“Brothers of the Broken Horn” was last week’s episode of Rebels, so this review should be out just hours before the newest episode, “Wings of the Master”, airs and is made available for streaming.
The episode begins with Ezra training under Rex, using a Clone Wars-era rifle for target practice. Cue the arrival of Kanan, who is irritated that Ezra is missing Jedi training, leading to Ezra’s off-hand comment that perhaps he shouldn’t be a soldier or a Jedi and sets up Ezra’s conflict for the episode.
With the rest of the crew off on a mission, Ezra and Chopper are left behind to perform maintenance on the Ghost. While complaining about how life was simpler on his own, Ezra receives a distress call from criminal Vizago, a recurring Season 1 character to whom Ezra owes a debt. Deciding to ditch his responsibilities for the moment, Ezra takes off in the Phantom with Chopper in tow.
Vizago is nowhere to be found, but his ship, the Broken Horn, is now apparently under the captainship of Clone Wars fan-favorite pirate Honda Ohnaka. Poor Hondo has gone through tough times since the Clone Wars – he has no crew, just one ship he won in a card game, and is apparently broke. The Empire has been hard on business.
Enter a game of scheming not seen since Lando Calrissian’s Season 1 appearance in “Idiot’s Array” as Ezra and Chopper scheme both with and against Hondo, face-off with Season 1 villain Azmorigan (also from “Idiot’s Array”), and spring Vizago from his own brig, turning the climax into a three-way match which ultimately ends with no one completely happy with the conclusion. (Best line goes to Vizago – “I hate children.”)
Ultimately, Ezra tells Kanan that he used to be like Hondo, scheming and out for himself, but he’s on a different path now – the Jedi path.
Ultimately, though, the episode falls flat and leaves a few head-scratchers. Ezra can’t carry an episode by himself the way Kanan can (though I’m very interested to see if Hera can manage it tonight in “Wings of the Master”), which means Hondo steals the spotlight. We never do find out how Hondo managed to both lock Vizago up and how he stole Vizago’s droid controller. Also, why did Hondo leave Vizago alive? During Clone Wars he was clearly capable of and had no compunctions about killing.
Further, Ezra’s conflict isn’t really explored. He begins the episode as “I’m not sure I want to be a Jedi or rebel”, and partway through he questions whether he wants to join Hondo as a pirate, but at the end he tells Kanan, “I’m on a different path.” Those are all great mile markers on a road, but they’re just markers; what’s missing is the road between them. At no point does Ezra express discomfort with what he, Hondo, and Vizago are doing – he never, for example, takes a moral stand. On the contrary, when Vizago demands Ezra spring him from the brig, Ezra tells him that he has other problems to deal with, and only relents when Vizago brings up the favor Ezra owes him. Overall, the arc in the episode is too much tell, not enough show.
It doesn’t mean there aren’t some great moments in the episode, particularly involving Hondo. “One of my best friends was a Jedi! At least, I think we were friends.” And, as expected, Chopper is the one who schemed furthest, ensuring the Rebels ultimately acquired the cargo they needed – again, not unlike “Idiot’s Array” when Chopper played a long-con game to steal Lando Calrissian’s fuel. (Though in “Idiot’s Array”, Lando was ultimately the long-term winner.) Hondo explaining to the Rebels crew at the end how he and Ezra worked together against Vizago is laugh-out-loud worthy; the Weequay can lie like a politician.
In totality, though, the episode comes off mediocre. It’s certainly not terrible, but as a character-centric episode for Ezra it’s no match for Season 1’s “Empire Day” and “Gathering Forces” two-parter.