The season premiere for the final season of  Star Wars Rebels brings us to Mandalore, opening with Sabine (Tiya Sircar), Ezra (Taylor Gray), and Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr. ) leading a mission to set Sabine’s father free. As usual, the opening double feature throws us straight into the story. “Heroes of Mandalore Pt. 1 and 2” has me excited for the final season of one of my favorite shows, delivering on so many things I’ve come to enjoy about the show.

Sabine and Ezra are scoping out an Imperial installation where they believe Sabine’s father is being held, while elsewhere Kanan is working with Fenn Rau on the other side of the installation. Kanan has some suspicions regarding the installation. And in the past, we know that Kanan’s instincts tend to be right. Just why would the Empire move such an important prisoner so far from the capital?

But the plan moves forward. Sabine, now wielding the Darksaber, leads her team forward to attack the tower. As Mandalorians, they’re experts with their jet packs as they attack, while poor Ezra struggles pretty hilariously with his. As the rebels move forward and start to gain entry into the tower, the Imperials inside the tower communicate with Tiber Saxon, new leader for Clan Saxon after Gar Saxon’s death in last season.

A pair of AT-PTs are dropped in as reinforcements for the tower and Sabine manages to land a blow to one but she is quickly stunned. With orders to capture her alive, a trooper threatens Ezra by saying that he’ll kill her if he doesn’t stand down. And Ezra being Ezra, puts his friend’s life above anything else. A trio of Mandalorians show up though and reignite the attack.

Once the AT-PTs are taken care of, Fenn Rau introduces Bo-Katan. Bo-Katan’s sister previously ruled over Mandalore but was killed in the fifth season of The Clone Wars, and now many see her as the true leader of Mandalore. But as she didn’t bend to Emperor Palpatine, Clan Saxon was given leadership of the planet instead. But is anyone surprised? Not bending to the Emperor never seems to end well.

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Bo-Katan reveals herself.

Sabine attempts to pass the Darksaber to Bo-Katan but she refuses to take it, stating that she had her chance to lead and she failed. This leaves Ezra with Sabine. We get a short little scene that has Sabine commenting how Mandalore used to be as green and lush as Lothal is. I really enjoyed this scene because it was just a short moment between Ezra and Sabine that allowed them a respite in between a pretty action packed episode.

Elsewhere, Ursa Wren communicates that the Empire is moving her husband back to the capital of Mandalore, Sundari, for public execution.

From here, we cut to Kanan and Hera (Vanessa Marshall) having one of their common talks via hologram. Kanan fills Hera in on the plan to go after Sabine’s father as he’s being transported and Hera says that she needs him and the rest of their crew back after this particular mission. What gets me excited here is we know from the Season 4 trailer that Kanan and Ezra at some point might be going off on their own. But with Hera making an adamant recall for them, we know that there’ll at least be some more involvement from the two Jedi with the Rebellion.

After an explosion is spotted in the distance, Ursa comms the teams to let them know that the prison convoy has started moving through a nearby canyon.

Here are some of the highlights of the canyon run scene:

  • Tiber Saxon informs his troops that he is ordering a weapon to be readied.
  • Sabine’s father, Alrich Wren, is finally revealed as he sits in the back of the prison transport.
  • Sabine jumps into action, giving us a return to her art related attacks by spraying the lead transport with a splash of purple paint.
  • The other Mandalorian troops join in on the assault of the ships while Kanan teams up with Ezra to get onto one of the transports.
  • Ezra has too close of a call with a cliff after getting Alrich out. Luckily, Sabine is there to grab him before he loses his grip on the edge of the cliff!
  • Once the rescue has occurred, that pesky weapon is deployed by Tiber.

Ezra hanging onto the bottom of the prison transport.

A sweet reunion occurs between Sabine and her father, Alrich. Right away I really love Alrich. He offers Sabine some helpful critique of her work and the two launch into a short discussion of other artists who have influenced her work. Here’s a guy who was just saved from a public execution and the first thing he wants to discuss with his daughter is her art! And that just gives away so much about their relationship with each other.

Unfortunately, the sweet moment between father and daughter is broken by Ursa and Tristan Wren comming in. They see that the Empire has dropped a single walker to cover the retreat that was ordered. Sabine hears a familiar sound over the comm and warns her mother and brother to get away.

Ursa and Tristan are caught up in white light and the whole party takes off for where the white light and explosion came from. What they find is loads of ash and burnt up Mandalorian armor.

Part 1 ends on a cliffhanger, but luckily we move right into part 2.

Sabine is distraught at the supposed loss of half of her family, but as I expected, Tristan and Ursa aren’t actually dead. Sabine’s warning gave them enough time to get away from the weapon and survive.

Their reunion is interrupted by the arrival of three TIE fighters. A quick and action packed fight scene follows, with a Mandalorian ship sweeping in to pick up the group and take out one TIE. Bo-Katan and Ezra use their jetpacks and skills to take care of the last two TIE fighters, giving the group a reasonably clean escape.

Moving forward, we finally come to understand what the weapon that was only talked about in Part 1 is and what it can do. Remember back when we learned that Sabine had been apart of the Imperial Academy and had built an extremely dangerous weapon? Well, that weapon is back. It’s known as “The Duchess” and it’s essentially a walker with a core that shoots lightning out and specfically targets Mandalorian armor.

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As viewers, it’s extremely interesting to finally know just what Sabine had built. We’ve always known she was an intelligent weapons expert, but to know she could create something that dangerous spreads a new light on her. That new light isn’t so compelling for Bo-Katan and other Mandalorians.  Once they arrive to Bo-Katan’s base, Sabine is accused of being a traitor. She is quick in taking responsibility for her actions though her family does come to her defense.

Sabine’s plan to destroy her own weapon proves effective. They target Tiber Saxon’s Star Destroyer, splitting into two teams once they’re on board. Sabine and Bo-Katan go for the weapon directly while Ezra, Kanan, and Chopper hunt down the plans for the weapons to delete them from the ship’s memory.

Tiber steps out once Sabine and Bo-Katan find the weapon, stunning them through the use of it.
Since both women are decked out in full Mandalorian armor, they’re effected by the weapon while Tiber isn’t, having shed his own armor for that of the Empire.

Sabine doesn’t answer a comm from Ezra, prompting Kanan to send his Padawan back to see if she needs help. This leads to Kanan being surrounded by troopers while Chopper works to delete the weapon’s plans.

Sabine bluffs her way through Tiber’s request that she make the weapon fully functional. While Tiber monologue’s as antagonists’ are wont to do, Sabine is actually calibrating the machine to target Stormtrooper armor. Hence when Tiber turns the weapon back on, expecting it to kill all his fellow Mandalorians, it instead goes after him and the other Imperials.

What really struck me here was Sabine’s choice. Bo-Katan offers her a bit of guidance in her decision to end Tiber’s life or to destroy the weapon. Sabine uses the Darksaber to destroy her weapon, effectively setting the whole Destroyer up to explode in a matter of minutes. But Sabine’s choice to leave Tiber where he is stands out. We’ve seen Sabine grow throughout the first 3 seasons, and the fact that she makes such a choice shows me how much she’s grown as a character.

Once the group makes it back to Bo-Katan’s base, a moment that has been building throughout the premiere occurs. We’ve known this entire time that Sabine didn’t want to wield the Darksaber forever and the story has made it clear that she most likely wouldn’t. Sabine once more offers the Darksaber to Bo-Katan, saying that she the saber came to her so she could deliver it to Bo-Katan.

Bo-Katan accepts the Darksaber and Mandalorian leadership.

Outside of their ship, several Mandalorian clans await them, all willing to follow Bo-Katan’s leadership. This marks the end of the episode, leaving us with a really cool look at Mandalorian culture, two Sabine-centric episodes, and a little inkling of what season 4 has to offer us. All in all, “Heroes of Mandalore” was a solid season premiere. It lays the groundwork for the final season and leaves me wondering if Mandalore will fully join the Rebellion now that they seem to be fully united under one leader once more.

Sabine’s step into a leadership role reminded me of Ezra’s own dabble in leadership in season 3. While it didn’t go so well for Ezra, Sabine seems to have taken to it quite naturally and I’ll be interested to see if that setup has any payoff further in the season. Will Sabine lead any Mandalorians that come to join the Rebellion? If so, I can’t say that wouldn’t be pretty awesome to see.

It’s a bittersweet start to season 4. The premiere left me excited to see what’s in store for the Ghost crew but also sad to see a favorite show of mine winding down. But with story lines moving forward and characters stepping into new roles, it’ll surely be a great final season.

Star Wars Rebels airs on Disney XD on Mondays!