By Contributing Writer- Jeremy Wilkerson
Ever since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, the Star Wars franchise has been bigger than ever. Not only did we get a ton of comics and movies made, we also got Star Wars Rebels, an animated TV series set in the gigantic universe of Star Wars. Star Wars Rebels is centered on a group of rebels and their adventures. The show bridges the gap between Episode III & Episode IV, highlighting how these rebels eventually led to the creation of the Rebellion we know and love from the the Original Trilogy. While a valid criticism of the Disney Star Wars era being content that relies a bit too much on the Original Trilogy, Rebels is one of the better examples.
Set in between Episode III and Episode IV, Rebels is about an ensemble of new characters: Ezra, a force-sensitive orphan turned Jedi; Kanan, a survivor of Order 66; Hera, a heroic and smart pilot; Sabine, an artistic Mandalorian; Zeb, a stocky Lasat; and their droid Chopper. These characters are easily the best part of the show—you grow to love them over the course of the series, learning a little bit about all of them, where they came from, and how they were inspired to fight against the Empire.
The characters in Rebels are dynamic, interesting and multi dimensional. Each character has a purpose on the team, but the story mostly revolves around two main characters, Ezra and Kanan, Padawan and Master. Their dynamic feels more like father-and-son compared to other Jedi duos, and their relationship is one of the main focuses of the show. Kanan and Hera also have an interesting relationship. The series gradually evolves their romantic relationship, taking a big step in Season 4 and an ultimate payoff at the end of the series where Kanan’s goodbyesacrifices himself for her and his friends. It’s a beautiful moment, not just in Rebels, but in Star Wars as a whole.
For the most part, Star Wars Rebels iscomprised of self-contained episodes, featuring small missions where Kanan teaches Ezra an important lesson that makes him a stronger Jedi. The missions only get bigger and more complex as the show goes on, with the crew crossing paths with Lando Calrissian, Ahsoka Tano, Darth Maul, Princess Leia, and more. The appearances by other big names in Star Wars feels natural for canon’s sake, instead of something forced in to catch viewers.
The animation is mostly done well. While I prefer the art style of Rebels to that of The Clone Wars, the movement of the characters is sometimes a bit too rubbery, but that could be excused, as some of the major fight scenes are phenomenal. Specific highlights are the battle with Darth Maul and the Inquisitors, Darth Vader and Ahsoka, and of course, the final duel with Obi-Wan and Maul.
As Star Wars goes, the Empire is painted as the bad guys, and this show is no different. The series’ villains are mostly good, with the new character of the Inquisitor taking the role in the first season. He doesn’t get a lot of development, or even screen time, until the finale of the first season, where he decides to take his own life instead of being forced to deal with Vader for losing, an interesting concept that I wish was developed more. The second season puts Darth Vader and two new inquisitors in the seat. What else can be said about Vader? He serves his purpose well and gets an emotional battle with Ahsoka, his old Jedi Padawan. The inquisitors, sometimes a bit too”action figure prone” were the opposite. Their backstory is almost nonexistent, and I wish we could’ve learned a little more about them.
Season 3 and 4 are more straightforward with its villains. Thrawn and Governor Pryce are the two main villains, and while we don’t get a lot about them personally, they’re very menacing and accomplish much more than most villains. In the last half of Season 4, Emperor Palpatine comes back, voiced by Ian McDiarmid, and he’s fantastic as always. There’s a very emotional scene in the finale where he offers to give Ezra his parents back, while also disguising his hideous face and projecting himself as younger. This is a better moment than any scene with a villain in this series, although it’s one of the only scenes we see with the Emperor. Even though the villains are weak for the most part, it’s made up for with the fantastic protagonists of the show.
Overall, Star Wars Rebels is not just a great entry into the greater Star Wars canon, but its strong, original characters, excellent familiar faces, great action, superb fun, and enthralling storylines make for a fantastic show that I grew to love. Star Wars Rebels deserves a very solid