Imperial Super Commandos was one of the episodes that picked up on an early plot in order to give it some closure. Revisiting the setting of the Concord Dawn, whose Protectors had been grudgingly convinced to support the Rebellion, we got to see more about the Mandalorians and what sides are they taking in the current Galactic struggle.
Mandalorians were in the center of things in this episode, and if Ezra (and Chopper) hadn’t been present on the mission, we could just as well have forgotten about the whole Rebellion. Of course, the ultimate nature of their mission was about the Rebellion. After keeping the Protectors’ leader, Fenn Rau, as prisoner since last season’s events, the Rebels suddenly need him to accompany Sabine, Ezra and Chop. The reason is simple: the Rebels have lost contact with the Concord Dawn base. Everyone is expecting a trap, and that is further emphasised when Fenn Rau manages to give his guards a slip. (How gullible and unreliable is Ezra, anyway?) Things, however, turn out to be even more complicated, and Fenn ends up re-joining the Rebels against a common enemy. As it turns out, the Mandalorians of the Concord Dawn have been attacked by a different clan aligned with the Empire, and Fenn is out for revenge.
Fenn Rau himself is a bit like a yo-yo in this episode; he deserts the Rebels multiple times only to come back and aid them again. He has very good reasons for this, of course, and I think this episode portrays his wavering nicely. He is a man who has to find his new loyalties, although his short-term focus is only revenge. Being the honourable warrior he is, however, one cannot expect him to not consider the big picture.
The antagonist in this episode and in some way a mirror opposite to Fenn (but also to Sabine) is Gar Saxon, the current Imperial Viceroy of Mandalore. His presence shows the alternative approach the Mandalorians might have to the Empire: that of pure opportunism. Saxon is different from what Fenn used to be like before he had been forced to work with the Rebels. In The Protector of Concord Dawn, his Mandalorians worked with the Empire for money. But as Fenn explains in this episode, the Mandalorians don’t really care for galactic politics: they have been here before the Empire and the Rebellion and will be here long after, they had endured worse throughout their history. Working for either side temporarily, even for money, isn’t anything against their code of honour. Making a personal career on joining the Empire and turning against their brothers on the Empire’s bidding, like Saxon did, is however the mark of a traitor.
This episode has been long-expected simply because the Concord Dawn plot needed a closure. Rebels obviously have to slowly start coming up with finishing the still “open” plots. That’s not to say this episode didn’t open a whole new lot of questions. I would be surprised if Gar Saxon didn’t come back. The mention of Sabine’s mother, even though completely arbitrary, is also something that cannot be ignored, especially given that Ezra was there to hear it. With Fenn to remind her about her roots, it is becoming clear Sabine will have to confront her past at some point. And the problem of Mandalorians and their allegiance in the coming civil war is a matter that could very well have its own spinoff story. But all in due time, I guess.
Imperial Super Commandos did certainly serve a whole different load of treats to the table. Aside from the jetpack-chase scene, which at times strained my already broad definition of realism, I found it generally positive. It suffers a bit from the issue Rebels have had since season 2, that is, the flavour and threads pointing to the wide Galaxy somehow outweigh the overall plot. I, personally, don’t mind that, and I am happy that the whole Star Wars universe is shown in its vastness. I am happy that we have more new minor characters/antagonists and revisiting minor characters (like Fenn Rau). In such a small space, it unfortunately means spreading the time and resources thin and the more characters and subplots there are, the less space everyone gets. However, I don’t mind even that. The minor characters in question serve to give more depth to the major characters’ personal stories (in this case, Sabine Wren) and that is definitely a positive thing. One of the good things about Rebels, especially the later seasons, is that it isn’t a one-man show, but all the crew members of the Ghost get their moments to shine. I am therefore very much content with the Imperial Super Commandos, because it did just that.