Jumping right in, isn’t it great how Thrawn just shows up as if he’s been around the whole time? I love it when TV shows do something like this and don’t acknowledge how important something is (in a humorous way, which I think is what they were going for in a subtle way) This show gets a lot of things right, sometimes gets them wrong, but as a lifelong Star Wars fan I can wholeheartedly say I like this show. Maybe I don’t love it, but it has its place in the universe, and that place isn’t perfect, but I believe it to be necessary.
Being primarily a show for children, Rebels tends to not get overcomplicated, and that’s a good thing honestly. Much like one of the movies, most episodes end with hints toward the larger story but wrapped up nicely enough to complete a thought. The show isn’t without its annoying cliffhangers, but that’s par for the course when capturing the short attention spans of children is in play. (Personally, I enjoy having the blu-ray playing when you can watch without constant interruptions and ads – it feels much less choppy when binge-watching)
Season three opens with Ezra having learned some dark side techniques, jumping straight into the fray as he slices up stormtroopers with his new lightsaber and mind tricks an AT-DP pilot into fighting for his squadmates. He’s dangerously powerful, and the fact that we weren’t explicitly shown everything he learned from the holocron (before Kanan takes it from him) leaves many questions to be answered about his place in the Force. Can he sit on the fence and begin to learn balancing his personal conflicts, something even Kanan still struggles with? Or will he fall, and how hard?
Here’s a bit of a fan theory for you. Something I noticed but never put much thought into was how much Ezra talks to himself, almost but not quite straight to the audience. At times his narration can be grating, but thinking about it while I brainstormed for this piece got me thinking. Ezra talks to himself because he’s been alone for his life much longer than he’s been with any kind of family, friends, or the Ghost Crew/Pheonix Squadron. His nervous narration likely comes from a childhood habit of talking to himself; unless he was trying to con the locals out of some food or steal from the Imperials, he’s never had anyone to talk to. It opens up to some meta-humor if the show continues to mature the way it has, and the way Clone Wars did before it. I’d love to see Sabine point out how often he talks to himself, out loud, and Ezra shyly realizing someone is really getting to know him on a more personal level (I suggest Sabine because it’s been a point of speculation since season one whether the two would be a couple, and I do think they’d make a cute couple somewhere down the line)
Watching the crew bust everyone’s favorite pirate Hondo out of prison and using his intel to steal Y-Wing bombers was a lot of fun. Ezra jumps the gun. He’s smart and powerful, but doesn’t always weigh the consequences. When they face setbacks, everyone has a different opinion; Sabine thinks logically, realizing the ships need fuel before they can steal them, and Rex mentions that it won’t be their last setback on the mission. Hearing different reactions to the situation helps make the characters feel less flat, and the show is doing a good job of getting characters more and more fleshed out, even if it is sometimes interrupted or shortened due to the 22-minute run time. I’d love to see some more Clone Wars-style arcs, a good three or four episodes spent in one place on one specific thing, where a lot of growth takes place over the arc rather than a quick lesson learned after a short while. However, I think Rebels is a great show for entry-level Star Wars fans, so having bite-sized chunks of story isn’t always a bad thing. These episodes move and don’t get bogged down. (See my previous point about Thrawn just showing up)
Thrawn was perfect, and I hope this show doesn’t see the end of him. I love these characters but in my opinion, they do not get to kill Thrawn – it isn’t how the story would go in my head. Thrawn is introduced and all of his EU/Legends traits are present. He is cold, calm, and sees a bigger picture whereas his Imperial underlings are much more shortsighted. The voice, provided by Lars Mikkelsen, is spot on. To be a fly on the wall while Disney held auditions for that voice (if they did) would have been quite an experience.The premier does not overuse Thrawn, and ultimately Thrawn lets the rebels escape. I hope this doesn’t become habit, but I suspect in the next couple episodes he will deal at least one crippling blow to Pheonix Squadron.
The Gray Jedi come closer to canonicity with the introduction of a new Force wielder, the Bendu, who helps Kanan see beyond his physical blindness. Kanan is among the best characters in the new canon, and seeing him struggle so much through his life really hits you in the feels when you know his whole story. He’s effectively a war orphan after Order 66, he kills his former clone trooper friends, and struggles for the rest of his life to hide, but not abandon, his Jedi ways. The Bendu, also voiced perfectly by one Tom Baker, was a fun addition to the show, and I hope he pops up again to teach more lessons about the Force.
I was discussing the show with my fiance before the premier, and we agree on a lot of points about this show.Sometimes it feels rushed, like more could be going on, but at the same time it is a show that will get a new generation hooked on Star Wars. I want the show to do well, and I want more spinoff novels about the other characters similar to A New Dawn (Disney, if you’re reading this, mind writing a book about Sabine’s days in the Imperial Academy on Mandalore?) As I said, binge-watching on blu-ray helps this the rewatchability of this show. And with the Ahsoka novel coming out next month, I have high hopes for any spinoff comics or novels we get in the future. To the people who don’t like this show or complain about it a lot, I know it has its flaws, but take it for what it is, not for what it is not. Not unlike Grand Admiral Thrawn, I see a larger picture. Does the show not do much for you? Maybe wait for a book, or get lost reading on Wookieepedia to get the stories in a different format. But give this show a chance, because it is getting better. This premier got. . .I hate to use this word, but darker. It is a well-rounded darkness, a more somber tone. It isn’t annoyingly grim-dark, and although I suspect tragedy will strike our rebel cell this season, I know that the heart of the show will remain in overcoming the odds and the darkness. Will they all make it out? Only time will tell. Trust in the Force, and trust in more entertaining episodes Saturdays this Fall.
Obligatory Review Score: A solid 7.5 out of 10, 1 being Sithspit and 10 being more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
Like this rant? Hate it? Let me know in the comments! You can contact me on the contact page or in the comments. And if you have an idea for something you’d like to see, let me know and I might make a post about it! Thanks for reading this far!