"Rebel Assault" is the ninth episode of the fourth season of the animated television series Star Wars Rebels. The episode premiered on Disney XD on November 13, 2017. It is also the sixty-eighth episode of the series overall.
On board an Arquitens-class cruiser above the planet Lothal, part of the Imperial blockade in orbit, an officer reports to the cruiser's captain that they have detected something coming out of hyperspace. A squadron of T-65B X-wing starfighters appears, led by General Hera Syndulla and her astromech droid Chopper. Hera orders her pilots to stay with their wingmates, as they need to protect the slower Y-wings. Cleat says that the Imperials have numbers, but they have talent, and Mart Mattin responds that that goes double for him. Chopper beeps that it's triple for him, prompting Hera to sigh in exasperation. She orders her squadron to lock their S-foils in attack position. On the bridge of the Star Destroyer Chimaera, Grand Admiral Thrawn, entering the bridge, states that the Rebels have finally come to Lothal. Commander Woldar informs the Grand Admiral that they are counting 24 ships. Thrawn orders fighters launched, and tells his best pilot, Vult Skerris, that the Rebels must not be allowed to reach the planet's surface. As the TIE fighters are launched, Hera tells her pilots to accelerate to attack speed, and the fighting begins.
Down below, as a siren wails, the Spectres Ezra Bridger, Sabine Wren, Garazeb Orrelios and Kanan Jarrus plant explosives on the turrets of the air defenses installed to protect the Imperial Armory Complex. Zeb asks Sabine if she's sure that the explosives are powerful enough, and when she responds yes, he says that the towers are much larger up close. As the Rebels hide from a watching stormtrooper, Ezra contacts Ryder Azadi, who reports that his team is done planting their explosives, and says he'll meet them at the rendezvous. Ezra responds that they only have one tower left, and they sign off. Sabine notes that Hera will be there any minute.
Up above, the X-wings shoot down many TIE fighters. Hera tells Mart, Phoenix Two, to handle a wingman, and he shoots down another TIE, which crashes into a light cruiser. She compliments him on his shot, before ordering Phoenix Four and Five, Cleat and Duke, to thin out the Imperials. Cleat confirms the orders, before she and her wingmate attack. She tells Duke to keep up, and he responds that he's trying. As the two pilots shoot down TIEs, Vult Skerris enters the fray in his gold-striped TIE/D Defender Elite. He tells his two wingmen to stay on him and comes in behind Duke. Cleat warns him that he's picked up three more, but Duke is swiftly shot down by Skerris. He then pursues Cleat and fires on her, taking out one of her engines. She reports that she's lost control, and Hera responds, telling Cleat to scissor right so she can cut them off. As Phoenix Four flees, Skerris shoots her down, and Hera attacks him, taking out both of his wingmen. As she flies past, Skerris realizes who she is based on the piloting skill and pursues.
The turrets on Lothal begin firing, just as Zeb places the last explosives on the tower. Ezra, Sabine and Kanan pull up on speeder bikes, and upon getting confirmation that Zeb is done, Ezra tells him to hop on. Zeb responds by telling Ezra that that's not how this works, before yanking him out of the driver's seat and putting him on the back of the bike, and sitting in the seat himself. The Rebels escape, and Sabine presses a detonator, setting off the explosives and causing the towers to neatly collapse in on themselves. Governor Arihnda Pryce reports to Thrawn via hologram that her air defenses have been destroyed, and he states that it is an impressive but not unexpected level of coordination. Pryce responds that the factory is vulnerable, but Thrawn is unconcerned, stating that none of the Rebel ships will get past his blockade.
Amid the space battle, Skerris pursues Hera, but is unable to land a hit. She bemoans that he is too fast, before getting an idea and telling Chopper to hang on. Hera leads the Imperial ace towards the Chimaera, causing Skerris to wonder where she is going. Thrawn is alerted to an X-wing approaching on an attack vector, and orders Skerris to break off. He refuses, responding that he almost has Hera in his sights. Thrawn remarks that it is unfortunate, before ordering his gunners to open fire. A subordinate expresses concern about Skerris, and Thrawn responds that the Commander is playing into Hera's hands before repeating the order. The Chimaera's guns fire, bringing down both Hera and Skerris' shields. Hera tells Chopper to tighten his bolts, before heading in. Thrawn approaches the windows and sees Hera and Skerris fly past. Hera fires upon the Chimaera's scanning array, creating a cloud of smoke, and she closes her attack foils and flies through. Skerris loses track of her in the smoke and, due to his fighter's larger profile, is forced to fly around the scanning array. Hera turns her fighter around, and when Skerris appears, she fires upon him, catching him by surprise, and takes off two of his Elite's wings. Skerris spirals out of control, screaming, and his fighter crashes into a light cruiser. Mart, watching, is impressed and congratulates Hera. The cruiser's magazine is damaged by the strike, and it begins to explode and veer out of control. It crashes into a Star Destroyer, shearing off the bridge superstructure. Hera orders her fighters to make for the opening, and the Rebels race for Lothal.
Thrawn, when informed by Commander Woldar of the situation, notes that it is regrettable, but "a testament to Captain Syndulla's skill as a combat pilot". He orders the second wave of TIE fighters contacted, to intercept the Rebels. As Hera and her pilots enter the clouds in Lothal's atmosphere, Mart informs her that he is detecting enemy fighters. They are shortly attacked by a large number of TIEs, already firing their cannons. Outside Lothal City, the Spectres rendezvous with Ryder and Jai Kell, and Ezra says that they should be seeing Hera's force any minute now. They see trails descending on the city, which then begin to explode. Zeb asks what those are, as Ezra and Sabine look through electrobinoculars to see the Rebel fighters being shot down and destroyed. Ezra, shocked, asks about it as Sabine, horrified, confirms that it's the entire attack force.
Thrawn is informed that the entire attack force was destroyed, but several Rebel fighters managed to crash-land in the city, including that of the Flight Leader, but the factories are undamaged. He sends out his assassin, Rukh, to capture any surviving pilots alive, with a particular emphasis on Captain Syndulla. On the burned plains, Sabine sees Imperial gunships incoming, and Kanan tries to contact Hera on his comlink. Ryder insists that they have to go before they are seen, and the Rebels reluctantly turn to leave. Kanan is the most reluctant, as he wants to go rescue Hera. Ezra promises him that they will find Hera, and the Rebels depart.
Hera's fighter has crashed in an alleyway, and is on fire. Chopper attempts to wake the unconscious Hera up, eventually exiting the astromech socket and opening up the X-wing's canopy to revive her. She clambers out, but is injured and disoriented. Several civilians approach, and a woman warns Hera that Imperial forces are coming, advising her to cut through the market and head for the east gate. When several gunships approach, the civilians flee, and Hera hides from the spotlights. Once the transports turn away, Hera asks Chopper to try and contact Kanan and Ezra, but his transmitter was damaged in the crash. The two flee into the city.
On the highway, the other Spectres, Ryder and Jai head away from the capital on their speeder bikes. Kanan, bringing up the rear, brakes and comes to a halt, prompting the others to stop as well. He says that he has to go back, and that he has to do this. Ezra responds that he understands, and says they'll see him back at base. As Kanan departs, Sabine expresses her disapproval, suggesting that they should also go and find Hera, and Ezra responds that Kanan will find her. The Rebels head off for their base.
At the Imperial complex, Governor Pryce meets Rukh, who has captured one Rebel pilot, and coolly congratulates him. She orders the pilot taken away for interrogation, and is then informed that the Rebel Flight Leader's starfighter has been located, but the pilot and astromech are missing. Knowing that Hera is the pilot they are searching for, Pryce orders the district locked down and torn apart, building by building, until she is found. In the dark city streets, Hera and Chopper happen upon an Imperial blockade. Hera tells Chopper that if they move fast, they can get past before reinforcements arrive. Before they can do anything, however, Chopper alerts Hera to a distress beacon coming from another astromech. Following it, they find the crash site of another Rebel starfighter. Stormtroopers confront the pilot, Mart, who is injured and being defended by his droid, R3-A3.
The stormtroopers attempt to capture R3, as they need his memory banks, and one snaps to just immobilize him. R3 is shot and deactivated, to Mart's horror. Hera, watching, tells Chopper to wait, and ambushes the driver of a nearby troop transport. As she drives up, Mart sees her at the controls, but the troopers don't, and wonder what the driver is doing. This gives Mart an opening to knock down one of the troopers and steal a blaster, which he uses to shoot another. The third trooper is run over by Hera, who asks Mart if he's okay. He responds that he's at least in one piece, and Hera comes over to inspect R3. The stormtrooper Mart knocked down comes to and attempts to attack, but is taken out by Chopper from behind. Hera asks Mart if it's okay to remove the transmitter from the downed R3, to replace Chopper's broken one, as there is no other way to get out of their situation. He gives her permission, stating that R3 would want to be able to help other Rebels, and Hera gets to work as Mart stands guard.
Elsewhere, Rukh, prowling through the city, finds a scent, and sets off. At the crash site, Hera, finished replacing Chopper's transmitter, asks him if it works. He tries to send a signal, but the Empire is jamming everything. Hera tells him he'll just have to try again once they get out of the city. At this point, the Rebel trio is fired upon by Rukh. Hera tells Mart and Chopper to run before shooting back, and the three Rebels flee with the assassin in pursuit. Mart asks Hera where they are going, and she tells Chopper to scan for the nearest sewer hatch. Once he finds the direction, Chopper leads the way through the city streets. Rukh pursues them over the rooftops. In a narrow street, Mart sees the assassin on the roofs, and shoots at him. Rukh swiftly descends to street level and attacks, quickly disarming Mart and kicking him into Hera. The assassin then fights Hera hand-to-hand, and she eventually manages to disarm him of his electrostaff. He knocks her to the ground shortly after, just as Mart comes to. Rukh reclaims his staff and activates it, raising it over Hera, only to be shocked by Chopper from behind. As Mart shoots at him, Rukh retreats to the rooftop. Mart helps Hera up, and the Rebels set off again.
Kanan, on his speeder bike, approaches Lothal City on the highway at high speed. As he approaches, he senses a Loth-wolf standing in the road, and is forced to brake, only for the creature to vanish as he does so. Kanan is thrown off his bike, tumbling a bit before he comes to a stop. As he gets to his feet, the lights along the road begin to go out. Kanan in anger shouts for the wolf, demanding to know where it is, before making it clear that he does not have time for diversions like this as he walks back to his bike. He says that if the wolves want to help, that's fine, but as he grabs the handlebars of his bike he demands that they otherwise stay out of his way. Kanan turns to find the wolf sitting in front of him, and lets go of his bike, startled, as the creature growls. He asks it what it wants, and the wolf says "Dume"—Kanan's original name—as the two other wolves approach from behind. Kanan, removing his visor, says that he understands, and asks what he has to do.
In Lothal City, Hera and Mart follow Chopper through the streets. Hera asks the droid where the sewer hatch is, and Chopper looks around the corner to discover it is guarded by stormtroopers and an AT-DP. The walker is standing directly on the hatch, and Hera sarcastically expresses frustration. Mart asks if they have any other options, and Hera responds that there is no time as Imperial forces are closing in. She says that they are going to have to get the walker to move, and spots a landspeeder parked in the street. Hera asks Mart if he's good at distractions, and when he expresses confusion, she says that he is now.
Mart, carrying his stolen blaster, walks out into view of the stormtroopers guarding the hatch. He says that he heard they were looking for Rebel pilots, and announces that they've found one. A trooper tells him not to move, and Mart shoots one of the troopers. As the Imperials return fire, Mart shoots back while running for cover. The other stormtrooper, LS-757, reports the rebel activity, before he and the AT-DP pursue. Hera, in a nearby street, orders Chopper to get the hatch open. The droid flies down from the roof and plugs into the port at the sewer hatch, as Hera takes the controls of the parked landspeeder. Mart hides among several large crates as the walker moves past, and the stormtrooper looks behind them. When he's not looking, Mart jumps him from behind and takes him out after a brief struggle. The walker begins to turn around, and Mart shoots at it. As he does, Hera approaches in the speeder and rams the walker, knocking it over.
The speeder is destroyed by the collapsing walker, and Hera climbs on top of it. As the walker's hatch opens, Hera tells Mart to go, promising to catch up. When the AT-DP's driver emerges, Hera stuns him. As Mart arrives at the sewer hatch, Chopper opens it, and Mart climbs in. Hera runs toward the hatch, but as she does, Rukh approaches across the rooftops. The assassin jumps down and approaches Hera from behind, and Mart shouts a warning. Rukh jumps Hera and knocks her down, but she kicks him off. The two fight, and Hera is knocked down. Mart, watching, makes to intervene, but two hovertanks arrive, cutting off Hera from the hatch. Hera sees the tanks' arrival, and orders Mart and Chopper to go. Mart salutes and heads down the ladder, but Chopper is reluctant, hovering in the opening. A gunship arrives, and Hera retrieves her blaster from the ground, yelling at Chopper to leave before shooting the astromech socket controlling the hatch. Chopper is forced to descend before the door closes, as stormtroopers approach.
Rukh disarms Hera, before shoving her to her knees and holding his electrostaff to her back. A gunship arrives, and Governor Pryce disembarks. Hera stands, and tells Pryce that she's wanted to meet her. Pryce disdainfully comments on Hera's "small victory" before stunning her, and Hera falls to the ground, unconscious. In the sewers, Mart and Chopper follow the starbirds to a hatch, and Mart bangs on it. He hopes that it isn't locked. The hatch opens to reveal Kanan, who helps Mart and Chopper out. Chopper beeps, and Kanan responds that he knows she did. Mart apologizes to Kanan for not saving Hera. Kanan tells Mart that there was nothing else he could have done to help Hera, but that there is something Kanan can do. The three Rebels set off on Kanan's speeder bike, and a Loth-wolf watches them go.
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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 "Rebel Assault" takes place prior to "Wolves and a Door," it must also take place around the same year.