This Star Wars Rebels recap contains spoilers. If you’ve yet to watch season one of the series, we recommend doing so. If you’re planning on jumping in with season two, carry on.
Star Wars Rebels won me over quicker than a wampa could tear into a tauntaun. Why did I become attached so quickly? Because it did everything right straight after takeoff. The stories were focused on its characters and their relationships. It gave nods to classic themes and designs that emulated the original trilogy. Most of all, it looked and felt like Star Wars.
When Rebels launched in the fall of 2014, it had its naysayers. It reminded me of a time when its animated TV series predecessor, The Clone Wars, had first aired in late 2008—met with the same level of skepticism.
A Star Wars cartoon? It’s for kids. Adults won’t watch it. It’s too juvenile to be taken seriously. Besides, the designs are all wrong. It doesn’t look and feel like Star Wars. That Ashoka Tano character is super annoying.
As we all know now, The Clone Wars evolved into an absolutely amazing show and is regarded by many as important to the Star Wars canon as the six feature films. The Clone Wars was at the top of its game by the time season six rolled around. Still, as Han Solo might explain, the jump to hyperspace would take some time.
Here’s the difference: We didn’t have to wait for Star Wars Rebels to get good. Cynicism crept in when it was first announced, but Dave Filoni and his team silenced critics immediately. Their experience in producing quality, thought-provoking, dramatic, and compelling stories and characters with The Clone Wars positioned Rebels for a home run in the first inning.
Now, I’m not saying Rebels is better than The Clone Wars. What I want to highlight is that the all-around quality of Season 1 of Rebels was light years ahead of The Clone Wars‘ initial run. Oh, guess who appeared in the Rebels season finale and blew all our minds? Yep, that annoying Ahsoka Tano.
Well played, Lucasfilm.
Season two of Rebels continues Wednesday, October 14. Although, DisneyXD aired a one-hour season two premiere in June entitled “The Siege of Lothal” that got us all fired up for what’s next for the crew of the Ghost and their new allies. Before we talk about season two—and I have some bold predictions—let’s spend some time recapping some of the top story lines from Season 1 as a refresher.
Season one started with a bang. Seeing Darth Vader and hearing him voiced by none other than the incomparable James Earl Jones left a heavy impression. Initially, the first episode aired on Disney XD in early October 2014 without the clip with the hologram of Vader and a kneeling Inquisitor, which was eerily reminiscent of Vader kneeling before a hologram of Palpatine in The Empire Strikes Back. ABC re-aired the pilot a few weeks later with the bonus scene.
The conversation between Vader and the Inquisitor was key – Vader mentions the Jedi being all but extinct, however the Inquisitor’s job continues because the Emperor has foreseen a new threat rising against him. “The children of the Force,” Vader said. “They must not become Jedi.”
That one line of dialogue set the stage perfectly for Season one, which showed us how the crew of the Ghost came to join the Rebellion, helped immensely by a few Jedi. We got to know and fell in love with a rag-tag team that saw the terror and injustice the Empire was spreading and decided they weren’t going to just sit by as spectators.
Instead, they became specters.
THE GHOST FAMILY
Specter 1 is Kanan Jarrus.
Details: Jedi. Survivor of Order 66. A space cowboy, as he was introduced to us in early show promos.
Specter 2 is Hera Syndulla.
Details: Captain of the Ghost. Daughter of Cham Syndulla, freedom fighter, from The Clone Wars.
Specter 3 is Chopper.
Class: C1-10P droid.
Details: Mechanic. Navigator. Gunner. General pain in the ass if you ask Specter 4.
Specter 4 is Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios.
Details: The muscle. Favorite past time is beating up stormtroopers and kicking Chopper around.
Specter 5 is Sabine Wren.
Details: Young Mandalorian warrior. Demolitions expert. Artist. Deadly with blasters and a can of paint.
Then came the star of the show—orphan Ezra Bridger. Before he became Specter 6, he was fighting the Empire his way. We see his Force sensitivity mere minutes into season one, and later we find that he and Kanan have an instant connection. Kanan is impressed by Ezra, so he and the crew of the Ghost show the “Loth-rat” how to fight the Empire for those who can’t—pushing him to look beyond himself and use his skills to do more for his planet and galaxy.
What has made Rebels a fast and solid addition to the Star Wars canon is a continuing theme—a crew’s tight-knit family dynamic.
So this teen-age kid, a loner—whose parents were a voice of hope to the Lothal people before being captured by the Empire and their fate now unknown—becomes a part of this new family: Kanan, a father-figure struggling to figure out how to raise a son and teach him how to hone his Force skills; Hera, a nurturing mother; Zeb, an older brother; and Sabine like a sister. Then again, Ezra crushes on Sabine, so that’s kind of weird. And where does that leave Chopper? I guess that would make him the family dog? You get my point.
On Ezra’s first mission with the Ghost crew, the team is tasked with saving a group of Wookiees who had been captured by the Empire. The Wookiees were being taken to the spice mines of Kessel—labor camps mentioned in A New Hopeby C-3PO. The Ghost crew ends up getting pinned down by laser fire when Kanan is forced to reveal himself to the Empire (and Ezra) as a Jedi in hiding. He busts out his lightsaber and holds off the barrage of laser blasts by stormtroopers, giving the rest of his crew and the Wookiees time to escape.
Once Ezra sees what he can become, he’s drawn fully into the fight against the Empire and the lure to be trained in the ways of the Force.
From there, the Ghost crew sets out to continue annoying and disrupting the Empire’s efforts to subdue Lothal’s residents and conduct mining operations to unearth its valuable minerals for starship construction. Meanwhile, Ezra begins to grow in the ways of the Force and uses his skills to help his fellow citizens.
Kanan and Ezra, a budding master and apprentice, tangle with The Inquisitor but manage to escape thanks to Ezra’s quick thinking. Kanan commits to teaching Ezra the ways of the Force, which comes in handy when Ezra infiltrates the academy’s headquarters on Lothal to steal a decoder. This allows the crew of the Ghost to stop a Kyber crystal shipment. Death Star superlaser anyone?
FULCRUM AND EZRA’S FOLKS
In the ensuing episodes, we start getting hints indicating that the crew of the Ghost isn’t alone in their efforts to thwart the Empire’s stranglehold on the galaxy. This is the first time we hear the name “Fulcrum,” an anonymous contact Hera communicates and coordinates efforts with—and later appears in the season finale in a big way.
Next comes Empire Day, an annual celebration of the Emperor’s formation of the Galactic Empire. It’s also Ezra’s birthday and we begin to learn of his past and how his parents were a voice of hope for Lothal before their capture by the Empire.
The crew ends up saving a former Imperial Information Officer by the name of Tseebo, a Rodian who was outfitted as a cyborg construct and had vital information about the Empire. Tseebo also claims to know what happened to Ezra’s parents but never gets the chance to explain as Kanan and Ezra leave to try to draw the Empire away from Tseebo. Tseebo does tell Hera before he is delivered to Fulcrum, however. There is definitely more to come there.
YODA AND LANDO
Ezra flirts with the dark side when he and Kanan tangle with the Inquisitor for the second time. They manage to escape yet again. Kanan figures with Ezra’s powers growing so quickly, it’s time to take him to an abandoned Jedi temple on Lothal. Once there, Ezra experiences Jedi trials to face his fears, while Yoda—voiced by the legendary Frank Oz—communicates through the Force from his exile on Dagobah. Ezra does well, receives his lightsaber crystal, and constructs his own Jedi weapon. Thus, his position as Kanan’s Padawan learner is solidified.
Billy Dee Williams reprises his role from the original trilogy as the voice of smuggler and gambler Lando Calrissian, who beats Zeb in a game of sabacc and ends up winning Chopper. In order to get their droid back, Hera and company are forced to help Lando smuggle mining equipment to Lothal.
TARKIN AND KANAN’S CAPTURE
With our heroes becoming more and more effective in their disruption of the Empire’s plans for Lothal, Grand Moff Tarkin is sent to handle the growing threat. The crew of the Ghost takes things to the next level with a plan to broadcast a message of hope by high jacking the Empire’s transmission tower. But Kanan ends up getting separated from the rest of the group and is taken prisoner. Still, the transmission was sent before the Empire destroyed its own control tower.
Fulcrum recommends the Ghost crew leave Lothal and go into hiding vs. attempting to rescue Kanan. Ezra lobbies the rest of the group and eventually wins Chopper, Zeb, and Sabine over to his plan to find out where Kanan is being held without Hera knowing. The four seek out Vizago, a Devaronian crime lord who knows the comings and goings of the Empire. Ezra reveals he’s a Jedi to Vizago and commits to owing him a favor. Vizago then tells Ezra because the control tower was destroyed, the Empire is using droid couriers for communication.
Hera eventually finds out but is convinced to allow Chopper to pose as one of the Empire’s droids in order to obtain the information on the whereabouts of Kanan. The plan works and the Ghost crew sets their sights on the space above Mustafar, where Kanan is aboard Tarkin’s Star Destroyer.
RESCUE AND FULCRUM REVEAL
Using a TIE fighter Ezra and Zeb stole in an earlier episode, the crew manages to infiltrate the Star Destroyer and release Kanan. Once again, the Inquisitor blocks Ezra and Kanan’s escape and the trio engage in an epic lightsaber battle reminiscent of Obi-Wan’s and Qui-Gon’s duel with Darth Maul. The Inquisitor overpowers Ezra and causes him to fall to another platform, but Kanan thinks Ezra has fallen to his death.
Finding renewed resolve and releasing his fear because of the apparent death of his Padawan, Kanan defeats the Inquisitor, whose lightsaber lands in the reactor core of the Star Destroyer causing its imminent destruction. The Inquisitor allows himself to fall into reactor to his death and Ezra manages to climb back up to the platform and rejoin his Jedi master.
Meanwhile, a battalion of reinforcements are dispatched to thwart our heroes’ escape. Seeing the long odds, Chopper solicits Fulcrum for help. With Hera, Zeb, and Sabine in the stolen TIE, and Kanan and Ezra having borrowed the Inquisitors TIE Advanced, the crew of the Ghost flees the deteriorating Star Destroyer and runs into a squadron of TIE fighters. Just in time, Fulcrum comes through and a cavalry of Rebellion ships arrive to hold the TIEs off, allowing all to escape into hyperspace.
It’s then our heroes find out they are part of a much larger Rebellion and Fulcrum’s identity is revealed. It’s none other than Ahsoka, former member of the Jedi council and most importantly former Padawan of Anakin Skywalker. Speaking of Anakin, Season 1 comes full circle as Darth Vader is dispatched to Lothal to handle the growing threat in the season’s final scene.
SIEGE OF LOTHAL
Star Wars Rebels fans were treated to The Siege of Lothal, the one-hour season two premiere, in April (at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim) before its general release June 20 on DisneyXD. I suggest you check it out before October 14 so that you will be ready for season two. Without going into greater detail, here’s a tease: Kanan and Ezra are forced to face Vader. Later, while dealing with the newly formed rebel alliance in his TIE fighter, Vader “snips” off a significant portion of the rebel fleet. Those of you who’ve seen the episode know exactly what I’m talking about.
May the Force be with you.