Well before Season 2 of Star Wars Rebels premiered, showrunner Dave Filoni promised that just as the first season of the show was inspired by A New Hope in terms of aesthetic and story, Rebels’ sophomore effort would take after the despair and darkness of The Empire Strikes Back.
We got a taste of that gloom in the hourlong two-parter “The Siege of Lothal” back in June, when the Ghost crew finally met their match when they encountered Darth Vader in his prime. But after two relatively lighthearted episodes, Rebels delivers on Filoni’s promise and embraces the Dark Side in the “Always Two There Are.”
The entire episode builds to the proper debut of two new Inquisitors, the Fifth Brother (who we got at a peek at at the end of last episode, and is voiced by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez) and the Seventh Sister, voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar. They’re suitable villains, and the episode mostly succeeds at making them a credible threat to the crew of the Ghost, but it also stumbles a bit along the way as it tries to juggle too many acts at once.
We spend most of this entry with Ezra, Chopper, Sabine and Zeb, who are dispatched to a deserted medical station to retrieve some supplies. It’s not long before they encounter the Inquisitors, who capture Ezra and later Sabine in a bid to bait the rest of the Ghost crew. But Zeb manages to outwit the Inquisitors and rescue his crewmates while also making off with the medical supplies.
While not a lot happens in this episode regardless, “Always Two There Are” also suffers from some weird transitions and character choices. I dug the horror-movie atmosphere the show went for at the start of the episode, but that bubble of tension is popped even before the Inquisitors show up when Zeb and Ezra’s feud morphs into comic relief.
It’s a shame because the rest of the episode is a fine exercise in creepiness and dread. Gellar’s voice is perfectly seductive and dripping with poison in every word, and the hulking, slow-moving gait of the Fifth Brother recalls the inevitable march of some serial killer from a slasher movie.
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But the episode is bookended by out-of-place sequences. Onboard the Ghost, Kanan and Rex argue over the best way to train Ezra, setting up a potentially fruitful storyline but not picking the right time to do it. Then, Zeb’s plan to rescue Ezra and Sabine from the Inquisitors plays out foolishly, with the Sith somehow not sensing his ship just above their heads.
A lot of scenes in “Always Two There Are” aren’t necessarily bad; they just shouldn’t be in this episode. I’m glad we’re starting to dig into the meat of Season 2 as the rebels finally encounter a threat that they’re unsure how to handle. I just wish it didn’t seem that the showrunners look just as helpless.