Star Wars Rebels has spent a long time on the fringe of the Rebel Alliance’s leadership, but Phoenix Squadron finally meets the leader of the fight against the Empire in “Secret Cargo.” Senator Mon Mothma of Chandrilla, who we saw as the ringleader of the Alliance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, finally makes her first appearance in the series.
The episode goes a long way in establishing Rebels as the ultimate bridge between the Prequel Trilogy and the events in Rogue One. Considering that the show was just renewed for a fourth season, “Secret Cargo” was the perfect way to renew our faith in the show after more than a few duds this season.
By the way, Genevieve O’Reilly, who played Mon Mothma in Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One, was brought back to do the voice of the character in Rebels.
Here’s a look at all the action in “Secret Cargo.”
Waiting In Rubble
The episode kicks off with Hera, Zeb, Ezra and Chopper in the Ghost, floating aimlessly in the rubble of a destroyed Separatist cruiser. The four are waiting for another Rebel crew to show up, but they have no idea when they will arrive. They have to provide the other crew with fuel, under Senator Bail Organa’s orders. So, they spend their time watching the HoloNet.
Suddenly, a report from the HoloNet shows Senator Mon Monthma making a speech in the Senate, denouncing the Emperor as a “lying executioner” after a massacre on Ghorman. (This is a reference to a massacre mentioned in the “Legends” video game X-Wing. In the new canon, the massacre was exposed by Senator Tynnra Pamlo, who we saw in Rogue One.) Ezra is stunned that Mothma would make that statement and Zeb praises her for having the guts to do so.
Suddenly, an Imperial Probe Droid, like the one in “Warhead,” shows up. At first, the four try to power everything down so the droid doesn’t notice them.
A Very Sensitive Assignment
After the title, the probe is still floating around the rubble and notices the ship. Suddenly, Hera powers up the ship so Ezra can shoot the probe, but it zooms away too fast. Ezra can’t shoot it down before it sends a message. In a stroke of poor timing, the other Rebel crew arrives, just as Ezra blasts the probe.
It turns out that the squad they are meeting is Gold Squadron. Later, the Ghost is attached to the Rebel cruiser. The Senatorial Attache, Erskin Semaj, tells Hera that they aren’t even supposed to know what the cargo is. Erskin also introduces Captain Jon “Dutch” Vander (who we saw in A New Hope and Rogue One, thanks to some ILM tricks). Hera introduces the rest of her crew.
They get to the business of refueling Gold Squadron’s Y-Wings. Zeb argues with another pilot about Phoenix Squadron’s showy ways of dealing with the Empire and making things harder for everyone else. Vander also chimes in that it was a bad idea for them to let the probe detect them. He reminds them that this is a “sensitive” assignment, but Ezra snaps back, saying that they should have been given more details about it.
Hera agrees that they needed more information. Erskin explains that they have cargo that the Empire desperately wants. This discussion is cut short though, as two Imperial cruisers finally arrive, guns blazing. Unfortunately, Gold Two is knocked out when the Imperials hit the Ghost. Ezra has to take her place in one of the Y-Wings to engage the Empire. Hera vouches for Ezra, insisting that he can do it.
In order for everyone to survive, they have to detach the Ghost and get the cargo on their ship. The transport just lost its shields! The hatch is jammed though, so Hera is going to need some help from the cargo – Mon Mothma herself.
If That’s What It Takes
Mothma has to help Chopper get the Ghost detached from the transport, since apparently her escort doesn’t want to help out. Just as they detach, the Imperials destroy the transport. Meanwhile, the Y-Wings have some heavy resistance too, but are able to shoot down one of the two Imperial cruisers so they can pull off the escape. During the fighting, Ezra was impressed by the Y-Wings’ ion cannons.
After getting away from the scene, Hera formally introduces everyone to Mothma. Erskin then begs Mothma to let them take her back to Chandrilla to make sure she’s in a safe hiding place. But Mothma rejects that idea, telling him that they must go to Dantooine (the planet Princess Leia said a Rebel base was on in A New Hope) for a big meeting with the other rebel cells. She explains to Hera that her challenge to the Emperor in the Senate was really a message to all the other cells that they aren’t alone in this fight. Mothma says she must be at the meeting.
Erskin notes that Mothma’s involvement in the Rebellion had been a secret before today. Clearly, that cat is out of the bag now and Hera assures them that they can get Mothma out of the sector safely.
Unbeknownst to Hera, that job is about to get really difficult because Grand Admiral Thrawn suspects that the transport’s cargo was “something prized… a certain Senator.” He wants her arrested for treason.
Thrawn explains that this won’t be easy because Hera is likely to take an uneasy path. He theorizes that she will take the Archeon Pass, which will take them right through a nebula. Since Imperial capitol ships won’t be able to make it through, Thrawn has already told his TIE Defender pilot and other pilots to get prepared for the mission. Governor Pryce requests Thrawn’s permission to personally arrest Mothma. They want her alive.
Meanwhile on the Ghost, Mothma tells Hera that she envies pilots who can leave their troubles behind. Hera can’t believe that Mothma would ever run away from problems. Mothma explains that she’s sacrificed everything to fight the Empire and has learned that she can’t solve everything in the Senate. Hera reminds her that she’ll have to fight with blasters instead of votes.
“It’s a new experience, being on the run… but if that’s what it takes,” Mothma says.
“Whatever it takes, this Rebellion is worth it,” Hera replies.
At this point, they arrive at the nebula, where Vander gives us a quick astronomy lesson. Stars are forming in there, so a ship could burn up in the nebula. The Imperials then arrive, along with the fancy new TIE Defender. The pilot of the TIE Defender turns out to be Vult Skerris, who we saw in “The Antilles Extraction.” He wants them to surrender, but the reply from Gold Squadron is attack.
Ezra warns the other pilots that Skerris’ ship has shields. Hera then flies right into the nebula and warns the Y-Wing pilots not to use their proton torpedoes because they can ignite the nebulous gas. At first, things don’t go well, as Gold Five is killed, leaving just Vander and Ezra in the Y-Wings.
Hera leads everyone deeper into the nebula, and one of the two other TIE pilots are burned up and destroyed. The TIE Defender is a little tougher, but when Skerris realizes that he can’t go any further, he leaves the nebula. The Ghost can’t take much more either, so it leaves too. At that point though, two Star Destroyers arrive, including Pryce’s.
You Fought With the Rebellion Against the Empire?
The Ghost’s power is so depleted that they can’t speed away. Pryce tells Mothma over the comms that she’s been charged with treason. Mothma agrees to surrender, but she then tells Hera that it’s a stalling tactic while Hera figures out a plan.
Meanwhile in the nebula, Ezra and Vander are attacked by Skerris! Ezra uses an elaborate move to bring Skerris right in front of Vander, who then has to shoot his ion cannon and hopefully not hit Ezra. He just manages to get the ion cannon shot off without hitting Ezra. They leave the nebula and Vander is sure that Skerris isn’t dead.
Back in the Ghost, Mothma requests that, if she turns herself in, Pryce can’t hurt the other rebel cells. Mothma has to keep stalling, just as Chopper powers up the hyperdrive. But Pryce moves quickly to deny Mothma’s requests and turns on the tractor beam.
After we see the Y-Wings make it out of the nebula, Hera starts to give up because they can’t break off the tractor beam pull. But just at that moment, Ezra hails Hera. However, he then spots the two destroyers and they start moving to attack.
Vander tells Ezra to power up his ion cannon and the proton torpedoes. Hera has a eureka moment and tells them not to fire the torpedoes at the destroyers, but into the nebula. That creates a blast that knocks the Star Destroyers, and blows up the tractor beam. The Ghost and the Y-Wings then blast off into hyperspace, completing their great escape.
After leaving hyperspace, the Y-Wings attach to the Ghost so everyone can gather in the main hold. Everyone exchanges praises as they arrive at the rendezvous point. Mothma then sends out a message to rebel leaders, telling everyone that she has decided to resign from the Senate. That way, she can completely devote herself to fighting with the other rebel cells at the front lines.
“We will not rest until we bring an end to the Empire, until we restore our Republic. Are you with me?” Mothma asks.
Moments later, Rebel ships start to arrive (including the hammerheads we saw in Rogue One).
“Look how many there are,” Ezra says in amazement.
“This, my friends… this is our Rebellion,” Mothma says as the episode ends.
What’s Next For the Ghost Crew
That was an excellent episode of Rebels. The show is finally reaching its potential, as it shows the building of the Rebel Alliance we saw in Rogue One. Sadly, it looks like this main plot will be put on hold for the next episode, “Double Agent Droid,” which airs on March 11. In this one, Chopper and AP-5 will be the stars.
Here’s the complete episode description: “Chopper and AP-5 join forces as they sneak aboard an Imperial station on a mission to steal some important codes that they need, but an Imperial specialist discovers the droids and forces them to work against the crew and generate chaos.