Star Wars Rebels returns to season three glory after weeks of lackluster episodes. Inside Man is a gem; a dark, action-packed episode with an awesome reveal. It also marks the first time that we see the true ruthlessness of Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelson). Rebels plows through stormtroopers, but it's rare and effective when an ally gets killed.

Inside Man opens with Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Ezra (Taylor Gray) back home on Lothal. They are waiting for Ryder Azadi (Clancy Brown), the former governor. He's on a speeder under attack by Imperial speeders. The jedi leap on, then cut the legs of a walker as they race under it. The speeders are in hot pursuit. As they take heavy fire, Ryder says watch what happens when they reach 190. The speeders overheat and explode. Ryder's men have infiltrated the factories on Lothal and are sabotaging vehicles.

They arrive at Ryder's camp. Ezra is reunited with Morad Sumar (Liam O'Brien). He was the friend of his parents rescued from a prison camp. You have to love how Rebels brings back these seemingly innocuous characters. Kanan informs the group that Fulcrum, their most valuable spy, has reported that the Empire is building a new kind of weapon on Lothal. Kanan and Ezra join Sumar as workers to infiltrate the factory.

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They don't get very far. As soon as the workers show up, Agent Kallus (David Oyelowo) and Governor Pryce (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) announce a surprise visitor. Grand Admiral Thrawn walks in, much to Ezra's dismay. He states very calmly that the vehicles from this factory are malfunctioning at a much higher rate. He picks Sumar out of the group. Then forces him on a speeder. When Sumar slows down as it overheats, Thrawn's remote control revs it up to maximum. Killing Sumar as the bike explodes.

Ezra has to be restrained by Kanan. Thrawn then coldly tells the workers that they will test every vehicle personally. He orders all the workers be interrogated. Kanan asks Chopper, painted like an Imperial droid, to create a diversion. Chopper turns on a speeder that careens and explodes. Kanan and Ezra escape in the chaos. First order of business, knocking out two troopers and taking their helmets.

In his office, Thrawn is observing pictures and paintings of Phoenix Squadron. He asks Kallus for his opinion on the Phoenix graffiti. Kallus accurately describes what the bird of legend is, but Thrawn says it is much more. The rebels have placed this image all over Lothal. This must be their home. They will always come back here. He then casually tells Kallus of the top secret work being done at the factory. Pryce shuts Kallus down when he inquires further.

Outside the factory, Ryder has called into Hera (Vanessa Marshall) that they've lost contact with Kanan. He also tells her of Thrawn's presence. Hera orders an immediate attack on the east gate of the factory. Meanwhile, the jedi steal a security pass from a hapless droid. Chopper uses it to infiltrate the command room and steal the classified data. Their ruse is short-lived. The Imperials don't recognize them. They chase them into an elevator...with Agent Kallus.

As Ezra turns to attack him, Kallus blurts out that he is Fulcrum. Insert wow here. The jedi don't believe him, but he correctly gives them the Fulcrum secret phrase. Kallus has been more sympathetic to the rebels since his encounter with Zeb (Steve Blum). But his outing here as Fulcrum, after many episodes, is pretty cool.

Kallus leads them back to the command room. The jedi stun everyone, including Kallus, to make the deception look real. They radio into Hera. She tells them to make for the east gate. Thrawn is updated on the events in the command room. He accurately reasons that someone must be helping in. And for the first time, he pulls up a schematic of Chopper. I have a feeling that the Chopper ruse is up, at least against Thrawn.

Ryder and his men are hitting the east gate. The jedi and Chopper are in a walker, nestled into the Imperial flank. Suddenly the troopers get an updated command from Thrawn, attack the walker, and ignore the rebels. The jig is up. Their walker is pinned from above, but they have lightsabers that can cut through anything. They take over another walker, only to be blown up by the rebels. They scramble out as it smashes to the ground. Jumping on Ryder's speeder and escaping into the night.

Back on the Ghost, Hera is stupefied that Kallus is Fulcrum. Zeb sheepishly informs them that he might have recruited him during their last encounter. Chopper uploads the stolen plans. The Imperials have invented a new TIE Interceptor with shields, a game-changer against their fighters.

Kallus and Pryce are back in Thrawn's office. Thrawn updates them that a spy is in their midst. And they must assume that the rebels have discovered the secret fighter specs. He tells them they will root out the spy and twist him to their advantage. Stating the last bit directly at Kallus, who looks exceedingly nervous.

Alas the plot does thicken. Thrawn must be suspicious of Kallus. The Phoenix Squadron has to come to terms with a hated enemy being an invaluable friend. The return to Lothal was damned entertaining. At least Sumar went out gloriously. Blown to bits on a speeder is a helluva way to go. Star Wars Rebels is back at full throttle on Disney XD from LucasFilm.

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Julian Roman