The Antilles Extraction is the origin story of a beloved character. Hint, he survived two runs at the Death Star, the first one just barely. It's also a lightsaber free episode. Star Wars Rebels has been force-centric in its storyline lately. I love the Jedi vs. the Dark Side duels as much as anyone else, but it's good to have an episode with other characters as the focus. Sabine (Tya Sircar) takes the conn to infiltrate an imperial flight school. There are a few quick resolves that needed more exposition. I guess it's tough to go deep in a twenty-two minute runtime.
A rebel aid transport is ambushed by imperial fighters. They beg for their lives, but are all blown to bits. On Atollon, Phoenix Squadron laments the loss of the A-wings and more importantly, experienced pilots. Commander Sato (Keone Young) has been working on a solution to their pilot problem. They receive a transmission from Fulcrum, who in previous seasons had been Ahsoka Tano. We learn that Fulcrum is a ubiquitous term for several deep cover operatives. Fulcrum informs them that several cadets at the Imperial Skystrike Academy want to defect.
Sabine is assigned to infiltrate and spirit away the defectors. Ezra (Taylor Grey) doesn't want her going in alone, but she has the most experience at an imperial school. Hera (Vanessa Marshall) also reminds him Sabine is the least recognizable of the group. Ezra and Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) will go as her backup.
Sabine gets into Skystrike using fake credentials. Her first training exercise in a simulator shows the ruthlessness of their tactics. She is stunned to see them training against simulations of the Ghost. She's introduced to, drum roll please, Wedge Antilles (Nathan Kress); a young cadet unhappy with the savagery of the training. He's shocked she would speak so openly against their harsh protocol.
Skystrike receives an unannounced visit from Governor Pryce (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) and Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo). Intelligence has sniffed out the cadet insurrection. They are there to find the traitors. Sabine, conveniently enough, sees Wedge frighteningly discussing their arrival with two other cadets. Sabine takes a risk and reveals herself to Wedge. No surprise, he sent the message to the rebellion. He was a cargo pilot who got much more than he bargained for after enlisting.
Governor Pryce allows the cadets a training dogfight in space. Sabine sees this as their only escape. She signals Kanan and Ezra that it's time to rendezvous. As the cadets dogfight, Sabine, Wedge, and two other TIEs break formation. A rebel cargo ship drops out of hyperspace to meet them. The escape is a trap. The escaping TIE fighters are disabled; the others pound them and the rebel ship. Kana and Ezra are forced to escape and leave the defectors behind. One of the cadets is destroyed as a warning.
Back on Skystrike, Sabine, Wedge, and Hobby, the last surviving defector, are being interrogated by Pryce. Wedge foolishly reveals Sabine's name when she gives herself up as the rebel spy. Wedge and Hobby are taken to a holding cell. While Pryce monologues, Sabine suddenly strikes out at her and the stormtroopers. The troopers disabled, she and Pryce engage in serious fisticuffs. Pryce is incapacitated by an electric charge. Sabine grabs a gun and rescues the stunned cadets.
They are trapped on the station when an unlikely ally helps them. Agent Kallus shows them a way to escape. Sabine asks why he is saving them. Kallus is repaying a favor owed to Zeb (Steve Blum). He saved his life in season two, episode fifteen - The Honorable Ones. The cadets steal an imperial bomber with Wedge at the controls. They are taking serious damage when the rebel transport comes back for them. They dock with the ship and escape into hyperspace.
Back on Atollon, Wedge and Hobby are introduced to Phoenix Squadron. Wedge salutes Commander Sato and officially joins the rebellion. The episode wraps up Wedge's introduction like a bow. The overall story was interesting, but needed to be an hour long or a two episode feature for more details. Star Wars Rebels is rarely this neat. I figure Wedge has much to do this season and they needed him involved asap. Already time to break back out the lightsabers next week.