Star Wars Rebels: “ The Siege of Lothal ” [TV Review]
The wait is over, fellow rebels. At long last, the hour-long special “ The Siege of Lothal ”, the harbinger of Star Wars: Rebels Season 2, has aired on Disney XD and is available for streaming on iTunes, Amazon, and probably elsewhere. Which is unfortunate, because that means the foreboding trailers’ treachery is revealed. Despite the buildup and the anticipation, “The Siege of Lothal” does not really live up to its name.
Let me explain: a siege consists of a heavily armed force entrenching around a heavily fortified enemy with the intent of conquering them either by starvation or by constructing siege weapons that can penetrate the defenses. The natural insinuation is that one of the galaxy’s factions has fortified Lothal while another faction attempts to break through and claim the planet for itself. What actually happens is the Empire tightens its grip on Lothal, a planet already controlled by the Empire, by surrounding it with a greater Imperial presence. So what we actually have is “The Reinforcement and Tightening of Security of Lothal,” which is noticeably less fun sounding, but at least it wouldn’t build unrealistic expectations.
To be fair, the episode itself isn’t bad. The story revolves around the change in dynamic after the Ghost and her crew transition from being a small-scale rogue operation to a part of a loosely-organized militant precursor to the Rebel Alliance. Kanan misses the Robin Hood-style missions and is uncomfortable with the way the situation is becoming more like a military preparing for war. He is uncomfortable and fears the direction things are going. He wants out; however, his crew wants in. They are eager to engage in a full-scale rebellion, most of them never experienced in a real war before. Kanan must either get involved in another major war—after his trauma in the Clone Wars just fourteen years ago—or risk losing his new family. He agrees to one final mission before they must all make their choice: to rescue a former enemy on Lothal who contacts the rebels with the intent to defect.
It’s a good story. The problem is that everything promised in the trailer feels tacked on in the last fifteen minutes, after thirty minutes of an uncomfortably high ratio of dialogue to action. This would be all right if the dialogue really shimmered. Except it doesn’t. It’s not awful, but it’s nothing special. No one-liners that stuck with me. A few chuckles from a few well-timed jokes, but it wasn’t stellar. Nothing to warrant the amount of it in this episode. In all, I felt like it would have made a decent regular-length episode. To me, it didn’t justify its runtime, which had me checking how much was left at regular intervals, wondering how they were going to resolve the major plot lines of the episode in the remaining time.
Especially wounding to me was how little Ahsoka was in the episode. The trailer insinuated she would be around for much of it when she, in reality, only tags along for maybe ten minutes at the end. And spends some of that time unconscious. I definitely didn’t get the Ahsoka fix I was promised. It is suggested in the final lines of the episode, however, that we might just get more Ahoska in the coming episodes, so this point may be forgivable.
In all, it wasn’t a stellar comeback. I wouldn’t, however, call it a failed one. It planted the seeds for a great second season: the Kanan and his crew torn between the nostalgia of simpler times and the excitement of what is becoming the rebel alliance, the Empire sending out an army of Sith Inquisitors to hunt down the Jedi presence in this new rebellion, and the inevitable confrontation between Ahsoka and her former master. I would say that Season 2 is off to a rough start, like any rebellion, but it has the potential to be a truly great addition to the Star Wars universe.
It is worth point out that there is one thing on my wishlist for this season that would completely negate my negative reaction to this first episode: that Darth Maul be utilized as a Sith Inquisitor. Remember Palpatine telling him at the end of Clone Wars that he wouldn’t kill him, that he had another use for him? I’m just saying.