This is it. The third season of Star Wars Rebels comes right down to the wire in the two-part season finale titled “Zero Hour.” In the episode, the Phoenix Squadron Rebels tried to head back to Lothal to wrestle the planet away from the Empire. Grand Admiral Thrawn and his goons stand in their way, while the fate of Agent Kallus hangs in the balance. After all, Thrawn knows he’s Fulcrum, the spy providing the Rebels with help.
In the previous episode of Rebels, “Twin Suns,” we finally got that dramatic confrontation between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul we were waiting for. It brought an end to Darth Maul’s life. In “Zero Hour,” we go back to the main story line, as the Rebel Alliance continues to grow and is looking for a key victory over the Empire.
Ultimately, Phoenix Squadron didn’t make it to Lothal, but “Zero Hour” was still excellent. The episode played like a mini-Star Wars movie, combining all aspects of the best battles in the films in one, jam-packed hour. It showed the best of what this show can be when it’s focused.
Here’s a look at the action in “Zero Hour.”
Part I – The Battle Begins
The episode kicks off with Thrawn arriving on Lothal, with some Death Troopers borrowed from Director Krennic by his side. Kallus is watching, using a Mouse Droid on the hanger floor to monitor Thrawn’s meeting with Governor Pryce. Thrawn is having a meeting with Grand Moff Tarkin via hologram, updating him on Phoenix Squadron’s plan to launch a major military offensive to free the planet. Kallus has heard all of this, and Thrawn is likely letting him.
After the title, Thrawn continues the meeting. He tells Tarkin that he thinks the Rebels will attack the TIE Defender facility. He also tells Tarkin that the Rebels are gathering multiple cells together to attack. Pryce thinks that’s unprecedented, but Thrawn is sure that it’ll happen. This will give them a chance to wipe out Rebel leadership, although Tarkin wants Thrawn to capture the Rebel leaders. “If we are to crush these Rebels, we have to make examples of their leaders,” Tarkin says. “As you wish, Governor Tarkin,” Thrawn replies.
On Atollon, Ezra tells Kanan that he’s surprised that Hera has brought together so many people to help Lothal. Kanan reminds Ezra that he’s done a lot of work, too. “Hera always saw something special in you, and so did I,” Kanan tells him. Ezra has come so far since season one and Kanan tells Ezra that he thinks he might not even have anything left to teach him. But Ezra tells Kanan that it’s not true, since there’s so much about life – beyond just being a Jedi – that Kanan can teach him.
Hera interrupts them, and reminds them that General Dodonna is bringing the Yavin fleet to help out. (Dodonna was seen in Rogue One and A New Hope.)
Back on Lothal, Kallus finds Ezra’s old home. He’s trying to send a message as Fulcrum, but then Thrawn arrives. The two have a fist-fight. “You have the heart of a rebel,” Thrawn tells Kallus. “I’ll take it as a compliment,” Kallus says. Kallus did get his warning out, but Thrawn uses its trajectory to figure out where the Rebels are.
That trajectory intersects at a point where there is no planet, but Thrawn has surely figured out that his map has been tampered with. Thrawn has studied ancient art from this sector, realizing that there was a planet shown there that wasn’t on the maps – Atollon.
Meanwhile on Atollon, they receive a small portion of Kallus’ message. “Thrawn knows” is all it said. But they have noticed that the Empire has left the Lothal system. Hera and the Rebel leadership connect the dots. “There’s a good bet the Empire knows we’re here,” as Han would say. Hera sends everyone to battle stations, just as the Imperial Star Destroyers arrive at Atollon! They start jamming long-range transmissions, so the Rebels lose contact with Lothal. Then, Hera orders immediate evacuation. Dodonna then leads his fleet to Hyperspace.
As one of the Rebel freighters try to leave, an Interdictor-class Star Destroyer pulls it out of Hyperspace! It looks like the Rebels are really done for now, as the cruiser is then destroyed. Thrawn then arrives and tells Hera that there’s no escape. She tells him that they won’t surrender. But he reminds her that he’s not giving them a chance to surrender. He wants the Rebellion to end today in an utter defeat.
After Thrawn ends the call, Hera devises a plan. Since the Empire still thinks that this is the entirety of the Rebel fleet, they aren’t aware of the other cells. If one ship can sneak through the blockade to get a message out, the Rebels could then out-flank the Empire.
Hera wants Ezra and Kanan to man Maul’s ship to get out, along with Chopper. Kanan can’t leave though, because he needs to warn the Bendu. So now it’s up to Ezra and Chopper alone. Meanwhile, Hera, Zeb and Rex join the fight in the Ghost.
Thrawn begins “playing” with Commander Sato. He tells the Interdictor cruiser to stay back and keep an eye out for an unconventional move from the Rebels. Then, the Ghost begins distracting the TIE Fighters to help clear a path for Ezra.
Meanwhile, on Atollon, Kanan finds Bendu, who doesn’t look happy that war has reached Atollon. “I will have no part of it,” he tells Kanan.
Some Things Are Worth Fighting For
After the break, Kanan tries to convince Bendu to help. “No, I am the one in the middle,” he says. He refuses to take part. Kanan suggests that, perhaps, he was meant to find Bendu. Kanan tells him that he used think that the galaxy would go on without him, until he saw innocents die and knew he had the power to help. “Some things are worth fighting for!”
Back above the planet, the Rebel forces are being stretched to their limit. There’s no enough fighters to protect the capital ships. Thrawn orders the Imperial ships to make escape impossible. Sato then orders everyone on his ship to evacuate, as he tells Ezra that he’s making room for him. It’s clear Sato plans on sacrificing himself to make sure Ezra can escape.
The Interdictor moves to destroy Sato, despite Thrawn’s orders. Constantine would rather have the glory of destroying a Rebel ship than paying attention. Sato then orders his ship to crash right into the Interdictor, giving Ezra a window to leave! Thrawn then orders his ships to go all-in, forcing the Rebels to return to the Atollon surface.
Kanan is still begging Bendu for help. He calls the ancient creature a coward for not helping. Bendu grows annoyed, causing a storm and then disappearing. “I serve the will of the Force,” Bendu says as he leaves.
In Hyperspace, Ezra tells Mon Mothma that they need help. She won’t send anyone because they don’t want to expose the true strength of the Rebellion. Ezra accepts this. Once the message is over, he tells Chopper that he’s sure there’s someone who can help – Sabine.
Part II – Help Arrives
Part 2 starts on Atollon, as Hera hopes to use the shield generator Sabine picked up earlier in the season. The shield actually works. Meanwhile, Kanan is rushing back to the base. They need to prepare for Thrawn’s planetary bombardment.
After the title, Thrawn orders the attack to begin, firing a barrage of bolts onto the surface and testing the strength of the shield generator. One blast hits Kanan’s speeder. Ominous music plays, at it looks like the shield will give way. But it was strong enough, and Thrawn stopped firing. Hera checks with Kanan to see if he’s still alive. Thankfully he is, and Hera really wants her “love” to come back.
Ezra finally arrives at Krownest, where Sabine is surprised to see him. He tells her that she’s their only hope. Unfortunately, the Mandalorian Civil War is raging, as Clan Saxon still wants to control Mandalore. Sabine’s mother does not want to help, but she agrees to listen to Ezra’s plea.
At Atollon, Thrawn decides to start a ground assault. Kallus warns him about the Rebels, but he laughs them off. Meanwhile, Hera gets her people to respond to the Imperials on the ground.
At Krownest, Rau thinks the Rebels should just count their losses and try to escape. Sabine’s brother Tristan says they just don’t have the resources to spare. Since “no” is clearly the answer, Ezra decides to leave alone. But then Sabine offers to go with him. Tristan tells Sabine that the mission is impossible. Sabine tells Tristan that she’s seen her friends make the “impossible possible.” Sabine’s mother then agrees to let Sabine take a few troops and ships to help.
Sabine asks Chopper to bring up a hologram of the Interdictor. “Maybe we don’t need an army,” she says.
Mandalorians Swoop In
On Atollon, Rex and Zeb keep an eye on the Imperial walkers, who are moving through a field of explosives. They easily wipe out the nimble AT-DPs, which Thrawn used just to reveal where the Rebels’ defense positions are. He then launches four AT-ATs, which easily move through the explosives and a shield. The A-Wings sweep down to help, but TIEs make it harder for them.
Kanan finally arrives, swinging his lightsaber to destroy one walker. But Zeb, Rex and Kanan are then corned in a dark cave. Thrawn arrives with a squad of Death Troopers and tells the troopers to try to capture Rebel officers, if possible.
Hera and Dodonna are standing at a high position, where they are shooting down at the Imperial troops. Hera tells Dodonna to get available ships off the ground, despite the blockade.
At that point, the Mandalorians arrive! It’s not long before the Imperials realize who they are. They call Hera, and tell them that their plan is to take out the Interictor. Just as that happens though, the shield is destroyed. Then, we see a Walker destroy a Rebel Transport. Thrawn arrives at the base and tells Hera that she will surrender or watch all of her friends be killed, one by one. (Is this still a show for kids?)
You Cannot See, But I Can
With the group cornered, Hera tells Thrawn that she won’t surrender. Meanwhile, the storm on Atollon is clearly getting stronger. Maybe Bendu decided to help after all. “What Jedi devilry is this?” Bendu starts throwing lightening bolts, knocking out the Walkers.
In space, Sabine tells Ezra to focus on the Interdictor. The Mandalorians jump onto the hull of the Imperial ship, as they try to take it out.
Meanwhile, Bendu orders everyone to leave Atollon. While the Rebels rush to leave, the Imperials are staring at the sky. It gives the group enough time to jump into the Ghost, but the escape is not easy. Bendu yells Kanan’s name, then shocks the Ghost. Strangely, Thrawn keeps ordering his troops to fire at the center of the storm. It looks like a hole is clearing, with debris falling from the sky. Thrawn smiles.
Ezra and the Mandalorianns plan on knocking out each of the Interdictor‘s gravity wells. They achieve this and manage to get back onto their ship. Pryce is frustrated, as they now have to keep the Rebels from escaping without their fancy toy. She also orders two troops to throw Kallus out an air lock.
Now, Hera and a few Rebel ships are able to escape, as they dance through the Imperial blockade. Meanwhile, Kallus gets in a pod and tries to escape. He sends the Ghost his coordinates and they manage to pick him up! Pryce can only watch as the Rebels manage to escape once again.
On Atollon, Thrawn finds the wounded Bendu.
“What manner of creature are you?” Thrawn asks.
“One beyond your power to destroy,” Bendu replies.
“It would not seem so,” Thrawn says, pointing a blaster at Bendu’s head.
“You cannot see, but I can,” Bendu says. Bendu tells him that he can see Thrawn’s defeat. Thrawn shoots at him, but the body disappears.
Into The Future
On the Ghost, Sabine tells Hera that she has to go back to Mandalore. Hera says they can’t help because they have to go back to Rebel Command. Kanan and Kallus thank each other for the risks they took to help one another. Kanan heads out to meet Ezra, who looks defeated.
“There’s a future for us. One where we’re all free,” Kanan says. “But it’s up to us to make it happen.”
The remaining fleet heads into Hyperspace, and that’s the end of the third season of Rebels. The show will be back in Fall 2017. After an excellent finale, that will be a long wait. “Zero Hour” could have ended with a Rebel victory, but it didn’t. Our heroes can’t win all the time, especially when the opening crawl to A New Hope tells us that getting the Death Star plans was the Rebellion’s first great success. Sure, the Rebels still haven’t liberated Lothal, but they need something to do in season four. Also, surprisingly no major characters died! Grand Admiral Thrawn gets to fight the Rebels once again.
In the latest episode of Star Wars Rebels, Obi-Wan Kenobi finally has a showdown with Darth Maul. Find out how it ends in our recap of ‘Twin Suns.’