We’re just around the corner from another animated Star Wars show from mastermind Dave Filoni. The show is called Resistance and takes place shortly before the events of The Force Awakens. In it, we follow a hot shot New Republic pilot named Kazuda as he becomes a spy for the Resistance and Poe Dameron (voiced by Oscar Isaac). Fortunately for Kaz, his station is one that’s obsessed with racing. He finds work as a mechanic but the young hotshot is eager to get into a cockpit of the best racer in town. Gwendoline Christie also returns as Captain Phasma while Christopher Sean, Suzie McGrath and Scott Lawrence starring. Joining Kaz on his adventure is the iconic droid BB-8, who will play a prominent role in the series if the marketing material is to be believed.
The show is heavily inspired by Japanese anime and is a departure from the animation style of Filoni’s previous two Star Wars shows. Filoni has stated that his interest in World War II flying aces was one of the key inspirations in crafting this show. While Filoni had a hand in creating the show, he’s not the supervising director like he was with Clone Wars and Rebels as he’s since been promoted to the head of animation at Lucasfilm and is overseeing the seventh season of the once-cancelled The Clone Wars.
To get us in the mood for the upcoming, anime-inspired series, we decided to look back on Filoni’s previous work and chronicle the best of the best, starting with the very best of the series that started it all: The Clone Wars. Stay tuned for the best of Rebels in the days to come!
(Spoilers follow for Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars.)
10. The Death of Kanan
Being on Disney XD, Star Wars Rebels was a lot “safer” than its predecessor, The Clone Wars. But while it toned down the violence, it still thankfully wasn’t afraid to showcase a big character death in the fourth season. We knew that at least one of the two Jedi in the show would have to die, as Yoda stated that Luke would be the last of the Jedi in Empire. So we were all wondering how Kanan and even Ezra would meet their end on a show airing on Disney XD. Kanan met his demise quite suddenly, in the season 4 midseason premiere. After his friend and romantic interest, Hera was captured by the Empire, he snuck into a base to rescue her.
During the escape, however, the Empire decided to blow up the fuel reserves in order to blow up the Ghost, the freighter the crew of Phoenix Squad was using. Knowing that the blow would kill them all, Kanan used the force to hold the blast back, knowing that it would only kill him. By staying back, he saved everyone else. The pain of this loss was felt until the end of the season and was a noble end to one of the survivors of Order 66.
9. Zeb And Agent Kallus Stranded In ‘The Honorable Ones’
Late in the second season of Rebels, Zeb (who is modelled after the original Ralph McQuarrie concept art for Chewie) and Agent Kallus of the Empire (voiced by David Oyelowo) find themselves trapped on a frigid icy planet together after an ambush goes south. The pair end marooned on a desolate planet together and they’re not happy about it. Kallus and Zeb have some pretty intense history that has been developed over the two seasons, with Kallus being revealed early on to have participated in the near extinction of Zeb’s species. So it’s no wonder Zeb hates him with a fiery passion.
With Kallus injured in the landing, however, the two must put aside their differences and work together if they are to survive the horrors in the dark. Seeing the two sworn enemies cooperate in the name of survival allowed for some great character moments and ultimately left a lasting impression on Agent Kallus himself, who begins to view the Empire in a different light after the incident. It’s a turning point for Kallus and one that will put him on the path to defecting in the later seasons.
8. Ahsoka Tano Gets Framed For Murder
At the end of Season 5, Ahsoka Tano unexpectedly gets framed after the Jedi Temple is bombed. Security footage appears to show her as the culprit.
On the run to clear her name, she finds herself in the lower levels of Coruscant, which is a true hive of scum and villainy. From there she is hunted by (and eventually allied with) Asajj Ventress, the longtime villain of the series and former Sith assassin for Dooku. She is there to collect the bounty on Ahsoka’s head — yet becomes convinced that proof of innocence could allow for Asajj to bargain a pardon from the Jedi Order.
By the end of the four-episode arc, Ahsoka is proved innocent and the real culprit arrested, but the damage was done and Ahsoka Tano leaves the Jedi Order, feeling betrayed that her closest friends and mentors didn’t stand up for her. She would not return until the finale of the first season of Rebels. Plus, it’s awesome to see a young Admiral Tarkin presiding over the investigation of the government with some clear shots of the architecture that clearly show that the Republic is soon to be the Empire.
7. Kanan And Ezra Vs. The Grand Inquisitor
The Season 1 finale of Rebels saw Kanan and Ezra finally confront the Grand Inquisitor in an epic duel complete with a large room filled with catwalks. Unlike the Inquisitors of Season 2, the Grand Inquisitor actually felt like a threat — and his presence was only given more weight by the excellent voice acting by Jason Isaacs (best known as Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter films).
It was a great moment for Kanan as well; the reluctant Jedi declares that he’s no longer afraid after he believes he witnesses Ezra’s death. Seeing that the two have grown so close over the season, to the point of Ezra’s safety topping Kanan’s priorities, was a great end to this particular arc.
The music, the camera work and the satisfying duel itself led to a great payoff by finally seeing our villain defeated…but not before he declares that something much worse than death will pursue them now, ultimately killing himself due to that fear. He was right…as Vader was introduced for Season 2.
6. When Kenobi Goes Deep Undercover
In one seriously entertaining arc in the fourth season, Kenobi is actually assassinated by a sniper and buried! We as fans know it can’t be true, but we’re left wondering what’s going on. It turns out that the assassination was all part of a ruse to make everyone believe Kenobi was dead. Instead, he was very much alive and assumed the identity of his assassin in order to go deep undercover with a group of bounty hunters.
From there, Kenobi and the likes of Cad Bane and Embo compete in a series of games. The winner gets the honour of leading a mission to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine himself. Of all the arcs on this list, it’s the one that’s the least emotionally impactful, but it’s also the most fun as we get to see Kenobi working with-and against-the very people he’s been trying to stop for many seasons now.
5. The Krell Episodes
Perhaps one of the best arcs in the entire run of The Clone Wars can be found in the fourth season. It features a heavily outnumbered Clone battalion being led by the legendary General Krell. The arc is told over four episodes and features some of the most infuriating moments in the whole show. I say infuriating because you relate to the clones so much in this episode.
Krell is making some unusual decisions in the midst of battle and many clones are dying due to his incompetence. But he’s a general, a lowly grunt can’t disobey a direct order, no matter how terrible those orders are. So the clones bravely continue the fight…and continue to die. To anyone who worked a crappy job and had a boss who made all the wrong calls, this one will resonate with you a lot.
The scenery of the planet is haunting, full of darkness that seems to creep into the very soul of the clones. In the clip below, we see the clones walking in the darkness questioning the methods of their leader. There’s something sinister a foot and the setting amplifies the feeling of unease and uncertainty.
4. Darth Vader Vs. Kanan And Ezra
This Rebels episode boasts one of the coolest Vader moments ever (right after the hallway scene in Rogue One). An establishing shot harkens back to that famous scene, with Vader igniting his crimson sabre in a low lighting setting. From there, the Dark Lord of the Sith mops the floor with our heroes Kanan and Ezra, the latter being laughably outmatched. In order to get the upper hand, the remaining members of the Ghost (aboard a stolen Imperial shuttle) decide to blow up some walkers to try crushing what they likely perceived as a monster.
After being pushed under the falling debris, Vader uses the Force to casually lift the rubble away from him. It’s an amazing shot, of raw evil using all of his hate and power in a room engulfed in flames/ The imagery is powerful and lets the audience know that the show is on a new, darker path in this Season 2 premiere. Our heroes know they’re seriously outmatched and they make the best possible decision they could in that situation: run.
3. Old Ben Meets Maul
In the third season of Rebels, we finally get the conclusion to a storyline that was set up years ago in The Clone Wars. Ezra makes his way to Tatooine in search of a legendary Jedi who can help them fight the Empire. Of course, prophecies can be misread and Ezra is instantly convinced that his saviour is none other than old Ben Kenobi himself. Stephen Stanton takes over voicing the character from James Arnold Taylor in the Clone Wars and you’d be forgiven in thinking Lucasfilm found some archival footage. He goes that good of a job. Ezra and Kenobi discuss how easy it is for someone like Maul to manipulate events. Shortly after, the former Sith Lord appears to confront his adversary one last time. Instead of a grand lightsaber battle, we get something that’s instead straight out of a Kurosawa film (a director who had a great influence on a young George Lucas). I didn’t share the duel here, but it’s brilliant as it is surprising.
2. Darth Maul’s Entire Arc In The Clone Wars
One of the biggest surprises The Clone Wars pulled was resurrecting Darth Maul from the dead. Previously thought sliced in half at the bottom of a long pipe (as one does in Star Wars), he was actually shown to have survived his duel with Kenobi through pure hatred, emerging many years later. His brother, Savage Opress, found him in a garbage pit and brought him back home, where his witch mother repaired his body and mind, which had gone insane with the years of isolation.
From there, he embarked on a crusade to create a new crime syndicate and exact revenge against Kenobi, which he achieved in a most brutal fashion by executing the Jedi’s friend and romantic interest in front of him — but not before running a coup on the Mandalorian capital and coming out on top. Maul and Savage don’t play around either, with them the show is at it’s most violent and disturbing. Public executions, traps and hate are all present here and some of the imagery here is definitely not for young kids. A shot featuring a long table of headless bodies after Savage decapitates the lot is enough to frighten any parent, let alone any child. Despite their monstrous actions, the two brothers have no love for Sidious.
1. Twilight of the Apprentice
I love seeing a long arc pay off. After the six seasons of The Clone Wars (soon to be seven, yay), and Season 2 of Rebels, Ahsoka Tano finally came face to face with Darth Vader. As the former apprentice of Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka had been struggling in season 2 in admitting that the Sith Lord was her former master, a friend she thought had died in Order 66. Now, she comes face to face with him and must engage in one of the best Star Wars lightsaber duels ever. It’s great for a multitude of reasons. The vibrant setting of the Sith Temple, the emotional payoff and the choreography of the nimble Ahsoka and the brute tank that is Vader.
But it only got better from there as Vader loses half of his mask in the duel, showing off Anakin’s face. At this moment, we hear both James Earl Jones and Matt Lanter’s (who voiced Anakin in The Clone Wars) voices layered over each other, giving an epic character moment for Vader, who seemingly has abandoned Anakin for good and is the pure manifestation of evil. For fans of The Clone Wars and the relationship between Anakin and Ahsoka, this is the best payoff.
What’s your favourite moment from any of the Star Wars animated shows thus far? Do you prefer Rebels or The Clone Wars? Are you going to check out Resistance? Let us know and while you await the launch of the new show, be sure to read up on our who we think The Mandalorian is in the new Star Wars show and what has us so excited about the rumoured Harry Potter game.
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