In the season 3 finale of Star Wars Rebels, “Zero Hour,” the Ghost crew barely escapes Grand Admiral Thrawn’s attack on their base. Their hope isn’t dead yet, though, while the Bendu predicts an ominous fate for Thrawn.
After the showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Maul in last week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels, “Twin Suns,” the season 3 finale “Zero Hour” had a lot of work cut out for it. How do you top something so emotional and dramatic?
The answer is, you don’t top it. Instead, you deliver a solid episode that raises the stakes for more emotional and dramatic episodes in the new season. “Zero Hour” accomplished that.
In the two-part finale, Thrawn prepares to play his checkmate against the rebels of Phoenix Squadron. First, he follows Agent Kallus to the surface of Lothal, where Kallus tries to send a message to the rebels on their base on Atollon. Thus, Thrawn catches his spy as well as discovers the location of Phoenix Squadron’s base. Now he can put his plan for crushing the rebels into action.
For all intents and purposes, Thrawn wins the day. He almost completely destroys Phoenix Squadron’s and General Jan Dodonna’s fleets and rousts them out of their base. Consequently, he ruins the rebels’ plans for a unified assault on the TIE Defender factories on Lothal.
But he is not completely successful in his endeavors. First, Ezra Bridger manages to get a ship past Thrawn’s blockade of Atollon. Ezra succeeds in his flight because Imperial Admiral Konstantine is too arrogant and thinks he can capture Commander Jun Sato’s giant freighter. What Konstantine doesn’t realize is Sato is planning on sacrificing himself and his ship to give Ezra an opening in the blockade. Sato’s sacrifice and Konstantine’s unwitting play into it
Sato’s sacrifice and Konstantine’s unwitting play into it causes the destruction of Konstantine’s ship and allows Ezra to escape. The Jedi’s escape, in turn, means he can return later with reinforcements in the form of Sabine Wren and her Mandalorian clan members. Ezra, Sabine and the Mandalorians disable the Interdictor ship which is preventing any rebel frigates from escaping into hyperspace. Thus, they enable the (crippled) remainder of the rebel fleet to flee Thrawn’s blockade.
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The second thing that disturbs Thrawn’s plans is the Bendu. Before Kanan flees the base with the rest of the rebels, he goes into Atollon’s wild canyons to find the Bendu and ask for his help. Instead of agreeing to help the Jedi, the Force enigma becomes angry. He is furious that the rebels and the Empire brought war to Atollon. Kanan tries to convince the Bendu that he needs to take a side and enter the fight. The Bendu does fight, but he doesn’t pick a side. In the form of a raging storm, he attacks both Thrawn’s ground forces and the escaping rebel ships.
In the end, Thrawn weakens Bendu’s physical form with some well-aimed shots between his huge glowing eyes. When he confronts the Bendu’s prone body later, the creature tells him he can see into Thrawn’s future. “I see your defeat,” he says. “Like many arms surrounding you in a cold embrace.” Thrawn tries to shoot him again, but the Bendu’s body vanishes with an ominous laugh.
The Chiss Grand Admiral is, it would seem, not invincible after all.
Meanwhile, the remainder of Phoenix Squadron and General Jan Dodonna’s ships make it past the blockade, thanks to Ezra and the Mandalorians’ disabling of the Interdictor. Along the way, Hera rescues Kallus, who managed to escape his captors and disembark Thrawn’s Star Destroyer in an escape pod. Defeated but not without hope, the rebels chart a new course to a location Star Wars fans will instantly: Yavin. The episode ends with Kanan telling a disappointed Ezra, “There’s a future for us. One where we’re all free. But it’s up to us to make it happen.”
And that’s the end of Star Wars Rebels season 3! The Ghost crew will return in season 4 this fall, with more Mandalorians, more Rogue One ties, and more cameos from classic Star Wars characters. Look for a trailer for the new season at Star Wars Celebration 2017 in April.