Zero Hour Parts 1 and 2: Rebels Season 3 Episode 19 Review

Zero Hour Parts 1 and 2:

Grand Admiral Thrawn has discovered the location of Chopper Base. Before the Rebels can carry out their attack on the Imperial TIE Defender factory on Lothal, Thrawn leads an attack on Atollon to wipe out their fleet and capture their leaders. Will all our heroes survive? Will any escape capture?

What Worked

Grand Admiral Thrawn

Thrawn is as cunning as ever. He deceptively maneuvers Fulcrum into revealing himself and the location of the hidden Rebel base at the same time. Even when the apparent location of the base doesn’t appear on Imperial star charts, he is not fooled. Thrawn knows there is a star system at the coordinates because of his study of the art of the ancient cultures from that region.

Without waiting to see if the location actually contains planets, he sends a throng of capital ships to hem up his adversary. He is commanded by Tarkin to inthrall all of the officers, and he can tell which ships the officers are on based the movements of each ship. As always, he is a thorn in the side of the Rebellion.

“I hate travelling through hyperspace when my GPS begins recalculating my course.”

He also knows his enemy. Thrawn knows the name of each Rebel cell leader. Knowing the tendencies of each commander allows him thwart their attempts to escape his blockade. Only the incompetence of his subordinates gives the resistance any chance.

Thrawn wants to leave his enemies in awe of his strategic abilities. He wants them suffer a demoralizing defeat, hoping to break the spirit of any further rebellion.  As intimidating as he is, he still cannot thaw the resoluteness of the Rebellion.

Ezra

As the season opened, Ezra was commanding missions, but we soon realized that, although he was powerful, he was not mature enough to be in charge. As the season ends, Ezra is sent alone (unless you count Chopper) to bring back reinforcements. It is an important mission, as a big part of the fleet could be destroyed by Thrawn.

Ezra’s maturity is evident as he fulfills his mission. When the obvious choice for help rebuffs Ezra’s request, he resorts to a less stable option. He makes an impassioned plea for help. Although his second choice is hesitant, some help is arranged.

Welcome to first annual Phoenix Fleet air hockey tournament.

Hera

Hera has developed into a true leader. Not only has she pulled together the Phoenix Squadron, she has networked with other cells to help pull together a larger rebellion. When we hear her referred to as general in Rogue One, it is not surprising that she has risen so far as an officer.

In addition to her leadership ability, she is also a valuable tactician. She is the first to realize Thrawn has determined their location, and others react quickly when she orders everyone to begin evacuation.

Her relationship with Kanan has only deepened. She trusts him when he says he must do something other that what she needs and has ordered him to do. When she calls him “Love,” we are reminded how they have put their relationship on hold to serve something much bigger than themselves. It is a sad reminder of one more thing war takes from them.

Hera and Kanan have ultimate faith in one another.

Kanan

Kanan is still struggling with his role in Phoenix Squadron. He admits to Ezra he has nothing more to teach him. Ezra’s response is poignant when he tells Kanan he still has much to teach about being a good person. It is a reminder that wielding great power must be tempered with wisdom and empathy, or it is a great danger to do evil.

Kanan also shows his bravery. As always, he is willing to put his life on the line for what he considers his family. Speaking of his family, it is great to see all our main characters together, even in such dire circumstances. Zeb and Rex are limited in their screen time, but their fully developed friendship show how relationships forged in war are strong indeed.

Sabine

Sabine demonstrates her loyalty and brilliance. She refuses to abandon her extended family, even to help her blood family with whom she has only recently reconnected. It is a testament to her abilities that each faction find her indispensible.

Her creativity in weaponry is another reason she is coveted. It is Sabine who figures the best way to defeat Thrawn’s ships. Zeb and Rex half jokingly comment they must get her to create a shield no one can walk through. It is said in such a way that we feel given enough time, she could do just that.

Kallus

Up until the end of this season, I was never sure about Kallus’s true allegiance. Some part of me suspected, because of Thrawn’s brilliance, Kallus was just playing along with the Rebels because Thrawn wanted him to do it. This episode however, put my suspicions to rest. Kallus has become a true believer and wears the insult of rebel as a badge of honor. (I think. I’m about 98% sure.)

The Bendu

Finally! After an entire season of claiming to be, “the one in the middle,” the Bendu finally really seems to be in the middle. He is indignant when Kanan asks him for help, and downright frightening when Kanan tries to push him with anger and guilt. He at first doesn’t want to get involved in a dispute he views as petty and beneath him. Once he interferes, he appears to want to drive everyone away only so he can be left alone. His anger seems to be indiscriminate as to whom it affects. Both sides must flee or face the wrath of the Bendu.  

Music and Animation

Great as usual. When Commander Sato struggles with a tough decision, we see the turmoil on his face. The music conveys the sense that he knows bad consequences will follow whichever way he decides to go. Then he makes a final decision. The look on his face turns from confusion to determination. The music becomes more forceful, and we know nothing is going to sway Sato from carrying out his plan. It is a beautiful and sad moment.

The animation is fantastic, especially in the space battle. At first blush, I would say it is a close third behind the battles in Rouge One and Return of the Jedi. However, the addition of Ezra and Mandalorians using spacesuits to attack the hulls of an Imperial capital ship as a strike team adds an impressive element lacking in the other two battles. If someone ranked this number one, I would not argue.

The space battle was the visual centerpiece of the episode.

There are two striking images from the battle. The first is the collision between two capital ships. The resulting explosion is mesmerizing. The point of view changes from the audiences, to Thrawn’s, and then to Ezra’s. This powerful image is accompanied by so much emotion. It is the most intense five minutes in the entire run of both episodes. The movement of our view from the horribly beautiful colors of the burning ships, to the retreating Rebellion ships, to the relative tranquility of the planet, and the view from the ground of ships reentering is breathtaking.

The second image is when Ezra and the Mandalorian strike team are running across the hull of the Interdictor ship. All the action is captivating. Jetpacks. Missiles. A lightsaber. So much is going on, and my eyes ate up every morsel.

There was also a payoff from the long running jealousy Ezra has had of Sabine’s jetpack. When he brings it up again, she points out he does have “little thrusters.” I had to rewind the episode to actually see his little thrusters. A very intense moment was lightened with a little humor.  

What Didn’t Work

There was something that was a great individual image. It could have been great cover art if this were a comic book. Our heroes, minus Ezra and Sabine, are surrounded on the ground by Thrawn and his forces. Kanan ignites his lightsaber. On the other end is Zeb growling and readying his rifle. Between them is Hera and Rex with serious looks on their faces. In the center of it all is AP-5. Wait, what? When you want an image to strike fear in the heart of your enemy, AP-5 being the central focus is not the way to go.

Also, as great as it was to see Ezra battling in a spacesuit on the hull of a big ship, I could not get over his fishbowl helmet. I could not help but be reminded of the helmets in Mars Attacks! It may have been for humor, but the visual demotes this scene to 4 acks out of 5.

“Ack Ack Ack” means “We come in peace.”

Verdict

This was a very good episode. It was good to see the family back together. Sabine said she had to return to her mother, but I am sure she will still be a major part of the next season. Even so, these two action packed episodes still did not have the mass of the last third of Twin Suns. It seems unfair, but I just cannot rate these episodes as high as the previous one.

4.5 Death Stars out of 5.