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Recap / Star Wars Rebels "The Siege of Lothal"

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You can hear him breathing, right?
"If the rebels have left, then we must draw them back. And if they are here, we must draw them out. We will squeeze Lothal until someone reveals the whereabouts of these traitors."
Darth Vader
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The Ghost crew assists the Rebel cell led by Commander Sato and Ahsoka Tano, but set off on a solo mission when they receive a transmission from Maketh Tua, who intends to defect from the Empire. Meanwhile, Darth Vader and Agent Kallus crack down on all insurgency on the planet Lothal.


Tropes:

  • Abandon Ship: Commander Sato and the crew of the Phoenix Home after Vader thoroughly trashes them.
  • Ace Pilot:
    • Vader takes on four corvettes, the frigate Phoenix Home, the Ghost, and an entire squadron of A-Wings. End result? The frigate and most of Phoenix Squadron are destroyed, while Vader isn't even scratched.
    • Hera isn't too shabby, either; she out-maneuvers Vader himself and escapes, leaving Vader ensnared in his own tractor beam trap.
  • Action Prologue: Phoenix Squadron attacking an Imperial convoy to steal cargo.
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  • Armor Is Useless: Averted. Sabine's Mando armor saves her life when Vader deflects her blaster shots right back into her head and center of mass. Kanan also owes having two arms to that lone pauldron he wears.
  • Bad Boss: It's implied that Admiral Konstantine will blame the officer operating the tractor beam for catching Vader's ship instead of the Ghost, even though it was in no way his fault.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Vader, with the help of Kallus, manages to destroy everything the crew had accomplished on Lothal: the planet is even further oppressed, the Rebels suffer heavy losses, and the crew is literally chased off Lothal.
  • Batman Gambit: Vader wins because he is aware of each and every move the Ghost crew will do, and plans accordingly.
  • The Big Board: Phoenix Home has a transparent one, showing Vader's attack on Phoenix Squadron.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: Sabine saves Kanan and Ezra from Darth Vader, which allows the Jedi to escape with their lives.
  • Big "NO!": Ahsoka, upon learning that Darth Vader is her teacher, Anakin Skywalker.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Kanan may be right that starting a war may cause unimaginable death and destruction, but Hera and Ezra also are correct that if they don’t fight the Empire head-on, nothing will change.
  • Break the Cutie: Ahsoka is devastated when she learns the truth about Darth Vader.
  • Call-Back:
    • Back in the pilot, Ezra complained about Zeb's smell. Apparently, Zeb agrees.
    • Darth Vader's appearance before the rebels is very similar to Darth Maul's in The Phantom Menace, complete with a simultaneous blaster shootout and two-on-one lightsaber duel.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Sabine saving Kanan and Ezra from Vader by dropping two AT-STs on him is almost identical to Leia doing the same with an AT-AT in the comic, complete with the Dark Lord rising from the wreckage unscathed.
    • This isn't the last time Vader will use a Trick-and-Follow Ploy on a group of rebels.
    • After snaring Vader's TIE instead of the Ghost with his ship's tractor beam (thus allowing the rebels to escape), Konstantine reassures his subordinate that it wasn't his fault (Konstantine himself gave the order to activate the tractor beam), but Vader won't know that. This is exactly the opposite of what Captain Needa does in The Empire Strikes Back.
    • The communication between Vader and Emperor Palpatine is an almost shot for shot remake of their conversation in The Empire Strikes Back. Their lines are almost identical to theirs in Return of the Jedi, only with the references to Luke replaced with Ahsoka.
  • The Cameo:
    • Lando Calrissian helps the Ghost crew escape Lothal in exchange for shield generators.
    • Emperor Palpatine shows up at the end of the episode, when Darth Vader consults with him.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Plenty of it during the Action Prologue.
  • Character Check: Much like his appearance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story would later do, Darth Vader’s appearance here undoes years of out-of-universe Villain Decay and reestablishes him as a chillingly unstoppable force of evil.
  • Character Death: Farewell, Maketh Tua.
  • The Chessmaster: Darth Vader is a step ahead of the Rebels almost the entire way. He uses Tua's desire to defect to lure them and trap them on Lothal, arranges for the only available ship off to be one he's tagged with a transponder, and nearly corners the Rebels when he tracks them back to their command ship.
  • Cliffhanger: Part 1 ends with a hell of a one as Vader approaches our heroes.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Kanan's plan to infiltrate the Imperial complex to steal a shuttle and escape, as he reasons the Imperials will be so busy searching the city that their own spaceport will by lightly guarded. He's right, but Vader is in fact counting on this and has prepared accordingly.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Darth Vader makes short work of Kanan and Ezra, and would have killed them if Sabine didn't pull a Big Damn Heroes moment. Then he manages to take on and destroy a large portion of Phoenix Squadron before calling in help.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is easily the bleakest episode of Rebels yet, with a very clear Imperial victory taking place with a complete loss for the Rebels. Also, Vader's back and literally keeps the status quo alive on Lothal.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Tua is more than aware of what a meeting with Tarkin means after the incident with Aresko and Grint.
  • Doomed Hometown: The Empire's grip on Lothal becomes to much for the Rebels to handle, and they need to leave lest the Empire starts destroying more towns to lure them out.
  • Downer Ending:
    • The Ghost crew and the Rebels suffer their greatest defeat yet. They lose an ally and the information she could have brought to their cause, a village of innocent homeless people is burned to the ground, Ezra's home is destroyed, the idea of a freed Lothal becomes a lost cause, the Ghost crew is indirectly responsible for the deaths of a large portion of Phoenix Squadron, and Ahsoka Tano is shaken by learning the truth about her master. On top of all of that, two new Inquisitors are being sent after the Ghost crew, with the explicit goal of apprehending Ahsoka Tano (who the Empire plans on using to find and kill other Jedi). The only consolation is that the Ghost crew (along with Ahsoka, the remnants of Phoenix Squadron, and the Rebel Network as a whole) live to fight another day.
    • The destruction of Tarkintown gives a delayed Downer Ending to the short story Rebel Bluff, which featured the residents of the refugee camp arming themselves and beginning to form a resistance group against the Empire under the direction of Ria Clarr, who had been inspired by Ezra's broadcast the previous season.
  • The Dreaded: Darth Vader, and the Sith in general. Kanan and Ezra are lucky to escape, and it's made clear that fighting him is not an option.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Kanan "befriends" a stormtrooper and makes off with his armor.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Darth Vader's Force presence is described as such.
    Ezra: Do you feel that?
    Kanan: The cold... [they turn around to see Vader standing in the open blast doors, who then ignites his lightsaber]
  • Evil Plan: Maketh Tua indicates that the Empire's presence on Lothal is part of this. Part of the information she is willing to hand over includes revealing the Empire's true purpose on Lothal, a plan known only to a handful and personally approved by the Emperor himself. Unfortunately, she is killed before she can reveal what that is.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: The Imperials impose a curfew on Lothal, leading to the streets being even more empty.
  • False Flag Operation: When Minister Tua tries to defect, Kallus bombs her escape shuttle then blames it on the rebels.
  • Fighter-Launching Sequence: Phoenix Squadron has one when Vader shows up.
  • The Force Is Strong with This One: Kanan and Ezra don’t so much as enter Lothal’s orbit before they can sense Darth Vader’s presence.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Tua, asking the rebels for help to defect, tells them that the Empire's true purpose on Lothal is something known only to a few and personally ordered by the Emperor...
    • Just before he steals a stormtrooper's uniform, Kanan sarcastically addresses Hera as "General".
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The version of the episode available for viewing on Disney+, launched in 2019, replaces Sam Witwer with Ian McDiarmid as the voice of the Emperor.
  • Get Out!: Vader dismisses Admiral Konstantine and Agent Kallus so he can have a private chat with Palpatine.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Maketh Tua's attempt to defect from the Empire ends with her death, which is spun as being orchestrated by the Rebels.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Kanan is extremely unnerved after the encounter with Vader (Ezra, meanwhile, is scared out of his wits).
    • When Ahsoka wakes up after falling unconscious from her Force commune, she is shaken by learning the truth about Darth Vader, and she lies to the Ghost crew about whether she knows his identity.
    • To a lesser extent, Ezra after discovering the Empire burnt down Tarkintown.
  • Internal Reveal: Ahsoka Tano learns that Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker, and Darth Vader learns that his old apprentice survived. The audience knows both of these things, or at least the first depending on whether or not they are familiar with The Clone Wars.
  • It's All My Fault: Ezra gets a big dose of this throughout the mission on Lothal, as the Empire’s devastation was instigated by the team’s actions. Especially, when he sees the burnt remains of Tarkintown (which was Vader’s intent).
  • I Want Them Alive: Vader re: the Ghost.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Ezra attempts one on an uncooperative Stormtrooper, but fails. Kanan then takes over and succeeds.
  • The Juggernaut: Vader both in single combat and in his ship absolutely wreck the Rebels.
  • Just Toying with Them: Vader could have killed the Ghost crew easily during his run-in with them, but let them escape as part of his plans.
  • Knight of Cerebus: If you thought Tarkin was bad, Darth Vader is somehow worse in every way possible. He very nearly kills Kanan and Ezra in combat, nearly kills Sabine when she tries to shoot him (lucky she has that armor), and cripples Phoenix Squadron on his own.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: When Ahsoka realises that the pilot of the lone TIE is a Force-sensitive, she and Kanan use the Force together to try and probe him. She's so thoroughly horrified when she and Vader mutually recognise each other that she faints.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Kanan knocks out a stormtrooper commander and takes his armor.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Kanan and Hera's argument in the hall has a lot of allusions to Han and Leia's argument, including the crewmember that walks in between them.
    • The Ghost crew's clearance code is 121815, which converted to MMDDYY format is the release date for The Force Awakens.
    • One of the pilots yells out "They're all over me!" in the opening dogfight.
    • Recurring lines “A presence I have not felt” and “I Want Them Alive,” both from A New Hope, get an appearance.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In the process of Ahsoka identifying Vader as the TIE pilot, she gave herself away to Vader, and now the Emperor knows there's another living Jedi (or ex-Jedi in her case).
    • As noted elsewhere on the page, the good that the Spectres have done on Lothal has brought crushing oppression onto the planet in retaliation.
  • No Peripheral Vision: Two stormtroopers talking about the search for the rebels walk right into Zeb, who's standing in the middle of the hallway making no attempt to hide. Guess those helmets obstruct vision more than you'd think.
  • Not What I Signed Up For: How Kanan feels about being part of a full-fledged rebellion, as opposed to going it alone with the Ghost.
  • Off with His Head!: Vader attempts to perform this on Ezra, using the Force and Ezra's own lightsaber.
  • Offhand Backhand: Vader does one to Ezra during their duel.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Minister Tua's reaction to learning that she has a meeting with Governor Tarkin, who's still pissed about losing his Star Destroyer because of the rebels.
    • Kanan and Ezra after witnessing Vader lift two walkers off himself with the Force. Basically, their entire encounter with Vader is a series of these moments.
    • Ahsoka realizing that Darth Vader is actually her former master Anakin Skywalker.
    • Admiral Kassius Konstantine has this reaction when he finds out his tractor beam grabbed Vader's TIE instead of the Ghost. He promptly scapegoats his tractor beam operator.
  • One-Man Army: Vader is one man in one ship but absolutely decimates Phoenix Squadron.
    Sato: How can one fighter best our entire squadron?
  • Out of the Inferno: Vader gets two burning AT-DPs toppled on top of him by the Ghost crew. Just as they're about to leave, he almost casually lifts them of himself.
    Ezra: If that doesn't kill him, what will?
    Kanan: Not us! Run!
  • Pardon My Klingon: Zeb's favorite curse word has clearly rubbed off on Ezra. Karabast!
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Vader says this to Ezra while attempting to decapitate him with his own lightsaber. Fortunately, Kanan intervenes before Vader can make the kill.
    Darth Vader: Your master has deceived you into believing you can become a Jedi!
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Vader uses telekinesis to try and force Ezra to decapitate himself with his own lightsaber, and is only stopped when he has to fight off Kanan attacking him from behind.
  • Put Their Heads Together: Zeb takes out two stormtroopers this way.
  • Reality Ensues: Giving people hope led to Rebel sympathy, but without proper organization it just turned into a lot of random unrest that only made the situation worse.
  • Recycled Script: If Season 1 was A New Hope, than this Downer Beginning definitely establishes Season 2 as Empire Strikes Back, complete with Vader wiping the floor with the Rebels physically and intellectually. Definitely a case of Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Redshirt Army: Phoenix Squadron is reduced to this against Vader.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: The crew is right that Tua’s defection is a trap, just not one that she is privy to.
  • Run or Die: Against an opponent as powerful as Darth Vader, running like hell is the only way to not get killed, both for Kanan and Ezra and then for Phoenix Squadron's Hyperspeed Escape.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The part about liberating Lothal, which was the subject of much of the first season, gets completely screwed over for the foreseeable future after Darth Vader and the Empire make the planet more oppressed than it already was.
  • She Knows Too Much: Maketh Tua is killed before she can reveal to the Rebels why the Empire is on Lothal.
  • Shellshocked Veteran: Part of Kanan’s resistance to join the Rebel war effort is that he is still haunted by the tragic consequences of the Clone War.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: To think, last season the Spectres used to think of the likes of the Grand Inquisitor and Tarkin as serious threats. Not anymore.
  • Technical Pacifist: Kanan voices his discomfort with joining the larger Rebellion. As a Jedi, he believes fighting is fine when helping people on a small-scale but dislikes the idea of being a soldier in a war.
  • That Man Is Dead: When discussing Ahsoka Tano's survival with Palpatine, Darth Vader specifically refers to her as "Anakin Skywalker's apprentice".
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Ezra has this reaction when Minister Tua arrives at the hanger with company:
    Ezra: But she's got company.
    Hera: What kind of company?
    Ezra: [looking through macro-binoculars] Oh fantastic, Agent Kallus.
  • Tractor Beam: Vader orders Konstantine to snag the Ghost with one of these after he realizes Ahsoka is onboard, but Hera manages to outmaneuver him and get him caught in the beam instead.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: Played with. The Rebels don't trust Minister Tua, believing it to be a trap, but accept the risk anyways if it really meant getting more allies and helping their cause. Turns out the trap they ran into wasn't the obvious one; it was a trap, but was set for her, not by her, in an effort to ensnare both parties.
  • Trick-and-Follow Ploy: Vader lets the rebels steal a shuttle so that he can follow it to the fleet.
  • The Un-Reveal: Minister Tua says that the Emperor personally requested a Lothal base, and that there's something about the planet he wants. She's killed before she can reveal what it is. We do find out eventually in the next season, but it's implied that that reason is actually a cover story. The real reason is not revealed until Season 4.
  • The Voice: Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine is heard, but the camera angle used in the scene deliberately prevents the audience from seeing his hologram at all. Not even his iconic shadowy hood is shown.
  • War Is Hell: Having survived the Clone Wars, Kanan does not want to get in another war, and gives this as a reason.
  • We Help the Helpless: Ezra almost quotes the trope word for word when asked why they should help Minister Tua.
  • Wham Episode: Maketh Tua is killed, Ezra's home and Tarkintown are destroyed, Lothal is effectively doomed to be an Imperial stronghold, Phoenix Squadron is in shambles, Ahsoka discovers that Darth Vader is really Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader knows that Ahsoka is alive, the Emperor plans on using her to find and kill other surviving Jedi, and two new Inquisitors are sent after the Ghost crew.
  • Wham Line: Darth Vader's realization about Ahsoka's presence.
    Darth Vader: The apprentice lives.
  • Wham Shot: Vader strolling in during the Rebels’ attempted escape with an ignited lightsaber and a squadron of Stormtroopers.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Lothal is seen as a lost cause for the time being, and the Ghost crew vow to focus their efforts elsewhere. Ezra's hideout is destroyed to cement this.


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