The ninth episode for the third season of Star Wars Rebels, An Inside Man, featured the crew of the Ghost going back to Ezra’s home planet of Lothal to infiltrate an Imperial construction factory. The crew gets word from their informant, Fulcrum, the Empire has a secret project at the factory. While in disguise at the facility Grand Admiral Thrawn makes a surprise inspection visit to question the quality of the work which has been malfunctioning in use. Thrawn locks down the factory to ensure worker productivity, and forces Ezra and Kannan to try and escape with information about the secret project in development.
The biggest takeaway from the episode is it advanced a bigger narrative for the story overall. Agent Kallus was revealed to be Fulcrum. His time with Zeb on the moon of Geonosis made changed his perspective towards the Empire. This was a fairly obvious story thread to follow, but the show could have thrown the viewers for a loop and had Thrawn be Fulcrum. If Thrawn would have been the agent the information provided would have been designed to draw the Rebels into more traps. This may have been too advanced for the target demographic of the show to follow, so having Kallus be the spy makes sense. Having Kallus be Fulcrum is a great callback to one of the better episodes of last season. The Honorable Ones episode from season two setup this storyline and also dropped hints the Empire was doing something sinister around the planet of Geonosis. What has been so frustrating this season is most of the episodes so far have not been advancing major story threads. There is no interconnected story to help drive a main narrative forward.
An Inside Man provided much needed character development for Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fans of old Legend books knew how ruthless and cunning he could be in the Zahn novels, but the show hasn’t shown anything yet. The episode changed this in a major way. We see Thrawn terrorize and kill workers in the facility. He knew the workers were sabotaging Imperial products, and he ruthlessly illustrated what would happen if machines continued to fail by killing a worker. It was a dark scene, and highlights how the show can sometimes straddle the line between a kids show and one with more adult themes. We also see Thrawn studying the art of the Rebels and trying to gage why they keep coming back to the planet of Lothal. This was the weakest analysis Thrawn had, but it still worked for the show. Thrawn was also able to devise the Rebels had inside help escaping the facility, and a spy must be in his ranks. The ending seen with Kallus and Thrawn makes me think he suspects Kallus, and he will have to be very careful in order to survive moving forward.
The overall story and action for this episode was fantastic. Every moment was filled with something meaningful. The humor in the episode was also on point and felt natural to each situation. Having Ezra throw Kallus around was hilarious and the follow-up punchline with Kanan was perfect. Chopper was even used well, and having him get along with Kallus flowed within the story and provided more humor. The reveal of the advanced Tie Fighter with shields is important, and should help drive the story forward during the second half of the season. I would have preferred the facility been developing something for the Death Star. Then the show would tie into the release of Rogue One, but the new Tie Fighter discovery helps build a story for the second half of the season. Now there is an overall purpose for the show and season moving forward. The Rebels need to find out more about the Advanced Tie Fighter (or Tie Defender for fans of Legends or old Computer Games) and stop it from becoming mass produced.
There isn’t a major glaring weakness in the episode. It delivered a fun enjoyable half hour and advanced an overall story narrative. This has been the major weakness for the show so far this season. It has provided fun enjoyable television, but has been lacking in telling one cohesive story. With this episode, and the following two before the mid-season break, the show can finish on a high note and advance some of the major narratives which have been on the back burner for the first part of the season. I don’t understand why they took three or four episodes to tell unrelated stories, but hopefully the show finishes strong and has a more connected story for the second half of the season.
What did you think of the episode? Did it reinvigorate your passion of the show or did you still want something more? Comment and let me know.