Some of the best Star Wars content has come from more than just the core movies and a slice of fan-fiction where Jar Jar Binks finds himself trapped in Fight Club. Its come from expanded media, existing outside of that cinematic universe and adding more to the mythos. Star Wars Rebels is a prime example of this. All the talent of the preceding Star Wars: Clone Wars series, sharpened into a more focused series that details the rise of the Rebellion five years before Luke Skywalker first picked up his father’s lightsaber.
The first series of Star Wars Rebels set the tone for what was to come: A rag-tag band of renegades, fighting the Empire and facing overwhelming odds in every single episode. Star Wars Rebels isn’t just the kind of adventure that you wish that the films could be, but also a fun and touching series thanks to the primary cast being such a wonderfully-rounded gang of Jedi, freedom fighters and at least one astromech droid with the personality of an absolute anarchist.
The second season has been an absolute winner so far. Most of the cast got a chance to shine, while old faces from the Clone Wars returned and a familiar former Jedi and fan-favourite was resurrected. From Chopper’s solo adventures, Hera’s familial dispute through to Zeb’s own personal journey to reconnect with his people, every episode has been a self-contained adventure that tied in perfectly to a bigger picture.
And that all came to a head with the season finale. Major spoilers to follow, so don’t scroll past this image if you haven’t yet seen the episode:
Right, on with the show then. It was do or die time this week. Kanan, Ahsoka and Ezra are treading dangerously close to the dark side as they look for a Sith artifact to give them an edge against the Empire and the relentless Inquisitors, Darth Maul has returned and is still burning with hatred for his former Sith master and Darth Vader is closing in on the Rebels. Not a good start, but this was an episode of consequences.
There were some massive repercussions in this finale. Kana was blinded, Ezra began to dip into the dark side of the Force and Ahsoka seemingly met her end. Or did she? According to executive producer Dave Filoni, that’s a more ambiguos ending than you’d imagine. “I’ve already been devising certain specifics around the future of that character, where she is, what’s happening, if she dies, how would she survive if she did? All of those questions. I think they eventually need to be answered—but I wouldn’t look to that, frankly, anytime soon,” Filoni said to io9, explaining how the battle with Vader represented her former master at his worst.
I personally have never felt that anything changes Vader until Luke. The Vader that we encounter in Rebels was always meant to be the one devoid of emotions, except for anger, hate and suffering. That he was so trapped inside himself because of the terrible things that happened. Anakin never thinks of himself as betraying his friends. He sees it as his friends betrayed him and the Republic. He has to live on that side of the fence because the truth is just too damning.
So he wants to destroy Ahsoka because she represents his past. She represents knowledge of who he was and he wants to wipe that out. His son represents a potential future because his son wouldn’t know who he was. So he could build a new galaxy together with his son. His apprentice is his past and he needs to destroy her.
One thing is certain however: The Inquisitors are all but defeated at this point, after Maul ended up cutting down a trio of them. “Will there be another Inquisitor? We’ll have to wait and see,” Filoni said. “But we are getting ever closer to the time period of A New Hope, and I’ve trying to live a little bit more by the rules you see in that film. And there isn’t a mention of Inquisitors in that film. It might be something you see less and less of.”
Here’s the cool nod to the Clone Wars however: The Grand Inquisitor who was defeated by Kanan at the end of the first season has deeper ties to the cast and Ahsoka than you’d realise. A former Jedi Knight who appeared to Kanan in a vision in an earlier episode, this former Jedi has a history that intertwined with that of Ahsoka. “He is one of the temple guards that arrests Ahsoka when she is accused of treason against the Jedi Knights,” Filoni explained.
And he is also one of, more importantly, the Temple Guards in Clone Wars that is with Anakin when he fights Barriss Offee and arrests her for treason. So he is one of the two guards, I believe, that escorts her into the giant courtroom where Palpatine is overseeing everything. So he hears Barriss’ complete speech about the corruption and the state of the Senate and Jedi Order. And that is kind of like a seed that gets planted in his mind about she’s right.
And when Order 66 comes out, he further realizes how right she is about all of the corruption. So it was like the beginnings of his descent into the Dark Side.
So what’s next for Star Wars Rebels? Season 3 will see the Rebel Alliance grow, while Maul himself will have a bigger part to play. “Season 3 introduces some titanic differences from the other seasons we had,” Filoni revealed. “You’re going to start to see the struggle of this Rebellion take even stronger shape”.
We’ve kind of been scaling that up every season underneath the character development, but it’s clear by A New Hope that the Rebellion has gotten pretty organized and a lot larger than the Empire thinks it is. So one of the ideas running about is there’s a group within the Empire, and you kind of see this portrayed in A New Hope in the Imperial Fleet, when they say ‘These Rebels are a threat,’ and then he says ‘To your star fleet, but not this battle station.’ So there’s a division within the Empire [about] how dangerous the Rebels are.
And we need to kind of get us up to earning that. So you’re going to see a little bit more of an increase to what the Rebellion is.
We are [also] going to delve a bit more into things with the Mandalorians and Sabine’s story. Sabine’s story will grow greatly in importance in the third season, and she kind of comes up to stand next to Ezra as far as being an important player on the show. And she isn’t as much a supporting character, which I think is a great transition for her as a character.
We tend to lean more towards Maul being the foil on the Darker side of the Force for our heroes in the next season. You will see more of Maul, which I think is a great thing for the show.
This season finale felt very much like The Empire Strikes Back of the animated Star Wars universe. Dark and overwhelming odds, but with a faint glimmer of hope still visible in a galaxy far, far away.
Last Updated: April 1, 2016