Star Wars Rebels burst onto the scene on October 3rd, 2014 and has been going full throttle from the onset. As a life-long Star Wars fan, I wanted to take a minute to look back on central characters of Season One to discuss what worked and what did not. These are simply based on the authors own insights, but I will be making comparisons and references to the original films as well as The Clone Wars animated series so fair warning: Spoilers For Star Wars Rebels Season One are going to be found through out this article. There, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on.
The central characters of the show are the crew of the Ghost and focuses on their attempts to thwart Imperial efforts on the Outer Rim world of Lothal. These characters are, by the nature of their actions, rebels – but the first surprise I found when the series was first aired was that they are not (at least directly) part of the Rebel Alliance that we know from the original trilogy. They each have their own personal reasons for sticking it to the Galactic Empire and do what they can to help the people of a single planet. This was a surprise. I expected the series to ground itself in very familiar and obvious ground – so the Rebel Alliance would have been an obvious choice.
Instead Rebels grounds itself firmly in the themes and tones of the original trilogy. Each character in series draws on classic trilogy characters and the tropes associated with them. It then twists these tropes to create characters both unique and familiar.
Our central character, Ezra, is a 14 year old native of Lothal who has been making his way on Lothal since he lost his parents under unknown circumstances. What we do know is that they somehow drew the ire of the Empire, and eventually we learn that the Bridgers actively spoke out against Imperial injustice. Ezra is the obvious audience insert, but for the most part this is well done. It’s important to note that Ezra, even when wielding a lightsaber, never fires a lethal weapon through out the series. He uses a sling shot and a blaster – both of which fire stun energy – and he never actually succeeds in an attack with his lightsaber once he has received it. He starts out as a petty thief, but a sympathetic one. Ezra is reckless and idealistic, driven to rash action because of his lack of experience – which I feel is sincere presentation of the character. Raw talent, checked by a lack of experience. Ezra tends to complain a bit, but that lessens when he realizes his skills as a thief are valued by the team. It takes anyone watching the series about two minutes to realize Ezra has a strong connection to the Force, which I expected. While I have no inherent problem with this idea I would have liked to have seen his progress move along at a slower pace. In the course of a single season the kid performs amazingly acrobatic leaps and jumps, lifts ridiculously large and weighty stones, and performs feats normally reserved for highly trained Padawan Learners. The construction of his lightsaber happens not only very early in his training, but character also manages to construct a unique multi-function lightsaber which is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. His strength in the Force seems to rival, or even surpass that of a Skywalker. While I understand these things being done for the sake of story, I feel like the writers could have been a bit more patient in the execution.
Zeb is the obvious Chewbacca parallel. His race (the Lasat) are even based on early Wookiee concept art by the legendary Ralph McQuarrie. Unlike Chewbacca, Zeb is morally torn. He’s portrayed as cantankerous and instinctively selfish. It’s often only by the prodding of other crew that he reluctantly makes the choice to help others. He’s prone to and even seems to enjoy violence and his antics and anger are often played for comic relief. What keeps Zeb from being a one-note joke is the complexity of his relationship with Ezra. While initially he turns his back on the boy and is antagonistic towards the boy, the two eventually develop a strong sibling-like bond. This, combined with learning that Zeb’s people were torturned and very nearly wiped out by the Empire creates a strong foundation for the character and provides the audience with a reason to understand why he’s so angry and has such difficulty expressing emotion and building bonds with others.
Next we have the Mandalorian Sabine, who could have easily been a “gun bunny girl.” Between the pink accents on her armor, her artistic nature, and the general presentation of the character Sabine Wren had “train wreck,” written all over her. I saw her and felt like the authors were pandering to a female demographic in what has traditonally been a male-dominated franchise. Instead, Sabine is not identified by her gender – but by her actions. She’s capable, talented and multi-dimensional. The only time we see this image start to waver is during the episode “Idiot’s Array,” where she is subjected to the charms of none other than Lando Calrissian. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Sabine turn the tables on Lando instead of buying into his charms, over all the strength of the character is pretty impressive.
The other female member of Ghost‘s crew is the ship’s captain, Hera. Traditionally in the Star Wars franchise Twi’leks have been played up for sex appeal – but such is not the case with Hera. She’s no nonsense, direct, and all business. But she does it without being cold or aloof. She acts that way because she genuinely cares and she’s the only member of the ship’s crew who openly and vocally opposes the Empire purely on princple. She’s clearly got a lot to offer, and hints at a previous (or even current) relationship with Kanan gives both characters a sense of background that roots them in the setting. She’s also clearly the brains of the operation and the crew’s connection to the galaxy at large. This is most often expressed in her mysterious contact, known only as Fulcrum. My biggest problem with Hera is the writers’ not utilizing her more. For the vast majority of the series Hera was left to just fly the ship. She rarely gets down and dirty to mix it up with the Empire, and it would have been lovely to see her show off whatever other talents. I’m hoping with the events of the season finale, we’ll get to see the writers make better use of the character.
Kanan is a rogue Jedi and feels like the series writers’ attempt to meld the Return of the Jedi-style Luke Skywalker with the swashbuckling pazazz of Han Solo. On the surface he’s a bit of a loose cannon, but as the series progresses we learn that Kanan is dealing with survivor’s guilt in the aftermath of Order 66. It’s his relationship with Ezra that force him to stop ignoring his Jedi roots and embrace his true nature. He’s a bit stubborn and thinks of himself as the leader of the crew – but if you ask me, that’s really Hera. Still, Kanan expects to be obeyed and sees himself as responsible for the safety of the crew – especially young Ezra, who takes on the obvious role of his apprentice. Kanan’s character mirrors Ashoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone Wars in that he has, to some degree, turned his back on his Jedi heritage when we first meet him. Watching his journey back to the identity of a Jedi has been a compelling one that I hope continues as the series progresses. I’d also like to see the character soften a bit, allowing the other crew to take the initaitive on their own and trust in their descision making. This over-bearing quality makes it harder to like Kanan on occassion – but he’s still my favorite in the series thus far.
Finally, we have C1-10P, aka Chopper. As an astromech droid, there are obvious comparissions to R2-D2. But Chopper is a bit more brutal and self-serving. He values his place with the crew and I get the impression that he both enjoys irritating them and is a bit insecure of his place on the Ghost. He straight-up murders another astromech droid when the crew puts forth the idea of keeping it and gets jealous when R2-D2 gives the crew an idea that gets praised. Like his blue counterpart, Chopper gets plaid for laughs quite often. It’s fitting though, and his antagonism towards the other crew members comes off as playful and endearing.
Who was your favorite crew member? What did you enjoy about them? What are you looking forward to in season two? Sound off in the comments below and stay tuned to Legendarium Media as we continue to talk all things Star Wars Rebels as we wait for season two.