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Recap / Star Wars Rebels S3E19 "Zero Hour"

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Hera Syndulla: We'll never surrender to you, Thrawn.
Grand Admiral Thrawn: You misunderstand, Captain. I'm not accepting surrenders at this time; I want you to know failure, utter defeat, and for you to know that it is I that delivers it crashing down upon you. Now let us proceed.

Phoenix Squadron makes final preparations for an attack on Lothal, but their plans are destroyed when Grand Admiral Thrawn discovers their whereabouts.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Abandon Ship:
    • Sato orders the crew of Phoenix Home to evacuate when he makes the decision to use it to ram one of the Interdictors. The pilots choose to stay with him, and they go down with the ship.
    • General Dodonna and what's left of his crew are forced to evacuate their frigate.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Right before everything begins, Kanan confides to Ezra that he feels he has nothing more to teach him, and Ezra responds that he's learned about more than just the Force from Kanan and he wants to continue learning. Not just to be a good Jedi, to be a good man.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Thrawn leads the assault on Chopper Base.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: The Rebels use Defense Position Aurek-1 when the Empire attacks.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Thrawn, as usual. By cross-referencing the route taken by General Dodonna's fleet with Kallus' transmission, and then further cross-referencing that information with legends of the local sector, he pinpoints Atollon.
  • Back for the Finale: Wedge, Hobbie, Senator Mothma, the rebel fleet, the main Imperial cast, and Tarkin return for this season finale, as well as Rex, AP-5, Azadi, and Sato.
  • Badass Boast: Thrawn says one to the other Imperials before they get the ball rolling. And he's not exaggerating.
    Thrawn: We will show the Galaxy what happens to those that dare speak against the Emperor.
  • Badass in Distress: Kallus gets beat up and held prisoner by Thrawn and his forces.
  • Batman Gambit: Commander Sato deliberately sent his ship straight at the enemy, in order to buy Ezra time to escape and call for help. He was aware that among Thrawn's forces, there must be one overambitious fool who would move out of position for the opportunity to destroy a Rebel command ship. He was right.
  • Behind the Black: The Interdictor ships are hidden from the audience at first through clever camera angles. Somehow the rebels also fail to notice them until a ship falls victim to their gravity well, even though to them they're in plain view on the enemy flanks.
  • Berserk Button: Kanan riles the Bendu into action by calling him a coward, which really pisses the Bendu off. As in, he turns into a thunderstorm out of pure rage and declares he might wipe out the Jedi himself, if that is what the Force wishes.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The biggest one of the series so far.
  • Book Ends:
    • Just like the first time they met, Thrawn once again tells Kallus of his deduction of the whereabouts of the rebels using separate pieces of information to see where they align, saying that "Taken separately, they mean nothing, but together [...]" are the answers.
    • Back in "Stealth Strike", Sato and Ezra are captured onboard an Interdictor. Here, each of them destroys one.
  • Call-Back:
    • Kallus is finally outed as the rebel spy to the other Imperials, which Thrawn confirmed himself back in "Through Imperial Eyes".
    • Azadi tells Chopper Base that the Imperial naval forces have left Lothal, tipping them off that Thrawn is about to attack them at home again, as this protocol was previously used back in "Legacy".
    • Kallus makes transmissions in Ezra's communications tower using the Bridgers' broadcast equipment, which we last saw all the way back in "Empire Day". This also calls back to the Rebels' use of a tower just like it to send messages in "Call to Action".
    • When Thrawn orders a ground assault on Atollon, Kallus snarks that he tried the same thing once and "it didn't go so well", referencing the events of "Relics of the Old Republic".
    • In the same scene where Kallus flees to Ezra's tower, we're given a shot of the night sky, with the light of Lothal's moons shining down. Thrawn also uses the Trust Password to condescendingly let Kallus know that the agent's cover is blown.
    • The rebel fleet, including Gold Squadron, returns after last being seen in "Secret Cargo".
    • Ezra travels in Maul's Nightbrother, newly rechristened the Gauntlet, having stolen it in the ending of the previous episode.
    • Thrawn has two Interdictors in his fleet. The prototype appeared in "Stealth Strike". That prototype Interdictor was destroyed when two light cruisers smashed into it, thanks to Chopper's meddling. One of Thrawn's Interdictors is destroyed when Phoenix Home, a stolen Imperial cruiser-carrier, is deliberately rammed into it.
    • Kanan reminds Ezra of the Y-Wings that went to General Dodonna.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Kanan calls out the Bendu of all beings, citing that his refusal to act in the face of a threat not only to his life but the life of the entire planet is akin to cowardice. The Bendu does not take it well.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Thrawn is accompanied by Death Troopers, who first appeared in Rogue One.
    • Thrawn dismisses the Nebulon-B first caught by the Interdictor, saying that Dodonna is not the kind of leader to run from the battle. In the “Hope Dies” arc of the comic, Dodonna’s ship IS one of the first to escape the ambush at the Mako-Ta dock, but soon returns to cover the rest of the fleet, fighting to the end until they escape.
    • Sato rams Phoenix Home into Konstantine's Interdictor, just like in Rogue One, where the Lightmaker rammed one Star Destroyer into another Star Destroyer, and subsequently into the Shield Gate.
    • Konstantine, upon seeing Phoenix Home bearing down on his cruiser, gives a panicked order to "Take evasive action!" à la Admiral Piett in a similar situation in Return of the Jedi.
    • A Y-Wing crashes into a Star Destroyer in a manner visually reminiscent of a similar scene from the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi. Unlike the Battle of Endor, however, the Y-Wing is shot down before impact.
  • The Cavalry: General Dodonna comes to the aid of Phoenix Squadron, beginning their first official fight against the Empire. However, bringing them together is exactly what Thrawn wants, so Ezra cannot get the assistance of more ships from the Rebel Alliance.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Thrawn's martial arts skills, first seen back in "Through Imperial Eyes", allow him to fight off and ultimately overpower Kallus.
    • Ezra's communications tower and the equipment inside (that were either always there and/or the Bridger family's) are used by Kallus to make his Fulcrum transmissions.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The episode opens with the shuttle of a high-ranking Imperial flying over the ocean into Lothal City's Imperial complex, just like the beginning of "Call to Action".
    • This is not the first time a main character pulls a Stealth Hi/Bye on another main character at Ezra's tower, confronting them about a secret that the latter character has kept. In fact, in the first episode, the scene was at the end of the episode, while here — a season finale — the scene is at the beginning of the episode.
    • If you look closely, Thrawn attacks Kallus on the same leg that he got injured back in "The Honorable Ones".
    • Zeb asks Rex if he prefers fighting in the Rebellion to hunting joopa, and they both reminisce that joopa taste really good.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Five Star Destroyers and two Interdictor cruisers against a number of small corvettes and frigates, with way more TIE fighters than they can count. Needless to say, the Rebels on Atollon take a heavy beating, and are only able to get rid of one Interdictor via a desperate suicide maneuver. Even that only worked because the Interdictor's commander broke formation against orders.
    • An actual brawl example in Thrawn and Kallus' fistfight at the opening. Kallus lands a blow or two, but Thrawn beats him down badly.
  • Darkest Hour: The rebels on Atollon get a surprise visit from Thrawn and the Seventh Fleet, and are subsequently trapped on the planet and are seemingly helpless to do anything besides trying to fight back.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Commander Sato rams Phoenix Home into Admiral Konstantine's Interdictor, allowing Ezra one opening to escape.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Commander Sato and his two crewmen know they're about to die, and Sato simply closes his eyes and braces for the end.
    • Subverted with Konstantine, whose last words are a pathetic and desperate plea for his crew to take evasive action, just before Sato's ship slams into his.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: And it really hit the rebels hard this time: They were so close to leaving for Lothal, and were more than ready to strike at the factories, but fate conspired to prevent it all from happening.
  • Feed the Mole: Thrawn deliberately leaks his plans to Kallus so Kallus will try to transmit them to the rebels, thereby allowing him to triangulate their position. It goes almost to plan, the only wrinkle being that Kallus manages to get a partial transmission out so the rebels have advance warning that Thrawn knows of something. It is only when Ryder reveals the Seventh Fleet has left Lothal they realize exactly what Thrawn knows about, and they have just barely enough time to get ready.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: There are a few hints that the meeting with Tarkin is not a regular one, but a set-up:
    • Thrawn claimed he didn't want to take any chances with anyone else listening to his plans, blocking every opening, yet he didn't bother to check the vents. We all know Thrawn never makes careless mistakes.
    • Tarkin acted as if Thrawn requested a meeting with him at an inopportune time and kept him waiting for whatever reason, hoping that Thrawn isn't wasting his time and that what he gets is worth his attention.
    • Unlike previous meetings where Kallus participated alongside the other prominent Imperials, Thrawn only summons Pryce and Konstantine to speak to him, no doubt making Kallus wonder what was happening.
  • For the Evulz: Thrawn really had no more use for Kallus and could've just killed him for treason, but no, Thrawn decides to let him live so he can force him to watch the rebels perish.
  • Forced to Watch: Kallus is held hostage and Thrawn has him watch as he leads the attack on Atollon.
  • Glory Hound:
    • Kallus mocks Thrawn as being this and deliberately keeping Konstantine out of the fight as to avoid sharing the glory of the Rebels' destruction. Thrawn simply retorts he doesn't need glory, only results.
    • Konstantine recognizes Sato's ship as a command vessel and orders his Interdictor into battle, against Thrawn's direct orders. This results in his death.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sato and two members of his bridge crew take down Konstantine's Interdictor by ramming Phoenix Home into it.
  • Hyperspeed Escape: Defied when one of Dodonna's frigates tries to jump to hyperspace, only to be stopped by an Imperial Interdictor. Sato has to ram the Interdictor with his carrier to open a hole for Ezra to escape and Bring Help Back.
  • I Choose to Stay: When Sato orders the crew of Phoenix Home to evacuate, the two pilots choose to stay and help him. He acknowledges their choice and doesn't challenge it.
  • Idiot Ball: Thrawn's decision to place Konstantine in charge of one of the Interdictors is a bit strange. Konstantine demonstrated back in "Iron Squadron" that he can be arrogant and a glory hound, and Thrawn has never considered him very competent. It thus begs the question of why he would hand one of his two most important assets to an unreliable officer, rather than give him an idiot-proof job aboard one of the Star Destroyers.
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment:
    Thrawn: You have the heart of a rebel.
    Kallus: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Internal Reveal: The other Imperials (except maybe Tarkin) learn that Kallus is the true traitor among them, not Lyste as they were led to believe.
  • I Want Them Alive!: Tarkin orders Thrawn to bring him the rebels' leaders alive so he can personally make an example of them.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Konstantine, aboard the Interdictor that prevents the Rebels from escaping to hyperspace, decides to disobey Thrawn's orders in order to gain some glory for himself. A few moments later, he dies when Commander Sato, having used himself as bait to lure the Interdictor out of formation, carries out a ramming attack that destroys both ships.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Fans have been comparing Kallus to Thrawn since early on, even citing his early designs as a Chiss. Thrawn irritatedly tells Kallus that they're nothing alike, with an Aside Glance.
  • Leave No Survivors: It's a do-or-die moment for the rebels because Thrawn makes it very clear that he will not take prisoners — he will throw everything at them until the last rebel falls. However, Tarkin insists that Thrawn take their leadership alive, to which Thrawn reluctantly agrees.
  • Make an Example of Them: Why Tarkin instructs Thrawn to take the Rebel leadership alive. Thrawn observes that the sort of battle he has planned for would make taking prisoners problematic, but Tarkin replies that he is confident that an officer of Thrawn's caliber can pull it off.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Zero Hour" can mean Darkest Hour, because the Atollon rebels and Kallus are out of time to escape and it is their time to do or die. Or at least that's Thrawn's plan, anyway.
    • In military terms, "Zero Hour" is the launch time for an operation. Here the Imperials under Thrawn finally launch their major counterattack against the rebel fleet and headquarters.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Kallus makes a Fulcrum transmission in Ezra's tower, but once Thrawn has the equipment, he's able to use it to pinpoint the location of the rebel base on Atollon.
    • On that note, Thrawn is only able to triangulate Atollon's location by cross-referencing the transmission with the trajectory of General Dodonna's fleet, which is on its way to rendezvous with Phoenix Squadron at their HQ. Had the rendezvous taken place literally anywhere else, Atollon's location might have been kept hidden.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • A minor example with Thrawn. During his fight with Kallus, he taunts Kallus as being limited by his training. Kallus then improvises by throwing one of Ezra's helmets at Thrawn, allowing him to knock Thrawn's jammer out of his hand and destroy it. This gives the rebels a little warning of Thrawn's incoming assault, instead of them being caught flat-footed. Technically, Thrawn let Kallus have that one because it's the last piece of the puzzle needed to find the rebel base.
    • Konstantine, eager to share some of the glory in destroying the rebels, disobeys Thrawn to attack Sato's carrier. Sato was counting on this, as it allows him to ram Konstantine's Interdictor and allow Ezra to escape the blockade so he can bring reinforcements.
    • Tarkin's orders to take prisoners are the only reason any of the rebels survive; Thrawn even lampshades this when he gets the orders. In Part II it becomes even more obvious; if Thrawn had been allowed to destroy them, all he had to do was maintain his opening bombardment a few more seconds.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!:
    Bendu: I will not fight your petty battles.
    Kanan: You'd rather hide, like a coward.
    Bendu: I will not be called a coward by the likes of you, Kanan Jarrus! (begins to transform into a sandstorm) Perhaps it is the will of the Force that the Jedi and all your kind perish, and I serve the will of the Force!
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Kallus, when he realizes his cover has been compromised when Thrawn confronts him and then when Thrawn reveals that he's found the base on Atollon.
    • Chopper Base, when they realize that Thrawn is coming for them.
    • Konstantine, when he realizes much too late that Sato intends to ram his Interdictor.
  • Praetorian Guard: A couple of Death Troopers accompany Thrawn when he arrives to brief Konstantine and Pryce about his plans. They also accompany him during his confrontation with Kallus, grabbing him after Thrawn knocks him around.
  • Ramming Always Works: Sato rams Konstantine's Interdictor with the carrier, destroying both ships.
  • The Reveal: It is implied that Kallus makes his Fulcrum transmissions at Ezra's tower, at least when he's stationed on Lothal.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The Siege of Atollon ruins the Rebels' plans to attack Lothal's factories and results in the deaths of numerous Rebel personnel. What's even worse is that they were about to do it up until Chopper Base got compromised. Everything they did to keep their base safe ultimately proved fruitless, because Kallus was all Thrawn needed to find them.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Though unfortunately, Kallus is the one that ends up on the receiving end of a beating.
    Thrawn: Your technique is good, but limited by your training at the Imperial Academy. Predictable.
    Kallus: You talk too much!
  • Stunned Silence: When Thrawn reveals to Kallus that he knows all about how he's Fulcrum, Kallus is unable to make a snide remark or comeback and immediately just goes to trying to beat the Grand Admiral down. The only thing he can come up with is "You talk too much!"
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Kanan tries to enlist the Bendu's aid in repelling the Empire, as it's the Bendu's world, too. However, Bendu refuses to get involved in the affairs of the Empire and the Rebels, as he is above their "mindless quarreling". Kanan retorts that innocent people are caught in the middle of this war, and that no one deserves to die like this, but still the Bendu refuses to budge. He finally manages to get the Bendu to act by calling him a coward, but it's implied the Bendu may not respond as helpfully as Kanan might like.
  • Taking You with Me: Sato and Konstantine, the former ramming his ship into the latter's Interdictor.
  • That's an Order!: Hera ordering Kanan and Ezra (and then just Ezra) to Bring Help Back.
  • Tranquil Fury: Thrawn is quietly pissed that Konstantine allowed Sato to pull him out of position and destroy his Interdictor.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: This trope seems to be the Bendu's opinion of Kanan coming to him and asking him to get involved. As far as the Bendu was concerned, it was the Rebels who brought war to his peaceful planet, and the fact that Kanan accuses him of cowardice for not helping enrages him to the point he muses about wiping the Rebels out himself.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Kallus gets suspended from a ceiling beam by his handcuffs in Ezra's tower while Thrawn explains the situation to him.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • General Dodonna sent his ships in a straight path, which made it easy for Thrawn's spies to trace it, and all Thrawn needed was Kallus' Fulcrum transmission to intersect said trajectory. At the end of the finale, the rebels discuss making multiple jumps across the Galaxy before they reach their endpoint.
    • Likewise, Konstantine's decision to disobey Thrawn's orders led to the destruction of his Interdictor, which allowed Ezra to get backup, which allowed for the destruction of the other Interdictor, which allowed for the escape of the remnants of Phoenix Squadron and the Hammerhead cruisers, which proved to be instrumental in the Battle of Scarif in destroying a planetary shield generator, which allowed the Death Star plans to be transmitted to the Rebel Alliance, which allowed them to discover the Death Star's weak point, which allowed them to subsequently destroy it. In short, Konstantine is indirectly responsible for the destruction of the Death Star.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Kallus has his transmission interrupted before he can finish, so the rebels only receive "Thrawn knows abou—". They're able to deduce that Thrawn knows their location based on the sudden movement of the fleet over Lothal. Last time that happened, the Empire attacked their base on Garel.
  • Wham Episode: After being around for a season, Chopper Base is compromised. In addition, Kallus is outed as the traitor to the rest of the Imperial cast and is still caught by Thrawn's forces.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Kallus tries to make a Fulcrum transmission... but his broadcast insignia suddenly turns red. He turns to see Thrawn standing at the doorway, accompanied by a Wham Line that makes it clear that he knows.
      Thrawn: By the light of Lothal's moons.
    • One of Dodonna's frigates tries to make a Hyperspeed Escape — and gets pulled back into normal space. Cue the appearance of an Imperial Interdictor.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: After all their hard work for two seasons, the rebels were more than ready to invade Lothal and deal a real blow to the Empire. It only lasts until the Empire comes to their doorstep and cripples the invasion force, ruining their chances completely.
  • You Talk Too Much!: Kallus' response to Thrawn's monologuing.
  • You Will Be Spared: Of the "I'm saving you for last" variety. It's implied Thrawn only allowed Kallus to live just to see the rebels fall right in front of him, and if Thrawn stays true to his word that he will not stop until the last rebel falls, Kallus will definitely be the last.
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: Kanan says this to Hera when she asks about the person in the wilderness (the Bendu) he's leaving to talk to.