After four seasons, Star Wars Rebels came to a close. And what a finisher it was. For an animated television series on Disney XD, it had the production value and thrills of a blockbuster film. It also didn’t help that the network aired three episodes as the last hoorah, making it roughly an hour and a half of Rebels in one go. It definitely felt like what you would expect for a Star Wars finale, full of temptation, conflict and resolution. So how did the series fair overall? In this article, there’ll be spoiler talk for season 4 and its finale, as well as the series as a whole. Let’s get into it!
What was interesting about the final moments of the finale was that it actually did enough to set up future stories. Instead of ending where the primary plot points ended, which was the Second Battle of Lothal, the series jumped ahead to after the Battle of Endor, which was of course how the original trilogy ended. The show’s main protagonist, Ezra Bridger is missing in action after jumping to hyperspace with Grand Admiral Thrawn. In the show, it is unknown if either of these two characters are alive, but it’s heavily implied that Ezra might be alive somewhere out there. Dave Filoni confirmed however that both Ezra and Thrawn are alive, somewhere, on Rebels Recon. So Sabine (sporting a new haircut of course) and Ahsoka Tano, back from her mysterious crusades, hop on a ship and begin their search for their missing friend. It’s great that Ezra is still alive but the writers found a way to remove him from the events of the original films, which prevents him from being active in the plot but still opens the door for more stories to come.
Now, this brings up a few questions. Mainly, where the heck has Ahsoka been for the entire length of the original films?? We know Yoda says to Luke, “the last of the Jedi, you will be” in Empire, and to be technical, Ahsoka isn’t a Jedi. But c’mon. She’s the apprentice of Anakin. Their must be a good reason for her being absent for many of the major conflicts in the original films and I’m sure we’ll get an answer from Dave Filoni at some point, as he’s working on a new series right now (potentially following this set up?). So at least as of this point in time, post Endor, Luke isn’t the only Jedi walking around. Thrawn’s fate is currently left ambiguous too, but fans of the old Expanded Universe will know that Thrawn spent quite some time in the Unknown Regions of Space; perhaps that’s where he and Ezra are and why they haven’t come back yet. That would make the most sense and would allow for Thrawn to carry on being a villain and tie into the early formations of the First Order, who originated from that sector of the galaxy.With the Unknown Regions being largely uncharted, that might explain why Ezra has yet to return after all those years. Now, color me intrigued for an Ezra and Thrawn collaboration. Both mutually hate each other but likely need the other to survive.
Season 4 as a whole was personally the best of the bunch. While the previous three seasons were episodic, meaning each episode was more or less self contained in the greater story, season 4 was serialized, meaning each episode flowed into the next. It made a huge difference in how the story was told as everything felt important. If there’s one thing Rebels suffered with, it was filler episodes. After season 1, which started off on a weaker note with sillier than expected plot points, the show took on 22 episode orders. While season 2 was an improvement over season 1 in many regards, with the introduction of Vader to the series and the return of Ahsoka, Maul and the Clones, it did bring it many filler episodes. Some of them did pay off, eventually, but the quality of the filler episodes wasn’t up to par compared to the rest of the episodes. Season 4 didn’t have this problem and hopefully Dave Filoni continues this approach on his next project.
Another criticism of the show is how silly and childish it could be at times, especially when compared to Filoni’s previous work, The Clone Wars. This is likely due to the show’s home on Disney XD, as oppose to Cartoon Network, but it is noticeable. The Empire is a bit of a joke in the show, unable to hit targets right in front of them and some characters are purely there for comic relief, despite being serious and dangerous in Clones (cough cough Hando). Another problem was how it rarely felt like the heroes were in any real danger, despite the stakes. It wasn’t until season 4, with the tragic demise of Kanan, voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr, that these rebels were in any real danger. That aside, it always felt like they were going to get out by the end of the episode, which took away some tension. Shows like this don’t have to be Game of Thrones and mercilessly be killing off characters, especially on Disney XD, but in order for moments to feel earned, the heroes have to go through the ringer a bit.
That aside, show was overall well done and even amazing from time to time. Episodes like Twilight of the Apprentice, the season 2 finale, Twin Suns, which saw Ben Kenobi duel Maul and the season 4 finale were stellar. Other episodes, like the entire season 3 Mandalore arc, the season 1 introduction of the Grand Inquisitor, Through Imperial Eyes, which put Rebel and Imperial in a live or die situation together and Shroud of Darkness, which used the Force to teach lessons to our three Force sensitive users, rank as some of the best. The way the camera, music and animation all worked together in these excellent episodes transcended the norm and gave fans a cinematic experience that packed a punch.
Speaking of lessons, it’s great to see in the series finale that Ezra, who was immature and childish in the early seasons, grow into the character he was by the time the finale hit. He’s not the same person and it’s great to see growth in him. At times, it felt like he was being written too safe and whenever they were about to take a risk with him, such as that one time he flirted with the dark side, he was immediately pulled back to the light. It’s a shame that there wasn’t more conflict with him but there’s no doubt he’s grown over the years and matured. The Emperor’s challenge with the door in the finale would have failed with a younger Ezra.
We also got the witness the early days of the Rebellion as a whole. Mon Mothma and Bail Organa showed up in the series and we got to see the Rebel fleet come together, the acquisition of the Y Wings, B Wings and off camera, the X Wings. It’s a bit frustrating that the X Wings were shown off screen as they are the most iconic of the fighter ships. Classic characters, voiced by their on screen counterparts, showed up throughout as well, including James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, Frank Oz as Yoda, Billy Dee Williams as Lando and Ian McDiarmid as The Emperor/Palpatine in season 4. But the real heroes came from the voice talent behind the primary cast of heroes and villains, including the aft mentioned Freddie Prinze Jr, Lars Mikkelsen as Thrawn and Vanessa Marshall as Hera were some of the best. Time will tell if they shall return to the mic and lend their voices again to these characters.
Now that Rebels is done, what did you think of the series overall? How does it compare to The Clone Wars for you? What do you want to see Filoni do next and where do you think Ezra and Thrawn are? Let us know in the comments below!