The Antilles Extraction set the stage for Sabine to shine in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels. For the majority of the first two seasons we have seen the young Mandalorian build into to a leader amongst the Ghost Crew which is why this opportunity to step out from under the shadow of Ezra and build her legacy within the narrative of the original trilogy was so exciting.
In The Antilles Extraction, Sabine is sent to infiltrate an Imperial training academy after the rebellion learn that there is an element within the academy which is disenchanted with the actions of Empire. Star Wars fans get a rare glimpse at aspects of imperial training previously unseen in Star Wars canon, seeing the training of young Imperial TIE Fighter pilots brings a different viewpoint to the Star Wars universe whose tales are largely told by its heroes.
The episode refreshingly lets the simmering conflict between Ezra and Kanan, and Ezra’s internal conflicts between the light and dark, fade to the background as we finally begin our journey into finding out more about Sabine.
Sabine was chosen for the mission as she was less recognisable to the Empire and had been an Imperial cadet once before, so she knows the ins and outs of being a TIE Fighter pilot and the Imperial codes they use. It is the really the first time in the Star Wars Rebels story where the show trusts Sabine to lead the narrative. It was hinted at times during in Episode 1 of Season 3 that she had grown into a leader but her development was never really fleshed out in that episode. By letting Sabine shine the Star Wars story team have opened a story arc that makes us all ask – who is Sabine Wren?
If you watched the Rebels Season 3 trailer from Star Wars Celebration Europe this year you would be aware that we will find out much more about the young Mandalorian this season. It is worth noting that Sabine has in previous seasons been highlighted as being artistic and creative, skills which may come into play when facing the threat of Thrawn later this season. Thrawn is a villain who thrives upon understanding his foes through their artistic nature – will she be a key in also gaining insights into Thrawn’s vulnerabilities? We shall find out.
Once Sabine infiltrates the imperial facility she quickly recruits young Wedge Antilles and two other largely faceless pilots (named Hobbie and Rake). For those of you unsure of whom Wedge Antilles is please watch the video at the end of this review by Star Wars Explained for a quick back story to the character from the Original Trilogy (OT).
While it is exciting to have this OT character in the Rebels story line one problem remains – Wedge is a kind of a bland character – heroicly bland – but bland nonetheless. Wedge can be summed up in one word “reliable”. He is Poe Dameron without the swagger. If he were a sports person he would be Roger Federer – always getting the job done but hard to get him out on the town for a few blue milks at the Cantina Bar.
I loved the way they used Antilles’ heroic blandness as it helped keep the focus on the young Rebel Sabine and the first inklings to who she is and ensuring her character wasn’t overshadowed by one the OT’s more fabled characters. In this humble Star Wars fans opinion, Antilles was introduced within Rebels flawlessly.
Sabine skills and heritage are hinted at later in the episode during her escape from her captors in a short hand-to-hand battle with Imperial Governor Arihnda Pryce.
Pryce taunts the young Mandalorian about the how the empire had “taught her well” inferring that Sabine was no match, only for Sabine to reply with “yeah well my clan taught me better” and then promptly defeating Pryce and escaping (with a little help from Agent Kallus)
And so was born the newest bad ass in Star Wars Universe – Sabine Wren.
One of the more interesting character developments was that of Agent Kallus. Previously he and Zeb had bonded while trapped together on a moon of Geonosis during the episode titled “The Honorable Ones”. Zeb helped saved Kallus in “The Honorable Ones” and Kallus still considers himself in debt to Zeb. The moment when Kallus assist Sabine to escape to repay Zeb showed his true honour.
This added further dimensions to Kallus beyond that single episode in season 2 and makes you wonder if there will be a final showdown between Zeb and Kallus now that they are even.
There was one bit of Star Wars canon which I thought changed in this episode, it was only minor, but still it seemed to be a change. Early in the episode when the A-wings were facing off against TIE Interceptors while protecting the transport ship, one of the A-wing pilots yelled that the TIE Interceptors were “too fast” when it has always been my understanding that A-wings were the fastest and most maneuverable fighter in the Star Wars universe.
It was also great to see R2-Q5 (from Return of the Jedi); one of my favourite imperial droids scanning the cadet cards early in the episode made me smile. I am currently customising a Kenner R2-D2 Sensorscope 3.75″ figure into an R2-Q5 Astromech so this was great.
In conclusion, this episode was a great double act that positioned Sabine Wren as a strong highly-skilled leader who was able to achieve an outcome on her own. It brought Rebels further in Star Wars canon by introducing some of the Wedge Antilles backstories. The Antilles Extraction was a more traditionally paced episode of Rebels and one that was highly entertaining thanks to the fresh treatment of the Sabine character. While this episode doesn’t grow the actual character of the Sabine greatly in itself, it is the perfect entree to what will surely be a more fully fleshed out backstory as the season progresses.
Who is Wedge Antilles?