The third season of Star Wars Rebels finally came to an end with the double episode “Zero Hour.” The first part was written by Steven Melching and the second part by Matt Michnovetz and Henry Gilroy.
Everything happening with Thrawn this season lead to this moment. He learned the rebels strategies, he took his time to understand them. We saw him as someone who is a very good strategist and his plan was finally unleashed during the season finale – he found the Rebel base of Atollon and launched his assault.
The beginning of the episode featured Tarkin once again, I always love seeing him on the show and Stephen Stanton always does an amazing work voicing him! Thrawn showed once again in that scene that he had everything under control – he trapped Kallus and was able to get the location of the rebel base and send his fleet. The fight Kallus and Thrawn was short but nice, badass Thrawn is good!
General Dodonna and his fleet (called the Massassi group, Massassi being the old species from Yavin. So his fleet was the Yavin fleet. It was the fleet he was in charge of and as we learned at this time of the Rebellion, it was one of the biggest fleet they had) went to Atollon and got trapped with Phoenix squadron in this battle against Thrawn. His fleet contained Medical frigates, Dorneans frigates, blockade runners, Hammerhead corvettes and transports. The Atollon battle was surely awesome! It started with a space battle then it went on the ground and finished in space. It was highly explosive and may I say epic! Thrawn brought Imperial cruisers and two Interdictor cruisers, first seen in season 2 with the episode “Stealth Strike.” These cruisers avoid ships from going into hyperspace. So, the rebels were trapped like mouses on Atollon. The rebel fleet was slaughtered quite fast despite having Y-Wings and A-Wings to defend them, it wasn’t enough. They were just outnumbered. All the medical frigates were lost during the first part of the battle forcing Dodonna to evacuate his ship and get to the escape pods. It’s in the first part of the battle that the death of two characters happened. Commander Sato sacrificed himself to allow Ezra to open a window to jump into hyperspace to call for reinforcements. Sato’s sacrifice destroyed one of the Interdictors and took the life of Admiral Konstantine with it. In his final moments, Konstantine showed once again how incompetent he was, disobeying Thrawn’s orders and leading to his own death.
The second part of the battle took place on the ground with the rebels fighting the imperial forces – AT-DP, AT-AT, stormtroopers and even Death Troopers. Thrawn was escorted by Death Troopers on the ground. Thus far, we thought these troopers were only for Krennic but it seems they are also working for other high officers. I liked seeing them again, they were my favorite troopers from Rogue One but I would have liked to see the Death Trooper with specialists gear not just the normal ones. This time, they were not as efficient, they had to fight the Bendu. Kanan was able to bring the Bendu into the fight after a long talk but it seemed he didn’t target only the Empire, he also attacked with lightning the rebel ships though, it was the Empire that suffered the most from it. The Bendu was way more powerful than we thought, he brought storm on the planet. However, why he is on Atollon, why he helped Kanan and Ezra this season remains a big mystery. This episode didn’t enlighten anything about the Bendu except showing what he was capable of. He reminds me of Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen, he is that being who is beyond our comprehension and we are beyond his as well. There is an interesting thing he said to Thrawn before disappearing. He foresaw Thrawn’s fall and what he said makes me think Thrawn may not die from a rebel shot but more like a force choke by Darth Vader. This is just speculation but it is the way I understood it.
The third part of the battle featured the Mandalorians and Sabine who came to the rescue after Ezra called for help. Fenn Rau was part of the team with his starfighter. The Mandalorians got some in space combat to destroy the last Interdictor. Ezra wore a space suit which was very much like the one Anakin had in The Lost Missions (season 6) from The Clone Wars. That last part was very good and concluded the battle with a big defeat for the rebels despite being able to escape with a few ships. Kallus was also able to escape and was picked up by the Ghost.
During the battle, each character had their moment of fighting including Rex, he was actually there a lot in this episode and that I couldn’t have been more happy about it!
Mon Mothma was in this episode as well. We only saw her in hologram. Ezra contacted her for reinforcements, which she couldn’t provide. She mentioned Bail and said he was right that they weren’t ready for open warfare against the Empire. I think with season 4, there will be a step back in what the rebels do after this huge defeat. They have lost Dodonna’s fleet which was quite big and they are far from ready, they still have more things to accomplish before reaching how the Rebellion is during Rogue One.
The animation team once again used Hasbro toys for the series. We saw blue and red Y-Wings, which is something Hasbro had made in 2004 in their Original Trilogy line. I own this version of the Y-Wing so I was really happy that it finally made to the screen. We were introduced to green Y-Wings as well.
With what is said at the end of the episode, we will definitely see the rebel headquarters on Yavin in season 4, which is something I look forward to see. And Grand Admiral Thrawn is still alive so he will likely be there again and I can’t wait to see more of him, I loved the character this season, a great villain!
8.8/10 Overall, this season finale wasn’t as emotional as the season 1 and 2 finales but it’s understandable. Season 1 ended with the return of Ahsoka and Darth Vader. Season 2 ended with a huge episode that included a Ahsoka vs Darth Vader duel. It was obviously going to be difficult to top that. But this season 3 finale was amazing nevertheless, the battle was intense and epic, I loved it! It was a good conclusion to the season and I am looking forward to see what comes next now!
A sneak peek of season 4 will be shown at Star Wars Celebration Orlando on April 15, there will be a live stream of this panel so people who don’t attend the event will still be able to see this first look at the next season, you can look for the details here.