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STAR WARS REBELS Recap: Those Hot-Headed Mandalorians

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “The Protector of Concord Dawn.” Jump into hyperspace and away from this page if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

Everyone has a backstory, but of all the members of the Ghost crew on Star Wars Rebels, Sabine Wren’s history is the one I’m most curious about. I say “is” because though “The Protector of Concord Dawn” was an excellent episode highlighting Sabine and Kanan, it only scratched the surface of Sabine’s past. The story took us to Concord Dawn. In canon, it’s the home of Rako Hardeen (an identity Obi-Wan Kenobi assumed in The Clone Wars) and Jango Fett. In Legends, the Mandalorian world is more well-known and has a richer history steeped in history and civil war.

If anything, the Mandalorians’ role as warriors was emphasized in the episode. It’s different from the more peaceful side we saw fighting entities like the Death Watch in The Clone Wars. They added history about the planet, too, with Rex mentioning the elite warriors of Concord Dawn trained clones. The rebels decided to pay a visit because they needed to establish new hyperspace routes to stay off the Empire’s radar, and the route they wanted to use swung by the planet.

I found it interesting Sato was willing to take a more harsh approach while Kanan was about being diplomatic. It’s a switch, and I like seeing Kanan be more reasonable, but I can’t understand Sato’s action. It doesn’t add up with what we know of the character. Still, the peaceful option didn’t work since Fenn Rau, voiced by Kevin McKidd, led his Mandalorians against Phoenix Squadron with “shoot first, ask questions later” actions. Rau’s actions were jarring. Rebels gets dark, but taking out rebels who are asking for peaceful negotiations? It added a whole other layer of stakes, especially given Hera was seriously wounded.

Hera’s injury gave Kanan and Sabine the opportunity to work together. By the way, Chopper’s grumbles when Kanan made the droid accompany him were absolutely priceless. I love the grumpy astromech with all my heart. Plus, I like to think part of the reason he was being sassy was because he wanted to stay and watch over Hera’s recovery.

Kanan and Sabine were both upset about what happened to Hera, but they reacted differently. I enjoyed seeing Sabine’s fierce protectiveness over her friend and how Kanan tried to carry out Hera’s original mission because he knew that’s what she would want. They were at different ends of the spectrum; Kanan tried to reason with Fenn Rau, Sabine challenged him to a duel. The actions they took showcased how the characters have developed since the end of season one.

Beyond wanting to assist the rebels, Kanan had another motivation. He said Fenn Rau saved him and his master at the Battle of Mygeeto. It was an opportunity to bring in a tidbit about a character’s history, and the Rebels creative side is so skilled at tying into the bigger universe in an organic way. In this case, it ties into the Kanan comic. Fenn Rau’s reaction fit with what I’d imagine for an honorable Mandalorian, but his work with the Empire ultimately overruled that.

Fenn Rau’s comments about his Imperial associations were fascinating. Season two of Rebels has shown us vignettes of life under the Empire’s control around the galaxy. This episode demonstrated that not even Mandalorian warriors are exempt. The Empire takes care of them, and by working with them, the Mandalorians seemingly maintain some of their freedoms and culture. Fenn Rau pointed out to Kanan there’s no benefit in fighting the Empire. It’s one more look at why the Empire had supporters and how they managed to take hold so thoroughly.

I was ridiculously pleased to see Kanan and Sabine on their own mission. We haven’t had a ton of insight into how their dynamic works, and it was interesting to see how Kanan reacts to Sabine. She’s only two years older than Ezra, but she’s much more mature and she isn’t Kanan’s student. He treated her as a respected equal. Well, he always has–it was more apparent here. At the same time, he was surprised about her actions towards Fenn Rau and had a moment where he truly thought she was going to shoot Concord Dawn’s leader. They still have things to learn about each other.

As far as Sabine’s backstory… we got some. We got the mention of House Vizsla and learned her mother was a member of Death Watch. That’s more or less it. Some of her history was demonstrated through her actions–like her requesting justice with single combat–but I wouldn’t apply the word backstory. We barely dove into her history. Like the Hera-centric episode earlier this season, it was a light touch of the past. I very much liked the episode, but it was far from a complete exploration into Sabine’s life before working with the Ghost crew.

McKidd, Freddie Prinze Jr (Kanan), and Tiya Sircar (Sabine) all turned in excellent performances. Kanan and Sabine’s mission allowed Prinze and Sircar to really get in a groove with each other; I think it’s some of their best voice work yet on the series. McKidd nailed the cool and calm confidence of Fenn Rau and added an edge of cruelty.

Favorite quotes:

  • “My people don’t need a reason to pick a fight.” – Sabine Wren
  • “This Jedi philosophy stuff doesn’t work for everyone.”
    “That’s why we’re at war.” – Sabine and Kanan
  • “Why would I fight the Empire when destroying you is so much easier?” – Fenn Rau

Did you like what we learned of Sabine’s history? Do you want to know more. Jump to the comments and let me know your thoughts on the episode. Feel free to come chat with me on Twitter, too!



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