I’m going to guess I’m not the only person my age who did an unusual thing for them and sat around waiting for a live watching of an episode of a cartoon. I did so in the name of Thrawn.
Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels starts in the middle of action with Steps into Shadow but I won’t be touching on any of that.
You will with little doubt be able to get terrible full episode review write-ups all around the web and can listen to probable great commentary from places like Making Star Wars or Rebel Grrrl, two Star Wars podcasts I highly recommend. Add them both to your Itunes as soon as possible.
My interest is in Thrawn specifically, as while I’d catch a season of Rebels eventually, I’m not somebody who would suffer through commercials and actually look up when the season would debut if it were not for the announced appearance of Thrawn into new Star Wars canon. I don’t think I’ve seen as many commercials the entire year previous as I did just now.
I’m a diehard fan of the Thrawn character, the now non-canon works of Timothy Zahn within Star Wars, and I think a testament to the quality of both is that they have been revered for so long by a certain era of fan, they now catch pockets of, maybe even a rebellion cell, of hate.
I’m someone who is okay with people having differing opinions and can only say I recently read the annotated editions Del Rey released, and still found them to be very worthy reads, and actually containing quality annotations by Zahn. In my experience that isn’t very typical, often you will get really flimsy material in genre annotation projects.
In short, you can tell Zahn did and still does give a shit.
So with that in mind, let’s get this out of the way, the Thrawn aspect in Steps into Shadow was, to be charitable, a practice in minimalism. Yet, everything fits.
I liked the visual appearance and I liked the voice acting. It didn’t scream out of place to me which it easily could have. The White of Grand Admiral uniform, in stark contrast of the garbs of other Imperial officers, the Moff grays, and the sterile Star Destroyers, had the impact I always thought it would.
The Grand Admiral, while a position of incredible stature within the Imperial hierarchy, does share the color of the grunts of the Empire.
I think the episode did well in still showing Tarkin’s authority, Tarkin had to okay Thrawn’s fleet deployment into the theater without diminishing the introduction of Thrawn. Thrawn is in fact introduced by Tarkin from jump as a Grand Admiral, and when Thrawn speaks, in a very unique, even off-putting cadence, no one interrupts him.
His strategy, if not authority, is absolute. He is described as being able to “see the bigger picture” which is a simple figurative statement but perhaps also calls back into his old canon method of examining a culture’s art to understand his enemies.
I mentioned how what little we got fit. Thrawn predicted exactly what the Rebel target would be, set them up to fail with a trap in place, and when he had them he let them go. Two of the qualities of Thrawn in old canon were that he would not waste resources on a lost cause, and he was not afraid to recognize when he didn’t have the advantage and withdraw. In this case, he had a fish on the hook, but the fish wasn’t what he layed out his chum for.
There’s always a bigger fish.
When he made the decision he does so without having to say it twice.
One thing that did immediately hit me as new was hearing “Seventh Fleet”. I’m not sure if I’ve heard of that fleet in modern context in Star Wars. I think this is new, and if it isn’t I’m guessing it has a very brief history.
I do wonder how Thrawn is going to be handled going on in Rebels. I don’t think Filoni would bring him back such a beloved character and not give him a victory, which is, or at least was, in a way a critical part of that character’s aspect. We know what happens in a New Hope so I’m kind of already wondering what major blow Thrawn will strike on the Rebels and of his absence in the original trilogy, considering his skill.
In the books Thrawn was given another task under the guise of a demotion but I doubt we are going to get that in a cartoon. I’m sure Filoni has that figured out, though maybe Ashoka fans would not agree.
That’s all I have. Like I said, minimalism. This episode has a lot of good Force elements to chew on but I’m good with just letting that story play out. For now, I’m very pleased to again live in a world where Grand Admiral Thrawn is once again official.