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Recap / Star Wars Rebels S1E04 "Breaking Ranks"

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Jai: Hey, Zare… bet'cha I get my next cameo before you do.
Zare: You're on!

"Cadets, you entered this facility as children. And in a few short weeks, you will leave as soldiers. By the time you complete your training, you will be prepared to serve your Emperor. Today, we will test your strength and resolve. Are you ready to become stormtroopers?"
Commandant Cumberlayne Aresko

Kanan has sent Ezra and Chopper on a mission to infiltrate the Imperial Academy on Lothal so they can get access to data files which include the coordinates of a convoy that is in possession of some kyber crystals for the Empire. There, Ezra makes two new friends, Zare and Jai, who are among the best cadets alongside Ezra. Unfortunately, Kallus is currently stationed at the Academy, and to make matters worse Ezra overhears a conversation between Commandant Aresko and the Inquisitor: it turns out that the Empire flags cadets for potential Force-sensitivity, with any cadets weeded out like this getting a visit from the Inquisitor to confirm it. And Ezra and Jai have been singled out for a visit...


  • Apologetic Attacker: During the second test, Ezra apologizes to Jai before sabotaging him, as he needs Zare to make the top three in that round.
  • Asteroid Thicket: There's one visible in the background where Kanan and Hera intercept the Imperial convoy.
  • Bad Liar: Zare tries to distract Kallus by claiming he had a delivery of two crates of used podracer parts for the agent. And he is so nervous doing it that Kallus suspects something is up.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Kanan's reaction to finding out Ezra stayed in the Academy after grabbing the decoder.
  • Blatant Lies: Kanan claims he's not worried about Ezra... and then completely freaks out when he realizes that the plan has gone off the rails and Ezra's still in the Academy.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Done by Sabine to a stormtrooper at point-blank range.
  • Boot Camp Episode: Ezra has to join the Imperial Academy as a cadet to obtain coordinates for a shipment of kyber crystals.
  • Child Soldiers: All of the cadets in the Imperial academy are this.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Commandant Aresko actually encourages the cadets to do this during training.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Lampshaded when Ezra risks his life for a fellow cadet and blames it on hanging out with the Ghost crew.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The named cadets can be told apart by the color of their helmet logos, making them easier to follow during the challenges.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Remember the giant kyber crystals from the unfinished Crystal Crisis on Utapau arc in The Clone Wars? They're back, and guess what the Empire intends to use them for.
    • Also, remember The Clone Wars episode "The Box"? Well, the training facility here should seem very familiar. The first scene of the training scenario also reuses musical cues from that episode.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: While infiltrating the Academy Chopper is given a black Imperial paintjob, and of course Ezra is wearing a cadet uniform.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: We get to see Aresko and Grint in action as combat instructors.
  • Hero of Another Story: Zare's is expanded upon in Servants of the Empire.
  • I Choose to Stay: When Ezra and Jai escape, Zare chooses to stay behind and operate as an informant for the Rebels. He also still wants to learn what happened to his sister.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Ezra says this word-for-word after Jai chews him out for sabotaging him.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
  • The Infiltration: Ezra goes undercover as a cadet to steal an encryption module. And he discovers that Zare is also pulling one.
  • In Medias Res: Ezra's already been undercover for several weeks when the episode begins.
  • The Mole: Ezra and Zare have independently infiltrated the Academy, the former to steal a decoder so the team can destroy a shipment of Kyber crystals, the latter so he can find information on his sister, who genuinely joined the Academy only to disappear (it's hinted she was taken by the Inquisitors).
  • Mook Chivalry: The cadets are specifically trained to act as individuals and to disdain teamwork to the point of undermining squadmates.
  • Named Like My Name: Inverted and never called out in the show, but there are two moles in the Academy whose names are basically just scrambled versions of the other: Ezra and Zare.
  • Never Bareheaded: The only other named cadet, Oleg, is never seen without his cadet helmet, perhaps putting him in the Faceless Goons category.
  • Oh, Crap!: Ezra, when he finds out that the Grand Inquisitor is coming for the Force-sensitive cadets.
  • Outrun the Fireball: The transport carrying the giant kyber crystal blows big when it is hit by Hera. Considering it was intended to be the centerpiece for the Death Star's planet-busting superlaser, this is to be expected.
  • Parallel Conflict Sequence: Zare, Jai, and Ezra escaping the academy while Hera and Kanan attack the imperial transports.
  • Revealing Skill: As part of the Academy tests, cadets who do exceptionally well are tested for Force-sensitivity by the Inquisitor.
  • Stupid Evil: Aresko praises Ezra for pushing Jai off the platform during the second test and tells the other cadets to follow his example, stating that there is no friendship in war and that all that matters is victory. While this is obviously right in line with the Empire's ethos, it pretty much goes without saying that encouraging Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and Glory Hound tendencies in your soldiers is a really bad idea, as on the battlefield they need to be able to trust one another implicitly.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: The climax of the first session in the Pit features the The Box’s theme from The Clone Wars, due to the similar scenarios (though this “box” is a good deal less deadly).
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: In his recording to Zeb and Sabine, Ezra twice guesses their reactions to his statements and answers accordingly.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The look Aresko has on his face practically screams it when the Inquisitor tells him that it is quite a black mark to have let a known rebel, and Jedi Padawan no less, infiltrate his academy.
  • Traitor Shot: Zare looks suspicious after he spots Ezra signaling Chopper. Subverted, however, as it turns out he's also an infiltrator on a separate mission.
  • The Unfettered: What Commandant Aresko wants to turn his cadets into. Best exemplified in the below quote he gives to the cadets after a training exercise.
    "There is no friendship in war."
  • The Unreveal: It's never explicitly confirmed if Jai is Force-sensitive or not.
  • Vehicular Turnabout: Ezra, Zare, and Jai plan to hijack the AT-DP to cover their escape. Ezra doesn't get to actually ride in the AT-DP, being eliminated in the final cadet round, but Zare and Jai still manage to cause enough chaos to allow egress.
  • We Need a Distraction: Practically said word for word by Ezra, when he needs a diversion to escape the Academy the next day.