Ezra (Taylor Gray) finally returns home to Lothal in Star Wars Rebels‘ episode “The Occupation”. It’s been a long time coming and I definitely don’t think it was disappointing. Ezra and the entire Ghost crew, Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Sabine (Tiya Sircar), Hera (Vanessa Marshall), and Zeb (Steven Blum), all head back to Lothal with the help of smuggler Vizago who we haven’t seen too much of since season 2. Now running a more above-the-table business off of Lothal, Vizago has the proper Imperial clearances to come and go off the planet as he pleases.
This leads to the Ghost crew meeting up with him to board his ship, paying him with valuable Puffer Pigs in exchange for being smuggled onto the planet. Hera leaves Kallus and Rex in charge of the Ghost, ensuring her ship’s safety to the two and noting that she does want it back once their mission is over.
Aboard Vizago’s ship, the crew dons new clothes that will help them to fit in better, foregoing their usual clothing choices. On their approach to Lothal, Vizago’s clearances work plenty fine but the Empire does a quick thermal scan, revealing unregistered life forms on the ship. They’re allowed to pass through as the Empire sends TIE fighters after them to escort them to their landing zone.
As they fly into Lothal, Ezra is finally able to see just how much the Imperial occupation has affected his home world. The planet itself has been burned and is no longer the healthy green colors we’ve seen in past seasons. Ezra is shocked and feels an immense amount of guilt over the state of the planet. This is a point where Sabine could have stepped in and talked to Ezra since she’s been dealing with the decimation of Mandalore herself, but she didn’t. I think that worked well here because we can see Ezra deal with his emotions and the damage to his planet on his own while Sabine did have her own chance for the exact same thing only a few episodes ago.
From here, things move quickly. Vizago’s ship is boarded by an ISB search team while the Ghost crew quickly slips out. They split up, Kanan, Zeb, and Hera going to secure them a transport while Sabine and Ezra head for old Jho’s place. Jho’s is the cantina that the crew has stopped into back in season 1 and 2 a handful of times. Unfortunately, it has been taken over by the Empire and is being run by one of their ace pilots. Which is a bit of an odd place for an ace pilot to be!
Sabine and Ezra learn that Jho was captured and executed, prompting them to attempt to make an exit. Cutting back to Kanan and Hera for a moment, we see them ducking into a little alcove to avoid some stormtroopers. All Kanera shippers were delighted when the two almost kissed, but were quickly cut off by Zeb comming in. A classic trope that I kind of expected, considering how the Rebels writers like to insert little moments of humor.
Sabine and Ezra make it out of Jho’s with the help of Jai Kell, one of the stormtrooper cadets back in season 1’s episode “Breaking Ranks”. Much like Ezra, Jai has grown up quite a lot and was waiting to see if any of the Ghost crew would show up at Jho’s.
As the trio leave the cantina, Zeb, Hera, and Kanan arrive in a transport. But as is expected, their getaway is not that easy. They get walled off by two Imperial combat assault tanks, forcing the group back into the cantina and down into the sewers of Lothal.
Jai activates his beacon so that Ryder, head of the Resistance on Lothal, can find them. The group gather their respective weapons from Chopper and prepare to fight against the stormtroopers and probe droids that have followed them into the sewers. As they meander their way through some wrong turns, they finally discover that Sabine’s symbol, the rising phoenix, has been painted all over the sewers.
They deduce that the symbol will lead them to their exit and they make their way towards the exit at the main junction of the sewer. They’re being flanked on both sides by groups of stormtroopers as they look for the final symbol. Chopper finally spots it on the door directly above them, prompting Ezra to jump up and get the ladder down for the entire group to get out.
Once at the top, Sabine is unable to get the door open due to Ezra having slashed the control panel with his lightsaber. But luckily for them, Ryder is at the top and opens it for them. They all get into his U-wing and ride away from the city. Ryder immediately says that they will need to plan an attack on the TIE Defender factory as soon as the Rebel forces arrive.
Ezra is left to tell him that no other forces are coming, that they are the only ones who were sent to Lothal. He does say that even though they’re small, they can still fight back, in a similar fashion to how they started off at the beginning of the show. Ryder ominously says that they’ll see the new fighter tomorrow and that they’ll see if Ezra still feels the same about their chances.
“The Occupation” gave us a return to where everything started, turmoil within Ezra, and the promise of some action regarding the Imperial occupation of Lothal.
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