Back to Lothal! Ezra returns home to fight the Empire in The Occupation, but is it too late?
After being unable to offer assistance to his homeworld of Lothal, Ezra Bridger and the crew of Rebels return to the planet in The Occupation. Rebellion leader Mon Mothma has received a transmission from Ryder Azadi, the rebel leader on Lothal, about a test run of a new TIE Defender. Mothma sees the value in gaining intel on its capabilities and tasks Ezra and the Ghost with obtaining it. Even knowing that Lothal is under complete lockdown. Getting in will be easy but there is no guarantee they will be able to get back offworld.
Contacting an old acquaintance, the smuggler Vizago, they are able to clear the blockade surrounding the planet. But not without attracting a bit of attention. The Imperials send a squad down to the surface to discover the extra life forms they detected from orbit. Using the cargo of Puffer Pigs as a hilarious diversion the rebels make it off the ship undiscovered. Upon arriving it’s immediately obvious that the Empire has not been good to Lothal. Even from orbit the planet is drastically changed. Whole areas have been completely razed to the ground. As for the city areas, its clear that the Empire is in full control of Lothal. Stormtroopers patrol the streets enforcing curfew and Imperial propaganda blankets the city. Sabine and Ezra, splitting from the rest of the group, attempt to locate and make contact with Azadi.
The crew soon attracts some more unwanted attention and after regrouping is forced to flee into the sewers to avoid being caught or killed. Probe Droids and Stormtroopers soon have them trapped until they manage to escape above and are rescued by none other than Ryder Azadi.
In The Occupation, Ezra is finally able to return to his home planet, albeit only at the behest of Mon Mothma and a critical mission for the Rebellion. Bridger has been urging Mothma to fulfill her promise to his people and send aid but she has been hesitant after the battle with Thrawn’s fleet at the end of season 3. This was also touched on in last weeks episode; In The Name Of The Rebellion.
While strategically the sensible option it has not sat right with Ezra. Last weeks episode saw Ezra frustrated with Mothma’s decision and a possible shift in his alignment. While he is fighting for the greater cause there is no doubt that with the occupation of Lothal it has gotten more personal for him. Ezra is craving action. Definitely not the Jedi way. Not action just for actions sake but to push back against a fascist regime. He is having difficulty not taking the fight straight to the Empire and does not exhibit patience while others make the decisions.
There is also a level of personal guilt he feels seeing what the Empire has done here. And feels that his absence and inability to intervene has harmed his people. Ezra is losing hope in the face of this struggle and needs to find a new path.
One of these might be with Saw and his Partisans. Ezra is absent in any of the canon after Rogue One, or at least he is for now, but there are theories. Dave Filoni is potentially setting up a departure for Ezra that would see him joining the Partisans who are not afraid to take a more proactive role in the war. And war is what is happening right now despite Mothma’s view that it hasn’t reached that point yet. It would be a way to tie up his story as the season and the series draws to a close.
The highlight of the episode is a quiet moment shared between Hera and Kanan. The two duck into a narrow alley to evade being detected by a pair of Stormtroopers and are face to face and very close. Throughout the series the relationship, or potential relationship, they’ve shared has only been hinted at. It’s kept purposefully vague.
But in this scene, which was also promo’d days before the episode, it’s all but confirmed.
It’s a beautiful moment for them as they realize that they have not been alone in a while. And as the audience comes close to the payoff of a final kiss onscreen, fate has other plans. Fans have been pining for this relationship since before the series started airing and it seems like that wish may finally be realized. The Jedi traditionally eschew such attachments, but Kanan is not your traditional Jedi.
It also adds some romance to the series which although not needed, is welcome. Star Wars is as much about passion and love as it is about starships and lightsabers. Kanan and Hera are both very strong characters who do not need one another to function or push the story forward. But adding love into the mix with an already suspenseful and action packed season makes for an even more emotional story. Much like Han and Leia or Padme and Anakin, romance helps give these space operas their feel. Hera and Kanan are an excellent continuation of this.
Although with the knowledge of Hera’s existence in later canon and Kanan’s still unknown, it may be time to buy some stock in Kleenex.
Beneath The Surface
The Occupation did a brilliant job at using a wide range of existing lore from previous seasons and from some other media.
The rebels faced down several TX-225 GAVw “Occupier” combat assault tanks which were first seen in Rogue One. Using existing vehicles seen in other places whether in films or books is always a smart choice. It solidifies their existence. There is also another U-Wing added in for good measure.
Also, Probe Droids!
Rescuing Ezra and Sabine from an awkward encounter in the local cantina is a figure from Ezra’s past. Jai Kell, who hasn’t been seen since the first season, comes to their aid. They first met when Ezra went undercover in the Imperial Academy on Lothal. Together they escaped and he has been working with the rebel cell ever since and was sent by Ryder to meet up with them.
When the crew of the Ghost seem to be lost in the underground sewer system, with the Empire in hot pursuit, help comes from a very recognizable symbol. It’s Sabine’s grafiiti styled Rebel Alliance Starbird. Presumably left by Azadi to help lead them to him, it gets the job done perfectly.
The Occupation feels a little more like a traditional standalone episode. It’s a slight departure from the previous two weeks and their two-part episodes. That being said the next episode, The Flight of the Defender, takes place the next day and aired just afterwards. You can click here for the review on that episode.