Wow. Just wow.
The conclusion of Star Wars Rebels Season 4 has left Star Wars fans in raptures, with an authentic treatment of the Jedi that has been sorely missing of late.
After launching on our screens just four years ago, Rebels has become a fan favorite that perhaps has come the closest to reflecting what fans want and what Star Wars should be.
When Disney purchased Lucasfilm the Clone Wars series was terminated, essentially because companies outside of Disney’s control had contractual obligations tied to the series.
And so Disney embarked upon a new series called Rebels. Whilst, at the time, many fans wondered just who these new upstarts called Ezra, Hera and Kanan were, the fanbase was at ease because Clone Wars veteran Dave Filoni was at the helm.
As an aside, let us not forget that Filoni served his apprenticeship during the Clone Wars under the creative stewardship of Star Wars creator George Lucas.
Filoni’s decision to keep the same design style was a profound decision in many ways. It meant that characters from Clone Wars could, storyline permitting, return seamlessly into Rebels.
Several storylines from Clone Wars were left unanswered, and much to fans delight, Rebels was able to provide a conclusion to not just those storylines, but also for the new characters that would, in ways we couldn’t yet predict, become inexorably tied to Star Wars canon and fandom.
She knows how to fly
In Hera Syndulla our group of misfits had the sort of pilot every rebel group needs. And that’s one that will keep you alive. Not only was Hera capable of going toe-to-toe with the Empire’s very best fighter pilots, but she was also able to use her piloting skills to ensure her team and ship, the Ghost, escaped.
Escaping might not sound very rebellious, but as the growing alliance developed their guerrilla warfare tactics, Hera had to be able to hit the Empire hard and escape before being either captured or destroyed.
The girl from Mandalore
Before Rebels it would have been impossible to imagine a character with Mandalorian armour could ever be as cool as Boba Fett.
But a young woman from Mandalore’s Clan Wren called Sabine was about to prove us wrong. If only by just a little bit.
Sabine’s ability to blend graphics, artwork and heraldry, combined with her flair for explosives was enough to endear her to the the viewing public immediately. And, as we slowly learned more about her troubled and, as it was to turn out, very complicated family history we learned a great deal about the sacrifices necessary to fight the Empire.
A bridge to the future
In almost any other time Ezra Bridger would have been identified as a force sensitive child and possibly/probably sent to join the Jedi order.
But these weren’t normal times.
Ezra’s showed early on that his connection with the force was strong. He learnt that being a Jedi and perhaps more importantly, doing the right thing, was always going to be harder than simply going it alone.
Ezra flirted with dangerous elements of the Force by developing close friendships, and here Kanan should have known better, and at times these friendships tempted Ezra into brash decisions that could have proved harmful.
However, when the time came Ezra was able to put his personal feelings aside and chose to do the right thing. In this simple act he eclipsed many Jedi before him, even Anakin Skywalker.
The last padawan
Although he did manage to fatally cripple the Jedi order, try as he might, the Emperor couldn’t kill all the Jedi with Order 66.
Kanan Jarrus or as he was then known Caleb Dume, was one of the Jedi fighting side-by-side with the loyal clone army and his Jedi Master Depa Billaba when Order 66 struck.
Through Kanan we saw how difficult it would be to lose a Master and find yourself alone and on the run.
This theme isn’t a new one. It’s very similar to the theme played out by Ahsoka Tano in the latter stages of the Clone Wars.
Clearly Kanan loved Hera very much. But, at the critical time when called upon to make a life or death decision, Kanan chose to save others, instead of saving himself.
Kanan become a great Jedi. A Jedi that was selfless.
Why we’ll miss Rebels
And so perhaps we have the reason why Rebels succeeded. Or rather three reasons.
Firstly, Rebels brought back the ensemble cast dynamic of the original trilogy.
We saw a group of otherwise disparate characters become stronger as a result of their friendship. Yet throughout their journey, their tenacity, courage, friendship and love proved to be the the very tools needed to fight back – to rebel.
Secondly, Rebels excelled at storytelling. The humanity of the story was entirely relatable. The back stories were detailed, the characters angst was palpable and in the end, as with all good stories, we couldn’t wait to find out the end.
Finally, Rebels understood the mythos of Star Wars, it understood the rules. Rebels did take us to new places, but places that adhered to the rulebook of the Star Wars universe.
When you have boundaries the consequences are believable. Which allows the storytelling to be truly epic.
Rebels worked for the reasons above but also because a TV series creates a space for epic storytelling that is hard to mirror in movies.
A movie trilogy clearly has enough time to tell a compelling story, but a series can truly deliver the sort of nuanced narrative normally associated with longer formats, typically book series.
We must therefore have hope for the future as not one but two series await us.
This autumn Dave Filoni’s new animated Star Wars Resistance series arrives and in the next few years we also have the as yet untitled live action series by Jon Favreau.
So as fans let’s enjoy Star Wars at its hall of fame best – and the plinth marked Rebels fits perfectly.
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