The past few episodes of Star Wars Rebels have been a bit disappointing, as if the show has been aimless and dragging its heels on more important stories, like the location of Darth Maul. On the surface, “An Inside Man,” the 10th episode of season three, feels like another filler. After all, we go back to Lothal, Rebels‘ own Tatooine, frequently each season and there doesn’t seem to be much more the Rebels can do there now that it’s under Imperial control.
However, as the episode unfolded, we learned a little bit more about Grand Admiral Thrawn‘s plans and who Fulcrum is. There was also an epic Easter egg for fans of the classic X-Wing/TIE Fighter video game franchise.
Here’s a look at the action in “An Inside Man.”
Back on Lothal… Again
The episode begins on Lothal, which has been completely taken over by the Empire. Ezra, Kanan and Chopper are waiting for Ryder Azadi, a friend of Ezra’s deceased parents. (We haven’t seen him since “A Princess on Lothal” in season two.) He shows up late, with a couple of Speeder bikes on his tail. Ezra and Kanan jump on, and Ryder does some fancy flying to get out of the city.
Still, they have two Scout Troopers on bikes behind them. Ryder tells Ezra and Kanan that they don’t actually have to outrun them, they just have to get them to go 190 (miles per hour?). When they reach that speed, the bikes overheat and explode. Ryder explains that the Lothal rebels have men inside the Imperial factory who sabotage speeder bikes and walkers.
The plan to plant people inside the factor came from Morad Sumar, a longtime friend of Ezra’s parents who was rescued in “Fighter Flight” back in season one. After catching up, Ezra reveals the master plan. Phoenix Squadron is trying to get help from another rebel cell before planning an attack on the Lothal Imperial factory. Ezra and Kanan were sent to Lothal to get intelligence on a new weapon the Empire is building. Sumar agrees to help them get inside the factory, since Sumar is already working there.
Once in the factory, the workers are all lined up. Kallus and Pryce are both there to inform the workers that there is a special visit coming from Imperial High Command. That special visitor is Thrawn himself, who has noticed that the vehicles built on Lothal have a curiously high malfunction rate. He suspects “poor craftsmanship” and forces Sumar to test a speeder bike in front of them.
Sumar tests the bike, but stops just before it reaches top speed. Thrawn insists that he keep pushing the bike. Thrawn uses a controller to push the bike to top speed and it explodes, killing Sumar. We see brief closeups, including one of Kallus looking shocked. Keep that image in the back of your head.
Thrawn tells the workers that they will all now personally test their work. He then puts the entire factory on lockdown.
They Really Should Have Let Thrawn Look at the Death Star Plans
Ezra and Kanan have no time to stand in line, so they have Chopper distract the officer and Stormtroopers left behind after Thrawn, Kallus and Pryce leave. The other problem is that Kanan and Ezra have fake IDs which the troopers won’t fall for. So, Chopper fires up a bike and crashes it into another crate in the hangar.
Kanan and Ezra decide that they can’t run around in workers’ jumpsuits, so they knock out a Scout Trooper and Stormtrooper to steal their armor before trying to find Section A-2. (What would a Rebels episode be without our heroes getting into an Imperial trooper’s outfit? Also, do the jumpsuits under Imperial Scout Trooper armor automatically adjust to a person’s size like the jacket in Back to the Future: Part II? Why do they all seem to fit Ezra perfectly? OK, back on track now…)
In another hangar, Thrawn says he’s ordered troopers to shoot anyone on sight who goes into A-2 without his personal clearance. He also criticizes Pryce and Kallus for hiring locals to work in the factory. They insist that they needed to hit quotas. Kallus says that he could interrogate the workers, but he doesn’t know what the project is. Pryce and Thrawn are keeping him out of the loop. All Pryce will tell him is that it’s a new fighter. Kallus doesn’t think one fighter will really change the war though.
“Agent, victory and defeat are often determined by the smallest detail,” Thrawn says. That confirms that Thrawn never worked on the Death Star plans. He probably would have caught the unprotected exhaust port.
Thrawn demonstrates his point by having Kallus move an AT-DP move forward. It then crashes into the floor and troopers take the worker who built it away.
Meanwhile, Pryce tells Hera that he can’t communicate with Ezra and Kanan. He tells her that Thrawn is the new commander there and reveals his plans to attack the Imperial compound to distract the Imperials from Ezra and Kanan’s attempts to escape.
How’s That Snooping Around Going?
Inside the factory, Ezra, Kanan and Chopper are snooping around and see that even droids need a security tape. (Yes, they still use cassettes in the Star Wars universe.) They grab one from an R4 unit and let Chopper go into the A-2 computer room by himself to get the data they need.
In Thrawn’s office, Kallus and a lieutenant find Thrawn looking at Lothal art. He’s staring at the Phoenix Squadron logo and explains what it means. Thrawn knows that Phoenix Squadron has a special attachment to Lothal and will always return when they can. The lieutenant tells Thrawn that they’ve lost track of two workers and Thrawn figures out that they must be the Rebels. Thrawn doesn’t want an alert, since he figures they are already in new disguises. (They are.) Kallus asks Thrawn if he thinks they are more than just saboteurs. Thrawn thinks they are after the info in A-2. (They are.)
Back in A-2, a group of troopers start questioning our heroes. As Chopper finally goes out, Kanan tries to talk themselves out of trouble, but the troopers aren’t completely stupid and decide to follow Kanan and Ezra. To avoid an officer, they start running and the troopers begin following. They find a lift, but inside is Kallus, who orders them to get inside. “Don’t move, Rebels,” Kallus says.
After a quick fistfight in the lift, Kallus tells Ezra and Kanan that he’s Fulcrum! (Just for a reminder, Fulcrum is the codename for deep undercover Rebel spies.) They don’t want to believe that, but then Kallus gives them the code phrase – “By the light of Lothal’s moons.” Kallus then lists all that he’s done for the Phoenix rebels – he helped Zeb escape from an ice moon and saved Sabine in “The Antilles Extraction.” Kallus begs them to trust him, but only Chopper is ready to do so. “Yeah, that’s not a good thing,” Ezra says.
Kanan and Ezra don’t really have a choice, so they tell Kallus that they need help sending a signal to their friends. Kallus leads them to a communication room, where they cause as much damage as possible to make it look like they didn’t get any help. The scene ends in a fun moment with Ezra Force-pushing Keller through a screen to make it look convincing.
“Ezra!” Kanan yells.
“What? That is convincing!”
“Yeah, but I was going to do it!”
Meanwhile, Thrawn has figured out that a droid has accessed the computer, so he assumes the Rebels have his plans. (They do.) He also figures out that the Rebels have an ally inside the Empire because they are trying to escape in an unexpected method. Kanan and Ezra hop into an AT-DP as Ryder and his rebels begin their attack.
Thrawn commands two AT-ATs to fire on their AT-DP. Ezra can’t find cover, so he hides behind one of the AT-ATs, making the other fire straight at it. Ryder sees this unusual sight and figures that Ezra and Kanan have to be inside the AT-DP. Unfortunately, the AT-AT they were using for cover starts going down, crushing their tiny walker! They use their lightsabers to escape in the nick of time and jump into the body of the AT-AT. Ryder can only watch as Ezra and Kanan bring down the AT-AT. After a brief pause to break the sad news of Sumar to Ryder, they speed away before other walkers can catch them.
The Empire’s New Weapon Plans
Back at Chopper base, the data of Thrawn’s new weapon has been decrypted. Hera is stunned because it shows a TIE Fighter design they’ve never seen before. Of course, anyone who played the TIE Fighter PC game knows exactly what it is – the deadly TIE Defender, a ship that looks like a TIE Interceptor, but with three triangular wings instead of two. Plus, these TIEs have shields, unlike any other TIE, making them even more dangerous.
When explaining how they got their hands on this intel, Kanan tells Hera that Kallus is Fulcrum, which shocks everyone. “I must’ve recruited him… you know, accidentally,” Zeb says. Hera remains cautions.
Back on Lothal, Thrawn tells Pryce and Kallus that there must be a mole inside the Empire. Pryce insists that the traitor must be found right away. But Thrawn tells her to be patient. “We must wait and watch. And when we find our spy – and we will find them – we shall turn them from an obstacle to an asset,” Thrawn says. “Wouldn’t you agree, Agent Kallus?”
“Your strategy is without flaw, Grand Admiral… as always,” Kallus says to end the episode.
What’s Next for the Ghost Crew
“An Inside Man” appeared to get Rebels back on track, presenting Phoenix Squadron with another challenge to face. But Thrawn’s “wait and see” approach gets more frustrating each week. Why doesn’t he just want to wipe the Rebels out right away? It looks like he wants to take out the entire Rebellion with one giant swoop, but at this stage, the Rebel Alliance is just coming together. As we heard earlier in the episode, Phoenix Squadron still has to work hard to convince other rebels to work with them. Why doesn’t Thrawn want to wipe out Phoenix Squadron now, before they have more friends? Possibly, he wants to catch a bigger fisher.
While this episode finally returned us to the overall story of the challenges facing the Rebels, it looks like the December 10 episode will finally resume the Force stories. In “Visions and Voices,” we’ll finally meet with Darth Maul for the first time since “The Holocrons of Fate.” “Haunted by visions of Maul, Ezra must journey across the galaxy to engage in a strange ritual to sever his connection with Maul,” reads the episode descriptions.
For recaps of previous Rebels episodes, click below.