Star Wars Rebels: “The Occupation” Season 4 Episode 3 Review

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After visiting Mandalore and getting more from Saw Gerrera, “The Occupation” brings Rebels home to Lothal. Ezra has been trying to get his surrogate family, and the Rebellion at large, to save his home since last season, but a transmission from Ryder forces Mon Mothma’s hand and she finally sends the Ghost to investigate.

That’s most of what actually happens in terms of plot in “The Occupation,” but the rest of the episode is quite effective in showing us the degree to which Lothal has changed. It’s an emotional change at that, with Ezra pointing out the scorched earth from orbit. On the ground, things are even worse. The Empire has turned the planet into a cinder, with what intelligent life still lives under strict curfew. Of all the Imperial-occupied worlds Rebels has shown us, Lothal ends up being the most dystopian.

Upon further investigation, the split-up crew naturally finds their way to trouble. Smart character beats are thrown in, like Ezra noting how much younger he looks in his Wanted poster, and a near kiss between Kanan and Hera, to give this episode a little more life than just revealing the decrepit state of Lothal. But once Ezra and Sabine end up in an Imperial propaganda-laden bar, the episode is all action there on out.

But the team gets some help from an old ally: Jai Kell, one of the Imperial cadets Ezra helped liberate in the series fifth ever episode, “Breaking Ranks.” This callback doesn’t necessarily do much besides make an old one-off episode relevant again, as Jai has been absent for too long for there to be any remaining emotional connection.

Ryder, on the other hand, is a warm face to see as the crew is rescued from the sewer. He’s disappointed, however, by how how few soldiers the Rebellion sent to help Lothal, which helps illustrate just how thin they are stretched in the time heading to the Battle of Scarif. Still, Ryder’s rescue just before the end credits indicates that this is just the beginning of a larger story on Lothal. “The Occupation” does little to be more than just a dark update on the status of the planet, but depending on where this storyline goes, it might not have needed to be more than just that. And so, season four continues to hinge its quality almost entirely on future episodes. If that’s going to be the case, at least Disney XD is dishing out two per week. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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