Looking Back At Star Wars Rebels
Wow. I can't believe Star Wars Rebels is over. Last night, Disney XD aired the final episode of Lucasfilm's second animated series.
Before I start this, I wanted to do a SPOILER WARNING as I might reveal things that have happened during the course of its run.
Over the last four seasons, I have come to really love this show. When the series first started off, I felt it was a little slow. I thought about quitting the show just because it wasn't quite connecting with me. While it was cool to see the Ralph McQuarrie, it felt a little too disconnected from the universe on the whole. They were a rag tag group of rebels trying to fight against the Empire's presence on the planet Lothal as a satellite presence for the Rebel Alliance.
But, I'm glad I stayed on. By the end of the first season, as the universe for our our band of rebels eventually expanded as they became embroiled in the Rebellion, the show could stand on his own feet.
Of the Rebels, my favorite character was Hera Syndulla. On a surface level, my favorite color is green. So, my eyes are immediately drawn to her. On a much deeper level, I loved how she was a strong woman with amazing piloting skills. She is not afraid to give orders, yet is willing to get input. She would risk her life for her teammates and watches over them like a mother.
That said, I loved ALL of the other characters as well. Every one of the characters grew over the years. Kanan went from reluctant teacher to Jedi Master. Sabine went from rebellious artist to an amazing Mandalorian warrior. Zeb went from sparring partner to older brother. And Ezra went from headstrong kid to willing student to Jedi in his own right. Even Chopper went from cranky droid to having some heart.
One or my favorite moments of the series was in the finale of the first season. Up until then, the Rebels' connection to the Rebel Alliance was a mysterious person identifying themselves as "Fulcrum." At the end of the episode, we learn that Fulcrum is Ahsoka Tano, fan favorite character who served as Padawan to Anakin Skywalker before she left the Jedi Order. She is also one of my favorite Star Wars characters of all time in both live action and animation. Up until then, we did not know the fate of Ahsoka Tano after the Clone Wars series. It was such a relief to see that not only was she alive, but she had grown as a young Togruta woman and was a leader in the Rebellion.
Also making his first Star Wars Rebels appearance was Darth Vader himself. And, over the course of the second season, we realize that neither Kanan or Ahsoka can identify Vader as Anakin Skywalker. Just that they feel there is something about him.
But it wasn't until the finale of the second season that we saw Ahsoka confront Vader. And, during the course of their battle, she realizes who he is. It's a thrilling battle and one that we all hoped would happen, especially it you followed the relationship between Ahsoka and Anakin through the Clone Wars series. But, again, it left us without knowing the fate of Ahsoka. That is, until last night's episode!
Another heartwrenching moment in the series was the death of Kanan, one of the original team. His sacrifice had me in tears and it tore my heart apart as we saw how each team member was affected. But, none so much than Hera, who's grief is visceral. We have known the two have loved each other and it killed me to see them get so close only to be torn apart. For those who watched the show Angel, it was like when Wesley and Fred were finally happy and then Fred dies. But, it's a powerful moment and the sacrifice was not in vain.
There were so many great episodes during the course of the four seasons and I wish I could go into them all. Perhaps I'll do one of my top five lists eventually and share my favorite episodes.
Over the seasons, Star Wars Rebels introduced characters many characters from both the original and prequel trilogies as well as Rogue One. We saw Yoda, Grand Moff Tarkin, Lando Calrissian, Princess Leia, Bail Organa, Darth Maul, Saw Guerrera, Hondo Ohnaka, and a much aged Captain Rex among others. Because Star Wars Rebels ended up becoming a bridge between the two trilogies and explore the birth of the Rebellion.
The series also introduced several new characters of their own, including a group called the Inquisitors who's sole purpose is to hunt down the last of the Jedi. Along with the Grand Inquisitor, we met the Fifth Brother, Seven Sister and Eight Brother. Also on the Imperial side, we became familiar with Agent Kallus who turned out to be a mole and took over the role of Fulcrum after Ahsoka's disappearance. And then there's Ryder, former Governor of Lothal before the Empire and who is the Rebel's chief contact on Lothal and loyal ally.
Finally, we are introduced to a fan favorite character - Admiral Thrawn. This was a character that was written in the books in what was once called the Expanded Universe and now called Legends. I never read the books but his story is generally considered one of the highlights of that era of books and storylines. Whatever the case might be, he turned into a scary and formidable enemy to the Rebels.
For those who don't think these characters don't exist within the live action world, think again. There are several references to them in Rogue One, albeit as Easter Eggs. In one instance, you can hear "General Syndulla" being called over the loud speaker. In another moment, you can see Chopper at the Rebel Base on Yavin. And, during the exciting Battle of Scarif, the Rebels' ship the Ghost could be seen among the ships.
In my mind, I wanted Rebels to end at the Battle of Scarif which would tie into Rogue One's bridge to A New Hope. But, ultimately, I liked it ending with the freedom of Lothal. The show should end where it began. And it gave it a very original trilogy style ending with that of victory.
That said, it also opened the door for further adventures. Up until the finale, through the Forces of Destiny animated shorts and comic books, we knew that Hera fought in the Rebel Alliance until, at least, the end of the Battle of Endor. But, her having a son was a surprise to me and naming him after Han's and Leia's son Jacen in the Expanded Universe stories was a nice nod. But, aside from that, we didn't really know what became of our other Rebels. It was nice to see Zeb have a happy ending, but I liked the fact that they kept the door open for both Ezra and Sabine. And, in a jaw dropping moment in the final moments of the series, Ahsoka accompanies Sabine to find Ezra after the Empire's defeat.
These last moments feel very satisfying because we've come to know and love these characters over the last four years. Now, nobody knows where the next animated series will take place or where it will air (although, my bet is Disney's forthcoming streaming service), but I am ready for it. And, I hope, eventually, we will learn more of how Sabine's and Ahsoka's search goes.
Thanks for a great adventure, Star Wars Rebels!