TV review: ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ a fun, animated adventure for fans of the franchise

Although we’ll have to wait until December for Episode VIII, the next Star Wars adventure up on the big screen, if you’re in the mood for more Star Wars content now I would highly recommend checking out the animated series “Rebels.”

After (finally!) finishing all the seasons of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” late last year, I decided to dive into Disney’s new animated series, “Rebels.” I’m a huge fan of “The Clone Wars”; anytime someone tells me they don’t really like the Star Wars prequels, I tell them to check out this computer animated series instead because it actually does a better job fleshing out the characters. Although I wish the show had gotten one more season, I was excited to check out “Rebels,” which is set between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope.” 

The series features a band of ragtag rebels who are engaging in a small-scale resistance against the tyranny of the Empire (season two takes on a larger scope as the rebels hook up with the larger resistance movement). This group of rebels includes a Twi’lek pilot, Hera; a Jedi named Kanan; a teenage Mandalorian, Sabine; Zeb, a warrior whose species was massacred by the Empire; and the feisty astromech droid Chopper. They pick up a teenage scavenger named Ezra who learns from Kanan that he has Force powers. Initially skeptical, Ezra eventually agrees to join their resistance efforts, and Kanan begins training him in the ways of the Jedi.

Although “Star Wars: Rebels” isn’t immediately as deep or emotionally resonant as “The Clone Wars” eventually became, I see a lot of promise in this series and I’m definitely hooked. I’ve seen the first two seasons and am eagerly looking forward to getting caught up on the third. This series introduces some fun new characters to the Star Wars canon and brings back some classics, including Darth Vader and Princess Leia. I was also very excited to see Anakin Skywalker’s former Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, play a role in the second season. Ahsoka had a powerful story arc in “The Clone Wars” but in that series we never got to learn what happened to her after she walked away from the Jedi Order. “Rebels” now continues that story.

I think my favorite of the new characters is the Jedi, Kanan. So far we haven’t really had any flashbacks on how he survived Order 66 or how he came to be a part of this band of rebels, but I’m hoping that maybe season three will explore this. I’m also curious to see how he felt about the rules of the Jedi Order before the fall of the Jedi versus how he feels about them now. Ezra is technically too old to become a Padawan (he’s even older than Anakin was when he started training, and the Jedi Council definitely balked at his age). Kanan has seemingly thrown some of those old Jedi rules out, since the Jedi are practically extinct and more Jedi are desperately needed to fight the Empire. I also haven’t heard Kanan talk a lot about the order’s old rules against attachment. Is he romantically involved with the Twi’lek pilot, Hera? I wish season two had dived into these issues more but maybe that will show up in season three.

I enjoyed the balance of personalities in the team of rebels, and I think my second favorite character is actually the droid, Chopper. R2-D2 can be a bit feisty at times, but he’s nothing compared to Chopper, who seems to enjoy antagonizing and sassing the crew. He may only be able to communicate in beeps and whistles, but he most definitely gets his point across.

In short, I’d recommend this series for fans of “The Clone Wars” and Star Wars in general. I was excited to see references to “Rebels” throughout “Rogue One,” and I’m looking forward to seeing where this show heads in the future.

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