Here we are at the end of season 1. It simultaneously feels like its been five minutes and a thousand years since I started this one. Maybe that’s because I spent ages thinking about starting the series in the months between finishing Clone Wars and starting this one.
And now having finished the first season, I can’t get over this feeling that everything I’ve seen so far is just place setting, establishing the pieces before actually jumping into the meat of the story.
Season 1, Episode 13: Call to Action
Right from the beginning, something feels a little different about this episode. It feels more cinematic. The lighting, the camera angles and the music, all of it makes these episodes feel a little less “Sunday Morning Cartoon”. We have a cold opening scored by the Imperial March, where Grand Moff Tarkin arrives on Lothal to find out why Agent Kallus and the Inquisitor have been unable to eliminate one little band of insurgents.
Right away, Tarkin makes note of one of the things I couldn’t help but point out in previous parts; that the crew of the Ghost seem unwilling to actually kill any of the Imperials they tangle with. Most of the time. He says they’re more principled than others. I kind of chocked it up to this being a kid’s show, but I do appreciate how the series makes a point to address it.
And the fruits of leaving their enemies are all coming to bear it seems. Gall Trayvis is on the Holonet, having been left alive when he last tangled with the crew of the Ghost. He’s come with a complete glamor shot of the whole crew, putting a bounty on their head and giving them recognisable faces to anyone who might be friend, or enemies.
Meanwhile, Kanan decides its time to send some counter-programming and hijack an Imperial Comms tower to broadcast their own message of Rebellion to not only Lothal, but the surrounding systems as well. A mission Tarkin gets wind of and lays a trap for them.
But not before knocking some heads together. Over the course of this series, I’ve noticed that we’ve been introduced to new villain after new villain. Ones that start the series intimidating, only for their repeated failures to turn them impotent. It happened to Kallus, then it happened to the Inquisitor.
Tarkin takes exception to this and makes things real by having the Inquisitor execute our two dunderheaded Imperial Officers Aresko and Grint for their flagrant and comedic levels of incompetence. Then he makes a speech that shows just how aware of the dangers this group represents. While there are factions of insurgency all over the Galaxy, these Rebels are not yet an Alliance.
If they were all to join together… Well, we all know what ends up happening.
Once the crew are inside the Comms Tower, the trap is sprung and Kanan finds himself up against impossible odds. Determined to make a heroic move of self sacrifice, he sends the rest of the crew away and allows himself to be captured by the Inquisitor. All so Tarkin can look him in the eye and tell him his movement is doomed.
That being said, we do get a nice moment at the end. With the tower hacked, Ezra is able to broadcast a message of hope against the Empire out to Lothal and beyond. Mirroring the actions of his parents so many years before, and most likely overcoming one more piece of doubt that holds him back. All before Tarkin orders the tower destroyed, making the young Rebel’s first broadcast also his last. For now.
Season 1, Episode 14: Rebel Resolve
The episode begins with the crew hijacking a Walker hoping find where Kanan is being held, but with no results. Hera talks to her mysterious contact Fulcrum who is looking increasingly Jedi-like now we are seeing them in hologram. I had a feeling they would end up being someone we knew, now I have a couple of suspicions.
Ezra is taking the loss particular hard, as you’d expect from a kid with abandonment issues to. The surprise to me is Chopper taking it hard as well. And here I thought the little droid was Evil, guess he does care after all. Although pretty much everyone seems to ignore Hera and go off in the Phantom on their own anyway.
Through a tip from their shady informant Vizago, who Ezra outs himself as a Jedi to obtain, the gang learn that with the Empire’s long range communications down, they’re moving information through astromechs being shuttled from the planet to the Star Destroyer in orbit. Information including prisoner transfers.
And so they steal a courier droid and sent a painted Chopper in its place. The droid they steal seems like an okay guy, he doesn’t even seem that attached to the Empire. It seems like he’ll stick around, that is until the returned Chopped knocked him out of the ship and then laughs about it. That’s the Chopper I was expecting. I’d say it was grim, but we see the little guy survives.
The episode ends with the revelation that Kanan is on Tarkin’s destroyer, which is currently in orbit. However, it’s shortly scheduled to leave for Mustafar: “Where Jedi go to Die!” Dun dun dun.
Season 1, Episode 15: Fire Across the Galaxy
Final episode of season 1. The episode begins with another cold opening of the crew stealing a transport from an Imperial landing pad in a clear nod to Sabine’s short from before the series started. God those Stormtroopers have bad aim.
And hey, that hijacked TIE Fighter I was complaining about in the first part came back full circle. Fair play writers.
All this time, in this episode and the last, Tarking and the Inquisitor have been torturing Kanan to get information out of him about other Rebel factions out in the universe. Fat chance of that, considering Hera has a made a point throughout the series of compartmentalising information and keeping her fellow crew in the dark.
Kanan couldn’t tell the Empire about this “Fulcrum” even if he wanted to.
Using the TIE as a Trojan Horse EMP, the crew mount their rescue of Kanan aboard Tarkin’s Destroyer. From here, we’re into full on Star Wars third act action sequences. Starting with a duel between Kanan and the Inquisitor where the Jedi manages to finally defeat the dark side user resulting in the latter’s death after falling into the exploding engine.
From there we get a gunfight chase through the corridors of the ship before a Starfighter chase in orbit around Mustafar. It’s good stuff to be honest, the most Star Warsy stuff I feel like I’ve seen from this series. When it seems like all is lost, Chopper pops out of Hyperspace with backup; other Rebel cells being commanded by Bail Organa.
In the aftermath, we learn how much good writing actually went into the early parts of this series. There were so many loose threads I always felt seemed left hanging. Threads that all get picked up and tied off again in this finale. I’ve got applaud it. The crew of the Ghost learn that they’re just one of many Rebel Cells operating out in the outer rim, their handler being Fulcrum.
And the identity of Fulcrum is revealed: It’s Ahsoka Tano, looking 15 years older and still having the voice of a teenager. I could have been a reslly cool surprise, had I not known Ahsoka was going to be showing up at some point. And the fact that the episodes leading up to here made it pretty obvious.
As the episode ends, we see Tarkin return to Lothal, greeted by Agent Kallus. It seems that news from Mustafar has spread and the people of the planet are starting to see the Empire as weak. Information Tarkin seems less than perturbed by considering he has a new plan to deal with it all: Darth Vader.
Now that’s a strong way to end a series.
If there’s one thing I have to say about season one of Star Wars Rebels; it’s that the whole thing feels like one big prologue. It introduced the characters, their dynamic and their needs and then is gives them a small obstacle to overcome before revealing the much better world to them in the final moments.
These three episodes really impressed me. While the middle one felt like it dragged at times, the first and third were fantastic. As the series ends, we’ve really seen the growth of Ezra as a character, maybe a little at the expense of the other members of the cast. But hey, there are plenty more episodes left to rectify that.
With this season over the doors for the future blown wide open, I hope that the future series’ expand their scope. While focusing on a single location was fun, and very unusual for Star Wars, I’d like to see the greater Rebellion now. I feel like we’ve gotten what we needed out of the tutorial planet and it’s time to start spreading our wings.