By Josh Melo
‘Star Wars: Rebels’ Review – S2 Ep.14 (Homecoming)
The Empire is gaining ground on the fledgling Rebellion. To make up for lost assets, Commander Sato orders the crew of the Ghost to rendezvous with a Rebel cell from the Ryloth system, Hera’s home world. Reuniting with her estranged father, Cham Syndulla, legendary general from The Clone Wars, the two must overcome their differences if they have any hope of seeing their plans through.
On it’s own, I loved the episode. Homecoming struck a nostalgic chord with the reintroduction of Cham Syndulla, even the surprise appearance by a now grown up Numa was a great tease (she even wears the damaged armor of the Clone Trooper that sacrificed himself for her). The rocky relationship between Hera and her father was fantastic, watching them constantly heckle one another, Hera slipping into her native accent when emotions flare and forcing herself back to composure, it was all great. But in the larger context of the narrative, it means very little. It’s the same issue I had with The Call. After being teased with such plot shattering material in the mid-season trailer, one-off episodes like Homecoming feel less and less important.
Now, as far as complaints go, that isn’t the worst one to have. Just knowing that such monumental story beats are on the horizon has me anxious to the point that I don’t want to wait. I’m sick of the side salad, I want the main course! That being said, I can only complain so much, especially when the episodes at hand are so solid.
Whether it be the sudden uptick in my bandwidth or a renewed attention to detail, I found Homecoming to be the most visually impressive episode. There wasn’t anything as psychedelic or symbolic in Homecoming as The Call or Legends of the Lasat, but the smooth, fluid nature of the animation here just had me. The scene where Ezra and Kanan piggyback off of each other using the Force to take out Storm Troopers running down a narrowing hallway was simply fantastic. The unique uses of the Force on the show continue to give the Jedi of the series something interesting to do even while the focus of the episode lays elsewhere.
Ezra trying his hand, and eventually succeeding, at the Jedi mind trick was a lot of fun. He may have an unnatural talent for connection, but when it comes to the other Force abilities, Ezra is like any other padawan.
But the beauty of the episode didn’t end there. The animation detail, right down to the minutia in characters expressions, was on point 100 percent. I drew attention to Hera’s lapse into her pseudo-French Ryloth accent (kind of sexy…), but the true awe comes from the animators’ ability to make these characters feel real. The tumultuous bond between father and daughter felt and looked genuine. The pair may have come to terms suspiciously fast (a given considering there’s only 22 minutes to work with) but the build up to that point of reconciliation was earned.
Continuing on the imagery bandwagon, the ship designs were also remarkable. The starcraft carrier the crew took over had a sleek an unique design that stood out amongst the Empire’s penchant for sharp angles, yet it managed to stay within the bounds of believability. `It looked, felt and sounded like an Empire vessel. Plus, anything with enough cannons to house two entire Rebel crews is pretty badass in my book.
Where I’ve been singing Homecomings praises, there was one area in which I think it could have used some improvement. The villains. The Call suffered the same issue, with all of the cool action taking place, the lack of a meaningful or significant antagonist takes away from the potential of the episode. We never even got to see the faces of the Imperial officers facing off against the Rebels. At least the ugly alien from the mining guild was memorable in that respect; these guys were literally faceless thugs.
When all has been said and done, Homecoming is a great episode. It is simply the fact that waiting an entire week to get a new installment, only to realize that we have to wait another seven days in the hopes that the potential of the mid-season will be realized, is a bit too much to swallow. With the season winding down, Maul, Ahsoka, Vader and the Inquisitors are bound to show up soon. But will it be a case of too little, too late? Hopefully not.
Overall, Homecoming gets an 8/10.