The episode opens with Kanan Jarrus meditating in Lothal's wilderness. While meditating, Kanan reflects on flashbacks of his time with Ezra Bridger, Hera Syndulla, and Sabine Wren. A prowling white loth-wolf watches Kanan meditating in the grass. When Ezra approaches, Kanan tells his Padawan that he has to take the lead in getting Hera back. When Ezra suggests that his master should take the lead, Kanan explains that his feelings for Hera may complicate the mission. Kanan tasks Ezra with planning the mission because they need to save Hera and everyone else.
Meanwhile, at the Dome, Governor Arihnda Pryce oversees the torture of Hera, who is being electrocuted. Pryce taunts Hera about her "lovely" voice. When Grand Admiral Thrawn enters and asks whether she has revealed the location of the Rebel Fleet, Pryce replies that she hasn't begun asking questions yet while Hera screams in agony. Thrawn questions Hera but she remains defiant. Thrawn compliments her resolve and shows her family's Kalikori.
Thrawn tells Hera that he is interested in the deeper meaning of the things he collects. Thrawn deduces that the Kalikori is a significant symbol for his adversary. Thrawn surmises that the shapes on the Kalikori represent individuals important to her. He notices that one of the designs refers to a deceased loved one. Hera responds that he is unworthy of holding it. Thrawn replies that the Kalikori's legacy ends with her and that it will be appreciated by its new owner. He leaves Governor Pryce, who has no appreciation of art, to torture Hera.
Ezra is meditating at the top of his former "roost". Zeb is growing impatient but Sabine shushes him. Ezra senses that Hera is in the "Dome" in Governor Pryce's office. Sabine adds that Pryce's office would be on the 157th level in block D. Zeb asks how they will get past all the patrols, gun turrets, and the watch towers. Ezra proposes flying in on gliders. Sabine supports Ezra's idea on the grounds that the Empire is equipped to counter sophisticated weaponry and targets and won't be looking for something low-tech like a glide. Zeb thinks this plan won't work but Ezra reassures them that his plan will work and that they can come in disguised as loth-bats.
Ezra suggests that they land at the garbage chute in the south entrance of the Imperial complex. Sabine says that they will make the gliders when Zeb asks how. While Ezra, Sabine, Zeb, and Chopper build the Loth-bat gliders, Kanan cuts his hair and shaves his beard with a knife, using the Force to guide himself. Ryder Azadi, Mart Mattin, and Jai Kell watch the Spectres finishing the gliders. Ezra is about to call Kanan but Kanan is ready to join their mission to rescue Hera. Zeb later tells Kanan that he's fortunate he's blind because he doubts that the contraptions will work without the Force.
For the operation, Ezra and Sabine don stolen TIE fighter pilot uniforms. They along with Kanan harness themselves to the gliders while Zeb and Chopper use a speeder bike to tow the gliders. Once the gliders are airborne, they disconnect from the speeder bike. Zeb tells them to bring Hera back as he and Chopper watch Lothal's sunset.
Above Lothal, Grand Moff Tarkin confers with Thrawn via hologram aboard the Chimaera. Tarkin tells Thrawn that his TIE/d "Defender" Multi-Role Starfighter project is at risk because Orson Callan Krennic has been lobbying the Empire to divert funding to his project Stardust. Thrawn says that the Emperor has promised that he supports the TIE Defender project. Tarkin admits that Krennic's project has been "nothing more than expenses and excuses." He tells Thrawn that he has arranged a meeting with the Emperor for him to argue his case. Thrawn departs Lothal immediately and tells the commander to inform Governor Pryce that he is traveling to Coruscant.
In the streets of Capital City, two stormtroopers hear a flight of loth-bats screeching with one likening them to one step above the two loth-cats they encountered and were attacked. The Noghri tracker Rukh asks if they have anything to report and sniffs around. The Spectres fly their loth-bat gliders above the streets of Capital City. They land at the south entrance's garbage chute undetected. Kanan compliments Ezra for his plan with Ezra informing him that Pryce's office is six levels below. Ezra and Sabine leave to find an escape transport. Before leaving, he tells them may the Force be with them. Ezra and Sabine climb a stairwell while Kanan uses magnetic climbers to scale down to Hera's torture chamber. Ezra and Sabine walk past several stormtroopers in the corridors below.
With Hera unwilling to reveal the location of the Rebel fleet, Governor Pryce decides to subject her to a mind probe by an IT-O Interrogator droid. Pryce smirks as Hera is injected with a truth serum. Governor Pryce reiterates her demands as Hera's vision goes fuzzy. However, she spots Kanan. Pryce thinks Hera is delusional and gives her a break. Rukh requests an audience with Pryce, who leaves a pair of stormtroopers to guard her. Hera tells the stormtroopers they are in "terrible trouble" and muses how Kanan will get in.
Kanan slices the floor under one of the troopers, causing him to fall to his death. The remaining stormtrooper LS-261 summons reinforcements but Kanan hurls him out the window. Kanan then stabs the IT-O droid with his lightsaber and throws it down the hole he cut open. Hera jokes that the droid deserved it. After Kanan frees her, the two embrace and she jokes that she "hates" his hair. Kanan quips that it was the best he could do without a mirror. Kanan tells Hera that he has recovered her Kalikori as a present. Hera does not regard the Kalikori as a present since it belongs to her family.
The two escape before Pryce, Rukh, and several death troopers force their way into Pryce's office. Rukh sniffs for the rebels' scent while Pryce gives orders to lock down the base and muster the gunships. She also gives the death troopers orders to blast them on sight. In the Imperial Complex's hangar, klaxons begin ringing and Ezra and Sabine realized that Kanan has succeeded in rescuing Hera. She says that she will fly the patrol transport. Sabine takes out the transport's pilot while Ezra tells the Stormtrooper Commander that he is a backup pilot.
Rukh follows Kanan and Hera as they climb back to the garbage chute. Hera tries to express her feelings for Kanan but instead compliments the kids' gliders. Kanan tells Hera there something he needs to tell her. Before Kanan can say anything, they are attacked by Rukh. Kanan fights Rukh, who is armed with an electrostaff. Rukh knocks Kanan's lightsaber out of his hand, causing it to fall to the ground. Kanan hurls Rukh off the building. The Spectres are then attacked by death troopers. Hera shoots one and Kanan shoots another. The two escape on one of the loth-bat gliders while Rukh clings to a balcony.
One of the glider's wings takes a hit from a blaster bolt. Hera manages to steer the glider towards the Lothal City fuel depot. Meanwhile, Governor Pryce learns that the rebels are heading to the fuel depot and mobilizes several AT-AT walkers to trap them there. Kanan and Hera fly the damaged glider to the fuel depot. They survive a crash-landing with Kanan joking that this was one of Hera's better crashes. Hera counters that she never crashes and that it was a rough landing.
Kanan contacts Sabine by comlink. Ezra cheers upon learning the news and claims that he enjoys flying to the bemused stormtroopers. Kanan requests a pick up at the central fuel pod of the depot. Sabine removes her helmet while Ezra tells the stormtroopers that this where they get off. Sabine veers the patrol transport, causing the stormtroopers to fall out. Sabine then shoots down another patrol transport with Ezra using his lightsaber to hurl a blast at the second transport, causing it to crash.
Kanan and Hera reach the top of the central fuel pod. Hera tells Kanan that she loves him and the two kiss passionately. Sabine and Ezra arrived in their stolen patrol transport to find Kanan and Hera embracing. Before they can leave, Governor Pryce arrives with a phalanx of AT-AT walkers. She orders her AT-AT pilots to fire at the central fuel pod. When the pilot protests, Pryce reiterates that it is a direct order. The lead AT-AT fires a salvo that ignites the central fuel pod.
The other Spectres watch as Kanan uses the Force to hold back the explosive wave. Hera rushes towards Kanan but he uses the Force to hurl her back into the transport. In his final moments, Kanan looks at Hera and Ezra and his eyes briefly turn turquoise again, restoring his vision and fulfilling the promise he made to her before leaving for Malachor. Kanan is then consumed by an explosive wave that ignites the other pods in the Imperial fuel depot. The surviving Spectres flee aboard the patrol transport.
The episode originally went under the title "Ascension: Part One."
The Rebels logo at the end of this episode was white and grey, with no theme music over the credits.
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Notes and references
- The epilogue of the Star Wars Rebels episode "Family Reunion – and Farewell" occurs after the end of the Galactic Civil War, which Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates to 5 ABY, while Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition establishes that the Liberation of Lothal occurs prior to the Battle of Yavin, which marks the end of 0 BBY, according to Galactic Atlas. Lothal's liberation takes place between the Star Wars Rebels episode "Wolves and a Door" and the "Family Reunion – and Farewell" epilogue, between which Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy establishes there is a five-year gap. Therefore, in order to maintain the aforementioned five-year gap that ends no earlier than 5 ABY while still preceding the Battle of Yavin, the Liberation of Lothal must take place in 0 BBY. As the episode "Jedi Night" takes place prior to "Wolves and a Door," it must also take place around the same year.