When Rebels was first announced nearly two years ago, fans were nervous; this would be the very first Star Wars anything produced by Disney, and after the excellent five season run of Clone Wars, that was often very adult and complex in it storytelling, would “The House of Mouse” give us a super kiddified version of Star Wars? The news that the series would have a tween-age boy in the lead probably didn’t help matters much either.
Turns out, we needn’t have worried; under the guidance of former Clone Wars executive producer Dave Filoni, along with help from Young Justice’s Greg Weisman and X-Men’s Simon Kinberg, the show was great pretty much right out of the gate, evoking the feeling of the classic trilogy while still being very much its own story. So for those of you who missed season one in its first run, here are five reasons you should go back and check out the first 13 episodes of Rebels in repeats, and five things we’d really like to see in year two. SPOILERS for all of season one are in this here list, so fair warning.
The Five Best Things In Rebels Season One
1. It’s Now a 50/50 Gender-Balanced Show
With the addition of former Jedi padawan Ahsoka Tano at the end of season one as a regular recurring part of the main cast, something kind of miraculous happened: Star Wars: Rebels became an equally gender balanced animated show, something highly unusual for an action oriented “boy’s cartoon”. While the Star Wars films produced one of the most bad ass and memorable female protagonists in Sci-fi history with Princess Leia…that was about it as far as women were concerned. (Padme was always as exciting as dry toast, even on the vastly superior-to-the-movies Clone Wars series.)
This is important for so many reasons, but chiefly, it gives young girls who may be watching strong characters to identify with, and gives the young boys who are watching incredible women to look up to and not simply objectify. Both Hera and Sabine are developed into interesting characters over the course of the first season, and I can’t wait for them to be explored further in season two.
2. The Ralph McQuarrie of It All
So much of the visual appeal of the original Star Wars trilogy can be traced back to one-man concept designer Ralph McQuarrie, who designed the bulk of the visual look from the original trilogy, from ships to planets to characters. As good as many of the designs were for the prequels and The Clone Wars (and regardless of what you think of them as films, the designs were good) they still missed that particular McQuarrie aesthetic that screams “Star Wars“.
But Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni and the design team at Lucasfilm did a very smart thing with the new show: they went into the archives and pulled out a lot of unused McQuarrie concept art, as well as other Star Wars-related art he did over the decades, and are using it as a basis for the designs of the show. The series’ main location of the planet Lothal is one example, based on unused concepts for a rebel base. And there are several more McQuarrie Easter Eggs throughout for the hardcore Star Wars fan to notice.
2. It’s Kind of Firefly: The Animated Series
Let me describe a show to you: A band of space outlaws on board a rusty old spaceship, led by a former idealist who was on the losing side of a galactic war many years before, and is now a hardened, somewhat bitter version of his former self. The crew of this ship are constantly evading capture from the oppressive Galactic government while doing as many small good deeds for those in need as they can, when they’re not breaking the law somehow.
Yes, that’s Joss Whedon’s Firefly, but it’s also Star Wars: Rebels. While it seems likely that Firely won’t ever make it back to TV screens no matter how badly fans want it (although who knows these days, with every old property seemingly making a comeback), Rebels is, in many ways, the next best thing. Plus: Lightsabers. Captain Mal never had that.
4; Chopper AKA C1-10P
Chopper is a lot like R2-D2, just clearly older, and more of an asshole. You could even think of him as a droid version of a sociopath, based on some of his actions. While Artoo could sometimes be cranky, he was basically always ready to help and save the day. But Chopper’s bleeps and boops somehow always sound pissed off and bitter, and in maybe his most WTF moment in season one, when threatened to be replaced with another astromech droid on board The Ghost, he literally pushed the poor robot out of the hanger in mid flight on to the planet below.
But that’s nothing – one time, he blew a bunch of stormtroopers into space through an airlock. This droid is COLD, but he’s always fun to watch.
5. The Inquisitor
I’ll admit, I didn’t know what to think of the Imperial Inquisitor when he first appeared on the show. Essentially a Force-trained agent of the Empire whose sole purpose it was to hunt down remaining Jedi who escaped death during Order 66, the Inquisitor was Darth Maul crossed with Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, who was brought to delightfully evil life thanks to the voice talents of Jason Isaacs.
My only regret is that we didn’t learn more about these Inquisitors before his death at the end of the first season. (He’s not a Sith but he’s Force-trained, but who trained him? And where did he come from?) I suppose we could in year two. But every time the Inquisitor popped out his funky double bladed lightsaber, you knew you were in for a kickass fight scene.
What We Really Want to See in Rebels Season Two
1. Ahsoka vs. Vader
The end of season one of Rebels not only returned Ahsoka Tano to the Star Wars Galaxy, but it also brought in Darth Vader himself into the proceedings. So just how much long can it be before the Dark Lord of the Sith faces off against his former padawan apprentice? For longtime fans of The Clone Wars series, this moment will be just as significant as when Obi-Wan and Vader fought in A New Hope. This is simply a confrontation we’ve been dying to see ever since we found out Ahsoka survives the events of Episode III.
While neither Kanan or especially Ezra could prove a match for Vader, his former apprentice could conceivably take him in a fight. Of course, considering Vader is around in the original trilogy, and Ahsoka is not, I’d assume Ahsoka would be on the losing end of that fight….but then again, we all assumed Ahsoka would die before the end of Clone Wars, and we were wrong about that. In any event, it’ll be a hell of a cool fight to watch, and a historic moment for both characters.
2. More of the Galaxy, Please
One of the things that stood out like a sore thumb about Rebels over Clone Wars was scope; the events of the Clone Wars took place all over the galaxy, taking viewers to many exotic worlds along the way. So far, Rebels has kept things limited to the Outer Rim of the galaxy, and mostly just on the planet Lothal, which makes things a little samey week to week.
The real reason for this is budget – when Clone Wars was produced, it was before the Disney buyout of Lucasfilm, and George “Daddy Warbucks” Lucas spent nearly Pixar levels of money for his animated TV show. Disney is holding the purse strings WAY tighter this time, and although the animation on Rebels is lovely, the smaller budget has kept the scope more limited. With the show a hit now officially, and the crew of The Ghost now aware of their place in a larger rebellion, it’s time to expand the universe of the show a whole lot more.
3. Young Princess Leia
Another thing that happened at the end of season one of Rebels that’s very promising is the first appearance of other cells in the Rebellion, led by Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan. Of course, fans know that Organa’s adopted daughter is Princess Leia, who is about 14 or possibly even 15 years old during the events season two.
While I doubt she would be a main cast member ever (I can’t see her father letting her roam the galaxy on a pirate ship) I could see her being a recurring character, maybe learning how to handle a blaster from one of the crew of The Ghost, or maybe even Ahsoka (it would be cool if Anakin’s apprentice had a part in helping his daughter become a bad ass). Recently, Sarah Michelle Gellar joined the voice cast of Rebels…could she be voicing a young Leia? There has also been some concept art released of new characters for season two, one of which could maybe be our young, cinnamon bun-haired princess.
4. The Old Clones
One thing that Rebels has officially, unequivocally answered for Star Wars fans – the Stormtroopers of the original trilogy are not clones, like the troopers of the prequels trilogy or the Clone Wars series. (which explains why the Clonetroopers were such excellent warriors, and the Stormtroopers such lousy shots.)
But just what happened to all the older Clones? We know from the movies they were created with accelerated aging, meaning that some fifteen years later many would be dead, or pretty old, but some have to still be out there, like maybe Clone Wars favorites Captain Rex. Dave Filoni has suggested that some of the older clones are still out there, training the Stormtroopers, but so far we haven’t seen them. What became of them after being forced to kill their Jedi Generals? I feel like there are plenty of cool stories left with some of these guys.
5. Darth Maul
With the reveal of Ahsoka’s post-Order 66 fate at the end of season one, one of the lingering plot threads from Clone Wars is “what happened to Darth Maul?” An in-canon Dark Horse Comics story called Son of Dathomir, originally meant to be a Clone Wars season six story, revealed that Maul is still alive, so what happened to him? It’s hard to imagine that the Emperor and Vader would have allowed a vengeful former Sith Lord to wander the galaxy for fifteen years wreaking havoc unchecked, so either he’s in hiding during the events of Rebels, or something else. All I know is that a Darth Vader/Darth Maul fight is now possible, and I doubt there are many viewers who wouldn’t want to watch that scenario play out.
Previously by Eric Diaz: