Disney took a galaxy far, far away to point five past lightspeed and hasn’t looked back. Since its rollicking opening Star Wars Rebels has reminded us from moment one that Star Wars can be fun again. For the past few months we’ve tuned into Disney XD to watch the serialized adventures of Kanan, Hera, Sabine, Zeb, Ezra, and Chopper as they traded blaster bolts with enemies old and new. Whether it was brutal Imperial Security Bureau Agent Kallus, the serpentine Inquisitor, or even Grand Moff Tarkin himself, the crew of the Ghost always found a way to bring hope to the oppressed people of Lothal.
This article contains Star Wars Rebels Season One Spoilers!
But as we come to the season finale, things look grim for our heroes. Yes, Ezra Bridger has begun his training as a Jedi. Yes, Kanan is finding his own path back to the Force through his role as reluctant Jedi Master. Yes, they’ve learned vital information from Hera’s mysterious contact known only as Fulcrum. But they’ve not been without their setbacks. They very nearly lost their beloved astromech Chopper to the scoundrel Lando Calrissian. They were betrayed by a man they believed to be a symbol of hope. Both master and apprentice crossed blades with the vile Inquisitor – and in the end, they risked everything the rebels worked so hard to protect.
As we open on the season finale entitled Fire Across the Galaxy, our heroes are in dire straights. Gall Trayvis, Senator-in-Exile and voice of freedom (voiced by Brent Spiner), has been revealed to be a traitor and Kanan has allowed himself to be captured by the Jedi-hunting Inquisitor so that his friends could escape an Imperial trap. Entering Fire Across the Galaxy we know that Kanan is being taken to Mustafar, which he has said is “Where Jedi go to die.” It’s a finale where everything is on the line and viewers have spent the season falling in love with Star Wars all over again – or at least I have.
But what makes Star Wars Rebels so good? So watchable?
Star Wars Rebels seems to take us back to the roots of what makes the franchise so endearing. Starting with images and characters inspired by the late, great concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, the staff took what worked from both the original trilogy and the prequels and gave us Star Wars at its roots: A weekly pulp serial about good versus evil. The stories are simple, fun and compelling – just like the films we all saw as children; or at least they made us feel like kids when we saw them.
Rebels has also gone out of its way to connect itself with the Star Wars canon as a whole. We’ve had appearances from characters who originally appeared in the films. These included Grand Moff Tarkin, C-3P0, R2-D2, Lando Calrissan and even the Dark Lord of the Sith – Darth Vader himself. In all cases save the first, these characters were voiced by the very actors who portrayed them in the original films: Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, and James Earl Jones.
In addition to drawing on original concept art and talent, Rebels also has drawn from some of the earliest “Expanded Universe” materials by way of West End Games 1987 table-top role-playing game The Star Wars Roleplaying Game. From the concept of Dark Side Jedi hunters known as Inquisitors, to obscure models of work droids, it seems as though the crew at Rebels knows exactly where to look and what to use to make the most genuine story possible. They’re also not afraid to acknowledge the work of their sources. StarWars.com’s Rebels Recon and story group member Pablo Hidalgo openly speak of how they were influenced by McQuarrie, West End Games, and other sources.
What Disney has shown with Rebels is that by re-establishing the canon Star Wars can be stronger as a whole and that while the material now deemed as “Legends” had many compelling stories, that a new era has begun for a galaxy far, far away. A new hope, one might say.
Fire Across the Galaxy promises to be a high climax for the inaugural season of Star Wars Rebels. The teaser trailer features images of a climactic lightsaber duel between the Inquisitor, Kanan and Ezra, the lava-covered world of Mustafar, and even the image of Darth Vader himself. Even with the central arc clearly being focused on the rescue of Kanan Jarus, there are still questions to be answered. What evils await us on Mustafar, where “Jedi go to die”? What is the ultimate fate of Ezra’s parents? Who is the mysterious Fulcrum?
I’ll be watching Monday at 9PM EST night to find out. How about you?