Star Wars Rebels: “Gathering Forces” Season 1 Episode 8 Review

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The conclusion to last week’s cliffhanger may not have given us every answer we wanted, but any episode of Rebels that features a lightsaber duel between Kanan and the Inquisitor is a winner.

Gathering Forces started in the midst of the Ghost’s escape from Lothal. The ship jumps into hyperspace, but not before the Inquisitor manages to attach a tracking device to their shuttle. Since this Sith apprentice is tracking the Ghost not only by this device, but by sensing Kanan and Ezra as well, Kanan decides to take the shuttle and lure in the Inquisitor as bait. This will allow Hera to get Tseebo’s intel to Fulcrum without any Imperial entanglements.

Hera’s journey is a quick one tonight. The Ghost comes out of lightspeed to be in contact with the Tantive IV, leading us to think Fulcrum’s identity is as simple as the already seen Bail Organa. But the fact that Hera still refuses to tell Sabine just who this informant is leads to more questions. When Google searching “Fulcrum” for spelling purposes, I came across an interesting, and popular, fan theory. The Internet seems to think Fulcrum is Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s former padawan who left the Jedi Order after being falsely accused of treason in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The poster child of Rebels‘ older Cartoon Network brother sat out the Netflix season, but it’s fair game for her to have survived Order 66. It’s also fair game for her to be an ally to the Rebellion. Look, as a critic, I don’t want to give in to fan theories, but my god the thought of Ahsoka showing up sooner than later (face it, it was inevitable) is so exciting. I appreciate how the show is keeping Fulcrum a mystery for now, but if it keeps it up, the reveal is going to need to be a lot bigger than Bail Organa. Ahsoka would be that big of a reveal.

Meanwhile, Kanan and Ezra land on the same asteroid base Hera and Sabine did two episodes back. This really hit home my issue with Rebels‘ locations. Lothal has been the setting of many of the first few episodes and it felt downright cheap to return to the same base characters were at just a few episodes ago. Yes, the beasts ended up playing a very cool part in the episode’s plot, but would it kill the show to visit a new planet?

Kanan teaches Ezra connect with the beasts, a Force ability we haven’t really seen much of anywhere else. Though it does make sense, considering Jedi mind tricks are a thing. This allows for an ample challenge for the Inquisitor and his stormtroopers once they arrive at the asteroid base. That said, there is almost nothing as satisfying in all of geekdom as a Jedi and a Sith igniting their lightsabers and charging at each other. It’s Kanan vs. the Inquisitor round two! Rebels‘ lightsaber duel choreography is very different from Clone Wars, almost taking a less is more approach. It leads to tight, tense fights that want you to feel every blow. Will it ever match something like Darth Sidious’ fight with Darth Maul and Savage Oppress in a late Clone Wars episode? Maybe not, but it doesn’t have to.

A great moment came when Kanan’s lightsaber fell from his hands as he was knocked to the ground and Ezra grabbed it to defend him. It was like a window into the future of the young Force wielder. But things got a lot more complicated the scarier the Inquisitor appeared to be. In a desperate moment, Ezra brings out the largest beast in the asteroid base to fight the Inquisitor, allowing he and Kanan to escape. But Ezra’s master points out that it took a lot of anger to summon the beast, meaning that Ezra’s allegiance to the Jedi is not yet set in stone.

The episode ends before we get to meet Fulcrum or Hera gets a chance to tell Ezra the still hidden truth about his parents. Considering how much these two episodes built up the latter, a little closure would have been nice. Leaving it out sort of makes Gathering Forces a well-written sentence without a period. But the sentence was still really well-written. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

4 Responses to Star Wars Rebels: “Gathering Forces” Season 1 Episode 8 Review

  1. Aaron says:

    I tend to think that Fulcrum will be either Bail (likely), Young Leia (less likely), or Ahsoka (least likely). Leia is an interesting possibility (Tantive IV connection ads strength to the idea) but throws an old canon character into the mix very quickly into the series without much chance of pushing her into the background later. She is one of the driving forces behind the rebellion by the time Ep 4 rolls around, so her taking a back seat or disappearing is doubtful. Maybe Leia is least likely? Ahsoka would be awesome and could appear as a major player who could disappear for extended lengths doing “Jedi on the run” things. She could also serve as a substitute for a Yoda figure to help the struggling Jedi and Padawan in Kanan and Ezra. Some words of wisdom learned through hard lessons could get that relationship on the right track. And her lack of knowledge concerning Anakin’s fate can add some drama as well. We can only hope!

  2. Alex Anderson says:

    That wasn’t the Tantive IV. We’ve already seen the Tantive IV in Droids in Distress, and it has the red paint job from ANH. Fulcrum’s ship had blue paint. They’re the same model of ship, but not the exact same ship.

  3. Lance says:

    Not to nitpick, but the Fulcrum’s ship at the end is NOT the Tantive. They are similar, but they are not the same. The Tantive has distinctive red striping as seen in the episode “Droids in Distress.”

    That type of ship is no doubt very common (and easy for the producers of this budget-conscious series to re-use).

    So it’s likely that Bail is NOT Fulcrum (I am hoping for a more interesting reveal myself, since we’ve already seen Bail.)

  4. Leroy says:

    I like that there aren’t a million planets in this show – way more consistent with the original trilogy. I also appreciate that the lightsaber duels are a little less flashy, although it still bugs me that so many of the duels between more minor characters (and ostensibly less experienced/powerful major characters) in the prequels and cartoons seem to outdo the showdown between Vader, Luke and the Emperor in ROTJ with displays of the Force (whipping large objects and humans all over the place, Sith lightning, giant leaps and other acrobatics). I wish the fanboys making these installments would just keep it in their pants a little better. It all would have a bit more class.

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