Breaking down every clue in the Star Wars Rebels season 3 trailer

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STAR WARS REBELS! We’re living in a golden age of animation right now, but its Disney’s Rebels series that may just be the finest piece of Star Wars on TV. A new season is on the way, ably highlighted by a new trailer over the weekend that had me swinging my plastic replica lightsaber all over the house and putting my eye out in the process. WORTH IT! Time to break that trailer down and examine every secret revealed in it:

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“Battles leave scars. Some you can’t see,” says a lone Jedi at the start of this trailer. Nobody came out of the finale for the second season of Rebels unscathed, but it was Kanan Jarrus who really paid a high price for the events that unfolded in Malachor. Robbed of his eyesight by Darth Maul, Kanan had to rely on the Force more than ever before to finally defeat the former Sith lord.

“For everything he gained, Kanan, in strength and clarity of who or what he might be, he couldn’t take the agency to stop Ezra and Ahsoka to, what he could see, was probably a bad decision to side with this guy, and it really came back to bite him,” Rebels co-creator Dave Filoni said to Collider.

He has reached, on one level, Jedi Knight; being a Jedi Knight in this time wasn’t enough … that’s thinking like a combatant. He has to learn the higher path of the Force, which Yoda and everybody else had learned before him. So that’s what you’re seeing as Kanan evolves as a Jedi.

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But hey, at least he got a dapper new wardrobe and a trendy beard out of the ordeal, a look that suits him as one of the few Jedi Knights still operating in a galaxy that is under Imperial law. While Kanan may be more deeply connected to the light side of the Force than ever before, the same can’t be said for his apprentice Ezra Bridger however.

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And here we’ve got a great shot of Ezra’s current force status: A lone Jedi caught between two different Force ideologies, amply framed by the analogy behind him of Imperial trooper helmets that he has worn in battle and in undercover stings.

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Malachor also yielded a treasure to Ezra: A Sith holocron. A repository of Sith knowledge, a holocron can only be accessed by a member of that order or a Force-sensitive with a strong connection to the dark side. Something that Ezra has been dangerously building on ever since the season 2 finale.

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There’s obviously more to the Holocron than just a simple Wookiepedia of secrets and tips, but Ezra and Kanan clearly disagree on the use of it. Fortunately for Ezra, he has more than just one mentor to learn from…

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Throughout the first two seasons, the fledgling Rebel Alliance was more of an annoyance than an actual threat. Outmanned, outgunned and lacking any real military presence that could make them a truly credible threat, the Empire scoffed at their presence. And then things took a turn for the worse for Palpatine’s rule.

Not only were the Rebels becoming more organised, but they were becoming more daring as well as they manage to steal numerous military assets for their growing war machine. And this is one insurgency that is ready to recruit.

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Recruit some rogues to go with their rebels that is. Looks like another old trilogy face is joining up,a s legendary Rogue Squadron leader Wedge Antilles is getting an origin story treatment. “He’s probably the smartest pilot in the entire saga, because he knows when to ditch,” Filoni said.

Wedge is in the story as a result of the fact that we’re inching ever closer to the time period of A New Hope. When you get to that time period and the rebellion is much more formative than it used to be, you’re gonna start to see those characters appear in story and start to intersect with the Star Wars Rebels characters.

A character like Wedge, we all thought he would be fun to see. We couldn’t use someone like Biggs (Darklighter) because if you bring Biggs in, then you’re really crossing close to Luke Skywalker’s timeline. And we’re very careful about saying to people where we are in relation to that. But Biggs has a fantastic mustache and we thought about bringing that into the animated universe.

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The Rebellion is going to need some ships to outfit their growing fleet, something we’ve seen already with Hera’s squad piloting A-Wings, while an entire episode dealt with the B-Wing fighter. But to take out Imperial bases,something with heavy firepower is needed. And that’s where the iconic Y-Wing bomber comes in, as the Rebels get set to steal an entire squadron’s worth of the classic vehicles.

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One of the biggest links to the previous Star Wars series, the Clone Wars, wasn’t just an appearance by Ahsoka Tano. It was the confirmation that Anakin Skywalker’s most trusted Clonetrooper Rex had survived, along with a few other members of an elite squad of soldiers. Older, heavier but still deadly, this is one Clonetrooper who still has a lot of fight inside of him, as well as some lessons to teach to the crew of the Ghost.

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Looks like an even older link to the past is also making a comeback: B1 Battle droids, a model of disposable soldier that was used during numerous conflicts in the great Galactic Civil War between the Republic and the Seperatists. They’re probably still absolutely useless, I’d bet.

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But the Empire has more than just old junk and laser-magnet Stormtroopers at their disposal. Back in season 2, we saw at least one faction of Mandalorians pledge their loyalty to the Empire, as Sabine and Kanan fought off Fenn Rau and the Protectors of Concord Dawn. That splintering among the various Mandalorian houses and clans most likely runs deep, with at least one faction on standby as an elite Imperial strike-force.

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But sometimes, you need some cold and cruel metal to take out a few rebels. While this looks like a heavyily-armed attack droid and the successor to the B2 Super Battle Droid that the Trade Federation made use of. Here’s the thing: I also get the feeling that these droids may be precursors to the legendary Dark Troopers of old expanded universe lore, based on that distinctive helmet design.

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Each season of Rebels has had a primary threat so far. For the first season, that ultimate danger came in the form of the Grand Inquisitor while season 2 had a triple threat of more inquisitors, Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. While Tarkin came dangerously close to finally finishing off the Rebel Alliance, his appearance was short-lived before he was pulled back to Death Star duty. But even his military mind pales before…

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…Grand Admiral Thrawn. We’ve spoken before about what a massive reveal this is. A Chiss commander in a massively xenophobic military command structure, tasked with finally defeating the rebels. Thought lost in the great purge of the expanded universe, Thrawn is a massive game-changer in the continuing story of Rebels and possibly a bigger threat than anyone else who has come before him.

There’re also a few subtle clues in his office. Thrawn is clearly aware of Ezra, and I’m dead certain that those statues behind him are of Yssalamari, creatures which can naturally neutralise any Force abilities in their vicinity. “Thrawn was always on the list, and we were just trying to figure out what’s the right moment and how big a deal do we make out of that,” Filoni said of the big reveal.

The biggest thing is that, you get a character that everybody likes, that’s a really great villain, you are cautious on a weekly series to put them into a, “Oh, we’ve lost again. Darn those crazy rebel dogs.” You can’t play him that way, he’s way too smart. It’s a very similar problem I had with Vader, which was, if our guys are around Vader too much, Vader’s going to pick them out. I had to supply them with something to neutralize Darth Vader.

Here, I don’t really have a lot to supply to defend them against Thrawn, so it’s going to get sticky because we want to treat him as a big-time villain.

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Remember what I said about Ezra having more than one mentor? That’s a role that Darth Maul fits perfectly into, as he’s the opposite side of the same coin used to purchase some lessons in the Force. Just don’t expect to see him too often, as his voice actor Sam Witwer felt that Maul worked best in small doses throughout the prequel era and beyond. “The thing about Darth Maul, and we’ve always had this in mind, you can’t overuse him. If you overuse him, it’s not special anymore,” Witwer said.

It’s like Vader, to a slightly lesser degree in that the threat gets diminished. If this guy isn’t on his own and trying to figure out a bunch of stuff and trying to figure out his life, and he’s focused entirely on the Ghost crew and on converting Ezra, things are going to get derailed pretty quickly.

This is a character who has been through a lot in terms of what we see on screen. Part of the fun of that character is that he’s constantly evolving. We have to keep him constantly evolving for most of the episode and show a new side of him every time. From Clone Wars to now, there’s always a new element that we add every episode.

The reason for that, storytelling, I think, is that this guy in some ways is locked into a loop in his life and can’t see beyond the loop, can’t see beyond this repetitive motivation that he has, and that he would rise up to power and get knocked down, rise up to power, get knocked down. He’s rising again, but his tactics are almost …. When we met Darth Maul, he was mad; he was insane in that cave. One of the definitions of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

So I think one of the reasons we keep him evolving personally is that he does have a different perspective on things than he had before. He’s become more of an individual beyond the single-minded weapon who wants revenge. But the core of him, he’s still as damaged and misguided as he ever was.

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Ah, Force Magic! We’ve seen plenty of examples of this sorcery before, but the Night Sisters of Dathomir had a particular affinity for the use of the darker side of the Force that manifested itself in a unique green hue. The Night Sisters were all but almost wiped out near the end of the Clone Wars, but it looks like their magic has survived.

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Survived long enough to restore Kanan’s vision at least, but at what cost?

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REMATCH! Kanan and Darth Maul have a record of 1-1 so far against each other in duels. Consider this to be the rubber match then to break that tie, as both masters fight their apprentice.

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Now here’s something interesting: Jedi and Sith Holocrons, merging together. But what knowledge could their combined power yield, that neither order could accomplish on their own?

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The Force. A mythical and spiritual side of the Star Wars universe that connects and binds all living creatures. And also not exclusive to the Jedi and the Sith. We saw an idea of the Force being used in a larger context in season 2, as Zeb made contact with survivors of his species that followed a different path in the Force. And expect to see an even more neutral version of this power to show itself in season 3 in the form of Bendu. Voiced by Tom Baker, Bendu harkens back to George Lucas’ original ideas for the Force and the Jedi being linked to the order of the Dai Bendu.

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“I wanted Bendu to feel like a character out of an ancient time. You don’t know much about him. He’s like a Bombadil; he’s in the story and it’s unclear what his role is or what side he’s on, what effects him, what doesn’t … he seems to not play by the rules of everyone else in the story. Beyond what the Jedi and the Sith have organized around the Force, beyond the beliefs that they have put on it as a way, there is an older way of thought,” Filoni said.

The Force exists, and this is important, beyond the Jedi and the Sith; the Jedi and the Sith are a practice within the Force, a way of controlling, a way of thinking, but they are not the be all, end all. We got into that with the priestesses in the Yoda arc, and the Force-wielders of Mortis, where there are these being out there who are ancient and wise and look at the battle between the Jedi and the Sith and their self-importance as childish, to them.

There are these older definitions, which to me come out of George Lucas’ mind. So the Force’s origin, of course, is George Lucas’ mind, so if you go back in time and you talk about ancient things in the Force, you’re talking about George’s initial thoughts. Bendu is actually derivative of the Order of Dai Bendu, which was the full name of the Jedi a long, long time ago. So that’s why Bendu seems to know a lot about them, about Kanan, that he’s a Jedi. He finds that kind of fun and cute, but of course [voice actor] Tom Baker has his own agenda. He’s fantastic at being Bendu.

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If there’s any one character who deserves a few episodes all to herself, it’s Sabine Wren. The Mandalorian member of the Ghost, Sabine’s backstory has been only hinted at, but that’s a tale that needs to be told. The interesting thing in the image above, is that Sabine is holding the darksaber, a blade with plenty of history.

A black lightsaber blade that was stolen by the Mandalorians from the Jedi, the darksaber was used as a symbol by the radical splinter group Deathwatch and the House Visla leaders who led that organisation. The last Mandalorian to hold the darksaber was Pre Viszla, who lost it and his life in a duel against Darth Maul. Maul used the blade agaisnt his former master Darth Sidious in a duel as well, but was soundly defeated. How the blade makes its way to Sabine, is a story I’d love to see.

“I feel like Dave maybe clued me into things for Season 3 with more forewarning than in Season’s past,” Sabine’s voice actress Tiya Sircar said.

This time I feel like he’s talked me through more of an understanding of what’s to come, which is awesome, because there is more to come. I feel like I have a better understanding of who Sabine is, and also, as a fan, I’m excited to get to see her experience those things and encounter people from her past, who she might be related to, some of them.

With what’s happening in our world now, the stakes are higher for everyone: Kanan can’t see, Ezra has this internal battle between the Dark side and the Light side, and Ahsoka and Vader obviously … I feel like Sabine has been thrust into this leadership position which I think she is happy to assume, but there’s a sort of pressure that she hasn’t yet experienced. And then there’s all this backstory which hasn’t yet come into play.

People asked me on Twitter today, was I making my own darksaber sounds. Sam made the darksaber sounds.

 

Last Updated: July 19, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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