Star Wars Rebels: Season 2 Trailer Analysis

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

rebelsDarth 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.

Multiple Inquistors!

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.

Ezra’s Parents

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.


The 16 Most Breathtaking Moments from The Battle of the Five Armies Trailer

The new trailer for The Battle of the Five Armies dropped like a hammer today. It’s a brilliant piece of marketing that is definitely going to build lots of excitement for this last installment.

Here is my opinion on the 16 most breathtaking moments from the trailer in roughly chronological order.

Potential spoilers ahead!

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1) Lake-town Burns

We’ve seen Smaug torch Lake-town in the teaser trailer but here we finally see the after-effects. And it’s brutal. The whole city is ablaze with towers of flames and smoke. It definitely brings to mind Bard’s words about remembering the firestorm that destroyed Dale. It’s happening all over again.

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2) The Dwarves Build a Barricade

Or so it appears. We see a few shots of giant statues crumbling before the gates of Erebor. I assume this is Thorin beefing up his kingdom’s defenses to keep out unwanted company looking for gold. His chief concerns at this point are of course Thranduil and the men of the Lake.

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3) Return of the War Elk

Although in the past I’ve incorrectly referred to it as a moose, I’m pretty sure it’s an elk. Anyway I’m happy to see Thranduil back riding his war elk as seen in the prologue to An Unexpected Journey. This is just such a cool and distinctive visual. I really hope he can ride it into battle at some point even though from the two trailers we’ve seen it looks like Thranduil does most of his fighting on foot.

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4) Orc Tunnels

Here is Sauron’s army marching from Dol Guldur to the slopes of Erebor. Gandalf mentions in this trailer that this is the ultimate culmination of Sauron’s plans but I’m still unsure of how the line of Durin and the Lonely Mountain fit into his schemes. We know from Thrain in the extended edition for Desolation that Smaug is in league with Sauron but I’m not sure how or why this requires a giant army to march halfway across Middle Earth to fight a handful of dwarves. Is he planning to use the gold of Erebor to buy up all of Middle Earth and drive up property values?

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5) War Bats

I’m not sure how I feel about the bats. They look cool in the trailer but I’m not super excited for CGI bats actually swooping into battle. Gandalf does specifically mention the bats in the book:

“Behold! the bats are above his army like a sea of locusts. They ride upon wolves and Wargs are in their train!”

Legolas is convinced these oversized bats were bred specifically for war. Still, they are probably not quite big enough to fight eagles. They are easy enough for elves to shoot down I suppose. We’ll have to see how important these bats end up being, hopefully they are more just for atmosphere than posing as a serious threat.

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6) Nazgul Fight

I’ve been wondering who would be left in Dol Guldur for the White Council to fight and it looks like we have found the answer: the Ringwraiths themselves! This wonderful shot has been floating all around the internet today. Galadriel is cradling an injured Gandalf while the nine lieutenants of Sauron close in around them. Each of the Nazgul has a distinct design look, which is visually very interesting.

It’s hard to forget that we have been teased their return for two entire movies. In An Unexpected Journey, Radagast encountered the Witch-King and retrieved his sword. Then in Desolation of Smaug Gandalf and Radagast explored the High Fells and discovered all nine had been resurrected and escaped their tombs. That’s exactly two years of buildup just to get to this one battle. You can bet that Peter Jackson and his crew are going to go all out to make these two years finally pay off, right?

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7) Battle Elrond

We’ve seen Elrond fighting in the prologue to Fellowship of the Ring and glimpse of his battle-ready self in An Unexpected Journey but for the first time we are going to see Elrond whip out his sword and take on some serious bad guys: the Nazgul themselves! He’s such a great character and even though he is not going to make to the Battle of Five Armies, I’m really glad that we get not only to see him again in costume but to go dish it out against Sauron in person in the Dark Lord’s own home base.

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8) Saruman Goes After Sauron

Christopher Lee’s Saruman is an unapologetic scene stealer. After giving Lord of the Rings an unforgettable villain almost as dangerous as the Dark Lord himself and overriding Gandalf’s concerns in An Unexpected Journey, Saruman is back one last time for the White Council assault on Dol Guldur. Honestly this is like a dream come true: Galadriel, Elrond, Gandalf, and now Saruman all back for one more movie. And in this scene Saruman reveals his intentions to go after Sauron himself. This opens up so many possibilities:

  • Will the wise and powerful Saruman be able to defeat Sauron in his weakened state?
  • Did Gandalf exhaust some of the Dark Lord’s power so that now Saruman can finish him off?
  • Is this the scene where Saruman becomes convinced of Sauron’s power and decides secretly to align with him?
  • Will Saruman choose to let Sauron go free?

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9) Dwarven Ballistas

That’s clearly a dwarf there operating what looks to be a huge ballista which fires an equally huge projectile. These must be fresh arrivals to Erebor from the Iron Hills. I like the dwarven armor a lot and can’t wait to see more of the dwarf battle designs. The armor used for the Battle of Moria flashbacks was initially supposed to be used for the Battle of Five Armies so it will fun to see what Weta Workshop comes up with this time.

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10) Arrows Fly

The meticulously organized elven arches line up outside Erebor and fire their first volley of arrows at the dwarves. I’m not sure who they are hoping to hit since the walls seem pretty impenetrable but any exposed dwarf is going to be in lots of trouble. It’s sad to think that these same elves that are attacking Erebor could have come to Erebor’s aid when Smaug first arrived and only come now out of enmity towards Thorin. It will be interesting to see how much fighting actually takes place between men, elves, and dwarves before Sauron’s army arrives.

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11) Dwalin Confronts Thorin

Of course Dwalin, more so than any other member of the company, is Thorin’s right hand man. He would follow Thorin to the ends of the earth and he would rather start a good fight any day than engage in diplomacy. He is the least likely of any of the dwarves to disobey his king or run from a fight and yet here we see even the loyal Dwalin questioning Thorin’s motives. There’s probably no better shorthand way to show that Thorin has truly gone mad than this heartfelt line from Dwalin.

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12) War Trolls

These look a bit like upgraded cave trolls, carrying some kind of siege weapon on their backs. It’s nice to see that Sauron’s army will have a diversity of troops much like it did in the Battle of Pelennor Fields. Curiously enough we haven’t seen any wargs in this trailer but of course we know there will be many. These trolls don’t look quite as fierce as the trolls outside the Black Gate that Aragorn faced but they are a welcome surprise nonetheless. They will add texture and progression to what will be a very long battle.

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13) Kili Shouts at Thorin

Usually quite good-natured, Kili unleashes his anger at his uncle in what is no less than an absolutely shocking moment. Things must be going to pretty bad for the king’s own nephew to openly defy him like this. Kili’s reference to others fighting their battles perhaps refers to Tauriel whom has sacrificed her livelihood to the protect the innocents caught up in the path of the orcs.

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14) Thranduil Turns Against Tauriel

It literally looks like Thranduil is swinging at Tauriel with his sword while she parries his blow. The scar on Thranduil’s face also appears to be showing slightly. What would cause the king of the wood-elves to attack the captain of his own guard? This seems to be much more than her simply defying his orders. Something big must have happened for this aggression from the king of the wood-elves. Unfortunately it looks like Tauriel will not be getting a break either.

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15) Bolg Throws Tauriel

In a devastating blow, Bolg knocks Tauriel into a wall. This is just cruel. We know Tauriel can handle herself against legions of orcs so the fact that Bolg is able to do this shows both that he is incredibly dangerous and unimaginably strong. I really hope that this scene is not the end ofTauriel. If she does die in this movie, she deserves a much more heroic death than getting slammed into a pile of bricks.

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16) Azog’s Blade

The Defiler had a functional but not-quite-menacing claw hand in An Unexpected Journey and we didn’t see too much of him in Desolation of Smaug. He is clearly going to be back in a big way for this last film. Instead of a claw hand he has a full on curved blade perfect for impaling and perhaps even preparing sushi. It has exactly four sharp pointy ends on it just in case he forgot to poke enough holes in his enemies already. In this scene he seems to fighting Thorin which may prove fatal for at least one of them. Intense stuff.

Those 16 moments took my breath away. What about you?