Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous episode of Star Wars Rebels here.
“The Protector of Concord Dawn” finally brought Mandalorians into Star Wars Rebels. From Boba Fett to Bo-Katan, Mandalorians hold a special place in many Star Wars fans’ hearts, and love them or hate them, it’s easy to see why. The design of their armour, the air of mystery that surrounds them, their shifting loyalties, and their warrior culture give them that elusive “cool” factor. Fenn Rau, the titular Protector of Concord Dawn, was another great addition to that roster of characters.
Defined by more than just the aforementioned cool Mandalorian factor, Fenn Rau was actually a compelling and nuanced character. He’s been on multiple sides of many wars and has seen the face of the galaxy change over his long years. When Kanan encountered him in his tent with his helmet off, Fenn Rau could only be described as weary. You could see the toll it had all taken on him. He’d sided with the Empire not out of fierce loyalty, but resigned necessity. Yet above all that, he still maintained a sense of honour and pride. I thought those were all excellent bits of characterization that separated him from most antagonists of his kind.
(One cool thing to note is that Fenn Rau appeared in an issue of Marvel’s Kanan comic which covered the battle of Mygeeto mentioned in the episode. The best part is that the issue happened to be released the same day as “The Protector of Concord Dawn”, which made for an inadvertently timely tie-in!)
The episode as a whole was really good, with a straightforward plot executed through tight, briskly paced storytelling. It should come as no surprise that the action scenes were exciting as always. The two sequences that stood out were the space battle between Phoenix Squadron and the Mandalorians—half of which had no background music, relying only on sound effects to great results—and the climactic scene in which Kanan clung to Fenn Rau’s fighter as it flew up into the atmosphere while Sabine swooped in for the rescue. There was perhaps a tiny bit less humour than usual this week, but the laughs were definitely there, thanks mostly to the Kanan and Sabine pairing.
Having Kanan and Sabine work together this week was a great decision for many reasons. First, with the ever-growing cast, Rebels has lately been at its best when it has focused only on two or three characters at a time. Second, Kanan and Sabine are two characters we haven’t seen interact very often, especially not on their own (usually Sabine and Hera get lumped together) and this worked to both explore and deepen their relationship. Finally, with this being an episode about Mandalorians, it only makes sense to have Sabine involved, with Kanan there to act as a moral compass and remind us of how far she’s come since her warrior days.
I find it interesting that unlike the rest of the Ghost crew, Sabine’s backstory has been very closely guarded. Earlier in the series this sadly made her feel less significant than the other characters, which is a shame. But this season, her past is being revealed one very thin layer at a time, and the implication is that we’ve merely scratched the surface. I’m very intrigued by the mystery and glad that her initial promise as a character is finally being fulfilled. A member of House Vizsla? Awesome!
My only minor gripe with “The Protector of Concord Dawn”, and a problem that’s become a bit common on Rebels, is the slightly rushed ending. Don’t get me wrong: Fenn Rau agreeing to help the rebels, as explained by Kanan, does make sense. It was just sudden. That’s an understandable consequence of the short runtime, but it does stick out.
Also, I’d normally be disappointed that Rebels found another way to sideline Hera yet again this season—though the sight of her unconscious and floating in debris was a haunting image. But I can’t bring myself to be upset, because really, this was Sabine’s episode, and she definitely took the spotlight.
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
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