“Star Wars Rebels” Review: “Breaking Ranks”


After last week’s episode shook up the show’s universe, “Star Wars Rebels” dialed back this week’s adventure and focused on laying some groundwork for upcoming episodes. “Breaking Ranks” doesn’t offer much in terms of narrative advancement, but it’s still a solid episode that widens the scope of the series while simultaneously narrowing in on the development of Ezra.

I really dug the structure of the episode, too, with our heroes already deep into their plan before the episode even starts. That scheme involves Ezra joining the Imperial Academy as a trainee stormtrooper to acquire the location of a secret Imperial weapon. The Academy training eventually leads to Ezra (using the fake name of Dev Morgan) befriending fellow classmates Jai Kell and Zare Leonis in order to accomplish his mission without being caught by the Empire, with assistance behind the scenes from Zeb and Sabine. But he’s forced to make some tough decisions along the way.

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Or at least, that’s where the story seems to be headed. It comes close accomplishing what it sets out to do, but falls backward just before it reaches the precipice. We see glimpses of Ezra as he struggles to choose between what’s right for the mission and what’s right as a friend, but by episode’s end, he never really makes any choices that leave an impact. Although he does elect to stay behind when he finds out that his fellow cadets may fall into the hands of the Inquisitor, the show avoids treading into any moral gray areas.

While Ezra carries out the operation on Lothal, Hera and Kanan remain on the Ghost, until Ezra feeds them the coordinates they need to take out the Empire’s secret weapon: a Kyber crystal.

While the space dogfight was awesome (and it’s nice to see the series taking advantage of that type of action scenes, which is Star Wars’ bread and butter), the storyline felt so disconnected from Ezra’s adventure that it lacked any real weight. The threat of the Kyber crystal may be apparent in the expanded universe, but it lacks context here for us to really care about the stakes.

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However, it’s a sign of an overall effort to expand the “Rebels” universe, which this episode does well. Not only does it seem that we’ll definitely encounter Ezra’s new friends Jai and Zare again, but we also glimpse the female Imperial officer from the series’ first episode, as well as other Empire lackeys from “Spark of Rebellion.” It’s nice to see “Rebels” slowly putting together the building blocks of its own universe rather than leaning on its siblings’ efforts.

That aspect of the episode ultimately saves it from being a mediocre effort. The writers needed some time to position their chess pieces and build up their reserves for the future, and hopefully they deliver on the promises they’ve made here.

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