Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous episode of Star Wars Rebels here.
“Legacy” delivered everything we’ve come to expect and love in Star Wars Rebels, from action and spectacle to character and emotion.
The action was all packed in the first half of the episode, as the Empire swooped down upon the Rebels, forcing them to escape Garel in a fantastic sequence. I had missed having Hera demonstrate her piloting skills in battle, so I was happy to see her spread her wings again at last. In fact, between Hera’s piloting, Sabine’s assist with her knowledge of the Empire, and Kanan and Ezra’s tense confrontation with the Inquisitors, the Ghost crew felt like a team again, with everyone getting a bit of spotlight. It was a thrilling opening act, though a bit rushed.
The remainder of “Legacy” slowed things down considerably, but the material was no less strong than what preceded it. One of the things Rebels does best is demonstrate that it doesn’t need action to make great content, and that its characters are good enough to deliver emotional high notes worthy of a midseason finale, without a blaster or a lightsaber in sight.
Ezra’s quest to follow his vision and learn his parents’ fate led to an incredibly moving ending, in which they were revealed to have died. Yeah, we as an audience were probably expecting more payoff, but the unpredictability works, not just to creatively defy storytelling conventions, but to put us in Ezra’s shoes as the rug was pulled underneath him. It was a very realistic touch for a show about the fantastical. Ezra went through a wide range of emotion in “Legacy”, from the hopeful vision, to the heartbreaking revelation, and finally to a state of sorrowful acceptance. “Legacy” sacrificed a traditional narrative for a mature handling of loss and grief, and it was great.
In fact, that last scene, with the beautiful scenery of the moonlit Lothal landscape as Ezra reminisced about his parents, accompanied by Kevin Kiner’s sublime music, was nothing less than perfect.
However, the execution of the reveal itself was a bit anticlimactic, even if what followed was deeply affecting. Plus, it felt like an odd storytelling decision. I would have liked it much better had the question of Ezra’s parents been contained within this one episode, but the show introduced the mystery through Tseebo a whole year ago. Why plant the seeds and drag it out for so long if, in th end, there was nothing to it? Yes, Ezra’s hope and crushing disappointment was very effective, as I noted, but he didn’t even know about Tseebo’s information until this episode. The only people who had to endure the year-long tease were the viewers. I know Dave Filoni and the creative team have a long-term vision, but this is one instance where a storytelling point felt shortsighted. It came off as though they initially had a plan and then changed their minds.
The major gripe I had with this episode, and the reason I’m giving it a 4 instead of the 4.5 its high points deserve, was the inconsistent pacing and tonal shift. All of the fast-paced, action-driven parts were compressed into the first half of the episode, and the slow-paced, character-driven part was placed in the second half, with no smooth transition in between. Rebels works best when it mixes action and emotion, but “Legacy” didn’t mix them so much as compartmentalize them. It might be a consequence of the 20-minute runtime, which is why I almost think “Legacy” would have worked better as a two-parter instead, especially since the retreat from Garel was a bit rushed. For example, the confrontation with the Inquisitors ended before it began, and the Ghost‘s escape was too easy. I would have preferred a longer episode that alternated between action-driven scenes with Hera and the Ghost, and the calmer journey of Ezra and Kanan.
Still, “Legacy” was a great way for Star Wars Rebels to end 2015. And going by what was mentioned on Rebels Recon, 2016 looks very promising. Luckily, we have The Force Awakens to keep us busy until then!
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
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