Star Wars Rebels: “Secret Cargo” Season 3 Episode 16 Review

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There’s a payoff in “Secret Cargo” that feels like something we’d typically have to wait for a season finale to see. Star Wars Rebels has always been about the birth of the Rebellion through the eyes of a rag-tag collection of misfits. Consider the Rebellion born, with the call coming from Mon Mothma herself inside the cockpit of the Ghost.

After the highs of Sabine’s arc and Kallus’ unconventional outing, Rebels returned to normal this week. But normal just changed. Hera, Ezra, Zeb, and Chopper are on a rendezvous mission with Gold Squadron to transport some precious cargo. First, however, they are watching the news of Senator Mon Mothma’s courageous defamation of Emperor Palpatine. “Lady’s got guts,” Zeb remarks, reminding us of the mindset of the galaxy at large, even within the Rebellion.

After an altercation with an Imperial probe that lasted just long enough to alert the Empire, Gold Squadron arrives with a carrier ship harboring none other than Mon Mothma herself. An Imperial offensive damages the carrier, forcing the Rebel leader onto the Ghost for safe transport. This means we get a few scenes of Hera and Mon Mothma talking the future of the Rebellion, as the former senator is on her way to Dantooine to call a meeting.

From there, “Secret Cargo” is a gorgeously animated chase sequence through a nebula. There are some clunky story moments here, including the introduction of a super-powered TIE fighter that, frankly, is poorly designed and doesn’t make sense within the Empire at large, considering it’s not in Rogue One or the original trilogy at all, yet very effective. The bombing of the nebula was also a little convenient, even if it was beautiful and came out of a moment of genuine tension. But Hera’s plunge toward the star was intense and heroic, and showing Rebel pilots sacrificing themselves to get Mon Mothma to safety was a nice showcase of her importance at this precise moment in time in Star Wars.

But the final scene of the episode trumps everything that came before it. Mon Mothma’s call to rally against the Emperor feels like a declaration of war from the side of the Rebellion. Rebels has been slowly building the galaxy at large to the point of war since its pilot, but watching the Rebel fleet converge to Mon Mothma’s words should be a payoff for all Star Wars fans. It’s an emotional moment that justifies this show’s existence and importance in the larger Star Wars mythos. Narrative missteps aside, “Secret Cargo” wasn’t just about a Mon Mothma cameo, it was about finally bringing these various Rebel cells together and the general mood of the galaxy. Now, onto the climax of season three, which looks to be stirring. Grade: A-

Some Other Notes:

  • Leia says in A New Hope that the Rebel base is on Dantooine, to which the Imperial who checks that stuff says there are remains of a Rebel base there, but that they has since left. Considering the show is just two years out from Episode IV, the location of Mon Mothma’s calling is purposeful. But what causes the move from Dantooine to Yavin 4?
  • I like that Mon Mothma knows who Ezra is. Her rallying cry is not unlike the one Ezra did on Lothal back in season one.
  • This episode really made me want to rewatch Rogue One. There’s obviously the rest of season three, and now confirmed season four and likely more after to bridge the gap between “Secret Cargo” and that film, but this episode was a far better connection to the film than “Ghosts of Geonosis” was.

By Matt Dougherty

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