Star Wars Rebels is a sequel to The Clone Wars, a show I’ve raved about previously. Next year will see the end of the show as it wraps up after four seasons. Much like The Clone Wars, if you’re a fan of Star Wars you need to be watching it,and now, during the mid-season break, is the perfect time to catch up in time to see how the adventure ends.
If you’ve never heard of the show, the story revolves around the crew of the Ghost, a smuggling ship that gradually becomes more and more embroiled with the Rebel Alliance. Because the show takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, or I should say between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One, the Rebellion is still finding its feet. A lot of the show has dealt with the nature of resistance and the nitty gritty of setting up a galaxy-wide rebellion against an all-encompassing foe.
The crew of the Ghost are Hera, the captain and best pilot in the galaxy; Kanan, one of the few surviving Jedi living in hiding; Zeb, one of the last of his species; Sabine, a Mandalorian ex-Imperial; Ezra, a Jedi in training; and Chopper, who is like R2-D2 if R2-D2 was a psychopath. Ezra has been the main character for a lot of the show with his struggles with learning about the Force and the temptation of the Dark Side being major plot points, but the other characters have all had showcases to flesh them out and make them more than one note sidekicks.
This dedication to character growth is expected in a follow-up to The Clone Wars and the show deals with a lot of weighty issues related to family, resistance, terrorism, revenge, and the futility of war. As well as continuing The Clone Wars’ ethos of telling big, rich stories in a children’s show, Rebels also continues a lot of plots from that previously cancelled show.
The stories of Darth Maul, Rex the Clone, and Ahsoka all get re-visited in Rebels and given satisfactory (in most cases) pay-offs. Maul returns without a master searching again for the person he hates most in the galaxy, Obi-Wan Kenobi, but along the way finds Ezra, a young Padawan who seems ripe to be turned to the Dark Side. The clones, dumped by the Empire and hated by the Jedi for Order 66, make a return and the show manages to undo a lot of the character assassination done in Revenge of the Sith. The Clone Wars managed to make the clones hugely sympathetic and interesting until the movie wiped that away to make them villains. Rebels goes some way towards bringing them back to their previous portrayal as pawns in a game they didn’t realise they were playing. Finally, Ahsoka, the best character to come out of The Clone Wars, makes a return. Her character arc in The Clone Wars is top-tier television and to have her return knowing that there’s the possibility she will encounter her former master is a Star Wars geek’s dream come true.
All of these returning characters are voiced by the same actors as their original appearances, which carries over to most of the appearances of movie characters too. Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, Forest Whitaker, Genevieve O’Reilly, and Anthony Daniels all portray their original movie characters in the show which lends a continuity to the whole thing. Whitaker and O’Reilly as Saw Gerrara and Mon Mothma are particularly wonderful as their relationship on the show directly leads into the events of Rogue One so we get to see how the Rebellion became fractured into the hard-liners and the more temperate rebels. This plotline is handled very well and throughout you are never quite presented with one side being better or worse than the other with each having their pros and cons.
Outside of the returning characters, the show has a bevvy of new characters voiced by sci-fi royalty like Brent Spiner, Gina Torres, Warwick Davies, and Tom Baker. The show has also dipped into the Expanded Universe to bring characters back into canon that had fallen out of it. The most recent seasons have seen the villainous Grand Admiral Thrawn make his first appearance outside of the pages of Timothy Zahn’s trilogy of Star Wars sequel novels. Until The Force Awakens, these novels were the only Star Wars sequel trilogy I cared about so to see this character on the screen was a pretty huge geek moment for me. The fact that he is a brilliant character voiced with quiet, oily calm by Lars Mikkelson only adds spice to the pot.
Who knows what will happen to the crew of the Ghost once Star Wars Rebels will finish next year? Will the two Jedi go into hiding? Will any of them survive? Will we get to see them getting up to mischief during the Battle of Scarif or will the plot take us past Rogue One and into A New Hope?
We don’t know, but what we do know is that when Rebels ends it will have been a wild adventure full of colourful, fun characters. It is geeky enough to get the most hardcore Star Wars fan giddy while not being impenetrable, and is fun for kids and adults at the same time as it is not too patronising for kids and not too kiddy for grown-ups. And even if it was, I’d probably still watch it anyway.
Featured Image: Disney XD