Star Wars Rebels: “Flight of the Defender” Season 4 Episode 4 Review

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Though slightly better than the episode it was paired with this week, “Flight of the Defender” pretty much solidifies season four’s problem thus far, and it’s a problem that’s been with Rebels perhaps even since it started. Six episodes worth of material, including the two two-parters, and really nothing has happened on the show so far this year, aside from the exchange of the Darksaber on Mandalore.

“Flight of the Defender” opens on Ezra, Sabine, Zeb, and Ryder getting ready to steal information on the Empire’s latest version of the TIE Defender. In the midst of the plan, Ezra thinks he sees a Loth-wolf, which he tells us haven’t been seen for a hundred years. But then Thrawn arrives, which admittedly heightens the episode’s stakes quite nicely. As such an imposing force, and after a season of chasing this particular rebel cell, it’s curious to see him analyzing Ezra and Sabine’s every move, given he has more context on their specific strengths and weaknesses. I love how he corrected the Imperial captain that their TIEs wouldn’t have lasted this long had Hera been piloting the eventually stolen Defender. Thrawn still very much lives up to his promise, but his fight against Phoenix Squadron feels incredibly personal now.

Too bad that relationship is such a small part of this episode. Once Ezra crash lands the Defender, he and Sabine must carry the hyper drive as far as they can so as to get the intel back to the Rebellion. The Loth-wolf reappears and carries them to safety, though Sabine is knocked unconscious and has no memory of the beast. “Flight of the Defender” is basic to a fault in terms of plot, but at least the mystery it’s introducing is rooted in character, unlike Saw’s journey to discover the Death Star.

This episode may just be a launching pad for what’s to come of Ezra’s relationship with the creatures of his homeworld (which borrow more than a little from Hayao Miyazaki’s wolf designs from Princess Mononoke), but at least the air of mystery makes it exciting amongst the generic raid of an Imperial base that we’ve seen 50 times over on Rebels. As Kanan vaguely says just before the credits roll, “All paths are coming together now.” The show has yet to prove that to us, but hinting at these answers at the very least indicates that there are in fact answers. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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