attacked by a samurai in an intriguing, cliff-hanger ending which sets up Samurai World and I cannot wait to this in future episodes of Season 2. If those future episodes can keep the same consistency we have got so far or even improve on what we have seen up to this point, then Season 2 of Westworld will be a worthy continuation of Season 1.

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Westworld: Season 2 Episode 2 (Television Review) – More Timelines, More Mystery

You can never judge the overall quality of a season of television until it has finished. This is certainly true for a show like Westworld. In its first season, each episode deepened the mystery of the story and the season had multiple timelines within it. This meant that it would be unfair to judge the season until the stories in those timelines had come to some sort of resolution and connected in some way. Season 2 is absolutely continuing what Season 1 established in this regard.

Arnold and Dolores

In ‘Journey Into Night’, we saw that stories were being told in two different timelines. Now, after the second episode, titled ‘Reunion’, more timelines have now been re-introduced. Indeed, the distant past was a big focus in Season 1 of Westworld and it provided some interesting backstory to characters such as the Man in Black, or William as he was known back then. This also continues in Season 2. However, before going back to continue William’s story from where that ended in Season 1, we went even further back in time to when Arnold was still alive and before the park had been built.

Indeed, Arnold was setting up a showcase for Logan to convince him to invest in Westworld with the help of Robert Ford and it was awesome to hear a younger version of Ford. I do not know if Anthony Hopkins came back to do the voice for the younger Ford but it sounded exactly like him. So, either Hopkins did come back or they got a tremendous voice actor who can imitate a voice on the same pitch-perfect level as, for instance, Stephen Stanton did for Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars Rebels episode ‘Twin Suns’. I also liked how the relationship between Arnold and Dolores, who was meant to be a part of the showcase to Logan, was developed in this timeline.

Jeffrey Wright as Arnold and Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores in Westworld Season 2 Episode 2 Reunion

William

We get to see Logan again in the other timeline that takes place in the distant past. As I said earlier, we follow William after the events of Season 1. Logan is out of the picture and William now has access to Logan’s father and he shows him how the parks can be used to spy on guests and collect data on them. As William says, the parks are where people show who they really are and this whole conversation between William and Logan’s father was very timely when you consider the revelations that have come out about Facebook recently.

William takes control of Delos and Dolores, at a party celebrating this, finds a despondent Logan who believes that humanity in now doomed. He may turn out to be right and all of what we saw in the distant past in ‘Reunion’ continued to provide some fascinating backstory which I am sure will connect to what is going on in the present timelines.

The Present

The other storylines that were continued from ‘Journey Into Night’ were the ones which focus on Dolores and the Man in Black. When it comes to Dolores, she is continuing to expose Teddy to more of the truth about what they truly are. She also runs into Maeve and they have an intriguing discussion about their newfound “freedom” which is an important theme of Westworld. Dolores also tries to recruit more Hosts to her cause of finding the “valley beyond” which houses a weapon she intends to use against the humans.

Ed Harris as the Man in Black/William in Westworld Season 2 Episode 2 Reunion

This goal and her whole arc in ‘Reunion’ was intrinsically linked to the past timelines as well as the Man in Black who reunites with Lawrence. He also tries to recruit Hosts, loyal to the new El Lazo, to aid him with his game and reach the “pearly gates”. On a side note, it was awesome to see Giancarlo Esposito, Gus from Breaking Bad, portray the new El Lazo. It was a cool cameo. However, the Man in Black’s plans were foiled. Robert Ford was not allowing any of this to happen and he kills his recruits.

Even though Ford is dead, his spirit still lives on and it raises some questions over how dead he really is. Despite this setback, the Man in Black goes forward with his quest to destroy what he sees as his greatest mistake. This may be the park itself or perhaps the weapon Dolores is seeking and, in the distant past, we saw William take Dolores to this special project he was constructing which may well be the weapon. Both the Man in Black and Dolores seems to be heading towards the same destination with different ambitions in mind.

My Final Thoughts on ‘Reunion’

I really liked ‘Reunion’. It provided us with more interesting backstory, it deepened the mystery of the story being told and the episode was quite different from what I believed we would get based on where we left off in ‘Journey Into Night’. Certainly, more periods of time will be focused on than I originally thought and while all of these convoluted timelines could have been confusing, the way they linked together in ‘Reunion’ was well executed in my opinion.

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores and James Marsden as Teddy in Westworld Season 2 Episode 2 Reunion

Because of Season 1, it is much easier to follow what is going on in these different timelines. I cannot wait to see how everything established so far in Season 2 of Westworld will all link together in the end, especially when it comes to finding out what the weapon actually is.

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Westworld: Season 2 Episode 1 (Television Review) – A Superb Start

The first season of Westworld was superb television to watch. The technical quality of it was undeniable and the themes that were explored in the mysterious narrative really made the entire season an enjoyable watch, even in its more slower moments. As you can imagine, the hype for Season 2 of Westworld was quite high and I was excited to come back to this show, especially as we have had to wait some time for it to return.

However, the wait is now over and ‘Journey Into Night’ was the episode which kicked off this second season of a television series that HBO is really pushing to become one of its leading lights. This is particularly the case when you consider that Game of Thrones is coming to the end and the void left by its end needs to be filled by one or more shows on the scale of Westworld.

My Thoughts On ‘Journey Into Night’

Sometimes, the first episode in a new season of television can be the weakest episode of that season. If this is the case with ‘Journey Into Night’, then we are in store for a phenomenal season of Westworld. I loved this episode. From its very first scene, it was compelling. Certainly, an episode of Westworld which begins with a past conversation between Bernard/Arnold and Dolores is a fantastic way to start this second season.

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores in Westworld Season 2 Episode 1 Journey Into Night

I say Bernard/Arnold because I am not sure whether that conversation took place in the distant past when Arnold was still alive or, more likely, with Bernard in the more recent past. Either way, it was a fascinating scene which showcased how Westworld is a cut above the overwhelming majority of TV shows currently airing. The acting and dialogue between Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood in this scene alone was mesmerising and, for me, it foreshadowed what is to come in Season 2.

Indeed, Bernard/Arnold stated that he was frightened about what Dolores might become and what path she will take. Obviously, we have seen already what Dolores is capable of and this scene may have indicated that much worse is in store. Another subtle element of this scene that I appreciated was how the framing was different compared to the rest of ‘Journey Into Night’.

Two Timelines

After this scene, we saw flash scenes of both Bernard and Dolores. Now, I did not have the opportunity to watch the first season of Westworld again before Season 2 began. I was able to recognise that some of these flash scenes were from Season 1 but others were not as recognisable which make me believe that we got glimpses of the future. However, I understand that I may be completely wrong about this.

Jeffrey Wright as Bernard in Westworld Season 2 Episode 1 Journey Into Night

Still, what was completely apparent about ‘Journey Into Night’ is that, at least for now, we are following two timelines in Season 2 of Westworld. One of them takes place in the immediate aftermath of the death of Robert Ford at the end of Season 1 and the other is set around two weeks later where the humans are trying to regain control of the park. What we saw in the latter timeline was at the beginning and the end of ‘Journey Into Night’ so the real meat of this episode took place right after Ford’s death.

The Hosts Take Control After Ford’s Death

In this time period, the Hosts are in total control of the park and they have wiped out almost all the Delos board members with only a few surviving the massacre that began with Robert Ford’s death. As expected, the Man in Black/William is having a great time with this new reality. It was what he wanted all along as we saw in Season 1 of Westworld and, in ‘Journey Into Night’, he had a great discussion with the young Robert Ford Host where he learns that an entirely new game solely for him has just begun.

Bernard and Charlotte are together and they try to deal with the repercussions of Ford’s death. They eventually find safety and learn that they have to find Peter Abernathy, the Host who played Dolores’ father in Season 1, and give him to Delos to secure help and extraction from the park. Maeve has to go on a journey of her own to find her daughter and Dolores, with the bemused help of Teddy, is charting her own course and wishes to go beyond the park and take control of the human world.

Young Robert Ford Host and Ed Harris as the Man in Black/William in Westworld Season 2 Episode 1 Journey Into Night

Clearly, a lot of things are about to go down in Season 2 of Westworld given what has been set up in ‘Journey Into Night’ and I loved where our characters are at in this timeline. It has established some exciting narratives and I am fascinated to see what unravels in this timeline going forward.

Bernard + The Military Team

In the time period that takes place two weeks after Ford’s death, Bernard wakes up on a beach with water rising around him which establishes a good amount of mystery about how and why this happened, especially when one thinks about where he was in the other timeline with Charlotte. Additionally, it was a visual which linked back to the very first scene of the episode where he described a dream he had to Dolores that was exactly like the situation he found himself in at that moment.

He encounters a human military team from Delos who, as I said earlier, are attempting to take back control of the park from the Hosts. Bernard eventually leads them to a lake of dead Hosts who he claims to have killed. To see where Bernard starts in one timeline and then get to the place where he was in the other is going to be fascinating to experience.

Dead Hosts in Westworld Season 2 Episode 1 Journey Into Night

My Final Thoughts On ‘Journey Into Night’

In both timelines, the outstanding quality of this show is still clear to see from a technical perspective. From a storytelling viewpoint, Westworld continues to explore themes such as existence, consciousness and meaning in a deep and layered way. ‘Journey Into Night’ did a tremendous job at reintroducing us to these themes as well as providing a great platform for the characters, and the story they are in, to flourish as Season 2 progresses from episode to episode.

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Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episodes 14-16 (Television Review) – The End Is A New Beginning

Watching the end of a television show can be an emotional and sad experience. Whether you are a finishing a binge-watch or saying goodbye to a show you have watched since its inception, it is always tough to say farewell to a great television show. Sadly, the end of Star Wars Rebels has come with the last episodes of Season 4.

A Fool’s Hope’, ‘Family Reunion’ and ‘Farewell’ closed out Star Wars Rebels and I was expecting these episodes to bring satisfying closure to this series. The entire focus of these final episodes of Star Wars Rebels was on the efforts of our heroes to liberate Lothal from the Empire. In a sense, the show was coming full circle. The show began on Lothal and it ended on Lothal which was quite poetic.

My Thoughts on ‘A Fool’s Hope’, ‘Family Reunion’ and ‘Farewell’

I loved these episodes. Star Wars Rebels ended in a great way and one of the strongest aspects of this series finale was how insular it was throughout. Indeed, in ‘A Fool’s Hope’, we saw a lot characters from previous episodes return for this mission to free Lothal. Gregor, Wolffe, Ketsu Onyo, Vizago and Hondo all came to the aid of Ezra and it was great to see them all return, especially Hondo.

Kallus, Gregor, Hera, Rex, Wolffe, Ketsu Onyo and Hondo in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 14 A Fool's Hope

From an entertainment perspective, he has been one of my favourite characters in Star Wars Rebels and his line about how he would do anything for Ezra proved that he really cares for him. The fact that all of these characters returned for this mission showed how much respect they have for Ezra, even if this mission would be incredibly difficult to execute. Indeed, the majority of ‘A Fool’s Hope’ deals with the attempt to lay a trap for Governor Pryce so she can be captured which was a tall order.

As such, this episode was action-heavy and it was a joy to watch the animation in these battle scenes. The animation itself has come so far since the first episode of Star Wars Rebels. ‘A Fool’s Hope’, like ‘Wolves and a Door’, did a very good job at setting up the larger narrative which would be told in the following episodes. Pryce was eventually captured with some help from the Loth-wolves and it was weirdly satisfying seeing them chuck Stormtroopers around like they were merely toys.

Ezra’s Story

Thanks to ‘A Fool’s Hope’, the stage was set for the liberation of Lothal to begin. I mentioned before how Star Wars Rebels ends on Lothal which, at first, surprised me. This is because of Rogue One and how, for a time, I believed that the Battle of Scarif would be part of the series finale of Star Wars Rebels. After all, a big element of the story in this show has been about the formation of the Rebel Alliance. However, while important, I came to realise that this is not the main focus of the series. Since the beginning, Star Wars Rebels has always been focused on the journey of Ezra.

Ezra in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 15 Family Reunion

This has always been Ezra’s story so it made sense that the series would end on his home planet and his quest to free it from the Empire. He was the focal point of ‘Family Reunion’ and ‘Farewell’ and what he went through in these episodes showed how much he has grown as a character. Throughout Star Wars Rebels, Ezra has been, at times, a frustrating character to watch. Yet, he has developed as a person and leader and what we saw of him in ‘Family Reunion’ and ‘Farewell’ was, for me, the pinnacle of his character development.

Similar to Kanan in ‘Jedi Night’, Ezra took the mantle of responsibility upon himself to do what was necessary, despite the temptation to reunite with his parents. If you know anything about Ezra, then you will understand how important his parents were to him and how, in the past, he would have given anything to be with them again. He could have had this opportunity thanks to The Emperor who tried to trick Ezra with his greatest desire. However, Ezra let go of his parents which was an extremely poignant moment.

Gregor

It signified his character development in the best possible way and it was an emotional scene. The death of Gregor was another. In his last words with Rex, Gregor asserted how it was an honour that he, alongside Rex, fought for something they chose to believe in. The reason why this was such an emotional part of this series finale was due to how it linked back to certain story arcs in Star Wars: The Clone Wars which focused on the clone troopers such as the Umbara Arc in Season 4 and the Clone Conspiracy Arc of Season 6.

Rex and Gregor in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 16 Farewell

For me, they were some of the best stories told in Star Wars: The Clone Wars because it humanised the clones. Those story arcs dealt with the place the clones had in The Clone Wars and gave you reasons to care for them. You felt sympathy with how little control they would have for what was to come with Order 66. Hence, to have Gregor proclaim to Rex how he was proud to die fighting for a cause he chose of his own free-will alongside his brothers really got to me.

This scene would not have impacted me to the extent it did if I did not choose to watch certain episodes and arcs of Star Wars: The Clone Wars which I owe to Star Wars Rebels. Both of these animated shows have enhanced my experience with the Star Wars franchise and I am very grateful for that.

The Purrgil

Gregor was not the only one to die in this series finale of Star Wars Rebels. Rukh and Governor Pryce also die. However, all of the major characters survived the events of the series finale and Lothal was, in the end, successfully liberated from the Empire thanks to something that I thought we would never see in Star Wars Rebels again. I am, of course, talking about the Purgill.

Purrgil in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 16 Farewell

These creatures, who are effectively space-whales, saved the day and it meant that an episode from Season 2 of Star Wars Rebels titled ‘The Call’, where the Purgill appeared for the first time, has actual relevance and meaning. If you read my review of Season 3’s ‘Double Agent Droid’, then you will know that I regarded ‘The Call’ as an episode of Star Wars Rebels that was complete and utter filler which you did not need to watch. That has all changed thanks to events of the series finale and it is now a necessary episode to watch.

Ezra and Thrawn Survive

The use of the Purrgil was, again, a great way to show how insular and connected Star Wars Rebels is. It also provided a way to keep Ezra and Thrawn alive. This is because the Purgill used their hyperspace capabilities to take Ezra and Thrawn away from Lothal to an unknown location. As a result, both characters are alive but missing throughout the Original Trilogy which makes sense and does not contradict canon.

I would assume that they would have been taken to a place so distant and unknown that even Yoda would not be able to sense Ezra. In that sense, when Yoda asserts to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi that “When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be”, he absolutely means it based on the knowledge he has. I am so pleased that Ezra and Thrawn are still alive. To kill these two characters, especially Thrawn, would have been too soon for me.

Thrawn, Ezra and The Emperor in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 15 Family Reunion

He was a great villain in Star Wars Rebels and I believe that there is more to be done with Thrawn. In this series finale, we saw again how devastatingly cruel and ruthless he can be with the aerial bombardment of Lothal. I want to see more of both Ezra and Thrawn in the future. Moreover, I think that what we saw in the last minutes of the series finale of Star Wars Rebels, which was essentially an epilogue, has established a new animated Star Wars television show where we can see all of these characters again.

The Epilogue

In this epilogue, we learn that, after Lothal was liberated, it was a planet which lived in peace throughout the events of the Original Trilogy. The Empire never came back to retake the planet, probably because they had bigger problems to deal with after the destruction of the First Death Star and the emergence of Luke Skywalker.

The last minutes of the series finale of Star Wars Rebels take place after the Empire is defeated and we learn from Sabine about what happened to our heroes after the Battle of Endor. For one, we find out that Kallus and Zeb travelled to Lira San to join with the rest of the Lasat species who Kallus had thought he wiped out. This was such a fantastic moment as it meant that the redemption arc of Kallus in Star Wars Rebels came full circle.

Kallus and Zeb in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 16 Farewell

Sabine also states that both Hera and Rex fought with the Rebel Alliance at the Battle of Endor and we learn that Hera had Kanan’s baby; Jacen Syndulla. I imagine that Jacen must have been conceived sometime during the first half of Season 4 or perhaps just before the events of ‘Heroes of Mandalore’. This was a nice surprise but the biggest reveal occurred in the very last scene.

Ahsoka and Sabine

In this series finale of Star Wars Rebels, Ezra told Sabine that he was counting on her and she assumed that this was in regards to protecting Lothal. However, she came to realise that his had a different meaning; Ezra was counting on her to find him and bring him home. Ezra also told Ahsoka to find him in ‘A World Between Worlds’. While that was in different circumstances, both Sabine and Ahsoka have a common goal to find and reunite with Ezra.

This made it even cooler to see these two team up and head off to find Ezra at the end of the series finale of Star Wars Rebels. We know that a new animated Star Wars show is being developed and, based on how Star Wars Rebels ended, it looks as though it will be focused on Sabine and Ahsoka’s mission to find Ezra. In this sense, the end is a new beginning. I am looking forward to hearing more details about the future of Star Wars animation soon, regardless of what the story will be.

Sabine and Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 16 Farewell

Right now, the only thing that matters is that Star Wars Rebels ended in a fantastic manner. ‘A Fool’s Hope’, ‘Family Reunion’ and ‘Farewell’ brought an end to a great TV show which enhanced and expanded the Star Wars universe. I am sad that Star Wars Rebels has come to an end but I am excited for what is ahead.

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Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episodes 12-13 (Television Review) – Exceptional Storytelling

Throughout its run, Star Wars Rebels has given us some awesome episodes of television. Moreover, I would contest that some of those episodes rank amongst the best Star Wars content we have had the pleasure to experience. Clearly, Season 2’s ‘Shroud of Darkness’ and ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’ come to mind as does Season 3’s ‘The Holocrons of Fate’ and ‘Twin Suns’. While we have had some great episodes of Star Wars Rebels in Season 4, nothing has blown me away to the extent that the aforementioned episodes have.

My Thoughts on ‘Wolves and a Door’ and ‘A World Between Worlds’

However, this final season of Star Wars Rebels has now provided us with an episode which, in my eyes, is the best this show has ever given us. ‘A World Between Worlds’ has changed the game and it blew me away with how well it binds the Star Wars universe together. Still, before this episode, we had ‘Wolves and a Door’ to experience which itself was a very good episode of Star Wars Rebels.

I will argue though that, on the whole, ‘Wolves and a Door’ was an episode designed to setup ‘A World Between Worlds’. We saw our heroes, still reeling from the death of Kanan in ‘Jedi Night’, travel to the Jedi Temple on Lothal, with some help from the Loth-wolves, to uncover what the Empire was doing at this location.

The Emperor in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 12 Wolves and a Door

One scene during this journey actually felt like a video game interlude/loading screen which was weird but it worked. Everything in ‘Wolves and a Door’ was leading up to something more important which we would eventually see in ‘A World Between Worlds’. Nevertheless, the events in this episode provided us with some really cool moments. We certainly got a lot of satisfying connections to the wider Star Wars universe.

For one, The Emperor, voiced by Ian McDiarmid, made his first physical appearance in the show which was cool to see. Moreover, we saw artwork which directly linked to Mortis and the Force Gods, i.e. The Ones, which was all first introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The Mortis Arc was one of the best arcs in that show so to have it reintroduced in a big way in ‘Wolves and a Door’ was great.

Time and Space

Yet, the real meat of what we experienced in these episodes was in ‘A World Between Worlds’ which was exceptional. I have already stated that it is the best episode of Star Wars Rebels we have ever had. So, let me explain why I fell this way. Ideally, I want the mythology of Star Wars to be expanded through bold storytelling and well-executed, original ideas that still keeps the mystery of Star Wars intact.

Mortis Rural in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 12 Wolves and a Door

A reason why I love Star Wars: The Last Jedi, among many, is that it does the near impossible task of achieving all of these lofty ideals. A reason why I do not like the Prequel Trilogy, among many, is that the execution of the ideas and story fell completely flat, particularly in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Moreover, things that did not need to be explained, like The Force, were and in a poor way that was a complete betrayal to the essence of the Original Trilogy.

Thankfully, ‘A World Between Worlds’ works on all fronts when it comes to the expansion of Star Wars mythology. A good amount of this episode was spent with Ezra after he entered the portal which led to the World Between Worlds. This place was a pathway between all time and space. In this mystical plane, everything is in flux; time does not matter and you can witness and influence the past, present and future.

Restore Past, Redeem Future

As such, during our time at this place, we hear moments from the Original Trilogy, the Sequel Trilogy, Rogue One and Star Wars: The Clone Wars which really tugged at the heartstrings. It was so much to take in but in the best possible way. While I was less enthused to hear moments from the Prequel Trilogy, it was still nice to have that connective tissue.

Ezra and Morai in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 13 A World Between Worlds

Besides, in recent years, whenever the events of the Prequel Trilogy have been referenced in Star Wars content such as the films, books, comics, TV shows and/or the video games, they are usually extremely general references. This means that I can block out the terrible execution and just appreciate the references as vague, mysterious call-backs which I can interpret in my own way. In this sense, hearing moments from the Prequel Trilogy did not lessen my enjoyment of ‘A World Between Worlds’.

Still, while the references to known Star Wars moments were one of the great ways ‘A World Between Worlds’ united the Star Wars universe, it was not the highlight of the episode. In ‘DUME’, Ezra was told by the Loth-wolf Dume to travel to the Jedi Temple on Lothal to “restore past, redeem future”. After watching this episode, it seemed to me that this meant saving Ahsoka Tano.

Ahsoka Lives

Yes, in this episode, we get a definitive answer to the fate of Ahsoka Tano. As we saw in ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’, the outcome of her duel with Darth Vader was left ambiguous. While it is heavily implied that she survived, we did not know the specifics of what truly happened until now. The World Between Worlds has many portals and, through one of these portals, Ezra sees the continuation of Ahsoka’s fight with Vader.

Ezra watching Ahsoka and Darth Vader Duel on Malachor in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 13 A World Between Worlds

I previously mentioned that one can influence the past, present and future in the World Between Worlds and Ezra does this. Just as Vader is about to strike down Ahsoka, Ezra reaches out and saves her. It was a moment which left me completely floored. In its own unique way, a version of time travel had been introduced into Star Wars.

This was a risky move which could have completely failed and been a major problem. But it worked for one specific reason; Ezra did not change the events of what happened on Malachor. We never saw Ahsoka die. She lived and how she survived her duel with Vader was just left mysterious until now. What we merely saw in ‘A World Between Worlds’ was how Ahsoka survived and it tied in beautifully with ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’.

This is because The Emperor tries to enter the World Between Worlds but Ahsoka prevents this and saves Ezra from a terrible fate. They each go back through their separate portals and Ahsoka returns to Malachor. The closing shot of her in this episode wonderfully connected to the closing shot we see of her in ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’. Everything came full circle and lined up very well. The execution was perfect.

Ahsoka Tano Twilight of the Apprentice A World Between Worlds Malachor

Kanan

I guess the question now is when will we see Ahsoka again? Hopefully, it is sooner rather than later. I also loved how everything about the World Between Worlds was still left mysterious. We know no in-depth knowledge about its origins or how it came to be and we do not need to know. It is in keeping with the meaning and weirdness of The Force and it all linked back to what Ahsoka said back in Season 2; “just when you think you understand The Force, you find out how little you actually know”.

Another great aspect about ‘A World Between Worlds’ and what was introduced in this episode was how it forced Ezra to comes to terms with Kanan’s death. Through saving Ahsoka, Ezra had this idea that he could also save Kanan. But, in the end, Ahsoka made Ezra realise that Kanan’s sacrifice was necessary so that he, Hera and Sabine could live and continue the fight. We also found out what the meaning of the Loth-wolves has been in Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels.

As part of The Cosmic Force, which binds everything together, Kanan manifested his will into the Loth-wolves so he could influence the living through them. This revelation finally made me understand the Loth-wolves’ purpose and what this all led to was a very poignant moment at the end of ‘A World Between Worlds’ where Ezra bid farewell to his former master.

Ezra and Hera in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 13 A World Between Worlds

This ended what was an exceptionally well-executed episode of Star Wars Rebels that, like The Last Jedi, added to the mythology of Star Wars. Moreover, the stage is now set for the final episodes of Star Wars Rebels which are sure to be emotionally charged. I am confident that they will bring satisfying closure to the series.

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episodes 12-13 Wolves and a Door and A World Between Worlds Pin

 

Star Wars Rebels: Season 4 Episodes 10-11 (Television Review) – Farewell Kanan

The mid-season breaks of Star Wars Rebels can be quite arduous, especially if the mid-season finale ends on a cliff-hanger. ‘Rebel Assault’ certainly brought the first half of Season 4 to a stage of uncertainty. Indeed, Hera was captured by the Empire after the failure of the assault on the TIE Defender factories on Lothal. The rest of our heroes needed to regroup and come up with a plan to rescue Hera. We have had to wait a long time to see what would happen.

The Beginning of the End

However, this final season of Star Wars Rebels has begun again and these latest episodes, titled ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’, are a couple of the last few remaining instalments we will get of this TV show. As such, I expected the resolution of this entire series to start in these episodes. One of the ways in which Star Wars Rebels would wrap would be through the deaths of certain characters.

For the longest time, I expected that most of our heroes in this television show would die. As a series centred on key figures in the formation of the Rebel Alliance, it seemed obvious to me that the protagonists would have to die. This is because they are not around or referenced in the Original Trilogy. That view has, over time, changed slightly. Indeed, thanks to Rogue One, we found out that Hera and Chopper make it out of Star Wars Rebels alive.

Kanan grabbing a Stormtrooper with The Force in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 10 Jedi Night

Additionally, an episode of Forces of Destiny showed that Hera was on Endor around the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Through Star Wars content such as this, I realised that some of the characters in Star Wars Rebels can survive after the show ends and still be around during the Original Trilogy thanks to the expansion of the Star Wars universe.

However, something which has not changed is my belief that the Jedi in Star Wars Rebels had to go by the time this show ended. Yoda tells Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi that he will be the last Jedi. That statement has always made me feel that the only Jedi around once Star Wars: A New Hope begins are Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Once they are gone, Luke is the last Jedi. No others remain at that time.

My Thoughts on ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’

I believe that the end of Star Wars Rebels will coincide with the events of either Rogue One or A New Hope. Consequently, this meant that both Kanan and Ezra had to either die or be in a position where they are no longer around during the events of the Original Trilogy by the end of Star Wars Rebels. Sadly, one of them did die in ‘Jedi Night’. This episode was focused on the rescue of Hera and the mission cost Kanan his life.

Kanan and Ezra in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 10 Jedi Night

Yes, Kanan Jarrus sacrificed himself to save Hera and, throughout ‘Jedi Night’, it seemed as though he knew what was coming. His conversations with Ezra had an ominous tone to them, as though he was mentally preparing Ezra for what was to come. Looking back at the end of ‘Rebel Assault’, it is evident then that Kanan knew what his fate would be. Still, even though his death was foreshadowed, it was still hard seeing a character we have all become so attached to meet his demise.

It was an incredibly emotional moment which was beautifully enhanced by an awesome piece of music. I cannot stress enough how important music can be in enhancing a scene/moment in an episode of television or a film. The music in Star Wars is essentially a character in this franchise thanks to the incredible work John Williams has done when it comes to the films.

From a television perspective, it is Kevin Kiner who has composed the music in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels and he has done a magnificent job. For me, the piece of score which accompanied Kanan’s death is amongst the best work he has done. It elevated the scene to make it that more of an emotional gut punch.

Ezra and Dume in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 11 DUME

The Continuation of the Darker Tone in Season 4

In addition to its emotional weight, Kanan’s death was just one element in both ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’ that continued that darker tone which has been established in Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels. Indeed, as a prisoner of the Empire, Hera suffered torture at the hands of Governor Pryce and Grand Admiral Thrawn both physically and mentally. Moreover, Zeb almost brutally killed Rukh as retaliation in the aftermath of Kanan’s death.

Clearly, Kanan’s death had a severe impact on every member of the Ghost crew which was showcased in ‘DUME’. This episode was entirely devoted to the fallout of Kanan’s death and the different ways in which the rest of our heroes were emotionally dealing with this loss. For Zeb and Sabine, it was anger. For Hera, she was overcome with sadness about the death of someone she loved. Insecurity plagued Ezra who felt unprepared for the mantle of responsibility bestowed upon him.

The Fight Continues

However, in the end, everyone came together with renewed purpose and resolve to continue the fight against the Empire. A big factor in this was through Ezra’s contact with the Loth-wolves. He met what looked to be the leader of the Loth-wolves who was called Dume. As such, the uttering of Dume by the Loth-wolves throughout Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels clearly has a double-meaning as Kanan’s real name was Caleb Dume.

Thrawn and Governor Pryce in Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episode 11 DUME

The Loth-wolves have been a guide for both Ezra and Kanan in Season 4 and I am still unsure about where this will go. However, for now, I will go along with what is happening, especially as Ezra was told by Dume to go to the Jedi temple on Lothal to uncover secrets. This will be the next objective for our heroes now that the mission which failed in ‘Rebel Assault’ has been achieved. Indeed, the way Kanan died caused the fuel depot for Thrawn’s TIE Defender project to be completely destroyed.

As a result, the mission eventually turned out to be a success which obviously displeased Thrawn who himself was on his way to Coruscant to meet with Emperor Palpatine. This came about after a conversation Thrawn had with Tarkin which linked in very nicely with Rogue One and set up what could be an extremely engaging scene with Palpatine. The only thing that could make it better is if Darth Vader shows up.

My Final Thoughts on ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’

Still, we will have to wait until the next episodes to see what transpires. Overall, I thought ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’ were great episodes that did a tremendous job of reintroducing us to Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels. They rank amongst the most emotional and important episodes of this show and I am sure more of the same is in store.

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Episodes 10-11 Jedi Night and DUME

Stranger Things Season 2 (Television Review) – Better Than Season 1

Undoubtedly, one of the most anticipated television shows of 2017 has been Season 2 of Stranger Things. The first season was a cultural phenomenon and, if you read my review of the first season earlier this year, you will know that I really liked it. A big reason why Season 1 was so good was because of the kids and the chemistry they had together and they were all back for Season 2.

Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) return for Season 2 in addition to Winona Ryder and David Harbour as Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper respectively. Noah Schnapp has a bigger role as Will Byers in Season 2 of Stranger Things and we have new characters such as Bob (Sean Astin), Max (Sadie Sink) and Billy (Dacre Montgomery) making their debuts too.

The story of Season 2 of Stranger Things is set one year after the events of the first season and the focus is on Will who is still recovering from his harrowing experience in the Upside Down. We find out that Will still has a connection to and is influenced by the Upside Down which leads to the characters finding out the shocking truth that a larger threat from the Upside Down exists; the Shadow Monster. In order to save Will, the Shadow Monster must be defeated.

Noah Schnapp as Will and the Shadow Monster/Mind Flayer in Stranger Things Season 2

My Knowledge and Expectation for Season 2 of Stranger Things

As I said above, I watched the first season of Stranger Things on Netflix and, after finishing what I thought was a very good season of television, I was intrigued to see where the story would go. Obviously, I had high expectations given how much the first season impressed me with its characters and world-building. I wanted more of the same in this regard but I also wanted this second season of Stranger Things to move away from its reliance on 80s nostalgia.

Clearly, a big reason why the first season of Stranger Things was so widely loved was because of its ability to pay homage to 80s pop culture. However, as I look back at the first season, I do feel as though its reliance on 80s nostalgia to pull people in meant that the story was never given the chance to be its own unique thing. I hoped that Season 2 of Stranger Things would find a better balance of paying homage to the 1980s while being its own story at the same time. Moreover, I still wanted the show to have that great blend of science-fiction and horror.

My Thoughts on Season 2 of Stranger Things

I have to say, there are not a lot of weak points in Season 2 of Stranger Things. This is a pretty flawless season of television that continues the greatness of the first season but it also improves on the first season due to the fact that Season 2 does not rely on 80s nostalgia. Obviously, it does pay homage to the 1980s through its brilliant synth score and music choices which included bands such as Metallica, The Police and Scorpions (a band that was also featured in GLOW).

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Finn Wolfhard as Mike in Stranger Things Season 2

Season 2 of Stranger Things is also influenced by movies such as Aliens and Ghostbusters. However, it does not rely on these things to shape the story like Season 1 did. The story of Season 2 felt much more like its own thing. One of the brilliant aspects of Season 2 which cemented how special this season of Stranger Things felt was the arc of Will Byers and the brilliant performance Noah Schnapp gives as this character.

Will Byers

Truly, Noah Schnapp gives one of the best child performances I have ever seen. The levels that he goes to while playing Will is extraordinary and it pushes him right to the forefront when it comes to award recognition. Additionally, seeing Will struggle with what is essentially PTSD from his time in the Upside Down was very gripping and set the stage for what was quite a harrowing arc for his character.

Indeed, he becomes possessed by the Shadow Monster and the Shadow Monster is actually feeding off Will who is, in some sense, a host for this mythical creature. Some of the scenes in Season 2 of Stranger Things which showcase this are very disturbing and it proved how great an actor Noah Schnapp is for his age.

Noah Schnapp as Will in Stranger Things Season 2

This was particularly evident in the eighth episode of Season 2, titled ‘The Mind Flayer’, where the possession of Will by the Shadow Monster is at its peak. It made for some quite emotional scenes involving the people who love Will as they try to get through to him by recalling their most cherished memories of him. For me, this eclipsed any moment in Season 1 of Stranger Things.

It was also great to see Will spend more time with Dustin, Mike and Lucas and the chemistry between the kids is still fantastic and helps Stranger Things be as great as it is. Whether it was them turning up to school as the only ones dressed up for Halloween or obsessing over who beat the high score at Dig Dug, the moments they shared as a group were very funny. If Stranger Things is to have more success in the future, then these kids are vital in achieving this.

Hopper and Eleven

Additionally, it is easy to see how the whole cast feels like a family both on and off-screen. All the relationships in this show are very authentic and this is especially true for the relationship between Jim Hopper and Eleven. I did not expect these two to be together in Season 2 of Stranger Things. This made it quite a nice surprise when we found out in the first episode, titled ‘MADMAX’, that Eleven has been in hiding and Hopper is looking after her.

David Harbour as Hopper and Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things Season 2

I loved the relationship they had. Obviously, it had a father/daughter vibe to it and, as Season 2 of Stranger Things progressed, you could tell how much Hopper cared for Eleven. This made complete sense given the tragedy which surrounded his own daughter and this affection he has for her was especially evident in ‘The Spy’ which was the sixth episode of Season 2.

It was also cool to get flashbacks of Eleven’s time on her own after she escaped the Upside Down and before Hopper found her. One of the funniest moments in Season 2 of Stranger Things happened in one of these flashbacks. Indeed, in the second episode, titled ‘Trick or Treat, Freak’, we see a squirrel being flown into a tree by Eleven (I know, it is a horrible thing to happen but it was so funny!).

The New Characters

Aside from the characters we know and love, I also thought the new characters that were introduced in Season 2 of Stranger Things were good. I liked Max (Sadie Sink) and her interactions with the group of kids. She added a bit of spunk to that group and to see Mike be really annoyed with having another girl around was interesting because it confirmed that he had still not got over Eleven.

Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin and Dart in Stranger Things Season 2

While the character of Billy was a complete prick, the performance that Dacre Montgomery gave as that character in Season 2 of Stranger Things was excellent. To see why Billy was as horrible as he was made me empathise with his situation but it did not take away from the fact that the way he treated Max and others was awful. I thought I hated Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) in Season 1 but Billy surpassed Steve in the douche-bag category.

Undoubtedly, my favourite new character was Bob, i.e. Bob the Brain. Bob was played by Sean Astin who is most famous for his role as Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Clearly, this would always influence my thinking that Bob was a legend. But, the matter of the fact is that he was a legend and his heroism and sacrifice in ‘The Mind Flayer’ was proof of this.

Dustin and Steve

In terms of the recurring characters, Dustin is still the MVP. I love this guy and his whole thing with Dart, the baby demo-dog, in Season 2 of Stranger Things was weird but cute at the same time even if Dart did kill a cat. However, it was his dynamic with Steve that was one of the best parts of Season 2 and it might have been the best relationship that was developed in this season of Stranger Things.

Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin and Joe Keery as Steve in Stranger Things Season 2

They had such a great rapport when they were together and, while I did not like Steve as a person in Season 1 of Stranger Things, he has grown on me because he has redeeming, likeable qualities. These qualities were most evident when he was with Dustin and the other kids. He is still a bit arrogant but he is getting better.

Eleven and Episode 7

While Dustin is probably my favourite character due to his personality and the humorous moments involving him (I mean, seeing Dustin theorise that the Shadow Monster was a Mind Flayer and explaining what that meant was priceless), Eleven is the character with the most depth. Her arc in Season 2 of Stranger Things proved that. We talked about the flashbacks we saw of Eleven surviving on her own in the woods which was cool. Yet, it was really the journey she took to find her mother once she knew of her existence which started this great arc.

I feel as though Eleven went through a lot of soul-searching in this season of Stranger Things and her experience when she met her mother showed this as well as what this meeting led to. Indeed, we find out that there is another girl like Eleven out there in the world and we saw her in the opening scene of this season of Stranger Things. Kali (Linnea Berthelsen) was the name of this girl and, like Eleven, she was a patient at the Hawkins Lab who escaped.

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things Season 2

Obviously, The Duffer Brothers, who are the show-runners of Stranger Things, felt that the stuff with Kali/Eight and Eleven’s journey to find her was very important because an entire episode was devoted to it. Yes, now we get to talk about the highly controversial Episode 7. Indeed, this episode has been very divisive for fans of Stranger Things and it is considered to be the weakest episode of Season 2 and the series in general.

For me, it is the weakest episode but I do not get how some people hate on this episode to the extent that they do. I still think that it is a very good episode. I really liked the punk vibe and I feel that the events of ‘The Lost Sister’ will have a lot of significance in future seasons of Stranger Things. In fact, I do feel as though this episode was establishing stories that we will see next season which is a reason why ‘The Lost Sister’ was the weakest episode of Season 2.

Linnea Berthelsen as Kali/Eight in Stranger Things Season 2

Having one episode which focused on Kali and Eleven killed the momentum that was being built with the main story-line back in Hawkins. I wish that the events of ‘The Lost Sister’ had been spread out across a few episodes of Season 2. It would have been better this way rather than just having one standalone episode. If it was blended into the other story-lines, I feel as though some fans of Stranger Things would have less of an issue with this aspect of Season 2.

Season 2 of Stranger Things Ends Well

Nevertheless, the events of ‘The Lost Sister’ led Eleven to the stage where she knew that she needed to help her friends who were in a desperate situation. We saw this situation in the last two episodes of Season 2 which were fantastic. One could argue that ‘The Mind Flayer’ and ‘The Gate’ are the best ever episodes of Stranger Things. The final two episodes were tense, dramatic (Poor Bob) and they were great pay-off for the story in Season 2.

Moreover, it solidified my belief that Season 2 of Stranger Things is better than Season 1. Even the weakest elements of Season 2 were still very good and this season built upon the greatness of Season 1 while improving on the weakest point of Season 1 which was its over-reliance on 80s nostalgia.

Still, even though the end of Season 2 is a shot of the Mind Flayer looming over our characters, I do wonder how The Duffer Brothers will be able to pull-off a third season of Stranger Things. Perhaps moving away from Hawkins will benefit the show. That is why I believe Episode 7 is important in addition to the story that involved Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer).

Natalia Dyer as Nancy and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan in Stranger Things Season 2

The purpose of the mission they embarked on was to expose the government cover-up of the events of Season 1 (Justice for Barb lives on!). I believe that the success they had in doing this will have ramifications which will be explored more in Season 3. Despite my concerns about how Season 3 will be executed, I am defiant in my belief that Season 2 was a brilliant season of Stranger Things. While I do not expect Season 3 to be better than Season 2, I hope that Stranger Things continues to be great television to watch and an event which we all look forward to.

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 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.