Now that the first season of Star Wars Rebels, here’s my thoughts about it :
A great season ! Here’s the details :
The Characters 4,5/5
The choices of the heroes is a good choice, we have a diversity – 1 droid (Chopper), 1 Twi’lek (Hera Syndulla), 1 human girl (Sabine Wren), 1 human male (Kanan Jarrus), 1 human boy (Ezra Bridger), 1 Lasat (Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios).
I’ll start talking about the two female characters. Sabine and Hera, these two characters are strong female characters who got a excellent development. Hera is the leader of this rebel cell, she is the owner of the Ghost, a great pilot. I think she was the right person to play this motherly figure of the team, she is the one of give the orders, she is also the one who protects them. She is brave and we really see that she loves her team, and wants to protect them as she always kept secret her communications with Fulcrum so that if they were captured only her would known the truth. She is also doing this to protect the bigger rebellion of course. She is as her father Cham Syndulla, a person with a great heart who wants freedom. Sabine is the artist of the team doing beautiful drawings here and there and loves explosives. She is the image of the young girl who wants to make a difference in the world and who is looking for someone to learn from. Hera plays well this role that got explored in the episode 5 ‘Out of Darkness’. Unfortunately it was only in this episode that we got our two female characters having to really work together on their own, I expect more episodes for season 2 like this. These two characters are the best of the series, they should get a bigger role. On their romantic sides, I think there are clear proves of a love between Hera and Kanan and it would be interesting to get it explored, they missed an opportunity of a kiss in episode 13 ‘Fire Across The Galaxy’ at their reunion scene, we felt that they wanted to kiss but they just hugged. They really make a great couple. For Sabine, I think they shouldn’t go into a romance with Ezra, they need to stay friends, I think a romance with Ezra could kill Sabine’s character so their friendship I think is just enough. People talked that Sabine being a lesbian could be great. I think it would be indeed interesting, it would be the first female lesbian in Star Wars on screen. I think it would be an interesting story for her.
Now Kanan and Ezra. I like the relationship they build of padawan and master but the real problem in this is I don’t like Ezra at all (only the character because I think Taylor Gray does a great job at voicing Ezra!). Ezra Bridger is this reckless kid who is quite arrogant and they overuse his Force powers, they almost make him as if he was the chosen one. Even in his emotional moments, Ezra’s behavior makes me not being compassionate about his fate. One cool thing is his lightsaber half-blaster, half-lightsaber, his new weapon is much better than his ridiculous weapon of the beginning. Ezra has risked too much the lives of his friends and his really selfish, he does not think about consequences. So yes, Ezra Bridger is the character of Rebels that does not have his place in the team. However, Kanan Jarrus is a great character ! He is cool, this kind of cowboy jedi, he is an idealist and at the same time we can see that he feels guilty but he hides his guilt. Guilty about what happened to him before with his master and other thing we do not know yet. So he has this mysterious part in him that contrasts his relax side.
Chopper, he is the grumpy droid that makes everyone laugh. Sometimes I wonder if he is more human than a droid. He is the droid you want to have with you.
Zeb is the muscle, the badass guy who kicks stormtroopers. As episode 1 ‘Droids in Distress’ mentions it, Zeb must have had a difficult past as his species was mainly eradicated by the Empire. So behind his appearance of the badass, he is a broken character who is trying to do his best to fight for what is right.
Lando Calrissian was a younger version of who he is in Star Wars Episode V Empire Strikes Back. He is the charmer guy who tries to flirt a little with Sabine because he sees it annoys Ezra and also he tries to flirt a little bit with Hera. Everyone loves Lando. He is the gambler and also a guy with a heart.
Now about the villains. Let’s start with Tarkin. Tarkin is exactly the way you would expect he was. Frightening, terrifying, the guy who is not impressed, he is in control and when he is in the scene, he owns it and that is thanks to his visual expressions and also Stephen Stanton brilliant performance. You know that when Tarkin is here, you have to be afraid. He executes Aresko and Grint just to show example to the Inquisitor, Kallus and Maketh Tua that failure is not allowed with the Empire. He really arrives at a time in the series where the villains cannot accomplish anything good and he finally takes control of the situation and he succeeds – Kanan gets captured in episode 11 ‘Call For Action’. We find the personality he has in ANH and the Tarkin novel with also The Clone Wars. It is a mix of these 3 Tarkin that gets the Tarkin we have in Star Wars Rebels. His final scene of the season with the arrival of Darth Vader shows that he is in charge, he outranks Vader and this we find it again in ANH when we have this kind of conflict of who is in charge.
The Inquisitor looks frightening and badass with his double-bladed lightsaber in his first appearance he wins his fight against Kanan. But in the end the Inquisitor is not really successful, his only victory is because of Tarkin by capturing Kanan. He makes a match for a team with Tarkin – two frightening people working together. I am actually sad to see him leave the series as I think his association with Tarkin made his character more powerful.
The story is absolutely great ! It is an excellent writing but there are some problems that I think I couldn’t give it a 5/5. There are 2 episodes out of the 16 (13 regular episodes + 2 episodes Spark of Rebellion + the shorts) that were not good. The two episodes are episode 2’Fighter Flight’ and episode 8 ‘Path of The Jedi’. I will start with ‘Fighter Flight’. This episode really seemed useless, I think they were trying to build the bond between Ezra and Zeb but the result was the episode to be too childish. It brought nothing to the story. And now ‘Path of the Jedi’, Yoda’s cameo was not necessary here, I think it was just for the nostalgia, it did not help the story. The rhythm did not work, the story did get together, this Ezra focus was not a good one and really did not help me to like Ezra. The positive point was to show another jedi temple just like we saw in The Clone Wars. Another negative point of the story is they seem not to want to kill too much stormtroopers, just to knock them out, this is dark times, death should be more present. Going to different places other than Lothal would also be appreciated even though I love this planet, a beautiful one !
Now the positive points as I said excellent writing, excellent ! The concept of having a team of people fighting the rebels is an original idea and the fact that they are a cell and that there are other cells like them fighting was nice idea, it really fits with ANH. It is also important that they varied the episodes that we do not always have episodes Rebels vs. Empire. The episodes like ‘Out of Darkness’ and ‘Idiot’s Array’, it shows a life outside the fighting. The little jobs they had to do at the beginning for Cikatro Vizago was interesting, it was showing what they do to live. We really have a very detailed story with a lot of developments. Spark of Rebellion was a good start for the series, it really introduced the characters and the stakes well – they are in dark times and they want to do their best to make a difference in the Empire.
The three final episodes were the best and really got the series to an all-new level, a darker level and a bigger level. This was because of Tarkin’s arrival on Lothal who got the Empire to fight the rebels. The final episode really opened to something new – other rebels cells more fight is coming. The writers were able to keep the mystery around Fulcrum and at the same time giving us clues that it was Ahsoka Tano. Ahsoka being Fulcrum was indeed an excellent idea, she was the perfect character to be Fulcrum, she left the Jedi Order so when the Empire comes she was obviously a figure of opposition. Lux Bonteri should really be in season 2 of Rebels, him and Ahsoka make a great couple and Lux is really the kind of character who can be a rebel. Ahsoka reveal was a powerful scene and exciting one, a brilliant entrance !
These are my grades for the different episodes :
The Shorts 5/10
Spark of Rebellion 7/10
Droids in Distress 6.5/10
Fighter Flight 4/10
Rise of the Old Masters 6/10
Breaking Ranks 5/10
Out of Darkness 8/10
Empire Day 7.5/10
Gathering Forces 7/10
Path of the Jedi 4/10
Idiot’s Array 6.5/10
Vision of Hope 6/10
Call for Action 9/10
Rebels Resolve 9/10
Fire Across The Galaxy 9/10
We got some awesome guests this season such as Billy Dee Williams reprising is role of Lando Calrissian, Ashley Eckstein reprising her role of Ahsoka Tano, Stephen Stanton reprising his role of Tarkin, Phil Lamarr reprising his role of Bail Organa. We also got Frank Oz voicing Yoda again. Dee Bradley Baker was also part of the cast voicing Ezra’s father and admiral Konstantine. Concerning the main cast of Star Wars Rebels is extremely talented as The Clone Wars cast. I want to mention specially Vanessa Marshall (voicing Hera Syndulla) and Freddie Prinze Jr. (voicing Kanan Jarrus) and Stephen Stanton (voicing Tarkin). So great performance from everyone !
Visually this series is much less beautiful than The Clone Wars but The Clone Wars had a higher budget to do wonderful things. However Star Wars Rebels are not that bad. We got some beautiful shots on Lothal. One of the best is probably this shot during the episode 01×12 Rebels Resolve :
So visually the sets can be beautiful like this one, Lothal also got a nice design. From a far, the visuals are much better than when we get closer shots, visually the show could be improved but it is generally good visuals ! The characters models are really well done.
One thing that the team got wrong even if they did it intentionally was to make the lightsabers and the blasters shots look like they were in the original version of Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope. I think this was a real mistake, the visual of the lightsabers at the time of ANH were like this because of the special effects of the time not because the lightsabers glow less because it was dark times. They should have kept visually the blades of the lightsabers and the blasters shots just like they were in The Clone Wars or in the prequels. There was absolutely no reason to go back to old visuals at a time where they can do better. They wanted to do something nostalgic but this was unnecessary. That is my biggest criticism on the visuals of Rebels.
To show you what I was saying these are pictures from Rebels :
and these from The Clone Wars :
So in conclusion :
Star Wars Rebels season 1 was a great introduction to this series. It has some problems, some of them can be fixed with the future seasons – Ezra’s character development but generally the season is great and it has impressed me. We have excellent characters, fantastic story-writing and a lot of potential for the future. It announces a awesome second season !