SPOILERS for Star Wars Rebels Season 2 as shown in the trailer!
I was not super impressed with the first season of Star Wars Rebels. The animation was a dip in quality from the far superior (and more expensive) Clone Wars series. The characters were much more cartoony than their more serious Clone, Jedi, and Sith counterparts. But I stuck with it believing that they had formed a solid creative team in Dave Filoni (Avatar: The Last Airbender, Clone Wars), Simon Kinberg (the X-Men films), and Greg Weissman (Gargoyles, Young Justice).
It is, after all, more Star Wars. Who could complain about that? Most television shows need a season or two before they really kick into gear and find their sweet spot. And as it turns out, it seems like Rebels was trying super hard to hold back and establish its main cast before letting loose with a ton of new characters and cameos for Season 2. Hopefully this will be a good new direction for the show. Personally I am sick of Lothal and will be glad if we can get out of there and start exploring new corners of the galaxy much like Clone Wars was prone to do.
I want to go through the trailer chronologically and point out some of the major new developments and speculate on what season 2 (and beyond) might hold for us.
The Voice of Emperor Palpatine
The new trailer opens with what appears to be Darth Vader receiving instructions from Palpatine. I’m excited to hear the always excellent Sam Witwer as the voice of the Sith Master. After the sad death of Ian Abercrombie toward the end of Clone Wars’ run, the character was jarringly replaced by Tim Curry. I’m very glad the Rebels team recruited Sam Witwer (voice of Darth Maul and Starkiller) because it seems like his Darth Sideous voice is a huge step up from Tim Curry.
I doubt we’ll see much of Palpatine on the show because again these rebels are still fairly minor in the overall scheme of things. The fact that they have a Jedi (make that two with the addition of Ahsoka) does elevate their threat level a bit but it still seems like they are not yet a major military concern to the emperor, more a nuisance than anything else. I wouldn’t expect this series to showcase Palpatine like they did every other week on Clone Wars.
Much More Darth Vader
Darth Vader made a little cameo or two in Season One but now it seems like he is going to be a much bigger player. The fact that they were able to get James Earl Jones, the original voice from the films, is pretty wonderful and unexpected. I would temper your expectations though. From a storytelling point-of-view, you really can’t use Vader very much.
We know Vader could pretty much kill any character on the show without breaking a sweat and if the rebels kept escaping him it would diminish the threat he poses. I predict he will pop up briefly in a few episodes but he will continue to be more of a behind-the-scenes character. If they do give him much to do, I doubt he will interact much with the main rebels. The show needs to maintain Vader’s status as an unstoppable and deadly villain, the top force-user in the galaxy. Expect him primarily in a cameo role.
I don’t know why I never thought of it before but of course the Sith would have more than one inquisitor roaming the galaxy carrying out their bidding. I guess the whole idea of the Rule of Two made me think that other lightsaber-wielding subordinates would be too much of a threat to their masters. They could too easily become usurpers.
But we have seen Dooku training up Asajj Ventress and a tolerance with the wannabe General Grievous. Sideous himself decided to keep the reborn Darth Maul for his own insidious purposes. The fact that there are more Inquistors out there is a really good sign that Kanan and Ezra will have some mid-level threats to go up against that will allow for some balanced lightsaber battles.
Force Sensitive Children
I keep forgetting that Luke and Leia are not the only force-sensitive kids in the galaxy. In fact, children would naturally be great candidates for future inquisitors. It seems like we already went over this plotline in Clone Wars but we’ll just have to wait and see if they actually want to go there or if this line from the trailer is misleading us. Remember, last time we saw Vader with a bunch of force-sensitive children, it didn’t turn out so good.
Return of the Clones
Now they’re just messing with our emotions. They cancel Clone Wars. They make us believe we will never see our beloved Ahsoka and Rex again. They create a show with entirely new characters and then they pull this on us!
Yes, old Captain Rex is back and it looks like Gregor and Wolffe have survived as well. After the heartbreaking Order 66 arc in season 6 of Clone Wars, I’m really happy to see a few clones not only survive all the way until the events of Rebels but somehow manage to resist their programming and stand up to the Empire. Well, they are probably more in hiding than anything else but it looks like they might finally be ready to take on the Empire along with the crew of the Ghost and their favorite ex-Jedi.
Captain Rex of course is the most developed clone character from the first show. He was Anakin’s right-hand man. But look who else is with him. Wolffe is from Plo Koon’s squad, nicknamed the Wolfpack. He is the one-eyed clone who showed up in a couple different arcs. Notably he was one of the clones who tried to arrest Ahsoka when she was a fugitive.
The other clone with them is Gregor who you might remember as the commando from the Droid Arc that featured R2-D2 and the rather annoying Colonel Gascon. Gregor ended up sacrificing himself in an awesome one-man showdown that allowed the droids to complete their mission. I don’t think anyone thought Gregor was still alive so it’s pretty interesting that he avoided Order 66 and found his way to Rex.
I have a bad feeling that these clones are not going to survive their decision to help the rebels, but I’m excited that the writers have found a way to revisit some of these wonderful clone characters that often times were the best part of Clone Wars.
The Empire Strikes Back
Briefly in the trailer we see an AT-AT in action, which reminds me. The creators have said that they are going for an Empire Strikes Back tone, which is what everybody says when they want something to be awesome. In this case, they might actually be able to do it since the rebels are in a very similar place to how Luke and the gang were after they blew up the Death Star.
The Ghost crew has struck some minor but effective blows against the Empire and it makes total sense that Vader is going to respond with decisive action. I’m sure the Emperor is not going to tolerate a resurgent Jedi presence anywhere in his galaxy and I think that means people are going to die this season. Maybe even a main cast member. RIP Kanan Surely some side characters like the clones, a crewmember of the Ghost, a rebel ally, or possibly Ahsoka herself.
The thing to keep in mind is that this series is not open-ended. It’s heading toward some very dark days. All the Jedi except for Kenobi and Yoda presumably need to be extinguished by the time of A New Hope. Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka can’t really succeed at their mission beyond helping set up a viable rebel alliance. There is no room for non-dead Jedi in this time period unless they self-banish themselves to permanent exile on a crappy planet like Tatooine or Dagobah. This is the part of the story where the Sith are still large and in charge.
It makes sense that Kanan in this trailer still doesn’t want to fight. To join an organized rebellion as a Jedi means imminent torture and death.
Not sure why they felt the need to spoil this in the trailer. Ezra is one of the weak links of the series so far. His slingshot and tough street kid attitude is not as endearing as the writers hoped it would be. If anything, Ezra seems to be the entry point for younger kids to connect with the show.
Ezra’s parents are still alive. I assume he is going to want to rescue them and that other crew members are going to argue that it is too dangerous and that someone will say that they have to do it because Ezra is a good kid and he is part of their family now and that it totally makes sense to risk everyone’s life and the fate of the galaxy because they’re his parents, right? Not looking forward to this subplot, but oh well.
Ahsoka Has Questions
Questions that need answering. Yeah that feels like a direct quote from Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring right before he abandons Frodo to certain death by Ringwraith. The Grey Wizard discovered that Sauron was still alive and kicking. This makes me feel pretty sure that the many questions that Ahsoka has is really just one question: Where did my old master go and he didn’t turn into an evil Sith lord, did he?
There is really only one way this ends. Ahsoka figures out Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker. Then they fight each other. After that, I actually don’t know how it ends. Everything is better with Ahsoka so I think it would be much smarter to keep her alive assuming this series is going to keep having more seasons after this. But again, it would be kind of boring if every time Darth Vader shows up, Ahsoka simply duels him to a stalemate.
At this point I just have to believe these writers know what they are doing and how to milk this story for all its worth. Dave Filoni usually knows what to do in these situations. Intriguingly they broke one of ironclad rules of the Star Wars universe (well rules that apply to everyone except Samuel L. Jackson and Jon Favreau): no new lightsaber colors.
Actually Ahsoka sort of broke this rule with her barely green-yellowish lightsaber at the end of Clone Wars. Anyway she wields the color white now because she is neither Jedi or Sith. Get it? More impressively she has two of these weapons, which is pretty incredible especially considering how hard it is to find lightsabers these days. We’ll see how this rivalry/reunion/confrontation/fan-favorite-character-death between Ahsoka and Vader goes. It would also be nice to see how Vader feels about his old apprentice stirring up trouble from him after all these years, most notable because they actually ended on a really good note when she quit the Jedi. Is Darth Vader really so evil that he would hurt his little Snips?
Other Random Mentions
Hondo is also back, creating the perfect triumvirate of Clone Wars heroes along with Ahsoka and Rex. It’ll be interesting to go back and see exactly how their past together affects where they are now in Rebels.
Sabine evidently is being hunted by an old friend. Her sister? Her best friend? Anywho there is an imperial bounty on her head and that means she will have to resort to that age old Mandalorian custom, the one-on-one duel. Also I forget. Is she related to Pre Vizsla? Is she his daughter or niece or something?
Vader mentions that Ahsoka can lead them to other lost Jedi. I am going to speculate here and say that these lost Jedi have to be some of the Younglings from Clone Wars. Star Wars can be super dark sometimes but I can’t see them not bringing back at least two of the Younglings to make up for that horrific temple scene in Revenge of the Sith. They already had a relationship with Ahsoka so it is only natural that when Order 66 went down that she would go back and try to save her relatively helpless padawan friends.
This year is the year of Star Wars. I think Rebels is going to do all it can to up the ante and reclaim some of the glory that got lost during the unfortunate cancellation of Clone Wars. If Season One was putting the pieces in place and proving that it didn’t need the Clone Wars cast to survive, here’s hoping that Season Two grows up a bit and earns its own deserved spot in the Star Wars pantheon.