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Recap / Star Wars Rebels S4E04 "Flight of the Defender"

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The Ghost crew must steal a prototype TIE Defender's flight recorder in order to find a weakness in this otherwise impenetrable starfighter, but they must rely on some unexpected help to escape from Thrawn.


Tropes:

  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Justified. Ezra's beastmaster tendencies attract loth-cats and make them behave more domesticated, happily cuddling with, grooming, and accepting belly rubs from the rebels.
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  • Automaton Horses: Averted with the loth-wolf. A full sprint with two people on his back throughout the night leaves him visibly winded.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The Stormtroopers take a couple shots at the loth-cats out of boredom, then chase them down when the loth-cats attack them in retaliation.
  • Brick Joke: The two Stormtroopers that chase the loth-cats are still doing so long after Ezra and Sabine have stolen the Elite TIE Defender. Sabine swoops over them as she pilots away from the base.
  • Bullet Dancing: One of the Stormtroopers blasts at the loth-cat's feet to make it jump. It responds by mauling his helmet.
  • The Bus Came Back:
  • Call-Back:
    • The Elite TIE Defender has a kill-switch which triggers explosive bolts in the wings, just like the TIE Fighters in "The Antilles Extraction".
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    • The voice effect when the lothwolf howls for Ezra is the same previously used for Ezra hearing his parents' voices in "Fire Across The Galaxy" and "Empire Day". Likewise, Ezra getting distracted by the lothwolf is a call back to "The Call" when he got distracted by purrgil.
  • Call-Forward:
    • While Ezra and Sabine argue as to how to distract the stormtroopers guarding the TIE Defender, the loth-cats head out on their own and provide such a distraction; much like how in Return of the Jedi an Ewok draws away most of the guards while Leia and Han argue how to take them out.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: As Ezra is dodging fire from the Stormtroopers, he ends up landing right in front of Thrawn, Pryce, and Skerris. Ezra jokingly waves hello to them, which earns him a confused look from Skerris, an accusatory glare from Pryce, and Fantastically Indifferent reaction from Thrawn.
    Ezra: Hey!
    Thrawn: ...Fascinating.
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  • Compelling Voice: The loth-wolf commands Sabine to sleep when he meets her, and when she wakes up she has no memory of him.
  • Creepy Good: The white loth-wolf is a giant wolf with black eyes, mind-control powers, and an unnaturally deep voice, but ultimately he's just there to help and saves Ezra and Sabine from being discovered.
  • Foreboding Fleeing Flock: While on recon, the rebels are met by a bunch of loth-cats that seem on edge about something. Ezra, Sabine, and Azadi think it might mean something, but Zeb is pretty annoyed.
  • Foreshadowing: Hera mentions a new refueling depot and improved anti-aircraft guns in the capital city during their recon mission. Both will play a role in the episodes Rebel Assault and Jedi Night later in the season.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Stormtroopers guarding the Elite TIE Defender are a special breed of stupid, even among Stormtroopers. Getting distracted to chase loth-cats is one thing, but a later shot shows they chased them all the way off the base and into the hills.
  • Glamour: Loth-wolves are physical beings but can only be seen (or detected, since he fooled Kanan's senses as well) by those they choose.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: Sabine inflitrates the Elite TIE Defender to steal its flight data recorder, but when she notices it has a navi-computer and thus a hyperdrive, she jacks the whole thing as an escape vehicle. It doesn't quite pan out since the Defender has a kill-switch, but they're able to salvage the hyperdrive for Ryder's U-Wing.
  • Guttural Growler: Loth-wolves in the most literal sense. They can speak only a single word at a time in Basic and it takes effort, presumably because their vocal cords are so different, so they communicate primarily through growls, the loth-cat, and body language.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Subverted. After all the weird things they've been through, Kanan and the crew have no problem believing Ezra when he says there was a loth-wolf. It helps that there's no way Ezra could have gotten back to base with an unconscious Sabine so fast if he didn't have some means of transportation.
  • Kick the Dog: One of the Stormtroopers shoots at a lothcat out of pure pettiness even though the said lothcat was friendly toward him.
  • Let No Crisis Go to Waste: When Ezra and Sabine steal the TIE Defender Elite, Thrawn decides to send a flight of Interceptors after it instead of activating its kill switch remotely, treating it as an impromptu live-fire exercise.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Though they don’t say anything, Azadi and Jai are surprised to hear from Ezra that he met a lothwolf, since as residents on Lothal, they know of lothwolves too.
  • Nerves of Steel: When Sabine uses the Elite TIE Defender to trash Thrawn's shuttle, Thrawn calmly stands in the line of fire, taking potshots with his blaster, while Pryce and Skerris dive for cover.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Early previews made it appear that Sabine was injured in the crash. She's fine, but the loth-wolf puts her to sleep to avoid being discovered.
  • Not So Extinct: Loth-wolves were thought to have gone extinct a hundred years ago. Turns out they just went into hiding and would prefer not to be rediscovered.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ezra gets two in a row. First when Thrawn arrives, second when he hears a gun cock behind him.
    • He's also frightened when the loth-wolf he's been seeing all day appears right behind Sabine and commands her to sleep.
    • Sabine has one when she discovers that their stolen TIE has a kill-switch.
  • Skewed Priorities: Ezra is so in awe of the loth-wolf that he forgets where he is, resulting in him being discovered.
  • Sapient Steed: Ezra has the good sense to ask the loth-wolf if it's okay to ride him, and thanks him afterward.
  • Sherlock Scan: After the Elite TIE Defender is stolen, Thrawn observes as it dogfights the TIE Interceptors. He knows Ezra is aboard with someone else, and deduces it's not Hera since she'd have shot down the Interceptors much faster. When the tracking beacon is quickly disabled, he realizes that Sabine must be the other occupant, making Ezra the pilot since she would be otherwise occupied.
  • Shout-Out:
    • As the stolen Elite TIE Defender is running amok on the outpost, Thrawn stands defiantly shooting it with his service blaster like a certain American general.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used subtly when Ezra connects with the loth-wolf for the first time, although the emotional shock is one of awe rather than fear.
  • Villain Respect: Thrawn says that Hera isn't the pilot of the Elite TIE Defender because she'd have shot down the TIE Interceptors much faster than Ezra does.
  • We Have Reserves: Thrawn orders Skerris to have his TIE Interceptors dogfight the stolen Elite TIE Defender as a combat test. When Ezra shoots them all down, he takes it as proof that it will be a great boon to their forces since Ezra isn't a talented pilot, at least compared to Hera.
  • We Need a Distraction:
    • Sabine needs to get into the Elite TIE Defender to steal the flight data recorder. As she and Ezra argue over how to distract the guards, the loth-cats take it upon themselves to lead the Stormtroopers away.
    • When Thrawn arrives for an inspection of the Elite TIE Defender while Sabine's still inside. Ezra's not confident it'll work since it's, well, Thrawn, and he doesn't get a chance to think of one as he's immediately discovered and forced to fight.
  • Wham Line: When Ezra asks the loth-wolf why he's helping them, the loth-wolf growls out a single word:
    Loth-wolf: Dume.
  • Wham Shot: The camera panning up to the white loth-wolf's head... and the mysterious white loth-cat makes itself known.
  • Xanatos Gambit: When Sabine and Ezra steal the Elite TIE Defender, Thrawn orders Skerris's pilots to intercept it. The possible outcomes are as follows:
    • The Defender is shot down by the Interceptor pilots. In this case, Thrawn acquires combat data and eliminates the rebels.
    • The Defender destroys or evades its pursuers. In either case, the kill-switch is activated, crashing the prototype. Thrawn learns the identity of the second occupant in the former case, and judges the Defender's capabilities against those of the TIE Interceptors.

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