When you compare the two, Star Wars Rebels and the original trilogy of films have many similarities. Both franchises feature a younger Jedi taught the ways of the Force by a grizzled older master, as a desperate Rebel Alliance fights back against the tyranny of the Galactic Empire. But Rebels has had more time and a richer pool of content to draw from over the last two seasons, as it sets up a story that begins with Luke Skywalker becoming the last of the Jedi.
There’s a certain sense of finality to Rebels as fans know that the Jedi are on the verge of extinction, a setup that executive producer Dave Filoni wants to drive home with the third season. “A lot of [season three] is centered on one line [in A New Hope],” Filoni said io9.
Tarkin tells Vader the fire of the Jedi has gone out of the universe. So you have to start to enter this period where it seems like the rule of the day isn’t people who wield the Force but it’s more people that are controlling military might and starfleets. They seem to be the ones in control by the time of A New Hope.
We’re doing another Jedi master-apprentice situation, so how are we going to make that story different from what we did with Anakin, Ahsoka, and Luke?. I think there will always be similar beats and trials but how they come through them and how they answer the challenges is what’s going to be different and define them as characters.
That’s where Grand Admiral Thrawn comes in. The greatest strategic mind in the Imperial Navy, Thrawn is a threat who commands not the Force but vast military might as begins a campaign to exterminate the Rebel Alliance once and for all. “We didn’t just insert another Force-wielder here,” Filoni said.
We didn’t just create another kind of lightsaber. You can only go to that well so many times. Now it was time for the Imperial Military.
One other face that you can expect to see a bit more of? Former Darth, Maul. He’ll occasionally pop up to mentor Ezra’s dangerous new obsession with the Dark Side, but don’t expect to see him every week:
The Maul storyline is not a main storyline [of season three]. He’s in episodes but he’s not in an overwhelming number of episodes. I didn’t want to overplay him. You don’t want him to be in that weekly guest role. So when he shows up you know it’s important and it’s a key moment for him.
All of this is leading towards a bigger plot, as season 2 of Rebels saw a deeper focus on telling one big story than dipping into side adventures along the way:
In the first season of Rebels there are big pillar episodes that connect, but there are also a lot of side adventures. I feel in season two there were more episodes that connected directly and less side adventures. Now as we get to season three, there’s definitely becoming more and more of a throughline as the characters really become who they’re meant to be.
There’s more of a sense of this is starting to be one bigger story.
Rebels returns this weekend on Disney XD. Just remember to stay sharp in case Hondo shows up.
Last Updated: September 23, 2016