Star Wars Rebels recap: Season 3, Episode 17, “Through Imperial Eyes,” Aired Feb. 25, 2017
The Empire knows there’s a traitor in their midst, and they’re on the hunt for the Rebel spy. Unfortunately for Fulcrum, the ruthless and calculating Grand Admiral Thrawn is heading the search in this tense and nerve-wracking episode of Star Wars Rebels.
Saving Agent Kallus
True to the title, the first few seconds of the episode are seen through the eyes of the Imperial agent turned Rebel spy, Kallus (a.k.a. Fulcrum). He wakes up to the sound of the Imperial alert siren, signalling the presence of a stolen shuttle flying out from Lothal. In that first scene, we see that Imperials wake up and wash their faces just like other people do. It oddly humanizes the Imperials, as do some other aspects of the episode, which we’ll get to later.
Aboard the shuttle is none other than Ezra, who’s come to warn Kallus that his cover might be blown and that Kanan and Rex are on their way to retrieve them. Considering the cavalier way Vader killed Imperial officers who disappointed him or the cruel torture methods used on captured Rebels, you can only imagine what the Empire would do to a traitor. And while the Rebels might not be entirely certain of Kallus’ allegiance, they (like the audience) have warmed to him and his glorious mutton chops.
Thrawn Continues to Terrify
Shortly after Ezra’s arrival, Thrawn calls in his ranking officers to alert them of the presence of a Rebel spy. He tells Kallus, Lyste, and Yularen to keep their eyes open and report their findings – he also tells them they’re not above suspicion. Over the course of the episode, Kallus tactfully orchestrates events so that it seems like Lyste is the double agent, which eventually leads to Lyste being identified as the traitor – at least, initially.
After Lyste is taken in, Thrawn cleverly (and chillingly) deduces that Kallus is the actual spy. He recognizes the artwork on Ezra’s helmet as being that of Sabine’s, since he creepily collects Rebel items and has some of Sabine’s work displayed in his office, along with Hera’s family heirloom. He definitely practices what he preaches, as he had said in an earlier episode, “To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art.”
The episode ends with the promise of some major headaches and probably heartaches for the Rebels, as Thrawn says, “I believe Agent Fulcrum will prove far more useful to the empire than Kallus ever was.”
The Softer Side of the Empire?
Within the films, members of the Empire are often depicted as being very arch villains or silly, incompetent officers or stormtroopers. Like in any fascist government, some Imperials believed that what they were doing was for the greater good, which is how they rationalized some of the heinous acts the Empire committed. Lost Stars, one of the more recent Star Wars novels, explores this phenomenon thoroughly. If you haven’t read it, give it a try – you won’t be disappointed!
This brings us to the character of Yularen. In The Clone Wars, he seemed like a genuinely good guy, not like Tarkin who always came off as being shady. If you don’t remember Yularen, he served under Anakin; he also appears briefly in A New Hope as an unnamed background character. Apart from the change in uniform, he doesn’t seem that different than he was in during the Clone Wars.
Additionally, Lyste, who, yes, is no saint, is portrayed slightly sympathetically. When Kallus framed the eager-to-prove-himself Lieutenant and Lyste was being dragged off to his unenviable fate, I felt a pang of sympathy for him – short-lived as it was. He probably, like many others, fell victim to the Empire’s propaganda and indoctrination. At the beginning of A New Hope, even Luke wants to join the Imperial Academy. Of course, he hates the Empire, but if he did attend the Academy, his fate and that of the galaxy’s might have been very different.
We know the Empire is evil, but not every person who serves and supports the Empire is necessarily evil. They might have just been taken in by the Empire’s rhetoric. Does that excuse any of the Imperials’ actions? That’s a big, resounding “NO,” but it is an interesting point-of-view that we haven’t yet seen in any of the Star Wars films or animated series. Perhaps that was the intention of the episode, and given the episode’s title, it seems very likely.
- Thrawn is voiced by Lars Mikkelsen, brother of Mads Mikkelsen, who played Galen Erso in Rogue One
- Fans of the popular Star Wars Legends novels, The Thrawn Trilogy, might have noticed that Thrawn’s override code “Rukh” is also the name of his personal bodyguard in the novels
- The return of Chopper’s Imperial droid disguise
- The more AP-5, the better – he gives me serious Alan Rickman as Marvin, the Paranoid Android, feels
- Why did Ezra wear one of his Sabine graffitied helmets when he knew he was going to board an Imperial Star Destroyer???