SO LET’S TALK ABOUT STAR WARS REBELS AGAIN! Now you all know I like Star Wars (and by ‘like’ I mean my knowledge of the Star Wars universe spans thousands of fictional years). As a fan of the franchise, I’m happy to say that a solid continuity has never really been a major concern of mine. My number one priority has been a desire to experience storytelling that I can connect with emotionally. Do I like the characters? Does their dialog not make me cringe? Do they ACT LIKE PEOPLE? Thankfully, in Star Wars Rebels, they do!
I watched every episode of The CG Clone Wars cartoon (not to be confused with Genndy Tartakovsky’s phenomenally good 2D animated Clone Wars cartoon) and there’s something about it that always felt off. Basically, the show is a series of inevitable failures. We already know how the Prequels’ story ends in episode 3, and since the show rigidly stuck to established canon, we already knew the ultimate fate of all the major characters, making a vast majority of the story arcs superfluous and frustrating. Examples: One of the characters is about to figure out Palpatine’s a Sith Lord? No, they failed to do so. One of the characters is about to discover the clone troopers have a kill switch programmed into their brains? Nope, failed again. The Republic army figures out how to ambush Grievous and take him out? Oh, he got away, what a shock. About the only interesting part of the show was Ahsoka, and although I found her mostly an annoying enigma in the first couple of seasons (why didn’t Yoda get Shaak Ti, a female Togruta Jedi knight with no padawan, to train Ahsoka, also a female Togruta??) she developed into a well rounded character with an enormously satisfying final arc. The stakes and interest were high because we didn’t know what was going to happen to her! Her story was untold and ripe with possibilities. And you know what? That’s EVERY CHARACTER in Star Wars Rebels!
Nearly everything I love about the original trilogy is in Rebels. Maybe I should be annoyed that it so closely apes the style and feel of the OT, but that’s pretty much what I’ve been wanting for years now, so it actually fills me with unequivocal joy. The soundtrack is taken right from the OT, and I just smile like an idiot hearing all those great orchestral John Williams themes emoting to new original characters. The cinematography is constantly evoking similar imagery from the classic films, and the pacing is pitch perfect Star Wars. What I mean is that scenes have time to breath. When Ezra, the force sensitive street rat, starts to discover mysterious Jedi artifacts, the music fades out, and we linger on his expression as he internally contemplates what his discoveries mean. When the Force theme begins to slowly play, it feels momentous, the Force feels mystical and carries narrative weight. No Star Wars show or movie has made the Force feel this cool since Tartatovsky’s 2D Clone Wars cartoon.
I also have to mention that seeing the classic Star Wars ships back on the screen feels real good! I loves me some Star Destroyers and Tie Fighters, and Hera’s ship, The Ghost, is such a great Millennium Falcon surrogate, its Lego form is certainly destined for my shelf. Rebels also gives us back the kind of Jedi we can relate to in Kanan. He’s a man with relationships, and not a creepy celibate monk who recruits preschoolers into a monastic order before they’re old enough to make informed decisions. He’s clearly designed to be the Jedi version of Han Solo that we’ve always contemplated. Thankfully Rebels also steers clear of overt Prequel references, so you don’t have to worry about Midichlorians ruining your mystical energy fields or ’robots vs clones’ removing the consequence of battle. That’s right, stormtroopers are just people and in Star Wars Rebels, there is a lot of wanton murder by blaster, just how we like it! Kanan and Co. are not afraid to shoot first, GOOD.
So what I’m saying is that if you love classic Star Wars and found the prequel era a mess of poor story telling, WATCH STAR WARS REBELS. Depending on your ‘jaded fan’ level, it’ll be anywhere from pretty good to fantastic. And knowing that Greg Weisman, the mind behing Disney’s Gargoyles and DC’s Young Justice cartoon, is the show’s head writer, we can rest assured that Rebels’ characters will continue to grow in complexity and the stakes will continue to be raised! HOLY CRAP it feels good to be a Star Wars fan again!